Thursday, February 27, 2014

Winter blues breeds spring startitis

While the rainbow sparkle gloves are a great way to brighten up the dreary winter-that-will-never-end (it's another frickin' polar vortex!!!! WTF???), they haven't cured my winter blues altogether. And sadly, I think I've caught a case of startitis as a result, because on top of letting the rainbows and sparkles seduce me, I also cast on for hat.
The pattern is Funiculaire, and I'm using Fat Cat in Bay Leaf. I'm not very far, but that's what happens with Startitis.

And then.... Country Acres posted about March Sweater Madness. I was intrigued, hoping I could use it as motivator for the Lestrange cardigan. Alas, you have to cast on March 1 - no WIPs. But the crazy, winter-addled part of my brain started thinking... hey this would be a good way to tackle Eve's Ribs....

Then sane part of me brought me back down to earth and reminded me that I have some have-to-do sewing  and dyeing this weekend, a commissioned portrait to paint this month, not to mention two pairs of gloves/mitts, two shawls, a scarf, a hat and a cardigan on the needles. (And lets not mention the designs and patterns I've been meaning to get together forever!) If I took on the sweater challenge, you'd find me sitting in the corner, banging my head off the wall and screaming at the sight of yarn.

So I'm going to be good, and stick with what I've got going on.At least until next week....

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The rainbows made me do it

I didn't mean to I swear. I just thought I'd wind up the rainbow skein. Just so it was ready when the Reading Mitts were off the needles. And I printed out the pattern... you know.. just so everything was ready.

Then I got out the needles... just to make sure I had them ready. Then I thought... what's the harm in casting on and knitting a row or two? I'm saving Lestrange for the weekends when I have large chunks of time on my hands.

Then I had to knit until I got to the rainbow... then I had to knit through the rainbow to see all the colours.

Then I had to pack it in my work bag to show my coworker....

And what's the harm in starting the cables over lunch, right....?

And then finishing them up before making dinner.... then working the thumb gusset after dinner... then... then...
I'll finish up the Reading Mitts on Friday... I swear.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My own little sparkley screw-you rainbow!

It's not often that I buy hand dyed yarn... having and entire room full of bare yarn and contless dyes, it just doesn't make much sense to buy what I can make.

But every once in a while, I come across something spectacular I just have to have:
White Birch Fiber Arts is owned by a lovely lady named Lisa, whom Mom and I met in Virginia last summer. She's from Vermont (or as she calls it - Canada south) and we spent lots of time talking about yarn and farms and everything in between.

She dyes mostly self-striping yarns - and while they are lovely, I'm not huge on self-stripers. Mom's the master-mind behind most of our self-striping yarns - and she's the one that does all the extra work that goes along with them.

But a couple of weeks ago, Lisa posted the most amazing self-striping yarn in one of the Ravelry groups.
The colourway is called "Nothing says screw you like a rainbow" and not only is it one of the most absolutely amazing self-striping yarns I've ever seen - she had it on a SPARKLE BASE!!!!

I just had to have it RIGHT.THAT.SECOND.

Now Lisa's yarns are so popular, most get grabbed up by pre-order. But she happened to have just one sparkley rainbow skein left hidden, and she set it aside just for me.

It arrived Monday. I'm totally smitten. I think I'm going to make gloves (ones with actual fingers!) out of it because I don't want to hide it away in socks.Maybe plain gloves or something with a little cable?

But I have to get a couple of projects out of the way first... unless I get sucked in by the sparkles...

Monday, February 24, 2014


As of today, there are 10 days left to the Mr. Dress-up KAL. There's still time to start and finish if you're a quick sock knitter!

You've all seen my pair
in bright red Twisted Top Cat, but I thought I'd take a moment to share a few other entrants.

Minding My Own Stitches just finished hers up in regular Top Cat.
The colour is "Sandlewood", and I really wish I remember what we did to make this one - I love it! So warm and inviting.

Smokinghotneedles' needles were indeed smoking. She was the first one to finish a pair.
She used Twinkle Cat in "Garnet". That little sparkle just makes the socks just that much dressier - I love it! (And reminds me that I have some Twinkle Cat just waiting to be knit into socks - I better get my mitts finished fast!)

PracticalCrafts used one of my absolute favourite bases for her pair -
Jungle Cat in "Green Forest". I love the Jungle Cat for it's touch of bamboo and that little bit of silk-like sheen. My absolute favourite socks are made with Jungle Cat.

