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!