Friday, April 29, 2011

Mighty Hunters

Since the weather has suddenly turned warm enough to open doors and windows, the cats have a compelling new hobby, watching the 'out', now with interesting smells and outdoor breezes.
Watching pals

This morning they're teaming up, though they quite often choose vantage points on opposite sides of the house, to cover all approaches.

As you may remember, Cookie proved his prowess not long after coming to live with us by stalking and killing a mouse who foolishly did not take the advent of a cat as an eviction notice. (It's so gratifying...I haven't heard so much a single scamper in the walls in months.)

Biscuit, on the other hand, is happy enough to watch wildlife but has had little opportunity inside the house, though he did find a lady-beetle last week that was good for half-an-hour of entertainment before he finally ate it. With every evidence of enjoyment.

So yesterday morning when I heard a buzz, and saw Biscuit go racing to the window, I thought, "Oh, good, a fly." I figured it would be a little fast for him, but I could go after it with a flyswatter when he got tired of it. But in minutes, he had it slowed down to toy speed, and was chasing it across the floor- which is when I got a good look at it, and realized what he had was a quite large wasp! I dropped my knitting and leapt up from the couch, seizing a magazine and beat it until it stopped moving. (I don't like wasps. I'm not phobic, but I've been stung several times over the years and it is never a good time. A good wasp is a dead wasp.)

Biscuit wasn't stung, so I can only assume that his impressive volume of fluff protected him. He was a little disappointed that I put an end to his fun, but being a cat of little brain, he got over it fast, and enjoyed the praise and pettings he got in compensation. His victory roll:
Biscuit rolls

It proved so comfy he just hung out there for a while, or at least until Cookie came along and sniffed his belly, and he wisely decided curl up before he got pounced on.
Biscuit, sunny side up

Honestly- mice are pesky but fairly rare...bugs, on the other hand, get in all the time. I'm pretty pleased to have a Fearsome Bug-Slayer in the house!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Things That Have Entertained Me in the Last Week or So

1. A red colorwork hat, as usual, made up as I went along.
red colorwork hat

2. Mittens- these completely used up the gray and the red. I'm starting to feel like my stash is stabilizing rather than burgeoning out of control.

3. Two red hats:
two red hats
I like them so much that I'm keeping one- finally, I'll have a hat that doesn't clash violently with my red winter coat!

4. My car no longer has a giant hole rusted through the exhaust, and therefore passed inspection (the second time).

5. The new cat (the lamp-shaped one). This was a gift from my sister Kate. The real cats thought it was very interesting.
white lamp shaped like cat with white cat

6. Outstanding chocolate cake, warmed for 15 seconds in the microwave, just until the frosting starts to melt, and accompanied by a tall glass of cold milk. (Thanks, Mom!)

7. Daffodils! Blooming in my front yard! Spring doesn't actually feel like it's put in an appearance yet, but at least it's sending advance scouts.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Where Was I?

Oh, yes, knitting Thorpe hats. The last couple of weeks have been exceedingly busy on the employment front (in a good way, I hasten to add, but it has kept me hopping). And in the evenings I have come home to sink into the couch with a cat and a pile of yarn, and very little inclination to stare into a computer, hence the lack of blogging.

However, there are crafting highlights- when I left you, I thought I felt another Thorpe hat coming on, and so I did:
Thorpe hat the fourth

The crucial breakthrough was remembering that I could substitute doubled worsted weight for bulky yarn. Also that pairing a strand of white and another color gives one that attractive tweedy effect.

After that, my non-work involved brain cells dwindled to the point where a garter stitch scarf seemed like a good idea::
short-row scarf

I'd been wanting to try a short-row scarf for a while, and it seemed like a fun way to jazz up some of my odd partial skeins of bulky weight. Wait, you're thinking. Wasn't I just saying I didn't have enough bulky weight? Well. This is a bulky weight bouclé, and while it's very soft and appealing, the nubbly texture tends to swallow up shaping or even stripes. So I've been doing mostly either plain hats or berets, or scarves with it. I quite like the slanted effect- I may well do another one.

