Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Monday Update!

Filed under: Holidays,Knitting,Spinning — folkcat at 3:04 pm on Monday, December 11, 2006

It’s been a busy weekend here at the House of Folkcat. Just look at the changes to my Christmas Knitting list!

***1. Bag from cotton yarn. Status: DONE!!!

***2. felted bag. Status: DONE!!!

***3. felted bag Status: DONE!!!

***4. bead knitted bag Status: DONE!!!

5. Unnamed object including felted bowl. Status: Not due until Christmas Day, but only takes a couple days to knit. Need to select yarns.

6. unnamed object to include felted bowl. Status: Done except embellishment

7. mesh shopping bags, set of 3. Status: Two complete, awaiting yarn on order for third. Due next Tuesday, but only takes a day or two to knit.

8. same as #6 in different colors. Status: Completed except embellishment, but discovered gauge issue that requires knitting one additional piece.

***9. same as #4 in different colors. Status: DONE!!!

10. We Call Them Pirates” hat for Gryphon. Status: Began last Thursday night, have knit about an inch. First time doing Fair Isle-style colorwork.

The items with “***” and “Status: DONE!!!” are not just done – they are even wrapped, Christmas cards written, and ready for shipping. One of them even went out today, and there’s every reason to believe another three will go out tomorrow. The fifth one – well, I’m waiting for that blogfriend to tell me her address so I can send it!

Don’t worry about FO pictures – I got plenty, and I’ll be able to share them after the holiday.

As for Items # 6 and 8 – I’m still waffling about whether these need embellishment or not. I’m starting to lean towards not, just because I’m not an overly frou-frou type myself. And the unadorned objects have nice, clean, elegant lines.

In other news, I’m not spinning on my new spinning wheel yet. But that’s only because a couple of snafu’s at Gryphon’s work have delayed the Christmas Bonuses. It literally could be “any day now” that you see me posting about the wheel’s arrival!

E-mail Fixed?

Filed under: Announcements,Blog Admin — folkcat at 1:29 am on Sunday, December 10, 2006

Okay, Gryphon thinks he’s fixed the problem with the e-mail. Basically, he went into our e-mail server and set all our mail accounts to accept non-Western characters.

It’s difficult for us to test this adequately ourselves, so if you are a friend who had an e-mail to me fail to go through in the past week, I’d appreciate your help. Please just make an attempt to send e-mail by the same means that failed on you before. If it comes through this time, then we got it right.

If not, we may have to circle the wagons around the GoDaddy offices and demand a fix!

In either case, thanks for your patience with this issue. I’ll be sure to post a confirmation of the results, whichever way they go.

E-mail SNAFU

Filed under: Announcements,Blog Admin — folkcat at 1:11 pm on Saturday, December 9, 2006

I’ve had several people over the past week tell me that e-mail they sent to fiber {At} folkcatart {dawt} COM has bounced back to them as undeliverable because “the recipient does not accept non-Western characters” or some such message.

It seems to have started at least a week ago. It’s not a matter of server-side Spam filtering – we don’t use that, we filter at our end. We haven’t changed any settings for the e-mail account in ages – possibly since we established it – so it’s nothing we’ve done that we can tell. Gryphon is looking into it, and if necessary, will deal with Customer Support at GoDaddy to figure out what’s going on.

In the meantime, what seems to work is this: if you send me e-mail, please make sure it goes out as plain text only. At least, that’s the work around one friend succeeded with last week.

Sorry for the inconvenience, and we’ll get it straightened out as soon as we can.

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!***

Special Surprises

Filed under: Daily Life,Gryphon — folkcat at 3:41 pm on Thursday, December 7, 2006

Sunday morning I woke up after a fitful night of restless almost sleep. My coughing was pretty bad and wore me out. As I described it to Gryphon, “I started today with a spoon deficit.”*

We had only a couple of errands to take care of, and he went out to do that without me so I could rest up. When he came home, I thought I heard a cupboard door or two in the kitchen, but I didn’t know what was going on. (Our only entrance is through the kitchen, and it’s possible to go all through the house without someone in the living room knowing it if the living room door is closed.)

