Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

What’s My Wand?

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life — folkcat at 1:01 pm on Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I am, indeed, still crafting, despite what I said yesterday. Time was spent on the PixelHobby picture, placing little plastic squares onto tiny plastic pegs to create the image.

I must confess, though, I’m feeling a major transitional crisis over the concept of crafting and its place in my life.

I feel as though I spend endless hours making things, but never finishing. I feel as though none of the effort I’m putting forth is producing results. Just when I think I’m seeing the end of the tunnel on knitting rat rugs, we come up with a different size and style we need.

I feel as though the knitting must be put aside for a while, to allow me room to pursue other crafts. Maybe I can finally get past the mice on the miniature knotted rug needlework piece. Maybe I can simply put a burst of effort into the quilting. I don’t know.

I’ll not be abandoning knitting altogether. It’s still the most portable craft to take to Knitting Around at Panera, so I’ll be working on it at least weekly. Probably on socks – I still have a desire to knit multiple pairs for Gryphon and I.

The crafting content here on the blog will be fairly unpredictable while I go through this shift, but it will still be here. I just can’t tell you what form it will take until it happens.

Meanwhile, with Harry Potter on the brain lately, I found this on Sarah‘s blog, and considered it all too appropriate to do right now:

Your Score: 9 3/4″, Oak, Phoenix

You scored 36 wisdom, 27 bravery, 5 emotional, and 44 martyrdom!

Oak signifies wisdom, endurance, protection, and authority. The phoenix tail feather as your core means that you have the capability to be an extremely powerful wizard or witch and that you will defend those you love at all costs.

Link: The Harry Potter Wand Test written by sputnik845 on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Slump

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Rats! — folkcat at 1:23 pm on Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lola is still settling in nicely. The times that all three Ratties get to interact, Star and Sable are acting less bothered by her presence, and Lola is less insistent on being with them every second. Okay, she still does get on Sable’s nerves a little, but I think she’s mostly very excited every time she gets to be with other rats. I’m sure that once we can house them all together, things will settle down. And I can feel fairly sure that, while nerves may still be a little rattled by the newcomer, at least it doesn’t appear that any Ratties will be harmed.

Otherwise, I’m feeling a significant crafting slump. I am absolutely, painfully b-o-r-e-d by knitting Rat Rugs, and need a break from them. I’m also feeling tired of socks. I’ve been exploring patterns for lace shawls, and even swatched some yarn, but I’m not feeling the love for lace at the moment.

The hexagon quilt piecing may work for me, as might some recently neglected crafts. Namely, the PixelHobby picture, and perhaps some papercraft or Perler beads.

I think my approach is going to be to take an official break from all crafting, but allow myself to indulge in anything that attracts my interest. Let’s see what rises to the surface for a bit!

ETA: Just to clarify, I’ll be continuing to blog. So don’t worry, you’ll still hear about what the Rattie Sisters are up to, and whatever crafting does weasel its way into my day!

No Socks For You

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Knitting,Stitchery,Television — folkcat at 1:47 pm on Monday, June 11, 2007

Did I finish the socks I was working on? The ones I promised a modeled photo of today?

That would be a “no.”

Gryphon and I got going great guns on errands and things this weekend. And while it means we got a lot done, it also means I didn’t really turn my thoughts to knitting when I got home.

I did, however, start working on another project that’s been calling me since I finished the last embroidered rock.

SIP: Dinosaur

He looks impressively large in this picture, with nothing to give you a proper scale. In fact, it’s about 8 inches from the tip of the tail to the front of the piece, and it stands about 5 inches tall. Not too bad, though it will be the largest piece I’ve done yet.

The thread in this case is DMC floss, color #69. When I work with floss at this scale, I use all six strands without separating them. The technique is the same, basic blanket stitch embroidery that I discussed in my How To Embroider a Rock post.

