November 30, 2005

It's happened!

Packet was napping on the elegant window seat* first, and Mister showed up when I came in to play on the computer. He sat in my lap, but I kept typing, so he got up on the desk, but it's not warm. So he sat on the edge of the desk and stared at Packet for about five minutes. She didn't hiss and swat him away, but she didn't scoot over, either. After five minutes of staring, I saw him step gingerly onto the elegant window seat cover. Her eyes opened and she got a "What the--?" look on her face, but he just sat there like a meatloaf, staring straight ahead, silently tempting fate. Her eyes finally closed, and he fell asleep in the same position, and his nose fell over the side.

This is the first time I've seen the two of them so relaxed together and so close. I hope they eventually become good buddies. They're playing more and more, but when they play they end up with scratches. I want to see them chill like this, too.

* The elegant window seat is made of two Sterilite storage tubs stacked by the window sill, then covered with an elegant bath towel. Yes, that top tub has yarn in it. Just about everything does around here. Posted by Picasa

November 28, 2005


It's been over a week, so you get a new picture. I love blogger so much more than diaryland because it's easy to post pictures! Also, I have Picasa now, which I am starting to adore. Seemed kinda sketchy at first, with its claims of organizing all my pictures and such, but I can honestly say it's making life easier (as far as my photos go). Plus, free never hurts, and it has a link directly to Blogger.

As I've mentioned before, people are getting cat beds for Christmas. One of my aunts, however, is catless, so I'm making socks for her. Hooray for Simply Stripes from KnitPicks! I might also get around to finishing the Branching Out scarf (even though we're not Best Pals) and throwing that in for her, too.

You know, I love giving stuff to people as much as I love getting stuff from people, but this whole Christmas-as-a-deadline business is cramping my style. Every year, I have to spend a portion of what would otherwise be perfectly good gift money on renewing the tags on my cars. This year, I'll have to get a new driver's license, too. Merry Christmas, everyone, I'm still street-legal!

The very essence of generosity is the spirit of giving and unselfishness. I guess some people prefer to have that December 25 deadline for handing over the mandatory giftage, but I propose that the rest of us be allowed to exercise our giving muscles on our own schedules. Would that be so bad? I'm not trying to get out of anything here; I just want to give things to people all year long instead of hoarding presents (and forgetting where they're hoarded) (MOM) for months until it's time to give them. Sort of a "live for today" perspective, you know? And maybe it would make Christmas more about hanging with the family and less about wading through mountains of trash and yelling at your relatives over insanely noisy stocking stuffers that someone just had to get for all the cousins that are under 10 yrs old.

Oh wait, that was me. :)

I suspect my dream of revising the Christmas schedule stems from having a week-before-Christmas December birthday. My family's always been really good about making sure I don't feel left out or shuffled into Christmas, but there were definitely occasions where people at school or work just overlooked the birthday deal because it would be too much celebrating.

And there was that time we got together for Christmas with Dad's side of the family, and after the meal someone brought out a cake, and my heart soared until I read the words, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS!"

That's just...I mean, even at age 11 or 12 or whatever I was, and as petulant as I was...well, how do you compete with Jesus? I still feel guilty for those five seconds of bitterness. I mean, when they brought out the cake, I was so sure it was for me, like I was so special that I got an extra recognition. At that time, other people's birthdays were celebrated separate from standard holidays (although my dad and his two sisters have July birthdays, so they all got lumped together - but they were lumped specifically into a birthday gathering). Then I saw what was written on the cake and was immediately humbled. "Oh yeah, Him," I thought, "the guy that's not even here to blow out his candles."

To be fair, the holidays were crazy until my aunts and grandma moved out West. Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were spent getting up early, going to Mass, driving out to see one Grandma for a few hours, then driving back to within a block of where we live to hang with the other Grandma for the rest of the night. Between staving off food comas to induce more food comas, and fighting with me because I never wanted to get dressed up or stand up straight or brush my hair on holidays (FYI, Mom, I don't even own people brushes now), it's a wonder my parents didn't just leave us in a kennel or something.