Eventually, Gryphon came into the living room, big grin on his face and one hand behind his back. Once I had paused the show I was watching, he pulled out this:

Sunday Flowers

He has his moments, doesn’t he? The carnations are a beautiful shade of deep pinky-purple. And they accomplished his goal – they made me smile, and helped me remember I’ll always have him whenever I need him.

You’d think that would be enough, but you know what? It wasn’t, not for Gryphon! Later on, I went into my bedroom to discover this on my dresser:

Dresser Flowers

He’d set aside a few small carnations and a little baby’s breath and put them in a bud vase on my dresser, so I’d have flowers in my bedroom, too.

I think I’ll keep him around a while.

*I hear you. “Spoon deficit?” you’re wondering. It’s a reference to a wonderful essay I stumbled across on the web recently, called The Spoon Theory. In it, a young woman with lupus finds a way to explain to her healthy friend what it’s like to live a life where you must think carefully about the energy cost of each and every thing you do. Since discovering the article only a couple weeks ago, phrases like, “I’m out of spoons,” “I used up all my spoons,” and “do you have any spare spoons I can borrow?” have entered the vocabulary in our household.

What Came In The Mail

Filed under: Blogfriends,Books,Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 5:17 pm on Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Saturday was a good day at the Post Office. First up was this little doggie:

Mitzy
Mitzy

I’ve been reading blogs for nearly two years now, and this is the first time I’ve ever won a blog contest! Over at Maize’s Diary, Crafty Mommy Maize Hutton (creator of the handmade, recycled silver jewelry known as Mommy Tags) has a drawing every week called Crafty Karma Tuesday. The prize is always some great little thing she handcrafted, and last week, it was the little felt doggy known as Mitzy. Mitzy has come to live with me now, and here you see her getting her household orientation from my Pointy Kitty, Blue Speckle.

Thanks, Maize!

The other postal arrival was a complimentary copy of the new book, Threadbared. I’d been surprised a couple of weeks before to receive an e-mail from an editor at Random House offering this to me, but, hey – I enjoy the Threadbared blog, so I thought, why not?

Threadbared Comp Copy

What this is not: It’s not a how-to book, there are no patterns.

What this is: More of an “oh, dear god, please don’t!” book.

It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at vintage pattern flyers and books, sewing pattern packets, and more. While in some cases the designs themselves are worthy of mockery, more often than not it’s the styling of the photos, or the poses of the models themselves, that brings the laughs.

I haven’t sat down and read this book extensively yet, but have been dipping into it here and there at random. (It lends itself well to that approach.) So far, I have exactly one complaint about the book. And true to the spirit of Threadbared itself, it’s a problem with the styling of the book, not the content.

Here’s the issue: every single photo inside is presented in a vintage-looking blue-on-tan color. Granted, many patterns in early decades (40’s, 50’s) were actually published that way. But this book also includes dozens of pictures of patterns that were originally presented in full color.

The error in judgment becomes even more clear when you read the accompanying text – which clearly presumed that the pictures would be shown in full color. Here, for instance, the text specifically references the “pink-clad Casanova at the bottom right” in the “amber-colored glasses.”

Threadbared Interior Pictures

This color choice is clearly a stylistic one, but I think it was a bad decision. Much of the fun of the patterns they mock in more recent decades came in the color choices the pattern designers made, and that effect is completely lost here. You just know that the big-shouldered sweaters shown from the 80’s weren’t printed in black-and-white! And what about the psychedelic patterns from the 60’s and 70’s?

If you can look beyond that issue, however, Threadbared promises to be an amusing, nostalgic look at past styles in the sewing, knitting, and crafting world. I just hope they one day offer a Colorized version!

Amusing Signage

Filed under: Daily Life,Folkcat's Fotos — folkcat at 1:21 pm on Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Local Dunkin’ Donuts shops are offering an amazing deal on their coffee right now…

Dunkin Donuts - Coffee Deal?
Special Today! DD Coffee, only $499.50/lb.!

