Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Technical Difficulties

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile — folkcat at 7:24 pm on Friday, May 19, 2006

There seems to be something broken about the archives for this blog. You can get to the archived months, but not the individual posts. Except for one or two recently published posts.

I’m a bit lost for what to do about this. I’ve tried changing my template. (Which is why some of my sidebar features have temporarily vanished.) I’ve tried re-publishing old posts (which re-connected the full month archives, but not the individual posts.)

I’m stymied.

Edited to add: Okay, somehow changing Blogger’s Archive setting to Daily, then changing it back to Monthly (re-publishing after each change) has fixed the individual post links. No idea why, but they’re back now.

Sure wish I could have avoided the near heart attack I had in the meantime.

Give me a few days, I’ll put back the sidebar content that went walkabout during this.

Rummaging Around – Sweet, Sweet, Rummaging; and, Worldwide Knit in Public Day

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 6:50 pm on Friday, May 19, 2006

There are some advantages to living right in the town center in a small New England town.

Being only a block away from the 2nd Congo Church – the one which has monthly rummage sales – is one of them.

Today, we came away with a sackful of goodies. Not pictured are a copy of the book, The Remains of the Day; a lamp with a dimmer switch that fits onto the headboard of my bed (or can be mounted on the wall); and a Rubbermaid Tupperware lazy susan for the spice cupboard.

On the crafty side, though, we have this nice little sweetgrass basket.

Sweet Grass Basket
Sweetgrass Basket

Sweet Grass Basket Interior

This will make an excellent small sewing basket – something I don’t already have.

And it’s sitting on a pair of matching items I got from the clothing piles:

Nurse's Tops
Nurse’s Obstetric Scrubs

The name of the hospital they’re from is stamped inside the neck. Somewhere in Massachusetts. They’re two different styles, but both are made from the same fabric.

Nurse's Top, Detail
Sweet Little Faded Flowers on a Field of Blue

Which is really the point, after all. At least for me. I wasn’t looking for clothes to wear, I was looking for nice fabric for making stuffed things and lining bags and such. And I couldn’t resist this subtle, stylized pattern of simple flowers on a field of blue.

With two of these tops to de-construct down to pieces of fabric, I’ll have a reasonable amount to work with. The styles both have princess lines, which means I’ll have many vertical, narrow panels of fabric. But buying two matching tops helps compensate for the narrow pieces by having more of them. Right?

And the grand total for all these goodies? Lamp, lazy susan, book, fabric, and basket?

Five dollars.

Rummage sales can be very, very good to us crafters. I feel awfully lucky having this one so close by!

Knitterly News

Worldwide Knit in Public Day, Sat. June 10, 2006
Worldwide Knit in Public Day
Saturday, June 10, 2006

SnB-NH, one of the Nashua-area knitting groups, has decided to do a gathering for Worldwide Knit in Public Day, to be held on Saturday, June 10th. The plan is to gather at Greeley Park in Nashua from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and bring dishes to share for a potluck picnic. Bring a blanket, bring a chair, bring your knitting, and come hang out with us!

For more details, or to sign up for a dish for the potluck picnic, please visit SnB-NH at Yahoo! Groups. You’ll find the Potluck Sign-Up sheet under “Database” on the side menu.

New Desktop Wallpaper, May 2006 – Here There Be Monsters!

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 11:13 am on Thursday, May 18, 2006

Here There Be Monsters – Folkcat’s May, 2006 Free Desktop Wallpaper

May 18, 2006 – In honor of Project Spectrum, here’s a GREEN selection for this month’s Desktop Wallpaper. The image seems humble – the screen filled with duckweed on a greenhouse pond – but it hides a great secret. For in this pond, lurking beneath the protective cloak of the duckweed, were MONSTER-size koi! Sheltered in the shadows, these leviathans were easily 18 to 24 inches in length.

So add this month’s Wallpaper to your Desktop, and while the cool, fresh, greenness soothes your eyes, let your imagination ponder the hidden realities that lie beneath the surface!

As with all my other wallpapers, Here There Be Monsters! 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.