And last but not least, I've returned to colorwork. I was having withdrawal symptoms. You'll understand, I'm sure. Just a little hat to take the edge off. (The fact that I cast on another colorwork hat straight after it shows that it might not have taken the edge off enough.)
pink colorwork hat

And lest you think that I haven't moved from the couch...we have been trying to get our feet in shape for the summer walking season. Two weeks ago we went nine miles (and got rather wet, due to a sudden shower), last week was a more modest six miles for lack of time, and today we went thirteen miles on the local bike path. It's a lovely path, leading out through woods and fields. There are some gorgeous wetlands, and for quite a distance it follows the Nashua River.
Nashua River from the rail trail

Despite the warmer weather, you have to look quite closely for signs of spring. Most of the trees are still bare, and the woods are still lying quiescent. But there are small signs appearing; an occasional bush with a hint of green, reeds and water plants in the low-lying areas. And at home there are flowering bushes starting to bud, my forsythia has just barely started to bloom and the rhubarb is uncrumpling its first leaves. Spring. Coming to a neighborhood near me. Real Soon Now.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'm So Proud

The other day my husband came home and said, "I saw a woman sitting and knitting socks at the train station today. In self-patterning yarn."

"Cool," I said, nodding.

"I've been around knitting long enough, I guess."

"Hmm?" I said encouragingly, counting stitches.

"Well, I not only recognized what she was doing," he explained, sounding rather surprised at himself. "But I also recognized the sort of yarn she had."

"Were they toe-up or cuff-down?" I asked.

He thought for a moment, then answered confidently. "Toe-up."

He's going to learn to knit in spite of himself, I swear.

Biscuit and Cookie have continued as happy playmates. The other day, they both cuddled up side by side. On my favorite polar fleece jacket. No wonder it looks more like a cat fur jacket most of the time. (Before you ask, I didn't throw it on the floor- it was over the back of a chair when I set it down. How it got on the floor, I couldn't say. But I don't think it was an accident.)
Cookie and Biscuit share my jacket

Which is not to say that all is sunshine and kittens. Biscuit has continued to wander the house meowing in the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes he's looking for Cookie (in which case the meowing is followed by a thunder of paws racing around the house, interspersed with mysterious thumps, sounds of things being knocked over, and the occasional yell when someone nips too hard). And sometimes Biscuit just seems to want people to Do Something Interesting. He hasn't quite figured out yet that what he tends to get under these circumstances is a human who scoops him up and banishes him to the sun porch, where he can talk indefinitely without waking us up. But then we've concluded that figuring things out is definitely not Biscuit's strong suit. For example, here he has failed to figure out that there is a mouse on his head.
Biscuit with a toy mouse on his head
What? Why is everyone looking at me?

And in knitting news, I took a break from knitting mittens only to be caught by a hat pattern. It's the Thorpe hat. It's a fast knit and very charming. I cast on one Friday, finished it Saturday, cast on another Saturday, finished that point I wanted to knit one in a different color, but I've got almost no suitable bulky weight besides the red at the moment. So I converted the pattern for worsted weight, of which I have a plenitude, and improvised some colorwork. Thanks to the vicissitudes of employment, I didn't finish the third one until today.

Here they are, in all their FO-ness:
three Thorpe hats

Such delightfully cozy earflaps and cute little braided ties...I may have another one coming on.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools

Alas, it is not that I play a joke on you, dear readers, but that Mother Nature has played a joke on me. Happy Spring, everyone:
New England Spring Snow

Yes, that is my backyard this morning.

And while I'm posting (and since I'm feeling alliterative), I will also show you my myriad mittens:

Last night I finished the last pair, got everything labeled with size, fiber content and washing instructions, and decided that I should either have a wee lie-down, or else knit something else next. So I did both-cast on a hat and went to bed.

This morning (at far too early an hour) Biscuit was experiencing a state of general unspecified wantingness that manifested as roaming the house, meowing piteously. I tried food, water, an excursion onto the sun porch, patting, brushing etc. He liked all of these. However it was only when the humans ceased trying to lie down in a boring fashion and got up to add scenic interest to the house that he was satisfied. I think he's now settled down for a nice sleep- he's had a busy morning. And I'm about to have a busier one, as it is time for me to swallow the last of my badly needed caffeine and brave the roads. Hasta luego, amigos!