Sunday, May 4, 2008

From Canada, with love

Last week proved to be one filled with all sorts of goodness coming from north of the border. On Friday, a dreary, rainy day here in Indiana, I received my Spring Swap box from Meg. Before I get into the box, let me note that she had already sent along a dozen balls of Angora Soft - enough for a sweater (part of the theme of the swap was to encourage some spring cleaning of items that were nice, but didn't necessarily need to stay nice in your home - isn't Meg generous??).

The box had this lovely, happy sketch on the outside:


Open it up to find this:


(Nope, she didn't send Sunny to me - Sunny just comes running at the faintest scent/sound of tissue paper)

Here's layer one of generosity:


And layer two:


All told, Meg sent along four(!) skeins of yarn she dyed herself. She has a fabulous eye for color - everything is very happy and spring-y, and it brought a smile to my face. She also included a ladybug tape measure, a water bottle with a Northwest Territories logo (yep, my package came a long way!), some little monkey key tags, a plush/velour flower, a lovely bookmark, a set of chibi darning needles, and two adorable pots to start some flowers.


Here's the yarn (and yes, I've already asked her to please open an etsy shop):


And some closeups:





The other Canadian to spread sunshine in Indy last week was the Harlot. I don't think I can add anything that hasn't already been blogged. She was charming and funny and great.


ZEN was supposed to attend, and represent the Indiana babies, but she threw up, in the car, on her way to the bookstore. ZEN's lovely father was bringing her to me at the store and had to turn around and clean her up and put her to bed - and miss his baseball practice. To put that in perspective, baseball is to him as knitting is to me. Except he can't do it year-round, so it was wonderful of him to miss practice for this!

And finally, a few FOs, just to show that I do occassionally finish something I start:

This is the blanket for my friend Gina's son-to-be. She is doing a knights and dragons theme in his room. I am going to hire out the finishing (putting a flannel backing on it to keep his little fingers from getting entangled in the intarsia mess. I am not good at intarsia. I do not like intarsia. I will continue to do intarsia only when I need to make a gift for a baby, toddler or child.

Ah, this is what I am calling my Oh Crap!-otis. I was working from a 759-yard hank of yarn. If you know the Clapotis pattern, you know that Kate Gilbert initially made it with 3 skeins of Lion & Lamb. Lion and Lamb has 205 yards per skein. The pattern was later modified to call for 4 skeins, but most people didn't use much of the fourth. Math is not my forte, but one would think 759 yards would suffice. Uh, no. Not so much. I did only 12 straight rows, rather than 13, and I still ran out of yarn, so this is a rare 5-sided Clapotis. But, it's not that noticeable if I wrap it around my neck, so I suppose it's OK. And I did love the Makalu Lambgora yarn.

I knit these mitts with some handspun I got at the Fiber Event. The pattern is from Tangle, and is called Nancy K. I really enjoyed these - a quick knit, and I like the button detail. I will knit them again, but I will probably use an even yarn, and I would not do the picot bind-off with the bulkier yarn.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Does the kindness and generosity of others just catch you by surprise sometimes? Awhile back, I participated in the Not So Secret Scarf Swap. The basic premise was that you sent a skein (or two) of yarn from your stash to your upstream, and they knit a scarf for you from your stash. I knit a scarf for Bev, using Paton's SWS, a nice bulky yarn - it knit up quickly (and nicely) into My So Called Scarf. Well, my upstream was Mel. When we received our upstreams, I emailed her to ask if she'd mind using a DK weight yarn - I told her she could hold it doubled (and let her know it was cashmere, so that's always a benefit). She was excited about the yarn, and even said I could send along two colors. So yes, in exchange for knitting up a bulky yarn, I had someone knit me a DK fair isle scarf. The time and kindness she poured into this is overwhelming, and I can't thank her enough.


My poor photography skills do not do this scarf justice. It is really just so lovely, and it is a design of Mel's own making - she is a talented one! Here's a closer view of the snowflake motif.


Mel, you've outdone yourself. If you are interested in keeping up with Mel's designs, check out her new website, Stick Chick Knits. She's still working to get her patterns all up, but you can get a feel for her work by looking at her free patterns.

