Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

WIP Progress, Rattie Gardening, and Taste Tests

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 5:03 pm on Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ah, Wednesday. Hump Day. I Get A Day Off Between Craft Groups Day. <grin>

I don’t report frequently about specific WIPs here. I have so many (12 at last count), and they all get into the rotation regularly, so there’s usually no point in showing a picture that has an inch more knit than last time. Rest assured, though, I am knitting every single day.

Last night, I felt like I made significant progress on Gryphon’s Burgundy Sweater Vest, though. On my third session knitting it, the back is now at about 11 inches – just 2 1/2 inches short of the armhole shaping. Hooray for me!

WIP - Burgundy Sweater Vest, 04-19-06
WIP – Burgundy Sweater Vest

Otherwise, I’ve continued to put in time on preemie hats (1 more completed, another on the needles), household items (a mitered-square felted hotpad is about 4/5 knit, and I have plans to make crochet-top kitchen towels), and more. Pictures when they’re worth photographing, I promise!

Perhaps the most satisfying knitting right now, though, is what I’m working on for the Rattie Sisters, Sable and Star. I’m using Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn and basic garter-stitch dishcloth variations to knit “rugs” for the top floor of their condo, and hammocks to pin up in the corner. I want to have enough of each that we can change them out for cleaning daily for at least a week or ten days.

As you can see, they lurv their hammock.

Sable & Star - View from Below
Sable & Star Say, “We Just Adore a Penthouse View!”

The angle is looking straight up at them as they lay side-by-side in the hammock, heads hanging over the edge. The grid you see is the roof of the cage.

The pieces of paper that appear to be crumpled all over the cage are part of the Ongoing Rat Amusement, Thinking, and Stimulating project – or O-RATS for short. Rats are intelligent creatures, and can easily become bored. They also A) like to keep their cages tidily arranged (at least to their own taste), B) like to shred paper, like tissues and paper towels), and C) are fascinated by anything new around their cage.

We try to come up a different way to do something around their cage to interest them at least once a week. This week’s plan was to take tissues and poke them through the roof of the cage. Even as I was poking, Sable and Star were all over the place, climbing upside down, reaching up from the hammock and the top floor, trying to grab the tissues and pull them through.

After a short session of this, they seem to have decided – for the moment, anyway – to live with the current arrangement on the top. It is, shall we say, festive. Sort of like a rooftop garden.

Rooftop Garden
Rattie Gardening

I have no doubt that at some point, they’re going to decide that this particular layout is “Oh So Yesterday”. At which time they’ll likely return to shredding the bits they can reach and pulling them through the grid into the cage, to be arranged artfully in a pile in the hammock or strewn about the entire condo.

What Star Learned This Week:

Star Licks Daddy's Finger

“Hey, Dad’s finger tastes almost as good as Mom’s!”

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Nashua Area Knit Groups, Apr 19 – Apr 30

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 11:40 am on Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Group Report

It was a quiet week for knitting groups, what with the holiday and all. So not much to report.

I did get the photos from this month’s Eats, Knits & Leaves group posted at the Yahoo! group. There are a few more shots than I put up here on the blog.

Add Your Meeting

If you have any knit gatherings planned in the Southern New Hampshire area that are open to the public, and you’d like to see them listed here, just drop me a line at crafty.kitty@yahoo.com with the details. Be sure to include Date, Time, Location, and Contact Info, as well as whether it’s a one-time event or repeats on a regular schedule.

Knitting Groups for Wed., Apr. 19 to Sunday, Apr. 30.

Remember, you can also view these events (and more) at the SnB-NH calendar at Yahoo! Groups.

Please note: where phone numbers are given for “Info”, that is the contact phone for the location, not the knitters organizing the gathering. Since none of these events are officially coordinated by the host sites (except as noted), if you reach someone by phone and ask them about the knitting group, they might not have any clue what you’re talking about.

