Thursday, August 23, 2007

Knitting With Cats

Or perhaps it would be more acurate to say knitting around cats, because cats do interfere with your knitting. So here are some simple rules I have found that help me cope with catly interference.

1. Your cat loves you, and he will express this love by laying on you while you are knitting. Especially if he can manage to lay on the yarn ball and or a strategic corner of your project making it neccessary to move him before finishing or starting a new row. There is really no way around this one. Your cat has the upper hand here. You love him, and would never lob him across the room for snagging your very delicate and complicated lace shawl. He will also feel free to sleep on any pattern, book, or charted design you're working from. Making it neccessary to shuffle the cat from your knitting, off your lap, off your pattern, off your working yarn ball and hopefully off your couch. He may or may not get the hint at this point. Sometimes I resort to locking him out of the house or briding him with catnip.

2. Your cat loves your yarn, especially if it is expensive or impossible to replace. If you bought a silk/mohair yarn on a special trip to Portland for half price, because they don't make that size skein in that colorway anymore, that is the yarn your cat will want to make his very own stuffy. Fortunately this problem has a simple solution. Bag it, box it, or stick it in a cupboard. If you have an open work basket, shove it under an endtable or lock it in a closet. Never under estimate the yarn thieving abilities of your average cat, or you will wake up with yarn balls strung a round your dining room table, into the living room and down the hall to the laundry machines. Ask me how I know.

3. Completed or semi completed knitting projects make perfect cat beds. If your project is complete and just needs to go in the wash this isn't as much of a problem. If your project is still on the needles and becomes you cats favoritest place to sleep, there by knocking stitches loose, and making you swear a blue streak as your try to pick them all up again, it's more of a problem. But then you really can't blame the cat for sleeping on afgans you made for sleeping on in the first place.

4. As far as your cat is concerned yarn is a toy. You love yarn. You love the way it feels, how it flows through your hands and on to the needles, the texture, the color, and even the smell. So does your cat. Only he likes to bat it around your whole house and pack it around like a dead rat. If you're very unlucky he also likes to eat it, or at least chew on it. How do I know this?
I have yarn loving cats, all four of the little beggers. Pixel, Crystal, and Bugaboo all love wool. I cannot even count the number of times I have had to start a new ball of yarn because they've gnoshed through it, usually in mid-row, usually while the little darling was laying on my lap. Sentry, on the other hand, likes cotton. Only he likes to eat it. Now actually digesting yarn is bad for cats. It won't go through and you have to have the vet surgically remove what ever won't pass. This scares me a bit to think that my yarn could kill my cat, so when I see him snacking and he has a big ol' strand of yarn hanging out of his mouth I pull it out. I once pulled 2 1/2 yarns of dishrag cotton, dripping kitty spit and all slimy, out of him mouth. Yuck. I do not have pictures of this and I don't ever want to do it again. I keep my cotton locked up now.

5. If you blog about knitting your cat will become obsessed with walking on your keyboard. The picture says it all. It once took me five minutes to figure out that the reason a page wasn't loading was because he was laying on the esc key.
6. Who ate my double points? Cats have a hard time resisting wooden needles. Who can blame them, so do I. I however, do not chew on the ends. I now have two sets of double points that used to have five needles a piece and now only have four. Darned cat. Again the solution is to hide them from your cats. I have special bags for my needles and after they're bagged I put them in the cupboard. So far this has worked, because I'm a needle snob and I'll be damned if I'm going to use aluminum needles because of the cats.
I hope you've found these rules helpful. Or at least entertaining. I'm sure there will be more catly interference with my knitting and I'll need to come up with more rules. But my cats and I have reached an understanding and if they claw up my shawl while I'm blocking it I refuse to be responsible for my actions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A sneak peek at the Stash

Almost every person I know has a stash. Not every stash has yarn but the erge to stash is very human. My huband stashes snack foods and scrap booking supplies. My friend Lisa has a yarn and fabric stash. My friend Shelley has a profound yarn stash. I thought folks might like a little peek at mine.

I have a yarn cupboard. It's double layered, there's more yarn behind the bit in the front. Most of this yarn is sock yarn.

I have yarn under the bed. This is mostly wool for felting. Some of it I dyed myself.
This is not the only box of yarn under the bed, but we will not take pictures of all of them. We do not want the Husband to ever really know the full extent of the stash.

I have yarn in the closet. Husband insists on hanging his clothes in the bottom part, I get the shelves.