In addition to the scarf, Mel also sent a skein of lovely yarn.


It's Hazel Knits sock yarn, in a gorgeous blue. It is a soy merino blend, and it is just beautiful. It will knit up nicely into Violeta. Sorry for the Ravelry link, if you can't get there, just know that Violeta is a pattern for fingerless mitts, designed by Mel. Very pretty!

Mel also sent along some really pretty stitchmarkers, which I neglected to photograph. They are just lovely, though, and she made them herself using some stunning stones!

Thanks, Mel, for a wonderful swap.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Book meme and one other, too

This comes from Mel and I am, of course, late.

Here are the rules:
1) Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3) Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4) Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So, 7 random facts:

1) I am a really crappy singer/musician of any sort (so bad, in fact, that the high school band director told me to just "pretend play" my clarinet during a concert. I told him I would do so, but then proceeded to intentionally squeak throughout the concert. He couldn't blame me, right, I wasn't even supposed to be playing) I quit band by the time I was a sophomore. It really was the best choice for all involved.
2) I have been very down lately - down on my job, down on myself. I am trying to work through it and find some positive in what really is a decent life.
3) I love to try to garden. I really stink at it, but it's fun trying. The hope that spring brings is so irresistible. By the end of the summer, all that's usually alive are tomatoes (love those hardy guys).
4) I used to live in South Carolina, and I am missing it more and more.
5) Nobody in my family, except my husband knows about my blog. I just like it that way.
6) I am currently working my way through the entire running of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. I'm in season three now. It came on at a time when I really just didn't watch much TV, and ran throughout law school, when I really didn't watch much TV. It's a great show, and I'm happy I'm discovering it, even if I am 10 years behind.
7) I really need a pedicure

Now the hard part, time to tag folks, so here goes:
1) Eryn
2) Weezalana
3) Soo
4) Jill (in case you ever blog again!)
5) Georgiann
6) Jo
7) Annie

Have fun!


Eryn blogged this awhile back, and I liked it, so I thought I would offer my perspective.

1. What book are you currently reading?

The Secret Servant, Daniel Silva - Silva is one of my favorite authors. He writes spy novels about protagonist Gabriel Allon, who is an art restorer/spy and assassin for the Israeli Secret Service. This book was published in 2007, so I am a little behind. He has a new one coming out this year.

Twelve Bags Full, Leonie Swann - this is a sheep detective story that Nat found and got for me for Christmas. I am just getting started, but it's pretty cute - a flock of sheep work together to discover who is responsible for the death of their shepherd.

2. When you think of a good story, what are the first 3 books that come to mind?

A Widow for One Year, John Irving - I am a big fan of Irving. I find this story particularly compelling. It is a tale of severe family dysfunction, written with the usual dark-comic flair that Irving does so well.

The Black Echo, Michael Connelly – I love Connelly's series about Detective Harry Bosch. I chose The Black Echo because it is the first in the series - I don't know if it was the best, but they're all pretty good. Bosch is a Vietnam Vet (a "tunnel rat") and an LAPD cop or detective (depends on where you pick up the series). He has a rebellious spirit, but a thirst for truth and justice.

Emma, Jane Austen - I have been listening to this from Of course, my ipod died last week, so I haven't gotten too far. Listening is a reminder of the wonderful story-telling ability of Austen. It also is interesting to know how relevant the themes continue to be. But, I'm not going to pretend that I have anything to say about Jane Austen that is new.

3. Which 3 books would you recommend for summer 2008 beach reading?

Good In Bed, Jennifer Weiner – this book goes off the rails a bit toward the end, but it's a fine escapist romp.

Knit One, Kill Two, Maggie Sefton – no reason not to combine beach reading and knitting, right?

Any of Carl Hiaasen's goofy stories.

4. Any knitting books you would care to share?

Knitting in Plain English, Maggie Righetti - a wonderfully straightforward reference book.

