Sunday, March 30, 2014

Here comes the sun

I'm pretty sure Mother Nature has been hanging out with the Toronto mayor... some serious crack smoking in the only explaination for today's weather.

First, we woke up to this...
I'd thought we'd seen the last of the white stuff, but apparently not. Mom, who's about 30 minutes southeast of me got even more.

But, then the sun came out and it melted in a few hours. In fact, it's quite warm out - a balmy nine degrees, so naturally the kids and I had to go out and soak up some sun.Grass was munched
 Escape routes were furtively scouted...
 ...then abandoned for some nice warm dirt to lay in when he remember that Ifeed and love him on a regular basis.
Back inside...
if the sunflowers grew any quicker, I think I'd actually see them growing. The only thing that has outpaced them is the cat grass.
I'm going to have to get some more seed because these too pots are going to get gobbled up fast.

Oh - and the painting is done.
Finally! Now... back to the knitting!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Buttered up

Spring is still taking is sweet time getting here...
Mr. Squirrel is doing okay though - thoroughly enjoying the peanuts we've been leaving for him.

Inside spring has sprung on my socks.

I got the first Panda Silk sock finished up and I couldn't be happier with it. 

It's nice and snug and as you know, I just love white lace.

And as you can see, it has a little secret... the back panel is different from the front.

I liked that back so much that I've brought home a special skein of Alley Cat in Buttered
I'll be making a full-length sock in the back pattern with this, and releasing them together as a pattern set....

Now I just have to come up with some pattern names.

Friday, March 28, 2014

And now for some knitting.... and sabotage...

I've decided to leave the painting until Sunday, when I can devote the whole day to it if need be. So tonight, I turned my attention back to my new sock design
It's coming along nicely, if a little more slowly than I'm used to. I prefer to knit the Panda silk to a tighter tension, so these are being done with a 2 mm needle. It slows things down, but the fabric is just perfect.
I've rounded the heel so I'm on the home stretch.

In the gardening corner, I've run into a bit of a snag. Or perhaps two snags, because I'm not really sure who is responsible.

This morning I came down to find both Peno and Rocky chomping away on the cat grass. I can't really blame them - it is for them after all... it's just not quite ready yet. I moved it to the top of the fish tank where they can't get it but it can still get some light to grow.

Unfortunately, there's not enough room there for the rest of the plants.
See where the saran wrap is all squished together? Those are deep indentations.. FROM CAT PAWS!!! Someone was standing in my seed trays!

I have a feeling I'm going to have to clean the studio this week and move these upstairs behind a closed door....
The sunflowers are doing fabulous though... which means Rocky will probably start eating them if I don't get them moved!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A night off

I didn't get a great sleep last night, so I decided to leave finishing the painting till I feel a little more rested.
Instead, Tux and I curled up on the couch and watched a movie. He's been neglected for paint the last few days, so I kinda owed him.

Meanwhile, spring has spring - at least in my house if not outside.

Last night I took a peak at my seed pots just before bed. I was delighted to find a few sprouts in the sunflowers
 and in the black-eyed susans
I didn't expect to see growth so soon. I was even more surprised when I check on them when I got home from work tonight.

It's a growth explosion! The lavender hasn't sprouted, but I'm not giving up on it yet.
And the cat grass???
I need to get some more seeds... this is fun!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Winging it

First let me apologize for the glarey photo - I've got to get a pic of this without the flash, it looks much better.

Tonight's goal was to finish the petals and tackle the wings. Mission accomplished. And I even got some base painting done on the flowers. I'll go back and add detail after I get the body done. That's tomorrow's big job - and honestly, the scariest part.

I have to mix the paint for the skin tone, so it has to be done in one session because trying to match colours after the fact is too hard (just like dyeing yarn).

It's also the moment when I paint the face - the moment of truth for this particular project - as it has to look like an actual real living person.If it were just any old painting I was doing, I wouldn't worry - I could give it any old face. But it's not. While I've been commissioned to paint a picture of a fairy, it's a fairy that looks like someone's daughter... yeah - I'm a little nervous.

But I just keep reminding myself - I've done this before. Here are a few of my favourites
Okay... I look fine... Dave looks a little wonky....but the car turned out really good - which really surprised me - I'm not usually very good with anything other than people and flowers.

I adore this one of a friend, Ally.
It's a more traditional use of watercolour on paper. The one of Dave and I is done on canvass.

And so is this one of Little Miss Pee when she was a lot more little.
Okay... I can totally do this... stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

So far, so good.

