Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Taking Advantage of Small Breaks in Weather…

Filed under: Folkcat & Gryphon's Geocaching Adventures,Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 3:25 pm on Tuesday, May 31, 2005

With the sheer quantity of rain we’ve had in recent weeks, that’s the way you have to do anything outside.

Bill and I have recently developed an interest in geocaching, an outdoor activity that is like mini-treasure hunts. Thousands of people have hidden caches (small containers) all over the world, and they will post the coordinates for their cache, and perhaps some hints for finding it. Those who want to go hunting plug those coordinates into a GPS unit (such as the Garmin eTrex), and follow the arrow on the screen to locate the treasure.

We’d been eager to set off on our first geocaching adventure, but the rain and cold have made it nearly impossible. Finally, we just decided we’d have to watch the weather every few hours and see if we couldn’t find a small window of opportunity. That chance came on Sunday, May 29th.


A lovely day for geocaching – for a couple hours!

I won’t reveal details about where we went, just in case any of you get the geocaching bug yourself and want to try to find this one. It’s called the Microchip Microcache. “Microcache” means it’s a very small container; “Microchip” refers to the contents of this particular container. Inside this cache one finds a small bundle of paper that serves as a journal to log your visit on, and a set of different types of memory cards and sticks. The owner of this cache requests that visitors use one of these items in their digital camera, PDA, or whatever device they have with them that is compatible, and leave on the card some record of their visit. That could be a picture, a text document, or anything that can be recorded in that fashion.


Bill signs us in at the Microchip Microcache.

So, Bill signed us into the log, then we took turns taking pictures of each other. One set for the cache chip, and one set for us. I snapped him signing the log book, and he took a picture of me doing my best to look like a girl on a game show showing off prizes.


Follow the coordinates correctly, and you could win
a visit to this lovely plastic can!

Less than an hour later, the rain had begun, hard and heavy and accompanied by lightning and thunder. The important thing is, though, we finally got a start on a new hobby that we can do together, and that makes me actually WANT to get outside hiking and walking. Imagine that!

Harrisville Designs and needlefelting supplies

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 4:32 pm on Sunday, May 29, 2005

Craft Goddess Bea, my husband, Bill, and I went on a NH mini-wool tour Saturday. We visited The Fiber Studio in Henniker; The Wool Room in Antrim; and finished up with Harrisville Designs in Harrisville.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Harrisville Designs had a good assortment of felting needles, in at least 2 different sizes, for $3.00 a pair. They also had a very nice looking multi-needle tool. Made of turned aluminum, it will hold up to 6 needles at once. I couldn’t justify the expense ($24.95) for it that day, since I already have a nice woodturned multi, but it’s on my list as my number two multi-needle when I have the funds.

I was a little disappointed that the wool they sell is only available in a full 8 oz. bag. Apparently, they’ve decided that it’s too much trouble to break it up into smaller quantities for us needlefelters. The staff did recommend that we put that feedback into the store managers at the website, though, stating that such comments have more weight when they come from customers than from the staff.

In spite of that minimum purchase per color, I did find a color of wool that I couldn’t resist buying the bag of (actually, Bea was willing to split it with me, so we each got about 4 oz.) The plum colored wool below has a little heathering in it of a pink that doesn’t really come out in the picture. Add to that the lucky find of an odd remnant of an amazing blue mohair (more than enough for line drawing in needlefelting), and these are the fibers I came away from Harrisville with.

When I took this picture, I really loved the way this wool and yarn looked together. I’ll have to see what I can do with them in a bowl design!

Color Inspiration Comes From Everywhere

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 4:19 pm on Sunday, May 29, 2005

These are a set of clips I bought at Target. I thought the colors were really interesting together. They didn’t photograph well, I’m afraid.

I thought I’d make a needlefelted bowl from these colors, so here are the wools I picked out:

I started laying the colors into my bowl blank and came up with a design I’m calling “retro flower”. It reminded me of some of the geometric flower-like graphics on some decor designs, anywhere from the late 50’s into the 70’s.

When I have finished working a piece with the main colors I’ve chosen, I usually find that I want to add some accent color that makes the whole thing pop. Sometimes the first impression is that this accent color doesn’t really go with the other colors at all. But I find that, to my taste at least, the accent color usually turns an okay design into a pow! design.

In this case, the accent was a bright color called “orangina”, in a yarn from Patons called “Divine”. This is a soft, bulky weight yarn that’s 79.5% acrylic, 18% mohair, and 2.5% polyester. It has a fuzzy texture like any mohair yarn, though, and that’s how I was able to needlefelt it in and make it stick.