5. What is next on your reading list?

I ordered the Harlot's new book since her trip to Indianapolis is coming up. I have been watching Bones on Fox, so I am reading the original series by Kathy Reichs. I just finished Deja Dead, and while it was a little disappointing, I do think I'll pick up the next book in the series.

6. Tag three other knitters for this meme:

If you got tagged above, and haven't already done this, consider yourself tagged!

I know I promised finished object photos, and I actually took them. However, I am not in the mood to mess around with uploading photos to flickr right now. I will have another update before next week.

I will, however, leave you with this (ZEN's trip to the Raggedy Ann and Andy Museum):

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tales from the Fiber Event

I had the pleasure of attending The Fiber Event in Greencastle, Indiana, yesterady. ZEN and Nat came along, which made it even more fun.

I started the day helping to attend to the booth for the Northside Knitting Guild. We were selling felted bags, with the proceeds going to Prevail of Noblesville. Prevail supports the victims of violence and abuse. It's a wonderful program. The final numbers weren't in when I left, but it looked like we were well on our way to raising a pretty good sum for Prevail. Incidentally, the bag I made sold first. I was worried it wouldn't sell at all. I made the Carie Lynn Bag from She Knits (pictured, in a not-great photo, at left). There were a lot of really gorgeous bags, though, so I just got lucky! Thanks to Sharon for allowing me to sell the bag made from her pattern!

After I was done at the booth, I had the chance to look around and shop. Here's the loot!

Handspun, from an unknown vendor. Yes, I am kicking myself because I either didn't pick up, or lost their card. I went back to the vendor map, and I couldn't figure out who it was. It's a lovely camel, merino blend. It was so soft that I had to use it immediately, so it became a pair of fingerless mitts. I had 111 yards, and I was worried I would run out. I only used a little more than half, though. I don't think I have enough left for a hat, so any ideas for leftover handspun is much appreciated. I love this stuff, and will try to find this vendor again next year.

More handspun! This is a blend with some angora in it, I believe. The vendor was Little Acres (in Michigan, near Mackinaw Bridge). I don't think she has a website. She also had an adorable angora rabbit in her booth. He was quite friendly.

And check out these guys! They were right across from the Guild's booth, so I got to keep an eye on them while I was working. They were so cute, and quite friendly. ZEN seemed to think they were pretty neat, but I didn't manage to get any pictures of her with them.

OK, back to yarn...

This is a lovely wool/bamboo/nylon blend. I love the color and the sheen, and I think it will make lovely socks. I picked this up at the Maple Creek Farm booth. Their booth also was right by the guild booth, so I was forced to eye the lovely yarn for a couple hours before I could go pet it. As we were getting ready to leave, we decided to check our tickets to see if we'd won doorprizes (my first thought was, why bother - I never win!). I won! And of all things, I won the prize donated by the lovely Maple Creek Farm folks. They had a lovely skein of their superwash merino as a doorprize.
How cool to not only win, but to win from a vendor you had stalked for a large part of the day!

There were so many other wonderful booths. I think I did a pretty good job controlling myself, though. It was hard! Going to an event like this also really inspires my desire to spin. I caught the Knitty Gritty drop spindle episode on my TiVo, so I can use that to learn with the awesome drop spindle Eryn sent me. I need to go visit my friend who spins, because I know she'll be a great teacher - it's just hard to find the time.

Jo asked about the colorway on the red socks - it's called Dragon Dance - Socks That Rock lightweight.

See you all next time...

Coming up next on ZenCatsYarn: Holly reviews her trip to the SPAM Museum, and shows off a few FOs. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 31, 2008

One F.O.

I had the pleasure of test knitting for Huan-Hua, a designer who lives south of me here in Indiana. She put the word out on Ravelry that she needed some test knitters for a baby sweater. Who am I to resist yet another sweater for ZEN? The pattern is just adorable. It's not yet available for sale, but Huan-Hua is orata on Ravelry, and you should be able to get the pattern that way soon. You can also check her blog for details, I expect.

Here are pictures of the sweater.