Mom finished up a pair for my Dad.
A pair in Alley Cat in a specially-dyed colourway called "Hunter Dave". (Yep my father and my significant other have the same name).

We've got many more entrants in the finished thread, and I know there are several still working away on their pairs. I love seeing all the different versions. The pattern's been downloaded more than 280 times, and I've gotten so many lovely notes from knitters!

I'll be putting the prize package together for the KAL this weekend - and next week we'll be choosing a winner!

I've also got another KAL planned for the end of March, so if you missed out on this one - don't worry - there's more fun to come!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Outsmarted by squirrels and knitting

Rocky and I slept in this morning, and apparently missed all the action. When we finally got up, I peeked out the back door to see one of the gray squirrels running off with the last peanut. I threw some more out the back door, but apparently the squirrels had their fill for the day.  A giant blue jay did swoop down and snatch one up, but Rocky's not interested in the birds. He's all about the rodents.

For my part, my attention has all been for my knitting. While laying in bed this morning, listening to Rocky purr, I realized I'd made a giant miscalation on my Lestrange cardigan. When I split for the armholes, I'd made some modifications for a better fit to my body type. But I'd done it wrong and if I kept going, the results would have been catastrophic.

So that meant, as soon as the cats and squirrels were seen to, I was on the couch frogging all the progress I'd made this weekend.

But don't worry too much... it frogged easy and I was able to knit back up quickly and I've now got the right front completely finished!
So now it's on to the back!

And now, because looking at this half-knit cardigan is boring for even me.... here's something I came across this afternoon
 At first glance... just a cat on a mat.... but when you pull back the curtain....
Yup... double cat on a mat. I decided it was best to give them their privacy

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mitts, lace, peanuts and poo

For those wondering, I'm still fighting that nasty cold that I mentioned earlier this week. It seemed to be getting better until Thursday, and things have just gone downhill. It's so bad that I've actually been sleeping on the futon so I don't keep Dave up. (Before you say it, I'm the one sleeping on the futon because he's over 6 foot tall and doesn't fit as well as I do - plus Rocky would think it's playtime and just keep him up all night anyway... Dave did offer though...)

In fact, it was so bad Friday that after to salad fiasco, (still ticked about that quinoa thing...) my boss sent me home with strict instructions to rest and feel better.

I have been resting, it's debateable on the feeling better part. I'm not as stuffed up at the moment, but my throat feels like someone took a cheese grater to it and my lips and nose are completely dried out.

Anyway, it's given me some time to knit, which is nice
Half way there!
As mentioned, I did indeed finish up the first Reading Mitt. And as soon as I looked at the pictures, I realized the top eyelet is missing the double garter section  - I wasn't paying attention and just did it a single! I blame the cold meds! Oh well, as long as I do the second one the same, no one will be the wiser.
Miles of silky goodness
I've also made good progress on the LeStrange cardigan. I took this pic last night, right before splitting for the armholes. This afternoon I managed to complete half the right front. Working 1/4 of the stitches certainly makes things move faster.

And, despite the wild thunderstorm and warmer weather we've gotten the last few days, there's still a lot of snow on the ground. So Rocky and I decided to set some more squirrel traps.
Rocky thinks if he doesn't watch it, the squirrel will come for the peanut.
 Even though we haven't actually seen it happen, the peanuts are being eaten.
Here squirrelly squirelly squirrel!

We watched all day, but there was no sign of the squirrels. 
It's like a squirrelly treasure hunt!
No birds today either. Bun bun and his family are back though...
Nature's candy!
And they left us presents..... lots of presents. the snow is absolutely covered in bunny poo.

Friday, February 21, 2014

You don't win friends with salad

I work in a Marketing department. For anyone who doesn't, that basically means that I work with a whole bunch of other crazy, mostly unorganized slackers.

Being crazy and slackers, we are very good at coming up with "team-building" activities that keep us from doing actual work.

One of these activities is a periodic "cook-off" that take place over a long lunch hour. There are several of us who are fantastic cooks, some of us who are only okay cooks but just really enjoy it, and then there are the ones who just like to make a mess in the kitchen and the results are a total crap shoot. (I fall into that last category).