Speaking of Ma, she brought over some turkey-day fixins on Friday. In a blatantly American move, she ignored the fact that we went to a restaurant for Thanksgiving meal and cooked a whole nother turkey for the specific purpose of having leftovers. A brilliant plan, but I can't help thinking that I should have donated some of it to the Free Store.

Anyway, while she was here, she got to see Mister's trick. Whenever I throw a ball for him (he likes to play fetch), I build up the suspense (and get his attention) by counting to three first. Since I do this every time, he has started to use his tiny voice to tell me when he wants to play by beeping three times. If I hold up a ball, he'll say, "Meh? Meh? Meh?"

At first, Mom thought it was the ball that was squeaking, but it's Mister! When he wants to play fetch, he'll beep three times. My sister's seen it too.

Mister's cuteness will pwn you. Posted by Picasa

November 19, 2005


In an effort to make it look like I did something other than roll out of bed, update my blog, and fix the mittens, I changed my shirt. Just for you guys.

Good news: the mittens are fixed! You get pictures! RAWK ON!

I found that it's really hard to show off gloves/mittens without making jazz hands poses.

See what I mean?

The frame of the window made a dark dark shadow down the left side of the photo, so I lightened everything by 100%. I'm happy the gloves turned out nice and sharp. :) Yay, camera.

And the volunteer fire department is driving around the block inviting us to the turkey raffle (shuffle) over the bullhorn. I thought the loud cellphone guy across the street finally got a speakerphone. Heh.

Guess I'll go yump in the shower (finally) and get ready to win some damn turkeys. Yay!

The Recipe

12/2/05: I'm editing this to include the recipe, since this post already has pictures of the Gnomittens. Like I've said before, I mixed a few patterns together. Mainly, the Cigar and Broad Street mittens from Knitty, but I also got the idea for a lifeline from the Hooray for Me Gloves. Whether I took anything from it, I'm not sure. Also note that this recipe produces mittens that fit my sorta-small hands. The Cigar pattern can provide you with options for making larger gloves; I'm using thinner yarn and size 4 needles instead of worsted weight and size 5 needles. I'm more or less following the instructions for size large, so if you choose a worsted weight yarn and/or go up a needle size, your gloves will turn out larger than mine.

And um, maybe this isn't something that everyone else in the world needs to hear, but the gloves are made exactly the same and can be worn on either hand until you attach the mitten shell. That's kind of something that I needed to hear before attaching the second mitten shell.

Finally, there's a lot of binding off and picking up and casting on when you get to the fingers. I wrote pretty much what the patterns above said, but I actually used the pickup methods that I use for socks; that is, to eliminate holes between the fingers, I picked up more stitches than recommended and just K2tog in the next round to end up with the right number of stitches. Don't worry if there are holes between your fingers, though - when you're rejoining the yarn for each finger, leave a 4-5" tail. Then when you go back to weave in the ends, you can sew the holes shut.

I used Wool-Ease Sportweight. I can't say how much was used, but I'd already made a pair of socks out of this skein, and after making the Gnomittens, there's still plenty of yarn to make 2 more pairs of socks. If you're using some other sportweight yarn, get enough for a pair of socks (220 yards?) and it'll be plenty.

Size 4 needles (I used the Magic Loop method throughout, but DPNs will also work fine)

Waste yarn (for holding stitches)

Tapestry needle

Gloves (make two):
Using Twisted German Cast On, CO 44 sts (partly because it sounds crazy, partly because it's very stretchy)
Join carefully, then knit rounds 1-20 in K2 P2 rib (just over 3", but you can make it longer)

Thumb (part 1) and Pinky (part 1)
Next round: K all sts
Next round (increase round): K1, M1, K to end of round, M1
These are rounds 21 & 22. Repeat them 4 more times. 52 stitches.
K 3 rounds, then work an increase round.
These four rounds are 31-34. Repeat them 2 more times. 58 stitches.
Next round: K to last 7 sts, place next 15 sts on waste yarn for thumb
Next round: CO 1 st, rejoin round, K all sts (44 sts)
K 6 rounds straight (but do a check here and either try the glove on or hold it up to your hand - if it doesn't reach the bottom of your pinky finger, it won't mess anything up to knit a couple more rounds)
This is where I put my lifeline.
Next round: K17, place next 10 sts on waste yarn for the pinky, CO 2 sts, rejoin round and K remaining 17 sts. 36 sts.
K 3 rounds.