And a closeup of the leaf-edge button band detail:


I used Merlin the Cat superwash sock yarn. It comes in a very generous 560 yard hank. I used about 410 yards, I believe. It was a fun knit, and many thanks to Huan-Hua for giving me the chance to test knit. I found the test knitting experience to be mostly enjoyable, but it did involve a deadline. I don't play well with deadlines, so that stressed me out some. I did finish on time, though, so all was well.

In other crafting news (and since it's on this blog, it's a month old!), I learned some crochet. My first project was a hat for ZEN.


I want to crochet her a dress, but I think I need to work on a few more starter projects so I can get my tension down. I am using the Candy Babies book by Candie Jensen - there are many fun patterns in there.

I also finished the January Rockin' Sock Club socks.


They ended up being a little roomy for me, but I've washed and (gasp!) dried them to fit my foot. I am knitting the medium size for March's shipment, but those are looking large, too. That seems to be a common issue with the March socks, though. I am not going to rip back. I will just use them as comfy house or sleeping socks if they're too loose.

And finally I leave you with one last ZEN photo, because everyone needs to see how the pretty baby really looks when she wakes up in the morning:


Ah! The horror!

I'll check back in soon. Sooner than a month, at least. We are heading out on a trip to see my parents, so there should be much knitting time available. Hopefully I'll be able to make progress on Tomato, the March RSC socks, a stuffed rabbit for Zoey, and Mystic Lights shawl. We'll see though.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lucky girl!

I have been terribly remiss in not posting all the goodies that have been arriving at my door, thanks to some lovely knitty swaps/secret pals!

Let's start with SP10. I received my February package February 9. I have an AWESOME secret pal. Here is a picture of the luscious Malabrigo laceweight she sent...

I will post again later with a picture of everything. For some reason the one I took didn't download to flickr. Even though you can't see it just yet, I want to tell you about the happiness in my package....

1. The malabrigo laceweight - isn't it pretty? I'm not sure how I'm going to use it - I want to find a pattern that will really favor the variegation - any thoughts? I have 880 yards total. I have a mohair that is similarly painted. I'm considering holding it doubled with the malabrigo, and making a garter stitch wrap on 13s or 15s, but I'm also really tempted to use it for a traditional lace pattern.

2. Harmony DPNs!!!!! Harmony DPNs!!!! They are soooo pretty! Size 0, so I think I'm going to use them to cast on for some Tofutsies socks - maybe use the Monkey pattern. Can't wait to try these needles.

3. Stitch markers that she made herself - how cool and thoughtful is that?!

4. Chocolotes - Reese Whipped and Smarties.

5. Treats for the kitties (and my obnoxious cats ripped the package open before I could open it for them - they loved them!)

6. A gorgeous card - it's so neat I really can't describe it. I will post a picture of it, too, once I get those to upload to flickr.

Thanks so much, secret pal! You've been amazing. It's driving me a little nuts trying to figure you out who you are, but I have a few guesses.... I can't wait for the reveal!

I also received a special Valentine's pacakge from the lovely Eryn! Again, I was overwhelmed by the bounty!


Eryn hand-dyed two skeins of wool in a bulky weight in lovely pink, raspberry and light purples. She also sent more yarn! One skein of Lush and one skein of Miracle - both by Classic Elite and so yummy! I think one will become Fetching, but I'm not certain just yet.

I was further spoiled by Eryn, with a gorgeous drop spindle with ZEN carved into it, and a stunning batt. Now I'm trying to find a good website or book or blog to help me learn to use a drop spindle. Or, I suppose I can wait for Knitty Gritty to rerun that episode, too. I'm excited to give it a shot! The box was bursting with more goodies, too - chocolates (some that are local to Florida - chocolate covered coconut - yum! - and some tasty Dove hearts, and my faves - Reeses PB hearts). I also got some gorgeous glass bead stitch markers from Merlin The Cat yarns (on etsy), and a nice lavendar sachet from loop (on etsy).

Finally, Eryn very sweetly knit me some Fuzzy Feet in a happy valentine's red. She felted them a bit, but left them large enough for me to felt to my size - how thoughtful!

Thank you, both, for your extreme showings of kindness and generosity. I'm not worthy!

