Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Preparing for Possible Evacuation

Yes, we are fine. We are not in an evacuation  or pre-evacuation area yet. We are not directly in the path of the Lower North Fork Fire yet, but we are making some basic preparations for evacuation. Right now, the fire is about five miles directly west of us, but the winds are blowing to the north and away from us. We love living in the Colorado foothills and next to a forest. In fact, Pike National Forest ends at our back door, but this is one of the dangers. This is a semi-desert climate, so it can get very dry and in danger of fire. We have lived in Roxborough since 1986 and we have been evacuated twice in the past (with no damage). Hopefully, we won't have to again.

The fire has destroyed about 25 homes so far, and 2 people have died, so this is a dangerous one. Yesterday, the wind was terrible with gusts up to 50 mph. Today is calmer so the firefighters are making some headway. However, the winds are supposed to be back tomorrow, and if the wind direction changes to the east, we need to be prepared.

I'm ready.
 I pulled out the cat carrier and packed a little bag for Neko. I will put his blanket in the box in later. He looks happy and content now, but if we really have to go, he will not be as content -- in fact, he will be down-right nasty. 

By the way, that is a Kitty Tube behind him. It is Neko's favorite toy. He runs through it at lightning speed or hids from the world around him. His favorite game is to lay in wait for someone to walk by and pounce at ankles. Then he laughs at you and crawls back in, really for the next victim. I suppose I will have to take the Tube with us too.

Next to my cat, I am most worried about my yarn stash. It will be hard to take it with me and even harder to replace.

Back to the needles ... for now.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Neko Wanted a Mouse So ...

I mean it, lady -- one eye open."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Trouble with Tribbles

My mother and grandmother taught me how to knit and crochet before I could read. I was so young that I don't even remember being taught. Although I am experienced with both, I have always liked knitting better. I will crochet a flower to put on a hat or a bag, but all projects are knitted. I think it might be that I can knit without looking at my work, so I can enter a zen state while knitting.  Nah, that's not it. I just like knitting better.

However for some reason this week, I had an overwhelming desire to crochet scrunchies. It probably happened at a Walgreens when I saw a package of 40 of those thick rubber bands for $2.00. The package jumped into my basket along with my shampoo and eye shadow. On drive home, I made a mental inventory of the small balls of yarn I have at home begging to wrap around this dull rubber bands. I went to my stack of sock yarn -- I could probably knit a pair of socks for an entire army unit with my stash (as long as they don't object to pinks, purples, and teal) -- and pulled out a few to play with. I didn't even try to find a pattern.

Within two days, the colorful crocheted scrunchies multiplied like purring little tribbles on the Star Ship Enterprise. I am still not done. I developed a blister on my my middle finger and a fresh ache in the back of my hand but I can't stop. Obviously, crocheting muscles are different than knitting muscles. My knitting muscles are really buff!

The process is simple and involving no counting.
Round 1: Using a D, E, or F hook, depending on the density of the yarn, I single-crocheted (SC) around the band. I push the stitches together and stretch out the band as I go. Once the band was covered with stitches and I am back at the beginning, I did a slip stitch to join.

Round 2: Chain 3 (I guess you do have to count to three). Double crochet (DC) at the base of the chain 3.
DC 3 in every stitch the entire way around. Once you are back to the beginning, DC 1 in the base of the chain 3 and slip stitch to join.

If you are using a thick yarn, you may not want to do another round. Just cut the yarn and weave in the ends.

If you are using a thinner yarn, you can add another round. DC 3 in every stitch as you did in previous round. This will give you a very ruffly scrunchy. For a less ruffly scrunchy, try only 2 DC in each stitch.

For this scrunchy, I added a round of 1 SC in every stitch in a contrasting color.

This project is perfect for KIP and CIP (knitting/crocheting in public). It is easy to carry with you and you can put it down and pick it up with having to figure out where in the pattern you are.

Experiment with different yarns. Use variegated, sparkly or glittered yarns, fun fur, eyelash yarn, and of course, play with colors.

 Try it! They are very addictive.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

147 sounds

I read somewhere that dogs can vocalize 24 different sounds while cats can vocalize 147. This makes total sense to me.
I hear all 147 of these sounds between 6:00 and 7:00 in the morning. This is because Neko thinks I have slept long enough.  I notice that he doesn’t go to Ken’s side of the bed, only mine. I especially like the sound I heard this morning “Huk, Huk, haaaaaa-pewy!” Hair ball on the rug.  Right where you would walk if you got out of bed with bare feet.
Plus it gives him room in his tummy to eat some more. On my way to get the carpet cleaner.  The joys of having a cat.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hats, Hats and More Hats

No name yet hat
I have spent a lot of my spare time knitting hats. I have always loved knitting hats. I don’t even want to guess how many I have downstairs in my Renaissance Faire stash.  I have recently been using lots of a silk wool yarn mix to make these hats. I have several colors and have been trying to combined colors. For some reason, I am not that crazy about intarsia or fair isle knitting. I love the effect but I get bored with having to look at a pattern every few seconds to see what is next.  This hat I haven't written up the pattern for yet, but I do like how it turned out. It looks more purple than blue, but it is a blue yarn. 