Wed. Apr. 19

SnB-Chelmsford, MA @ The Java Room, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Ginger Ale Plaza, Rte. 110, 14 Littleton Rd., Chelmsford, MA

Info – phone: (978) 256-0001

Thurs. Apr. 20 –

Knitting Around, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Panera Bread, 590 Amherst St., Nashua (Rte. 101A near Target)

Info – e-mail: fiber AT folkcatart DOT com

Sun. Apr. 23 –

SnB-Nashua @Panera Bread, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. 590 Amherst St., Nashua (Rte. 101A near Target)

Info – phone: (603) 821-6021

Wed. Apr. 26 –

SnB-Chelmsford, MA @ The Java Room, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Ginger Ale Plaza, Rte. 110, 14 Littleton Rd., Chelmsford, MA

Info – phone: (978) 256-0001

Thurs. Apr. 27 –

Knitting Around, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Panera Bread, 590 Amherst St., Nashua (Rte. 101A near Target)

Info – e-mail: fiber AT folkcatart DOT com

Sun. Apr. 30 –

SnB-Nashua @ Borders Books, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. 281 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua, NH

Info – phone: (603) 888-9300

Folkcat’s Plans?

I expect to be at all the events in New Hampshire, even the ones at Borders. Gryphon and I found our last excursion for a meeting there to be quite fun, so we’re planning to do it again as often as we can!

Happy Knitting!

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H is for Hair

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 2:24 pm on Monday, April 17, 2006

H is for Hair

H is for Hair

H is for Hair

Folkcat, Sixth Grade
Folkcat, Sixth Grade (1970-71)

I have been blessed with a pretty good head of hair. With Swedish ancestry on my mother’s side, and Scottish on my father’s, my particular genetic cocktail handed me long, thick, blonde hair.

As a small child, I was a genuine towhead blonde. In my late teens, I was dismayed to realize that my hair had so darkened that I was forced to describe the color as “brown”.

Ick.

Today, my natural color is sort of a mousy, dishwater brown. Every now and then, I turn it red with henna, and that color looks pretty darn good on me. Looking back at that sixth grade photo, I realize that there’s always been a coppery hint in my hair, so maybe I just missed that color naturally.

The problem with my hair, generally, is that I didn’t grow up going to salons to get it cut. In my teens, I didn’t have friends who spent time fussing with hair and makeup and the like. So I never learned how to talk to a salon about what I wanted. I never got indoctrinated into salon culture.

For much of my life, that meant that I would let my hair grow long, pulling it back into a ponytail most of the time because it was the easiest thing to do. Looks sort of frumpy that way, though.

Every now and then, I’d venture into a salon, and make an attempt at communicating. Bad experiences include:

> Telling the stylist that I wanted my hair cut short, even showing her where I wanted it to come to, and having to answer her endlessly during the cut as she asked again and again, “Are you sure you want it that short?” Yes, I’m sure! You know, listening to your customer is considered a sign of good service. Why don’t you do it?

> After a stylist shampooed my hair, I mentioned that I always had to use the conditioner at home, or my hair would tangle badly. You know how consumer shampoos always have a matching creme rinse/conditioner? That’s what I meant. But because I didn’t know the proper way to describe what I meant, she thought I was referring to a special conditioner treatment that cost $3 extra, and she applied that without mentioning the extra cost.

> I decided once on a whim to try a perm on my medium long hair. I had a vision of those long, really curly tendrils all over my head. I had a picture from a magazine of a woman with hair like that. My sister had hair like that naturally, and I’d always been fond of the look. I said, “This is what I want.”

> First, the stylist had me go into a little room at the back and take off my top, putting on a smock. I presume this was to protect my clothing from the chemicals. She didn’t tell me to come out of that room, and there was a styling chair in it, so I waited there for her. Finally, she came looking for me, thinking I’d fallen ill or something. I was embarrassed at not understanding such a simple thing.