Thank you to everyone for your kind words on my previous paintings. Since there won't be much knitting this week, I thought you'd like to see the current painting throughout the entire process.

Normally, I'd sit down and do an entire painting in a day. I'm impatient by nature, and also a procrastinator. I have to work when the mood strikes me and get finished as quickly as possible. There are tonnes of half-finished paintings and drawings in my studio because I stopped for one reason or another and said "Oh, I'll finish it later..."

Unfortunately, I don't have the option to paint this all in one day. I am trying to get it done for the weekend - and sadly, I do have to go to work. I can call in "painting".

So tonight, I set myself the goal of at least getting the background painted. For those that don't know, when I paint, it's with watercolour, but it's watercolour on canvass as opposed to paper. It's a special canvass, and it allows you to use watercolour more like an acrylic or an oil, but with a few extra tricks.

When doing paintings like these, I always do the background first, and I mask off the details with a handy little liquid called frisket. It's kind of  like white out, but it peels off after it's dry. It gives you the ability to cover all the little areas you don't want painted when doiny large swaths like the background.

But wouldn't you know it... my frisket was all dried up, just like my paint (no - I didn't check it before I got started...) So, I had to very carefully paint around the edges of my subject taking much more time than I would normally take to do the background.
Despite that, I still managed to get the stem of my flower and a few petals done too. Dave was just walking in the door as I was finishing up the last one I was work on.

Poor Dave... I don't think he's going to get dinner cooked for him at all this week. Painting, at least for me, is all consuming. It was hard to put the brush down... but the bed is calling, and I do have to work tomorrow.

But stay tuned... the next post should have finished petals, and maybe a wing or two....

Monday, March 24, 2014

And now some knitting

I caked up the Slinky Cat for the next sleeve on Lestrange, but i just didn't have the gumption to work on it yet.

Instead, I knit white lace.
I love white lace. Add in some leaves and I love it even more. This is my newest sock design in the Panda Silk. Love, love ... soooooo much love.

This is a little ankle sock, so I'm already at the heel. I don't know how much knitting I'll get done this week though - I really want to get moving on my painting. I've been looking through some old files and getting really inspired by my work

Here's the companion painting to the one I showed yesterday.
After all these years - I still love those flowers....

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Not knitting

Today was a day for non-knitting tasks that keep getting neglected for knitting.

All the sewing stuff on the dining room table finally got packed away. However, we still won't be actually eating at the dining room table...
Because it's now been turned into a mini-greenhouse area. I'm going to buy my vegetables and annuals already grown from the garden centre, but the perrenials are so much more expensive.

I'd hung on to the gardening trays from last year, so I thought, why not start some perennials from seed?(It's also a nice way to bring a little life into winter) I've had everything for a couple of weeks, but never got around to planting it.

I picked up some Sunflowers and Black-Eyed Susans which will eventually be planted at the side of the house where there's plenty of sun. I'm not sure where the Lavender will end up - maybe just in a pot on the patio.

The Sunflowers were a variety pack so I have no idea what I'm going to get
It was quite the mix of seeds.

You may also spy some cat grass in there. That's for the boys since there's not much outside at the moment...
Not that it keeps Rocky from eating it.

I'd like to get a few more seed packs, but I can't decide what to get. What are your favourite perrenials?

Cleaning out the dining room also gave me room to bring my easel down and get working on the painting I've been commissioned to do
My editor from the magazines has asked me to turn one of her daughters into a fairy. Years ago I did a couple of her grand-daughter.
Honestly, I'm a little apprehensive about it. I haven't painted anything in years (this painting might have been the last one) and I've barely drawn either.

And that lack of artistic activity also meant that all this wonderful paint...
.is completely dried up! I had intended to start the painting today, but all I could do was the base sketching. I'll have to hit the art supply shop tomorrow. At least it's close to work!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Think spring

It's still cold. It's still grey. It's still winter - regardless of what the calendar says.

But it's spring in the dye studio
Mom 's been busy making things bloom and she just loaded these beauties (along with a few others) into the shop. They are Gerbera, Delphinium and Johnny Jump Up.

Meanwhile, I'm invoking spring with the socks I'm knitting for Delusional Knitter's Spring Sock KAL.
A new design - white lace, leaves - soft and feminine... it's feeling warmer already!

What are you doing to bring on spring?

Friday, March 21, 2014

At last...

Stella is back in the driveway and I couldn't be happier. She's riding better and purring like the very growly kitten she is. And she smells like motor oil and hand cleaner - I love it! (Strange, I know... but my grandfather was a mechanic, Dad and Dave are both car guys - car smells smell like happiness to me!)

