Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ye Olde Knitting Projects

So here I'd like to show you a few of my old knitting projects (mostly scarves). I've knit many-a-thing since Marsha first taught me to knit in August 2004. However, I can never remember to photograph things and then I give them away, undocumented for posterity! Which is why I am so glad to have started this blog! It will compel me to be more active with my camera. I'd say that I've given away probably 80% of the items I've knitted. These are the items I still have:

  • My first piece of knitting ever: a scarf with Lamb's Pride Bulky, in prairie fire. I love the color and the look of this scarf. BUT it's super itchy. :-( This is just all garter stitch. Nothing fancy.

  • Here's a scarf with Jo-Ann Sensations Willow, in green. This is a soft, touchable yarn. But it looks way better on the skein than it does in the finished product. And it was very difficult to work with, too. I would not recommend it. I get a lot of compliments on it, oddly enough. But if I had to do it over again, I'd make it a little wider.

  • And now...the scarf. The supreme being of all scarves. I absolutely love this scarf. In fact, I bought a coat JUST to match this scarf. This is a loopy scarf with Patons Bohemian, in wandering wines. Or as my friend, Nicole, has superbly dubbed this yarn,"God's chest hair." Seriously, this yarn is unreal. The feel of it is incredible. So this was quite an ambitious thing for me to undertake at the time. I had only really knitted up about 5 things. I found the pattern on's free patterns pages. Unfortunately, I don't think it's there anymore. It took me about an hour just to figure out how to make the loop stitches (and I didn't even have to purl anything...). After the epiphany, it wasn't hard to do. This yarn isn't the easiest to work with because it does NOT give at all. But the outcome is well worth it!

  • And, yes, another scarf. This one is more recent. It was when I was discovering the joys of lacy knitting. I am a big fan of k2tog, yo. Haha. For this scarf I used Noro Hana silk yarn in a deep eggplant color. I got this yarn on clearance from This is more of a decorative piece, not something for warmth, obviously. I found a scarf pattern in a mini knitting book in Target's dollar-bins. The scarf in the pattern was just one column of the lace. I reworked the pattern to make it 2 columns.

  • Lastly, this is the only hat that I made that I kept for myself. And, yes, I DO wear it, thank you very much! I did this hat on circular needles using Lion Brand Colorwaves, Pebble Beach. This is really nice yarn to work with, very forgiving. I made the tassles myself, and they were apparently a little loose. So they frayed really quickly. But it's still kind of cute!

Now the great litany of items that I knitted (or I remember that I knitted!) and gave away:

5 hats
9 scarves
3 wraps/shawls
4 baby sweaters
5 baby blankets
1 baby bib
1 cage blanket for a homeless pet

Then there are those poor souls that have fallen out of favor with their fickle creator---sad, abandoned projects, like the poncho of trendiness and doom. I started it in the midst of the great poncho rebirth of 2004. I got kind of tired of working on it, then never finished it. And now, puh-lease. Who wears them? It's now sitting in the deep recesses of some forgotten knitting bag somewhere in my house...silently plotting its revenge on me.

Coming soon: current projects, cool knitting websites!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Felted Mouse Update

Ok, so I did hand-felt the mice last night. (Finally!) I had to hand-felt them because I have a new-fangled, front-loading washing machine that will not agitate the wool enough for proper felting. I just used my kitchen sink as a big washtub. Whew! Felting is hard, sweaty work! Ha ha. But I think they came out alright! Here's a post-felting picture of the 6 mice drying on the counter:

So I let them dry for a bit. I wanted to completely finish at least one to put up on the blog today. I grabbed the lighter-bluish one (far top right). I ran around the house looking for something to stuff it with. I did NOT feel like going out in the rain to AC Moore or Wal*Mart to buy a $2 bag of polyester pillow stuffing. So I disemboweled a throw pillow that I didn't like and used its stuffing. From that one pillow---and it was a fairly small one--- have enough polyester stuffing to make about 200 of these mice, maybe even more.

I also did find some catnip to use. Dan, a friend of my husband's, gave us this pretty nice catnip- filled wine bottle, with a cork stopper. It says Chez Chats on it. And because the catnip is in a glass bottle, with a stopper on it, it is always fresh and potent. In fact, he must have given that bottle to us about 5 years ago. When I opened it, aahh---catnip-a-licious. Titus thought so too.