> Second, what I wound up with was hair that kind of poofed all over my head, just a fuller version of my own natural hair. Not the curly tendrils I had desired, and had explicitly shown in a picture.

> And finally, I had visited the salon ahead of time to find out what a perm would cost, and had been given a specific price, which is what I had budgeted for. But when this perm was done with, I was told it would cost more because my hair was so thick. Yeah, maybe I should have argued that the perm I got wasn’t what I wanted, and refused to pay anything. But I was so disgusted with the whole process that I just wanted to get out of there and never return. I did at least talk them down to the price I was originally quoted.

There are other stories about salons where I was expected to engage in inane small talk about current music and pop culture with the stylists, where I had miscommunications because I didn’t know how to speak salon, and couldn’t explain myself adequately.

To be fair, there are some good stories, too. Stylists always praised me for how thick and luxurious my hair was. When it’s cut short, there’s a natural wave to it that I’ve been told people pay a fortune to try to duplicate. And once, when I had my hair cut at a beauty school in Syracuse, I had students all over the floor behind me picking up snippets of my long, uncolored, untreated hair to use for their color sample homework.

Hair 2
Natural Waves at the Back

Eventually, I figured out that a simple blunt cut, with a slight angle downward from the face towards the back of the neck, gave a fairly good finished result. But even when I was able to convey that message, there was still the girly small talk issue.

I may be a girl, but I’m not girly. And even in the best of crowds, small talk makes me insane. My take on pop culture isn’t mainstream, I don’t follow current music, and…well, my tastes in pop culture occasionally shock or at least startle, and frequently take some explaining. ’nuff said.

Finally, I simply decided I wasn’t going to bother exposing myself to such an annoying experience ever again. My hair grew longer, I got frumpy looking with the ponytails.

One day about 8 or so years ago, I got so disgusted with it that I grabbed a pair of scissors off my desk and started hacking away. Using the bathroom mirror and my sense of touch, I was able to work my hair down to a reasonable facsimile of the angled blunt cut that I had determined worked well for me.

When Gryphon came home from work that day, I asked him to check the back for uneven spots. He couldn’t find a one.

I received a lot of praise in public about how my short hair looked, and people were always amazed when I said I cut it myself. I have to admit, I formed some doubts in my head about what it was that I ever paid a salon for, if this was so easy to do! (Mind you, I’m fully aware that hairstyling and cosmetology are highly specialized, trained skills, and I’m not taking them lightly! I have full respect for those who learn and fully understand this art!) I don’t claim to have any comfort with the idea of cutting anyone else’s head, but I seemed to at least have a knack for getting my own to come out right.

Hair 1
Folkcat Today

Since then, I’m the only person who has cut my hair. Typically, it grows until I decide I can’t stand the length anymore, then I hack away with the scissors. I’ve gotten good enough at it that I don’t usually bother with a mirror anymore, cutting the back only by touch.

With the right cut, that natural wave makes it look like I’ve had my hair expensively styled.

My color, these days, is getting a bit funky, though. What we see in this next picture is traces of a henna job from nearly two years ago near the ends, and my own mousy brown hair elsewhere.

Hair 3
Mottled Color

And if you look carefully, you can see that the part forward of the orange headband is starting to go gray. I’m not one to panic over such a matter, but it does add a third, non-coordinating color into the mix.

I’m happy with my hair styling. I’m not as happy with the current color. I’d do henna more often, but I actually need Gryphon’s help applying it, and it takes most of an afternoon to deal with. Which makes it hard to fit into our lives.

And that’s the story of Folkcat’s Hair. Now I have to go figure out what “I is for…” is going to be!

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Friday Fatigue; and, Score One for the Rat Lovers

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 4:42 pm on Friday, April 14, 2006

Fatigued, because I spent a whole day yesterday shopping with a friend, and we then went straight to knitting all evening at Panera for the Thursday night Knitting Around! We had a great lunch at Bertucci’s, we bought yarn, we looked at all sorts of odd tchotchkes and gewgaws here and there, and then we sat and knit. What more could one ask from a day?

