Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How To Wake Your Human

by Biscuit (I bet you didn't know there were online cat-to-English translaters.)

My human is busy muttering about Christmas and messing around with string and pointy things (and won't let me play with them), so I thought I'd share with the feline readership some tips I have found to be very effective in getting humans out of bed so they can feed and entertain us.

Step 1.  Wander into the room with them and meow.   Do not be discouraged if they do not move.  This is just the first step.

Step 2.  Jump onto the bed and examine them closely.  Like this.  Purring as loudly as possible is encouraged.

Step 3.  At this point, the human may say something like "mpnhfh" and try to bury their head in blankets.  Carefully dig the blankets away from their face, and inspect the face even more closely.

Step 4.  Pat the human with your paw.  Bare skin is best, such as the cheek or nose.   However I have had excellent results in summer with patting the human in the armpit.   Be ready to jump off the bed in case they awaken thrashing with surprise.  (Why they should continue to be surprised after the first time is just one of those unexplainable things about humans.)

Step 5.  Continue patting until your human either gets up and goes toward the cat food, or else pushes you off the bed.   If pushed off the bed, return to step one and start the process again.  An acceptable variation is to jump on the dresser and start pushing things off onto the floor.  Hard things that fall noisily are best.  Varying your technique helps keep it fresh and effective.

Step 6.  Once the human is up and moving, strike a cute pose to distract them from being upset about being awakened.

PS:  It's best to use these steps only once per night.   If overused, your human may shut you somewhere out of earshot (say, on a sun porch) for the rest of the night.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Did Anybody Get the Number of the Month that Hit Me?

There I was, posting my knitting pictures, thinking about projects, and having all these good intentions about getting back to my more or less weekly blog post, and then...

WHOOSH!!!!!

Yeah, that was November.   At first I couldn't figure out what happened, but then I looked at my calendars, work and home.   Work...well, work has had a certain element of crazy busy that has become the new normal.   But this month we had a bunch of visitors...a guaranteed recipe for generating a whole brand-new list of action items while sucking a bunch of time away from your normal tasks.  And then I went on one of my occasional business trips, which was supposed to be a low-key out and back, one day affair.  But as it turns out I was visiting Erie, Pennsylvania, right on the Great Lakes, and got to experience the first couple of days of the big Buffalo-burying snowpocalypse.  Kind of the sneak preview, really, it was supposed to be a couple of inches, which turned into a foot of snow, canceled flights, closed airports and ultimately over four hours in a snowy ditch waiting for a tow truck.  (I wasn't driving, though I doubt it would have made any difference- it was bad luck and lousy conditions more than anything else.)

You'd think that this would have been some prime knitting time, and while I did knit a little on the long-suffering Glasgow sock whilst in the ditch, it got too dark to see the stitches around 4:30, so I spent the rest of the time reading (on a tablet), interspersed with watching other people get towed out of the ditch (it was an exceedingly popular ditch, being adjacent to an extremely slick patch of ice on a busy highway, we had a lot of company there) and listening to my coworker receiving increasingly bizarre calls from the rental company's automated service centers.  (He received a call at midnight, two hours after we'd finally got back to our hotel, advising us that a tow truck would be reaching us in 90 minutes.  The last call was at half past one when an annoyingly perky computerized voice advised him that his service had been completed.)

I finally got home a day late, and basically wiped out, to find our long-planned weekend house party was in full swing.  Thankfully, my adorable spouse had a stew in the crockpot, the house in order, and was completely on top of things, so I just dropped my bags, poured a large glass of wine, and sat for a couple of hours until I was feeling a bit less flattened.

The house party was a three day, wall-to-wall, board gaming extravaganza- we had a terrific time.  And after everyone went home, my husband came down with a cold, and I spent most of the next week asleep when I wasn't working, trying to avoid joining him in his misery.  (I was mostly successful at this, somewhat to my surprise.)   But not a lot else got done.  What did happen, you ask?

Well, I received the shawl pin I found and the shawl and pin went to their recipient early.  (She was at the party and shivering...seemed silly to wait.)

I got a better picture of the Nutkin socks.   They look awfully purple in this photo, and they're actually more dark reddish plum, but at least you can see the pattern a bit.

I knit a hat for a friend.   I'd measured his head so I knew what size to make, but despite having just made a similar hat it started coming out too big.  Biscuit helped me measure.

Sadly, we both agreed that it would have to be frogged.  (Doesn't he look sad about it?)

Take two went better and I was able to finish it before the party.

The party was of course of great interest and some trepidation to the feline members of the household.  Biscuit continues to find guests less alarming than he used to- and in fact went so far as to stretch up and pat our friend Sean on the hip.  Twice.  Sean was only slightly more surprised than we were- that's ordinarily a treatment reserved for household members.   Cookie was his usual sociable self , and Jake found the whole thing rather busy.  However it wasn't until near the end of the weekend, that he was completely weirded out, when he got inadvertantly folded into a sofa bed.  Jake being a very laid back kind of cat, apparently thought it was a quiet and comfy place to sack out for a nap, so it was several hours before he finally started trying to get out.  He's not a talker though, so instead of complaining loudly to management, he tried to get out on his own, and managed to work his way under the upholstery on the back of the couch.  Fortunately I was sitting on the couch at the time and heard him scrabbling.  I looked over the back of the couch expecting to see a cat trapped behind it and instead saw a bulge in the upholstery.

