Tuesday, May 31, 2005

And Then There Were Six

Don't get me wrong. I love cats. I have always loved cats. I've had cats since I was a little kid.

I just never knew that one day I would live with SIX of them. And a husband who from now on will be known as CrazyCatMan.

Yes. Crazy Cat Man. Oh, I know. That's not an expression in today's vernacular. Crazy Cat Lady is far more popular. Cats and spinster women, blah, blah, blah. They go together like cookies and milk. But cats and men? Yes. Welcome to my world.

CrazyCatMan never had cats. He grew up with dogs. Then he met me. I loved cats. I just didn't have one at the time because the apartment I lived in had windows that opened out, were unscreen-able, and the thought of coming home to a cat who had fallen out of the window was not feasible. So cat-less I was. But I digress.

We moved in together. Rented a house in the suburbs. One night coming home from dinner we spotted something at the end of our dead end street: The silhouette of a little kitten. Sitting there right in the middle of the street. In the pitch dark.

Doesn’tYetKnowHe’sCrazyCatMan got out of the car and jiggled the light of a flashlight near the kitten. (CrazyCatMan is also CrazySafetyMan and carries a flashlight in his car.) The little kitten played with the beam of light. Then three more kittens came out from under our neighbor's parked car to play with the light. Four kittens in all.

They followed the light up to the front door of our house. I ran in to put some milk in a bowl. (OK, half and half, but I digress again...) The kittens went for that bowl like starving tigers.

One by one we lifted them up and put them in the bathroom and shut the door.

Doesn’tYetKnowHe’sCrazyCatMan: "Now what?"

Me: "We go to the all night Safeway for kitten food and litter."

We discovered later that someone had left them in a big box at the bay lands at the end of our street. LEFT THEM IN A BOX AT THE END OF OUR STREET. What is wrong with people??

How cute are these kittens? (Moneypenny: upper left)

After a week of 4 kittens running (literally) all over the house, Doesn’tYetKnowHe’sCrazyCatMan had his fill. It was time for them to go to the shelter for adoption.

But alas, I had fallen in love with Moneypenny. Fallen. In. Love. Had to keep her. So we did. Her siblings were all brought to the local Humane Society and Moneypenny stayed with us and became the world's most spoiled cat.

Fast-forward a year. Reading the local paper at breakfast. Article on Missy the one-eyed cat. Found in a box with her four one-week old kittens. And a newly stitched up eye. The kittens just got back from foster and were all up for adoption. They were adopted in no time flat. But Missy lingered. Adult cats don’t get adopted fast in the middle of kitten season.

AlmostCrazyCatMan fell hard. Can you fall in love with a picture in the newspaper? He did. Had to have Missy. Missy: adopted. The world’s second most spoiled cat moves in.

Fast forward another year. Both of us at the shelter for “volunteer training.” (Volunteer training? Yes. CrazyCatMan is now officially CrazyCatMan.) We see a Missy look a-like in the cage. Turns out it’s one of her kittens – returned after a year. How could we resist. One of her babies! A family reunion! Wow! We adopt Chance.

Chance and Missy have NO FRIGGIN IDEA they are related to each other. Noideawhatsoever. And never will.

Acacia. At the shelter for 5 months. Bites a potential adopter. (Who flipped her upside down like a baby. Who can blame the cat for biting?) She was put on the PTS list. (That’s Put To Sleep list for you non-shelter types.)

CrazyCatMan could not have it. She was too sweet. Too cute. And not a biter at all. Cat number four adopted.

Local shelter. Madera County, CA. Rural county about 2.5 hours east of San Francisco. There is such an overpopulation of pets in Madera that the local shelter deals with it by putting something like 90% of the pets it houses to sleep.

That’s what happens in rural areas. “Neuter my dawg? No way, dude. My dog needs his balls. He’s a man! I don’t want no wussy dawg walkin' round my trailer park.” (Apologies to all you rural folk who get the need for spaying and neutering.)

So once a year the Marin Humane Society empties out Madera’s shelter and takes all the animals back to Marin where they are fostered, spayed and neutered, given necessary shots, and put up for adoption.

