Sunday, December 31

New Cat!

We adopted a new cat yesterday so our youngest cat would have a playmate. The new one is a black male cat they told us is a year old. Our guess is he is more like 8 months. He hasn't grown into his feet yet. :-) His name is Fluffy which we don't think is appropriate for him. We may change it to Pooka after the rabbit in the Harvey movie. He's going to the vet on Tuesday to get checked over. He's very friendly.

Since two of our oldest kitties died in the last 2 years, the kitty dynamic in our house has really changed. (Sam and Gray Kitty both died at the age of 16.) White Kitty, 19, is deaf and considers grooming to be optional. He does have some arthritis in his back and tail so there is some reason for that. He hollers a lot since he can't hear and we startle him all the time. The other kitties ignore him unless he irritates them too much by hollering. Solitaire, our only girl kitty, is 12. She's always been shy and doesn't have much to do with the other kitties. She sleeps too much. Boo, 7, is our youngest. No one wants to play with him anymore and he gets depressed.

We've been attempting to keep the new kitty isolated from the others while they get to know each other. New kitty is not cooperating and keeps escaping. We didn't get much sleep last night from the shenanigans but mostly it's just been a few mild hisses. I'll post a picture soon.

Friday, December 29

Where are the mousies?

Whose patterns do I use for my toys? They're my own originals. When I was looking for cat toy patterns some years ago, I couldn't find a mouse pattern I liked. I wanted something quick and easy to knit in one piece with little finishing. I sat down with needles and yarn and knitted one prototype after another until I got it right. My mouse is knit beginning at the nose, and ends by crocheting a chain for the tail using the final stitch. The ears are knit in as you go. The cast on yarn end is used to sew it up. Here's what they look like before they're sewn up.
One mouse takes about 10-12 yards of worsted weight. When I get bored I double the yarn up and use bigger needles to make BIG mice. Or tiny mice with sock or baby yarn on smaller needles. Or stripey ones. Boredom does set in after knitting over 2,000 of them in the last 6 years. :-)

I created my mouse pattern in the Fall of 2000 and the whale in July 2002. The little balls are crocheted out of about 3 yards of small scraps I tie together. My patterns were published in the Spring 2006 issue of Inknitters magazine in the charity knitting supplement. The magazine editor told me I would get a free 1 year subscription to their magazine for letting them publish my cat toy patterns. Guess what? I've yet to see one free issue!
I may offer my toy and other patterns on my blog either free or for a small charge. I'd like to offer them as a pdf file you can print out. I still have to figure out how to do that.

Thursday, December 28

Scrap yarn for knitting catnip mice

Woo-hoo! Look at this huge box of yarn scraps! Debbi McNeer of WV was kind enough to send them to me for catnip mice toys. Thanks, Debbi!
You've probably been wondering what the picture is at the top of my blog. It's a picture of the cat toys I've been knitting for Pet Refuge for over 6 years. My three cats---Boo, Solitaire, and White Kitty---were adopted from Pet Refuge. Two others passed on at the ripe old age of 16---Gray Kitty in April 2005 and Sam in April 2006. My toys are given to cats at the shelter and any extras are sold at adopt-a-pet events. Funds raised help pay for medical care and pet food for cats and dogs staying at the shelter while waiting for new homes. I'm always on the lookout for scrap yarn for this project or trying to recruit knitters to help me knit toys. LOL! I haven't had much luck with the latter! Here's another picture of the toys.

Tuesday, December 26

One holiday down and one to go

Christmas was pretty low key with both sides of my family this year. My MIL and Mom are both recouperating from surgery. It's gift enough that both are them are on the mend!

Christmas Eve we went to my inlaws for a bite to eat and to spend some time together. We don't do gifts anymore. It's nice to get together, have a little less stress, and remember what the holiday is truly all about. On Christmas Day, my SIL Dana and BIL Peter came over for lunch. Hubby and I got up early to make oven fried chicken, squash casserole, homemade rolls, noodles, and salad. Dessert was Christmas cookies I made the day before.

The F&F scarf is finished, blocked, and gifted. My SIL loves it. I was worried it would be too scratchy but she said no. I even offered to knit a replacement if it was. She gave me a purple sequined CD case full of Celtic music CDs to listen to on the computer or while I'm knitting. She's so thoughtful!

I made my mom another pair of Elfin Slippers. I was still knitting them on Christmas Eve. I barely got them washed and dried in time to give them to her yesterday. No picture of this FO. They were black and wouldn't have photographed well anyway. My mom told me my SIL Mindy liked them. I take that as a hint that she wants a pair too. :-)

Too tired to do much else last evening, I pulled out my spinning wheel and spun up half of the merino/silk from Elizabeth. Once I get it spun and plyed, I'll know how much yardage I'll have for a shawl. I've been looking at lace books for patterns but haven't found what I want yet.

