Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Tell Me A Joke – Now It’s A Contest!; also, More Rattie Updates

Filed under: Announcements,Daily Life,Rats! — folkcat at 10:56 am on Friday, June 15, 2007

Edited to add: It’s official – the “Tell Me A Joke” is a contest! See the bottom of this post for details!

My horoscope today:

Leo – If you can, spend your day with friends who don’t take themselves too seriously. Their attitude will have an uplifting effect on your own psyche and make you more at ease with events.

Sounds good to me! Things are still a little disturbing with the Ratties, especially Sable. She turns out to be in the small percentage of rats who don’t like the taste of the liquid antibiotic we have to give her. The result is that twice a day, it takes two adult human beings to wrap this little tiny rat in a cloth and squirt fluid into the corner of her mouth, hoping that she’ll actually swallow some. I’ve gotten numerous scratches on the palms of my hands already, and poor Sable – at least she usually forgives and lets us skritch her after.

I tried putting the antibiotic in some baby food last night. This is how we administer a dietary supplement to the Ratties every morning, and they love it. Unfortunately, Sable was able to tell immediately last night that it was in the dish I offered her. And this morning, she turned her nose up at the baby food that contained only the dietary supplement. The same mixture she’s been eating happily every morning.

Edited to add: Heard back from the new vets’ office – we have an appointment to take both rats next week to be fully treated for lice, and for far less than it was going to cost from the first vet. AND the new vet is specifically a specialist in small rodents, including rats. Yay!

So, back to my horoscope. Here’s where you come in. In comments, please tell me your favorite joke. I could use a good laugh. I can’t promise a prize, but I’ll bet I can come up with at least a token something for the person who makes me laugh the best.

So, have at it! Tell me your funniest, and tell your friends, too! Be the “friends who don’t take themselves too seriously” for me today!

Edited to add:

Contest! Contest! Contest!

Here’s how we’ll do it – leave a comment on this post telling me your best joke by noon on Monday, June 18th. The one that makes me laugh the best will receive a prize package, which will at least include some of my own handmade stitch markers; some specialty tea from a great tea shop in a nearby town; and some exotic edible treats. If you’re a coffee drinker, we also have a local roast shop nearby – we could substitute freshly roasted coffee!

If at least 15 people enter, I’ll also do a random drawing from all entries, the winner of which will receive a similar prize. Only one entry per person, please – no artificially upping the numbers!

So, tell a joke, and tell your friends to stop by and share one of theirs, too! I’ll announce the winners on Monday or Tuesday.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Something’s Not Right

Filed under: Rats! — folkcat at 11:09 am on Thursday, June 14, 2007

Based on my research about lice in pet rats, and spurred on by the considerate and wise comments left by several, Gryphon and I are feeling less than happy with the care Sable received at the vet’s office yesterday.

He did a competent enough job. But it seems his advice was lacking. He did mention once that our other rat would have lice, too. But he never discussed that the money we spent – about $100! – getting Sable treated yesterday would be wasted unless we treated both rats to break the infestation’s life cycle.

Also, every online source about lice in pet rats that I’m seeing says you have to disinfect the cage, and he never once mentioned that.

Granted, Gryphon and I didn’t ask about these things, either. But we were somewhat shell-shocked by the cost of the treatment, and distracted by keeping two upset rats under control in the exam room.

We’re going to visit a different vet’s office today to talk about the Rattie Sisters’ treatment, and may switch them over to their care.

Rattie Update

Filed under: Rats! — folkcat at 3:44 pm on Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The veterinarian appointment went well, considering that we’ve never done anything like that to the Rattie Sisters before.

Sable’s problem turns out to be lice. Which sort of begs the question of “where the heck did she get lice?” The most likely answer is that she’s always had them, but that a stress event gave them a stronger hold and they multiplied.

The most likely stressor was the trip to Syracuse after Christmas this past year. It’s since then that the scabs and sores on her back have gotten dramatically worse. Of course, now the question is “can we dare to take them traveling again?”

Sable was given an injection to kill the lice, which requires a follow-up next week. In the meantime, I’ve got a liquid antibiotic to give her orally with a syringe twice a day until the supply runs out. They say most rats like the flavor of it. I hope that’s the case, it will make it easier to administer.

