Rose of spring

At some point a witty saying will materialize here. Right here. Watch for it.

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January 28, 2009

Cat Bullet

getting off on the wrong foot

Filed under: Hobbies and Obsessions,Started Projects — Cat @ 5:00 am

Just before Thanksgiving, I purchased a skein of sock yarn from Maple Dale Gal. It was bright yellow, deep red and rich black, and was called “Bird in a Cage.” It has deep, vibrant colors, is soft and squooshy, and I just couldn’t wait to get my needles in to it.

I was so excited that I decided to save it to cast on for the long car trip down to Dallas and back. However, I must admit that I did “cheat” a little and began to work on the swatch before hand. The yarn was so nice and knit up into such a soft, firm fabric (exactly what you would want in a swatch). I was a little amazed that it knit up at 7.5 stitches per inch. So amazed, in fact, that I took the swatch (and the ruler) down the hall to a friend of mine and asked her to check my gauge (Don’t worry- she is a fiber fan as well, so she didn’t think the request at ALL odd). She confirmed that yes, indeed it was 7.5 stitches per inch.

Let’s do the math, shall we? 7.5 stitches per inch times 8.25 inches (the circumference of my foot) equals 62stiches.

This enchanted and amazed me because this was acceptably close to the number of stitches required to make the “Koi” socks from a newly acquired sock book The Eclectic Sole. I thought… what better??? Black/Yellow/Red “koi” socks, because those are all colors found on that particular type of fish. I was “hooked.” sorry, couldn’t resist a fish pun…

Ten hours later (yes, even before I left town), I had accomplished the ribbing and maybe one half of one repeat. It looked terrible. Nope, no pictures, because I was not able to comprehend the situation. But everyone assured me that it was the classic case of Sock Yarn/Sock Pattern mismatch. Ten hours of excrutiating, hand-cramping, finger numbing knitting resulted in nothing that my foot would want to be seen in.

So, I put the sock away until we departed for Dallas. Somewhere in Oklahoma, I pulled out my ten hours of work and started over. Tried various patterns, yet none of them looked really good until I went back to my favorite “Yarn over Cable” from Sensational Knitted Socks. Finally, I had something that looked nice and I merrily knit along. Kept knitting along (mostly on bus rides), turned the heel, and started working my way down the foot.

The entire time, gentle readers, I kept ignoring the voice in my head that said… “Gee, those socks look a little small.”

“How can they be too small?”, I asked the voice… “I did a Gauge Swatch!!!”

Eventually, the voice in my head became a full fledged choir complete with accompanying orchestra. I had to give in to the demand that I try the sock on.

Uh, Oh…

Hmmmm

Well, I could get it on. Techncally.

But… Aren’t you supposed to be able to bend your ankle when you have the sock on? And why were my toes turning blue???

Again, there is something seriously wrong here.

Yes, my friends, the sock was definately too small. My choices were to find someone with a smaller foot or to Frog the whole thing. Well, since it was a special yarn, I couldn’t bear the thought of giving it away, so I decided to frog it.

During the holiday break, I set up the ball winder, deciding that if I was going to frog the sock, I was going to do it efficiently to avoid yarn tangles. I decided that the best idea was to start winding from the outside of the yarn ball, having knit and re-knit the first end of the yarn so much that it was getting a little fuzzy.

Starting the frog process

Um, what was that about avoiding tangles?

Tangles galore

That didn’t work out so well. However, I perservered and finally got the ball rewound in the opposite direction. After that, it was a simple matter to use the ball winder to frog the sock as it wrapped the ball.

Frogging the sock

So now the lovely yarn is sitting in a time out until I feel “it has learned its lesson.”

Yep, that’s the ticket. It is the SOCK YARN that needs to learn its lesson. Nope, the knitter has nothing to do with it.

In the mean time…

Black Pearl sock yarn

Tomorrow: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Sock Yarn).

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December 17, 2008

Cat Bullet

Wednesday…

Filed under: Hobbies and Obsessions — Cat @ 10:13 am

Taffy in the sun

Hi All!

We had a nice warmup yesterday afternoon. Why, I’m surprised that flowers didn’t start to bloom!

Tee hee.

The Arvada Knitters had their annual gift exchange last night – the peanut butter cookies were a big hit. With a little coaxing at the end of the evening, I was able to take home an empty container.