The only down side – all that walking around in different stores leaves me more than a bit worn out the next day. Luckily, there are no pressing matters for me to deal with today (touch wood), so I can relax and keep my feet up.

Knitting last night, btw, was more preemie hats. Also this week, I’ve worked on the Baby Blanket and the Warm Things project (a scarf, at the moment). For pictures, well – just imagine them longer than the last time I showed them, okay? ‘Cause that’s really all there is to see. Stay tuned, eventually there will be another FO here.

And now, for this month’s Free Desktop Wallpaper Download. Offering an image of the Rattie Sisters had to happen eventually, but little did I know that I would get a picture so cute, so soon. Technically, this photo was taken by Gryphon, as I was attached to the finger dipped in yogurt, but the cropping and selection are all mine. And so I present to you…

star_loves_yogurt_1600.jpg
Star Loves Yogurt!

From the description: Here’s one for the rat lovers! This is one of the rattie sisters in the Folkcat household. Her name is Star, and she loves her yogurt. Can’t you tell? Look at those bright, shiny eyes! See the puffy little cheeks! And that tiny little pink tongue darting out to get every last drop of yogurty goodness.

Bonus fiber note: The background is Folkcat’s own Ugly Crochet Poncho, created of Lion Brand Homespun yarn from a pattern at the Lion Brand website.

As with all my other wallpapers, Star Loves Yogurt! is free for personal use on your own computer. To decorate your desktop with this – or any of my other wallpaper offerings – just visit Folkcat’s Free Desktop Wallpaper Gallery. You’ll find full instructions for downloading your choice of images.

Star Loves Yogurt! is the current image on my own desktop, and I smile every time I see the happy expression on her little face. I hope the rat fans among you enjoy her. And for you non-rat fans – well, there’s always next month! Or browse through past offerings in the gallery for pictures of yarn, chocolate, flowers, and more.

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Eats, Knits, Leaves, Hats, Shirts, Spins…

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 9:01 am on Thursday, April 13, 2006

Monday night was Eats, Knits & Leaves night at Toadstool Bookshop in Milford. There were slightly fewer of us than usual, but I think our rowdiness expanded to fill the gaps! We had an incredibly good time.

(My pictures taken at Toadstool always come out on the yellow side – I need to remember to check the settings on my camera to find one that compensates for the lighting there.)

We gathered around the table with our knitting, and with tasty refreshments provided by Patty (cream puffs) and Vicky (chocolate chip cookies), all homebaked. Our teas included a brand new assortment from The Cozy Tea Cart. Danielle Beaudette, the owner of the tea shop, had just returned from the Specialty Tea Institute, and she brought back some of the latest in blends for us to try – mere hours after her plane landed in New Hampshire! (Technically, she sent her husband with them – but we know she was there in spirit!)

April 2006 - Eats, Knits & Leaves Meeting
From left: Bea, Vicky, Patty (at back), and Beth (at front)

Patty began collecting preemie hats on behalf of her mother a few months ago – her mother organizes donations of preemie knits for several hospitals. To her surprise, she found that Bea has taken up the cause in the last month. I say surprise, because here’s the pile of hats that were delivered on Monday:

Pile O' Preemie Hats
Pile o’ Preemie Hats

I had done pretty well on preemie hats myself, having knit six of the ones you see above. But all the rest, every last one, was knit by Bea. Just in the last few weeks. Way to go, Bea!

Patty Giggling
Patty in a Giggly Mood

Patty was in a pretty good mood, generally, perhaps because she took the advice offered on her own shirt:

Patty's Shirt - Detail
Unwind!

But then, she almost immediately got all wound up, as she showed Beth (and the rest of us) how her drop spindle worked.

