Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

I Will Knit a Sock

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 12:16 pm on Monday, July 31, 2006

Today’s going to be a slow-going day for Jen. My coughing took a bad turn Sunday night, and I’m exhausted today. I suspect a larger-than-average exposure to outdoor air, pollen, and heat on Saturday, which created more crud in my air passages and sinuses than normal.

I’ll be okay, it’s just a matter now of symptom control and rest. So I’m going to keep it low-key today, get caught up on some shows in the Tivo, and try not to craft anything that requires dragging out an extra table or the sewing machine.

In fact, I think it’s the perfect day to sit and try to make the second sock of my Barefoot Diva Socks that have been in progress since, oh, February or so. Socks are a good, lightweight project, and the pattern is a simple 2×2 rib, so I won’t strain anything to knit this, even my brain.

Saturday Sky, July 29, 2006

Filed under: Folkcat's Fotos — folkcat at 4:38 pm on Saturday, July 29, 2006

This week’s Saturday Sky photo comes from laziness, in a way. I totally forgot to take any pictures while Gryphon and I ran around doing errands earlier, so I pointed my camera out the window as I sat here at my desk this afternoon.

Saturday Sky, July 29, 2006

View to the northwest, looking out my bedroom window, 4:30 p.m.

Carnival Time Again!

Filed under: Announcements — folkcat at 3:53 pm on Saturday, July 29, 2006

Carnival of the Mundane XV is up, and can be found here.

And yes, I’m once again a part of the show. 🙂

Cool, Clear…Air

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Daily Life — folkcat at 12:06 pm on Friday, July 28, 2006

I’m planning to stay inside the nicely air-conditioned house today. I’ve had a resurgence of my asthma this past week – something that hasn’t happened in years – and it’s bothering me quite a bit. I get the cough-till-you-choke asthma, not the airpipe-closing-up asthma, and it’s very exhausting when the coughing fits get going.

We suspect the naproxen sodium (brand name: Aleve) that we introduced into the regime last weekend. Gryphon and I decided to try the stuff because we had daily aches and pains that weren’t being addressed by ibuprofen, and it seemed to work. But then my coughing started up again, like it hasn’t since maybe ten years ago. We checked more details on the fine print, and found that less than 1% of participants in the trials had reported a worsening of asthma symptoms.

That’s enough for us to take me off the naproxen and see if things get better. And since I’m so worn out from the coughing, I’m going to take it easy at home and spend time on nice, quiet crafting. We’re also going to skip the yardsaling on Saturday as well – doesn’t seem like a good idea right now to get me outdoors that much where my allergens are (tree and grass pollen, mold, mildew).

I got a bunch of beadwork done the other day – further progress on my beaded pear. I brought the peyote stitch around to cover the big end.

Beadwork in Progress: Beaded Pear

Looks pretty sloppy and bumpy, right? I have more difficulty closing peyote stitch down to a point than I do starting from a point and making a nice circle. I chose to start this pear with a band of peyote stitch around the biggest point, which I am working out to the two ends. I may do another where I start with a circle to cover the big end, then work my way up the sides. That will probably produce better results.

The Thrill of the Hunt

Filed under: Thrifty Shopping — folkcat at 2:33 pm on Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thrifty shopping took another form today, as I followed up on a clue from another knit blogger’s mention of a find she made. (Sorry, I can’t remember which of the 170+ bloggers that I read made the discovery.) She posted about visiting her local T. J. Maxx store, and finding several knitting books for around half of list price.

Gryphon and I went out to do errands today, which took us to the plaza that houses both Target and T. J. Maxx. So naturally, we had to stop in and check for ourselves.

T. J. Maxx isn’t really known for books, but you can find a small section of them back in the area where they shelve the home decor items. Most of the rack is filled with blank books and planners, but there are a few coffee-table type books as well. You aren’t likely to find more than one copy of any title, but if you can find something you like, you’ll get a good bargain on it – usually about 50% of cover price.

I found something I like.

Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume One: Knit & Purl: The Ultimate Stitch Dictionary from the Editors of Vogue Knitting Magazine (Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Series)Vogue Knitting Stitchionary, Volume One. List price, $29.99 – T. J. Maxx price, $16.99. Works for me! I finally have the start of the stitch dictionary collection I want to build.