We fostered a cat from that rescue. He was a cuddly bear. He’s got a slight neurological problem and therefore walks around in circles a lot, especially when he's excited -- like right before he gets fed. His right side paws slip on the wood floor. And he’s a little dumb. But he is the sweetest cat. We named him The Bear.

CrazyCatMan: “There’s no way we can send this cat back to the shelter. No one will understand his needs. He has to stay with us. We’ll give him the best life he could have.”

Adoption number five.

And that’s how it’s been for about three and a half years.

Until we fostered Kitty Cat.

The world’s most timid and scared cat ever. Cross eyed and no tail with a heart murmur. She was cowering in her shelter cage. Really – no one would ever have adopted her. It was so sad to see her like that. Apparently her previous guardians had her for three years but then got a new dog that "scared her." (Said the paperwork.) Scared the hell out of her. So they returned her to the shelter, which was a far better choice than putting her in a box and dumping her by the bay. We fostered her to help socialize her and make her friendlier and less nervous. She’s come out of her shell a bit – but still, IMHO, not adoption material because she's such a frady cat.

CrazyCatMan two months into Kitty Cat's fostering: “KC is trying so hard for keeper status. Look how sweet she is.”

CrazyCatMan four months into Kitty Cat's fostering: “KC will never get adopted. We can’t possibly send her back."

CrazyCatMan five and a half months into Kitty Cat's fostering: “Look how well she gets along with our other cats. Plus, she hides most of the day. We need to keep her.”

Kitty Cat: Officially adopted May 28, 2005.

And then there were six…

Not that I don’t love each and every one of them and their adorable cat-like ways. The way their fur is knitted into everything I knit. The way they swat at the working yarn as it comes over the needles. (See, for those of you wondering 'what does this post have to do with knittiing?' I just worked it in for you...)

before you think "Hmm. There goes Another CrazyCatLady" the next time you see a woman with multiple cats -- take a look around. Don’t be surprised if you find a CrazyCatMan lurking nearby -- dreaming of his next cat adoption.

CrazyCatMan is also AnnoyinglyGoodPhotographer, as you can see by the photos in this post...And he cleans the litter boxes, too. Fab!

One day all of our cats will be up on Catster.com. But for now it's just Moneypenny, Missy & Chance.

If you want to see photos of some of our fosters, click here. But be forwarned. I'm not that good at HTML...

Monday, May 30, 2005

I'm Stacy, Fly Me

I finished the seamless sweater a few weeks ago. I tried it on and said to my husband:

Me: "Look honey. I finished my seamless sweater. Do you like it?"

Husband: "That looks great. But what are you going to do, go flying with those sleeves?"

Seamless sweater version 1.0

Close up of bell sleeves that I thought were such a nice touch...

Denying that the bell sleeves were, in fact, a bit too bell-y -- I wore my sweater to work and used my co-workers as a small focus group.

Nice co-workers: "Wow, the bell sleeves are pretty. I really like them. Unique."

Wise ass co-workers: "Hmmm. Nice sweater. But what's with those sleeves? Are they supposed to be that way?"

Oh well. As the saying goes: Ripping is a part of knitting...so I ripped. And re-did the sleeves.

Seamless sweater version 2.0

Missy says: "Even with my one eye, I can tell this version is better."

Thursday, May 26, 2005

"Balls!" Said the Queen, If I Had Them I'd Be King

I used a thing called a "yarn winder" at my LYS and thought it was such a cool gadget. And since knitting is not exactly a gadget-rich hobby...I was quite interested. Which then lead to my desire to own one.

I found a new one on ebay and promptly bought it with "buy it now" -- the instant gratification option on ebay for those who have no patience for the auction to officially end.

Within two days the box was waiting at my front door when I got home from work.

The new winder

Quite the odd-looking gadget, no?

So I started winding. I bought beautiful Cascade 220 yarn that comes in the long skeins that needed to be made into balls of yarn. Little did I realize that knot factor was an issue while turning the long skein into balls. My patience wore a little thin -- and I wound up with a big wad of knots!

Look at that mess.

"That mess" took me about an hour to unknot before I could wind it on the yarn winder properly. So frustrating. My husband walked in during this process and said, "that yarn winder thing is stupid."

