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Sunday, August 26, 2012

When Cake Decorating Meets Home Repair

The DH was inspired to do some "Handyman" duty yesterday and he went back this AM to finish the job.

The brick edging at the bottom of our front window has some loose spots.
(The "stable" bricks appear to be mostly stabilized by the wrought iron security window covering we had installed a long while ago. (Wrought Iron Window covering = rock repellent. But that's another story)).

Yesterday, he pulled out the loose mortar and a few of the bricks and re-inserted them with new mortar/filling, propping them up with other bricks to dry overnight.

Today he went out to fill gaps between the bricks.

I peeked out shortly after and asked how it was going. Seems the mortar-stuff in the caulk gun was too thin and he was attempting to push mortar in between the bricks with a putty knife.

I pondered this and noted he could probably insert the mortar-stuff pretty easily using a cake decorating bag. He liked the idea and asked if I had an old one I'd be willing to donate to the cause. I offered to make him one but then noted we could use a baggie. He agreed with the idea and I went off to collect supplies.

We started out with a regular sandwich baggie. That worked fine but it surprised us with a wee hole in the side when my left hand was instantly gooped up with gray sandy stuff.

I covered the hole with a fingertip, finished the gap I was filling, and then went inside for a thicker, freezer bag.

Mo'betta. I filled the gap, tamped it down a little with the putty knife, and filled it some more.

We'll see if it works.
We could tell we were being watched by some furry person(s) inside by the movement of the window blinds.
I came inside to cleanup and found Gryphon had taken up an excellent home-repair view point from the top of this kitty condo.

Yeah, it's a bit less sturdy than I'd like and I've sewn it back together in spots. It came with the Ginger Cats (Mikale & Nikoli) when we adopted them. All the cats take turns using it for playing, bathing (Gryphon's taking a bath in it right now and it's making me uneasy watching it swaying back and forth with his cleaning strokes), bird watching, sleeping, king-of-the-hill skirmishes...

Anyway, the fierce black cat looking all cute, soft, and strikingly colored against the red kitty condo inspired a few more pictures:
The DH walked by outside just then...
Slightly blurry picture but it shows off Gryphon's Green-y eyes. 
Forget you, I'm going to take a nap.
Settling in for a nap made him all the more irresistible and I stepped up to pet the cuteness.
But I smelled "interesting" after the outside home-improvement so I just got sniffed over.

Later, I was loading pictures to create this blog and I was overwhelmed by the sight of the snoozing Gryphon with his paws and tail collected at one corner of the kitty condo.
Yep, I got up to take more pictures.
(The blog can always use more kitty-pictures, right?)
His ears clearly state "What - you're back?"
See - 4 paws and a tail.
(Black cats show lint really well, huh?)
When I couldn't resist petting his toes just a little, he shuffled around but accepted some pets on his head and went back to sleep.

May all your Sunday tasks go well - even if it's a cat-nap.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Want to send a hug to Heather? Knitterly/Literary goodies available!

If you've visited my blog before, you've probably heard tell of my various educational and knitterly adventures with Heather Ordover of the CraftLit PodCast.

To quote meself:
"Heather is the mastermind behind CraftLit - and - "What Would Madam Defarge Knit"!
She is also one of my favorite teachers and introduced me to Goodreadsmoebius knitting, Cat Bordhi (live and in person), and she was the first knitterati to sign the SS09 Sock Blocker

She visited Tucson briefly in December and offered to teach the Plaited Edge from the Paivatar Sock (her socks gracing the cover Knitting Socks from Around the World!) at Kiwi Knitting."

I've spent hours and hours enjoying the Craftlit Podcast as she discusses her crafting and the books she features on the podcast. (She is the best English Lit teacher I've ever had!)
I've also been lucky enough to spend some lovely afternoons knitting and chatting with Heather. She is an excellent writer, teacher and one of the most amazing souls I've ever met.
To quote Mr. Spock: "Fascinating". ;-)

In my opinion, she's also a terrific Mom.
To quote her,"The Short of it

My son needs surgery.

Not planned surgery but that kind of kick-in-the-gut surprise surgery that is halfway between, sure okay and It’s An Emergency."

