Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Lolah Nimbletoes

Filed under: Games,Knitting,Rats! — folkcat at 4:23 pm on Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Slow and steady, the Adult Surprise Jacket grows. Here’s the latest look:

ASJ: 4/30/08

That would be the right sleeve of the jacket on the upper left of the photo, with the center front line to the right. I folded the rest of the jacket underneath to help you see how the shape is developing.

I recently added in a touch of a pink/orange/yellow/green acrylic worsted, just one garter ridge worth. It’s a hot colorway amongst all the cool. I like surprise contrast accents like that, they really pop and bring out the colors. I’ll probably add another small stripe of the hot in the body of the jacket, and when I add length to the sleeves later, I’ll be putting more of the hot colors there, too.

I continue to make good progress in EverQuest 2. Lolah, my Ratonga Ranger, has now reached level 20. This is a significant threshold – there are many rights and abilities that you earn once you make it to 20. For instance, a last name. Lolah is now officially Lolah Nimbletoes. I also decided that the 20th birthday deserved a present, and bought her a nice Misty Mustang horse to ride. She looks pretty spiffy in the saddle, I’ll have to get a screenshot one of these days.

If any of you are also EQ2 players, Lolah’s server is The Bazaar. I don’t usually care to chatter much while I’m in the game – I go in for immersion in my virtual surroundings, quests, and travel. But I don’t mind saying a quick “hello!” and expanding my friends list.

Gryphon and I are also hoping to start our own guild one of these days. Since there’s a minimum requirement of six separate accounts present at the registrar’s office simulatneously to form the guild, and only two of us, getting to know some other people in world will be essential.

Ours will be an extremely casual, non-raiding guild. Which is not to say that if you want to raid and can pull the group together to do so that you can’t. It’s just that Gryphon and I have neither the temperaments nor the schedules that allow us, personally, to raid. Primary focus of the guild will be in-world companionship, crafting, and helping each other out when and where we can.

The guild name we’ve come up with is “Companions of Karma.” We envision this as a group of people who have come together by the whims of fate – karma – and feel a kinship and comfort with each other. Membership will be solely determined by Gryphon and myself. We will not be actively recruiting, but will allow those same whims of fate to introduce us to new friends as we go. We’re not anti-growth – we just like to get to know people ourselves before we declare them a member of our “family.” Guild mates can nominate friends for membership, but the final decision will always rest with Gryphon and I.

Basically, we’re looking to form a guild that the two of us would be comfortable joining. We’re both the sort who form new friendships slowly, but once you’re in with us, you’re in. You’re our family, and family sticks together.

All we’ll ask of members is that they respect their guildmates, enjoy the game, and do what they can to support the status and reputation of the guild as they are able. Working writs that will lend status to the guild will always be encouraged. At the same time, we want everyone to experience the world of Norrath in the way that suits their own play style and the story of their characters, and never let the casual needs of the guild interfere with their enjoyment.

The preceding paragraphs are the simple seeds that have been sprouting in my brain as I try to define what it is we want a guild to be. It is subject to change, though I would be suprised if we altered any of the basic principles outlined here.

If you’re in EQ2, and on The Bazaar server, and feel interested in our vision of what a guild can be, look around for me. I’ll most often be present as Lolah, though I could also be found as any of several other characters:

  1. Boris, Ratonga Bruiser in Timorous Deep;
  2. Clover, Halfling Fury in Qeynos;
  3. Dijon, Halfling Troubador in Qeynos (and Clover’s brother);
  4. Kureyon, Kerran Guardian in Qeynos;
  5. Mazhenta, Gnome Defiler in Timorous Deep;
  6. Twixt, Arasai Troubador in Neriak

Some of these characters may vanish as I refine my play style and find the concepts that work best for me. But that’s the list for the moment. Look for Lolah first, though, if you’re trying to find me – she’s definitely developed as my main character, and the most fun of all of them. She’s an intrepid explorer, not afraid to run through lands filled with dangerous creatures. (I just learned that the Griffon Towers quest in Butcherblock Mountains is recommended for at least level 25, because of the mobs in the zone – Lola did it at around 14 or 15, and didn’t even die once!)

