Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Pattern Update

Filed under: Blogfriends,Downloads - Original Knitting Patterns,Knitting — folkcat at 3:54 pm on Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Internet is a great big pond, and everything you post on it makes ripples that keep going on, long after you have forgotten about the stone you threw in.

Someone who found my pattern for the Knit Felted Catnip Mice decided to repay me for offering it free. You may or may not remember that I posted the pattern as a TXT file on my patterns page, because I never got around to creating a finished PDF version. Imagine my surprise yesterday morning when I found exactly that in my inbox – a finished, professional PDF of the pattern!

I am eternally grateful to this new friend for her gift, and I have made sure her work was not in vain. The PDF is now posted on the patterns page for anyone to download. I’ve left the TXT version up as well, just in case anyone prefers that.

I just need to go figure out what Ravelry links and listings need to be updated now!

Enjoy!

Holding Pattern

Filed under: Daily Life,Gryphon,Knitting,Rats! — folkcat at 4:01 pm on Monday, November 10, 2008

Many thanks to everyone who offered their support over the issues of our foster girls. It really did help to hear from you.

Gabby and A.J. will be moving on soon to a foster home where they know how to deal with biting rats. I am greatly relieved – I knew that something more can be done for them than we are able to offer at this time, and now they’ll get it. It looks like we’ll be passing them along this coming weekend, schedules willing.

Gryphon is still home. We still don’t know everything about what’s wrong. But we do have some progress – a test today actually showed something that can be explored further, and may be a likely factor in many, though probably not all, of his symptoms. I’d tell you more, but it’s not my story to share, and we actually don’t know enough yet to say anything more certain than this.

I’ve been knitting rat rugs, kitchen dishcloths, and rat hammocks. Many of them. My hands hurt sometimes. They’re simple garter-stitch, fairly mindless, and we need them. So it’s a good thing. And they help me cope with the stress of everything.

The Perma-Ratties are still doing just fine, and keeping me good company. Lola is now 1 year, 9 months old, and at least once a day she comes to my lap and just tucks in a narrow space between my arm and my belly to snuggle and get skritched. Yuri and Leonardo are about 1 year old now and, well, they’re boys, and spend lots of time just lounging up in the highest elevations of the cage. Both of them, however, are more willing to come out on the lap with the whole gang and mill about under a blanket. Lily and Laurel are all of 4 1/2 months or so old, still children, really. They are bouncy, lively, and curious about everything. Still too wriggly to sit still for a skritching, but they love coming out to play.

Hang in there, folks, and thanks for keeping me company. More when there’s more to tell.

Stumbling Along

Filed under: Daily Life,Gryphon,Knitting,Rats! — folkcat at 7:52 pm on Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I finished the socks I’ve been working on.

The yarn is…actually, I forget the name. It’s that fairly inexpensive one with aloe in it that started showing up last year. On Your Toes, maybe? This colorway is called “Beach Print”.

Those who get picky about details may notice that the color sequence runs in opposite directions on the two socks. I had started these as lace-patterned socks, then frogged and began again as my plain vanilla k2p2 basics. In the course of frogging that first sock, the direction of that half of the yarn got reversed. Since I’m not concerned about my socks being matchy-matchy, I left it. I like how they came out.

I began my increases for my heel and ankle earlier on the foot – at only 4.5 inches from the tip of the toe, in fact. These are the best fitting socks I’ve made yet, so clearly, I’m doing something right.

In other news, I wish I could report that all is better. Truth is, a lot of the financial stuff is hitting the fan, big time. We’re going to be visiting various government offices in the next several days – and have already visited a few this week – with the goal of putting some of our past tax dollars to work for us. If you get my drift.

Because things are so tight, I’m going to have to stop going to Panera on Thursday nights for the foreseeable future. We just can’t afford the gas expense of driving anywhere that isn’t absolutely essential, nor can we justify the cost of eating at even a mildly priced restaurant. Anyone who reads this and wants to continue the Thursday night tradition without me, please do so! I’ll be back when I can, I just don’t know when that will be.

Gryphon’s health is improving, but it’s slow and unsteady progress. But there’s no denying that there is progress, so that’s good. Beyond that I really can’t say much except that he’s not back at work yet, and we’re still not sure when he will be.

