Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Camera Phone Picture Dump

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Folkcat's Fotos,Shopping Adventures — folkcat at 9:37 pm on Monday, March 9, 2009

Wow, some of these go back a bit.

December 8th, 2008 – Target store at the north end of Nashua

Click for larger image

We found these fused plastic recycled totes for sale for $5.99 each. I was amused and slightly annoyed. Fusing shopping bag plastic together to make a sturdier plastic to make totes, and even clothing, with has been a big deal in the indie craft movement since at least Spring 2008. This can be done at home with a simple iron and ironing board, and maybe some teflon pressing sheets.

Target’s tag claiming that “It took a combination of ingenuity and technology to create the Retote bag.” gives no credit to the source of that ingenuity – the independent crafters out there who are always finding new ways to use items that would otherwise be discarded. As for the technology required – like I said, an iron, ironing board, and teflon pressing sheets. Not exactly high tech. And certainly not invented by anyone at Target.

December 24, our living room ceiling:

A few years back, we had a nasty leak in our living room ceiling during the winter. The roof was bad, and there was a weak seam along a wall where the apartment above us is a couple feet shorter than our living room. Ice formed and backed up into the roof space there, and came in over the spot where my desktop computer was sitting at the time. (Fortunately, over to one side. Only a box of tissues and two thick books about HTML coding were soaked.)

The roof got fixed at some point, but massive amounts of ice and snow still accumulate in the area. I get paranoid about it every year, and every so often I’ll take a picture of the ceiling stain so I have a reference point in case I suspect it’s growing again.

February 19, Nashua Social Security Office:

My first time ever Kinnearing someone. I don’t know that I did it right, though – the picture is straight, in focus, and you can see my entire subject.

While Gryphon and I waited for our SS appointment, this delightful older woman came in. The colorful details on her coat are entirely handpainted.

I believe it’s a safety measure – the coat is full length and black, and the handpainting is all in metallic paints, which would provide some reflection for headlights at night. Brilliantly and stylishly done, and it gave me a nice smile.

March 8, My head:


View One


View Two

Yes, we cut that much off. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long, long time.

I grew up with long hair. I remember that my mother never cut it until I was in grade school some time, and then she did it before my father got home from work because I think he would have protested.

Most of my adult life, I’ve kept my hair somewhere between chin and shoulder length. For years now, I’ve cut it myself, with whatever scissors I had at hand, and working entirely by touch. No one I’ve talked to about it ever thought I did it myself, or at least they were too kind to say so.

Lately, though, I’ve been annoyed by even the chin length hair. It can still flop forward and get in my face and eyes, still get caught in my mouth. Still bunch up oddly under my head and irritate me at night.

Sometime around a year ago, Gryphon had found a professional grade electric clipper at a rummage sale for $1, complete with manual and everything. He bought a little of the oil used to maintain it, and ever since has been cutting his own hair. When I decided I was ready to go short, I asked him if he’d be comfortable tackling my hair.

He said yes. And so, a couple of days later when the stars aligned and we both felt up to it, I sat down in a kitchen chair with a towel around my shoulders, and he started cutting.

On that first attempt, we didn’t go short enough. My hair has a natural wave to it, but an asymetrical one. As a result, the hair on the right side of my head did a nice little wavy dance towards the back of my head. But the hair on the left side of my head stretched out into the atmosphere, like a cantilevered balcony. I seriously considered adding some hair product for strength and building a little woodland diorama up there.

So the next night, we sat me down again, and removed more length. And the cut you see in these photos is where we wound up. There’s still enough length that my waves look kind of cute and flirty, but I don’t have any architectural structures flying off the sides of my skull.

For the first time in my entire life, I can wake up in the morning, run my fingers over my head, and I’m done. In the shower, “a little dab’ll do ya” is finally true for me. The first hair washing after the cut, and my hair dried faster than it ever has.

Best of all, it’s a look that works for me, is versatile, and we can do it ourselves at home, without having to spend money on it.

Nothing new to report on the ratties. They continue to eat and play and squabble. Isabella is definitely just one of the crowd, no two ways about that. We love them all so much!