I hope everyone eles is getting good spoiling! Have a great day, and I'm really going to try to check back in this weekend.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Weekly update

After grousing about not updating enough because of Ravelry, I've decided to aim for a weekly update, at least. It is cmoforting to know that I am not the only one struggling with the blog/Ravelry balance (and wouldn't it be nice if all of our dilemmas were this satisfying?)

Wicked was off the needles as of Tuesday. I don't have any good pictures because my husband is not a cooperative fella. However, I'm not thrilled with it. It's a little roomy, so right now it's in the dryer after a soak in the sink. I'm hoping it will shrink just enough... fingers crossed. If it improves/cooperates, I'll have a more reliable adult (or heck, even ZEN, take some pictures).

Having finished Wicked, I encountered an intense reluctance to work on another project. No, I was itching to start something new. Trying to be disciplined, I simply didn't knit on Wednesday night. But the call was too strong on Thursday. I was thinking of knitting a Baby Surprise Jacket, but instead I made a bulky jumper for ZEN. It was a good choice, because it knit up in one evening!


This is the Baby Jumper from Blue Sky Alpacas, knit in Size 2. In the spirit of stash busting, I knit it from some Naturwolle that I had on hand. I ended up holding it tripled, and used about 4 skeins. Here are a couple of pictures of ZEN modeling. She sends her apologies, because she's not feeling that well and has been too tired to smile properly as of late (and yes, you are absolutely right to chastise the mean mom for putting her in this, anyway!).



It should fit her a little better next winter!

On another note, it seems that so many knitting blogs enable with shoutouts to great etsy stores, where you can oogle yarn, stitchmarkers, cool patterns, and other notions. I'm not going to pretend to have my fingers on the pulse of that - I just enjoy following the links other people provide. However, I do have some etsy faves that sell items that aren't yarn/knitting related, and I thought I'd share those with you, in case anyone is hunting for fun stuff.

Let's start with some stunning handcrafted jewelry, made by Linda at Trillium. Her work is stunning. It feels solid, even the delicate pieces. Her customer service is excellent. I have had a couple occasions to ask for something not listed, and she accommodated so quickly (even one order the week before Christmas shipped in time for Christmas!). I've not met her in person, but she just strikes me as someone who I would really like. Check out her store if you're in the market for some jewelry. Her prices are beyond fair and the packaging is really lovely, too.

My dear friend Jill pours candles for Starstruck Cat Design. In all fairness, I do know Jill in real life, but I wouldn't mention her here if I didn't adore her product. Her candles are made with soy wax, rather than parrafin. It's a healthier burning candle. If you want more information, check out her website. Oh, and her packaging is really adorable, too. My favorite scent is the White Tea and Ginger, but I purchased a Gardenia candle for a swap partner recently, and that was heavenly, too. If you have a scent you'd like, but don't see it on there, ask Jill, she will do her best to accommodate. Her prices are very reasonable, too.

Last, but certainly not least, Eryn is making soaps at Turtle Cove Soaps. I have used the almond biscotti kitchen soap, and it does exactly as it says - it cuts right through some of the tough kitchen scents (no more onion-scented hands!). I also have used the Oceanus Salt Scrub. It's really nice. I haven't tried her other soaps - yet - but I would fully expect them to be just as lovely as the ones I've purchased. I gifted some of her soaps for Christmas, and the feedback on those has been very positive, too. Each soap or pair of soaps is individually paper wrapped and tied.

You might know Eryn from Ravelry or knittyboard. And you can find Jill on Ravelry, too. So they both have the knitting creds! Support your fellow knitters!
Go buy some soap or candles so Jill and Eryn can buy some yarn, OK? But don't forget Trillium!

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Bloggin' Blues

Did Ravelry kill the blogging star? Maybe that's a bit extreme, but I think I can blame Ravelry for my loss of blogging mojo. I am spending my time at the computer there, checking out yarns and patterns, participating in the forums. It's strange, though, because I miss blogging, and I miss checking in with other people's blogs! I really need to recommit to my blog, and to keeping up with the blogs that I so enjoy.

In that spirit, here's what's happening in my knitting world. Wicked is coming along nicely.