I scoured the rack carefully, and this was the only knitting book that they had at this particular store. Still, it suggests that I should be going back to check now and then, since I’m sure they will get in more completely random selections of books. You never know when there will be more knitting books – or other crafts, even.

As we left the store, Gryphon and I talked a bit about the thrill of thrifting that we’ve been feeling. There’s an actual adrenaline rush that I feel when I find these incredible bargains, whether at a yard sale, thrift store, or a surplus goods store like T. J. Maxx, Marshall’s, or Home Goods.

It’s the sort of thing that could, with carelessness, become an addictive problem. The trick is not to fall into the trap of buying something just because it’s a bargain – I have to really know that we have a use for the item in question before we spend the money and bring it into our already crowded house.

We’re handling it carefully, and not buying things just because they happen to be cheap. And we’re pleased that we have been able to improve some areas of our life for very little cash outlay, because of our thrifty shopping.

We plan to keep watching the weather forecasts every weekend during yard sale season. And visiting the thrift stores makes a good back-up plan for rainy days – as well as a thrifting option that can last all year ’round.

She’s Feeling Much Better

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Knitting,Thrifty Shopping — folkcat at 4:49 pm on Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The little Japanese souvenir doll has been repaired successfully. I suspect she’s feeling much better – and loved – again.

Japanese Doll - Repaired

I have a greater confidence in my ability to make repairs to thrifty finds than I once did. I’ve always looked away if something on the yard sale table wasn’t absolutely perfect. Now, I think I’m more inclined to argue the price down and make a repair if it’s something I’d enjoy.

In knitting news, I spent some time working on Gryphon’s Burgundy Sweater Vest yesterday, completing about half of the distance on the front before the neck and arm shaping. That’s about 6 or 7 inches of knitting, mostly plain stockinette. Not bad!

Nearly Nada

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Knitting,Thrifty Shopping — folkcat at 1:02 pm on Tuesday, July 25, 2006

That’s what I have today. Nearly nothing that I can show that will make much of an impression, anyhow.

I finished another preemie hat yesterday. But do you really need to see yet another preemie hat? It looks a lot like those I’ve done before.

I stitched a little while on the oriental crane needlepoint. But not enough to produce progress readily visible to a person not working on the stitching.

I can report that Gryphon and I stumbled across a decent yard sale on Sunday, while we were out doing errands. I picked up a new-in-the-box Atlas pasta machine for only $8, which will make it easier for me to get back into making polymer clay objects if I wish.* Also a couple of simple flower presses, a rabbit fur pouch that I may either add new straps and a lining to and use as is, or use as raw material for a luxurious plush animal, and a couple of shell necklaces. I think we spent a whole $11 altogether. Not bad.

I never did mention that, in spite of the rain on Saturday, we did find one garage sale that hadn’t shut down. We just weren’t impressed with most of what they had there. I did find one thing, though – this little Japanese souvenir doll for a quarter.

Japanese Souvenir Drummer Doll

She’s in need of a little TLC, though. The golden pouch-like object with the red rim that’s hanging from her neck is actually her hat, and should be sitting on top of her head. You can see a little white bit of glue on top of her hair. In the process of getting pulled off, the hat messed up her hair something fierce, too.

Other than that, she was only a little dusty from sitting unappreciated. So I’ll be fixing her up one day soon, and she’ll be restored to her former glory.

*I had given all my polymer clay supplies to my assistant at the bead store a little before we closed up the shop, as she seemed to be genuinely interested in the craft, and I hadn’t had either time or inspiration to pursue it for a while. But lately there’s been a profusion of new tools available in even the big-box craft stores, and I’ve been feeling a tug…

Bring Me The Head of Maneki-Neko; and, Sweaters for the Frog Pond

Filed under: Knitting,Papercraft,Thrifty Shopping — folkcat at 3:51 pm on Monday, July 24, 2006

A little while ago, I posted a picture of a small pile of mysteriously-shaped pieces of cutout paper, with a promise that you’d learn more eventually.

