Sunday, December 30, 2007

Meet Mr. Boots and Sandy

After several months of silence, I finally have something to say...

Yesterday, for my 40th Birthday, Mr. S and I went to the H.A.R.T. Animal Shelter and adopted 2 kitties!!! This is Mr. Boots (he will be 6 years old next month):

And this is Sandy, who will be 4 in March:

They arrived at the shelter together, surrendered because their person had died (see more on their bio at the shelter's website - they are on the 5th row on the page). Sandy, who is now affectionately called Miss Sunshine (and Missy Miss), is full of personality and loves being the center of attention, but is a bit skittish right now when she hears loud noises. She is very playful and already allowed me to clip her front claws; very necessary since she loves to kneed!

Mr. Boots, on the other hand, has had it quite rough. Shortly after arriving at the shelter, he became ill and then depressed and stopped eating. Due to the love and medical attention of the volunteers at the shelter, he's been slowly coming back to health. When we first saw him yesterday, he was very despondent and wouldn't make eye contact. Despite that, and even after seeing nearly a hundred lovely cats, Mr. S and I felt in our hearts that we needed to take them home. We were given all of his medications, including an IV and fluids, hoping that a new home was all he would need to be happy again. After a brief and noisy ride in the car (Missy Miss cried the whole way) they arrived at their "forever home" only to immediately dive under the couch. I fully expected it to be hours before I saw either of them, but within 15 minutes, it was Mr. Boots who decided to investigate. Well! He wanted see, smell and rub on everything!! He was intensely curious about the house (especially doors and the stairs), and less than an hour after arriving ate a few treats. Since then, he's been eating and drinking like there's no tomorrow. In fact, when I told the person at the shelter how well he was doing, she said that we didn't need to give him any of the medications (mostly anti-depressants and appetite stimulants). He is such a sweet and gentle guy and loves individual attention. Despite the fact that he and Missy Miss came from the same home, so far, they are not the best of friends.While she was taking a long snooze in the bedroom today, he and I had some fun with catnip and a peacock feather. Doesn't look like a depressed kitty, does he? Even so, he's so thin that I can't wait to see him gain weight and hold my breath every time he eats or drinks.

Oddly, he doesn't purr, but maybe he will eventually. He loves to play with water, which is good because our kitchen faucet is drippy. I've never allowed my kitties on the counters or tables, but I don't think I'll have much say in the matter! His favorite place is my sewing room, where he is only allowed with supervision.

Missy Miss has quickly discovered her favorite spot on the quilt I made this summer. Her fur is like velvet, and despite the smug look on her face in this picture, she is extremely sweet. So far, she hasn't figured out how to open the door that leads upstairs, but she has learned that if she grabs the bottom it will go "bang bang", and that this sound, coupled with incessant crying will lead someone to open the door for her. A behavior that is so much like Chloe that it gives me a chill and chuckle at the same time.

So far, neither of them has shown any interest in my knitting, other than to plop themselves in my lap to divert my attention.

Sigh. I've missed this.

It's been a long couple of months. The short story is that my mom was diagnosed at the end of September with a recurrence of renal cancer after 15 clean years. She had surgery on December 4th to remove the new tumor, and so far (fingers crossed), everything looks good. She is doing well, and we'll just have to wait and see about everything else. That said, I'm trying to get back to my own routine, and that includes blogging. I'll try and post photos of knitting soon - I've been doing plenty of that.

Now I've got to get to my blog reading to see what everyone else has been up to!!

Thanks for reading!

XXOO Kitties and Me

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Mr. Strange and I were sitting in a bar last night catching up on the past couple of days when this sweater walked in. Instantly, my focus shifted as I tried to absorb every detail. Raglan sleeves, waffle rib bodice, stockinette on the lower body, tiny rib on the cap sleeves, 3 large buttons to close the bodice, oversized ribbed collar. It was all I could do to keep myself from walking over to her to get a closer look. Would the wearer think I was weird if I asked her where she got it and if I could touch it, maybe take some measurements and make some sketches? Yeah, I'm sure she would have. Instead I cast furtive glances her way at every opportunity, wondering if a sport weight wool and cotton blend would be the best choice...

