Waif (AKA Nilla Wafer) Kittens

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A year ago yesterday Tami, little TimTam Tami Cat came into our lives.  I’ve posted about that elsewhere.  What I somehow managed not to post about is that about a month later another kitten came into our lives.  I don’t have photos of her then, as we met in the dark.  We were walking the dogs after dark, as it is really just too  hot to walk during the day this time of year, with Tami on my shoulder, when out from the yarn next door comes this small yellow and white kitten, about the same size and age as Tami!  Very friendly, came right up to us with the dogs!  We’ve had cats come to us for help before, but they always stayed away, well out of range of the dogs.  The dogs are on leash next to us, but most cats are understandably, sensibly cautious about strange dogs.

Not this one!  She came right up, rubbed against us, against the dogs, who were quite taken aback, meowed and wanted to be petted.  So of course I did.  But we were on our walk, had just started, so I didn’t want to go back.  Besides, the people who live in the house have tended to get 2 kittens every year, who they then leave for days on end when they go someplace or other.  If the cats come to my house I’ll feed them, but I’d never seen this one before.

So off we continued on our walk.  And we were escorted quite happily by this young cat!  And almost every time we’ve gone walking she’s joined us.  She’s very careful and sensible about cars, ducking behind trees and bushes whenever one comes.  Sometimes she’ll get tired and lay down in front of us as we’re walking, so I’ll pick her up and carry her for a while.  When we got back home with her still with us I of course fed her.

She was there the next morning, and took up residence on our deck.  She would hide under it where it was safe, cool and dry, and also go under the barn sometimes.  I had thought she might move into the barn next door, but there is already a cat who was born there, and they didn’t get along.  The other cat, being older, would chase the kitten away.  Now note that the other cat didn’t start coming around until after the kitten took up residence, but apparently the food we gave the kitten was interesting enough to draw attention.

It took us a while, but finally we named her Nilla Wafer (due to being white and creamy yellow) but call her Waif (lost child).  Since we have no clue where she came from nor how she got onto the road that night, we didn’t know if she had been spayed.  I already had 2 cats and 2 dogs, and we didn’t need another indoor animal, and in fact, it is difficult to impossible to take an outdoor cat indoors unless one is willing to let it out sometimes.  Which is a recipe for fleas in the house, so no, I don’t want an indoor/outdoor cat.

Here is a photo of Waif and Tami (on the leash) taken in February.  Neither is a large cat, they are small, about 5 lbs.  Tami’s build is longer and leaner, Waif is a bit more stocky.

Waif & Tami

Cats from rescue are always spayed/neutered, so I had  hoped that she had been, too.  I don’t know how she would do in a car or cat carrier, nor do I know if one of the other (rural) neighbors considered her theirs, even though she seems to spend most of her time at our place.  She didn’t seem to go into heat in the fall, but in late winter she started to plump up.  Yup, very, very pregnant.

She came to get food on Saturday, 22 April, 2017 no longer hugely pregnant.  She was clearly nursing babies, but we couldn’t find them.  I tracked her across the road a couple of times, where there are some buildings/barns, but couldn’t find her or her babies.  I was very worried about them several times as we had some huge storms and there was a lot of flooding.

Friday evening, well after dark, one of us saw movement in the pile of big rocks we got to do some work around the place with.  That movement turned out to be kittens.  They were hiding in the rock pile.

The next morning they were under the barn, which is just a few feet from the rock pile.  There are 5 cute kittens, about 7 weeks old.  Here is what we saw:

Waif's Kittens 7 weeks

Mama Waif has been trying to teach them that we are safe.

Waif's Kittens 7 weeks

But they are still extremely shy.  If they hear something or see movement from us that they don’t expect they dash back to safety.  While it is disappointing from the perspective of someone who wants to cuddle baby kittens, they are living outside and there are many dangers.  Hawks, coyotes, owls, all will take an animal the size of a small cat, especially these tiny kittens.  So from that perspective I’m glad they have good survival instincts.

One kitten is The Brave One.  I’ve been calling it Bold because it is so much bolder than the rest.  Bold was the first one to come to the food bowl, and is the first oe to come when Waif calls them.  Bold will come out alone, looking around and playing with plants, or Waif’s tail, or whatever else seems interesting.

Waif's Kittens 7 weeks

Waif's Kittens 7 weeks

Waif's Kittens 7 weeks

Waif Kittens 11-Jun-2017

The next most adventurous is Gold, who seems to be the only solid color in the litter.

Waif Kittens 11-Jun-2017

Bold, Gold and one other kitten seem to be the Three Musketeers, and so far are the only kittens who have eaten from the food bowl.