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Cars Shouldn’t Fend For Themselves

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 4:19 pm on Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Knitting continues at a rapid pace, but the only WIP getting attention at the moment is the Log Cabin Blanket, and it’s hard to see the progress in a photo. Trust, though, that I’m really pleased with how it’s going, and there will be progress pictures soon enough.

Is anyone else as creeped out by the Toyota Yaris ads as I am? There’s the one where a spider-like creature made of gas pump nozzles gets deliberately run over by the car and smashed to pieces, then a hose comes out of the gas tank and sucks up the gasoline left among the parts. Then there’s the innocent, pink little piggy bank that the car cuts with lasers and saws on the end of a tentacle arm, then cracks open before grabbing a penny from it.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned. But I’d be more comfortable if the car in my driveway wasn’t inclined to violence and hunting for food and money. I actually have an innocent, pink little piggy bank that looks a lot like the one killed – would I need to fear owning both the car and the piggy, the way a person who owns both a pet bird and a cat does?

Edited later to add: Oh, yes…Gryphon’s poor truck that didn’t pass inspection last week won’t have to fend for itself. We’ve managed to work out a way to get the brakes fixed tomorrow morning. Hooray! I won’t have to go out at midnight tomorrow night to pick him up from work…

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Mason Dixon KAL

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 5:03 pm on Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I have sort of failed to mention that, about a week and a half ago, I joined up with the Mason-Dixon Knit-A-Long. My first post there was about knitting the Rat Rugs for Sable and Star. Today, I posted about my experiments with Log Cabin Knitting that I mentioned yesterday. Now, you get to see a picture of the cotton blanket in progress!

Beyond Rat Rugs

I got as far as completing four of my Rat Rugs before setting the project aside so I can get back to others of my WIPs. Only I really didn’t.

Instead, I scavenged much of my Sugar ‘n Cream yarn stash, and began work on a Log Cabin Blanket.

I’m no stranger to the Log Cabin technique. About 3 years ago, long before I knew there were so many knitblogs out there (it’s only about a year ago I began reading blogs at all), I experimented with it out of boredom.

Early Log Cabin Samplers
Log Cabin – the Early Tries

Remember, I hadn’t discovered knit blogs, and surely had never heard of Kay and Ann and Mason-Dixon Knitting yet! I was bored and playing with yarns from stash, putting them together almost randomly, not caring about the difference between thick and chunky or thin and wispy. In the end, I knew the differences would fairly well even out.

What was I planning to do with these? I wasn’t sure, though I had some vague notion that the small one would become a pillow, and the big one, a bedspread. Who knows – maybe that will still happen one day!

Fast forward to 2006, and Mason-Dixon Knitting. Oh, yes – and in the interim, I had actually completed a Queen-size blanket for my bed from acrylic yarn, and I love it! I have plans to knit more. And then, as I said, along came MDK.

My favorite purchased blankets have always been woven from cotton. Why not knit one? I have all these cones and balls of cotton yarn around…

Beginning of a Log Cabin Blanket
Today’s Log Cabin – the Embryonic Blanket

I picked out a few harmonious colors in a bright, cheerful mix. Pink, orange, green – a mix of solids and variegateds. (Not mauve, orange, and aqua, as they seem to appear here. The colors are a bit brighter than this shows – indoor lighting, etc. And that multi that has the bright orange in it is actually pink, orange, and yellow – not autumn colors. *sigh*)

Cast on 20 stitches for my center square, and off I went! Right now, this is about 16 1/2 inches on a side. The goal is to make a Queen-size blanket for use on my bed. Bedding resources on the Internet told me that means 90 inches by 90 inches – handily, that’s a square!

To see how much yarn I was going to need, I weighed my piece after knitting a couple rounds, and in the end, that Queen-size blanket is going to weight about 9.25 pounds. Heavy, but not completely unreasonable for a blanket. It will officially be the heaviest thing I’ve ever knit, though. The acrylic Queen-size blanket only weighs in between 5 and 6 pounds.

Sable Pulls My String
Does Sable Like It?

The rats, of course, have expressed an opinion. They’ve already proven they’re fond of cotton yarn, and all their own knitted home decor is made from Sugar ‘n Cream. Here, we see Sable trying to claim this blanket for herself – even while it’s still being knit!

