Wednesday, December 31, 2014

In Which I Handle a Critical Lack of Time Without Getting Worked Up

Well.  As the last few hours of 2014 wind into the past, I'm enjoying a long weekend.  It was a rather hectic holiday season in some ways, and easy in others.  My parents generously hosted, which let me slough off on the cleaning-and-decorating part of the holidays, so I could focus on the fun bits.

So, the last weekend before Christmas, instead of  scrubbing, decorating, baking and wrapping, my husband and I took off for a weekend in New York City.  It was a trip we'd been discussing for months, but first one, then the other of us was sick and there was work and weather.   So on the Thursday evening we checked the weather report, found a hotel room and left right from work the next day to go down to Connecticut and catch the commuter rail into Grand Central Terminal.   It was a terrific trip.  We went to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and the Natural History Museum.  We went to see the Imitation Game, which was in the first days of its release. (It's an excellent movie.  While it does take some considerable liberties with history, the changes were clearly made in order to make it a better story.  And it does a good job of presenting the spirit of the issues.  Benedict Cumberbatch's performance as Alan Turing is extraordinary.)  We went to the Strand, our favorite NYC bookstore and we walked the last stretch of the High Line, which opened this year.   Great fun,  (Yes, there was a little shopping in and amongst as well.)

Of course I took advantage of the train travel to work on the Glasgow socks, which I finished Tuesday, blocked and were dry and popped into a gift bag on Christmas morning:

Christmas Eve, I broke out the baking pans, and had a marathon cookie baking session.  Biscuit wanted very badly to help.
After removing him from my work surface several times, I finally persuaded him to sit on the pass-through between the living room and kitchen where he could see what I was doing without getting paws-on the cooking.  Any Biscuit fluff that got in the frosting was minimal and should be regarded as adding a healthy dose of fiber to the cookies.

In between cooking and waiting for cookies to be cool enough to frost, I wrapped presents.  Biscuit helped with that too, but I didn't have a hand free for the camera.

And then we had a delightful quiet family celebration on Christmas morning.

The rest of the week was spent on practicalities; work, catching up on the laundry.
(While Biscuit is white and fluffy, he was not laundered.)

I turned out my knitting bag and found another pair of mittens lurking in the depths.

And I knit yet another pair of mittens and cast on for the next socks.  The weekend following Christmas, we went out to western Mass. and I got to stop in at Webs, but that's a tale for another post, since I haven't taken photos of anything yet.

I hope your holidays were lovely, and that 2015 will be filled with many fine yarns- of the fiber and blogging variety both.  Happy crafting!

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...


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.