Waif Kittens 7 Weeks 12-Jun-2017

The other two have been too shy to come to the food bowl, but are clearly hungry, and she is clearly weaning them all.  I expect in the next few days they’ll get enough confidence to try the food we are offering.

Chip is very interested in the kittens, and seems fascinated watching them.

Waif Kittens 7 Weeks 12-Jun-2017

If he seems to get too interested I’ll say something to him and he relaxes.  Notice that Waif is completely unconcerned with him watching, although she did move over and lay in front of him, between him and her babies.  This was taken just before she lay down.

Waif Kittens 7 Weeks 12-Jun-2017

I do hope she can teach her babies to interact with the dogs as well as she does.  They often will lay together when I’m outside with them.

Waif Chip Cadee 11-Jun-2017

Waif's Kittens 7 weeks

And here are some photos just because kittens are cute!

Waif's Kittens 7 weeks

Waif's Kittens 7 weeks

Waif's Kittens 7 weeks

Waif's Kittens 7 weeks

Waif's Kittens 7 weeks

Waif Kittens 11-Jun-2017

Waif Kittens 7 Weeks 12-Jun-2017

 

And Waif, first time mother, who has done a bang up job raising 5 kittens!

Waif Kittens 7 Weeks 12-Jun-2017

Waif Kittens 7 Weeks 12-Jun-2017

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TurtleMade 3D Printed Spindles

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As I mentioned in my previous post I’ve been doing more spinning lately.  I had a trip planned for January and I started to think about taking a spinning project with me.  As I thought about it I decided that I didn’t really want to risk any of my spindles breaking.  I used to take spindles with me everywhere, but a few of them were broken so I stopped and just took knitting when I traveled.  This time I wanted to find a good alternative to risking my pretty wooden spindles.

I’ve been enjoying being able to spin either supported or suspended, and remembered some really cute little spindles I’d been seeing at fiber shows at the TurtleMade booth.  It occurred to me that one of those might do the trick.

I’ve gotten some sock yarns from TurtleMade before, as they have some nice, fun, gradient sock yarns.  In fact, my current knitting project is a pair of socks from TurtleMade yarn.  While I had looked hard at their small 3D printed spindles I hadn’t yet gotten myself one.  However, something like that seemed like it might be perfect for traveling, as the spindles are small, light, and will break down into pieces for packing.  And, being some sort of plastic I figured they wouldn’t break like a wooden shaft can so easily do.

So I reached out, sending a private query about suitability as travel spindles, and options for supported spinning in tight quarters, like in a car or airplane seat.  I was concerned that the diameter of the Micro Turkish Supported Spindle arms would be a bit too wide for these tight quarters.

The folks at TurtleMade, Scott and Jen Kemery, are fantastic to work with.  Scott and I exchanged messages for several weeks (over the holidays!) as I learned more about their materials and narrowed down my choices based on my current needs and anticipated future wants.  As I wanted something that could handle travel, being able to endure being inside a hot car was an important feature in addition to durability and spinning functionality.

Most of their 3D printed items are from a material called PLA.  PLA is a plant based plastic.  It is environmentally friendly and can even be composted in industrial composting processes back to its original components. It is strong and durable, but very ridged.  PLA is available  in lots of beautiful colors.

They also sometimes use another material called ABS.  ABS is an oil based plastic which they use for molded shafts and special orders that want the higher heat resistance.  They have found that printed ABS shafts tend to get ridges in them from the material sinking during printing.  While this does not affect the spin it is something you can feel and see on the shaft.  In addition they have found that printed ABS shafts are not as durable as PLA shafts.  ABS is available in only a very few colors.

If you are interested in knowing more about these materials check out this article.

After much discussion I decided that I wanted to have a sort of mix and match set of whorls and spindle shafts.  For my needs I decided it didn’t matter if there were some ridges in an ABS printed shaft.  I’m more concerned about function, so as long as I was happy spinning on it minor things like a few ridges are not a problem in the least.

I decided on this for my custom order:

12″ Blue ABS spindle shaft with matching small Triquetra whorl (in a circle so it wouldn’t be stopped if a point touched my leg)

9″ Blue ABS spindle with matching small round custom whorl

5″ Transparent Purple Micro Turkish Supported Spindle shaft and matching arms

7″ Transparent blue shaft with matching standard Triquetra whorl

Blue ABS custom round whorl

Here is a photo of the spindle shaft & whorl sets.

turtlemade-customspindles

The additional custom whorl is this  one shown on one of the ABS shafts.

turtlemadecustomroundwhorl-2

As the working size of the shaft for all of these is essentially the same, any of these whorls/arm sets can be used with any of the shafts.  Of course the physics of the size and weight will affect performance, particularly for suspended spinning, so not all these whorls will work that well with every shaft for suspended spinning.  However, since several of these whorls I intend to use for supported spinning that won’t be a problem for me.  And if I decide I want to use the 12″ shaft for suspended spinning I’ll just use the standard Triquetra whorl with it.