Here is the full article and longer explanation, "The Short of It", where she explains the variety of Knitterly, Literary, or goodies-in-general that you can purchase to support her livelihood and her family at this challenging time. 

I have read (and knitted from) the first "What would Madam Defarge Knit" book. 
A month or so ago, I pre-ordered the "What Else Would Madam DeFarge Knit" Book. 
Yep, it's that spiffy.

I'm looking into the opportunity to take the virtual version of Heather's Sock Heel Classes (I'd missed out taking it at the 2009 Sock Summit)! But then, I've also been considering reading Andrew Ordover's Book, "Cool for Cats". So many choices!

Please - go read Heather's "The Short of It" post. 
Consider treating yourself or a loved one to a book, knitterly adventures, educational opportunities - there are a variety of options in the post to send Heather a hug. 

My Thanks to you for reading and considering my blog post/request. 
Blessing be to you and yours. And to Heather and her Family. Hugs!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The last thing I blocked was a Bookmark

Yep, lots to learn.
The last thing I really blocked, T-pins and all, was some lace bookmarks I'd knitted.

(That was also the day I learned that Gryphon has "Magpie" tendencies. He walked up, looked over what I was doing, took a sniff, gently grasped a T-pin in his mouth, pulled it out and turned to leave with it. I was a bit astounded (and impressed) with his chutzpah, but I grabbed him firmly and relieved him of the sharp, pointy thing. {sigh}).

I've mentioned before I inherited this yarn. A friend travelled back East to visit family and came back with 2 skeins of Gentle Breeze Alpaca yarn indicating that I was gifted with the opportunity to do some knitting with her cousin's alpaca handspun.
By the way - the yarn is blended from three alpacas: Alagash, Harpo, and Caesar. (I love that the spinner noted from whence the fibre came!)

I was a bit boggled. I hadn't knit with handspun before and the looseness of the twist confounded me. I contacted the cousin and she indicated she'd like a scarf knit from the yarn.

I contacted spinning friends for pattern suggestions and began exploring Raverly for scarf pattern options. I tried multiple patterns, swatching several times. I even started the scarf on a few patterns but ripped back when it didn't seem to work well with the yarn and my knitting expectations.

I finally settled on the June is for Jag pattern by Lorena Haldeman, but it came out huge in this yarn. So I modified the pattern, casting on fewer stitches and tweaking the edging. And I liked the outcome.
I worked on it on and off throughout last year and finished it at a retreat earlier this year.

I then turned my mind to the 2nd skein of yarn. Another scarf?
Honestly, my first thought when I'd seen the yarn for the very 1st time was: "Cowl".
Another perusal of Raverly and I settled pretty quickly on the Squishy Cowl by Thayer Preece.

I swatched and then decided to log the cowl project as one of my Ravellenic projects. And I carried it with me to a quilt show and cast on a while after the Olympic Opening Ceremonies had started.
I was beyond pleased...the Squishy Cowl pattern is perfect for this yarn.
It was a quick knit and I finished it the next day.

Today, I blocked both projects with an eye to getting them shipped back East to the spinner of the yarn.
I put both pieces into cool water with a teeny bit of soap and left them to soak for a bit. Later I pulled them out, did a general squish to remove the bulk of the drippy-ness, and rolled them up in towels to remove even more of the water.
Because Gryphon is much more sneaky (and faster) than I am, I did the blocking outside. ;-)

Sadly, I noticed that I proved I was human near one end of the scarf...it's missing a purl bump ridge. {rats}. But blocking has been achieved.
Now to ship!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Less Trash and more Updates

More to recycle in Tucson = "Less Trash". Excellent!!

A year or so ago, our curbside recycling was expanded to handle rigid plastics like ice chests, 5-gallon tubs, and old plastic lawn chairs. Larger stuff that I'm Very tickled will not be laying about in the landfills for centuries.
A few weeks ago, we received a notice from the city that they were expanding the types of recyclables that could be handled via curbside recycling.
Excepting plastic bags, basically the new rule is "If it’s plastic, recycle it.".

Alllll recycle numbers of plastic are accepted now!

 Oh, plastic bags? A few years ago, several Grocery stores in Arizona began collecting all manner of plastic bags and shrink wrap.
I was pleased to find this website associated with our City Recycling that offers guidance on how to dispose of pretty much anything - via curbside recycling, hazardous waste, or donating reusable goods to various organizations.
We're doing better.