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Nashua Area Knit Groups, May 17 – May 28

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 1:10 pm on Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Group Report

SnB at Borders this past weekend was cancelled due to the combination of Mothers’ Day and the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival. Judging from what I saw reading around the blogs, the best approach to the Festival was to take scuba gear! (Not that anyone actually did, but there were some impressive pictures of lakes where the paths between barns should have been.)

Seasonal Changes

The current plan for the SnB-NH Borders meetings in May is to keep them on the calendar, but individuals should attempt to verify via e-mail to the group whether anyone will be attending.

For the weeks that the group meets at Panera, I have offered to serve as the “anchor” – the one person who will be there as unfailingly as possible, so no one ever has to wonder if anyone will be around or not. If anyone is able to make the same commitment to the Borders weekends, that could remove any doubt for those planning to come knit there.

To keep informed about any changes, please visit both the EKL or SnB-NH groups on the web, or remember to look at this blog every Tuesday for these calendar listings.

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., May 17 to Sunday, May 28.

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. May 17

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. May 18 –

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. May 21 –

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

Info – phone: (603) 821-6021

Wed. May 24 –

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. May 25 –

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. May 28* –

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

Info – phone: (603) 888-9300

*Note: Please check messages at the SnB-NH group for updates, and to confirm if anyone will be attending the Borders meeting.

Folkcat’s Plans?

I expect to be at all the events at Panera Bread. As for Borders Sundays, Gryphon and I have started feeling the flea market bug this spring, and instead of driving down to Borders we will probably be spending those afternoons at the Hollis Flea Market. (At least the ones where it doesn’t pour down rain!)

Happy Knitting!

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Just When You Think You Can Get Out…

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile — folkcat at 11:57 am on Tuesday, May 16, 2006

…they suck you back in.

Recent issues of Bead & Button and Beadwork magazines had underwhelmed me. I felt I wasn’t seeing anything new and different enough to interest me anymore. And they were even recycling profiled artists from earlier years.

I was asking myself “Where’s the fresh content?”, and came to a conclusion that I would let my subscriptions lapse.

Then I got the most recent issues of both. Which also happen to be the last issues I’ll receive on both subscriptions.

I won’t go into details of the projects, but both the most recent issues of Bead & Button and Beadwork offered seed bead projects that intrigued me. New versions of herringbone spirals; bead crochet strawberries; peyote vessels with lids; knitted bracelets. And more. Stuff that, if I had time at this instant, I’d be picking out beads for and putting together.

*Sigh*. I’ve given Gryphon instructions to get my subscriptions renewed. ASAP, because they both expired with this issue. The budget is tight, but we’ll find the money somewhere.

No escape from it, is there? Why does being a beader suddenly feel like being in the mob?

Monday Morning Grays: and, Riding the Wings of Another’s Glory

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 3:40 pm on Monday, May 15, 2006

or, Gray Monday and I Got Nothing, So Here’s a Friend’s FO

If it seems like all the New England-based blogs are doing nothing but talk about the weather today, well – that’s because the weather is just about all there is to talk about. Even those that talk about New Hampshire Sheep & Wool have no choice but to put it in context of the weather.

To give a little perspective, this flooding is doing to south central and seacoast New Hampshire what the flooding last fall did to Keene and other parts of western New Hampshire. Whole towns are being evacuated, and large parts of others. People are being removed from their homes with few of their posessions, to wonder if they’re going to have anything undamaged when they come back.

Or if they’ll even have a home.

Interviews on the local news with residents say that they haven’t seen waters this high in the 45 years or more they’ve lived there.

Here in Wilton, we seem to be doing okay. We live along Main Street, which runs along the Souhegan River, so there is potential for flooding if conditions get just right.

Last fall, we were a little east of where the flooding problems were. This time, we seem to be a little west of them. Skip over two towns to the east of us, and there are multiple listings for roads officially closed for dangerous flooding conditions. Here in Wilton, the only road that was partially closed last night is off the lists today.

Obviously, Wilton has been geographically lucky both times. I know, though, that it’s only a matter of the paths of these particular storms. The river is only a block away, and though we live in the upper part of the apartment building, the lower floors are right on Main St. Which is mere feet above the river level.

Gryphon and I keep an eye on the river, and we rehearse in our heads what we’d pack if we had to leave.