I hope to finish it today during the Super Bowl. I will then shift focus to my husband's sweater, because I still have a crackpot dream that I'll finish it in time for Valentine's Day. In all honesty, I'll be happy if the front and back are done by then, but we'll see.

I'm also knitting on the first sock from teh 2008 Rockin' Sock Club - I've never been a member, so I'm super excited. The yarn is gorgeous, and I'm also enjoying the pattern. It is slow going for me, Ms. Slow Knitter, though, so I am just going to hope to finish in time for March's installment.

I have another sock coming along nicely - It's the corded rib from Sensational Knitted Socks.

I'm using Cider Moon's Glacier, in the June Carter colorway. Love!

And finally, I'm trying to stay true to my New Year's Knitting Resolutions. In that spirit, I gathered a lot of my UFOs for assessment as to what to rip. This doesn't include the four or five projects I'm faithfully knitting on.


This tub includes at least the following:

Two pairs of socks
One felted bag
One sweater
One poncho (that's definitely getting the rip)
One baby hat (will be made into a hat for alex)
Two lace shawls
One baby dress
One other crazy poncho wrap thing (if you're a big fan of Maggi Jackson/maggiknits, let me know - I'll pack this up and sent it off to you).
One dog sweater
One worsted weight sock
one bolero
one camisole

There's onther stuff that I'm forgetting, I think. I didn't do a thorough job of cataloging it, but it was nice to get most of this together. It helps me to take an assessment and address the situation.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


The mailman came up the drive yesterday, carrying a package for me! It was lunchtime, and being the good mom that I am, I fed ZEN before I ripped it open. However, I didn't manage to take pictures of the beautiful packaging before I tore in... Check this out! All courtesy of the kindest secret swap partner ever! All I know about her is that she lives in Canada, and she's awesome!

What we have here is a hysterical greeting card; some foot soakin' happiness; a new Kacha-Kacha counter (my lovely pal took pity on the fact that ZEN and her father colluded to turn my other one into a toy!); some GORGEOUS Sea Wool, which is calling to me; Ghiradelli AND Reese's chocolates (am I total dork for getting a kick out of the Canadian packaging, which includes French?); a super soft and pretty hand-knit washcloth tied together with a pretty ribbon and some facial soap; and a couple samples of Soak, which I adore. The items came lovingly packaged in the pretty tissue that's in the background. Thanks, pal, you really outdid yourself!

I am knitting along on Wicked. It's a fun knit, and I'm fairly pleased with how mine looks (despite the fact that I messed up on the neck ribbing - it seems to be purely aesthetic, though, and I have no interest in ripping back!)


However, I find myself wanting to cast on something new! This wouldn't be an issue if Wicked were the only thing on my needles. I am toying with the idea of casting on for Mr. Greenjeans (using Dream in Color Classy yarn), or a sweater for ZEN, out of Shibui yarn. I know I should finish on what I have on my needles. Why does casting on hold such an appeal?

Maybe I deserve a reward, though? After all, I finished my Hemlock Ring Blanket. Here it is, blocking.


Daisy gave me a look like "Are you seriously going to block that thing right in line of the best sunbeam in the house?" She wasn't terribly pleased with the idea, but she got over it. Here's a slightly better picture, sans sunshine.


I really enjoyed this knit. If you're wanting to do one, I highly encourage it - quick, easy, fun and a great stash-burner. I am considering another one, perhaps using some Noro from my stash. There is a yahoo group devoted to the HRB, and Webs podcast is hosting a KAL, which I believe started this week. Lots of excitement around the HRB. That Jared is brilliant, don't you think?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Goodbye, Sweet Jo

The title of this blog is Zen Cats Yarn. Zen, for my daughters initials and all other implications, and yarn because I love knitting. For the most part, I focus on those two things. However, I put cats in the title for a reason, and today I wanted to devote the blog to that portion. In particular, to say goodbye to Josephine, our sweet manx kitty who we fondly referred to as Jo the Tailless Wonder.