He’s making good use of his recovery time at home, though. Gryphon has always been a whiz at homemade pizza, having worked at a pizza shop many years ago. This weekend, he tackled making a quiche for the first time – and boy howdy, that was tasty! He did it again last night (those refrigerated pie crusts come two in a package, after all), and as far as I’m concerned, he can make quiche any time he wants, I’ll be happy to eat it.

Nothing new to report about the ratties. I know I’ve left you hanging on the Gabby and A.J. story, but with the way things are in our life right now, that’s turning out to be a very difficult story to tell. These girls are about as tough a pair of ratties as I’ve ever seen, and the trust training they’re going through is a brand-new, stumble-and-trip as we try to figure it out, different sort of process for me and Gryphon. We’ve way out of our element here, and trying to work together to see that we do right by them.

I’ll be sure to tell you what I can, when I can.

Thursday Quick Takes

Filed under: Knitting,Movies,Rats!,Spinning — folkcat at 1:42 pm on Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hope you’re all having a great week! I’ve been keeping busy here in New Hampshire.

Illegal firecrackers going off mere yards from our home are an annual problem here every Fourth of July. So many of the neighbors are the type who just don’t care, and the houses are so close together.

Gryphon and I decided to avoid the issue altogether this year. We went to the movies.

A little dark, but that’s what it really looked like at that moment. We visited the Milford Drive-in (celebrating 50 years in business), and saw Wall-E.

You are hereby ordered, if you haven’t seen it already, to go. Immediately. As quick as you can manage, at least. It’s that good. I’m not saying anything more, it’s worth seeing with as little knowledge of the story as possible.

Not for the Faint of Heart

I finished my shawl last Thursday. Attached the border and everything, except for blocking and weaving in ends. This is what it looked like Friday afternoon.

Ametrine Shawl - finished?

Here’s what it looks like today.

I know, I know – some of you just gasped, others felt a little faint. Fact is, I examined the results carefully and decided they weren’t good enough, darn it. My gauge had lied and come out smaller, the whole shawl wouldn’t block as large as I wanted, and I absolutely didn’t like the way the border fit around the corner of the shawl (the pattern is designed with no extra ease there, so it cups).

So, yes, I frogged a very nearly complete object. It’s the right thing to do if you know you won’t be happy with the end result. And honestly? I love knitting entrelac so much that I’m kinda secretly thrilled that I get to do it again!

I’ve cast on for a base of 27 triangles instead of the 25 called for in the patten. I’m working with a needle a size larger than before, and so far it’s giving the correct gauge. I’ll re-calculate the border when I get to it, and I’ll include a little extra so it can be properly eased around the point.

I was calling this my Ametrine Shawl, for the combination of purple with yellows and oranges. I think now I’ll call it my Ametrine Phoenix Shawl, for being born, returned to its source material, and reborn better than before.

Spinning

Progresses fairly rapidly.

I’m managing up to an hour at a time now, and it’s coming along well. This is around half of the fiber spun. I can’t wait to ply this (it’ll be my first chain-plying) and see how it comes out. The singles are very thin, I’m guessing I’ll get fingering weight or maybe a little thinner when I triple-ply it.

Reluctant Model

Here’s what happens when I try too hard to get a picture of the Ratties for you:

Nose of a sleepy Leonardo

Leo gets pissed at me for disturbing his sleep.

Sorry…I tried!

What I’m Working On

Filed under: Downloads - Desktop Wallpapers,Knitting,Spinning — folkcat at 4:19 pm on Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I did a bit of a teaser last week about some of the fiber crafting I’ve been doing. One was a picture of my Lendrum bobbin with some multi-colored singles spun on it.

Here’s what the same bobbin looks like today:

I’ve been putting in a minimum of 15 minutes a day at the wheel, and some days as much as 30 minutes or more. So progress is coming along nicely.

This is the first my wheel has been active in over a year. I haven’t lost the skill, I guess it’s like riding a bicycle. In fact, I think I’m better for having let the spinning hibernate for so long. It’s feeling very natural now, so natural I even find myself craving time spent at the wheel as much as I do time with the knitting needles.

One thing that has made it easier to spin – I finally picked a spot for the wheel that means I can sit down with very little effort and just start.