Me: "It's not THAT yarn winder that's stupid," pointing to the gadget, "It's THIS yarn winder that's stupid," pointing to me.

After recruiting him to hold the next two skeins of yarn while I wound them up, it occurred to me that this was a two person job. You need two hands to hold the long skein, and one hand to wind on the machine. Then and only then do the balls wind up perfectly.

My husband doesn't know this, but from now on he's my full time ball winding assistant.

Look how purty my newly wound up balls came out.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Fab Lace Workshop

On Thursday night four of us went to a Lace Workshop at Urban Knitting Studio. TheMotha (who flew in from New York for this); Kristy, Norma and me. Helen, owner of the knitting store, was our master teacher.

Norma’s been knitting for years and can run circles around the rest of us. TheMotha is a knit-and-purl-exclusively kind of knitter. Kristy is willing to try anything no matter how many times she has to rip it out. Me? I’m in Kristy’s camp. You fuck up a few, you rip out a few, curse a little (or a lot), and start all over until you figure it out.

When we showed up at the studio we announced that we brought wine with us. “Hmmm,” said Helen. “There will be no wine until 9 pm.” (The class was to start at 6:30 and go until 9:30.)

The objective of the class was to create a swatch of 5 new lace stitches. So if YOs, SSKs or PSSOs make you shiver, either run for the door immediately or put on something warm, pull up a chair with some yarn and needles, and get to work.

First we learned the Turkish Stitch. That one, we all agreed, was pretty easy.

TheMotha getting some instruction.

Then we got the cat’s eye. Not so easy. It was as this point the talking pretty much stopped except for the occasional “shit!” or “dammit” or “uh oh.” We each had to pay extreme attention to what we were doing.

All we really needed was some wine to fog our head while trying to figure out P2, *P2TOG, (P1, K1) into 2 YO’s from previous row…etc. Yeah, right. No wonder Helen knew to keep the cork in the bottle until late in the class.

Norma works a lace stitch.

Kristy rips back.

We continued on with the Double Brioche stitch. This one is really cool. And pretty simple, too, once you get into the rhythm of the stitches.

TheMotha shows off her swatch.

The last two stitches were Roman Stripe and Star Rib Mesh. I wouldn’t exactly call them easy, but certainly do-able. (Sorry, I hate that stupid word too, but it worked here.)

My swatch of all 5 stitches.

Chance says: "Ooh. Your swatch highlights my handsome face. Can I bite you now?"

All in all, a great class. Just think of the projects we can add to our lists using any of these fab lace stitches.

Oh yeah, and that bottle of wine?

Still aging.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"Big Head, Stacy? You Are Not Alone!"

This just in from Erlie via email, a co-worker who recently learned how to knit. She, too, made the big hat project -- but resized the pattern for her little neice.


Let me just say right off the bat (apologies up front to all those moms out there who are kid crazy) -- I'm not a huge fan of kids. Yeah, yeah, I know. That's a terrible thing to admit. But it's the truth. I'm a 40-something married woman living in suburbia with 5 cats and a husband. Kids just never managed to work their way into the picture. Maybe it's that all their plastic furniture would clash with the decor?

But even me, self-admitted-not-kid-friendly-hates-plastic-furniture-snob, can admit -- this is one cute kid.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sewing. Only Better.

My eight-week “Further Adventures In Knitting” class at night at the local high school is about to come to an end and I’ve learned a lot of technical stuff I’m not sure I could have figured out on my own.

Looking at pictures about how to knit a Kitchener stitch and learning it hands on are not quite the same thing, if you know what I mean…so the class was quite useful.

We recently learned how to seam things together. And anyone who’s gotten an up close look at my poncho knows that seaming things together is NOT my forte. Probably because it was very sewing-esque.

Here’s what we just learned. (Contrasting color yarn used on purpose so I could see what I was doing.)

Seaming edges:
seaming edges

Kitchener stitch:
kitchener stitch

3-Needle Bind Off and grafting open stitches to a closed end:
3 needle bind off

Duplicate stitch:
duplicate stitch
See the blue thread? It just follows an original stitch on the WS and magically hides your tails. Imagine that! No lumpy knots to push through the front. Fab.