As so often happens I didn’t do as much spinning on my trip as I had thought I might.  I selected some cashmere and the 9″ blue ABS spindle shaft with matching small blue Triquetra whorl as my travel spinning.  The length of the shaft was convenient to store in my backpack, and not too short for my aging eyes with bifocals to see reasonably easily.  The shaft length meant I could easily and quickly wind a temporary cop on the shaft then properly wind onto the main cop at intervals.

Cashmere on TurtleMade custom supported spindle

The small Triquetra whorl enclosed in a ring is pretty and the ring keeps the points of the Triquetra from stopping the spindle from spinning when it bumps against my legs as I spin.  This spindle has a nice spin time and I quite enjoyed being able to spin this on airplanes and while chatting with friends.

Cashmere on TurtleMade custom supported spindle

The longer, 12″ ABS shaft has a slight amount of bobble when spun supported which I believe is from a slight curvature.  I don’t have a problem with this, as the longer shaft gives me 2 things that I find very useful.  First, because of my very poor eyesight the longer shaft means that the drafting zone is easily in my optimal viewing range when spinning shorter lengths of yarn.  I want to spin shorter lengths to prevent large motions for both ergonomic and space reasons.  Second, the longer shaft gives me a large area on which to wind the in progress yarn into a temporary cop.

Purple Passion on TurtleMade custom supported spindle

Yes, I do like blue!  The fiber is called Purple Passion and is an angora/tussah silk/merino wool blend that I’ve had for a very long time.

This whorl is a nicely shaped disk.  It is flat on the bottom with a slightly concave top rising up along the shaft.

Purple Passion on TurtleMade custom supported spindle

Purple Passion on TurtleMade custom supported spindle

The only other of these new spindles that I’ve used thus far is the pretty transparent purple Micro Turkish Supported Spindle.

3/4 Targhee TurtleMade Micro Turkish Spindle

This spindle may be used either supported or suspended, and this yarn is a fine Targhee cross wool spun suspended.  The purple sure is pretty!

3/4 Targhee Micro TurtleMade Turkish spindle

This little Turkish spindle is extremely light and has a good spin time for that weight.  It is a delight to use.

I haven’t done more than briefly play with the other spindles, but they are very pretty, spin well for a reasonable length of time for the weights.

Supported Spinning

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Recently I’ve been doing more supported spinning.  I have wanted to improve some of my yarn management skills, in particular the figure-8 butterfly to help manage lengths of yarn while winding onto the cop.  So I decided to do some supported spinning while commuting to work.  I first started with a spindle I got from Stringtopia, a studio in Lebanon, Ohio that is no longer, unfortunately, in business.  The spindle is from Peru and is a traditional type of spindle from that region.  It can be used as a suspended or supported spindle.  Since I was in the enclosed space of a car, I decided to use it as a supported spindle.

3/4 Targhee spinning project

The wool I’ve been spinning is 3/4 Targhee that I’ve had for many years.  It is quite soft and bouncy, and I think it will make a nice light yarn.  The bowl is one I got recently at a fiber festival in Athens, Ohio.   It is walnut and is very pretty.

After I was reasonably far along in the initial spinning I found another, smaller and lighter spindle also from Peru, which I then continued to spin on.  I decided not long after to wind the first cop off into a ball, which I did, around a penny.

Spinning 3/4 Targhee

I’ve been quite happy with my progress with this very functional spindle, but decided that a fancier, modern style spindle might be fun to have as well, so I found one on Etsy by Silly Salmon Designs.  It arrived today and I was able to spend some time spinning on it.  It spins beautifully, very well balanced, and I was quickly able to spin up some lovely yarn.  Here are some photos of the spindle with credentials.

Silly Salmon Designs Tibetan Support Spindle in Pennsylvania Walnut & Birdseye Maple

Silly Salmon Designs Tibetan Support Spindle in Pennsylvania Walnut & Birdseye Maple

Silly Salmon Designs Tibetan Support Spindle in Pennsylvania Walnut & Birdseye Maple

Silly Salmon Designs Tibetan Support Spindle in Pennsylvania Walnut & Birdseye Maple

Since this spindle has a stainless steel tip I’ve been spinning with it in a small ceramic bowl rather than in the wooden bowl.