Ahh. But I digress. You want pictures? I give you pictures!!


The V-neck cardigan!

The Classic Collar Cardigan!

And last, but not least...

Drumroll please...rrrrrrrdddddddddddddd ...


All finished since my Labor Day Inventory. The other night I had a dream that I looked down at my hands to see that I was knitting so fast that I couldn't see my fingers move. It only lasted for a few seconds because as soon as I realized what I was doing, I messed up. It figures! Mr. S and I went out for the massive photo shoot today. It was nearly 80 degrees out and I was roasting in that scarf and my new sassy hat (makes me feel like a movie stah). We took 93 photos, and I chose several of each garment that I liked, so for more pics and all the details, visit the newly updated gallery, which includes the pattern for Bailey.

Only one UFO left to go, Ariann, and then I can start lots of new projects without guilt!


I leave you with a "strange" story...

Mr. S's mother (Mrs. Strange, not to be confused with me, Ms. Charm), believes that Mr. S gives me a "long leash" (she is nearly 85 and, although a feminist, has some definite ideas about how a woman should be spending her time). While visiting her this past week, he happened to mention that I went to Quilting group on Mondays, Pilates class on Tuesdays and knitting group on Wednesdays. Mrs. S asked him if these women I hung out with were married. He told her that for the most part, they were. She then asked him "Are they out looking for men?".

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pillow Talk

I came home tonight after working late and took a bunch of photos of the sweaters I've finished recently, but I realized that pictures of sweaters on hangers just doesn't do them justice. So, I'll just have to wait until Mr. Strange and I can coordinate our schedules with the light and weather. In the meantime, here's a few sneak peaks.

Tiny shell buttons that I really like.

Big Necco wafer buttons that I thought I'd like, but changed my mind (they look like UFO's - the spaceship, tiny green men kind).

Much better buttons.

Ariann sleeve in progress. I really need an extra dpn because this is getting ackward, but I only have 4 in size 7. I wonder where the other one is? Under the couch maybe? Ewww. Not going to look. I'll have to suffer. Why did I pick this color? I really wish it were a nice heathered oatmeal instead.

Frances. An accident waiting to happen? I committed one of the deadly knitter sins "Thou shalt not knit without proper gauge". This is supposed to finish 34.5 inches. Uh oh. If I block it to fit, those lovely cables will stretch across my bosom in a most unflattering way.

Such nice cables they are . Too nice to distort. I've decided to start increasing. You would not believe the conversations I've had with myself over this. Mostly late at night, in bed, when I should be sleeping. They go like this:

Good Me: "I really should gauge that yarn on a larger needle to see if I can get the right gauge".

Lazy Me: "But Ive already knit so much already! Just think of all that work."

Good Me: "Yeah, but if it comes out too tight, then I'll have to frog the whole thing and do I really want to finish it and then find out?"

Lazy Me: "I might run out of yarn if I knit a larger size. I only bought one extra skein and it was months ago in a shop far, far away"

Good Me: "It doesn't look like the picture. I like the way it looks in the picture. I want it to look like that on me"

Lazy Me: "As if it ever does! Those increases will work out fine. I can always bind some off at the underarm"

Good Me: "If I increase too much, I'll look like Blair on Facts of Life, wearing one of those 80's sweater vests"

Lazy Me: "It wont look anything like that! It will be fitted!"

Good Me: "Nope. I'm going to stop and knit a gauge with larger needles and see how it comes out."

Lazy Me: "Am I really sure I want to do that? The cables probably won't look as good. They'll be loose and less defined. Think of how nice they look"

Good Me: "Yeah, they do look really good. I don't think I've ever knit such nice cables. Oh, what should I do? I want it to fit!"

Lazy Me: "I'll just think about it tomorrow. In the meantime, just keep knitting"

Good Me: "Well, OK, but just a few more rows. Maybe I should increase every 8 rows instead of 6..."