Something About Lola

Filed under: Books,Rats!,Shopping Adventures — folkcat at 1:23 pm on Monday, July 23, 2007

Hope you all had a great weekend! I had … quite the roller coaster ride, I’d say.

My copy of Harry Potter arrived in the mail on Saturday, as expected. I had precious little time to even glance at it, though – Gryphon and I had plans to go shopping.

We originally wanted to look at one-level cages for Star, but she has actually been doing so much better that we decided we could hold off on that a while.

We did go out to look at cages, but more to assess what’s available in the local stores. We know that when we add more rats to the family, we’ll have to have a larger cage – the one we have now is only just large enough for two.

Knowing, too, that the big-box pet stores often have small animal adoptions, we decided to keep our minds open. Finding a pet by adoption can be such a hit-or-miss thing. We wanted to make sure we were mentally prepared for the concept that the right rat might present itself at any time.

It’s a good thing we were prepared. We had looked at cages at PetSmart, and moved on to Petco. Petco is actually the store that often has adoptions available – it’s just hit or miss if they’ll have rats, and what the rats will be like.

We looked around at the small animal section at Petco, and didn’t see anything going on. Just the usual tanks of store stock rats, hamsters, and such. We knew that some of the stores put the adoptions back by the pet grooming salon, so we wandered back there. Nothing.

At that point, an employee noticed us and asked if she could help us find anything. I said, “Did you have any small animal adoptions today?” To my surprise, she said they did, indeed, have a female rat for adoption, she was right up by the small animal department. She led us up to the area we’d already looked over, and to a fish tank we’d completely overlooked.

Lola Plays Peek-a-Boo
Lola Plays Peek-a-Boo

Inside was a small, grey-colored rat with large ears. The paper attached to the end of the tank said this was Lola, a 5-month old Blue Dumbo female. Blue is the color – it’s like the cats that are called Russian Blue, but are really a bluish-grey color. Dumbo is a variety of rat specially bred to have larger ears that are placed low on the side of the head. Like Dumbo, the elephant.

The store clerk said, “She’s skittish, and a little nippy.” We were told she’d been born in the store – which surprised us. This Petco only has Pink-Eyed White (PEW) rats, because that’s all the breeder that supplies them offers. We didn’t ask, but surmised that she must have been part of a litter born to a rat surrendered to the store for adoption.

The lid to the cage was lifted, and Lola began running around the bottom, excited. I reached in a hand, and she grabbed hold of my fingers with her little hands, and began nipping all over. Not an “I’m going to bite a chunk out of you” or an “I’m going to show you to ever put your hand near me again” type of nip. Just enough pressure to find the boundaries of your fingers with her teeth, that’s all. She was getting to know me.

I lifted Lola out of the cage, and she climbed around my shoulder for a moment before insisting on going back. Another good sign was that she didn’t poop little rat raisins while I held her – that’s a typical indication of a fearful rattie.

Gryphon asked if she came with a cage. Yes, there was a cage we could have with her for an extra $5. That’s in addition to the $5 fee to adopt Lola. The tank was closed up again, and we were shown the cage in a back room.

The final test was to re-visit Lola, and see how she reacted to Gryphon. When the lid was opened again, Gryphon’s hand got the same all over tasting that I’d had. And then, Lola saw me leaning over the end of the tank, and leapt up to climb my shoulders again. She didn’t stay long – she jumped back down in the tank immediately. But she repeated the leap to my shoulders and the jump back to the tank several times. Clearly, she was as interested in us as we were in her.

That was the end of any waffling. Any rat who, kept in a pet store for five months, still displays such an eagerness to be with a human being – she deserves a loving home. Plus, she was cute as anything. We paid the fees, bundled her into the cage to be brought home, and began the drive back to Wilton.

Eager Lola
Eager for Attention

On the road home, Lola continued to show an amazing calmness for a pet-store animal. She spent the entire ride on the middle shelf of the three-level cage, at the front corner that gave her the best view of Gryphon and I in the front seats of the car. Heck, she even did something I’d consider unheard of for the situation – curled up and went to sleep in the moving vehicle!

Since Saturday, Lola has been living solo in her cage, which we set alongside Star and Sable’s cage in the living room. She is consistently eager for us to pay attention to her, and loves coming out of the cage to climb around on me. We have a current favorite game, too – I wave a tissue against the outside of the cage, and she grabs at it and pulls it through, then adds it to her nesting corner.