So in my little knitting world, it’s kind of like sewing, just way better. And no staples needed.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Not a Stitch. Not One Freakin' Stitch.

That's how much I knitted this weekend. Why? Because I'm a sucker for cute.

box mac mini
Cute, huh? The (relatively) new Mac Mini.

I've been coveting it since it came out a few months ago. It's so small! And so cute! (And if you don't know this about me yet, I'm a sucker for cute.)

Just think of all the room I'll have in my office at home! I can get rid of that clunky desktop on the floor. Spread out. Maybe for once have a neat desk. (Um...no promises on that.)

And since I'm married to a man who makes Felix Unger look sloppy -- he'd be overjoyed at my potentially neat office. And clean desk. (Just don't open the desk drawers. Or the the closet...And, why yes, those are 8 pairs of black boots. They do too look different from each other.)

So I marched into the Apple store on Thursday night, plunked down my credit card and brought me home my very own Mac Mini. I didn't attempt to start setting it up until Saturday. You know, set it up in an hour or so, post all the old crap on Ebay, and finish my seamless sweater sleeves.

Not so fast, sucker.

Fast forward to Sunday night. Let's revisit my weekend:
  • 2 trips to the Apple Store's "Genius Bar"
  • 3 calls to Apple's tech support (45 minutes to 1 hour+ each)
  • At least one hour back and forth under the desk swapping out cables from one machine to the other
  • Another hour or so online surfing Apple's tech support pages
  • That seamless sweater? Still sitting in the same place it was on Friday night.
And I still can't get the data off my old G4 onto my new mac mini. I even brought in my husband, a PC smarty pants. Now a fully confirmed hater of Apple.

The "set up assistant" just doesn't work. And Apple can't figure it out. So much for their Genius Bar...

Luckily I know a guy who is truly a mac genius. He said he'd come by Wednesday night to help sort out the disaster.

But look how purty it looks in the corner of my desk.

mac mini

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I Hate To Sew

I was reminded of this fact today while suffering through my latest knitting project:

mohari bag
A mohair bag

The bag is adorable, in my opinion. A cinch to knit. I was finished in two days. But because it had no lining -- in the strap or the bottom part -- my teacher from the evening “adult education” knitting course that I’m taking at the local high school suggested I put ribbon on the inside of the strap to keep it from stretching and sagging. (Hey – can I put some ribbon on me, too??)

Always the over achiever me, I decided to not just reinforce the strap – but to add some lining inside because, come on, how cute would that be?

Cute. But the process? Suck, suck, sucky.

I was born with the gene to hate sewing. It runs in my family. My mother hates to sew, too. When I was about 10 years old I joined the Brownies. That’s what little girls did in the 70s. We joined the Brownies, then graduated to a Girl Scout so we could sell boxes and boxes of cookies to make somebody else a bunch of money. Do Brownies even exist anymore? They weren't the ones selling the cookies so who knows.

All I know is that I got kicked out of the Brownies. Really. I did. And you know why? Because my uniform wasn’t hemmed by the deadline for hemming. It was stapled. You read that right: Stapled. There I was, standing in the gymnasium with all my other little Brownie friends, and it was time for “hem checking” for all new recruits. (Of which I was one.)

Dum duh dum dum. “What’s this?” one of those old bitty troop masters said when she got to me. “Come over here!” she bellowed to the other bitty troop master.

Bitty #1: “This uniform isn’t properly hemmed. It’s STAPLED!! Who did this??”

Me: “Um, my mother.”

Bitty #2: “Stapling is NOT in the official Brownie Guidebook.”

Bitty #1 “Sorry kid – but your days as a Brownie are over. Stapling your hem is NOT permitted. You’re out.”

And that was it. Bounced. From the Brownies. Because my mother stapled my hem instead of sewing.

My mother. The first recipient in the family of the “hate to sew” gene.

Which brings me back to my mohair bag. Sewing this lining is torture! Partially because I don’t know jack about sewing. And partially because I just HATE it. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

How can I spend 2 hours in the middle of a beautiful sunny day knitting on the couch and not mind a bit that I’m killing the day, but think that every minute spent with a sewing needle in my hand is nothing but a complete waste of my time??

