Sunday, April 29, 2012

JJ Baby Hats for the Renaissance Faire

The Renaissance Faire is just a little over a month away and my fingers are flying making baby hats to sell. I have plenty of adult hats ready but very few kids' hats until this year. I am using the JJ Baby Hat pattern that is posted earlier in my blog. I have a wonderful hat stand made by my husband for my adult hats, but I plan to use baskets to hold the baby and children's hats as well as the scrunchies (pattern also included in this blog).

I purchased some baskets at World Market when they were 50% off. However, as you see, one of my baskets has been confiscated by a little demon who decided that my scrunchies needed a dose of black cat hairs. Don't worry, I took the scrunchies out and replaced them with his blanket. A bright yellow scrunchy is diminished with streaks of black.

Scrunchies may really be out of style. Neko can't figure out what they are for either.

My hat rack

Occupied hat rack at the Renaissance Faire, Summer 2011

Friday, April 27, 2012

When We Were Abducted

I heard that Ken and I went to Roswell, New Mexico last fall, but we don't remember anything about it. My sons said they got some strange calls and texts from us saying they were from us, but none of them sounded like us. Then I found this picture on my phone. I don't remember seeing these people there. They kind of look like us but there not. She did do some of my knitting, but she put six fingers on all the gloves. I can't even explain what she did with the socks.
Anyway, everything is back to normal now.
Back to the needles.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mayan Warning

My friend Sheila told me that the spring snow storm in the east is a warning from the Mayans. I think she might be right. Since Dick Clark is gone, there will be no more New Year's Eves. That's probably means the Mayans' prediction of the world ending December 21 might be valid.

I always thought that I wouldn't die until all my yarn stash is used up and I have read all my books. Could I be wrong? If I knitted every waking (and probably non-waking) minute from now until December 21, I wouldn't use up all my stash, so am I safe? I inherited a bunch from my mother and my sister-in-law, so I have a lot!

So what do you knit for such a catastrophe? Is there a proper outfit for the end of the world? A roomy cardigan with a kicky beret? Bright colors? Muted colors? Is poncho appropriate? Is a poncho ever appropriate?

I guess I better get knitting.

Back to the needles.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Deer Cat

The Stare-Off
It's spring in Colorado. Neko and I went out on the deck this morning, only to find out that our yard was a resting place for the deer herd. It is one of the true pleasures of living in the foothills. The deer hang out in our yard because most of our neighbors have dogs. Little do they know that they have more to fear from my little demon.  He could take them all. He is leaning over the railing of deck to growl and hiss at the deer. If you read my post on Why Cats are Finicky Eaters, I realize that I need to add Venison in a Velvety Cream Sauce to the line of cat food.
Can you find all five deer in this picture?
The deer may watch us, but they really don't have fear of us any more.

The only unfortunate part of having so many deer around is that having a garden is impossible. However, I am not ashamed to say that I don't like gardening. I have no problem admiring other people's gardens, but I don't mind walking away. I was not meant to be a gardener:
- I don't like heat.
- Everyone in my family is allergic to flower pollen.
- I am not a sun worshipper.
- I grew up on a farm. I had to walk through bean fields my entire childhood to pull or cut cockleburrs. I've done my share
- I don't getting my hands dirty.
- I don't like heat.
- Gardening ruins my nails.
- Some weeds are pretty.
- Gardening requires water and we live in a semi-desert area.
- I would rather shop at a Farmer's Market than grow my own vegetables. I like to support those who like to garden.
- Finding bugs in the dirt creeps me out.
- I love having the deer in my yard.
- Finally, I don't like heat!
(Did I mention that I don't like hot weather)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Neko Lands a Job -- for me, that is.