Of course, considering the Real Life inspiration for Lolah, I suppose she comes by her energy and fearlessness honestly!

Lola the Explorer
Lola – Seeking New Territories to Conquer, New Stuffs to Chew…

Rainy Monday Random Bits

Filed under: Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Daily Life,Games,Gryphon,Knitting,Rats! — folkcat at 3:24 pm on Monday, April 28, 2008

Pretty cold and dreary today. It’s been raining for goodness knows how long, certainly since sometime last night. Good thing I don’t have anywhere else to go today, I wouldn’t enjoy going out.

No progress to report on any of the knitting. Weekends are turning out to be mainly for EverQuest 2. That’s when Gryphon has time to play, and we really do enjoy playing together. We’ve given up on trying to play the regular servers on the weekends, though, because enough people are online that the lag in the cities gets unbearable. So Saturday and Sunday are for running characters on the test server, and what play time we have during the week can be on our regular server.

The Ratties have accepted the Ruffled Rattie Nest, but I can never seem to get the camera in at a good angle to take a picture of them in it without someone (*koff*Lola*koff*) wanting to come sniff the lens. So no pictures yet, but I am watching for an opportunity.

We baked a large loaf of the Honey Nut Oatmeal bread from the Donna German book over the weekend. That’s become our current go-to loaf. We’ve also been gathering the heels of various loaves in the freezer – one of these days, I’ll be making bread pudding again.

I finally cut my hair last night. It’s been over long for, well, too long. I like it at a length that’s too short to pull back in an elastic, which seems to be the only way I’ll wear it when it’s long enough to do so. Since I don’t go anywhere to have it cut for me, it was just a matter of getting around to grabbing the scissors and chopping away. I must have hit some threshold last night as I watched television before bed, because I decided at 2 a.m. to do exactly that.

In other news, the part time job that Gryphon started at two Thursdays ago ended last Friday. The owner of the company decided a couple days in that he really wanted someone full time for the position. In spite of the fact that the department head he was working with really liked Gryphon and felt the job was adequately covered by his part time presence, the owner ultimately had the power to make this change.

Gryphon’s co-worker/direct boss is quoted as saying, “lessons will be learned.” ‘Nuff said, I think.

So the search is on, again, for the next job. Whether another part time gap-filler, or the full-time replacement job we really hope for. Fingers crossed, everyone!

Piano Tuning and Scrolls

Filed under: Knitting,Knitting Groups — folkcat at 5:25 pm on Friday, April 25, 2008

Just a quicky today. I made a fair bit of progress on the latest sock last night at Panera.

SF:P4 A Pattern Forms

As you can see, this is not my usual, plain vanilla, K2P2 ribbed sock. I decided it was time to branch out, and that the color patterning of this yarn, though bright, could support the right stitch pattern. This is an 8-stitch pattern called “Scrolls”, as found in the book More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch.

Since the colors of the yarn itself made a strong horizontal element, I knew that any stitch pattern with a strong vertical look would fight that. I rejected a lot of patterns that I liked, but that were very vertical in their overall appearance. Scrolls wasn’t as horizontal as I hoped for, but I considered it to be relatively neutral in orientation – almost like a curvy checkerboard, rather than either vertical or horizontal lines.

Drop By Friends

The other event of note last night was that we had a travelling knitter drop in and join us! Dorrie (I have no idea if that’s how her name is spelled – my apologies if I got it wrong!) is in town this weekend for, as she described it, a piano tuners’ conference. We had a fascinating talk about what she does for a living, and I learned a lot. I’ve never had much involvement with making music, so I had no idea – though it makes complete sense – that piano tuners needed to attend such conferences on a regular basis as ongoing education, to hone, improve, and maintain their skills. Thank you so much, Dorrie, for joining us, and I hope you’re having a great weekend!