Patty Shows Beth How a Drop Spindle Works
Patty Demonstrates Drop Spindling

She was working with a lovely wool and silk blend roving in a soft green color.

Check the Website

I’ll be uploading these pictures to the Eats, Knits & Leaves Yahoo! group site sometime in the next couple of days, so that everyone can enjoy them. Watch for them there!

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be on Monday, May 8th, from 7 to 9 p.m. Hope to see you there!

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Lost – By Choice?

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 10:54 pm on Wednesday, April 12, 2006

(That title might only make sense to folks who saw tonight’s episode…)

It’s official, as far as I’m concerned. Rose and Bernard have the best, the sweetest, back story of any of the characters on Lost.

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Two and a Half Weeks

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 1:50 pm on Wednesday, April 12, 2006

That’s how long the rattie sisters, Star and Sable, have been with us. Bonding with humans has happened so quickly, though, that you’d think they’d lived here forever.

Distinct personalities have emerged. Sable is the alpha rat of the pair. When they wrestle, she’s a little more likely to be the one to pin Star down and groom her as a show of dominance. (Star gets her own back from Sable, though, now and then.)

Star is the People Rat. She’s the one who’s most eager to come out and play, or take a treat. Mind you, Sable has few issues with doing either, but she’s a little more reserved about it.

Sable is the great explorer. When the pair come out of the cage to play, Sable is the first to go looking for the boundaries of the play area. What is the limit, she wants to know? How far can I go without being pulled back, and what’s that beyond the edges?

Morning Habits

A typical day begins with me sitting down to read the newspaper and have my morning caffeine (usually in the form of iced tea). The girls are usually awake by then, and they come over to the cage door to see what I’m up to.

If I’m ready to feel sociable, I’ll open the door, and wait for them to notice.

Star & Sable - Can We Come Out?
Star & Sable – Can We Come Out?

They’ve usually been peeking over to see what I’m doing (in case it’s breakfast already), so it doesn’t take them long to spot that the door is open. That’s when they come down to the second shelf of their cage and sit by the door, waiting for the signal that they are welcome to come out and visit.

Star & Sable - We've Got the Okay!
Here We Come!

The signal we’ve settled on has me waggling the fingers of one hand in their direction. Rats are smart, and this pair is no exception. It took them no time at all to learn that if the fingers waggle, they could come running out to play.

Star & Sable - Oatmeal Snacking
Breakfast is Important, and Oatmeal – Even Licked Off a Finger – Is Good For You

If I’m eating my breakfast by then, that’s the first order of business. They’ve learned that well-behaved little ratties get to lick oatmeal or yogurt off my finger, or get handed a piece of toast or bagel crust to eat.

Star & Sable - Where Shall We Explore First?
Let’s Go Spelunking!

But even more than a treat to eat, the girls love coming out to crawl around on the chair while I sit there. They climb up to my shoulders to look out the window behind me, or to nuzzle my ear. They go poking into the recesses under the pillow that serves as their landing pad under the cage door.

Most of all, however…the very best of the best as far as rats are concerned…they love it when I cover my lap with this woven, cotton throw that I have had for a number of years.

Sable - Blanket Burrowing
Sable Comes Up For Air

I fold it in two over my lap, and they love to tunnel between the layers and see where they can come out at the edges.

They love to re-arrange the fringe. They love to crawl over each other while buried in the fabric.

They love it when I locate the moving lump in the throw, and pet them through the material.

Star - Blanket Burrowing
Star Makes Sure I’m Still There

Every now and then, I lift up the top layer and have a Peek-a-Boo! moment with them before dropping the cover back over the explorers.

Since I started doing the peek-a-boo explorer’s blanket thing, I’ve even seen Star and Sable turn down an offer of a treat to go burrowing.

Loving This Whole Rattie Thing

Gryphon and I can’t begin to describe how happy we are with Star and Sable. They have bonded with us quickly, and they interact on a level that makes you really feel you’ve added a family member – not just a living piece of home decor. They crave attention from us, and get it in abundance. And they give back as good as they get.

