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I Knit Around

Monday, December 05, 2005

Knitting Content!; and, a Computer Panic

I'm feeling much better, thank you. I managed to get through yesterday's migraine meltdown with the aid of comfort-food type television and an attentive husband. I could probably have survived it with the attentive husband alone, but I suspect the panacea of the mindless tv shows made his job ever so much easier.

Saturday was the first day of the attack, though the symptoms were mild enough that day that I could stand to knit. What did I work on? The only handmade gifts I can really talk about here this year are those for my sister and brother-in-law's cat, and for my parents' two cats. No matter if the humans in those households read my blog or not, I can be fairly sure that the cat's won't care enough to take a look, so their Christmas surprise is unlikely to be spoiled.

Knit Gifties for Kitties

What else to knit for a kitty, but a catnip mouse, right? A review of patterns on the web revealed no shortage of options. Reading through them, however, and looking at finished pictures (in the few instances where they were available), I decided that none of the patterns already out there really captured the shape I wanted.

Nothing for it, then, but to unvent my own.

Knit Mouse Pelts, Waiting for Finishing
Rainbow Mouse Pelts, Awaiting Finishing, Felting, and Stuffing

I pulled out some scraps of feltable wool (Galway), and a pair of size 6 needles, and started to work. I knew that I wanted a slightly curvy mouse-like shape, with ears, and with a good, sturdy tail that wasn't added as a separate piece later.

Beginning at the tip of the nose, I started with two stitches and simply began knitting, making up the concept as I went. With my un-trusty laptop by my side (more about the untrusty part later), I made note of every stitch, every increase, every bit of the work. At the tail, I switched off to size 4 dpns to give me a good, tight stitch, and worked a 3-stitch I-cord for about 3 inches.

In the end, I had exactly what I wanted. I used the extra yarn tail from the nose end of the mouse to stitch up the belly, leaving about an inch under the knit tail for stuffing. A little soap and warm water, some elbow grease, and this is what I ended up with:

Felted Mouse, First Prototype
First Prototype, Felted and Waiting for Stuffing

It's a little hard to distinguish the ears in this picture, but they're there, about 1/3rd of the way from the tip of the nose. I liked the result, though I thought the nose was a tad too long and pointy. I knew I needed to create a dozen or so of the little buggers, though, so I just kept knitting away. I made a couple of modifications through the next several models. Finally, after about a half dozen, I felt I had a finalized product.

Unfelted Mouse, Final Version
Mouse 2.0 - Ready for Release

The snout is shorter. The bobble-ears, which in the first version both pointed to the mouse's right side, now point in opposite directions. There's a slightly discernible neck just behind the ears, and the back looks all hunched up, like the mouse is sitting still contemplating what to do now.

Cosmic Catnip 2 ozOver the course of the weekend, I managed to knit 14 mice altogether. 13 of them are still waiting to be felted, and then I'll have a session of mass stuffing with alternating pinches of batting and Cosmic Catnip. Until I do that, I'm still trying to decide if I want to turbo-power them - I have a notion of brewing a small bit of catnip tea, soaking the unstuffed mice in it, and letting them dry. In other words, completely infuse the skin of the mouse with the essence of catnip.

That would make them wicked powerful, wouldn't it? What I can't quite decide is if it pushes me past the level of cat friend, and straight up to being chargeable with the crime of Kitty Dope Pusher.

Once I get past the hump that I'll explain in my next section, I'll probably write this pattern up and post it as a downloadable PDF. As I say, there are other patterns for catnip mice out there. None are any better or worse than any other. This one just happens to create the mouse that pleases my senses.

Kitten Woes

My beloved laptop computer, known as Kitten, has fallen ill. Kitten is my constant companion in my studio/living room, the computer on which I do most of my blog reading and a large amount of my web browsing. As I begin developing knitting patterns, she also has become the place where I record my pattern notes for later editing, since she sits right at my knitting chair.

This afternoon, while reading blogs, I suddenly heard a rhythmic noise, much like the scraping of a shovel trying to clear snow from a gravel path. Only this noise was coming from inside Kitten. My heart leapt into my throat - and nearly fell out onto the floor - as I screamed for Gryphon to come from the other room.

As I waited for his arrival, the noise settled down to a simple clicking. He had me attempt a re-start - and it failed.

Gryphon suspects that the hard drive has suddenly revealed or developed a bad sector. Since this happened mere moments before he had to leave for work, there wasn't much we could do right then except shut Kitten down, and move her into his office where he can work on her more extensively later.

The good news is, most things I do on Kitten I also do on Milton Wilton, my desktop computer in my office. I read all my e-mail at both spots, and I can do all my blog reading anywhere I want via Bloglines.

Most of what I do with document creation, blogging, and graphics work happens on Milton, so with only one exception, there isn't anything to worry about losing on Kitten. The one exception? That's the bad news - the pattern for the felted mice that I talked about at the beginning of this post is still on Kitten. It was still under development, and I hadn't saved it over the network to Milton yet, as I usually do when a pattern reaches completion.

We're keeping our fingers crossed that, even if Gryphon has to completely re-format the hard drive and re-install all applications (doing the computer magic that will lock out bad sectors in the meantime), he'll be able to at least copy My Documents over to our file server. That way I'll be able to retrieve the mouse pattern.

If not, I'll have to re-create it. Shouldn't be too hard - it's a project that takes less than 10 yards of yarn, and I've already worked it 14 times. But it does mean that posting the pattern here is going to experience a slight delay.

Enough for Now

Final Fiber Note: I'm thinking I may take my handpainted Kool-Aid dyed lace yarn, and knit Kiri with it. This pattern has been well-tested around the blogs, and the many examples I've seen suggest that it works well with a multi-colored yarn. So there you are.

Final Computer Note: Keep your fingers crossed for me and Kitten, please. But not to the extent that you interfere with your typing, spinning, or knitting, of course!

Thanks for reading, and have a great Monday!

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