I was just offered a freelance job based on my blog, specifically my stories about Neko. I go in for training tomorrow. I can always use more freelance work.
Thank you Neko for being such a psycho cat. You always told me it would pay off! We celebrated by sharing a bagel and cream cheese this morning.
Neko keeps our house free from mice, moths, flies and other tiny crawling things, but now he is getting me jobs. However, he did inform me that he wants an upgrade in his cat food now. No more of the 60 cents a can stuff -- it's time to shell out for the $1.25/one serving stuff.
I knew there's be a price to pay.

Monday, April 16, 2012

More Yarn Scrap Ideas

I am on several lists that deal with knitting, crocheting, and all kinds of needleart. Lately my groups have been putting out lots of ideas for using scraps of yarn. Every now and then, I see an email posting from someone that I want to repost in my blog. This one is from Ruth Matthews from the Antique Patterns Library list. Ruth is from Oxon Hill, MD (isn't that a great name for a town?). So thanks, Ruth.

I use all my yarn scraps. Maybe some of you have ideas about using leftovers. Below are some ways I use them.
If the leftover is a synthetic fiber-- which is generally too strong for me to break with my hands-- I use them to tie things up instead of using twine. I.e. they are great for staking tall plants--tomatoes, vines, and so on . Since this yarn doesn't decompose, these ties last for a season (or more.) They can be used for tying bundles of twigs that you might have pruned, and other such outside uses, wrapping packages or tying them instead of using ribbon, and so on. Wherever one may have used twine, this sort of leftover yarn has been a good substitute for me. And, if I have enough of similar weights of leftover yarn, I might make a multicolor child's knitted cap and donate it.
I use leftover natural fiber yarns--most of mine is wool--to embellish knits and felts, or to make ornaments. A short length of yarn can be embroidered onto a hat or scarf, for example. If you are felting it, the wool "melts"--or felts--right into the fabric. I don't really make socks to wear--but have made dozens of tiny little sock ornaments out of leftover yarns. Most are striped--according to how long the scrap is. The socks (or whatever shape you might make) can be attached to bookmark ends, tied onto gift boxes, or hung on Christmas trees.
If you have enough small balls or short lengths, you could knit them all up into a multicolor full-sized item. Best to keep similar fibers in a project but the multicolor, variegated stripes are interesting in hats, scarves, even sweaters. If my yarns have different weights, I blend the weights. That is, if I have baby weight strands and worsted weight, using two strands of fine together might work well with a strand of sport or worsted weight, and look tweedy, to boot. I love to see how the colors mix and meld.
You can find a lot of uses for these little leftover yarns that are nifty, fun or useful. I hope to hear how others use theirs.
 Ruth Matthews, Oxon Hill, MD

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sock Yarn "Woven" Scarf

 I love knitting socks. I last counted I had about 40 pairs for me alone, and that doesn't count the socks I have made for my husband, my sons, and friends. I like to brag that I haven't purchased a pair of sock for 20 years, but I have spent more on socks than anyone who has.  So I have several small balls of left over sock yarn in a variety of colors. I figured out a way to use up several of these balls and add creativity to my project at the same time.

So dig out through your stash for sock yarn too small to make more than baby socks (which, of course, is also an option), and mix and match colors and variegations to your heart's content.

Left overs of sock yarns – varying lengths. I had a couple of remnants of orange and orange variegated yarns
Size 9 (4mm) circular needle at least 36”
Stitch marker
Yarn needle

Gauge: Not important, but about 11 stitches to 2 inches.

Cast on about 360 stitches or any amount depending on how long you want the scarf.  This will be about a 5½ foot scarf.  

Row 1: Knit 5, knit 1 into the back of the stitch, place marker. This will make the fringe. *K1, Sl1 with yarn in front* across the entire row to last six stitches. Place marker. Knit into the back of the stitch, K5.

Row 2: Knit 5, knit 1 into the back of the stitch, place marker. *P1, Sl1 with yarn in back * across the entire row to last six stitches. Place marker. Knit into the back of the stitch, K5. 