Makes that “FA LA LA LA LA LA” line seem like a mocking laugh, doesn’t it?

All Week in a Weekend

Filed under: Holidays,Knitting — folkcat at 4:45 pm on Monday, December 4, 2006

Wowzers – what a weekend I had! I literally got a week’s worth of blogging out of just Saturday and Sunday, believe it or not!

There was what I did; there was mail I received; a little bit of bargains I found; and a nice touch of special surprises. Oh, yes – a smidgen of humorous signage as well! I’m going to dole it out all week long, starting today with:

What I Did

My biggest hurdle in the Christmas Gift knitting has been the steam blocking of Item #1 – the cotton yarn knitted bag. Many pieces were too large to do effectively on the ironing board, and the only table large enough to work with in our house is a card table.

With Gryphon’s help, though, and a little jerry-rigging that included a good sized board, a large towel, and many t-pins, we got the job done. It was a relief to be past that task and able to proceed with the ultimate assembly of the gift.

Other items saw progress as well. Here’s the overall update. As always, changes in status are in italics. *** indicates a completed project!

  1. Bag from cotton yarn – status: Fully blocked, and only one final seam to complete in the main assembly. Then, must knit some I-cords to make closures, and sew them on.
  2. felted bag – status: Felted – needs handles stitched on.
  3. felted bag – status: Awaiting felting.
  4. ***bead knitted bag – status: Done! Just need to giftwrap, package, and send out!
  5. Spinning project Replaced with another version of items #6 & 8, in different colors. Yes, I have time!
  6. unnamed object to include felted bowl – status: Done except embellishment
  7. mesh shopping bags – status: Learned that some of the yarn colors I had chosen for this (which was cannabilized from an 80’s era sweater kit) wasn’t enough to make a bag. With this style, you really need to be able to knit a single bag from a single skein – some of the skeins from the kit were short, being all that was needed for the sweater pattern included. Bottom line – I have colors to complete two bags, but must buy a third to make the set I envisioned. LYS didn’t have an appropriate tropical color in the yarn I’m using – had to order it.
  8. same as #6 in different colors – status: Bowl portion completely knit, as are scarf-like parts. Next step: felt the bowl, then assemble and embellish
  9. same as #4 in different colors – status: Knitting more than halfway complete.
  10. “We Call Them Pirates” hat for Gryphon – status: Needles arrived from KnitPicks. Just need to knit it now.

The items getting the most attention are those that will be mailed out to their recipients. That’s where I’m really feeling the time pressure. But we’ve made the Christmas Knitting my main priority right now, and Gryphon is doing everything he can to make sure I have the space – both mental and physical – to do so.

So, one down except for wrapping and shipping. Not bad! I look forward to adding more “***’s” over the next week or so…

Unusual Incentives to Take a Job

Filed under: Holidays,Knitting,Knitting Groups — folkcat at 1:37 pm on Friday, December 1, 2006

We turned over the scarves to the manager at Panera last night. The event was somewhat anti-climatic, but I think that could be expected. The logistics of giving scarves to every member of the staff while they’re working the counters and kitchen on a busy night at a restaurant demand that most of the actual receiving action happens while we, the givers, are not actually there to see.

The manager seemed impressed, and a little overwhelmed. But he accepted the basket and the card graciously, and I’m sure we’ll hear more about it all from the staff over the next few weeks.

The funniest part of the event came while I was explaining to the manager what we’d done, and why. A woman at a nearby booth overheard us (actually, several nearby booths and tables were clearly listening in), and when she realized what was happening, she lunged to lean over the back of the couch and address the manager. “Excuse me, but please…PLEASE! Give me a job. Will you, please?!?! I want that purple scarf!” she said, pointing at a scarf on the top layer of the basket.

I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend of working on the Christmas Knitting, so I hope you can expect a really good update on Monday. Have a great weekend yourselves, and I’ll see you then!

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