SIP: Dino Detail, First Band

In this close up of the side, you can see that the first part I stitched, on the left, the color bands go completely around the body. It was only after getting to the second light colored band that I realized I could work short rows and keep the shades in the areas I want. As you can see to the right, the second dark band doesn’t completely circle the body – it sits as a stripe on top, with lighter color thread at the belly.

It’s going to be fascinating to watch this build. Unlike the rocks, I want to have more control over the placement and direction of the color patches, so I’ll be watching the shape of the body carefully and making decisions about stitch direction based on what I see happening as I go.

Once again, I found myself completely sucked in while I worked on this piece. I stitched during the Tony Awards broadcast, and was able to pay some attention to the show. Don’t worry, I caught all the important bits. It was just as well I was stitching along, though, because the Awards captured my interest less than usual this time. All the big buzz – and most of the awards – went to shows that I’ve not been seeing hype about over the course of the year. As a Broadway fan who doesn’t get to be right in Manhattan seeing what the theaters are up to, if a show doesn’t make much splash on the general news, I know nothing about it. It’s hard to get excited about shows you have no connection to, even if that connection only comes from news stories.

Our household errands weren’t purely utilitarian. One of the items I came home with was this little girl:

Sunnie Doll

The box names her “Sunnie,” but I don’t think that’s going to stick. She’s an “Our Generation” doll, made by the Battat Co. and sold at Target. Our Generation dolls are meant to be an inexpensive alternative to the 18″ American Girl Dolls.

Sunnie is the same size as the 18″ standard girl dolls, and will wear the same outfits. No, she’s not a gift for some little girl I know. Unless you count me as a little girl. I’ve just been wanting a doll to create outfits for, and finally spotted these at Target the other day.

There’s a distinct quality difference compared to a more expensive collectible doll, but for the price I paid ($19.99), she’s not bad at all. And anything I make for her will still be usable if I find a chance to get one of the better quality options in the future.

My brief foray onto the web to find knitting patterns for her has been disappointing, however. Everything seems to be knit with worsted weight yarn, and looks ultra chunky and lacking in style. The scale of worsted is just all wrong here – imagine if you knitted a cardigan for yourself holding a couple strands of bulky weight together? That’s the effect I’m seeing out there so far.

I’ll keep looking – I may just need to dig deeper to find the patterns that are meant to make nice, elegant outfits, instead of quick knits for grandma to knit that will wear hard for a child at play. Eventually, I may even create some of my own patterns. Who knows?

Adaptable Crafting

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Knitting — folkcat at 12:49 pm on Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It’s a slow week Chez Folkcat & Gryphon. Gryphon keeps busy with his two jobs; I, on the other hand, am feeling achy.

At least I have a lot of flexibility in what I do. Yes, I get disappointed if the crafts I hoped to do on a given day don’t happen. But I always have something else that may fit better into how I’m feeling, so it’s rare that I get to the end of even a bad day and feel that I didn’t accomplish enough to count.

I suspect that my concept of assigned “Days” for crafts may go out the window this week, as I work on what feels good rather than what I scheduled myself to do. Which is okay – the neglected crafts will get their turn again.

Today, for instance, the overall achy feeling in my muscles is making me think unkindly towards my normal Wednesday Quilting Day – all that getting up and down from chairs, cutting fabric, going to sew it, back to the ironing board to press the seams, rinse, and repeat. The layout of my spaces means that cutting and ironing happen in one room, and sewing in another altogether. All that movement is feeling like a bit much for me.

On the other hand, the sock I reported on in yesterday’s post was finished last night. It fits extremely well, feels comfortable even on my twitchy and sensitive toes (non-confining, but not loosey-goosey), and I dare say, I may find that this Barefoot Diva can actually stand to wear a fully-enclosed sock if I make more like this.

So today’s big project will not be the next set of squares for my Bento Box wallhanging, but instead, I’ll cast on for Socks for Folkcat, Pair One, Sock Two. And I imagine I’ll be quite satisfied with my progress at the end of the day!