When you change colors and yarn, there is no need to tie it off. Just start knitting with the new yarn. All ends will be trimmed with the fringe.

Be sure you are purling the stitch that you slipped in the previous row.  The float of the stitch will always be on one side of the scarf.

Last row: K5. Remove these from your needle and just let them hang. Don’t worry if they unravel. We’re going to unravel them in the next step anyway. Bind off loosely all the stitches to the marker. Fasten off leaving a tail of 10 inches. Do not bind off the last five stitches. You will be binding off the twisted stitch.

Self fringe

Pull out and unravel the five stitches on each end. This is actually kinda of fun. After all these years of trying not to drop stitches and see them run all the way down, now you get to do it on purpose! 

Once I've unravelled all the edges, I lay the scarf on the table and straighten out the fringe as much as possible. Trim them to the same length. This is why you didn't have to worry about tying on the new yarns; they will just be added to the fringe. There is a loop on the end of some of the edges so be sure these are all trimmed.  

The twisted stitch gives you a solid line between the body of the scarf and the fringe.

This fringe is fast and takes no joining of seams, weaving of ends, or measuring and winding.  It is the only time that I put a fringe on a scarf because I just don't like doing it.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Scrap Yarn is for the Birds!

It's spring, and the birds are starting to build their nests for their babies. I have heard of saving your scrap pieces to give to birds but I have never seen a nest built with the scraps. I plan to roam the hills, valleys and national forest around my house in hopes of finding a colorful nest softened by bits of wool, cashmere, silk, and acrylics in a jumble of chartuese, echu, hot pink or amethyst.

This started last week when I made a pom pom for one of the JJ Baby hats (see pattern in archives), and it was one sorry-looking pom pom. I hated tossing all that yarn away, so I decided to donate them to my fine feathered friends. I have a few of these suet holders from our winter feeding activities, and instead of storing them away, I am putting them to a spring use. Every time I snip some yarn off from sewing seams or weaving in ends, I put them in a little container. I finally have enough (it took only a couple of days) to fill the suet holder. The good thing is the holes are big enough for the birds to easily grab the yarn and fly away with it. 

I hooked the holder onto a branch of tree just outside our deck. It is right by the bird feeder so we should already have an audience.

Okay, birdies, it's ready. Starting building.  Meanwhile, I'm going back to my needles.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Why Cats Are Finicky Eaters

I said "Open the Door -- NOW!"

Do you know why cats are finicky? Do you know why they turn their noses up at expensive cat foods with catchy names? Because those foods are there to please people, not cats!
We like to think our cats are civilized enough to want the same food as their humans. But the truth about cats is that they are actually wild animals that only allow us to think they are domesticated.
Do cats really want Grilled Tuna in a Savory Sauce? They would rather have raw tuna. Really, have you ever seen a feral cat sitting in an alley grilling his tuna steak, lightly seasoning it with herbes de provence? How about Cheddar and Chicken Medley or Saut̩ed Beef Steak? Come on! Have you ever seen a cat take down a cow? Neko has never liked beef cat food. He likes raw hamburger. But raw hamburger would not be a good canned cat food. No one would buy it but would instead head to the meat aisle for Рyou guessed it Рraw hamburger.

Let me out! I want some Hummingbird Hummus.

So I think a new business venture would be a line of cat food called Finicky Feasts, geared toward cats not people. Notice canned or dried cat food don’t really contain the foods that cats really like. After all, who would buy a can of mouse or bird? So we would have to start a marketing gimmick of silly cute names because cats have no sense of irony anyway.

Now imagine you and your cat going down the aisles of PetsMart selecting Plump Pigeon Pate’, Spicy Sparrow Stoganoff, and Vole au Gratin. And don't forget the appetizers -- Marinated Mousey-Tongue and Hummingbird Hummus, and for dessert, Chipmunk cookies with Minty Moths Treats to freshen that kitty breath.