Surprise!

Filed under: Announcements,Blogfriends,Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Knitting — folkcat at 4:45 pm on Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wow…it’s three years since I started this blog. Not sure where to go with that otherwise – I’m not doing contests right now or anything. So I don’t think I’ll do much celebrating beyond saying how very much I appreciate every single one of you! I never anticipated when I began a blog that I’d make so many – and such good – friends. Thank you!

Knitting

I hinted on Monday that I might start on the next pair of socks, and that’s exactly what I did last night. The yarn is SRK’s On Your Toes, a standard 75/25 blend of superwash wool and nylon, with aloe vera.

SRK On Your Toes, Color # ON223818

The colorway you see is ON223818. I bought this ball of yarn while visiting my family in Syracuse over the holidays, and ever since, it’s been sitting on the corner of a crafting table in the living room, taunting me. I love the colors, they’re so happy! I’m glad I’m finally knitting with it.

This pair would be, in my jargon, Socks for Folkcat: Pair 5 (SF:P5).

Edited to add: Correction! I was just looking at my projects on Ravelry, and realized I skipped a number above. These would actually be SF:P4.

SF:P5 - The First Toe

I decided to cast on yesterday, and pulled out my KnitPicks Harmony DPNs. I grabbed the needles I usually use for sock yarn – the equivalent of US 1.5 – and was immediately struck by the feeling that they were huge. Go figure! So I went to the next size down, the US 1’s, and worked a gauge swatch.

A couple of calculations, the results plugged into my plain vanilla sock formula, and I began. I’m getting 10 stitches to the inch, making these the tightest knit socks I’ve ever worked. And yet, the resulting fabric doesn’t feel all that tight. I wonder if the On Your Toes is a little thinner than most yarns? Or if I’m just knitting differently?

In the Kitchen:

The Honey Oatmeal bread from the Donna German recipe (in The Bread Machine Cookbook) was a success. Tasty, nice texture, a little chewy, and full of flavor. The loaf size for the medium recipe was a little small to our taste, so I just pulled out of the machine today’s baking – the same recipe in the large size. It looks great, I can’t wait to try the bigger slices for a sandwich.

Dull Can Be Good

Filed under: Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Crochet,Daily Life,Gryphon,Knitting,Rats! — folkcat at 2:22 pm on Monday, April 21, 2008

Not anticipating anything very exciting today. It’s Monday, and that’s enough sometimes.

Our lives have shifted again. Gryphon very quickly got a new part time job last week. As in, we saw the listing Monday night, he dropped off his resume Tuesday, and Wednesday they called to say “how soon can you start?” The answer was “tomorrow”, and so he’s been going each day to a part time job before going to his full time one in the afternoon.

It’s a lot of work, yes, but this time he A) doesn’t have to go in at 6 a.m. after working until midnight the night before; B) is working for a small, locally owned company (less than 20 employees), so the atmosphere is very different; and C) isn’t having to get up for a 6 a.m. shift after working until midnight.

Did I mention he doesn’t have to get up as early?

My morning wake-up now is happening without Gryphon, since he’s already at work by the time my 10 a.m. alarm goes off. Our baking this weekend included some preparations for the new reality. Morning routines have always included homemade breakfast sandwiches, prepared by Gryphon. Without him around, that’s not doable.

So we took our filled pie concept, based on refrigerated biscuit dough, and made a breakfast sandwich version. I scrambled up 8 eggs with some chopped green pepper and tomato. Divide into 8 portions onto the biscuit rounds (rolled out to at least 6″ diameter). Add strips of Canadian bacon and some American cheese. Seal, poke holes in the top, and bake following the instructions on the biscuit tube.

These keep well in the refrigerator, and re-heat nicely in the toaster oven. I had one this morning, and it was tasty. Also far better as a breakfast than what my bleary-eyed morning self would be likely to prepare. Which might just be nothing, because that requires the least thought.