I’m off, then, to pop an Aleve for the achiness, and have some lunch before I pull out the next ball of my Regia yarn and get that new sock going. Hope you’re having a productive and happy day!

Distraction Therapy

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Knitting,Papercraft,Sewing,Stitchery — folkcat at 1:52 pm on Monday, April 30, 2007

I’m just so tired and crappy feeling these days. Is it the stress of wondering if Gryphon will find a part-time job soon enough to count? Have we had some low-level bug pass through us? (Our bathroom habits this weekend would suggest that’s a possibility!) Is there a general malaise in Southern NH in the wake of floods, college shootings, and other miserable events dominating the news?

I’ve somehow managed to continue being productive, in spite of it all. Crafting helps to distract me from the aches and pains. The sad thing is that I have to lift my consciousness out of the creative process now and then, if only to eat and sleep. It’s at those moments that my brain has time to notice that I feel like hell.

Truthfully, I’m not too worried about it. I know that whatever it is, it will pass. And with good progress on a number of crafts, it’s hard to feel impaired by anything.

For instance, since Friday I have:

  • Cut out all the pieces for another 8 to 9 inch tall Maneki Neko papercraft model. The new one will be a different pose than the one pictured at that link, with a medallion focusing on wishing for money.
  • Stitched the stems of the vines along the sides of a path on the miniature knotted rug.NIP - Mini Knotted Rug, First Vines
  • Worked several inches of foot, the short-row heel, and a couple inches of leg on Gryphon’s Socks, Pair Two, Sock Two.
    WIP - Gryphon's Socks, Pair 2, Sock 2, Into the Leg
  • Knit the Nearly Endless Edging as far as the center of my Carnival Glass Shawl. I put it down at this point because the next step involves changing which rows attach to the live stitches for a few repeats.
    WIP - Carnival Glass Shawl, Edging to Center Point
  • Sewed a complete dogbone pillow for Gryphon. He was so taken with mine, and went shopping in my fabric stash to see if anything appealed to him. What he came up with was a discontinued Egyptian print fabric from Jo-Ann’s. Being my second dogbone, this one stitched up in no time, and Gryphon got a better made pillow than I did. (Pictures later – he’s taking a nap before work, and the pillow is in use!)
  • And I have officially turned over the rest of my portion of the PixelHobby craft to Gryphon. He’s just enjoying it too darned much, and he has precious few crafts that appeal to him the way this does. It’s not like I don’t have other things I can be working on, after all!PIP - PixelHobby, 5 done, 7 to go

You see? It’s hard to find time to feel crappy when you’re doing all this. At least the time spent feeling achy and tired is far outweighed by the time I spend successfully distracting myself from it! So, I’m planning to continue this course of distraction therapy. One day soon, I’m sure I’ll be surprised at how much better my body feels when I get up from my crafting.

Weekend Wrap Up

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Knitting,Sewing,Shopping Adventures,Stitchery — folkcat at 12:11 pm on Monday, April 16, 2007

My productive streak continued through the weekend. Let’s see if I can remember everything!

First off, a friend and I went out to visit a Local Quilt Shop on Friday for their Friday the 13th sale. The big draw is bundles of 13 fat quarters for $13.

I’d been to a previous Friday the 13th sale entirely by accident, and picked up this stack of retro print fat quarters then:

Fabric - 13 Retro Prints

I’ve taken a notion that I want to make a hexagon quilt, some variation on Grandmother’s Flower Garden, and these fabrics would be perfect. So I went up to the sale Friday hoping to find another stack of the retro prints.

As luck would have it, there was exactly one left on the sale table by the time I got there. I pounced, and it was mine!

Fabric - More Retro Prints

Best of all, there are only three fabrics in the new stack that duplicate fabrics from the old stack. So I have 23 different fabrics here. What fun!

Anya and I kept going after that shop, and visited another quilt shop where I found these friendly-looking cats in the clearance corner:

Goofy Cat Fabric
Psycho Kitties?