We didn't pick Jo; she found us. It was late summer/early fall of 1999. Nat and I had gotten married in June. We were looking for homes to buy. We already had three kitties, Sunny, Daisy, and the now sadly gone Tito Blue. We were living in an apartment on True Street in Columbia, South Carolina. We were up on the third floor, and the apartments had non-enclosed hallways. For some reason this little tailless kitty decided that the third floor was a good place to search for food. She was quite the charmer, and apparently was being fed by at least two of the four third floor tenants. If you know anything about Columbia, you know it doesn't get very cold. However, with winter coming, I was concerned about this kitty, and I wanted her to have a home. I began calling the kitty Tailless Joe. Nat is a big baseball guy, so I was playing on Shoeless Joe Jackson. I later found out that Nat is none too fond of Shoeless Joe, so the name did little to endear Joe to Nat. I found someone at The State (the newspaper in Columbia where both Nat and I worked) who agreed to take Joe. I told them I would take care of all of her shots, and get Joe an exam. Our vet saw Joe, and the receptionist first let me know that he was a she, and thus Joe became Josephine, or just Jo. With her regular exam, the vet tested for FIV (a feline immunodeficiency disease, frequently compared to HIV, but not really the same). The people who had agreed to take her didn't want her after they found out she was sick. So, with some coaxing, I talked Nat into letting her stay with us. It was really four against one, because Sunny, Daisy and Tito also thought this was a very bad idea. Needless to say, though, I won, and Jo came to live with us the week of Thanksgiving 1999, and I've always considered that her birthday. Initially, Jo was sort of an aggressor, even backing Daisy (an alpha cat if I've ever seen one) into the corner. That lasted about a week. By the time we moved into a house on Lancaster Street, Daisy had reasserted herself completely. So much so that Jo was afraid to use the litter, and just terrified of Daisy. We sought intervention, and we can vouch for the University of Georgia veterinarian department, where we referred to for some kitty psychiatry. A lot of work went into it, but eventually all that was needed was for Daisy to wear a bell so that Jo would know when she was coming and be able to relax a little bit. She remained skittish, but she was very loving once she knew she could trust someone.
This is Jo in her final day; she perked up a little when Nat put the cats video "The Birds" on the TV. She got to watch a bit with her friend, Sunny, before she became too tired for even that.

Jo moved with us to Fishers, Indiana, and that's still where we lived when her kidneys began to fail. She had seen the vet the day after Thanksgiving 2007. All seemed well. We noticed she seemed lethargic and had lost interest in eating. We took her to the vet on Wednesday to find that she'd lost 1.5 pounds. That's more than 10 percent of her bodyweight in less than two months. The doctor drew blood, and the results showed serious renal failure. The doctor said there were things we could try (IVs, etc.), but given her FIV status, it would be putting off the inevitable, and probably would not be the most humane choice. We decided to let her go on Thursday morning. It was so hard. She was a really great cat, just as sweet as could be. She was a part of our family, and we miss her more than words can ever say. It is our hope that she is in a happier, more comfortable place now, playing with out dearly departed, and dearly loved, pets.

Oh, and when we had ZEN, many people told us that the cats wouldn't mean as much, that the family dynamic wouldn't change. I don't think that's true. We love our cats just as much today as we did one, two and three years ago. ZEN loved Jo (see her shirt in the picture?), and we think that Jo might have even liked her. She was quite patient with her, even as we were trying to teach her "be gentle with the kitties". Oh, and you know how Nat was initially reluctant to add another kitty to our crew? Well, Jo charmed him completely, and he is just as devastated as I am to lose her.

Rest in Peace, Jo, may you have happy days ahead.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

It's a new year!

January is apparently the month of selfish knitting in my world. I suppose it's the Christmas hangover continuing, but I've been casting on for all sorts of goodies - and just about everything is for me! I don't usually knit for myself, but that's about to change.

However, let's start with a finished project that is not for me, OK? Here's Bubby from Knitty. Isn't he sweet? I used a size 6 needle and Andean Treasure. I don't know if I'll add eyes or not. He's currently in ZEN's crib, where she seems to enjoy throwing him around. This was a fun, fairly fast knit. I started on him on December 23, and finished him earlier this week. He could have been done in a day or two, but I decided to finish my mother's sweater instead. I keep writing him. I guess it's a boy. Any ideas for names?