Anyway, our first cook-off challenge was lasagna. And the team that one that challenge got to pick and organize the next challenge. We had traditional lasanga, we had lasagna hors d'ouevres, Jamaican lasagna, ice cream lasagna... but the lasagna that won... was really just a salad. It was layered vegetables held together with some sort of carrot/tomato sauce. It won mostly because of the creativity points. (Because really...vegetables??? We were all about the meat and cheese!!!)

Anyway, the group that won set the next challenge as... yup... salad.Thinking I'd be able to turn their own tricks against them, I immediately started plotting a meat salad. (Hey, if they can make lasagna with plants, I can make salad with MEAT!)

What I came up with.... Hawaiian pizza salad in an edible bowl!

K... here's what I did.

To make the edible  bowls, I took pizza dough and rolled out little circles that I could lay over the underside of my muffin tray (You may have seen this done with cookie dough on Pinterest and Facebook)
At first, I tried using a cookie cutter to cut the dough, but pizza dough isn't like cookie dough - too elastic. In the end, it was easier to just take a ball of dough and roll it roughly into the size and shape I wanted. These are fairly thin, but I suppose you could make thicker ones if you like thick crust. (The muffin tin was lightly floured first.)

I baked them at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until they became nice and golden. Some puffed right up, but no worries there, when they cooled a little bit, I just squished the air pockets and they went right back into shape.

While the dough was baking, I fried up a pack of bacon, drain the grease and let it cool. (You could use leftover ham instead)
Then the pepperonis were broiled until they got nice and crispy. Once they were cool, I chopped them and the bacon up, and mixed it all together in a large bowl.

A drained can of pineapple tibits, and a butt-load of shredded mozzarella cheese was added and all mixed together into a nice "pizza salad".
Come contest time, the salad was served in the pizza dough bowls, and finished off with a dollop of thick tomato dressing (pizza sauce)!

Sadly.... my meatzza salad didn't win (beat out by quinoa... seriously!) but it was a lot of fun to make - and the men in my department love me now. Though honestly, it really is easier to just make a darn pizza.

And you don't win friends with salad anyway!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

At half-mitt

Look! I have knitting
It's not a Lestrange cardigan past the armhole split (four more rows to go!) or a woven plaid scarf (haven't touched it since last week!). Nope... it's my Reading Mitts!

These have been my work-time lunch hour project, and admittedly, they really should be a lot further along than they are.  But I lost two days this week (Monday holiday, Tuesday sick day)... and I kept forgetting to pack some yarn to put the thumb stitches on, so I couldn't go any further until I remembered. They won't get worked on tomorrow either, as we have lunch-time team-building activity.

But they are coming along nicely, if slowly. I'm making the smallest size. In truth, I probably should have done the medium, but these have a nice snug fit, and I kinda like that.

I may cheat and finish this one up on the weekend, so I can start Monday fresh with the second mitt - but we'll see... I also have some sewing and dyeing plans in the works too! I may run out of weekend!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Moving back toward the sun

Since Tux's surgery, he's abandoned his favourite cat couch. I'm not sure why - it's nice and cozy, and easy to get in and out of. But more often than not, I'll find him on the people couch or in my bed.

Peno thinks it's absolutely fantastic, at it's now left the perfect spot to catch a sunbeam completely free for her.
And I can't blame her.  Yesterday, the best part of being home was laying on the couch, soaking up the sunshine coming through the back door.

One of my favourite things about this time of year is the drive home from work.. day by day, it gets a little bit brighter as I exit the parking garage. The sunlight sticks around for a few kilometers more as each day goes by. Soon, I'll be pulling out the sunglasses and be home before night falls. (And not long after that, I'll be driving home with the top down!)

Spring is on it's way, no matter what that spiteful little rodent said earlier this month!

(Incidentally, the weather man is calling for torrential rain and thunderstorms tomorrow... but I'm not fooled - it's just mother nature messing with us... soon enough the temperatures will plunge again and we'll be hit with another round of snow!)

(Yes, this post was meant to distract you from the fact that there is still no knitting to show you... did it work?)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


I've tried to tell Rocky that he's never going to catch a squirrel if he insists on staying that close to the peanuts... but he keeps trying.
Sorry for the blur - taken through the glass door.
Yep - Rocky and I  have been on squirrel watch all day.
Rocky, because he's a cat, and what else does he have to do all day but sleep?  And me because I've been felled by the most horrible cold of all time.

I've been fighting it since last Sunday, and doing a fairly good job of it too. But yesterday (which was a holiday Monday) after returning from doing some small Wandering Cat business up at Mom's, it hit me like a truck. By bed time there was a fever, and by this morning I'd lost my voice.