Of course, they had to come home with me. No idea what they’ll wind up in, but how could I resist those faces? I bought a yard on Friday, and then when I went into the same shop again Saturday, I bought another yard. (I’ll probably do that every time I visit there, so long as the fabric is still present in the clearance corner.)

Here’s the info about the fabric as found on the selvedge, if you want to try to track it down yourself. Click the picture for a larger image if you need it.

Goofy Cat Fabric, Selvedge Info

While out at quilt shops, I had a chance to show my first quilt squares from last week to an expert or two. Turns out that what I thought was a cutting error that made one piece of each square a little too long, was actually a sewing error. I’m still practicing, folks, and apparently I haven’t nailed the art of the quarter-inch seam yet. All my seams came out just a hair larger than the magic quarter-inch, and though there weren’t that many seams in any given square, the cumulative effect was enough to make that last piece appear too long.

Not to worry – the squares I made will get trimmed, and sewn into a pillow. That sounded like a better idea than picking apart the seams and trying again! When I went back to the quilt shop on Saturday, I bought quarters of the same fabrics again so I can start fresh for the wall hanging I’m working on. And I’ll have a pillow to match!

Enough About the Shopping – How About the Crafting?

Managed to do pretty well there, too. Both Gryphon and I put in a lot of work on the PixelHobby tiles. Four baseplates are now complete, with two more well over halfway done. The entire picture contains twelve baseplates, so we’re approaching the halfway point on the project as a whole.

Having decided that the weekend might offer better, focusable time for needlework, I put in the latest Netflix disc (Veronica Mars, Season 1, Disc 4), and pulled out the miniature knotted rug. At last, the border on that central medallion with the mice is complete!

Needlework In Progress (NIP) Kitty Corner Knotted Rug, Medallion Complete

The next step is to stitch the vines that border the stone pathways radiating out from the center.

I’m beginning to think that there are “Bad Thread Days” in needlework. The previous two times I’d tried to work on this stitching, the thread seemed to misbehave badly, snagging, popping the French knots through the fabric when it shouldn’t, etc. This time, everything was smooth and easy. Humidity? Stitching Goddess? Who knows?

Later Sunday, after my fingers were worn out from tiny embroidery needles and pixelating, I picked up Gryphon’s latest sock and got back to work. The heel was finished in good time, and I began working up the leg. Home stretch, folks, and then I get to do it again!

WIP - Gryphon's Socks, P2, S1, Into the Leg

Into Today

Monday is Spinning Day, and I think the yarn I plied last Monday has sat on the bobbin long enough. I’ll be skeining that up and giving it a wash today. Then I think, rather than start a new project on the wheel, I’ll put some time in on one of the several unfinished yarns I’ve got on spindles.

I hope you all stayed warm and dry yesterday. Gryphon and I planned well, and were able to stay inside crafting and relaxing. Of course, the Weather Channel is predicting various combinations of rain and snow for nearly every day this week. Yuck! Did we use up all of spring in January, do you think, or is it going to wait until it’s officially summer to make an appearance?

Tuesday is Needlework Day – Unless It Isn’t

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Sewing,Stitchery — folkcat at 1:25 pm on Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Because, you know…it just doesn’t seem to be working out.

I thought that needlework would be doable for Tuesdays, but in reality, I just can’t seem to get there. When I sit down to do embroidery, needlepoint, cross stitch, it takes a certain amount of time to set up, and you want to be able to work uninterrupted for a good while before having to set things aside.

Tuesdays are Craft Goddess day. My friends come into my home to sit and craft for a few hours in the evening. In fact, I go out to pick one up and bring her back. Which means that there’s always a change of activity to anticipate within an hour or so of starting anything on a Tuesday.

I’m going to shift things around, then. The way things are currently set up, Monday and Wednesday are already filled with crafts that require the same sort of attention as the needlework – spinning and quilting. Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday all involve outings or gatherings of some sort, and aren’t conducive to needlework. Weekends have been considered “Anything Goes,” but there’s no reason I can’t put a Needlework Day on either Saturday or Sunday.