Star Says

“Of course we love it here – you’ve got fibery things for us to play in!”

Star - Peek-a-Boo!
Peek-A-Boo!

Still to Come This Week:

A report on Monday night’s Eats, Knits & Leaves meeting (with pictures!), and this month’s Desktop Wallpaper Download!

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Nashua Area Knit Groups, Apr 12 – Apr 23

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 12:20 pm on Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Group Report

Let’s see – I went out knitting last Thursday, then again on Sunday, at Panera. Kat with a K was able to make it to Thursday for a change – it was great to see her again! And Sunday, we had the usual large and slightly rowdy crowd of knitters gathered around the fireplace.

Last night, of course, was Eats, Knits & Leaves knitting at Toadstool Books. Only five of us this month, but we enjoyed ourselves so much the staff actually had to come and say it was time to go! Vicky brought amazing chocolate chip cookies, Patty brought cream puffs to die for, and everyone was knitting away on marvelous projects. I’ll share pictures soon, and will post them to the EKL Yahoo! group as well.

Add Your Meeting

If you have any knit gatherings planned in the Southern New Hampshire area that are open to the public, and you’d like to see them listed here, just drop me a line at crafty.kitty@yahoo.com with the details. Be sure to include Date, Time, Location, and Contact Info, as well as whether it’s a one-time event or repeats on a regular schedule.

Knitting Groups for Wed., Apr. 12 to Sunday, Apr. 23.

Remember, you can also view these events (and more) at the SnB-NH calendar at Yahoo! Groups.

Please note: where phone numbers are given for “Info”, that is the contact phone for the location, not the knitters organizing the gathering. Since none of these events are officially coordinated by the host sites (except as noted), if you reach someone by phone and ask them about the knitting group, they might not have any clue what you’re talking about.

Wed. Apr. 12 –

SnB-Chelmsford, MA @ The Java Room, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Ginger Ale Plaza, Rte. 110, 14 Littleton Rd., Chelmsford, MA

Info – phone: (978) 256-0001

Thurs. Apr. 13 –

Knitting Around, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Panera Bread, 590 Amherst St., Nashua (Rte. 101A near Target)

Info – e-mail: fiber AT folkcatart DOT com

Fri. Apr. 14 –

SnB-Nashua @Panera Bread, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. 590 Amherst St., Nashua (Rte. 101A near Target)

Info – phone: (603) 821-6021

Note: Friday nights at Panera Bread have officially been dropped from the SnB-NH calendar. This doesn’t rule out that folks who are available that night might casually decided to get together anyhow, but you’ll need to follow messages at the SnB-NH group to learn about that.

Sun. Apr. 16 –

SnB-Nashua @ Borders Books, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. 281 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua, NH

Info – phone: (603) 888-9300

Note: The Borders meeting on the 16th has been cancelled for the holiday. Some folks may decide at the last minute that they can make it after all, but thus far, everyone consulted has said they can’t.

Wed. Apr. 19

SnB-Chelmsford, MA @ The Java Room, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Ginger Ale Plaza, Rte. 110, 14 Littleton Rd., Chelmsford, MA

Info – phone: (978) 256-0001

Thurs. Apr. 20 –

Knitting Around, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Panera Bread, 590 Amherst St., Nashua (Rte. 101A near Target)

Info – e-mail: fiber AT folkcatart DOT com

Sun. Apr. 23 –

SnB-Nashua @Panera Bread, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. 590 Amherst St., Nashua (Rte. 101A near Target)

Info – phone: (603) 821-6021

Folkcat’s Plans?

I will, of course, be at the Knitting Around meetings on both Thursday nights. And I’ll attend all the SnB-NH gatherings that happen at Panera Bread as well.

Happy Knitting!