What you’re seeing is the corner of the living room where my desktop computer lives. The wheel is placed such that all I have to do is spin my chair in place, move the ball of roving to the left, and start treadling. Which is quite often exactly what I do after reading e-mails, posting to the blog, or other online activities. It’s amazing how it can add up when you remove obstacles like set-up time.

The roving I’m spinning is a hand-dyed merino. Purchased at the Dublin General Store here in New Hampshire over a year ago, where one of the owners is an avid knitter/spinner/dyer who sells her goods right there, one room over from the wine selection and across the main store from the deli counter. If I remember correctly (the tag is long gone), it’s about 6 oz. total weight.

I formed no plan for this when I sat down. I had pre-drafted the entire lot way back when. As I sat down to the wheel, I made a decision to move the belt on the flyer one notch smaller, upping the ratio a little. Otherwise, I’ve let the wool find its own weight. Thin, but not too thin. I haven’t done a wpi on the single, so I’m not sure.

To preserve the long color runs, I may make this my first chain-plied yarn. Or second – I have a partial bobbin of a non-descript blue single that I spun and have no other plans for, I am likely to practice on that first. Tripling this multi-colored single, I’m guessing from my quick tests, will give me something in the range of a fingering weight.

After that, I’ll just have to decide what to knit with it! If it turns out even enough, I may try for my first hand-spun socks.

Speaking of knitting, I teased this project the other day, too:

The pattern is called Autumn, and it’s an entre-lac shawl pattern published by the Jojoland yarn company. The yarn is their worsted weight variegated called Rhythm. Rhythm has very long stretches of color, making entre-lac a perfect way to display it. The particular colorway I’m using is number 023, which comes in shades of purple, orange, and yellow. I love the combination of both warm and cool colors, and of course, I love the purple.

Yes, I have abandoned both the Adult Surprise Jacket and my latest pair of socks to work on this. I was in the yarn store and she had a sample of the shawl knitted up, and I simply fell in love. I scored a copy of the pattern from her that day to be sure I’d have it. Then I developed such an eagerness to knit it over the next couple of days that I raided the piggy bank for part of the money, and talked Gryphon into the rest as an early birthday present (way early – it’s not until August).

I had my 10 11 balls of Rhythm that Saturday, and had cast on by Saturday night. (The pattern calls for 10 balls – we bought an extra as a cushion.) Today, I’m within a short distance of finishing the main body of the shawl, then I’ll cast on for the border. My goal is to finish by my birthday so I can enjoy my gift. I think I’ll have no trouble making it – and I hope those don’t become “famous last words”!

Someone amongst the commenters – you know who you are – has already hinted that the photo of the entrelac knitting would make a great desktop wallpaper. I agree! I do plan to take the image above and make all the proper size versions, add the copyright statement, etc. Since my personal monitor is now a widescreen one, I’ll be adding a new size/proportion as well, 1680 x 1050.

Until I actually get myself away from the knitting and spinning to do that, however, if you want to use the photo above as your desktop wallpaper, simply click on the image. You’ll be taken to the full size version (1600×1200), which you can then save to your own computer. Just do me the favor of doing so only for your own personal use, and don’t redistribute the image, okay?

Whew! I think I’ve said enough now. I want to get back to knitting the shawl….after I maybe spin a few minutes…the wheel’s right here…

Testing…

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 5:24 pm on Thursday, June 19, 2008

Just testing the image handling in my current blog software. And giving you a bonus image of the entrelac shawl while I’m at it!

Entrelac Shawl Close-up

Holy Salamanders, Batman!

Filed under: Blogfriends,Knitting,Spinning — folkcat at 4:12 pm on Wednesday, June 18, 2008

You guys just totally rock! When I posted about our friend Leesa’s contest yesterday, her entry stood at a tie for fifth place. In less than twenty-four hours, your votes have put her in first place! That is just totally awesome!

Voting doesn’t end until 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, June 21 (Central Time – the contest holder is in Chicago). So we want to keep the action going to keep Leesa at the top. You can only vote once, but if you have any friends you think would vote, or a blog of your own where you can post the voting link, that would be absolutely wonderful.

