Friday, January 31, 2014

The Fat Cat Sat on The Mat

No lie.


This new love of my cat's life is the  doormat we purchased to replace the filthy and disintegrating mat that I pitched when we cleaned out the mudroom.  Unlike its vastly inferior predecessor, this mat is apparently a glorious place for a cat to recline.  I found Tim rolling all over it not long after I installed it.  He rolled this way and stretched that way.  He's so happy he's even letting his udder hang out, though the rest of us are wondering if we should buy him a pair of pants to cover his bald spots.

The chickens, on the other hand, are too cold to have any attitude. Usually, we have one or two days per winter that are so cold that I don't let the birds out.  This year, though, they've spent close to two weeks confined to their quarters.

See?  Doors closed, chickens inside.

The older chickens waited out their imprisonment with reasonable stoicism (stiff upper beak, and all that), although they seem to have acquired a pet mouse, who might even be the same mouse we recently evicted from the mini-coop when we cleaned it out for the new birds. All the same, they get a little wiggy if they are confined for too long, so --regardless of the snow, which they usually don't like to get on their feet-- they plowed their way outside when it was finally warm enough (i.e., 15 or over) to let them out again.

The new chickens are another story.  When we moved them from their early home in the garage, we tried to learn from our last experience moving chickens to a coop.  That time, we opened the ramp immediately and the chickens eventually discovered the great outdoors and tried to convince us that they had no further use for indoor living.  We put a stop to their camping expedition after one of the chickens disappeared (pretty much immediately, poor thing) and this year we followed a recommendation to confine the birds to their new quarters for a few days so they would understand it was home.


It turns out that these chickens are even stupider than the last bunch.  We confined them for a few days and then held the grand opening.  They looked outside and then went back in.  We tempted them with some grain sprinkled on the ramp.  Two of them made their way out, fell off the ramp, and were totally unable to figure out where they were, where they came from, how they could get back, or whether they should even try.  I had to squeeze my way across the snow and into the little run and put them back in the coop by hand.

Since that time, they have steadfastly ignored the world outside.  Even on the nicest days, they pretend it is not there.  We have tried luring them out again, but all we get is a prolonged attempt to eat the grain off the ramp without actually stepping out the coop . . .


followed by a show of tail feathers as they return to the real world.

They are entirely citified and I think my only hope is to let the old chickens into the little run in case they can teach these bimbos a thing or two.

There has also been some knitting and some blocking, if you will pardon the lackluster photography.

First up:  an Oscilloscope Shawl.  I loved this when I first saw it published in Interweave Knits, but I tried to knit it with fingering weight yarn and, after getting mixed results anyway following the charts (my fault), I realized I wasn't going to have enough yarn to make more than a glorified handkerchief and set it aside.  This time, the project flew by with no problems and now it just needs a little blocking before I can enjoy all that graphic straight line-iness.

Next, I finally blocked my Bridgewater.

And, I finished and blocked Triinu, which is very soft and alpaca-y.

And last, the reject-o-hat.  The yarn was not springy and I should have sized the needles up, because this is the smallest hat ever.  No one can get it to stay on his or her head.  You put it on, pull it down to try and make it cover your ears, and seconds later, you feel it working its way upwards as it contracts to its original shape.  Ah well. Some day I will meet a very small person in need of a blue hat.

And now, if you will excuse me, I must go.  I was supposed to spend this morning working, but I didn't.  And that's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

In Which . . .

. . . well, nothing really.

There just isn't that much worth talking about that is going on here. Thanksgiving was late, Chanukah was impossibly early, and  the relevant birthdays showed up exactly when the calendar said they would but managed to surprise me anyway.  I caught a whopper of a cold, which was an insult to my belief that good sleep, eating, and exercise habits will keep illness at bay. The cold lasted two weeks and led to the consumption of several boxes of tissues and tea and the declaration of a mandatory jammy day in which no one was permitted to get dressed and everyone was required to lounge around  watching movies all day.  It (the jammy day) was most efficacious, which sounds like a dirty swear word but isn't.