Updates: The Little Brother (Diabetes Update).
The Little Brother is also doing better! He's back to work, he's walking better, and slowly gaining strength. He has hair on his legs again {wry grin} - the body tends to shut down "unnecessary" systems when under stress. That his legs are hairy again is a very good thing. Recent doctor appointments indicate his eyes are responding well to the treatments and his endocrinologist recently lowered his insulin doses. Pret-ty darn good!

Updates: Los Gatos
The monster cats are doing well, although they seem to be putting on some (more) weight.

(Due to food-bowl grazing or are they preparing for winter??) {sigh}
We changed their food to the "7 years +" version (Gryphon still has access to the "under 7" version). They seem to have adapted well and are spending more time streaking around the house with kitty-happy-feet and then snoozing in very charming positions.
Mikale and Nikoli win paws down for sleeping in interesting positions. 
Gryphon, uh, testing how well this paper bag is constructed.
CooPurr...More happy-feet moments and several instances
 where he looks a lot like a cat-calendar model. ;-)
Meself - health.
"Life Happens". The stuff found in the annual mammogram was removed this last week. It seems I did pretty well with anesthesia (no real nausea) so the biggest challenge was my profound fear that I wouldn't wake up and the DH would be left with a ridiculous amount of yarn and books to dispose of.   I'm a bit tender, still waiting for the final biopsy results, catching up on some stuff I taped last year, and doing some knitting.

Meself - knitting.
As previously noted, I had some challenges during the Ravellenic games.
The Little Brother's Tardis Socks are pending the arrival of the new yarn. {sigh}

I did earn a few Ravellenic Medals.
Also as previously noted, I did finish my first Ravellenic project, The Squishy Cowl.

My 3rd Ravellenic project was also completed - the Baby Surprise Jacket (BSJ) by Elizabeth Zimmerman.
Although, I must confess that for all the ripping/tinking I did on this project, I could have knit 3 jackets.
{wry grin} I would say the majority of the issues had to do with my ability to count...or to stop doing increases.
Here's how it looks when the knitting is done, before it is folded into the surprise:

And here's the folded version. Hence the "Surprise". After the above creative wavy bit of knitting  - it folds into a Baby jacket.

Buttons were chosen from the button stash and the shoulders seamed up (a few times).

I do have to confess (some more) the seaming up took me a couple of tries {sigh}.
Today's model is a ceramic cat finished by the DH's Grandmother.

This is a "Note to Self" picture I took so I could skip some of the un-seaming challenges the next time I make one of these jackets. (i.e. my interpretation of which stitch to use in the seaming technique suggested by the very nice ladies at City Knitting in their BSJ Knitting Nugget videos (also included in the Raverly BSJ Wiki page)).
The stitch marker is in the obvious stitch beneath the cast on row. However, when the
stitch where my needle is  positioned is used in the seaming, it leaves less of a seam-ridge.
The delays in finishing the BSJ didn't leave a great deal of time to work on the Tardis-stand-in project before the end of the Ravllenic games.

But I've been knitting on the Spacious Show and Tell Moebius Bag (designed by Cat Bordhi) list last week and it is nearly done. Actually, the bag is done. I'm knitting the pocket. There will be a fulling day in my future.

Meself - California Quilts and another Whaling wall.
And this last "update" is fodder for a blog post of it's own.
More a little later;-)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I took it as a sign and ordered new yarn.

So....the Ravellenic games are afoot and yesterday I attempted to work on the 3rd of my three planned Ravellenic Game projects.

Yep, attempted. I seem to mostly "attempt" to work on this project - The Tardis Socks.

This pattern offers me the opportunity to try a little stranded color work and make spiffy socks for the "Whovian" Little Brother.

As previously noted, I started these socks in December 2012. I was at the base of the cuff when I found a knot in the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Yarn. (Not the norm for BMF, in my experience.) 
I just needed a few more yards/rows to get to the color work section so rather than cut out the knot and join yarn in the 1st inch & a half of the sock, I started the cuff over.
(Plot note - this knot is now viewed as Sign #1.)