We’ve allowed small interactions between the rats. At first, the highly-energetic Lola seemed to irritate Sable no end – Lola would try to play-fight with her, and the two would end up chasing and boxing in a clear attempt to establish dominance.

No one got hurt, though, and this morning, each rat got a turn exploring in the other’s cage. Sable and Lola no longer fought for dominance – instead, they just acted like two rats in the same cage, each trying to do their own thing. Okay, so Lola’s thing continued to be seeking attention from Sable. But Sable was less irritated, and even stopped a couple of times to groom Lola a little.

As for Star, since she’s a slow-moving girl these days, her interactions with Lola have been somewhat less than Lola with Sable. Still, there was a moment Sunday when Lola was inside the Rattie Sister’s cage, standing on the doorframe, watching Star work her slow way up the ramp. Lola reached down, grabbed the skin on Star’s leg, and pulled gently. Was she helping her in? I’m not sure, but she didn’t appear to be trying to hurt her, and Star didn’t get upset.

Now that we’ve established that they can live together peacefully, our next hurdle is to come up with enough money for a cage that will hold all three rats at once. We’d build another like we did for Star and Sable, but with Gryphon working two jobs, there’s no way he has time to do it. And the hardware cloth shaping is a bit much for me to cope with. Yeah, I could do it, but Gryphon can do it more skillfully. The local PetSmart actually has a cage that would do, and fit the space we have available. We just have to come up with $130 to get it.

So the budget crunching begins. It’ll be hard, but we’ll find a way. Meantime, just take a look at the pictures, and try to tell me Lola isn’t the cutest rat you’ve seen in a while.

Oh, and I did finish reading HP7 last night. All in all, a satisfying end to the series, I think! But ‘nough said about that, I know not everyone has finished yet. You won’t find spoilers here!

Life at the Speed of Chaos

Filed under: Daily Life,Shopping Adventures,Spinning — folkcat at 3:18 pm on Monday, July 2, 2007

First, let me tell you that I’m much better now. The old meds have worked out of my system, and the new meds are starting to take effect.

Many thanks to all who wished me well and expressed concern for my wellbeing this weekend. It was a scary thing to get sick from a medicine I was taking, especially when it was for an infection I didn’t even know I had. Knowing that you were all out there thinking good thoughts helped.

It feels like I say those things a lot lately. Yes, I have health issues, and they sometimes take over life more than I’d like. I really appreciate all of you for sticking with me “through sickness, and in health.” Thank you!

I knew I must be feeling better when, by Saturday afternoon, I was itching to get out of the house, at least a little bit. I suggested to Gryphon a couple of small errands we could run that wouldn’t wear me out too badly, and he agreed it seemed like a good idea to get me out in the nice sunshine we had that day.

As we turned the corner and headed down Main Street, Gryphon said, “Oh! You know, there’s been something I’ve been meaning to tell you for a while now!”

The something was this:

Telltale Sign

This sign is at the other end of the street we live on. Gryphon had noticed it a week and a half earlier, and had managed not to remember to tell me about it until this Saturday.

Of course, I insisted that we stop there immediately! Had to find out what the deal was!

What we’re looking at is a small home farm. Actually, a woman I found to be very like-minded, and doing things I’d do if I had the resources. Liisa Palance is a spinner, and clearly an animal lover. When we knocked on the door to inquire about the wool, there was a cage on the floor right there with a lovely angora bunny in it, and across the room were cages with parakeets, a cockatiel, and a chinchilla.

In previous months, I had already observed this pair in their pen alongside the house:

Emma and Maggie

That’s Maggie in the back, and Emma in the front. You can see there isn’t much wool hanging off them right now. There’s a reason for that.

Here’s Emma’s fleece, in this bag. I know, you can’t see it.

Bag o' Emma Fleece

Is this better?

Inside the Bag: Emma's Fleece

And yes, that bag is sitting in my kitchen now.

You know, life has been moving at the speed of chaos lately. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ve seen that for yourself. Saturday morning, if you’d said to me, “Want to buy a whole, skirted, raw fleece?” I’d have said, “Heck, no! No space, no time, haven’t been spinning much!”