Lazy Me: "Now that's the spirit! Maybe every 10 rows!"

Good Me: "Hmmm. Maybe so, but what if ....."

Lazy Me Evil Me: "Stop thinking about it. Think about that Rowan Felted Tweed in stash, or maybe some socks? Oh! I could make the Einstein Coat with some of that yummy rust colored Lion Brand Thick'n Quick!"

I scare myself sometimes.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Thanks for all the nice comments on Fifi. I have to admit that it feels a bit too sexy to wear to work. Every time I put it on, I feel like a pin-up girl and it doesn't really go with the "professional" look I try to project at work. I should start a new KAL: "Not too sexy knitters club".

My blog manners have gone to the dogs, so if you've left comments lately, thank you very much for taking the time. In the past I would have hunted down your blog (if you have one), and sent you a personal e-mail or at least left a comment on your blog. I have been visiting your blogs (I know who you are), but I haven't been commenting. I have no excuse other than terminal laziness and a case of manic knitting.

My friend Dee is one of those thoughtful people who always sends thank you notes. I want to be one of those people. I have stacks of lovely cards (some were even gifts that I never sent thank you notes for), but even if I do take the time to write one, I carry it around in my purse until the envelope becomes ratty and the price of postage goes up and then it's too late to send it without adding a $.01 stamp.

OK, so I've been rude blogger, but I've been a good knitter. Not only did I finish Fifi, but I also finished Ginger and the v-neck cardigan from Louisa Harding's Modern Classics. I'm nearly finished seaming the cardigan from Paton's Next Step 3, have started the first sleeve of Ariann and started Frances from the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Collection that I posted about earlier. I also frogged my Monkey socks. But I have no photo's to show! Tonight I made some fabric trading cards for my quilting group (nope, not one photo). I had this idea that I'd try to entice people into participating in a swap. As usual I procrastinated and then had to whip up some samples. Why do I do these things? I should have a personal assistant. Not someone to hold my umbrella or shopping bags, but to smack me up side the head whenever I come up with these ideas.

You probably know that the new Knitty is finally up. I want to like Mr. Greenjeans and Cherie Amour, but they're just not what I'm looking for these days. As a matter of fact, I don't like many of the new patterns I see out there. I waited forever for Veronik Avery's new book, but when I finally saw it, there wasn't anything in it to justify buying the whole book. Ditto with Fitted Knits and Knitting Nature. The new issues of Interweave and Vogue both left me wanting too. Sigh. I want to knit this and this. I want to stay home all day and knit.

I'm going to go limp along now. Photos soon. Thanks for reading. Really. I mean it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The F Word

is Finally


Forgive me

For the lousy


Mr. Strange couldn't wait and went off to play in his shop, so this is the best I could do.

There's a reason why this sweater was chosen by the Sexy Knitter's Club. Can you say Boobylicious?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day Inventory

I don't know about you, but when I go on vacation, I adopt a gluttonous attitude, throwing all discipline out the window. Potato chips? Sure, bring 'em on. Beer? Lots please. French fries, chocolate, burgers, pizza, Chinese food? I'll take the lot. Bedtime? When I feel like it. Tired? Drink more coffee. Wound up? Have a drink or two - why not three? The problem is that it's hard to gain control over the reckless abandonment when it's over. My vacation ended weeks ago, but I have been wallowing in debauchery ever since. Each day, I have been telling myself that I need to get control over things and go back to a structured, disciplined life, and each day, I've succumbed to one temptation or another. As Labor Day approached, I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to start fresh. I have decided that my first step will be to take control of my knitting.