K6, place next 24 sts on waste yarn for index finger, CO 2, rejoin, K to end. 14 sts.
K 5 rounds or to bottom of middle knuckle.
BO loosely. For a little elasticity, I bind off in K1, P1 rib.

Pick up and K 2 stitches from cast on sts from index finger (or near there).
K 5 sts on one side of hand next to index finger, CO 2, K 6 sts on other side of hand next to index finger, join to work in the round. 15 sts.
K 5-6 rounds to bottom of middle knuckle.
BO loosely in 1x1 rib again.

Pick up and K 2 sts in CO sts from middle finger (or thereabouts)
K remaining 11 sts from waste yarn next to middle finger (13 sts)
Join round and K to the end of the fingertip (my nails are never very long, so I knit until I just covered the end of my finger - it was 18 rounds for me)
Next round: K2tog 6 times, K1
Next round: K2tog 3 times, K1
Break yarn, draw thru remaining stitches, and pull tight.

Pick up and K 2 sts in CO next to held sts for pinky
K 10 held sts. (12 sts)
Join and K to end of fingertip (15 rounds for me)
Next round: K2tog 6 times
Next round: K2tog 3 times
Break yarn, draw through remaining sts, pull tight.

Pick up and K 1 st in CO next to thumb gusset, K 15 held sts
K 12 rounds, or enough to reach tip of thumb.
BO loosely in 1x1 rib.

Sit back and admire your handiwork. :)

Now, make another glove.

Mitten shell
OK, I have to admit that I used #3 needles here, but #4 would work fine. I meant to use #4s.

CO 28 sts using Twisted German Cast On (or your fav cast on, since these don't HAVE to be stretchy)
Rows 1-9: K2, P2 ribbing (back and forth, not in the round)

Pick up 28 stitches across the knuckles of the glove. For left glove, make sure the thumb is on the right side. :) Important note: For the purposes of writing out the decrease rounds, I'll refer to the sts you picked up as the pickup sts and the sts that started out as K2 P2 rib as the mitten sts. By the time you get to the decreases, it will be obvious that the picked up sts are just as much a part of the mitten shell as the ones that you started with, but I'm referring to the side you're working on.

-If you're using 4 DPNs, divide your sts so that there are 7 on each needle. The needle with the picked up stitches which is closest to the thumb on the left glove and closest to the pinky on the right glove is needle 1.
-If you're using 3 DPNs, put all the pickup sts on one needle (needle 1) and put the mitten sts on needles 2 and 3.
-If you're using magic loop, pick up the stitches from pinky to thumb so that both needles are pointing toward the thumb on the left glove. On the right glove, pick up the sts from thumb to pinky and have both needles pointing toward the pinky.

Join the pickup stitches with the ribbing and knit 20 rounds in st st.
Begin decrease rounds (done just like socks):
1. Needle(s) with pickup sts: K1, ssk, K across pickup sts to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1
Needle(s) with mitten sts: K1, ssk, K across mitten sts to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1
2. K 1 round even
Repeat these two rows until 12 sts remain on each needle.

Using Kitchener stitch, graft remaining sts together with your tapestry needle.

Weave in all your ends and close any gaps with your yarn tails and your tapestry needle.

Gnomad has mentioned that a button to fasten back the mitten flap would be nice. The Broad Street Mitten pattern has instructions for doing this, but she used a different decrease (more hatlike than socklike).

Shame and embarrassment!

So I take this quiz, and find out I'm a knitting guru. Observe:

Knitting Guru
You appear to be a Knitting Guru. You love knitting
and do it all the time. While finishing a piece
is the plan, you still love the process, and
can't imagine a day going by without giving
some time to your yarn. Packing for vacation
involves leaving ample space for the stash and
supplies. It can be hard to tell where the yarn
ends and you begin.