I talked this over with Neko. He said it's a go.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Baby JJ Cap

This is a simple baby hat I made for my son’s friends. They are expecting a baby girl who will be named Jennifer Jane, shortened to JJ.  It is done in a twisted rib so it is very, very stretchy. She will be able to wear this hat for at least a couple of years.

I used a pink self-striped yarn that also had a green and white pattern in it. I only wanted the pink for the first hat because I didn't know how the ribbing would look. So I cut the yarn just as the green and white started, and wrapped it in a small ball. I then used it to make a scrunchy (see my blog posting on Tribbles). 

I did make a second hat with the green and white design, and it really doesn't look so bad.  I still liked the pure pink shades better.

1 skein Baby Jacquards Floral, Rosebud (90% acrylic, 10% nylon, 100 g/3.5 oz./ 316m/346 yards. (There is enough yarn to make at learn three hats from one skein. I made two hats and two scrunchies and still have plenty left over).
Size 6 (4mm) 16” circular needle
Size 6 (4mm) double pointed needles
Stitch marker
Yarn needle
Gauge: 2” = 12 stitches (6 twisted ribs)

Cast on 80 stitches. Join being careful not to twist the stitches.
Every row: K1 in twisted stitch, P1. Continue knitting in the round until piece measures 5½”.

Twisted Knit: Knit into the back of the loop.

Switch to double pointed needles when necessary.
Round 1: SSK the entire round (40 stitches)
Round 2: Knit every stitch in twisted stitch and even-numbered rows.
Round 3: SSK the entire round (20 stitches)
Round 5: SSK the entire round (10 stitches)
Cut yarn, leaving an 8” tail. Cut yarn, thread through the remaining stitches and secure tightly.  Weave in ends.

You can alter the pattern easily to make hats bigger or smaller. Just make the number of stitches an even number, or use a larger or smaller needle. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tribbles are born pregnant -- I have proof

I am convinced that I am a smoker who has never tried a cigarette. I am also convinced that if I had ever started, I would be a chain smoker. For the past ten days, I have crocheted over 30 of these scrunchies. I can't seem to stop. 

They still look like colorful tribbles to me. If you remember the story from the Star Trek series, tribbles are born pregnant. Maybe that's why I can't stop. I am already thinking of the next one before I finish the one I am working on.  I dug through my stash and found all kinds of cool yarns to make them. I don't need much yarn, and I can use all those small little balls of yarn that I can't throw away. I had plans to make them in the variegated yarns, stripes, novelty yarns, fun fur, bulky yarn, lace yarn, worsted, etc.

Then I hear at my women's group that scrunchies are "out." Out? As in "Out of Style?"  I just made 30 of them! I was going to sell them at the Renaissance Faire this summer. Now what? How come I didn't know? Was there a notice put up on a bill board? Couldn't someone have posted that on Facebook? An email chain? Even a headline under the Culture Section on Yahoo would have helped. The problem is I still can't stop crocheting them. 

Neko don't seem too impressed with my tribbles. Mine don't make those sweet little purring sounds. Then again, even Neko doesn't make sweet little purring sounds.

 I guess I am going to have to grow my hair long.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

... and thankfully ... Snow

After a week of bone-dry humidity, temperatures in the 80's, and smoke in the air, Colorado returned to early spring with a dusting of snow. The fire in the foothills west of our home was almost completed contained, so this snow is welcomed and beautiful to complete dousing it. The deer herd came by early this morning to dig at the tender grass just under the snow and enjoy the last cool breath of winter.

We have bird feeders for Neko's enjoyment for the winter and we were close to taking them down. For the past couple of weeks, the birds have been enjoying the early spring bugs instead of the dried seeds, but today the bugs are holed up somewhere and the birds are back. So is Neko's birdwatching activities. As you can see, the birds have no fear of the black furry face behind the glass.  He wants to be an outside cat so bad.
I will miss winter. I figured someone has to.
Back to the needles.