In other baking, we did homemade pizza with fresh dough from the bread machine again Sunday. And the latest loaf of bread from the machine is a Honey Oatmeal recipe from The Bread Machine Cookbook by Donna German. Haven’t tasted it yet – it’s for today’s sandwiches – but it smells great. The loaf is a little on the small, dense side, for all that I used the medium recipe. This version includes some whole wheat flour, along with the bread flour and oatmeal, as well as using a smaller dose of yeast. I might just make the large loaf next time, just for a bigger sandwich size, assuming we like the taste of this bread.

Knitting Crocheting

Yup. Didn’t knit a stitch this weekend. But I’ve crocheted 2 1/2 utilitarian rugs for the Rattie Palace. With Stinky Boys in the house, we’re changing out the fabric pieces more often, just to keep the area habitable for humans. We’re running through rugs at an alarming rate sometimes, and barely have enough to get us from one laundry day to the next.

The knitted ones hurt my hands too much, and take too long, so I decided to crochet some simple rectangles from the same Sugar ‘n Cream yarn. Ch. 32, *work 30 half-double crochet (American terminology) across, ch. 2, turn and repeat from *. Easy-peasy, and good television crafting.

As for the Ruffled Rattie Nest, no pictures of mobs of Ratties crowding into it yet. It is, however, sitting in a dishpan with warm soapy water getting cleaned. They may not have accepted it as a nest yet, but apparently, it’s a perfectly good object to pee on!

For the rest of this week, I’m going to finish the current crocheted Rattie Rug, then get back to work on the Adult Surprise Jacket. By Thursday, though, I’ll probably begin the next pair of socks. Thursday is Panera night, and the ASJ has gotten too big to carry with me. The lucet is portable, but I’m beginning to itch to do something small in the knitting category. And we always need more socks! Ooh, just checked, and the last socks were for Gryphon. My turn next! I’ve got a fun yarn I picked up when we visited Syracuse that I want to see knitted up…

Just testing something

Filed under: Blog Admin,Rats! — folkcat at 5:33 pm on Friday, April 18, 2008

Just installed a new version of the blog publishing software I use, and had to check a function. Here’s a view of the Rattie Tunnel that hangs in the cage, looking down at Yuri looking back at you:

Yuri - Light at the end of the tunnel?

That couple hanging upside down by his head is a page from an old TV Guide.

Simple Friday

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 5:02 pm on Friday, April 18, 2008

Slow and steady, that’s the ticket. My Adult Surprise Jacket is getting large enough that you can begin to see the structure.

ASJ: 4-8-08

This would be the left sleeve and front. Currently, the stitches being knit run down the front edge, around the body, then up the other front.

That’s about all I have to say today. I’m feeling fairly uninspired when it comes to words right now. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you all next week!

Pupils Dilated, Wish I’d Had More Fun Getting That Way

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 4:20 pm on Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I had an eye exam today. Took this picture shortly afterwards. I’m still, a few hours later, having trouble with close work, so I’m just going to punt and leave this post as all until Friday.

Catching Up With Monday

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile,Braiding,Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Knitting,Movies,Rats! — folkcat at 3:05 pm on Monday, April 14, 2008

I know, I didn’t post on Friday! Sorry about that, but you know how somedays you just don’t wanna? And I mean, don’t wanna anything? Friday was one of those days.

So, let’s get caught up. I didn’t wanna anything on Friday, but I’ve been keeping busy enough every other day! My apologies to anyone on dial-up, there are a lot of pictures in this post. And that’s even after putting several after a page break!

Lucet Work:

Thursday night at Panera, I spent my time frogging some eight to ten of my earliest prototype socks. Yes, that’s a lot of time I spent knitting them. But none of them came out fitting well, some of them are knit from Sockotta, which I have learned I don’t like the feel of on my feet, and I just wasn’t wearing any of them. Better to reclaim the yarn and put it to other uses than have space taken up in the sock drawer with dead weight!