Eventually has arrived! I’ve been working on a new-to-me craft, 3-D Paper Models. There are projects all over the web that you can download for free. You print them out on cardstock on your home inkjet printer, and then follow the instructions to cut and glue them together to create sculptural models.

Some are very simple, and some are quite complex. Disney A Disney Fan* recently came out with an impressive, 18.5 inch tall, 22 inch long model of the ship Wicked Wench as a promotional item for the new Pirates of the Caribbean film., based on the ride.* The instructions alone are 16 pages long!

For my first project, I didn’t choose the easiest one, but I stayed away from the hardest as well. This rendition of a Japanese Maneki-Neko (a legendary beckoning cat said to bring good fortune) can be found at the Canon Creative Park website. (They also offer many realistic animal models, some scientific models and dioramas, and a number of holiday decorations.)

Paper Model: Maneki-Neko Head

Obviously, I’ve still got a ways to go before this is complete. But I’m feeling a good sense of accomplishment even from just finishing the head. And I’m endlessly fascinated with the process that must be involved to design such a project – turning flat, 2-dimensional cardstock into a nicely rendered 3-d sculpture.

* Edited 8-9-06 to correct: Based on a comment from a reader, Mikey (Thanks, Mikey!), it’s been pointed out that the ship model wasn’t an official Disney release, but rather the creation of a Disney fan, and wasn’t a promotional item for the movie, but was based on the ride.

Disney fandom is a marvelous thing. There are many such talented folks involved who are creating objects so magnificent that it’s hard to remember they’re not the product of the Disney corporation itself!

More Thrifty Finds

I promised on Saturday to show you the six great sweaters I found at a thrift store that day. Since there are lots of pictures of sweaters and labels, I’ll put that after the jump for those who are genuinely interested. Read on!

(Read on …)

Saturday Haze

Filed under: Folkcat's Fotos — folkcat at 6:49 pm on Saturday, July 22, 2006

Yet Another Saturday Sky Photo

Saturday Sky, Jul 22, 2006

Damp. Chilling, even. But humid and hot at the same time.

When the weather around here isn’t roasting us, it’s trying to drown us. It rained so hard this afternoon, I actually wondered if we could drown by osmosis – by the mere action of the water soaking through our skins.

There’s a tree-covered hill at the end of the road in that picture, not that you can see it through the haze.

There’s a silver lining, though. Because the rain flooded out any possible yard sales, we wound up going to the Salvation Army store in Nashua. Where I found six frog-worthy sweaters. Silk, lambswool, wool/angora. Humble stuff like that.

It was Blue Tag day, and five of the sweaters had blue tags. So I got all six for a total of $8.99.

I’ll give you pictures on Monday. Have a drool rag handy!

Friday Fatigue

Filed under: Daily Life — folkcat at 4:11 pm on Friday, July 21, 2006

It begins with the fourth day in a row of morning routine being tossed out the window because Gryphon picked up a little casual part-time work. Which is a good thing, but it changes our mornings altogether.

It is reinforced by rapid changes in the weather – what was supposed to be a sunny weekend is now expected to bring thunderstorms.

Add a hefty coughing fit from allergies that aren’t being kept down by the arsenal of allergy meds taken (prescribed meds, no less).

And you wind up with one tired, slightly depressed Jen.

The sky is cloudy today. The sun comes out just long enough to make you put on your sunglasses, then goes away again when you start to drive. It’s hot and humid outside, and air-conditioned – but still, somehow, humid – inside.

All this has me feeling directionless and unmotivated with regards to my crafting. I did work on the latest Market Squares bag with Noro Kureyon at Panera last night. But I’m feeling beat up by today’s coughing and general malaise, and can’t seem to convince myself to do anything noteworthy.

I’m trying to keep my energy up for tomorrow – there are two known rummage sales, plus a slew of yard sale ads in the paper. Lots of them are moving sales, or say “rain or shine”, so even if the weather is off it could be a good thrifty shopping weekend.

I’m going to go get something comforting to eat and watch something fun on tv. Y’all have a great weekend, and stay cool and dry, okay? I’ll be fine by Monday, I’m sure.

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