What Kind of Knitter Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I was pretty proud of myself for being dubbed a "guru" until I noticed that the majority of the people who took this quiz are gurus. We can't all be gurus.

That said, I guess I'll be the first to take off my yarn crown, because guess what I did? Lookit the cool smoker's mittens* I made for gnomad!

I was so excited when I got them done! Excited for about 20 seconds, at which point I realized I'd attached the mitten shell to the same side of each glove. In these pictures I was trying to do a show-off happy dance, but the joy was diluted by the fact that I'm wearing two left mittens (and by the fact that I'm not quite awake). Yeah, look more closely - the mitten shell is on the same side of each one. Just don't stare at my bingo flaps. Thanks.

By the way, those are my sheepy pajamas. Sorry, gentle readers, but I just rolled out of bed and started writing (well, kind of - you can see I spent some time picking apart the seam of the offending mitten first). Maybe sometime in the future you'll be worth showering and getting dressed for, but not today. Don't take it personally.

The good news is that it's very easy to unravel knitting once the graft is picked apart, and it's not hard at all to attach a shell to the right side of the glove. Very quick work, and I should be done fixing this by the end of the day. And the end of the day will be spent at the Umpteenth Annual Greenhills Volunteer Fire Department Turkey Raffle! WOO! Last night I was telling Darren about it, and kept calling it a Turkey Shuffle.

* I assembled these gloves myself, using two or three different patterns. The idea is that smokers only use the index & middle fingers to smoke, with only the tip of the thumb to flick ashes. That's why I knit up to the tip of the thumb, but didn't close it. I wrestled for all of a nanosecond with the thought of knitting specialized mittens for smokers, since smoking is indeed bad, but decided that my enabling gnomad's smoking addiction cancelled out his enabling my knitting addiction, so it's all good.

November 13, 2005

What I've been up to

Right, were promised. I'm working on the Kitty Pi beds, but I'm not taking pictures of the socks because the two-step socks are finished, but I've worn them without actually finishing them, so they look a little stretched out and stringy. They feel good, though. :)

After finishing the two-step socks, I cast on for some nice snapdragon socks, thinking it's about time to try two socks on the same needle. Well, that seemed too fiddly, so I switched to two socks at the same time on two circulars. People really swear by these techniques, but they must have a secret, or maybe they have no "helpful" cats to mix up the yarn balls for them, because the project was again rife with fiddliness, so I moved each sock to its own needle. This, I can do. Until, of course, I knit 30 or so rows into one of the socks and realize that the needles are two different sizes.

The snapdragon socks will be frogged and restarted on their own needles when I get finished kitty pi'ing.

That said, lookit my kitty pis!

First up, the peas'n'carrots version. When I bought the wool for these, I didn't have 9 (or however many beds I'm making) "patterns" in mind. I just figured that I have a few balls of white already, so I should get oodles of colors and just knit them up, 2 or 3 different colors to a bed. This isn't something I've done before, making stripes and throwing colors together all willy-nilly. This behavior is new and reckless for me. And besides, these aren't hats or sweaters (even though they're giving me ideas). I doubt the cats will complain about the color schemes. Anyway, kitty pi #1, Peas'n'carrots:

The KnitPicks yarn I'm using (Wool of the Andes) felts way better than my Actual Sheep Yarn from the first bed I made. It shrank up a lot. The form I'm using is actually a length of 8" cardboard concrete tube, bought for the bunny since bunnies are supposed to like tunnels and burrowing and such. The bunny ignores it for the most part, but will hop throught the 12" diameter one. I covered this with a plastic bag (since it's cardboard, no matter how thick) and two bath towels before stretching the bed over it to dry. Mister is very "helpful".

The second bed doesn't have a name. The stripes seem kind of "New England Autumn", but I decided that's rather pretentious, so I'm just calling it Kitty Pi II. I took two pictures of it, and the coolest thing happened - the second picture seems to have a ghost face in it. Look:

First bed picture showing all the stripes and such. Notice the pop-up section in the middle, which I really hope goes away when I felt it, because otherwise it'll look more like the World's Stupidest Sombrero instead of a cat bed.