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The 99:99 Plan Flexes; and, I Yield to the FO

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 1:17 pm on Monday, April 10, 2006

With the introduction of the rattie sisters, Star and Sable, into our lives two weeks ago, the last couple of weeks have been rough on the 99:99 plan. In the interest of bonding with the new family members, I’ve been making myself available for interaction whenever I notice that they’re awake.

It’s working well to create a comfortable relationship between people and rats, but it’s tending to disrupt my other activities. I’ve been missing the occasional day of my chosen exercise, marching in place, and I’ve been finding myself so wiped out on Saturdays that I spend the day half-asleep in front of the TV.

Fortunately, I’ve got a strong support system in Gryphon. He’s been helping me to get the rest I need on the weekends, and he’s been very encouraging as I adjust to the new reality the rest of the week.

One of the things that I’ve been unhappy with under the new paradigm is that my various projects have been slipping. Originally, I would start the 99 minute, 99 second counter on the timer, and I would pick up whatever task was next on my agenda – a knitting WIP, some beadwork, or blogging and computer maintenance time. When I decided it was time for a meal, or I had to do some other chore around the house (like laundry), I left the timer running and just did it, coming back to the primary project when I was done. When the alarm went off, no matter how much of that 99:99 had been spent on the primary task, I moved on to something else.

The rats have introduced more interruptions to the process. Less was getting done on any given project, and I was less happy with my progress on anything. So I’ve decided that my 99:99 plan, being flexible, needed to be re-shaped slightly to make me happy with it again.

Starting at the end of last week, instead of applying the 99:99 countdown timer to a specific chunk of time, I’m applying it to a specific project.

Let’s say that the knitted baby blanket is the next WIP in line. I’ll pick up the knitting and start the timer. Perhaps 25 minutes later I decide it’s time for lunch. Under the old plan, I’d keep that timer running, and just go back to the knitting after eating – assuming there was any time left in that 99:99.

Now, however, there’s a much greater chance that eating lunch will lead to additional interruptions as the ratties discover I’m having a meal and want to come out for treats and attention. So instead of letting the timer run, I’ve begun stopping the timer whenever I put down the current project, and starting it again when I pick it up.

The advantage to this is that any project that comes up on my agenda gets the full 99 minutes, 99 seconds of attention before I move on to another one. I’m already feeling more satisfied with the progress I’ve made on WIPs that have passed through my hands since I started applying the time in this fashion.

BTW, not long ago we did a BP reading here at home, and the numbers were 119/84. Way down from where I’d been running, which was around 150+/90+. Plus, my blood sugar has been running so good on in-office tests that my doctor doesn’t feel I need to be checking it on a schedule at all – only if I feel off for some reason. The combination of exercise, meds, and diet are making a difference!

Okay, I Give!

Yesterday, we had a mild, sunny afternoon – perfect sweater weather! I wore my new Homespun cardigan out to our SnB-NH knitting at Panera, and everyone raved about it. I had expressed a few reservations about the design of the piece in my post on Friday, but if everyone was liking it so much – it got me thinking maybe it wasn’t so bad.

BTW, thanks also to everyone who posted a comment complimenting me on the sweater! You were actually the start of the trend!

The clincher came, though, when Gryphon and I stopped by the supermarket on the way home to pick up a few things. As I stood contemplating the sour cream choices, a woman who was walking by touched my arm and said, “Excuse me, I just had to ask – did you make your jacket? It’s lovely!”

A pleasant conversation ensued where I learned that she was a relatively new knitter who had made herself a scarf from Homespun yarn. That’s how she’d recognized the material in the sweater, and that it was likely homemade. I started to tell her about our knitting groups around here, but she said she’s from NY, so instead I merely gave her my card with the links for my blogs. She mentioned she’d been interested in doing a shawl next, and I gave her the quicky instructions for doing one from Homespun – “Three skeins, cast on 57 stitches, and just knit until the yarn is gone!”