And then, that afternoon, I learn that I have a local source for both Romney and Angora bunny. Closer than my nearest supermarket. Closer than the closest gas station. Nearer than anyplace we have to buy clothing or housewares.

Closer, mind you, than my Local Yarn Store.

Emma and Maggie were sheared in May, so the fleece isn’t perfectly just-cut fresh, but it’s been well kept. The staple is about 4 inches, and the crimp! Just take a look at this crimp!

Emma Fleece - Crimp Detail

Gorgeous, isn’t it? So here I was, just recovering from illness, not in the market for a fleece, and confronted with 7 pounds, 4 ounces of a really lovely, skirted Romney. We talked a bit together about it, Liisa, Gryphon, and I, and I used my tiny bit of training to evaluate it – pulled the fiber near my ear, didn’t hear a single pop! Felt through the bag a little, found nice, even staple length throughout.

A price was quoted, I said, “Can you do any better if I take the whole thing?” She could, and I did.

I believe in messages from the universe, and clearly I’m being sent a big one here. Anything that the universe makes this easy, that it practically dumps in your lap, is to be paid attention to.

I found good instructions for scouring a whole fleece in the washing machine, and Gryphon and I are going to tackle that this week, while he’s on holiday from at least the one job.

Then, I guess, I’m going to want to get back to spinning more. I think I have to – I don’t think I want to know what the universe would do next to get through to me!

BTW, if anyone living within the sound of this blog is interested, Liisa doesn’t have a website, but she does still have Maggie’s fleece. Lovely, mostly charcoal gray with some hints of black and brown. And the eggs are free range, antibiotic- and hormone-free.

Free-range Chickens

If you’re interested in either eggs or fleece, or in the Angora bunny fiber, you can either visit Maplehaven Farm at 19 Maple St., Milford, NH, or give Liisa a call at 603-654-9204.

Life is funny sometimes, isn’t it?

NH S&W

Filed under: Blogfriends,Craft Shopping,Shopping Adventures,Special Events,Stitchery — folkcat at 1:26 pm on Monday, May 14, 2007

One of the big reasons for going to NH S&W this year was Claudia. We’ve become good friends via our blogs, exchanging small gifts, always there with a supportive comment or a giggle. When I heard she was going to be a vendor at the Festival this year with her Heal My Hands products, I had to go!

Me and Claudia

So here we are, together at last. Unfortunately, since Claudia was working, we only had the briefest of encounters. We were left wanting for more – a chance to just hang out, knitting and crocheting together, talking, sharing good food and drink, maybe some shopping adventures. I have a feeling we’re going to make an effort to bring our paths together again for a more extended visit.

BTW, over my left shoulder you can see some of Claudia’s awesome freeform crochet. The sidebar of her blog has a link to a gallery of photos, too. Inspired by Claudia, I tried to wrap my brains around freeform crochet – I’m as good a crocheter as I am anything else – but just can’t seem to feel the changes.

So I fell back on the freeform fiber art I do indulge in, and made a gift that I presented to Claudia when I saw her – a little piece of New Hampshire to keep in memory of our first meeting.

A Freeform Embroidered Rock for Claudia
Freeform Embroidered Rock

Yes, that’s embroidery. The rock is a piece of granite that spontaneously appeared in our driveway a week ago Sunday – we went out for errands and it wasn’t there, we came back and it was. Why one gets these ideas, who knows, but I decided to pick it up and make this little object as a gift. I’d done this freeform embroidery before (pre-blogging) to make pendants out of a couple of carved or tumbled gemstones. This was the first time I did an object this large.

I’d tell you just how I did it right now, but there are other places I need to go with this post and it will get too long. Tell you what, though – I promise, by the end of the week I’ll put up as much of a how-to as is possible, okay?

Bloggers’ Meet-up

My first ever, you know, even though I’ve been blogging for over two years now. I got to meet so many of you, and I’m afraid I won’t remember everyone. Gryphon was a good do-be with the camera, though, and did his best to get a picture. It’s like herding cats, you know, so we didn’t manage to get everyone. But he did capture a number of the group in this frame!