I guess you could call this a Frog it or Finish it lineup. With the exception of a few unfelted flowers stuffed in a bag in the closet, these are my UFO's:
Bailey Island scarf in Malabrigo using my own pattern. I was obsessed with finishing this scarf, even more so when I ran out of yarn. Almost as soon as I found and purchased several skeins online, I began to lose interest. Right now its about 45 inches long, and I'd like it to be about 65 inches. Since I'm so close and because I really like it, I'll Finish it.
Here and There Cables from Scarf Style with Reynold's Odyssey. Oh dear. I initially started this scarf because I couldn't find the Malabrigo for Bailey. The yarn was what I bought after I returned some Dolly Maxi that Mr. Strange bought me for Christmas as an alternative to the Malabrigo (the Dolly didn't do it for me). I'd always wanted to make something with this yarn, so it wasn't hard to switch gears from Bailey to this. Unfortunately, I hated knitting it. If I pick it up again, I will still hate knitting it, so it will be Frogged! I can always use the yarn for something else (I have 8 balls of it).
Pomatomus from Knitty, Winter 2005 in Koigu KPPPM started last November. I had good intentions, but lost interest at one point and set it aside. Fortunately, I had the foresight to write myself a little note to indicate where I left off. I still doesn't make me want to finish it, but darn, I'm so close. For now, I'll continue to set aside as a Finish later (hey, it's my list, I can change the rules if I want to).
Just your basic Yankee Knitter sock. I started it at some point in January. I think I wanted a little color to break up CPH, but wasn't really keen on the unexpectedly large red stripes and gave up. Feh. I'm not in love, but what else am I going to do with it? Aimee, want some sock yarn? If not, I'll Finish it, eventually.
Monkey Socks from Knitty, Winter 2006 using Spunky Eclectic Skinny sock. Started and stalled in June. I decided that my gauge was too loose after one weekend of knitting this. I just haven't gotten around to frogging it yet, but I will.
Sunburst Pullover from Interweave, Summer 2002 (cover) using Reynolds Ole Ole. When I first started knitting (as an adult), I saw this sweater on the cover of Interweave and thought that it looked incredibly difficult and set a goal to make it when I was experienced enough. OK, I'm experienced enough now, but do I really want to make it? It's sat in a bag for nearly a year. In all that time, I haven't wanted to touch it. Frog!
Cardigan with Straight Sleeves from Paton's Next Step 3 using Berrocco Keltic in color Thistle. I was so close to finishing this in April, but Spring brought warmer weather and I made a mistake on the button bands and have to do them over. It's all blocked and ready to go. Now that Fall is coming, I think I'll Finish it!
Ariann from Chic Knits in Ella Rae Classic Wool. Started in April and abandoned after the Getaway in favor of the Surplice Lace Top and summer knitting. Love the color, love the pattern. It will be perfect for fall. Now, if I can just find time to Finish it...
Ginger from the Rowan Summer Tweed Collection in Rowan Summer Tweed. Started in July and dropped like a hot potato when I realized that I needed to block it before seaming. How lame is that? I will Finish it, hopefully in time to wear it before next summer!
Fifi from French Girl Knits in Rowan Calmer. I currently have a love/hate relationship with this sweater. I put it aside just before my vacation to work on the cardigan below. I picked it up again this past Thursday, realizing that it would soon be too chilly to wear. I checked my clicker and, relying on the number 5 that appeared, started on round 6 of the repeat. It wasn't until I'd finished the repeat and had worked 2 rows into the next that I realized that my last cable was shorter than the rest. Shit and shinola! Yesterday morning I forced myself to tink back to the mistake, which I had made 8 rows back. I knit until my arms hurt, and am convinced that it's fallen into the Black Hole of Knitting, because it doesn't seem to grow at all. Still, I am so close that it would be ridiculous not to Finish it.
V-Neck Cardigan from Lousia Harding's Modern Classics in GGH Linova, started August 10th. I started this thinking that I needed some easy knitting to work on during vacation. I barely touched it the whole week, but have been working diligently since then. So far, I've finished the fronts and back and am about half way done one sleeve. I want to Finish this so badly so I can wear it this season and start something new!!
Ummmm. This is an experiment I started last weekend. I can explain myself. You see, ever since this yarn showed up at JoAnn Fabrics for $2.99 a skein, I have been fondling it. The colors are beautiful (so why did I choose this color?) and the ply is very nice, for acrylic. It even knits up evenly. If I needed to make a washable garment for a child or a dog, it would be perfect; but I don't have either and there's no chance that one is going to appear. Ever. So, it's already frogged. Let's face it, no matter how nice the color is or how nicely it knits up, it's still plastic, and I have all of this beautiful natural fiber in my stash to play with:
Which brings me to the real reason for my self-imposed Frog it or Finish it mandate: I want to start something new so badly, but I won't allow myself to until I at least finish Fifi and the V neck cardigan. So far, here's what I am dreaming of (subject to change at whim):
Frances from the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Collection in Debbie Bliss Rialto...
V Neck Cardigan from Freedom Spirit 455 in color #506 Air. My friend Lori found this yarn before I did and put 5 skeins on hold at our LYS. I wanted some too, but they sold out and I just happened to find a bag of 10 skeins at another shop later. In anticipation of Lori's birthday, I set it aside until I could decide if I would: a) give her all 10 skeins; b) give her 5 skeins; or c) keep them all for myself and give her something else. As luck would have it, she just picked up her 5 balls from the LYS and, wouldn't you know, my bag had the same dye lot and, between the two of us, we have enough for each of us to make a sweater (and possibly a beret)!
Some basic socks from the Regia Design Line by Kaffe Fassett. Landscape Fire, Color #4259 (Left) and Landscape Earth, Color #4255 (Right). I! love! this! yarn!
I've decided that crochet doesn't really count, but it is yarn after all, and the Larger Than Life Bag would be really nice for the Fall. Maybe I'll Finish it in time for this fall.
In the midst of all this finishitupitis, I'm still plugging away at Brave New World. So far, all of the center blocks have been sew together.
Remember that cheapo fabric that shrunk? As I predicted, it caused some grief when I trimmed up the block, leaving less than the seam allowance to stitch. My solution? I added a sliver of the same fabric (after pre-shrinking it by pressing the bejeezus out of it).
See, it in the grand scheme of things it doesn't even show!
Now there's just those pesky borders to sew on.