The sock languished through the months the Little Brother and I were spending at the hospital/pursuing healing because I felt I needed to "sit down" to setup/start my first stranded color work when I had some uninterruptible/focused time. 
(Some of you are making "been there/procrastinated that" noises 'bout now, huh? 
Others of you are snorting "You have cats! There is no such thing as uninterruptible/focused time with cats in the house..." 

And then I chose this WIP for the Ravellenic Games and the rules had a requirement that WIP (Work in Progress) entered in the Games not be worked on after May 15th. 
(Really?!? May 15th until July 27th?!? {sigh} OK.). So I waited. And waited some more - even after the Little Brother moved back to his own apartment and I began to find some uninterruptible/focused* time. But there are always other projects to knit upon...

So, yesterday, I was happily loitering at Kiwi Knitting and I had brought the Tardis Socks to work on during the Sock Club knit-time. 
I pulled out the pattern, figured out what my next step was, pulled out the black yarn to border the "Police Box" letters and....  
(Plot note - this moment is now viewed as Sign #2.)
(Plot confession - I have to take responsibility for not considering this when I bought the black yarn....)
And - I thought "Gee, the black Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn is much thinner than the Blue BMF Arts Yarn." Uh-oh. 

Yeah, I tried knitting with it and the color contrast was great but the Heritage was thinner and I thought the socks might have issues with several inches of color work in a thinner yarn bracketed  by the heavier Socks that Rock yarn. {sigh}

Blessing for the day: I was in a Yarn Store. I had options. 

And I found a couple more options but not both black and white in a wool super wash. 
The Cascade Heritage 150 that was a very good match to the weight of the BMF Yarn I had and, Lynn, the owner of Kiwi Knitting offered to order me the Black and White Cascade Heritage 150 I needed - and she did so. 

(Plot note - the following moment is now viewed as Sign #3.)
'Bout then, I noticed this: 
Did the number of needles in the picture above strike you as odd? 
Yeah, me too. The look on my face must have been interesting. The project had been put/pulled in and out of the project bag for the last hour or so....and that's where I found the needle. 
These were new Knitter's Pride Cubics I purchased last December to try out the "square" needles for the first time and only used to knit the few inches of cuff you see pictured here. 
They didn't travel far as evidenced by my attempts at knitting these socks. 
Moments later, I added up the signs and thought this project is NOT getting done for the Ravellenic games. 
And my eyes went back to the skein of Tardis-worthy blue Cascade Heritage 150 in the sock yarn section of the store. It has more yardage for the Little Brother's bigger feet and there is absolutely no doubt that it will match the Black/White Cascade Lynn is ordering for me. 
And I bought the Blue Cascade Heritage 150, deciding the Blue BMF Arts Yarn would belong to a different project. 

Epilogue/Silver Lining/Another sign?
The rest of the new Tardis Sock yarn is on order. I've e-mailed the Knitter's Pride folks to see if there are any options to my buying another circular needle to replace the broken one. 

I'm going to pull in this neglected WIP as my 3rd Ravellenic Game project: The "Spacious Show & Tell Moebius Bag" I started in the Cat Bordhi Mobius Class I took last November. I put it aside for Christmas-knitting deadlines and it's been waiting patiently for me to return. 
Silver Lining
When I walked into Kiwi yesterday, literally the first thing I saw was this lovely skein of Manos del Uruguay. I was instantly smitten and it came home with me yesterday (a Cat Bordhi-esque fulled item is plotted for this yarn). 
I'm also thinking the residual Black & White Cascade Heritage 150 yarn might become a pair of Cat Bordhi Zebra Socks. Hmmmmm. 

Another sign?
I must confess...I am still being challenged by the Baby Surprise Jacket. No, with the goodies and clues I found on the Raverly BSJ Wiki page, I've got a pretty good grip on the pattern. But last night I had to rip back pretty much all the knitting I'd done on the jacket earlier in the day. I came up with too many stitches when I was putting the stitch markers back in after knitting the center section for 10 ridges. Near as I can tell - I over-increased. {sigh}
The colors are laying out well, though. 
It could be another sign. A pretty basic message, I think. 
Counting stitches whilst subjected to massive yarn fumes in LYS and surrounded by fascinating  knitterly chat is a lost cause

(Please note: Bonus spacing in this blog is a gift from Blogger and 
is not intended for dramatic effect.)