I’ll be working on turning most of those yarns into lucet braids rather than new socks. Maybe some of them will wind up like this:

Silk/Angora Beaded Lucet Necklace

That’s a necklace I made on the lucet on Wednesday. The yarn is the same thrifted silk/angora that I showed a cord of the other day. The beads are Japanese 6/o seed beads, white with a pearl finish. I pre-strung the beads on the yarn before braiding. I wasn’t sure how many I’d need, so I just counted out a hundred and went from there.

I began the cord with an inch and a half of plain braid. Then I began introducing the beads, one every fifth stitch. The bead would be slid down after pulling the right hand loop to tighten the previous stitch, but before placing the right hand loop over the horn of the lucet. Once the bead is in place, you must hold it with the fingers of your left hand (if working right handed) so that it doesn’t get caught in the loop you’re picking up over the horn. You want it staying right next to the braided cord at the center.

When you turn the lucet to do the next stitch, pulling the right hand loop to tighten the stitch you just made will lock the bead in place. It’s not going anywhere now.

By working a bead in every fifth stitch – with four plain stitches in between – each bead is placed on the opposite side of the cord from the previous one.

When I had the length I desired, I worked another inch and a half of plain braid, then finished off the cord. I added some lace end crimps (used to attach a clasp to a thicker cord, like a leather or waxed cotton lace – or a lucet braid!). Then, just a matter of a jumpring or two on either side, and a spring ring clasp. (I chose a spring ring because that’s what I had. I would have preferred a lobster claw.)

Silk/Angora Beaded Necklace Close-up

The resulting necklace is pretty, lightweight, and makes very economical use of beads. In the end, I think there were only about 80 to 90 in the finished necklace – the “gauge,” if you will, was about four beads to an inch of cord.

The current lucet braid in progress is made from a sportweight cotton yarn. Red Heart, to be exact. I have had this one skein in stash for, oh, at least twenty years, with absolutely no memory of where it came from. It’s making a nice cord, almost like a heavy cotton twine or small rope.

Sportweight Cotton Lucet Cord In Progress

I’ll be working to as long a length as I can. The purpose of this cord is for an experiment – can I cut lengths from a longer cord, and make finished ends on them just as if I’d braided to that length to begin with? I think it should be possible, with an understanding of the structure of the cord and how the cut ends will behave.

EverQuest 2

Lots of fun! My Ratonga assassin, Lolah, completed her betrayal of Freeport and endeared herself to her new home city of Qeynos. As part of the process, she had to leave her evil career as an assassin, and take a job as a ranger. That’s okay – the skill sets are much the same!

I’ve also been experimenting with new characters – a gnome defiler in Gorowyn, and an Arasai troubador in Neriak (Arasai = evil fairy). Both are evil characters, technically.

In the Kitchen

Mostly ordinary white bread coming out the machine, our utilitarian daily loaves. I’m also looking into some vegetarian slow-cooker recipes, with the intent of making more healthful foods for us to eat. And this weekend, Gryphon made another amazing pizza. Our toppings this time were fresh slices of plum tomato, strips of baby spinach leaves, and pepperoni. Yum!

Movies

I had the opportunity this weekend to see Across The Universe. Amazon Unbox was offering a 99-cent special to rent the download on your TiVo, and I’d heard such good things about it. They were all true! If you have the opportunity to see this movie, please do. Julie Taymor, the director (who was also responsible for the stage production of The Lion King, among other brilliant achievements), is an amazing artist.

On Ruffled Rattie Nests

Probably the only one that exists, I imagine. It’s finished! I worked on it while watching Across The Universe on Saturday.

Ruffled Rattie Nest - Finished!

It’s a little hard to see the real structure. It came out a little bit like a knitted version of a strawberry pot – you know, with a big round belly and extra openings on the side for more strawberry plants? My Ruffled Rattie Nest structure has two such side openings.