If I stick to my guns, you should be seeing some finished knits very soon. Until then, I give you permission to scold me if I start another project before finishing at least one of the above! Of course, I have been known to keep secrets...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

OCD (Obsessive Creative Disorder)

Before I natter on about everything I have and haven't been doing, here is something I actually finished:
The block is called "Cobblestones". Here's a link to the pattern (I didn't make the brick blocks).
Most of the neutral fabrics were a gift from my friend Mary as part of my 39 1/2 birthday, as you may recall from this post. I added the hint of blush after being inspired by the pink ribbon she tied the fabric with.
I don't know if you can see it in the photos, but it was beautifully quilted by Jacci at Mill Creek Machine Quilting in South Portland, Maine. I think she did a terrific job! A quilt this size, about 65 x 75 inches, is way too large for me to tackle, and quite frankly, even if I did have a table and machine large enough to accommodate it, I dislike this aspect of quilting. I confess. I love buying fabric and I love putting colors together, but I don't actually like the process very much. Cutting is a pain and so is the piecing. So why do I do it? I like the end result. Which is why you are going to think I'm totally crazy...

A while back, two of the women in my quilting group showed us a large scrap quilt called "Brave New World" (from Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting May/June 2006) that they made to donate to an auction. At the time, I oooohed and ahhhhhed all over it and begged them to do a workshop. Many moons later, as the date for the workshop approached, I innocently asked "Oh, what quilt is that?" and was reminded that I was the one who had asked for it. Ooops.

So last Sunday, on the last day of my vacation and less than a week before the workshop, I decided to take a look at the materials list. It called for 64 little squares, and 64 large triangles and 128 small triangles (I am simplifying here) to make a wall quilt that would measure 32 x 32 inches. Well, I decided I'd use up some charm squares from my stash. To explain: over the years I have participated in a number of charm square swaps, where one contributes 6 inch squares of a particular fabric for each person participating. In the past there have usually been around 20 people and two fabric themes. So if the color theme for the month were blues and greens, you'd bring in 20 blue squares and 20 green squares, and come home with 2o different blues and 20 different greens. Now multiply that by 8 (we don't swap all year) and by 5 years or so. It starts to pile up. So, as I was saying, I thought that this "little" scrap quilt would be a good way to use up some of those squares. Ahem.