Don't Have to Think Hat

I usually have a hat going that I consider my "Don't Have to Think" hat. It is a hat pattern that I can take with me to knit on the road. I don't need a pattern because it is a basic pattern.  You never know where you will be stuck just waiting--waiting. I swear I have knitted entire hats waiting in the car outside a Home Depot while Ken is inside purchasing some silcone caulk or copper piping or some wing-waggle. This hat can be considered a "Don't Have to Think" hat. It is actually the free pattern on this blog called the Justin/Justine hat. It is made in Mini Mochi with beautiful shades of blue. This one I may have to keep myself because it matches my coat.
Stay tuned for my maroon and pink snowflake hat and hopefully a plaid hat. I am making a Don't Have to Think Hat about of bright blue and black variegated yarn that is hiding somewhere in my purse. 
Back to the needles.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Felting the Adele Button Hat and a failure


I have been experimenting with other felting yarns in making my Adele Hat (named after my mom).  These three hats were all made with the same pattern (with the exception of making the tab longer on the striped hat) with three different yarns and they all felted completely different (my original pattern available at http://www.craftsy.com/pattern/felting/Adele-Felted-Hat/2735).  Actually, I just recently made the striped and beige hat -- the blue one I made about a year ago.
· The blue hat is made from Paton's Classical Wool. I felted it once and shaped it in over a bowl that measures about 22 inches.  I have made several of these (see more pictures of this hat at the Adele Button post from June, 2011) and it comes out perfectly every time. 
· The striped hat is made from Brown Sheep Lanaloft yarn. I ended up felting this hat FOUR TIMES before it got to 23 inches. Hopefully someone with a big head will buy it. I sell hats at the Renaissance Faire in Larkspur CO every summer. Obviously, if you want to use this yarn, you may want to use a smaller needle or downsize the pattern.
· The beige one is made of Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool in Oatmeal. When I felted this hat, it really shrank down! I pulled and tugged at it trying to get it big enough to fit over my bowl. Once I got it over the bowl, I pulled it off the bowl and let it shrink back a bit. It ended up 21½ inches once it was dry.
Felting is sometimes hit and miss. I have felted dozens and dozens of hats and bags, and it always makes me nervous. Most of the time, I am pleased with how they turn out.  I would suggest you keep a written journal or log of your knitting, tracking the brand of yarn, pattern you used, any changes you made to the pattern, and details about how you felted it, including washing machine temperature and felting time.  I have been keeping a written log of my knitting for years. Watch for future posting showing my little beat-up journal.

I have felted dozens of hats, but not all have been successes.  A few years ago, I tried to make a gray hat with a design on the band. It was one of my first attempts, and it showed. I used two different brands of yarn. NEVER do that. I don't even remember what yarns I used, but here is the result. Ugh!
Quote from Neko:
"Sleep with one eye open, lady." 

Even Neko doesn't like this hat.  I don't understand why. It's just his size and gray and blue are his colors.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Disappearing Neko

I couldn’t find Neko this morning. All kinds of bad thoughts went through my head.  Is he lying sick somewhere in the house, unable to move? Maybe he snuck out this morning while Ken was loading his truck to go to work.  Could he have gotten caught in a cupboard? Or perhaps locked behind a door accidently left open?  
I checked all the usual places. Half-filled laundry baskets downstairs, a sock draw left open, the pile of clothes in my closet, Ken’s side of the bed (never mine), window sills on the sunny side of the house. Nothing. All the spots were empty and cold.
I called Ken to see if he put him in the garage and then forget he was there when he loaded the truck. Nope. He’s just gone.
I called him. I know – that’s stupid. Cat don’t come when called, especially narcissist little runts of the litter. I have other ways to get him to come though. I change my voice so it sounds like something really exciting is happening and he needs to come see. Such as a mouse in the house, or a giant bird at the windows, or maybe even another cat walking around outside our house.  No sound. So that didn’t work.
I shook the bag of kitty treats. That gets him every time. However, he just finished breakfast, so he wasn’t hungry enough to come for that.
I tried the most desperate ploy of all. I opened the back door, tempting him to make a break for the great outdoors. I even push the doorbell so he would think that someone was here for him to attack. Still nothing.
Then I saw him. He was sitting on a ledge above the closet, hiding among the spinning wheels and plants. He had just sat up there, watching me as I shook his treat bag, opened all the cupboards and doors, called to him, chanted to him in my ‘excited’ voice, open and shut the back door. I swore at him and walked away.
 I didn’t even know cats could laugh.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Knitting with Zino