Ruffled Rattie Nest - Side Portal

Ruffled Rattie Nest - Two Side Openings, One Top

The picture on my hand shows the through-and-through nature of the openings, as well as giving some idea of scale.

If you’re thinking of asking for a pattern – sorry, there isn’t likely to ever be one. I knit this so much as a make-it-up-as-I-go project, with most of the decisions I made being reactions to how the shape was building. The best I can do is offer some guidelines to those decisions.

Ruffied Rattie Nest - The Bottom

The base of this project was a roughly oval piece that I’d begun some time ago. Shaped like a toe for a very large sock, it was always intended for a rat nest. Then I saw someone’s hyperbolic knitting project, and got ideas.

I began increasing a stitch on a K3, M1 pattern. Every four stitches became five – that’s a 25% increase with every round of knitting. The nest got larger very quickly, until it only fit on a 60 inch cable needle with a lot of crowding.

At that point, I began decreasing with a K8, K2Tog. This reduced 10% of stitches every round. It took longer to get small, but eventually I moved the stitches down to a 32 inch needle. I then worked even for a while.

I needed to somehow make a more bowl- or bag-like structure out of this heavily ruffled oval piece. I eyeballed a section along either of the straight edges of the oval, trying to make them roughly equal. On the nest round, I knit around the first curved end, bound off along the first striaght section, then repeated that for the other end and straight side.

After knitting across the first curved end again, I then joined the two ends of live stitches and worked in the round. I decreased a bit through the first few rounds – I think it was K4, K2Tog at this point, but I can’t be sure. Then when I decided this top opening was small enough, I worked even until I ran out of yarn. Well, I left enough to bind off the edge loosely.

At that point, it was finished. But how would the Ratties like it? You’ll find those pictures after the break!
(Read on …)

Luceteering

Filed under: Braiding — folkcat at 3:15 pm on Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Knitting? What’s that? I’ve been busy braiding!

Three braided cords
l. to r.: 13 gms of KnitPicks Simple Stripes; 8 gms of Plymouth Sockotta; approx. 2.5 gms of thrifted silk/angora

I’m having a grand time getting familiar with how the braids work. I’ve developed a good rhythm and speed. I’ve learned that every now and then, a mistake happens (loop lifts over without catching the working thread, stitch gets improperly tensioned), and I’m learning how to fix them. I can even ravel a section back to before a mistake, get the loops back on the horns of the lucet, and continue seamlessly.

My next experiments will include tests to see if I can cut a shorter length from these long ones, then take the cut tails and weave them in to make finished ends. That would be handy, because I could then make long pieces of braid, then cut them to length for specific projects.

I also want to experiment with beads on the yarn. I have a notion I might be able to graft the starting end and the finish together and make a continuous, seamless loop with beads on it that could be a necklace.

Don’t worry about the neglected knitting. I’ll get back to it. I want the Ratties to have their Ruffled Nest, and I want my Adult Surprise Jacket.

But I am having so much fun with the lucet! I’m experimenting with different fibers, learning what they do. The use of the silk/angora yarn recycled from a thrift store sweater was a nice turn of events, the cord it makes is soft and supple. I could see these braids use for so much more than merely drawstrings – imagine the pink silk/angora stitched on a sweater or pillow as an embellishment!

Event Notes:

As far as things look right now, I will not be attending NH Sheep & Wool this year. The budget just isn’t there to allow it. I’m bummed, because I just learned that there is such a beast as a Golding lucet – nicely hand-carved and everything. Plus, I’m sure with my new awareness of lucets, I’d be spotting them everywhere. And that’s not even considering the fibers I could be trying – linen, cotton, silk, who knows.

Ah, well…maybe next year! Until then, I’ll work with what I have.

Blog Notes:

I’ve re-organized the categories a little bit. All the crafting sub-categories are now filed under a parent category of Crafts. It’s my hope to eventually make similar changes to the rest of the category list.

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