Many thanks for all the good thoughts for the Ratties! I’m sure they know somehow, someway that there are people pulling for them.

One Done, One Begun

Filed under: Knitting,Rats! — folkcat at 11:55 am on Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Not a lot of time to post today – we’re getting ready to take Sable to the vet to have her scabby back looked at. Actually, we’re going to take both Ratties even though only Sable is being examined. They’ve never been separated, and we figure the vet trip itself will be stressful enough without making them spend the time alone in separate locations.

But I do have knitting to report on! Last night, I finished Socks for Folkcat, Pair Two, Sock Two (SF/P2S2)!

FO: Socks for Folkcat, Pair Two (SF/P2)

They fit and feel great. If anything, a little tight across the ankles, and there’s a bit of bunching there, too. I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere that means that your heel cup isn’t deep enough – if you’re doing short-row heels (I am), you should do them over a larger percentage of the stitches.

My thought is that for my next pair of socks, I’ll do the increases for my ankle before I work the heel, and do them on the heel stitches. That automatically gives me more stitches to work the short-rows on, and will leave me properly set for the extra stitches I need for my leg.

After finishing my socks, I wasted no time at all in casting on for Socks for Gryphon, Pair Three, Sock One (SG/P3S1)!

WIP: Socks for Gryphon, Pair 3, Sock 1 (SG/P3S1)

This is another Regia yarn, Brasil this time, I think. The supposedly 100-gram ball only yielded 86 grams of yarn – what’s up with that nonsense? Just to be safe, I’m continuing our practice of using a contrasting toe and heel for Gryphon’s socks.

Transitional Living

Filed under: Daily Life,Knitting,Rats!,Stitchery — folkcat at 12:20 pm on Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Okay, so I’m a bit stuck for posting today. Lots of pieces of reality are in transition, and it’s sometimes hard to write about moving targets.

I did get some work in on the sock last night. You know – the one I had expected to finish over the weekend? It’s still not finished, but I’ve got less than two inches of leg to go now. They’re still in transition, though.

It’s worth noting that part of the problem is that, with Gryphon working two jobs, I’m doing more of the household chores than I used to. We’re still in transition with regards to adjusting to this new reality. Doing more housework myself takes more time away from crafting than you’d think. For instance, standing in front of the sink doing dishes not only uses time I would otherwise have been crafting, it tends to make my back sore, which means when I’m done with the dishes and theoretically could craft again, I actually need a little more recovery time before I feel like picking up the needles.

But it makes the whole “Gryphon working two jobs” thing doable, and that’s a good thing in the long run. So it will take me a little longer to finish the socks – big deal! Think of it as a little longer before I have to buy yarn for the next pair, and that’s good for the budget – right?

I’m a little worried about the Rattie Sisters, too. They’re going through an uncomfortable transition. Star has an unidentified bulge developing on her abdomen, and Sable has a worsening problem with scabs on her back. When they first appeared, we thought it was just the result of the sometimes aggressive dominance grooming the girls do to each other, but it’s clear now that’s not the case.

We’ve been working diligently over the last few weeks to improve their diets, and it is helping. Their energy levels have increased, and they seem to be enjoying the new diet better than the old. But the scabs continue to get a bit worse, so today we’re going to call a vet’s office and see about getting them both in for an appointment. I’ll be sure to let you know how we do.

Otherwise, I’m off to A. C. Moore today to take advantage of their 5/$1 sale on DMC floss. The dinosaur I showed yesterday is going to take more than one skein. Besides, I’m getting notions about other projects using the blanket stitch technique. I have a feeling I should be stocked up on variegated threads as I transition into this embroidery technique taking more of my time.

So, nothing much to show today. Lots of things in transition, like socks and rats and dinosaurs. I hope we see some progress on all of them later!

Think good thoughts for the Ratties for me, okay?

Edited later to add: The consensus in the phone call to the vet’s office was that Sable should be seen first. So we’re bringing her in tomorrow afternoon. Star’s issue is a less urgent matter and can wait until another visit. Which is good, because this will cost enough that we have to space things out for the budget.

No Socks For You

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Knitting,Stitchery,Television — folkcat at 1:47 pm on Monday, June 11, 2007

Did I finish the socks I was working on? The ones I promised a modeled photo of today?

That would be a “no.”