I also tried to finish Elefante.

"But Holly, that doesn't look like an elephant," you're probably thinking (which is a much kinder response than my husband's, who upon seeing what I'd created laughed so hysterically he nearly cried). Apparently there's this thing about patterns - you should follow them! Who knew?? I actually did pay a good bit of attention, but I think I put him down right at the point where you were supposed to be knitting for the trunk. So instead of a trunk and a head, I just got a giant funny-looking head. Instead of finishing, or ripping, though, I'm going to let the cats play with the stuffed balls. This is an adorable pattern, and I'll probably try it again. I don't think I'll stripe him (I found that to be a huge pain), so I'll either try to use self-striping yarn, perhaps Noro (thanks, SheKnits listeners, for that idea), or I'll just do solid colors, but make the head, body and legs different colors.

In another bit of unselfish knitting, I finished the first fingerless glove requested by my husband. These were knit from Sandi Wiseheart's pattern, which she created for her husband. The pattern is quick and easy. I used KnitPicks Andean Silk and a size 6 needle. However, in looking at them, don't they seem a bit feminine? My husband is a big goofy 6'4, 240 pound guy, so he will wear them and not care what anyone thinks, but I think they're a little girly. It's possible Nat won't like them, and if that's the case, I'll keep them for me, anyway. I did have some problems with the gloves, between the fingers. I had holes in two places. I just darned them up, but I'm not sure what I did wrong. We'll have to see if I have a similar problem with the mate. These will be done by Thursday, which is Nat's birthday (Happy Birthday, Nat, even though you're not reading this!)

Now to me, me, me knitting! I have started Wicked, using Karabella Aurora 8 in a Royal Purple color. It's coming along quite well. There is an official KAL starting on Ravelry on January 15, so I probably will try not to do too much with it until then, but it's hard to put it down. It's a lot of fun to knit! And the best part is that I scored the yarn on clearance at a New Year's Day sale!

Also on the needles is Sunrise Circle, and that's going just fine. I haven't gotten to any of the fun darts or shaping yet, though, so we'll see.

Finally, I started another felted bag last night. This is the latest from SheKnits - it's called Carrie Lynn's bag. You can find the pattern here. It's a fun, quick knit. And I'm burning through my Lamb's Pride stash - yeah for stash busting!!!

New Year's Knitting Thoughts (I've never kept a resolution, I must admit, so I won't call these by the R word)
I've joined a Ravelry Group, Resolutions for 2008, and this is pulled from there. Again, though, they're not actually resolutions, OK?

1. Finish at least 5 WIPs. Hmmm.... This is not going so well. I guess I haev finished one WIP, the Bubby Bear; but in the meantime, I've cast on for a bunch more - doesn't that defeat the purpose?
2. Rip out anything and everything that I will not finish. I'm taking this one for a spin tonight, I believe. That sound of ripping coming from central Indiana? That will lead you to my house - feel free to stop by and help!
3. Reduce my stash by 20% (this is a very arbitrary figure...I might revisit it!) I think I'm actually doing well on this one. I've started several projects from stash yarn, including Bubby (KnitPicks Andean Treasure), Nat's fingerless gloves (KnitPicks Andean Silk), Elefante (KnitPicks Wool of the Andes), Carie Lynn bag (Lamb's Pride Bulky - 7 skeins!!!), Sunrise Circle sweater (Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed). Don't have a clue about the 20% part, but I think this is good progress!
4. Knit at least one pattern from each book I own (this will not be accomplished in 2008, but I want to commit to doing this going forward in my knitting years).
I'm getting no where fast on this one.

And last, but by no means least, ZEN turned 1 on December 28. We didn't have too big
of an affair, but my parents were in town, and the child opened presents for what seemed like days. And, unlike her mother, she wasn't a huge fan of the cake. I suppose I should be happy - maybe she won't be a sugar addict like me! Even though she's 1, she still has no teeth!