Blogger Meet-up, NH S&W 2007

I just noticed – we’re almost exclusively wearing blue, aren’t we? That’s a little freaky!

Somewhere in there you may, or may not, see JessaLu, Wanda (in red), Cynthia, Laurie, Helen, Habetrot, MamaCate, Lynne, Lucia and more. If I missed you on this list, my apologies – please do drop me a note to say hello!

It was actually a little intimidating for me. It quickly became obvious that almost everyone already knew everyone else, and had many shared experiences to draw from for easy conversation. Me, not so much. This was only my second wool festival (third, if the Wool Arts Tour counts), and my first blogger meet-up. I didn’t have much to contribute as everyone reminisced about previous festivals, events they went to together. Hopefully, I can start to change that as I get to know some of you better. Maybe even, dare I say, meet off-blog now and then?

JessaLu made my day, I have to say. She was the one who looked over at me, said “Are you Jen?”, then said, “I’m JessaLu!” and gave me a big hug. Thank you so much, JessaLu!

Jen’s Purchases?

I did buy something, yes I did. Two somethings, even. But I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to tell you what. Suffice it to say, it’s something I’ve been wanting for a while; it’s durable goods (tools) rather than expendable (fiber); it introduces a new variant on fibercraft into my repertoire; I started playing with them almost as soon as we got home; Gryphon even did a little; I already have big plans for big projects with them.

More tomorrow! 😉

Socks FO; and, S&W Speculation

Filed under: Knitting,Shopping Adventures,Special Events — folkcat at 3:39 pm on Friday, May 11, 2007

As expected, I finished the second pair of socks for Gryphon at Panera last night. Here they are, modelled by the recipient.

FO: Socks, Pair Two for Gryphon

Don’t they go nicely with his plaid flannel pajamas?

I attempted to start a pair of socks for myself. I say attempted, because although the yarn – Regia colore antik, I think? the ball’s not in front of me right now – looks at least as thick as the Trekking XXL, the fabric I got when I knit it up on the same size 1.5 needles looked like gauzy lace to me.

I’m getting a fabric I like on size 0’s, with a gauge of 9.5 stitches to the inch. Problem is, that means ideally 104.5 stitches around for my 11 inch ankles, and 95 stitches around for my 10 inch foot. I looked through the patterns in Sensational Knitted Socks, and those measurements neatly fell so far between the spots on the charts that I’d either have loose or baggy socks. Cool Socks, Warm Feet presented a different problem – Lucy Neatby apparently didn’t think that anyone with an 11 inch ankle would ever try to knit her socks with a 9.5 gauge, so none of her numbers come up high enough!

I’m probably faced with creating my own pattern, which I’m fine with doing. But it neatly removes knitting a pair of socks for me from the realm of “mindless enough to do while watching TV or chatting.”

I’m actually planning to make these with toes and heels in them – yeah, I know. Barefoot Diva and all that. But I’ve decided I want to see if I can tolerate the toes and heels if, perhaps, I knit an ankle sock. Maybe if I don’t have all that sock grabbing onto my leg, the toes won’t pull and pinch so much. It’s a theory, anyhow, and one I expect to test once I sort out my pattern to suit this gauge.

In other news, I’m expecting to get up early with Gryphon so we can get to NH S&W at a reasonable hour. I have a little more to spend than I’d hoped, and no specific goal for it beyond a vague “maybe enough roving to spin yarn for a whole _____?” (I don’t even know what fills that blank – sweater? shawl? cell phone cozy?)

I guess that means I’m leaving myself wide open to the possibilities. Maybe I’ll find a handpainted roving or yarn. Maybe I’ll invest in a good bargain on a tool I can use. Maybe we’ll go all out and actually get a fleece that I need to take through the entire fiber preparation process. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Filed under: Daily Life,Knitting,Shopping Adventures,Special Events — folkcat at 1:47 pm on Monday, May 7, 2007

Many thanks to everyone who wrote with their support and good wishes over the past week. It made a difference. You are all very special to me, and your thoughts helped me get through.

I had hoped, when I announced this blog vacation last week, that by today there would be a change in our fortunes Chez Folkcat and Gryphon. And I was right.