Mom picked her up for me, so I didn't get to speak to my mechanic, but he'll be getting a great big giant thank-you on Monday.

And... last night Dave stayed at his Mom's, so I didn't have to cook. I ate chips and cookies for dinner and managed to finish up the first sleeve.
It's finally on the blocking board. I'll start the second one this weekend, I've just got to wind up another skein of yarn.

And even the second rainbow glove got a little love today.
I'm past the cables and almost ready to put the thumb stitches on a holder. I was hoping to have this finished last weekend, but it just wasn't meant to be. Maybe by the end of the month...?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Signs of spring

I know spring is here - not because of the weather (it's still barely above freezing and threatening to fall by the weekend), or sprouting bulbs (they are still buried under a snowpile) or even the piles of bunny poo that are accumulating in my backyards (if only the possum preferred that to garbage).

No - I know spring is here by the terrible screech I'm greeted with as soon as I walk in the door after work.

The boys (mostly Rocky) want nothing more than to go outside when I get home. There's still a giant snowpile in the backyard, and what isn't covered in snow is mud or dead grass - I just don't see the appeal - but he doesn't care.

It pretty much started with the time change. It's finally light out when I get home, and he seems to have taken it as his cue that it's time to go out and play.

Last night, when this picture was taken, it was about 1 degree Celsius and pouring rain - but that didn't matter to Mr. Screechypants. He yelled at me until I finally shut the curtains and went and sat at the computer. Then he came over and bit my toes...

On the knitting front - there's not much to show you. The sleeve isn't done yet and I'm not happy about that. It should have been on the blocking board two nights ago. But, I'm having some problems with my right wrist, and working more than eight rows in an evening pretty much puts the kibosh on any further activities that require wrist motion for the rest of the night

I've got it wrapped up, and it's helping a bit. I strongly suspect it's caused by the steering in the rental car I have (it needs a serious alignment). Good ol' Stella should be fixed tomorrow though, so if it doesn't clear up by Monday, I'll be up at the doctors invesitaging other options because I HAVE KNITTING TO DO!.

In the meantime, I've picked out some yarn for Delusional Knitter's Sock KAL.

I noticed my favourite white lace socks were getting pretty worn out, so it's time for a new pair. As soon as I can get comfortably back to the knitting, I'll be starting a new sock design with this lovely yarn.

Come join us!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Awesome possum

It's a regular wild kingdom around Chez Wandering Cat lately.

Tonight when I got home for work, bunbun was under the feeder cleaning up the seeds the birds dropped. I cut up a carrot while making dinner, and tossed it out to him, but he took off.

A little later on in the evening, I turned on the backyard spotlight to see if he'd come back for the carrots.

He didn't, but we did have another visitor
He just calmly watched me as I snapped a couple of pics from the doorway. When I stood up to shut the door he go scared and ran into the cedars behind the house. But when I looked outside about 10 minutes later - he was back.

And yes - that is my garbage he's ripped open. My fault for leaving it where he could get it. I'll clean it up in the morning - he was too cute to disturb.

I know some people can't stand possums (Dave is one of them - I didn't tell him about it), but I think they are sweet. Yes, they can be nasty - but they are wild. I'm content to let them be.

Although this one does kinda remind me of an ROUS...

On the knitting front - I'm making progress on the first Lestrange sleeve

Admittedly, progress is going much slower than I thought. After whipping through the last part of the body, I figured the sleeves would fly off the needles...

...then I discovered the sleeves are done on smaller needles.... 2.5mm to be exact (though I've gone up to 2.75 to accommodate the mods I've been making)

Actually, half the sleeve is done on the smaller needles, then second half is done with the larger needle, but I hate projects that switch gauge to accommodate sizing - I want a consistent gauge throughout the piece, so I did the math to get the right size and stuck to the smaller needle.

I'm just shaping the sleeve cap now, so this one should be off the needles soon.

I was (optimistically) hoping to have this cardigan done by the end of the month. But with the sleeves taking this long, it's definitely not going to happen.

If it was just the sleeves, maybe I could pull it off. But I have a whole lower edging to do (the full width of the body) and then the front bands (shawl collar, twice the length of the entire thing...)

Maybe by the end of April....

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Surprise arrival

When Dave got home from the cottage this evening. I mentioned to him that one of our angel fish was dying. He had been up in the corner of the tank all day. His tail was shredded and the day before, I noticed that one of the other angels was chasing him.

Dave looked over at the tank, and noticed that the other two angels were acting a little odd. Well not odd really, it was a behavior we are quite familiar with. They were pecking at one of the pumps, something they do when they are preparing the surface to lay eggs.