So I filled the little mouse up (forgot to put a bell in, oh well). I added the tail and embroidered the eyes and nose. Ophelia was sitting with her nose up-against my hands as I was sewing the mouse up, eyes wide with anticipation. I finished it. I put it on my laptop. I turned for 2.3 seconds to get the camera. Ophelia already had it in her jaws and ran off the table with it!

But anyway, here's the first completely-done felted mouse:I think I over-stuffed this little guy a bit, but it still looks cute anyway!

Then the battle for mouse control began...

...and ended with Titus winning by TKO in the 3rd round.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Tragedy Of the Bully Woolies

Now that you've met my animals, as cute and fuzzy as they are, it's time to present you with their dark side. It's story time, boys and girls! And now the epic drama known as The Tragedy of the Bully Woolies.

My birthday was in May. And this year my friends Jan (who taught me how to crochet) and Marsha (who taught me how to knit) gave me, among other things, this cute kit that makes knitted mice cat toys filled with catnip. The kit is called Bully Woolies. And I highly recommend it---very easy to do. And a good introduction to felting. In fact, this is my first felting project! I have not felted the mice yet, but when I do I'll take pictures and post them on here. Actually, I had fully intended on having them DONE by now, but the animals had other ideas....

So anyhow, I opened the kit up right away and was like a kid in a candy shop! I found myself lost in oohing and aahing over the little plastic box's contents. Suddenly I was snapped back into reality by an odd scraping sound. It was Titus' tongue licking something. He had smelled the bag of catnip in the kit and actually licked a HOLE through the cardboard insert that had the knitting directions on it! RAGE. Seething, I just gathered everything up and put it away for a while. Luckily, upon closer inspection of those instructions, I determined that he did not utterly destroy them. I could still figure out what to do.

A few days later, I opened up the kit again. I attempted to knit one of the mice---a deep plum-colored one.

Instructions: "Cast on 3 stitches"
Me: "la, la, la, casting on 3 stitches, ta teetle-tee tum"
Instructions: "Purl rows 1, 3, 5, 7, 9"
Me: " put the No. Wait. the front...and the yarn No, that's not right! Argh. Let's see now...over No, no, no. ---The hell?

To my absolute horror, I FORGOT HOW TO PURL. I was incredulous. And none of the 1758960 knitting books I own seemed to be able to explain the purl stitch to me in a manner that my brain could comprehend. Maybe it was because I was super distracted by three of my four cats swarming all over me, either for the yarn, the catnip (indeed, Ophelia actually got her little jaws on the packet of catnip and attempted to abscond with it), the needles or some combination of all three. SIGH. I put the kit away again.

Fast forward to August. I unearthed the little plastic cube again and tried knitting them again. Now I'm not sure what happened in my brain between May and August, but I was able to purl, no problem. Crazy, right? I knit up one mouse. Easy as pie. And SO CUTE. I was so happy. I starting knitting the second, then got distracted by someone or some animal. So I put it away again. Thankfully, we were just about to go on vacation to Vermont, sans cats. Which meant that I could have a week of uninterrupted knitting and crocheting. I finished all but one of the cat toys because I had put that particular little ball of yarn in a different spot (the deep-plum one). I even managed to use the scraps of remaining yarn from the others to make a striped one! They are really adorable. Here they are, pre-felted:

So I get home from vacation and find the other ball of yarn. Two days later, I had to bring my car in for an oil change, so I brought the yarn with me to knit the last mouse in the waiting room of the car dealership. I could have knit about 56 afghans; that's how long I was there, but I digress. I left the plastic box home, which now contained: the 5 completed mice, the finishing yarn, bells, and the catnip. I thought I had zipped my knitting bag up, but I guess I didn't zip it all the way. When I got home I found...well...a picture is worth a thousand words, so have a gander at these:

Titus (asleep) with catnip all over his back.

Herc sniffing and rolling in catnip (Fi Fi, too).

All three caught in the act.

Ophelia looking stoned (and guilty)!

Ophelia reveling in catnip.

THE EVIDENCE: not one leaf of catnip left!

That's right, dear reader. They were covered in catnip, particularly Titus and Ophelia. I'd bet that Fi Fi got it out of my knitting bag. Clever girl. And that Titus did the honors of chewing up the catnip bag. I found 2 of the mice scattered around. But everything else remained in the knitting bag and in the box. I actually made the lame attempt of getting the dustbuster to vacuum up the remaining catnip, but there was NOTHING to vacuum up! All the catnip was either on them or in them at this point. Notice how Sophie is not in any of these pictures? Yeah. She's the "good" one.