Gryphon applied for a part time job at a major supermarket chain, interviewed last Friday, and was hired today. He’s off filling out paperwork and getting his initial orientation right now. He’ll be staying at his full-time employment, and working the part-time job as well. It will mean a shift in our lives as we adjust to Gryphon spending more time working, but we’ll finally have enough income to actually live on. Plus, there appears to be strong potential for growth with this new company.

Route 101 was re-opened to vehicles last week, taking the excessive traffic noise away from it’s detour under our windows. We drove by to see what the fuss had been about – this was the best picture I could get.

Route 101 landslide

If you can see the hillside on the left behind the reflections and glare in the window, all those patches of bare dirt used to be a tree-covered hillside that went right down to the road. Dozens of trees, along with the dirt, had slid onto both lanes of traffic. There are two separate patches that slid – the one on the immediate left edge of the picture, and another down the road that is just visible above the first oncoming car. (Click for a larger view.)

What took so long is that the hill kept sliding, even as they were trying to clean it up. They had to find a way to stabilize everything, or at least to keep it off the road if more fell. There’s an added complication that the slide took place right at the town line between Milford and Wilton; slid onto a State Route; and it was on private land. I’ll bet the lawyers were staying up late trying to figure out who was responsible to do what, and where the money was going to come from!

Crafting took a big hit during my depression over the last week. I did do some, but not as much as usual. My ability to focus was completely shot, and I had a significant need to do simple, mind-numbing activities as I coasted through the week. I did continue knitting on Gryphon’s socks, and they’re within a couple of inches of completion. But I’m also puttering at a couple of secret projects I can’t blog about yet.

I am preparing to go to New Hampshire Sheep & Wool this weekend, probably on Saturday. My good blog-friend Claudia and I are going to meet up for the first time – she’s a vendor there with her Heal My Hands products. I won’t have much to spend on wool or yarn, but I am excited to be going – it’s the second time I’ll be attending, and the first as a spinner.

Last time I was interested in needlefelting – my objective was to buy the smallest balls of any color of roving I could! This time, I’ll be interested in larger quantities of a single color/type, with the hope that I may one day spin a good enough yarn, in sufficient volume, to make a whole sweater, shawl, or, well, whatever.

I haven’t seen anything around the blogs yet about a bloggers’ meetup at the Festival. I hope you aren’t all avoiding it after nearly drowning last year! If anyone knows of one, please let me know, I’d love to see you.

Otherwise, I expect things to get back to normal this week. Life will be a little easier with the extra income, but more important, at least it now feels possible. Last week, I couldn’t have said that.

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?

FOs, New Challenges, and Discoveries

Filed under: Gryphon,Knitting,Rats!,Sewing,Shopping Adventures — folkcat at 4:27 pm on Monday, March 5, 2007

It was a weekend of adventure for Gryphon and me. We made some discoveries of local resources we didn’t know about. I took on some new crafting challenges (I’ve hinted at them before, but now it’s probably going to actually happen). And I finished a recent WIP, as well as start-to-finish completed two more that you haven’t even heard about!

FOs

First up, though, a touch of old business. You may remember that I knit a request for a friend – a dicky for her motorcycle-riding boyfriend, Ken? Said friend recently sent me a photo of Ken wearing the dicky, along with the crocheted hat she made from the leftover yarn.

Ken in his dicky

I’m pleased with how this looks! And Ken is a great model!

On to more recent business. I finished knitting the Fiber Trends Felted Clogs on Friday, then sewed up the seams in the soles on Saturday. So yesterday was felting day!

Here’s how they looked before:

FO: Gryphon's Felted Clogs, Before

Great big floppy clown shoes!

We sent these through the heavy-duty cycle of the washing machine about, oh…I lost count after six or seven times. I had noted before that the yarn was going to be difficult to felt, but that it would get where we needed it with effort. Well, effort was right.

In the end, Gryphon decided to stop the process with the clogs still fitting a little loosely, with a comment that this way he’s free to throw them in the washer now and then, and let them shrink more as they will. Here’s the finished picture:

FO: Gryphon's Felted Clogs, After

As I said, still a little large. In fact, the instant I took this photo, I realized that the clogs reminded me of nothing else but Goofy’s shoes. I couldn’t find a good clipart for the comparison, though.