I have been knitting my hats every day. I have three different hats started. This one is the closest to being finished. I can’t get too excited making wool hats because it is about 72 degrees here right now and it feels like winter is over. All I know is that the hot weather is coming, and I hate hot weather.  So I’ll just sit here and knit my little hats.
I have fallen in love with a sock yarn called Zino, but I have yet to make a pair of socks with it. I have made hats and scarves, but no socks. Go figure. I am currently working with the Zino yarn to make a Justine hat (the pattern is listed back in August). The colors are pink, yellow, orange, lavender, olive green and light blue. They actually look really cool together. It's a good thing there is pink, blue and lavender in the hat, because orange, yellow and green look terrible on me. I'll probably just sell it at the Renaissance Faire this summer instead.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Neko has a clock hidden somewhere in the house—a clock without a snooze button.  Even before I wake up, I feel eyes on me. It’s not quite time yet, so he doesn’t make a sound but I hear his breath on my neck.  Then, at the exact same time of morning, my ear is filled with his sweet voice, howling “Me-NOW! (translated to “Get up and feed me!).  Make a movement, and he jumps off the bed and runs to the bedroom door, looking back to be sure I am following him. He wants to make sure I know exactly what he wants.  

Then I have the nerve to roll over and try to go back to sleep. He wanders back to the bed and sharpens his claws on the edge of the mattress. This is why we can’t ever get one of those air-mattress beds. Imagine the mattress exploding like a balloon and sinking into the bed frame. As I am struggling through the debris of the mattress, flannels sheets, blankets and comforters, I am hoping the weight I feel on the pillow over my face is not Neko sitting on it.  Who knew this 10-pound runt of the litter could be so strong?
I’m just better off getting up and feeding him.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Big Horn Sheep in Waterton Canyon

About two miles from our home is one of the more beautiful and scenic bike rides in all of Colorado called Waterton Canyon. It's slightly uphill the entire way, so when you turn around and head home (all tired and exhausted), you sail back downhill to civilization. Since it is so close to our home, we go several times a year. Colorado can have beautiful 60 degree weather, even in the winter time, so biking is a year-around activity.

And nearly every time we do, we see the big horn sheep herd.  Usually, they are high on a bluff overlooking the bike path, but the last few times, they have been on the road.  Such as yesterday. While on the path, I suddenly heard a couple of small rocks falling down the hill -- this really is a canyon. I looked to my right and there was the entire herd, only a few feet away. Pull out the camera phone (hey -- they would have pulled theirs out too if they had any to take pictures of us).

Without caring whether we were there or not, they walked down the hill, took a saunter down the road, and climbed up the next hill. We did notice that none of the rams were around. Usually a herd this size has one accompanying them. I have a feeling that he did something that ticked off the ewes, and he is sleeping in the doghouse. Fortunately, dogs are allowed in Waterton Canyon.

The end.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Why Cats Like Library Books

Cats are so much smarter than we think they are. Neko communicates with other cats in other houses using books.
When I bring a bag of books home from the library, Neko can’t wait to get to them.  I set them on the counter and within seconds, he has sniffed and rubbed against them, knocking them onto the floor. Then he joins them on the floor by pushing them around on the floor, climbing on top of them, rubbing his nose on the spines of the books, and finally laying on top of them.
I always have about a dozen library books out at one time – about half murder mysteries and half knitting pattern books. As you probably know, people who knit are very into cats, so most of the knitting books have been checked out before by other cat lovers.  Their cat(s) has sniffed the books and rubbed against them, leaving messages for other cats.
So just what are the cats saying to each other? So are they plotting to take over the world?
Cats have already replaced dogs as the number one pet owned in America. This was actually a successful plot hatched by cats using library books. They exchanged tips about how to make themselves adorable and irresistible to humans. They keep their furs soft and fluffy so that you cannot resist touching it. So you reach out to touch the fur, and the cats lean into your touch and rub you back. Your heart melts and you have to have a cat. They arrange to use a litterbox so that you don’t have to walk them outside when the temperatures go below zero and the wind cuts into your face, or when the temperatures are over 100° sapping every bit of energy from your body. A cat will come and sit in your lap. You don’t move for hours letting your cup of coffee go cold and skipping your lunch.
Watch out, people – cats are planning to take over the world. Instructions available at your local library.