I also have knitting books. And an alarming tenedency to leave my knitting projects 'all over the damn house' quoth my husband. Whom I dearly love and tolerate his alarming tendency to leave books and empty soda cans all over the damn house.
I also have some less tidy corners with baskets, bags and, well more bags of knitting projects and yarn. But they were somewhat less picture worthy.
I love my stash.
And I needed to blog on something that was NOT the shawl...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Lace knitting: the Shawl Saga

This picture should be titled 'I Love My Cat and Will Not Kill Him'. He knows this, of course. He also knows that he is a black cat and I am knitting a very delicate white shawl. If he did not kill mice for me and keep my feet warm at night I would wang his little kitty head against a wall.


As you can see, around the cat, I have been working on my shawl. I've progressed to the last panel of lace that forms the center of the triangle. It sits right around the top of the shoulders and the base of the neck.

I'm not sure I like it. The lace is formed by an alternating K3tog (knit 3 together), k1 p1 k1 into the next stitch, row and plain knit rows. Because of the decreases you end up knitting the 3 (k1 p1 k1) stitches on the next pass. The resulting lace looks a bit like moss stitch with holes in it. It does not lay flat, because it's kinda fancy garter stitch.

It's not an amazingly difficult pattern, it's just time consuming. The K3tog's are touchy and you have to be really careful to not lose a stitch or split the yarn or only knit 2 out of 3. (Of course some of this is my fault for knitting super slippery alpaca lace weight yarn on super slippery Addi Turbo's. But i will over look that.)

I just don't know if I like the look of it. It looks OK in the magazine picture, but is somewhat distorted by the drape of the garment. So I'm left with questions. How will it look in real life once it's knitted up? How will it look once it's blocked? If it's ugly will my hair be long enough to cover it? Well, probably, my hair goes past my waist. Will it look good enough to not need long hair?

And most importantly, can I keep my cat off it long enough to even answer these and other facinating questions?

(Que dramatic music.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I'm making progress!

See how far I've gotten.

Ok, it's not blocked so it's not nearly as impressive as it could be, but it's still progress.

This is how the pattern works. You cast on 339 stitches and knit your way up and in, then you come back and pick up sticthes to knit the border. So basically you start in the middle. The shawl itself has 4 kinds of lace pannels interspersed with reverse stockinette stitch.

I've done two of the different kinds of lace. Here's a close up. If you go by the charts I have done A, B and C, and just finished row 57. On the big picture you can see where I've put red dots on the rows I've finished. I mark up most of my patterns eventually which is why I work from photocopies alot.

In the original pattern the rows of eyelet lace at the bottom and the rows of eyelet lace at the top would be in a grey-beige color. The feather and fan lace block in the middle would be in dark grey at the bottom shading to light grey at the top. So if you think about it I've done a fair swack of knitting.

I like to think about it that way. I can't wait to see how much it's going to stretch out once it's blocked. The lace is working up so fine I wonder if it'll fit through a wedding ring?

Friday, August 10, 2007

10 Rules For Knitting While Watching TV

I like to knit in the evening while I'm watching TV. I'm really bad at just sitting still so this is about the only way I can sit through a whole TV show. So here are my rules. Your mileage may vary.

1. Knit during the commercials. This is the best time to get some serious knitting done without missing the good parts of the show.
2. Stop knitting if the suspense gets to much for you. I don't generally watch scary shows but I do like mystery shows and if the actions get to suspenseful you could tense up. You could end up with an hourglass shape in the middle of your knitting because the tension went from nice and easy to oh my gods tight.
3. Don't knit from charts. The constant looking back and forth will make you either screw up your knitting or miss your show. This is not the time to do complicated intarsia.
4. Do knit patterns with lots of repeats. Simple lace, simple cables, plain textured knitting are all good choices for TV watching.
5. Wait to count rows or stitches until the commercials. You'll be less distracted.
6. Don't watch really funny comedies. One rerun of Coupling was enough to make me laugh so hard 3 stitches had fallen off the end of the needles before I even noticed.
7. TV time is great for boring knitting. TV is what gets me through 96 rounds of stockinette on that really big felted bag.
8. You can't eat and knit and watch TV. Generally you can't eat and knit any way but this is especially true while trying to watch TV. But then this is not a disadvantage if you're dieting.
9. Don't let your knitting take up the entire couch. If you live alone you can pretty much ignore this rule but I have to share my couch with 4 cats a husband and 3 kids. Husband gets grouchy when there is no where for him to sit because of all the yarn, patterns, notions, needles, et all. He also gets upset when he sits on double points, go figure. The cats just walk all over everything and lay on my knitting any way.
10. Be prepared. Have your knitting, patterns, notions, a drink and everything handy. So you don't have to get up. You can also ignore this rule if you have children you can send to fetch you the things you need. First you have to teach them what a cable needle is though, and you run the risk of them playing with your measuring tape.