So, okay. I give in. I completely withdraw any reservations I expressed about how this specific sweater came out. If the first time I wear my first sweater in public gets the kind of reaction it did yesterday, it must be all right.

Are we all happy now?

Star Says

Star and Oatmeal

“Just keep that oatmeal coming, and we’ll all be happy!”

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FO Sighting!

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 5:31 pm on Friday, April 7, 2006

Earlier this week, I set aside my usual project-switching habits for most of a day and focused on completing my Homespun Cardigan. As you may recall, this is an old project that I recovered from stash during my massive re-organization of the yarn piles. It had been completely knit, but no ends were woven in, and not a stitch of seaming had occurred.

After several hours of work on Tuesday, here’s the end result:

FO - Homespun Cardigan
Homespun Cardigan, Folkcat’s First Sweater!

Pattern: World’s Easiest Cardigan, from The Learn to Knit a Sweater Book
Yarn: Lion Brand Homespun, Regency colorway
Needles: US size 10

Notes: It’s been a while since I actually did the knitting on this one, but it was a blindingly simple project. The back is one big rectangle. The front is two longer, skinnier ones, and their lower ends fold up to form pockets. The sleeves are two trapezoids.

That’s it. That’s all the pieces.

FO - Homespun Cardigan, Wingspan
Big Sleeves

The sleeves feel a bit baggy on me, though I’m sure that sense is enhanced by the fact that the sweater gaps seriously in the front. This, in spite of the fact that this was designed as a seriously over-sized sweater (we’re talking 8 inches of ease here!). The two front pieces are straight up-and-down rectangles, and they’re not made to close up. But that means that the front opening is all the more easily pulled wider by the weight of the sleeves on your arms.

I’m not thrilled with how the pockets look, either. But I think that’s related to the front gap as well.

FO - Homespun Cardigan, Rear View
Back Length – Just Right

I actually think the back length is exactly right. And I like the way the sweater looks on me in these pictures. If I accept it as something to be worn as an open jacket, I think it will be a worthy addition to the wardrobe. The Homespun yarn is soft and warm, and feels very good against the skin. And it’ll be washable, too.

Sable Nuzzles the Homespun Yarn
Long Sleeves. Really Long.

The sleeves, when you are at rest, are seriously too long. Which further enhances that feeling of the front pulling open. But I’ve found I can push them up my arms fairly comfortably, which is something I often do with sweaters anyhow.

If I do this again – and I suspect I might – I’ll probably not change the back. On the front, I’ll alter the shape of the left and right pieces to make a v-neckline, and make the lower portion wide enough to overlap. I don’t know that I’ll add buttons – I would never button them up, anyhow. But if the front were at least wide enough to comfortably pull together and overlap, the sweater would feel better.

I’ve been trying to decide if I’d change the sleeves next time, and I think I won’t. Yes, they’ve over long at rest. But they seem all right when you’re moving around, and as I said, I often push sleeves up my arm anyhow.

I like having pockets, but if I make the front wider on each side, then they can no longer be formed by simply folding up the bottom. So I’ll likely make patch pockets.

Conclusions?

This sweater is an easy knit, and a good way to learn basic sweater construction. For someone less apple-shaped than I am, it might fit better as written, too.

We’re not talking high fashion or anything au courant here, but this feels like a good, warm, comfy piece to throw on when I’m tooling around town doing errands on a cool day. Nothing wrong with the basics, folks.

And What Do The Rats Think?*

Sable says…

Sable Nuzzles the Homespun Yarn

“Feels like it has a high nuzzle factor to me…

Sable Dives into the Sweater

…but let me do a more in-depth investigation before I give you my final report!”

*Both ratties actually loved the knitted Homespun sweater. They crawled all over me, in and out of the pockets, up the sleeves, and nuzzling into the folds of the sweater wherever they could. Great bonding opportunity! And it reinforces that I need to knit them a little pocket-like thing they can crawl into for their cage…

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