It all goes back to something my grandmother said when I was little. She was teaching me how to sew (having long ago given up on my mother…clearly). I kept wanting to put the longest thread on the needle, so not to have to re-thread it mid-project. And she said to me:

Ma: “You know how you can tell a bad sewer?”

Me: “How?”

Ma: “They make their thread too long.”

Even back then my grandmother got it: Second recipient in the family of the “hate to sew” gene. Me.

Does anyone have a stapler I can borrow to finish this lining?

unsewn lining

Monday, May 09, 2005

Not To Harp On The Big Head Thing For Too Long...

Kristy decided that the hat pattern I found (see earlier post) was too cute to pass up. She whipped one up in just a few hours.

Mission Critical Project
Here we are “working” at Kristy’s desk. We work like this a lot. Wearing matching hats and pointing at the screen. We’re very busy discussing a mission critical project. Really.

But take a closer look.

Big Head Pink Bar
See the pink bar? It represents the width of Kristy’s hat.

Compare the same size pink bar on my hat.

Big Head Red Bar
See the red bar? It represents the width of my hat.
Compare the same size red bar on Kristy's hat.

I’m guessing you know where I’m going here…Big Head. Land Of.

So whether you have a normal sized or, um, abnormal sized head, these hats are really cute (IMHO). And the pattern is so easy – it only looks complicated, yet makes you look like a very experienced knitter.

But now I must go. There's a mission critical project waiting for me…

Um. Can I Get A Little Alone Time Here?

knitting kitties.com
This is me knitting on Saturday. Can you say crazy cat lady?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I Come From the Land of Big Heads

Yesterday, we took a quick trip at lunch to the LYS Urban Knitting, Kristy needed yarn for a hat she’s knitting for a friend. I knit nothing for friends yet (too busy focusing on my needs thankyouverymuch) and my stash is out of control, so I just went along “to look.” Yet somehow, I came home with a skank of really nice Rowan Big Wool in a great shade of blue. I don’t normally do blues, but the color caught my eye. And it was on sale. I am powerless over sale items.

But I only bought one. And I paid cash. So it was like not really buying anything at all, right?

I just had to knit it up immediately. A simple 2x2 ribbed hat would not do. I wanted something different. Something I haven’t done before. Voila. I found this great hat pattern from Midnight Knitter's site.

Having finished my seamless sweater class last week, my Wednesday night was free. I was ready to start knitting the hat. “Pattern fits normal head size.” Yes. But a “normal” woman’s hat size is 7 ¼. My hat size is 7 3/8. I ignored the subtle reference to “normal,” added 4 stitches to the pattern and started knitting.

And knitting and knitting. I woke up at 6:15 and blew off the gym so I could knit some more. The yarn worked up really quick. I wanted to finish it and wear it today. (I know, I’m obsessed. But I’ve already admitted that.)

rowan big yarn

The blue looks really bad in this photo
rowan big yarn stitch

Close up of stitch pattern

I finished the hat and “tried” it on by holding the two ends together over my head. And guess what? At lunch today I ripped it out and started all over.


Because I come from the land of Big Heads.

It was too damned small – even with the 4 extra stitches. This time I’ll try 8. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a new hat for the weekend…

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Monday, May 02, 2005

One Project Only? Never.

Lest you think I've only been working on my seamless sweater, here is an update of some of the things I'm still working on. (And that seamless sweater is almost done. Really. Just about 3 inches of the last sleeve!) Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Polka dot shawl. Not moving quickly, but I'll finish it. Eventually.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Remember this nightmare? Oddly enough, it wasn't me. The pattern was wrong in Stitch N Bitch Nation! A quick look at their errata page and my yarn overs line up sooooo nicely. Now I only have about 9 more feet of this thing to knit!
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Hasana shawl. This discontinued yarn is looking nice. And I learned how to do the drop (or elongated) stitch from the excellent site Knitting Help.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
The Bear. He just can't help but be a model. These are stockinette swatches that I think we're going to learn how to knit together in my knitting class tonite.