It was at this point when several guests pitched in to lift up the couch, and when no cat was forthcoming, put it back down again and we unfolded the sofa bed.  And Jake dashed out, wild-eyed, and disappeared into the basement to hide until after all the guests had left.  (I'm guessing he blamed the unusual number of people for the whole sofa thing.)  He did emerge once everyone was gone.

As we neared the end of the month, Thanksgiving popped up on the calendar, as it is wont to do. This year it arrived with eight inches of heavy wet snow.  I was somewhat dismayed to realize that after Pennsylvania, I had really had enough of snow already- and winter hasn't even started yet.  Once I got past the shoveling, though, I had to admit it was pretty.
A road in western MA, Thanksgiving Day
I did eventually finish the first Glasgow sock, and start the second. But mostly it's been so busy that when I have had a moment, I just cast on a pair of mittens.  They're small, fast, and I've made so many that I can largely do them from memory, so it's the perfect project for what little brain I've had remaining the last few weeks.

And now it's December.  It was 17 degrees F this morning (-8 C for my Canadian friends), and I'm wearing my hat and mittens and cowl.  There are Christmas lights up all around the neighborhood, and I'd be worried about how fast the time was passing except for one thing.  In two more weeks, the days start getting longer.  I can't wait.   But that's okay.  The way the last few weeks have gone, I'll probably come up for air and find out it's 2015.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Knitting Backlog

Anybody out there remember taking pictures on film?  And getting them back from the developer weeks later?  And then throwing them into a box promising you'd put them in albums Real Soon Now?  And opening said box to do it and realizing you haven't been putting this off for 2 or 3 years, or even 4 or 5 years, but more like 18?    Yeah.  Me too.

So, even though it took me the better part of 4 months to get all my vacation pics posted, really, I've improved.  And I love having done it- going back and reading over my old trips and seeing the pictures again brings back all the fun we had.   But the actual doing of it is still subject to some procrastination.  And what do I do when I'm procrastinating?

Read, yep.  Play games, check.  Clean the house...um, well, sometimes.  But mostly I knit.   So there's a whole pile of finished knitting to show off (and really the desire to show it off helps push me to get the other blog stuff done, so it's all good.

I finished (and finally blocked) the Nutkin socks I left behind when I went to Scotland (the ones I started in Scotland haven't moved much- I'm a little socked-out, plus, the yarn is too dark to easily work with in many of my frequent knitting locations.
(Note to self, get a better picture of those.  The new camera and I are still getting to know each other.)

There's the Noro silk garden shawl.  I did some shopping last weekend looking for a shawl pin for it and finally went to Etsy, but it hasn't arrived yet.  This is destined to be a Christmas present (for someone who doesn't read my blog, obviously).


I even got to use my new blocking pads and wires.  Though I'm definitely going to need a second set of the interlocking blocks- one set barely handles a medium shawl.  And the big slab of styrofoam suffered a cat-astrophic failure and had to be thrown out.

There's the long pastel vest, which I've actually knit the full length of, but it's been waiting for me to make a decision on the edging.  (It looks the same as the last time you saw it, only longer.)  I've made and discarded a zillion plans but I've got to try something.  So, I have picked a pattern.  And will start working on it again Real Soon Now.

There are hats- I wanted to use up the bulky yarn left from the last sweater I made my husband, as it would go quickly and free up some space.   So, the plain hat.

The slouchy hat.

The Thorpe hat.

The Unoriginalish Hat (since the yarn was bulky and not super-bulky I added a pattern repeat and added another half-repetition of the chart by starting halfway through and knitting the half-plus two more chart repeats to get the right length before doing the decreases).

And I'm finally out of that yarn.

Next, I had this giant skein of angora-like novelty yarn.  I tried a couple of things, but nothing seemed to suit it until one of my knitting group suggested big, big needles.  No, even bigger needles.  So- this may be the first plain garter stitch scarf I've ever made.  I actually wound up kind of liking it, though it's not really my style, so it's going into the gift bin.

Then my husband and I settled in to watch the new Ken Burns miniseries on the Roosevelts- fabulous! Great stuff.  I needed simple knitting for that, so I made some mittens.

And some more mittens.

And even more mittens.

And finally a colorwork hat, because I've got a ton of sport weight yarn that needs using, and hey, colorwork.  Totally addictive.  I get withdrawal symptoms if don't do it for too long.

And that brings you pretty much up to date on my life.  Busy, eh?   Biscuit is just exhausted with all the supervising he's had to do.