Gryphon and I got going great guns on errands and things this weekend. And while it means we got a lot done, it also means I didn’t really turn my thoughts to knitting when I got home.

I did, however, start working on another project that’s been calling me since I finished the last embroidered rock.

SIP: Dinosaur

He looks impressively large in this picture, with nothing to give you a proper scale. In fact, it’s about 8 inches from the tip of the tail to the front of the piece, and it stands about 5 inches tall. Not too bad, though it will be the largest piece I’ve done yet.

The thread in this case is DMC floss, color #69. When I work with floss at this scale, I use all six strands without separating them. The technique is the same, basic blanket stitch embroidery that I discussed in my How To Embroider a Rock post.

SIP: Dino Detail, First Band

In this close up of the side, you can see that the first part I stitched, on the left, the color bands go completely around the body. It was only after getting to the second light colored band that I realized I could work short rows and keep the shades in the areas I want. As you can see to the right, the second dark band doesn’t completely circle the body – it sits as a stripe on top, with lighter color thread at the belly.

It’s going to be fascinating to watch this build. Unlike the rocks, I want to have more control over the placement and direction of the color patches, so I’ll be watching the shape of the body carefully and making decisions about stitch direction based on what I see happening as I go.

Once again, I found myself completely sucked in while I worked on this piece. I stitched during the Tony Awards broadcast, and was able to pay some attention to the show. Don’t worry, I caught all the important bits. It was just as well I was stitching along, though, because the Awards captured my interest less than usual this time. All the big buzz – and most of the awards – went to shows that I’ve not been seeing hype about over the course of the year. As a Broadway fan who doesn’t get to be right in Manhattan seeing what the theaters are up to, if a show doesn’t make much splash on the general news, I know nothing about it. It’s hard to get excited about shows you have no connection to, even if that connection only comes from news stories.

Our household errands weren’t purely utilitarian. One of the items I came home with was this little girl:

Sunnie Doll

The box names her “Sunnie,” but I don’t think that’s going to stick. She’s an “Our Generation” doll, made by the Battat Co. and sold at Target. Our Generation dolls are meant to be an inexpensive alternative to the 18″ American Girl Dolls.

Sunnie is the same size as the 18″ standard girl dolls, and will wear the same outfits. No, she’s not a gift for some little girl I know. Unless you count me as a little girl. I’ve just been wanting a doll to create outfits for, and finally spotted these at Target the other day.

There’s a distinct quality difference compared to a more expensive collectible doll, but for the price I paid ($19.99), she’s not bad at all. And anything I make for her will still be usable if I find a chance to get one of the better quality options in the future.

My brief foray onto the web to find knitting patterns for her has been disappointing, however. Everything seems to be knit with worsted weight yarn, and looks ultra chunky and lacking in style. The scale of worsted is just all wrong here – imagine if you knitted a cardigan for yourself holding a couple strands of bulky weight together? That’s the effect I’m seeing out there so far.

I’ll keep looking – I may just need to dig deeper to find the patterns that are meant to make nice, elegant outfits, instead of quick knits for grandma to knit that will wear hard for a child at play. Eventually, I may even create some of my own patterns. Who knows?

Otter Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 3:39 pm on Saturday, June 9, 2007

Well, the wonders of the Internet! Less than 24 hours after posting my Wayback photo of an otter at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo yesterday, and I’ve been contacted by someone who works at the zoo!

In yesterday’s post, I put up a picture I took of a river otter underwater in the exhibit at the zoo, back in the year 2000. I also mentioned, however, that they didn’t seem to have otters anymore, as I hadn’t seen them on our last visit there at Christmas 2005.

I’m happy to report that, according to Lorrell, a zoo employee who found yesterday’s post, there are still otters at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. It appears that Gryphon and I must have missed their time in the outdoor exhibit area when we were there, which made us think they had gone away. Lorrell also tells me that by the time we visit Syracuse again after Christmas this year, there will be new residents at the zoo – ocelots. Cool!

Thanks, Lorrell!

Wayback Otter

Filed under: Folkcat's Fotos,Wayback Wednesday — folkcat at 12:59 pm on Friday, June 8, 2007

Wayback Wednesday comes on Friday this week…

One of Gryphon’s and my favorite things to do when we visit family in Syracuse is to take a trip over to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. This great little zoo is right within the city, easy to get to, and easy to spend an entire day at looking at the animals, whether you have kids or not.

