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I Knit Around

Monday, March 20, 2006

Monday Melange

melange, (noun), odds and ends: a motley assortment of things.

A fitting description for today's post, I think, since there really is no theme for it more coherent than "things that Folkcat and Gryphon did this weekend."

First of all, there's a bit of a change near my knitting chair:

WIP - Rat Cage
New Home Under Construction

Gryphon and I are in the process of making our home ready to welcome a pair of female rats to the family! What you see above is the beginning of the cage that we're building for them to live in - when they're not out playing with us, that is. The arrangement isn't quite as cramped as it looks, that's mostly the angle I took the picture from. The cage is actually a comfortable distance from my chair, yet still close enough that I'll be able to bond easily with our girls whenever we get them.

We looked at the cage options available in pet shops and online, and decided to do this right with a purchased cage would be prohibitively expensive. Our online research, however, revealed that rat fans often wind up building their own cages. Gryphon and I both have good skills at manipulating hardware cloth, so that's what we're doing.

Ultimately, this will be a three-story luxury rat condo, with a flip-top roof, a drop-down drawbridge door, and plenty of ropes, ramps, and ladders to climb. I'll be knitting and felting a hammock to hang in one corner for the rats to snooze in, as well as tubes and pockets for them to cuddle and play in.

The second story will have a wheel to run in, while the third floor will lead to the hammock. At ground level, there will be a hidey-hut of some sort, and a litter pan (did you know that rats can be litter-trained?). I still need to work out where food dishes and a water bottle will land, but the cage is plenty roomy for them.

This weekend, we went on a research trip to see what the animal offerings are at some of the big box pet stores in our area. Conclusion: if we wind up going to a big box store for our rats, it will only be because PetCo has small animal adoptions on Saturdays, and we may wind up being able to adopt a pair. Otherwise, PetCo had very healthy looking rats that you could even buy at different age points (noted as Small, Medium, and Large), but because of the breeder they work with, they get almost exclusively Pink-Eyed Whites - known in the rat fancy as PEWs.

Mind you, all that means is that the rat has pink eyes and white fur. It makes no difference to the animal's personality at all. But the thing is - I really, really don't like the look. I'm not really creeped out by the pink eyes, it's just that I find them aesthetically very unpleasant to look at.

The big box competition for PetCo, PetSmart, didn't have any rats on display the day we visited, though I'd have to say they had the largest selection of hamsters in different species that I've ever seen before. Gryphon and I might have been swayed by the little Dwarf RoboHamsters if it weren't for the fact that we're firmly set on having rats.

Just as another sign of how happy the small animals at PetCo seemed to be, Gryphon and I were quite charmed by some mice in one cage that were having a grand time on the wheel. Their cage had a large enough wheel that three of them could ride at once, and ride they did - up and over and everything! I just had to take some pictures and try to capture it...

Wheel Mice OneWheel Mice Two
Wheelie Fun Mice

Bottom line regarding our ultimate rat acquisition is this: we're going to keep checking with the PetCo's in the area to see what they get for adoptable rats in weeks to come, probably even starting this weekend. If the right pair of girls come to us that way, so be it! If not, then when we have everything in their home ready, we're going to visit the local independent pet store, Family Pet in Nashua, where they had lovely rats in different colors. Healthy, happy looking ones that they breed right there. Overall, we've always been impressed with all the animals we've seen at Family Pet, whether fish, fowl, or furry.

Who knows when the new additions will arrive? We certainly don't! But I'll be sure to post pictures when they do!

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about pet rats and the fun that you can have with them (as well as advice for their care and well-being), I've been finding the pages at The Dapper Rat extremely helpful and informative. From basic rat information to toys and games, they've got it all - check them out!

Knitting!

Yes, this is a knitting blog, and I did knit some this weekend. I worked a bit on several different projects, and I also finally started one I've been wanting to get to - Gryphon's Burgundy Sweater Vest.

WIP - Burgundy Sweater Vest
Back Waist Ribbing - Done!

Trust me, that's far from the only knitting that happened. But I did swap between a number of ongoing projects that I've talked about before, and none of them have really reached a picture-worthy stage yet. So we'll leave it at that.

Otherwise, I'm making good progress on The Pirate Project. I'd show you, but it's a secret for the Booty Swap, and we don't mail our packages until the 31st. With Gryphon's help, though, we took pictures to use in the pattern. Here's a hint:

Iron William Flint
Half a Pirate - Better Than None?

And that's all you'll get to see of that for now. I'll bet you can guess, but I'm not going to tell you if you're right or not and there's no prize for it. <grin> Stay tuned, after the first of April I'll be doing a full reveal as well as posting the pattern as a free download!

The 99:99 Report

Last week I stepped up the challenge on my exercise program, marching a full thirty minutes on each of five days (split into two fifteen minute sessions). That's the final goal for my ongoing workout! I did it readily enough, though I have to tell you, a full 15 minutes at a time does start to stretch my patience a bit, too.

What I've found is that the workout is difficult enough that I'm very, very tempted to say "I'll just wait a little longer before doing that." But it's not so difficult that I've managed to actually talk myself into procrastinating. I've maintained my self-discipline, and I've just done it every day that I was supposed to.

Additionally, the 99:99 plan - combined with a very organized project list - continued to help me make a lot of progress on many different knit WIPs, as well as some beadwork, computer work, and generally cleaning and organizing. I've searched all my life for something that would help me to just do the things I should, and somehow this simple little plan with a digital kitchen timer is making it happen.

Since the exercise has reach goal levels, I'm going to discontinue the regularly weekly Monday 99:99 reports. No point in saying every week "I did it again," is there? So from here on, I'll only report on the 99:99 plan when I feel that there's some significant result, change, or failure to bring up.

Thanks to everyone who has been following my progress - your support has made a world of difference!

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