All rules can be ignored if you're in the same room as the TV but aren't actually watching it. Husband likes to have me in the same room when he's watching movies. He calls this spending time together. He is mistaken. He is watching TV. I am ignoring the TV and doing something constructive. We are merely in the same room. Oh well, it makes him feel better.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Slogalong with Mason Dixon

Some days are Chuck Berry kind of days, and some days are My Life With Thrill Kill Kult.

I listen to a lot of music. A whole lot. All the time. If I'm on the computer then the computer is playing launchcast or the CD of the day. If I'm doing house work, the radio or the stereo is on. Husband has the TV as his favorite form of background noise, I like my noise to have a tempo and actual musical notes. I will listen to opera but I will not listen to rap. Ok, I'm not overly fond of country and western either, but I love music. Love it, love it, love it.

Given my love of music I tend to associate events, objects, people, days, with songs. I'm having a Genesis, just after loosing Peter Gabriel, kind of day. Phil Collins was all that and a bag of chips but still finding his feet. So thats me today, musically inspired but still wanting to be behind a set of drums where I can hit things.

The point of this post was actually to talk about something I just read on Mason Dixon Knitting today. It was Ann's post from yesterday, she was talking about her vacation and the silk shrug she was working on and something called a slogalong. So being the cat curious person I am I followed the links and found out that they, the fabulous ladies at Mason Dixon, had started up a group for people who were stuck battling those fun knitting projects the seem to take forever. And I thought, well hey, I'm knitting this shawl that should be done about in time for the next ice age. It definitely qualifies. So I signed up.

I like talking to other knitters. Mostly I do this in person, but I've come to learn that their are an awful lot of knitters online. This should be a fun opportunity to see what other knitters are blogging about.

Here's progress on the shawl. It's still in the ramen noodle stage. It is my first big lace project and I can't even begin to count the number of little mistakes are in it. I understand that blocking will make it look prettier but it still looks like ramen. On the positive side, the yarn is a dream of softness. I've seen scratchier butter than this yarn. Which makes knitting it on Addi Turbo's ever so slightly stupid...

Maybe I should go by some wood circs. Hey, any excuse to go to my fave yarn shop.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


The 4th was my birthday. Go me.

My Mom and my baby sister Quinn visited.

I turned 35. 35 is a hard age for women in my family. It's not quite middle age so you're not allowed to have your mid-life crisis yet but it's old enough that you feel you should have done more with your life and haven't. I am not having the best 35.

Today is my son James 15th birthday. I had 15 children running through my very small apartment. The cake and watermelon didn't last long. I've also desided that teenagers are loud and obnoxious, especially in large quantities.

I'm going to go mope and work on my lace shawl. It's the Icelandic Lace Shawl from Piecework that Knitting Daily has had up. I actually had the original from the July 1996 Piecework, but didn't start it until last week or so. Hey, I bought the yarn and needles for it 2 years ago. I'm knitting it in lace weight, oh so soft, Misti Alpaca, all in cream. The pattern calls for alot of color changes but I figured I would knit the whole thing in cream and after it was made up I would ombre dye it to give it a more subtle shading.

OK, I obviously care more about my shawl than my stupid birthday....

Friday, August 3, 2007

Teddy Bear Party

We made bears!

We made 117 bears for the kids at the Hospice and Camp Erin, a bereavement camp. Camp Erin is partly sponsered by the Moyer Foundation and alot of folks in the community all come together to make Camp happen. Frontier Bank and Banner Bank both help out by providing funds for campers. Everett Clinic helps pay for food and renting the camp site. Project Linus makes quilts so when each child arrives at camp the are greated by a hand made bear and quilt on their bed.

It was just amazing to see all the bears people made and all the love and care that went into them. It made me go all teary eyed to see so many people in the community come together. Knitters are the best. We had people from 90 years old to 5 1/2 years old making bears. OK, clothes for bears. The bears themselves are donated by Warm 106.9, and other local radio stations. It was such fun.

These are to two I made.

Some of the bears, not in the 117 total, will go for auction in Oct. There was an Arabain Nights bear and a bear with a sheep stuffy and even a biker Nun. The creativity of my fellow knitters is awe inspiring. Just, wow.

I'll have more pictures as I get them. and I'll come up with more brilliant commentary as I have time. This is just a quick post. More to come....