I also bought some metal lunch boxes.  During one of my more recent tidy-up-the-yarn/fiber-stuff rampages, I decided that it was vital that I find entertaining, practical, and portable storage for  some of my pointier projects--the kind that would do no end of damage to my fabric project bags.

First I swiped  Matty's Yoda lunchbox.   He used to use it to carry his Playmobil knights, but he was surprisingly willing to give it up and I suspect he objected to the genre-confusion inherent in transporting knights and horses in a space-themed container.  I, on the other hand, thought it would be perfect for my Zoom Loom, which was advertised as coming in a handy carrying case that turned out to be nothing more than a paperboard box with a handle. As if.

Doesn't that look perfect? I'm a little freaked out by the ghostly imprint of Yoda on the inside cover, though; I feel like he'll lop off my hand with his light saber if I get too close to the loom.

Belligerent Jedi notwithstanding, I was so pleased with my lunch-box-as-craft-storage discovery that I decided to add to the collection.  The hardest part was choosing exactly the right theme: whimsical? nerdy? retro-cool?  Evidently not much has changed since elementary school when your choice in lunch boxes could make or break your social standing.

The first choice was easy: who wouldn't want a sock monkey lunch box?  And how much cooler would it be if I actually stored a sock project in it? Nerdvana, right?  I wish I could claim that I was really that clever, but because I am pathetically slow in the uptake, I didn't even recognize the full potential of a sock monkey lunch box until after I had stuffed my sock project inside.  Poor me.  Then again, maybe I am super-clever, just on a sub-sub-sub-sub-sub conscious level.  That must be it, right?

Purchased lunch box #2 was a much tougher choice.  It was easy to rule out Power Puff Girls and Hello Kitty, but the final choice--Scooby Doo vs. Doctor Who--was agonizing.  Much as I love Scooby Doo and the Gang, in the end the Doctor Who box was bigger (inside and out) and blue-er enough to overcome the yucky fan-girl feeling that comes from actually purchasing it.

And so I stored my fairly recently acquired Hipstrings spindle in it, and because the blue box is so big, I could fit the wool and (you can barely see it peeking out from under all that wool) my Emile Henry spindle bowl in too.

Isn't it amazing how the blue of the spindle matches the blue of the lunch box?  There's a reason, although--true to form-- I failed to realize it until  after I had stuffed all of these goodies in: this is a Time Traveller spindle.  Get it?? A Time Traveller spindle in a Doctor Who lunch box!!! And now we have convincing proof that I am a geek and a fangirl and either I am a sub-sub-sub conscious container-to-project-theme matching genius or the Force was with me when I was hunting around Amazon.  I am not a little embarrassed by all of this, and you can read that any way you think is appropriate.

As if my lunch box adventures were not enough, I also went on a little bag making binge.  I found outstanding tutorials for making drawstring bags and those insanely cute little zipped boxes (although I forgot to take a picture of the one I made).

I'm not quite done yet; below are the next four fabric combinations.  I bought them (along with the coordinating zippers) for making the fabric boxes, but I suppose one of them might find itself becoming another drawstring bag instead.

And finally (of course), there was a little knitting that got done during all this nothing time.

First up is the finished (but not blocked) Triinu shawl that I started last year.  It doesn't look too promising right now, but I promise I will block it soon and then (hopefully) it will be magnificent.

And done, which was really the only thing I cared about in the last half of the project.

Another major project to cross off the list:  the ugly duckling afghan. As suspected, it is very brown. It is also 4 inches wider at the beginning than at the end, which has something to do with the 2 year duration of this beastie, a circular needle shortage, and somebody's failure to note even the most rudimentary details in her  project notes.

Again, however, it is done and, as you can plainly see, cat approved.

It is currently doing its appointed duty in the family room and it showed up not a moment too soon when you consider the old school nature of the winter we've been having.  And I like to think of its trapezoidal shape as a brilliant design innovation, similar to the mummy sleeping bag shape.  After all, aren't most of us wider at the top than the bottom? How clever of me to tailor my blanket to that.