So tonight I am going to felt these poor mice and get it done with! I think I have some more catnip stashed away in a hermetically sealed container somewhere. But these animals are so bad, they don't even deserve the fruits of my labor. Oy.

It Came From the Internet

Ok here's a segment I like to call, "It Came From the Internet!"

How's this for pointless? Battery Operated Pencil Eraser

So if you are really lazy--- and I mean REALLY lazy---so lazy that you absolutely just cannot muster the strength to move your hand and/or wrist back and forth a few times, then this is the item for you.

You know, even if you were erasing, say, an entire 8 1/2" X 11" piece of paper's worth of your errant graphite markings, this item STILL would be pointless. Look how small the actual eraser part is! The product's description claims that this is "easy on your wrists." No, no, no. A thousand times, no. Holding that plastic casing (which has been made fairly heavy because of the 2 AAA batteries inside it) in position while the thing is vibrating is actually "hard on your wrists." If they want to make a claim that this is "easy on your wrists," then I better see a link to the independent ergonomic testing firm's results.

Look, if you find yourself in need of a damn fine eraser, then do yourself a favor and get Sanford's Magic Rub.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Velvet Mafia

Well first off let me introduce you to my four furry, feline children, or as my husband Todd refers to them, "The velvet Mafia."

This is Sophie. She's our oldest at age 10. Sophie is a sweet cat and for a long time she enjoyed the privilege of being the only cat in our house. As with all our cats, Sophie was once a homeless stray. I believe very strongly in adopting homeless pets. My sister and her family actually adopted Sophie in November 1997. Sophie joined their family which had another cat already there named Claude. Claude did NOT like Sophie and was very mean to her. So Todd and I adopted her in October 2000. Anyway, now Sophie is --- ahem--- living large, so-to-speak, weighing in at about 18 pounds. I am actually VERY proud of Sophie because she used to tip the scales at around 22 pounds! She's my pretty one!

This is Hercules. Herc just turned 2 on July 1. He can be a handful, but he is probably the most lovable cat on the planet. Todd found Herc outside one bitterly cold, sub-freezing January morning in 2005. He was about 6 months old. Poor thing. We HAD to take him in. Hercules is a poor eater; he prefers drinking water from our bathroom sink. He actually really has taken to the bathroom sink; we find him in there practically every morning. He also likes to lay in-between Todd and I in our bed at night. One of his most favorite things in the world is the laser pointer. Hercules also likes to bug Sophie. Then she puts the smack-down on him and he wonders why....

This is Titus ---the cat of 1000 nicknames. Such as: Squinty, Titus McSquintleface, Sean Connery, Fuzzimus, Mr. T., Football Head, and Tituclees to name a few. He is probably our cutest cat. He really has the most adorable face and very interesting fur markings. It's a good thing too because he's BAD. He loves to chew on our mail and any packages we get. Often, we notice that our mail has "the Titus seal of approval," which means that it looks like Dracula got to our mail before we did. He also likes popcorn and the plastic bottle-cap wraps that you get from bottles of Snapple. If you so much as pick up a bottle of Snapple, he'll come from wherever he is and stand there, waiting for you to open it up and give him the plastic seal. We got Titus from PACCA in February 2005 to keep Hercules company and away from Sophie. He'll be 2 in November.

And last but not least, this is Ophelia, or Fi Fi for short. She just turned 1 in April. We noticed her on the way to work one morning in May of 2005; she was a just little gray puff. In fact, I had mistaken her for a dirty pair of lost rolled-up tube socks! Then the socks looked up at me! We couldn't spare the time to stop and get her in the morning. So we went after work to look for her. We were very doubtful that we would find her. But Todd spotted her in the parking lot of a firehouse. She was difficult to "capture," but thankfully, we finally did. We took her to our vet and she weighed less than a pound! We had to keep her separated from the rest of the cats for a few weeks because she was not old enough to be tested for those nasty feline diseases. Once she got a clean bill of health, we let them all interact. Now she is a vibrant, playful cutie who loves attention.


Hello all! I am a new blogger, so please be patient with me as I wander though this period of discovery of the wonderful world of blogging!