One such visit took place back in September 2000. Exhibits at the zoo are always changing, and at the time, they had a great enclosure with River Otters, including a swimming pool with a glass wall so visitors could watch the otters underwater. I was lucky enough to catch this photo that day, and it remains one of my favorites ever taken at the zoo.

Bubbly Otter
Bubbly River Otter Underwater


Yes, I did knit last night. But I have to believe that endless photos showing two more inches of sock are severely lacking in interest. So you probably won’t see Socks for Folkcat, Pair Two (SF/P2) until they’re finished!

Meanwhile, I hope you have a great weekend. Ta-ta!

Another Rock, More Sock, and Schaefer Anne

Filed under: Knitting,Stitchery — folkcat at 3:20 pm on Thursday, June 7, 2007

So what does Folkcat do when she has to rest her hands from knitting? I suggested yesterday that I wouldn’t be able to just do nothing. And I was right.

Back when I posted my guide to How to Embroider a Rock, the example I used was a small rock I’d picked up in the parking lot at NH S&W. I got the rock covered that day, but never went on to the embellishment phase.

Yesterday, I decided it was the perfect project for my hands to take on. The fingers wouldn’t be sitting in a nearly immobile grip the way they do when I’m knitting – they’d be darting this way and that, weaving a tapestry needle through the various places I wanted my blanket stitches to land.

Embroidered Rock 2: Side 1Embroidered Rock 2: Side 2Embroidered Rock 2: Side 3

I find the process of creating these objects fascinating. It’s one of the few crafts I do where I get so absorbed in my work that I lose all sense of time – I look up between stitches, and realize that a couple hours have passed and I barely noticed.

Obviously, this is something I should keep pursuing. Anything that puts you into that deep a contemplative state while you’re working it is worth doing more.

So, what does one do with an embroidered rock? I think I have to categorize these as whimsies for the time being. They’d be suitable as a paperweight, or desk jewelry, or some such. Beyond that, I’m just going to wait and see where my style and designs go from here.

I promised the other day to show the progress on Socks for Folkcat/Pair Two (SF/P2). Here’s where I’d gotten to by the end of Tuesday night:


About halfway through the foot on the second sock, I’d say. I’ll be working on these again tonight, and with luck, could have them finished in time for a modeled shot on Monday. To prevent further aches in the hands, I’m going to dig out my Hand-Eze gloves to wear while I knit.

Meanwhile, buoyed by my satisfaction in the Cherry Tree Hill Pair 2 is knit from, I’m starting to branch out slowly to explore more premium sock yarns. Gryphon and I pried enough money from the budget today to pick up this at the LYS:

Schaefer Anne Sock Yarn

That’s a skein of Schaefer Anne. It’s also the most expensive sock yarn I’ve ever purchased. The cheek test (rubbing the skein against my cheek) suggests that despite the mohair content, this will be soft and comfortable on my sensitive feet. I have to wait a bit to knit it, though – I promised Gryphon the next pair of socks!

Hand Ease

Filed under: Daily Life,Knitting — folkcat at 2:57 pm on Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The severe weather I mentioned yesterday blew through faster than predicted, and went far enough East of us to not really cause any problems. I’m glad I took precautions, though, because if I hadn’t, Murphy’s Law would have guaranteed different results.

As for knitting, I’m going to have to take a small break from it. I’ve been going great guns on these socks of mine, and it’s taking a toll. I noticed it first when I went to play my usual round of casual computer games before bed last night, and my right hand felt funny on the mouse, like I couldn’t get a proper grip or the mouse was shaped wrong or something. I knew right away that I’ve been spending too many hours gripping size 1.5 dpns!

So, even though I did finish Socks for Folkcat/Pair 2, Sock 1 (SF/P2S1) yesterday, and got halfway through the foot on SF/P2S2, it doesn’t look like I’ll be finishing this pair today.

I’m not feeling urgently called to any other particular craft today, either. I think I’ll just take a casual, easy-on-the-hands day away from crafting. As much as I’m able, at least. We’ll see how twitchy my hands get later to do something, anything, and what I decided to do about it.

As always, I’ll be sure to let you know about it here!

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