How about a recipe for you folks? They are very easy to make because you dump everything into the mixing bowl and stir it up…

Peanut Blossoms

1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
2 Tbs. milk
1 tsp vanilla

Choc chips or candy kisses

Oven 375 degrees

Combine all ingredients except candy in bowl. Mix on low speed. Mixture will be crumbly, but will hold together when pressed with fingers. Shape into balls. Roll in additional granulated sugar. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10 – 12 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately top each cookie with a candy kiss or choc. chips. Let cool on wire racks until candy has re-hardended (protect from idiot cats in the mean time…).

Note: I didn’t “pack” the brown sugar as is usually called for. I thought the first batch that I made was a little sweet. Also, one bag of Hershey Kisses USED to have enough for two batches of cookies. Apparently they have downsized, because I had to fill in with some chocolate chips on a few of the cookies. They still were good, though.

Thanks to Mom for the recipe!!

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December 10, 2008

Cat Bullet

Water Wars in my Kitchen

Filed under: Cat Stories,Hobbies and Obsessions — Cat @ 10:31 am

Stacked Cats

An update on the “water wars” – Purrcy seems to be unable to move the casserole dish more than an inch or so, and the presence of water “splashes” seems to be diminishing. Hopefully, his inability to move the bowl will cause him to lose interest and move out of the “phase”. Taffy is greatful that she gets water to drink.

In answer to many of the comments:

    Yes, I know that Purrcy (at least) frequently drinks out of the toilet. We will not discuss how gross I think that is… Or how he leaves “splashes” on the seat. Just like a male. :-)

    I’ve already tried getting a heavy dog bowl for water – Purrcy just splashed and splashed until it was empty. And then sat in the empty bowl and howled because he didn’t have any more water to play with.

    Also, the “water cooler” dispenser type things – BAD idea. On the plus side,the kitchen floor was VERY clean that week.

So what else is new in my life? Not much, actually. I’m feeling a lot better and have about four more days of antibiotic.

I have been doing a little bit of knitting, but have been busy running errands this week in the evenings (errands that should have been done last week, but I was too “ooky” to leave the house). I got the Red Scarves mailed off (thanks Judy and Terrie!) as well as a couple of letters and a box of goodies to my “Adopt a Soldier”.

I did start my holiday knitting – those of you who know me are thinking right now that “Cathy NEVER does holiday knitting”. What can I say – I was seduced by a cute little kids pattern and my Goddaughter and her sister have moved back into town. As always, photos when I get time.

Everybody have a great Wednesday!

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December 5, 2008

Cat Bullet

Friday

Filed under: Hobbies and Obsessions — Cat @ 10:34 am

White Tail Deer

Well, it is finally Friday!

It has been a very long week – I’ve not been feeling very well and have been without a voice for the entire week. Yesterday I went to the campus health center and got some antibiotics and I think I feel a little better today, so that is good.

If it hadn’t been lab exam week this week, I would have taken some days off. I may take some off next week, depending on how I feel.

I’m SOOoooOOOOooo close to finishing the back of my lace sweater. Just about another inch to go. I hope to finish that up sometime this weekend, and get started on the front.

No, really… I’m not wanting to take sick days so that I can work on my sweater. Really. The thought never crossed my mind.

Well, dang, it is in there now. Tee hee! The good news is that, with the addition of three vacation days and our collection of “deferred holidays” that we are given in December, I will have two solid weeks off from work around Christmas and New Years.

I’m so excited. I’m going to stay home and “make like a vegetable.”

A vegetable that plays with sticks and string, that is…

Everybody have a great weekend. Stay warm and drive safely if it is icy where you are…

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December 1, 2008

Cat Bullet

Post Thanksgiving blahs

Filed under: Hobbies and Obsessions,Travel — Cat @ 12:25 pm

Camels
more camels. They make me smile…

Hi all,

Well, the blog was silent for a week while we went down to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with my brother and his family. We had a good time, though were only there for a short while.

We did manage to see the traveling King Tut exhibit, and (to copy the words of British Archaeologist Howard Carter) saw “Everywhere the glint of gold”.

Or, to paraphrase Serenity’s Captain Mal… “Shiny”.

It was a lovely exhibit with nice displays. I appreciated the fact that the object descriptions and explanations were written above the display cases as well as on cards within the cases. That way, you could read the explanation of the items as you were waiting to inch up to see what was inside.

I’ve decided that I need some shabtis for my house. They are very decorative, AND supposed to be able to get up and do work around the house. That is, assuming you understand the hieroglyphics used in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Apparently you have to read the spell that is carved onto the shabtis in order to “activate” them.