I've barely even had the energy to knit - I totally could have been to the armholes on LeStrange by now... but I just can't bring myself to pick up the needles. So squirrel watching it is....

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunbeam Sunday

It's been a quiet day around chez Wandering Cat.

We got some peanuts for the squirrel, so I scattered them around the back yard when I filled up the bird feeder. Rocky sat patiently at the back door, just waiting for his squirrel friend to make an appearance.
But the squirrel never showed. In fact, the birds were all absent too. They must be hanging out in some one else's back yard today.  Rocky eventually got bored and retired to a nice warm sunbeam.
For my part, I've been knitting (I know... big surprise there eh?). I've committed to putting a few weaves on Princess Franklin each day, but without a looming deadline, I feel no guilt about no longer being monogamous. 

So today, I let my attentions wander back to the Le Strange cardigan.
I know... it's been ages since I've put my hands on it - I bet some of you had forgotten about it. Personally,  I forgot how much I enjoy working on it. While the lace looks really complicated, it's not, as long as you take it one row at a time. And despite the fact that it's knit from the bottom up in one piece, it's knitting much faster than I thought it would. 

I've got one repeat to go until I divide at the armholes. It will move even faster then. Ideally, I'd love to have it done in the next month or so - it'd be nice to be able to wear it this spring.

But as I was looking at it today, I realized, I don't really have anything in my wardrobe to wear it with. I guess I'll have to go shopping for a new sundress... oh, what a hardship that will be!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Creative chaos

This isn't a mess....
It's a work space.... honest.

Today was spent at Mom's (pretty usual for a Saturday) but instead of playing with yarn, we were playing with beads. Mom's been collecting beads for a few months, and I've got a lot leftover from my jewellery making days. So today we set out to make some stitch markers with them...
It was a lot of fun and we spent all afternoon doing it. I haven't knit a stitch today! (and the scarf isn't done! Weaving is tedious!)

I did get a chance to help Mom with the layout of her latest pattern
It's modeled by my cousin's little guy, Logan... isn't he just the cutest little heartbreaker?

The cardigan is knit in Fat Cat (colour is Bay Leaf - I stole the leftover to make a hat!) and you can get the pattern here.

Oh, and before I forget, I snapped a pic of the yarn I dyed last Saturday... 
These will be coming to the shop soon!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tickled pink - a Valentine's suprise

Dave and I don't make a huge deal about Valentines. We exchange gifts, but they are generally just small token (mostly candy). We try to get out for dinner if we can (usually not on the day though - too busy in the restaurants!) and I have a strict no flowers policy (first, they are overpriced, and second, Rocky just eats them).

I usually try to knit him something and he loads me up with chocolate. You all know how my half of that plan went this year (and the vote is unanimous - scarf will be put away for Christmas)... and when Dave got home from work tonight, I was handed the traditional bag of chocolate (oddly enough... all eggs... mini eggs, creme eggs....) but there was something else in there...
A little velvet box! Any one who knows me, knows I love little velvet boxes. And what was inside....?
Normally when Dave gets me jewelry, it's usually something I've pointed out to him. But these he got all on his own. I didn't even hint about a Valentine's gift. In fact, neither of us even brought up the day until Wednesday when I asked him if he wanted anything special for dinner on Friday.

And what makes this even better was his comment of "You didn't have any that colour." Nothing is more romantic than a man who notices things like that!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Not going to happen

I basically gave up on even attempting to finish the scarf tonight. And I feel much better about it. I hate stressful knitting.I stopped at the liquor store and got a bottle of scotch, got some candy at the drug store.... Valentine's is done like dinner!

And since he had no idea I was knitting him anything in the first place (he pays zero attention to what's going on with my needles, unless I shove it in his face)... the question I have now is... do I give him the scarf a few days late, or tuck it away for Christmas?

I'm leaning toward Christmas... because there's nothing quite like the feeling of being ahead on Christmas gifts. And... it gives me time to make a matching hat too!

But I've got some good news for you! We've decided to end our Sweetheart sale with a bang, so for all of Friday, February 14th, use the code supersweet50 and you can save 50% off all yarn in the shop!

Yup - half price yarn for one day only - because we love you!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tick, tock

There's only one night left, and I'm way behind schedule. I didn't get a chance to work on this at all on Monday, and Tuesday night's knitting time was short. I finished up the last few rows this evening, took an hour or so to tidy the kerbillion ends, and I've only just started weaving.