I’m pleased with the result. One of the lessons I’ve learned from this is to carry my camera everywhere with me. You never know when color inspiration will appear in front of you. I spotted a pair of cars in interesting colors parked in adjacent spaces the other day, and I wish I’d had the camera with me then…

So THAT’s What Kind of Knitter I Am…

Filed under: Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts,Uncategorized — folkcat at 9:42 pm on Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Knitting Adventurer
You appear to be a Knitting Adventurer.You are through
those knitting growing pains and feeling more adventurous.
You can follow a standard pattern if it’s not too complicated
and know where to go to get help. Maybe you’ve
started to experiment with different fibers and
you might be eyeing a book with a cool
technique you’ve never tried. Perhaps you
prefer to stick to other people’s patterns but
you are trying to challenge yourself more.
Regardless of your preference, you are
continually trying to grow as a knitter, and as
well you should since your non-knitting friends
are probably dropping some serious hints, these
days.http://marniemaclean.com/

What Kind of Knitter Are You?
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Needlefelters Get Punchy in Wilton!

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 7:58 pm on Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Craft Goddesses got a treat Tuesday night when needlefelting teacher Carol Allan came to show us how to sculpt a 3-dimensional animal from wool. None of us quite knew what we were going to make until we saw Carol’s bunny among her samples. We all thought it was just the cutest thing, so off we went with Carol leading us down the bunny trail.


Teacher Carol’s hands can be seen at the front, while Bea concentrates in the background.

We dove into our piles of wool, rolling balls and sausages, punching with care as we went. Vicki and I had already done lots of experimenting with needlefelting on our own. For Bea, it was her first time.


Vicki pauses to show her partially-assembled bunny.

Naturally, even though we were all making the same thing, our bunnies each took on very distinctive personalities. We all loved the end results just the same, and we’re looking forward to further adventures in needlefelting. Carol is planning to teach us the intricacies of facial detail next time…


The Bunny Trio relax together after a punchy evening.
(L. to r.) Vicki’s Bunny; Bea’s Bunny; my Bunny.

I was especially pleased with my Bunny. He hasn’t told me his name yet, but I have a strong feeling that he is expecting me to create companions for him (whether bunnies or otherwise) real soon now.


A Close Look at My Bunny

Needlefelted Bowls

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 3:48 pm on Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Here’s the collection of needlefelted bowls I’ve made in just the last 2 1/2 weeks. I’m still in the purely experimental stage. The two bowls at the top are the most recent. Their shape is more splayed out because I used freshly carded wool for the blank, and that made a loftier, looser base to work from. I’ll be going back to using uncarded wool so I can retain more of a pure bowl shape.

These are made to either sit on a table or shelf or to hang on a wall. I like the bowl shape because it seems to draw the viewer in for a close look.

A Look at the Significant Other in My Life

Filed under: Family,Gryphon,Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 11:29 am on Tuesday, May 24, 2005

This is my husband, Bill. He’s incredibly supportive of my art, to the point of even trying his own hand at it so he can really understand. Here he is counting and bagging beads for our (once) bead store. He made the necklace he’s wearing.

A Stranger on the Sideline of Life

Filed under: Blog Admin,Daily Life,Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 9:04 pm on Friday, May 20, 2005

Blogging doesn’t come easily to me. I like the idea of blogging a lot, but I find it hard to sit down and do it. I think part of the problem is that I don’t like taking time from my life to examine and write about it. Or maybe I’m afraid of what I’ll find out about myself if I look that hard at my actions.

This post marks the beginning of my third attempt to frame some sort of blog that suits me. The first was The Beading Life Online, news and information about the bead store I owned in Wilton, NH for almost 3 years. I started the blog in December 2004 – but then I had to close the store in March this year.

The second attempt was even more short-lived. At the beginning of May, I got the notion that I would write reviews of movies I’d seen and add a link to Amazon to buy the film. I reviewed one film I’d seen on DVD, then the idea died a-borning when my movie watching thinned out too much to count for anything. The time for DVD watching just isn’t here, and I don’t manage to get to the theaters, in spite of living just next door to the coolest theater in the country.

Life is a moving target, and my attempts to blog have been stymied, perhaps, by a notion that a blog post somehow makes it stop long enough to get a close look at it. My dissatisfaction with blogging comes from an expectation that each blog post is like a butterfly, dead, dry, and pinned spread-winged to cotton under glass. These butterflies are fixed and finite, and it’s possible to believe that, given enough time, you could some day know everything there is to know about them.

In reality, writing a blog is more like a visit to one of those greenhouse butterfly gardens. You stroll among beautiful tropical plants, catching an occasional glimpse of brightwinged creatures as they flutter past. If you’re lucky, one will perch on a twig long enough to get a close look at its colors and patterns. If you’re really, really lucky, sometimes a butterfly even lands on your clothing and travels along with you for a short while. No matter how you try, however, these butterflies will only give a few hints about themselves.

Life is a mystery, a journey, an adventure. It can’t be pinned down – if it could, it would no longer be life.

I hope someone out there is reading these posts. Maybe this time, I’m beginning to understand the why and wherefore of the process. If so, I imagine you’ll be seeing more messages from me.