I was somewhat tempted by a figurine of Bastet (the cat goddes), however, not having shabtis around to do the dusting, I decided to leave her in the museum store.

My nephews, of course, had fun with “mummy” jokes.

Ginger and I managed to sneak away on Wednesday and visited her local yarn store “The Wooly Ewe”. A delightful store chock full of a lot of yarns I’ve not encountered before.

Why yes, I did buy some yarn. Are you surprised?

She had a lot of yarns from Italy. I’m not sure the connection, but the colors were rich and saturated and the textures very smooth and soft. One of my prizes that I bought was about 1400 yards of lace weight merino dyed in a subtly variegated sapphire blue through deep purple (almost black). The store owner asked if I wanted her to wind it for me, so I said yes. It wasn’t too hard of a decision, actually, because I could tell that it wasn’t well skeined. They had a terrible time getting it wound, and, as a matter of fact, couldn’t finish before they closed that day. So, I left my address and they are going to mail it to me.

OK, I’ll be honest. I felt a little guilty dumping that task on her, but she DID ask. It was a mess… I wasn’t looking forward to winding it myself.

I got some other yarns. One merino, dyed in colors from yellow ochre through emerald green and dark grey. Again, Italian. Very pretty.

Oh, and apparently Cascade has SOCK YARN!!! A couple of skeins may have fallen into my shopping basket. Very soft, beautiful colors and washable. Just perfect for socks.

So, the impatient among you are wondering just how I entertained myself in the car on the way to and from Dallas (two days, each way). Well, in the morning, I slept. Exhausted from the sleeping, I immediately turned over to take another nap. Eventually there was lunch and then… another nap.

In the midst of all of the napping, I pulled out the Modern Lace Henley (red wool-bamboo yarn). After taking my time to figure out where I had left it (project wise, not location wise), I began to work on it. Quickly, I picked up the rhythm of the project and made great progress during the trip. I think that, since I was “forced” to focus on the project, I got to the point where I was able to throw the lace chart away and just knit the sweater without freaking out over what row I was on. That was a great step towards progress on the sweater. Currently, the back is almost done – I have to knit about three more inches and then bind off for the neck and the shoulders. I’m very pleased and looking forward to the very complicated front. Um, sort of. It looks hard.

In addition to the sweater, I also worked on a pair of socks using Nachaele’s hand dyed yarn. The color is called “Bird in a Cage” and is bright yellow, orange, red and black. I had originally started out using the “Koi” pattern from a new sock book called The Eclectic Sole, but it was a classic case of yarn/pattern mismatch. I put HOURS of work into the sock on the Thursday and Friday before we left, and then pulled it all out in the car on the way down. After a couple of tries of patterns from the sock bible (Sensational Knitted Socks), I settled on my old favorite, the yarn over cable. The sock is now progressing nicely.

The colors are vibrant, and the yarn smooth and workable. I amused myself the whole time thinking up multitudes of appropriate names. “Scarlet Macaw”, “Campfire”, and “Matchbox Car” all came to mind. However, I finally decided that the colors most reminded me of Dumbledore’s Phoenix from the Harry Potter movies. Therefore, I’m calling these my “Fawkes Socks”.

Ah well, I’d best be going. Hope you all had yummy Turkey Days and that things are going well for you.

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November 14, 2008

Cat Bullet

Friday

Filed under: Hobbies and Obsessions — Cat @ 10:02 am

White Tail Deer

We had our first snow this morning.

One of those nice “polite” snows that doesn’t really stick to the sidewalks, wasn’t too cold and only a little bit too windy.

It was great to bundle up in a wool sweater and wool socks for the walk in to work from the bus depot. During the walk, I was surrounded by big, swirling, fluffy white snowflakes. Very pretty.

Knitting wise: well, not much to report. I’ve accomplished a couple more rounds on the Noho Boho hat, and only have three “squares” left on the second strip of the Taos Stole.

(yes, I am well aware that I am “behind schedule” on that).

Ok, I just deleted that last sentance. Why do we put ourselves on these deadlines? This item is not a gift, so there is no real “time” when it has to be done. Time to focus on the journey not the destination.

    Oooohh, how philosophical.

The good thing for me is that I enjoy each and every stitch that I put in to this project, and I’m really not in any kind of rush to finish it off (the only pressure is that it is “hogging” all of my cables for my Knit Picks Options set, and I can’t start anything else until I finish it).