We know this, because we've had angel fish lay eggs before. This isn't the same pair, sadly, that pair died a few years ago. This pair I bought just after we moved here.

Anyway, as Dave got up to take a closer look, I noted that if they were laying eggs, it would explain their aggressive behaviour to the other angel.

Then all of a sudden Dave said, "You don't have to worry about eggs... you've got baby angels." Flabbergasted, I jumped up and sure enough...
The pictures aren't great, because I couldn't use the flash (too much flash glare), but all those little light specs are babies.
Mama angel was surrounded by them. I quickly dug out my floating breeder (a little contraption that floats in the water, but keeps the babies safe from hungry fish.) The things were so tiny, they swam right through the net as I tried to catch them and get them in the breeder. I grabbed a glass and started scooping them out.
Sadly, Mama and Papa were gobbling them up just as fast. (In the wild, Mama will protect them, but in captivity, they usually just eat them). I managed to save about 10... and was hopeful for a few minutes. Even though I had them in the breeder, the chances of all of them surviving are slim.

And then I noticed, the little things were small enough to slip through the vents in the breeders. Eventually, they all headed back out into the tank and were quickly eaten. Sigh.

I'm going to look into getting a different breeder. Chances are, these two will lay eggs again. It's funny - angel fish are suppose to be one of the tougher fish to breed. They are very particular about their surroundings and if things aren't perfect - they won't do it. But in the 11 years Dave and I have been together, this is the third mated pair we've had.

Now, we've never managed to get any babies past fry stage, but I think it's still pretty darn cool!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

FO: Promise Me

Yes... Promise Me that spring is on it's way.... pleeeeeeeeeeeease!
Because it was still pretty darn chilly when I was taking pictures of the Promise Me shawl today!
Windy too - I had to work fast!
As mentioned before. I'm very pleased with how this one turned out. I didn't even make any mods, which is very unusual for me.
This one knit up fast - only four days to knit (well really, two evenings and a weekend). Though it is a little on the small side. It's going to be just perfect for the recipient, who is very petite. This one was knit in Top Cat. The colour is Verdant, and it's a skein that's been hanging around for a couple of years. 
I'd planned to make socks with it, but never got around to it. When I went stash-diving for something to make this shawl, I knew it would be perfect. And by lucky chance, I had just the right green beads to go with it - a nice dark green with a gold foil centre, thar echoed the yellow tones perfectly. It was obviously meant to be.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

When Dave's away, the cats will play...

Now let me preface this post by saying that Dave is a cat lover. It's one of the reasons I started dating him in the first place.

But Dave is a very particular kind of cat person. He likes dog-cats. The kind of cats who are snuggly, mischevious, but not overly so - and above all else - obedient.
Our dearly departed Mopar, who Dave had had for a decade before he met me, was a dog cat. He didn't get into things he wasn't suppose to. He didn't jump on counters or lounge across dining tables. He didn't yodel all night. He didn't open cupboards and leave them open. He didn't hide on the stairs and try to trip you. He didn't stalk you for cheeseburgers...

He was a good cat.

My cats....

Yeah... my cats aren't like that.

But Dave still tries to impose rules on them... rules like "Don't sit in my chair."
"I am queen kitty - this is my throne"
And of course, it's Peno's favourite place to sit. When Dave is home, he's either in it,or he puts the foot stool in so the cat can't sit there. I thought it was just a matter of him not wanting cat hair all over it, so I tried keeping the afghan on it, but no. He just doesn't want her in it at all.

She's been enjoying it aaaaaaaaaaaaallll week.

Rule # 2 "Don't sleep on my pillow"
The cats actually aren't allowed to sleep with us when Dave is home at all. That's Rocky's fault, as he seems to have ADD and has to walk all over Dave all night, which keeps him up, which in turn keeps me awake.

But before Rocky came along, Dave and Tux had a little power struggle. Dave wasn't living with me yet, and was only there on weekends. I'd just adopted Tux, and he took offense to the fact that this long-haired interloper came in two nights a week and stole his side of the bed. Now that the cats are banished at bedtime, it's even worse. Tux loves to make a point of going in an laying on Dave's pillow whenever he can.

Dave has taken to piling his blanket on top of his pillow when he gets up in the morning, and sometimes, he takes the pillow off the bed all together. But he forgot to do so before he left for the cottage...

Rule # 3. "No begging. Don't feed the cats from your plate"
"Mmm extra old cheddar!"
Okay, yeah - we all know I don't adhere to this one, even when Dave is home.....