I'll throw in a couple of pics from a previous project. I finished the Mystery Stole II several months ago from an online KAL. It's beautiful and very long! I'm seriously thinking about donating it for an auction fundraiser at Pet Refuge. Of course, I have to ask the designer for permission before I do so.

The pattern is the Scheherazade Stole by Melanie at Pink Lemon Twist. You can find it here as a downloadable pdf file for $6.00.

Saturday, December 23

Unexpected gifts and a yarn swap

Two of my knitting/spinning buddies, Elizabeth and Jessica, surprised me this week with Christmas gifts. The Adamas shawl pattern and 2 skeins of Jewel blue laceweight from Elizabeth and a felted notions bag and a Nicky Epstein book from Jess. Wow! I love everything! I gave Elizabeth some black lambswool with white silk roving from Greyside Farm. It's so soft! Jess, I know you're reading this, so I won't blog about your gift. You'll have to wait to find out what it is! :-)

Elizabeth and I also swapped our laceweight handspun. My black Shetland with colored silk (see earlier post) for her gorgeous merino/silk blend in blue and purple. These are so my colors! See the extra roving in the pic? Once I spin it up I will have well over 1,000 yards for a shawl. Now to find a pattern.

The feather and fan scarf was completed last night and is on the blocking board. It's about 60" long and 10" wide. It's my creation from start to finish---from spinning the yarn, to making up a pattern (how hard is it to choose a stitch pattern from Barbara Walker? LOL!), and finally knitting it! It has love spun and knit into every stitch. Hope my SIL likes it when I give it to her on Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 22

Feather & Fan Scarf progress

I'm making progress on the Feather & Fan scarf. What an easy and elegant stitch pattern to knit! So far it's about 37" long. I'll keep knitting until my handspun runs out. Here it is on my favorite needles for lace knitting---vintage Susan Bates Quicksilver gray nylon needles. They have great points for manipulating stitches.

Here's a close up of the scarf that shows the colors. You can see the salmon pink, coral, and apricot. It will make a great gift for someone special. I hope to finish knitting it tonight so I can block it tomorrow.

Hubby told me today that he'll buy me a new digital camera after Christmas! Can't wait. The one I have does not do a good job with color and details.

Wednesday, December 20

Forest Canopy

Here's the Forest Canopy all blocked and ready to be gifted to a lucky person. The variegated yarn worked up well in this pattern. Rimrock is an appropriate color name. It's like looking at the changing stripes of color on the side of the Grand Canyon. Below is a closeup of the pattern and edge. It's a beauty!Last night, I cast on a feather and fan scarf with the sunrise yarn from a couple of posts back. I only had time to work an inch or so on it. The mixed fiber batt I spun it from must have had a little mohair in it. It's working up soft and fuzzy.

Tuesday, December 19

Finished Shawl!

I stayed up late last night to finish the Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl. You can see the colors of the yarn much better in this photo. This is what it looks like before blocking--like a wrinkled lump! After the magic of blocking it will be much bigger and look like lace. I'm off to block it now.

I have to start a new knitting project tonight. The last knitting meetup of the year is Wednesday night at a local coffee shop.

Monday, December 18

Other handspun

Here's some yarn I spun this fall. The top one is a light gray Shetland overdyed with celery green. I got the roving at Fleece Fair last spring from Greyside Farm. 4 ounces/513 yards

The middle one is grey Shetland blended with purple rayon. Sorry, the picture doesn't do it justice. I got the roving from Peggy Coffey. 3.8 ounces/364 yards

The bottom one was a sunrise colored mixed wool batt I bought at the Fort Wayne fiber festival last spring. It was a mix of yellow, oranges, and a little white. My SIL really likes this one. 2.9 ounces/305 yards

I haven't had time to do any spinning lately. My Little Gem is calling me...

Black Shetland handspun

This handspun is from some roving I got from Berghoff Farms. It's black Shetland with purple and turquoise silk in it. Over nine hundred yards of luscious fingering weight from 8 ounces of roving. Now if I can only find the right shawl pattern to do it justice.

The yarn bands are my own creation. Once I figure out how to post downloadable files, I'll post a pdf you can print out to make your own.

Friday, December 15

A new lace project

I cast on for a second Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl. This one will be a gift. I'm using one 350 yard skein of Mountain Colors Weavers Wool Quarters in Rimrock. This is a really easy lace pattern for beginning lace knitters. Designer, Susan Pierce Lawrence, includes extra instructions for newbies.

Socks and stash enhancement

This week we had the first meeting of Frog Pond Fiber Arts---our new group for knitters, spinners, etc.

I showed off the first pair of socks I've knit that really fit my high arched foot. Many thanks go to Mary Anne Beattie and her Queen Kahuna Crazy Toes & Heels book. As a reward to myself, I ordered some Opal sock yarn that was on sale at Little Knits.

Monday, December 11

Birth of a blog

My friends have encouraged me to start my own knitting and spinning blog. I'm wading in without a clue as to what I'm doing. Bear with me as I learn my way around.