The link to the voting page for the contest is:

http://www.avenuebeads.com/2008/06/15/name-these-shards-poll/

And the name to vote for is Amphibian. That’s Leesa’s entry. I didn’t mention before, but I like it so much because it suits the colors of the glass being named, but it’s not expectable or cliched. A lot of the other names entered are very pretty, but also a little too predictable. I can really imagine these colors in a frog or salamander, all wet and shiny and green!

I’ll post next week how Leesa does in the contest. If we can keep this momentum going, though, I think we can expect a good result!

Thank you all!

And in other news…

Entrelac Shawl
Entrelac Shawl

Handspun Merino Single
Handspun single, Merino Top

Yes, I’m knitting Yet Another Entrelac Project. And after being idle for over a year, I am spinning again. Details when I feel up to writing them up!

Lolah Nimbletoes

Filed under: Games,Knitting,Rats! — folkcat at 4:23 pm on Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Slow and steady, the Adult Surprise Jacket grows. Here’s the latest look:

ASJ: 4/30/08

That would be the right sleeve of the jacket on the upper left of the photo, with the center front line to the right. I folded the rest of the jacket underneath to help you see how the shape is developing.

I recently added in a touch of a pink/orange/yellow/green acrylic worsted, just one garter ridge worth. It’s a hot colorway amongst all the cool. I like surprise contrast accents like that, they really pop and bring out the colors. I’ll probably add another small stripe of the hot in the body of the jacket, and when I add length to the sleeves later, I’ll be putting more of the hot colors there, too.

I continue to make good progress in EverQuest 2. Lolah, my Ratonga Ranger, has now reached level 20. This is a significant threshold – there are many rights and abilities that you earn once you make it to 20. For instance, a last name. Lolah is now officially Lolah Nimbletoes. I also decided that the 20th birthday deserved a present, and bought her a nice Misty Mustang horse to ride. She looks pretty spiffy in the saddle, I’ll have to get a screenshot one of these days.

If any of you are also EQ2 players, Lolah’s server is The Bazaar. I don’t usually care to chatter much while I’m in the game – I go in for immersion in my virtual surroundings, quests, and travel. But I don’t mind saying a quick “hello!” and expanding my friends list.

Gryphon and I are also hoping to start our own guild one of these days. Since there’s a minimum requirement of six separate accounts present at the registrar’s office simulatneously to form the guild, and only two of us, getting to know some other people in world will be essential.

Ours will be an extremely casual, non-raiding guild. Which is not to say that if you want to raid and can pull the group together to do so that you can’t. It’s just that Gryphon and I have neither the temperaments nor the schedules that allow us, personally, to raid. Primary focus of the guild will be in-world companionship, crafting, and helping each other out when and where we can.

The guild name we’ve come up with is “Companions of Karma.” We envision this as a group of people who have come together by the whims of fate – karma – and feel a kinship and comfort with each other. Membership will be solely determined by Gryphon and myself. We will not be actively recruiting, but will allow those same whims of fate to introduce us to new friends as we go. We’re not anti-growth – we just like to get to know people ourselves before we declare them a member of our “family.” Guild mates can nominate friends for membership, but the final decision will always rest with Gryphon and I.

Basically, we’re looking to form a guild that the two of us would be comfortable joining. We’re both the sort who form new friendships slowly, but once you’re in with us, you’re in. You’re our family, and family sticks together.

All we’ll ask of members is that they respect their guildmates, enjoy the game, and do what they can to support the status and reputation of the guild as they are able. Working writs that will lend status to the guild will always be encouraged. At the same time, we want everyone to experience the world of Norrath in the way that suits their own play style and the story of their characters, and never let the casual needs of the guild interfere with their enjoyment.

The preceding paragraphs are the simple seeds that have been sprouting in my brain as I try to define what it is we want a guild to be. It is subject to change, though I would be suprised if we altered any of the basic principles outlined here.

If you’re in EQ2, and on The Bazaar server, and feel interested in our vision of what a guild can be, look around for me. I’ll most often be present as Lolah, though I could also be found as any of several other characters:

  1. Boris, Ratonga Bruiser in Timorous Deep;
  2. Clover, Halfling Fury in Qeynos;
  3. Dijon, Halfling Troubador in Qeynos (and Clover’s brother);
  4. Kureyon, Kerran Guardian in Qeynos;
  5. Mazhenta, Gnome Defiler in Timorous Deep;
  6. Twixt, Arasai Troubador in Neriak

Some of these characters may vanish as I refine my play style and find the concepts that work best for me. But that’s the list for the moment. Look for Lolah first, though, if you’re trying to find me – she’s definitely developed as my main character, and the most fun of all of them. She’s an intrepid explorer, not afraid to run through lands filled with dangerous creatures. (I just learned that the Griffon Towers quest in Butcherblock Mountains is recommended for at least level 25, because of the mobs in the zone – Lola did it at around 14 or 15, and didn’t even die once!)