Gryphon loves them, though, and has been wearing them all over the house since. So count this as another FO success!

After finishing the clogs, I picked up a big crochet hook*, took the same doubled yarn I’d used for the clogs, and whipped up a nesting bowl for the Rattie Sisters. They have a couple of such bowls that began life as travel water bowls for dogs, but which are perfect for Ratties to curl up in and sleep. They’re getting pretty chewed up, though, and will need replacing eventually.

Here’s the first one I made, being inspected by Sable. (Star helps by turning away to wash her tail.)

FO: Rat Nest Bowl

They haven’t quite taken to it as a substitute for the doggy water bowl yet, but they will. It took them a few days to adjust to the original bowls, after all, but they grew to love them.

Having tasted Fast FO with the bowl, I grabbed some odds and ends of Lamb’s Pride, and started in on another Rattie bowl. This time, I used multiple colors, did a little fancy stitchery around one or two rounds, and cinched in the top a bit to make a cozy, nestable shape.

When I showed the finished product to Gryphon, he jokingly put it on his head.

FO: Gryphon's Crochet Hat

And dang! if it didn’t look quite good on him! He was as surprised as I was – it’s not a style of hat he’d normally go for. But he likes it, and so what was intended as a Rattie Nest Bowl is now being called a Rasta Beanie.

New Challenges

A little bit ago, I mentioned that I was considering taking up quilting. This past week, I received the e-mail newsletter from the Bunkhouse Quilt Shop. One of the tidbits mentioned was a new project/contest. Each month, for $2, you can buy a kit with a pattern and the fabric needed to make one quilt block. You sew up your block, and bring it into the store to hang on the design wall, at which time you also add your name to the jar for the prize drawing.

At the end of the month, one name is chosen randomly. That lucky winner gets to keep all the blocks! All of them are the same, so if enough people participated, you could have a whole bed-sized quilt with almost every bit of piecing done for you!

I thought, “geez, one block is a nice, easy way to get started – depending on the block. And $2? Cheap enough! Let’s check this out!” So Gryphon and I ran up the hill (they’re only a couple miles up the hill from me), and took a look.

Here are the pieces for my block, all laid out. The pattern is the Sawtooth Star, and all the blocks will be this same combination of red and cream-colored prints.

Quilting WIP: Bunkhouse Quilt Shop March Block

Now I just have to get around to sewing it up!

The quilting plan, after this starter block, is to make a complete wall hanging. This way I’ll get to do all the parts of the process – piecing, border, backing – and figure out whether I want to try quilting on my old Kenmore machine, or have it done for me. Once I’ve done a wall hanging, I’ll move on to making the queen-size bed quilt I want (and the desire for which started this whole thing about wanting to quilt).

I’ve even picked out the pattern I’m going to work with, for both the wall hanging and the bed quilt. Found it at Bunkhouse when we were there yesterday, and since they only had one copy left, I decided to take no chances and lock it in.

Quilting Future: Bento Box Pattern

This looks like a good option for me as a beginner. The pieces are all squares and rectangles. All the seams are straight. The instructions are actually geared towards using fat quarters, making it easy for me to find multiple fabrics I like for the project. They even tell me that I need so many light fat quarters, so many dark ones, for each size of quilt you might want to make.

Discoveries

Whoa…you know, I just realized how long this post is getting. So I think maybe these will have to wait until tomorrow! I’ll just offer a teaser, perhaps…

Pink Cloud?

This is one of the items Gryphon and I found a source for, nearby, readymade, and easy to get to. They had a bunch of other things I’ve been wanting, too! I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow – promise!

*I know, I know – I haven’t ever really talked about crochet here. That’s because, though I’m proficient at crochet, I don’t do it all that often. That may change, though…Claudia has talked me into reading the Freeform Crochet Yahoo group…and there’s all this stash to play with…

Driving Around Syracuse

Filed under: Daily Life,Gryphon,Holidays,Shopping Adventures,Syracuse — folkcat at 4:54 pm on Wednesday, January 3, 2007

It’s a long post today, with lots of pictures. I’ve put most of the photos after the leap, though, so those with slower connections won’t be burdened with the full load unless they choose it.