The new concept, then, is to have Tuesday as an Anything Goes day. I can pick up whatever craft is easy to do while chatting with friends. On the weekends, when it’s just Gryphon and me, I can work in needlework activities among the other things we do quite easily.

The failure of yesterday as a Needlework Day means I have nothing to show you today. I did a fair bit of work on book stuff, but it looks a lot like the last photo of that which I shared.

Wednesday is Quilting Day

I actually got enough cleaning and organizing done on Monday that I think I’ll be able to do this, too. The card table is ready for the cutting mat to be laid out, the sewing machine is up and loaded with the correct needle. Wish me luck!

Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along – Ow!

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Spinning — folkcat at 12:48 pm on Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Boy, am I aching today. Though not as bad as I might have feared.

Before I get to that, though, here’s the picture of the PixelHobby progress that I had wanted to share yesterday. If you really want to see the detail, click on it for a larger image.

Pixels In Progress - Baseplates 1 - 3 of 12

This is, from left to right, Baseplates 1, 2, and 3. It’s the top row of the final image, along with Baseplate 4, which will go to the right. These three tiles together measure 4 inches high, and 15 inches wide. In the final assembly, there will be no visible seams – I placed them with a little gap so you could tell the baseplates apart. There’s a little flare in Baseplate 2 because it’s not actually complete, so the glossy, transparent baseplate is reflecting the camera flash.

As for that aching – I actually got out the weights and the book I talked about yesterday, and did a full set of the exercises – six exercises, two sets of eight repeats for each. It felt good, at the same time that my arms and everything else was hurting a little at the end. But a good hurt, you know?

Spinning & Lifting

As you can see between the weights, I also fulfilled the promise of Monday is Spinning Day, and finished my first plied, wheel-spun yarn. This is a mixed red, orange, pink, and cream merino roving that I’ve been working on for far too long, totalling about 4 ounces. It’s now a variable weight 2-ply. Next step will be to wind it off onto a niddy-noddy, give it a good bath, and do a WPI check to see what I really have here.

Spinning FO, detail

It looks a bit sloppy here – I’m still getting the hang of how often to move the sliding guide down the flyer to evenly distribute the yarn on the bobbin.

No idea what I’ll knit with this yet, but at 4 ounces, there’s enough to make something measurable. Hat, scarf, who knows? I’m sure the right thing will suggest itself as I finish it off into a nice skein.

The spinning was another factor contributing to today’s general achiness. This was my longest wheel session ever – over two hours, with minor breaks. I finished the last half ounce of the singles, then decided that, since everything was right there, I might as well go ahead with the plying. So I did, and I kept going until it was done.

So at the end of the day – and getting out of bed this morning – yeah, I hurt. My legs and arms know that I worked yesterday. But I’m very pleased, because yesterday was perhaps the best example of how this new approach of mine – assigning different craft categories to different days – can work for me. I got a lot done on a craft that’s been neglected, and have a nearly finished yarn to show for it.

Yay, me!

Today, Tuesday, I get to be a bit more still. It’s Needlework Day, meaning embroidery, needlepoint, etc. Good thing – I need a day of rest before I repeat my strength exercises tomorrow, and spend Wednesday running around the house cutting fabric and sewing up some quilt!

Out of Sight, etc…

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Knitting — folkcat at 12:38 pm on Monday, April 9, 2007

I sometimes think I must literally be out of my mind. How can something drop out of my routine so completely that I forget I ever did it, just because the equipment is in a different room?

My exercise routine used to involve alternating days of:

The strength exercises were easy to do, and made a distinct difference in my fitness level. But sometime in October last year, I stopped doing them altogether. Only recently have I remembered about them.