Of course, considering the Real Life inspiration for Lolah, I suppose she comes by her energy and fearlessness honestly!

Lola the Explorer
Lola – Seeking New Territories to Conquer, New Stuffs to Chew…

Rainy Monday Random Bits

Filed under: Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Daily Life,Games,Gryphon,Knitting,Rats! — folkcat at 3:24 pm on Monday, April 28, 2008

Pretty cold and dreary today. It’s been raining for goodness knows how long, certainly since sometime last night. Good thing I don’t have anywhere else to go today, I wouldn’t enjoy going out.

No progress to report on any of the knitting. Weekends are turning out to be mainly for EverQuest 2. That’s when Gryphon has time to play, and we really do enjoy playing together. We’ve given up on trying to play the regular servers on the weekends, though, because enough people are online that the lag in the cities gets unbearable. So Saturday and Sunday are for running characters on the test server, and what play time we have during the week can be on our regular server.

The Ratties have accepted the Ruffled Rattie Nest, but I can never seem to get the camera in at a good angle to take a picture of them in it without someone (*koff*Lola*koff*) wanting to come sniff the lens. So no pictures yet, but I am watching for an opportunity.

We baked a large loaf of the Honey Nut Oatmeal bread from the Donna German book over the weekend. That’s become our current go-to loaf. We’ve also been gathering the heels of various loaves in the freezer – one of these days, I’ll be making bread pudding again.

I finally cut my hair last night. It’s been over long for, well, too long. I like it at a length that’s too short to pull back in an elastic, which seems to be the only way I’ll wear it when it’s long enough to do so. Since I don’t go anywhere to have it cut for me, it was just a matter of getting around to grabbing the scissors and chopping away. I must have hit some threshold last night as I watched television before bed, because I decided at 2 a.m. to do exactly that.

In other news, the part time job that Gryphon started at two Thursdays ago ended last Friday. The owner of the company decided a couple days in that he really wanted someone full time for the position. In spite of the fact that the department head he was working with really liked Gryphon and felt the job was adequately covered by his part time presence, the owner ultimately had the power to make this change.

Gryphon’s co-worker/direct boss is quoted as saying, “lessons will be learned.” ‘Nuff said, I think.

So the search is on, again, for the next job. Whether another part time gap-filler, or the full-time replacement job we really hope for. Fingers crossed, everyone!

Piano Tuning and Scrolls

Filed under: Knitting,Knitting Groups — folkcat at 5:25 pm on Friday, April 25, 2008

Just a quicky today. I made a fair bit of progress on the latest sock last night at Panera.

SF:P4 A Pattern Forms

As you can see, this is not my usual, plain vanilla, K2P2 ribbed sock. I decided it was time to branch out, and that the color patterning of this yarn, though bright, could support the right stitch pattern. This is an 8-stitch pattern called “Scrolls”, as found in the book More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch.

Since the colors of the yarn itself made a strong horizontal element, I knew that any stitch pattern with a strong vertical look would fight that. I rejected a lot of patterns that I liked, but that were very vertical in their overall appearance. Scrolls wasn’t as horizontal as I hoped for, but I considered it to be relatively neutral in orientation – almost like a curvy checkerboard, rather than either vertical or horizontal lines.

Drop By Friends

The other event of note last night was that we had a travelling knitter drop in and join us! Dorrie (I have no idea if that’s how her name is spelled – my apologies if I got it wrong!) is in town this weekend for, as she described it, a piano tuners’ conference. We had a fascinating talk about what she does for a living, and I learned a lot. I’ve never had much involvement with making music, so I had no idea – though it makes complete sense – that piano tuners needed to attend such conferences on a regular basis as ongoing education, to hone, improve, and maintain their skills. Thank you so much, Dorrie, for joining us, and I hope you’re having a great weekend!

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