When in Syracuse, there are a number of places that are mandatory visits for us. The full list has changed a great deal over the 14 years since I moved to New Hampshire. One place that will never drop off the list, however, is this food court.

Food Court 1 - Comfortable Seating
Comfortable Seating

Food Court 2 - Chinese Buffet
Chinese Buffet

Food Court 3 - Sushi Bar
Sushi Bar

Food Court 4 - Pizza and Wings Kitchen
Pizza and Wings Kitchen

Food Court 5 - Coffee Bar
Coffee Bar

Food Court 6 - Soups, Sandwiches, Salads
Soups, Specialty Salads, Sandwiches

Not pictured, but also present, is a station serving full gourmet dinners, one making fresh subs, and a full salad bar.

So where is this wonderful food court to be found? Answer after the jump!

(Read on …)

Bargains I Found

Filed under: Books,Folkcat's Craft Library,Knitting,Shopping Adventures,Thrifty Shopping — folkcat at 5:44 pm on Friday, December 8, 2006

***Update!! See Bottom of Post!!***

Whew! I have been puttering around at Christmas Knitting, and almost forgot to post. So here, at last, is the final installment about what I did last weekend.

Late on Saturday afternoon, Gryphon and I decided to get out of the house. Just, you know, to get out of the house. We made up an excuse about browsing for a few things at one particular store, and set off.

While driving there, it occurred to me that the One-Time Only Westminster Fibers sale that I’d heard about was only a little further down the road. We’d get there in the last hour or two of the last day of the sale, but I still felt it might be worth a try.

Let me tell you – I wish I’d had a chunk of money to work with! Not so much for the yarns, though they were inexpensive and luscious (brands included Rowan, Schachenmayr, Gedifra, and more).

No, what I lusted after most was the books. Dozens of titles, all at 65% off of cover price. Being something of a kamikaze, unexpected trip, though, I made sure only to buy one or two things I knew I would regret leaving behind.

Folk Hats: 32 Knitting Patterns & Tales from Around the World (Folk Knitting series)Like this book: Folk Hats, from Interweave Press. This has been on my wishlist for a long, long time. When I saw the small stack of them on the shelves at the sale, I think I left a scorch mark as I grabbed it!

Another unusual item was wrapping paper in three designs – all photographs of Kaffe Fassett knitted materials! At 8 sheets for one dollar, these were a steal – I got two dollars’ worth.

Finally, I did get some yarn. Most of what was available fell into either the chunky or the novelty categories, and didn’t impress me as anything I’d want to knit with. But Gryphon spotted an open case of this Schachenmayr Micro yarn, and I formed a plan. It seemed like this should be suitable for a nice t-style top for me.

Westminster Fibers

The color I liked best was this bright lime green. (Regular readers know that I like bright colors!) At $10 a bag (10 skeins), this was a bargain. It’s an acrylic microfiber yarn, and oh, is it soft against the skin!

I did my best to make a quick guess in my head how much would knit a t-top for my large frame, and decided to go for two bags.

In the end, I only spent a few cents over $30 for all my goodies. I’m pleased with everything, though of course, I wish I’d had more budget to work with! But I made a couple of reasonably careful choices, and got a few things I know I can use.

I hope. Once I got the yarn home, I realized how thin it is – the gauge on 3.5 – 4.5 mm needles is listed as 24 stitches, 32 rows over 10 cm. And these are 50 gm. balls. Hmm. If I’d thought more about it, I would have purchased another bag.

I’m hoping to resolve this – I found the e-mail contact for the yarns at the company website, and explained my dilemma. I specifically asked if there was any chance of purchasing one more bag of this yarn. After all, I know where their offices/warehouse are now, and the sale was only a week ago. Maybe there’s still some left?

Of course, I’m sending this e-mail late on a Friday – so it will probably be no sooner than Monday at the best before I hear anything. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed. At least, so long as it doesn’t interfere with my knitting!

***Update – wow! I got a reply from the National Marketing Manager at Westminster Fibers already, timestamped 6:20 p.m.! Word is they have one bag of the yarn left, and they’re looking for it for me. Seems that, what with the sale being a week ago and the company moving to South Carolina, there’s a possibility it’s already down there. But it sure sounds like I’ll be getting it! Kudos to Westminster Fibers!***

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