The relentless sound of rain beating down on the house, coupled with the unmitigating grayness of the world – then blended with enough atmospheric moisture to keep you from ever feeling completely comfortable – are all making me feel pretty miserable and unmotivated today. I feel an urge to turn on every light in the house so that no matter where I go, it will be bright.

The forecast says the rain will be lightening up, but that it will still be with us through the rest of the week. I’m just going to worry about getting myself motivated in spite of it, just for today.


Oh, yes, I’ve been knitting. I put aside all my existing WIPs over the weekend and took up a new project from Mason-Dixon Knitting this weekend – a Log Cabin blanket, knit from Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn. This is a sequel project, effectively, to the Queen-size blanket I knit from Red Heart yarn that I love so much. So it’s going to be large. The dimensions I found at an online guide to bedding sizes says 90 inches by 90 inches for a Full/Queen blanket. Good thing that’s square, it’s perfect for Log Cabin knitting.

I started work on the blanket using yarn I have in stash – green, pink, orange, and several multi-coloreds that picked up the same shades. It’s going to be bright and cheery, which feels like a good idea right now. I worked to about the size of a piece of letter-size paper, then measured and weighed my “swatch”. (That’s in quotes because it’s really the actual beginning of the blanket.)

By my calculations, it’s going to take about 9 and 1/3 pounds of yarn to make this blanket. This is likely to be the heaviest object I ever knit. But based on how the piece feels so far, I think I’m going to enjoy this on my bed.

Pictures? You want to see it? Sorry, it’s been too gray and dreary – both in the real world, and inside my head because of it – for me to try taking a picture yet. Maybe when the blanket looks a bit more impressive – right now, it’s about the size of a large pillow.

Instead, let me offer this photo of a friend’s FO from early April. Craft Goddess Bea had participated in our craft circle’s dyeing day, using Wilton food colors to create her own handpainted lace yarn. Then, she chose to knit the ever-popular Fiber Trends’ Fiddlesticks* Peacock Feather Shawl from the results.

Here’s how it came out:

Bea with Peacock Feathers

Nice work, Bea!

*Edited 5-16-06 to correct: I meant Fiddlesticks. I got confused because Bea has also knit an awful lot of Fiber Trends’ shawl patterns.

Grocery Shopping Isn’t For Wimps

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 4:50 pm on Friday, May 12, 2006


I officially withdraw any suggestions I might have made about Gryphon and I getting by with only one vehicle. Only two days of having to juggle errands so that either A) he can take the car to work, leaving me stranded at home from 3 p.m. to midnight; or, 2) I can have the car, but I have to drop him at work and then go out at midnight to pick him up, have proven that it’s not a desirable situation.

Yesterday was Knitting Around night at Panera, so I needed the car. With 2) in force, I was obliged to go out in some of my least favorite driving conditions – dark, rainy, with lights reflecting off the asphalt and the resulting glare making lane lines and such nearly invisible. At midnight, when normally I would have been in my pajamas and all relaxed and ready to go to bed shortly after Gryphon comes home.

Today, I didn’t need to go anywhere. Which is good, because option 2) on Thursday left me a little more frazzled than I like, and I was looking forward to relaxing at home with no major obligations.

Except, I couldn’t. We had some grocery shopping to do, and if we were going to avoid me having to go get Gryphon at midnight from work again, it had to happen early enough to get the car back home by three.

Normally, we’d just do this together. Makes the process a little easier, and for what it’s worth, it is time spent together, which we get precious little of on weekdays.

Except, we couldn’t. Gryphon is currently experiencing physical therapy three times a week for a repetitive stress injury incurred on the job (not enough to disable him from work, but enough to require him to modify which tasks he does at work, and to get therapy). And his appointment today was for one o’clock.

Okay, let’s try Plan Nine. (Not the movie. Just the next layer of hoop-jumping we have to go through today to make this one-car thing work until we get the truck fixed.)

We decided the only practical thing to do was for me to drop Gryphon at his appointment, pick up the groceries, then come back and get him.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s refer to our local supermarkets as Store #1, Store #2, and Store #3. Store #’s 1 & 2 are across the street from each other, and further away than the doctor’s office. Store #3 is closer to home, and easy to stop at on the way back if need be.