What made them go away? Nothing more than the living room/bedroom swap we did in October. Who knew that the simple act of leaving the weights and the book with the exercises in what became the bedroom would make them completely vanish? It’s almost as if they became cloaked by a Somebody Else’s Problem Field, only they didn’t become somebody else’s problem. I think, instead, it was the related-but-not-quite Out of Sight, Out of Mind Field. (No Wiki link for that, I just made it up now.)

I’m not sure what brought them to my mind again, but I went to the bedroom this morning and retrieved the weights and book, and have brought them into the new living room. Now, I just have to find space for the more stable, but not foldable, chair that I prefer to use for these exercises, and I’ll be back in business.

Crafting?

Crafting this weekend didn’t involve any knitting. I had a pre-migraine type of weekend – the sort where you get some of the warning signs, but never quite get the migraine – which left me a bit off balance. Since the Current Sock is within an inch of having the heel turned, it has temporarily moved out of the realm of mindless knitting.

What I did accomplish was in the category of Perler Bead sorting. Half of an entire 22,000 bead jar has now been sorted into 8-oz. deli containers. Only half, because I was only picking out half of the colors on this go ’round. That’s how many color containers I could, in two stacks, fit conveniently on my little Tablemate in front of my armchair, The remaining beads have been set aside for separate processing into the other half of the containers.

Gryphon and I worked some more on the PixelHobby picture on Sunday. I’d show you a picture, but my current set of rechargeable batteries is on their last legs, and didn’t last long enough for me to get the shot. I’m going to have to buy some replacement sets this week.

What’s Up This Week?

Hopefully, I’ll be able to report on starting the weight training exercises again. I want to get the heel turned on the sock, and I want to spin the rest of that fiber I’ve got on the wheel. I’d like to finish the border on that central medallion on the miniature knotted rug, and maybe at least begin laying out and cutting the pieces for my Bento Box quilted wallhanging.

Feel free to start laying bets about which items, or how many, will actually happen. I’m keeping optimistic about it, I think there’s a chance I might get to all of them! Now, if I can just do it all with my fingers crossed…

Oh, yeah…we’re also in Spin The Wheel mode with regards to our upstairs neighbors. The folks with the little girl suddenly moved out this weekend. So we’re waiting to see what the Wheel of Neighbors decides to spin up for us next. If you can, send out good thoughts to the Wheel that we get quiet folks without children this time, okay? Not that there’s anything wrong with children, they just don’t seem to be able to live in the apartment above us without being noisy beyond belief.

Good, Bad, & Ugly

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Knitting — folkcat at 12:43 pm on Friday, April 6, 2007

Any good idea is worth stealing, right? So here’s my own version of Good, Bad, and Ugly for today.

Good:

WIP: Gryphon's Socks, Pair Two, Sock One

I’m within an inch or so of turning the heel on the first sock of Gryphon’s second pair. As much as half of this was knit last night at Panera.

Bad:

No pictures of the mystery knitting project yet! They were to be given out last night, but several of our knitters didn’t make it due to nasty colds. So the rest will be given next week. Because there are still blog readers on the recipient list who haven’t gotten theirs yet, I can’t post them until then!

Ugly:

Nasty cough this morning. I frequently have some coughing in the morning as the nighttime accumulation of crud clears. Some mornings are worse than others. Today was one of them.

I’m fine now, but the extra coughing can leave me a bit tired.

Good:

I should finish the next sample piece for the book today, and possibly start stringing for the final version of the project. And no, I won’t be more specific than that.

Since it’s P-Day (Perler, PixelHobby, Polymer Clay, & Papercraft), I’ll probably also spend a satisfying session continuing the Perler Bead sorting.

Bad:

My friend Bea who usually comes over on Friday nights to watch television is one of the knitters who was home sick last night, and she won’t be coming for our TV night, either. So I’ll watch TV alone tonight and send healing thoughts her way. Get well soon, Bea!

Not So Ugly:

It’s Friday. How ugly could that be? I hope you all enjoy your weekend as much as I plan to enjoy mine!

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