Second picture of the Kitty Pi II, but if you look carefully on the right side of the frame, you can make out a face. Do you see it?

And finally, the picture of the prettiest dang stitch markers I've ever seen, sent to me by Stick To Your Knitting for...for what, I'm not sure. The needles they sent me were bent, but I was able to bend them back, so I technically ended up with perfect needles and a set of kickass stitch markers. How did they know that shiny and sparkly are my favorite colors?

It's not me.

A yarn catalog showed up in the mail today, which I happily opened and began flipping through. On page 8, I encountered this picture:

Well, you can imagine my surprise when I saw myself modeling a Cliff Huxtable sweater! Right before I wrote this entry, I tried to get Darren to take a picture of me making that face, just to show you how much this girl looks like me, but the lighting's different and I'm awfully warm so my face is shiny. The best we could get is a fuzzy picture:

Obviously, the girl in the first picture is on Day One of her curly hair. Mine is on Day Two. She also got better lighting and makeup (I only have mascara on). Still, don't tell me you can't see a resemblance.

Knitting pictures soon. I have to go to bed now (can't you tell from the picture?).

November 11, 2005

Here's a clever entry title for you.

I have a doctor's appointment in a couple of hours, and I should be getting ready, but I'm so chilly that the prospect of taking off any clothes seems daunting. So I'm checking email instead.

Checking email and looking at my horoscope. Before I show you the horoscope, I have to tell you that I have asthma (which is sexy), and for some reason, last night was bad. I got a new inhaler last week, but I seem to have misplaced it between late late last night and the part at 5am when I woke up coughing and wheezing (again, totally sexy). I ended up having to use the dregs of my old inhaler, which is probably just propellant at this point, but it's like Dumbo's feather - if I believe enough, it will work.

I turned on the TV to drown out the wheezing noises and fell back asleep to the sounds of that stupid Magic Bullet infomercial. When I got out of bed [later] this morning, and up until now, I still have no idea what happened to the new inhaler.

Which brings me to five minutes before I started this post, when I was reading my horoscope:

Quickie: Been losing or misplacing things lately? An absent mind is the burden of genius.

Nice. Seriously. And so suffer the lungs of geniuses.

November 7, 2005

Guess you've had enough of the skeleton

Went to the dentist on Friday. My teeth are still awesome. Go, me! Later on, Dad took me to the Roger Bacon playoff game at Indian Hill (rich part of town). Bacon scored a touchdown, like, 5 seconds into the game. Trust me, I have no love for football, but this was pretty exciting. We left at the end of the third quarter while Bacon was ahead 36-21 or something impressive like that. Still, since I am bad luck for football teams, Bacon lost. Somehow, in the fourth quarter, Indian Hill managed to score a gajillion touchdowns and win. Figures.

Anyhow, I was knitting at the game, and got compliments on the sock. I'll post pictures sometime this week of the stuff I'm working on. I don't have a camera near me right now.

Packet update: I live for the times when Packet comes up on the bed and sleeps at night. She's been doing that a couple of times a week, even if Mister is up there. Yay.

Mister update: He still likes to wake me up by lying across my throat and purring loudly. He's also fascinated with water. The bunny's water, the fountain water, the water in the self-waterer, the other water dish near my bedroom door (several hydrating options for the cats because I worry about Packet not drinking enough), the water in the toilet. He particularly enjoys swirling the water around up to his elbows, then jumping on my lap.

Syd update: He seems to be enjoying my company just a tiny bit more. And using the litterbox downstairs a little more. Thank heavens.

When I post pictures of the stuff I'm working on, remind me to include the picture of the stitch markers I got from STYK. They're sparkly and shiny. Awesome.

It's time for bed now. I didn't really have much news, but the crappy skeleton picture was getting old.

November 1, 2005

Happy halloween!

This is Leonard, the skeleton, surrounded by his ghost buddies in my parents' yard.