I hoped to get everything I needed (bacon, cheese, salad, salad dressing) at Store #1. Since Store #2 opened across the street a couple of months ago, we find we don’t visit Store #1 very often at all. But we always check the sale flyer, because they’re feeling the hurt of the new neighbor and they often have some good deals.

The deals worth visiting Store #1 for this week were BOGO (Buy One, Get One free) specials on both the bacon and the cheese. Good start. Only they didn’t have the Dole salad mixes I wanted, and the ones they did have were too expensive and not large enough bags.

Store #2 carries 3-lb. bags of the salad mix I want, and they’re right across the street. So after paying for the bacon and cheese, I popped over there. Luckily, the produce manager was just getting out fresh packages of salad, so I grabbed one of those.

Store #2 is also the preferred source for my salad dressing – Marie’s Light Chunky Blue Cheese, in the large jar. All three stores carry the brand. Store #3 only has the small jars, but has the best price on those at $2.89. Store #1 carries both size jars of the brand, but they don’t have my flavor in the large jar. But their small jars cost $3.69. Store #2 has the best deal over all, but only because they have the Light Chunky Blue Cheese in the large jar for $5.79 – a value that neither other store offers. I had tried to pick one of these up Thursday night when I was at Store #2, but they were out. And settling for the small jar at #2 isn’t acceptable, as they actually have the worst price for it – $3.79.

Bad news. Store #2 was still out of the large jar of my salad dressing. A pleasant chat with the produce manager revealed that he’s ordered it every day for the last few days, and it simply hasn’t been delivered yet. He’s hoping for this weekend. He helpfully pointed out that they had the small jars, but I countered by explaining I could get that for under $3 at Store #3. His reply? “No wonder people shop there.”

So, my attempt to do all the shopping simply at Store #1 having sadly failed, I finished up at Store #2. As I headed back to the doctor’s office to collect Gryphon, I realized that I not only still needed salad dressing, but we were almost out of bread, too. Drat!

Luckily, Store #3 actually has the best house brand bread of all three. And that’s not even counting the price being about 50 cents lower! They had my salad dressing on the shelf, too, but I still had a serving or two at home, and I now had hope of getting the really good deal at Store #2 later this weekend.

Despite our best efforts to keep the errands simple, for under $20 worth of groceries I wound up spending around an hour of time, visiting three different stores.

All before lunch, on a day when I had hoped not to have to go out at all.

And I still don’t have my salad dressing.

Star Says

Star Fishes for Frozen Peas
Star Fishes for Frozen Peas

“Do what you need to about the shopping. Just make sure we don’t run out of frozen peas to fish for!”

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J is for Jenny

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 1:10 pm on Thursday, May 11, 2006

Not for Jennifer.

Not for Jenna.

Not for Genevieve, or Guinevere, or Guinefra.

No, in my case, J is for Jenny.

I don’t know what the popular names were in 1960, the year I was born. And my mother didn’t really care about popularity. Instead, she chose my name from a favorite poem of hers.

 Jenny Kissed Me 
 Jenny kiss'd me when we met,
  Jumping from the chair she sat in;
 Time, you thief, who love to get
  Sweets into your list, put that in!
 Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
  Say that health and wealth have miss'd me,
 Say I'm growing old, but add,
  Jenny kiss'd me.
 --Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)

As a child, the subject matter of the poem embarrassed me. Naturally! After all, it’s about Jenny – me – jumping up and kissing someone. Ick! Isn’t that how you get cooties?

Jenny in First Grade
Jenny in First Grade: “Kissing? Ick!”

With the passage of time, I have come instead to feel the sweetness of the poem, and to appreciate it as an expression of how my mother felt holding me, her first born child, in her arms.

For the fibery record, I called my mother just now to ask about the sweater I’m wearing in this picture. It looks handmade to me, and my sister wore the same one two years later in her first grade picture. Mom didn’t recall it specifically, and of course, she has no Internet access so I can’t show it to her to jog her memory. But she did remember that she knit several sweaters for us as children, and that Grandma didn’t do much knitting ever. So the odds are in favor of this as an example of my mother’s knitting skills – and thus, my own knitting heritage.

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