Because, NO one around here has that set and NO one would be willing to lend me extra cables… Yes, that was sarcasm. Many of my wonderful local knitting “Peeps” have offered to lend me cables if they are needed…

My plans for the weekend: Weather permitting, I’d like to start working on my fall yard cleanup. Laundry is definatly in the picture, as well as balancing the checkbook. I do need to run by the library and return some items.

I think that I will take the time to make a quick inventory of exactly how many unfinished knitting projects that I have lying around. There is a rather alarming pile in the living room that I should probably investigate. It will be like a treasure hunt!!

Everybody have a super fantastic weekend!! Do the Happy Friday Dance!!

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November 12, 2008

Cat Bullet

Tuesday

Filed under: Hobbies and Obsessions — Cat @ 10:23 am

Petra donkey

You know the expression “Do as I say, not as I do?”

Well, I fell victim to that on Friday evening.

I am constantly telling my students and employees to READ THE MANUAL!!! Read ALL of the manual, and if something doesn’t make sense, figure it out before you start to work. You will be happier in the long run.

So, on Friday, I was definately in the mood to start a quick and easy project. I had in mind the Noho Boho hat from Shear Spirit. For those of you who don’t have your copy of the book handy, it is a rolled brim hat, vaguely shaped like a “bucket hat.” It requires two colors of worsted weight yarn, and has some purl ridges along the stockinette sides.

I had this lovely black alpaca handspun with rainbow silk that I picked up at the Taos Wool Market and some leftover Alpaca/silk/wool in cobalt blue (left from my friend’s Koolhaas hat. I think the two yarns go together really well color wise. Although there is no blue in the alpaca/silk handspun, it is of the same “tone” (or is that “hue”?) and accentuates the silk colors very well.

As a dutiful knitter, I checked the gauge recommendation and saw 18 stitches. I proceeded to sit down with alpaca handspun and cast on for my swatch using the recommended size 6 needles.

Hmmm. My 18 stitches were something like four and a half inches. Hm…. So, I pulled it out and tried on the next size down. Only got to 4.25 inches. (insert head-turning inquisitive dog noise here).

What the heck is going on???? Out of desperation, I swatched with the blue alpaca/silk/wool. Not much better. Worse, in fact – 18 stitches were back to 4.5 inches on the size 5 needles.

A quick calculation showed that I was going to be knitting this worsted weight hat on size TWO needles.

Something is rotten in Denmark (or Denver), that is for sure.

Folks, I’m not kidding. I fussed with this for a couple of hours and couldn’t figure it out. I must have swatched three or four times. I finally gave up and cast on the hat on size 5 needles. Surely, I had just messed up counting or something.

You know that big muddy river in Egypt? Denial??? I was stuck in it up to my neck, that’s for sure. And I’m pretty sure that there were crocodiles nibbling on my toes the whole time, too.

After about an hour of hand-cramping knitting with worsted weight yarn on size 5 needles, I finally had to admit the fact that the hat I was making wouldn’t even fit PURRCY, much less myself. Not only that, the hat texture was so stiff, it felt like cardboard.

Finally I put it down and stood up to refresh my glass of water (and perhaps take some advil to relieve the hand cramping). As I stood, the book fell out of my lap and landed open to the page with the pattern.

And there it was……

Gauge: 18 stitches to FIVE inches (I had assumed four).

After some very careful breathing in and out, I pulled out the ridiculous start of the micro-hat, calmly got up and got my glass of water, then found my size 7 needles (you know – the ones I always use with worsted weight yarn), and re-cast on the hat.

Gosh, it looks so much better.

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November 6, 2008

Cat Bullet

Thursday

Filed under: Hobbies and Obsessions — Cat @ 10:11 am

Red Sea, Jordan
Red Sea, Jordan

So, had a very productive day yesterday. Don’t tell the Universe, but through some magical conjunction of the planets, I didn’t have a single meeting yesterday (during a normal week, I have two meetings on Wednesday; during a stressful week, I have three). All of this “free” (ha ha) time allowed me to get a really good start on a document that needs to go out very soon. I’m hoping to send the first draft out for approval this morning (which means that I should probably get working on it).

After work, I dropped by the downtown bookstore (no, not that one, the other one) and picked up a copy of the book that was recommended in Wendy Johnson’s blog yesterday. It is called Casting Spells and is by Barbara Bretton. I started reading it on the bus ride home and finished it around 7pm.

Let me point out that I forgot to eat dinner. Yep, the book was THAT good.