I decided that I didn't want a wall quilt, I wanted a throw!! Caution: math and madness coming.

The block is made up of 16 units and measures 16 inches when finished. Each unit is made of 4 pieces and measures 4 inches. In order to make a throw (or lap quilt) measuring 60 x 76 inches (including borders) I'd need 12 blocks, plus units for the borders for a grand total of 252 units. Multiply that by 4 and get....508 pieces. Yes 508. Half of a thousand. Fortunately, I didn't do all the math right away. I just started cutting.

and cutting

and cutting
Then I did the math....

and still I cut and cut and cut and cut.

At one point I realized, in a "Jaws" like moment, "I'm going to need more fabric". Before you laugh, think of this: from each 6 inch square I could only get 2 large triangles, 4 squares, or 8 small triangles. I couldn't mix and match. Thankfully, I never got rid of that Hefty bag of scraps that has been gathering dust since I cleaned out the sewing room. You should have seen me on my hands and knees at 11 o'clock at night digging around for pieces large enough to get at least one 2 and a half inch square out of. Oh, sure I could have cut up some of the large pieces of stash I have, but it's supposed to be a scrap quilt!

Every single night last week, I cut. Then I started sewing, and cutting more. Finally, exhausted from all of this "prep" work, I arrived at the workshop Friday night with 133 units already sewn and all the parts (or so I thought) for the remaining 119 units. I was ready to quilt all night. Unfortunately, everyone else was done by 8:00. So, I packed up and went home and knit went to bed and jumped up Saturday morning and started sewing

and sewing

and sewing

By 2:30 in the afternoon, I'd finished 3 blocks. Did I happen to mention that the hot, humid weather is back? The only air conditioning in my sewing room is a window. It gives new meaning the phrase "sweat shop".
This morning I finished 3 more. If I don't count the borders (which I'm not right now since I somehow miscounted and need to make a few more units), I'm half way there! For the most part, things are coming together nicely. However, here's an example of something that is going to bite me in the butt later:
el cheapo fabric that shrunk up as soon as I hit it with the iron. Needless to say, I'm getting a little sick of this quilt. It is eating my life!!! At Mr. Strange's urging, I put it aside for the day to work on a gift for a friend. This is all I'm going to show you because some people who read this will see it and get ideas about who it's for and such, but I'm not even going to show you what color it is!!

I will tell you that it is a lovely something for a lovely person and it doesn't look anything like the lovely thing it was supposed to be because, after all of that math, I can't seem to tell the difference between 2 inches and 3.

You know, the nice thing about knitting is that if I screw up, I can just rip it out and start over.

Knitting. Oh yeah, that thing I used to write about that involves sticks and string...

Haven't done much on Fifi. It looks just about the same as it did the last time I posted a photo.
Before I went on vacation, I had this brilliant idea that I'd make Lemonade from Magknits August 2007 with some GGH Linova that I've been hiding in my stash. The pattern calls for worsted weight cotton yarn knit on size 3 needles to minimize the natural tendency for cotton to stretch. When I knit my gauge swatch, I found that I was getting a lovely, drapey fabric with a dk weight gauge. Nice, but not right for Lemonade. Way back in the cobwebs of my mind, I remembered a book I had... ah yes! Louisa Harding's "Modern Classics" had the perfect simple v-neck cardigan in the exact same gauge. How convenient! Too bad I had to go and make it all complicated by making an extra smaller size and adding shaping. Complicated in the sense that math was involved (yet again, the math!) and, as I was decreasing the neckline for the front, realized that I'd have 4 stitches less to bind off than the pattern and would have to re-do all the shoulder bind-off's and neck shaping for the back.
It was only last week that I realized that "tink" is "knit" spelled backwards. How ironic.

And this, my friends, is what I do in my "spare" time to relax and unwind from my mentally challenging job.