The weaving isn't difficult, but it's not that fast, and it is a little hard on the hands.

Couple that with the fact that tomorrow is grocery night (and Mother Hubbard's cupboards are bare so I can't skip it!) and the outlook for having this done for Friday is bleak.

Thankfully, as I am going shopping tomorrow, I can stock up on jujubes and jellybeans.... gifts of candy will probably make him overlook the fact that his gift is a day or so late... right?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Reading material

Instead of socks for my current lunch hour knitting, I decided to knock of something from my knit resolution list  and I've cast on for Susie's Reading Mitts.

I figured the pattern is easy enough to for travel knitting, and since the groundhog predicted at least a few more weeks of cold and snow, there's still plenty of time in the season to enjoy them.

I'm not very far along, this is just one hour of knitting (I forgot to print out the pattern for Monday, so that hour was lost).

I'm using some left over Zara (colourway is stone.) It's one of my favourite yarns to knit with (and wear) and this batch has an interesting story.

It was purchased several years ago at a tent sale held by the Needle Emporium in Ancaster - if you've ever been to one of the Needle Emporium's tent sale, you know you can find some killer deals.But for me, nothing beats the $1 bin - yep skeins and skeins for just $1 each. It was usually more trendy novelty yarns (I've got a nice stash of Baby Monkey thanks to the $1 bin) but if you're willing to dig, there's a few true treasures.

This Zara was one of them. Most of the balls were starting to come unwound working themselves into a tangled mess, and they were scattered through out the bin, but I managed to find 13 of them in the same dye lot  - yep, pure soft, superwash merino for $1 a ball!

Not long after the tent sale, I used nine balls of it to make a Debbie Bliss Cardigan (one of the first full-sized garments I ever knit).

I still wear it frequently, though there's a moth hole in the shoulder I need to repair.

And then a couple of years ago, I used it to make myself a Wildwood Beret...
 Which was designed at the Needle Emporium's knit camp.

It's been used in a few other small projects, including dolly clothes and I'm down to my last few balls - the mitts should probably use it up.

But it's definitely been $13 well spent!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Still growing...

Still not long enough...
Princess Franklin continues to grow, though not as quickly as I'd like.

The balls of yarn are dwindling (I had to dye more dark blue on Saturday) and row by row it's slowly getting longer, but honestly, all that garter stitch is wearing on me.

I took a brief break Saturday night to finish Mr. Dress-up, but other than that, I've been working monogamously on the scarf.

I know it will all be worth it in the end, but I really just want to get to the end RIGHT NOW!!

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, I worked on it almost non-stop on Sunday (there were brief breaks to cook meals, shovel snow and do some laundry). I was really hoping to be to the end of it by bedtime, but no luck.... there's still at least one repeat to go - and since I have to work during the day, that leaves only the evenings for knitting  - and it's going to take at least two evenings to finish the last repeat.

Cat included for scale
Then comes the weaving - and I have no idea how long that's going to take - hopefully not longer than two evenings because I really want to have this wrapped up and left for Dave to find Friday morning.

And despite the fact that it's boring me to death at the moment, I think I will be knitting one or two more of these.

I really love the way they look, and I think they'd make a great gift for Dave's mother and grandmother. And I love the fun of putting the colours together. I'd really like to see one in shades of pink, cream and green.

Or purples, aquas and a nice mellow yellow...

If you were to knit one... what colours would you use?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

FO: Mr. Dress-up

Well, actually, this version is Little Miss Dress-up...
Yesterday was spent mostly in the dye studio at Mom's. Once I was done, I hung around a bit while Dad made dinner, and I managed to complete the last repeat before the toe on the socks.
When I got home, I figured I should just go ahead and finish them up, instead of leaving them to my lunch hours.
I'm glad I did, because they are nice and toasty. I used Twisted Top Cat in Tomato. Mom and I have a debate going on which is better, regular or Twisted Top Cat. She like's the Twisted better, but I still love my regular. Either way, that little touch of cashmere just amps up the softness on these socks.

I knit mine with a short cuff, but you can knit them any length you want.
And there's still a few weeks left until the KAL is finished, so there's still time to start and finish a pair if you want to join us. The pattern is free. Come on over and join in the fun - I'll be working on the prize pack next weekend.