Finally a book about a knitting store that was clearly written by a dedicated knitter. You can just feel the fiber love oozing out from behind the words. Without giving too much away, the book is about the owner of a magical knitting store (where everyone always get gauge and the yarn never tangles). It is a light, fluffy (in a good way) supernatural romance.

Love it Love it Love it.

The good news is that it appears to be the start of a series. Can’t wait for the next one to come out.

After I finished the book, I pulled out the Irish Hiking Scarf and worked on that. I knew that I was getting close to the end, and was able to finish it off. I actually don’t know how long it is, but I didn’t have enough yarn for another repeat of the cables, so I bound it off. Yay! Another finished object!!

So now, I can get back to work on the Taos Stole.

Everybody have a productive day!

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November 4, 2008

Cat Bullet

Tuesday Report

Filed under: Hobbies and Obsessions,It's a Cat's Life — Cat @ 10:16 am

Mule Deer
(picture obviously not very recent, given the absurdly warm temperatures our area is exhibiting)

So, what have I been up to??

I’m not sure that I’ve told the blog-land that I “accidentally” got a job at my favorite Yarn Store. Yep, Gerri at Knick Knack decided that since I was there so much, she was either going to charge me rent or hire me. Let me tell you, it is an incredibaly bizarre feeling to see that money is flowing INTO my bank account from the yarn store rather than the reverse.

I’m mainly just a helper, and am learning to make the various coffee concoctions (without burning myself or poisoning the customers). I spend a lot of time “bonding” with the various yarns to become familiar with their fiber contents, gauges, etc. I’m still trying to perfect the technique of neatly stacking round balls of yarn in square cubby holes, but I guess that will come with practice.

It is fun to help people find “just the perfect yarn” for “just the perfect project”.

Actually, people only think that I am being helpful. What I am actually doing is sounding them out to see if they are worthy and trustworthy enough to take some of my yarn children home with them. You can’t be too careful, these days… :-)

On Saturday, I started teaching a “Rockin Sock” class. Very fun to indoctrinate people into the addiction art of sock making. The students make a plain 2×2 ribbed sock out of a really nice, colorful and soft DK weight yarn. At that weight, they make quick progress. As it so happened, I had the same yarn in my stash (imagine that), so I pulled mine out and got mine to the same point that the students will have theirs on Saturday. I will use them to help demonstrate the upcoming techniques.

Lest you think that a “prepared” instructor would have had that already done, I didn’t know that I was going to be teaching the class. I just stepped in at the last minute when the assigned instructor had a scooter breakdown.

Next week should be fun: we are doing the heel flap, turning the heel and picking up the gusset stitches. Lots to do!!

Knitting wise, I’ve almost finished my second Red Scarf. I’m doing the irish hiking scarf out of a deep wine-red Cascade Superwash. I LOVE this yarn and I LOVE this pattern. Together, they literally look like a million bucks.

Once the scarf is done, I need to focus on my Taos stole. Why? Well, since it is currently using EVERY SINGLE ONE of the multitude of cables for my Knit Picks set, I can’t start anything new until I finish it off. I don’t think it will take too long, really, I just had a couple of time-deadline things that got in the way. When I buckle down and focus, it should move pretty quickly. I really hope to have it done before Thanksgiving so that I can take advantage of some time off to cast on some new projects.

Ah well, everyone have a happy Tuesday. Remember to vote, if you haven’t already done so.

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October 24, 2008

Cat Bullet

Important: Red Scarf Deadline EXTENDED!!

Filed under: Hobbies and Obsessions — Cat @ 3:44 pm

Hi All!

Just a quick note to tell you that the deadline to submit a Red Scarf for the Red Scarf Project has been extended until December 15th. Apparently, they have not receved as many scarves as they had hoped…

Surely, even in these busy and financially scary times, anyone can put together a quick scarf and get it mailed off by December 15th.

I’ll make a deal with individuals in my local area (you know who you are…): Get the scarves to me by December 5th and I will mail them.

See? All you have to do is knit. Or Crochet. You don’t have to package or make a trip to the pesky post office.

Though I would ask that if anyone is going to take me up on this, that they let me know ahead of time so that I can plan accordingly.

That’s all. Have a great weekend. Dive into your stash and then Knit or Crochet something scarfish…

Oh yeah: the requirements are “Unisex, and soft to the touch”. Preferably machine washable. They are even willing to be flexible on the “Unisex” thing, though they tend to get more feminine scarves than masculine scarves. Doesn’t even really have to be red, though since they will be distributed on Valentine’s day, it would be nice.

For a great photo of some of the scarves that have been sent in, click here.

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