It’s been fun seeing how much yarn I’ve been spinning in relatively short spurts.

Fish Lips Kiss Heel Pattern & My Personal Sock ‘Recipe’

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I love knitting socks.  Not really sure why, but from early on, shortly after I learned to knit, I was fascinated by the three dimensional problem of fitting fabric to feet.  I read about how to turn heels, and different ways to shape toes.  I read a number of books, with various heel and toe construction methods.  I read books about ‘Eastern Style’ knitting where socks are knit from the toe up.  I read books about so-called ‘traditional’ sock knitting, where the knitting started at the top of the cuff and worked down the leg, over the heel and arch, then down to the toes.

When I had knit a few items, sweaters, hats and so on, I decided I would try this esoteric mystery and knit socks.  I had read through patterns, and thought I understood what was happening.  Most of my books at that time started from the cuff and worked down to the toe, so I got out a pattern, cast on what I thought was the right number of stitches for a child’s sock as my kids were then young and it seemed like a good idea to start with fewer stitches to learn about knitting socks, something I considered to be rather advanced.

The cuff went fine, knitting circularly on double pointed needles is at first rather like wrestling with a hedgehog, all sharp points, but I quickly got the hang of holding the work and focusing on just the needle holding the stitches I was working, and the needle I was working the new stitches onto.  To this day I use what I learned on that sock when it comes to how I manage the work.

One of the challenges with knitting on multiple needles is to not have extra yarn between the stitch on the new needle and the previous one.  This is true whether one is using double pointed needles (dpns), 2 circular needles (2 circs) or Magic Loop (ML).  These are all ways to work seamless knitted fabric in the round.  Neither of the latter techniques was then used, or at least not as known by me at the time.  So I learned on double points.

I learned that while I can knit on a set of 3 double pointed needles, I much prefer to work on a set of 5.  With 4, you work from a triangle to a square, which puts more stress on the stitches between the needles.  Using a set of 5 you work from a square.  After I figured out which I prefer, I refuse to work on a set of 4, and these days if I use double pointed needles I’ll always use a set of 5.  If I happen to work on something larger, like a sleeve, and am using double pointed needles, I will sometimes use more than 5, which of course may require 2 sets of needles.

In any case, I learned to manage my work and the double pointed needles, got to the heel and following the instructions put half of the stitches onto a single double pointed needle in order to knit the heel flap then turn the heel.  I knit the flap, then started the heel turn.  And messed it up.  I tinked it back to the start of the row (unknit the stitches, one at a time, back onto the initial needle) and tried it again, and messed it up.  Repeat about 4 times.  So, I clearly didn’t understand what I was doing!

Got my instructions back out again and stitch by stitch, followed them again.  This time it worked!  And this time I understood what was happening.  I was shaping  the ‘cup’ into which the heel would fit.  Great fun!  It was magic.

Knitting itself is magic already, you take yarn, use a couple of sticks, and pull through loops until you have this fabric.  It grows, one stitch at a time, from nothing into cloth.  Turning a heel took the fabric and transformed it, so it grew in another direction.  Even more magic!

That first heel turn had me hooked.  I finished the sock, made the mate.  Made another sock, this one for myself, then made the mate.  And I realized something about myself at that point.  I love the excitement of starting a new project.  It’s fun to figure out what I want to make.  What yarn shall I use?  What color?  What type of fiber?  What size yarn, fingering, sport, DK, worsted weight?  But I also learned that I don’t have that excitement, that incentive motivating me, when I complete one sock then need to start the mate.  That’s not so much fun.  The initial excitement is gone.  And worse, I have to know exactly what I did with the first one, how many stitches did I use?  How many rows of ribbing?  When/where did I do the heel turn, how long was each section?  And since I usually end up knitting while walking around or doing something else, it became an issue for me to keep good records on what I did so I could reproduce it with the mate to the completed sock.

There had to be a better way!  And there is.  For me the better way is to work on both socks in a pair alternately.  I start one, knit a bit, start the other and knit on that a bit more.  Alternate back and forth between them.  This allows me to stop near or at a point of decision, like how long the ribbing should be, or where the calf shaping starts/stops, alternate to the other sock in the pair until both are at the decision point, do the change on both, then keep going.  Eureka!  This solved my problem!  I kept the new project excitement all the way through, and when I was done, I was done with both, at nearly the same time!  And because it kept the new project excitement alive for me, it feels like it doesn’t take any longer to knit 2 socks than it does to knit one.  Win-win for me.

So I knit lots of socks.  At first I knit from the cuff to the toe.  I then read about knitting from the toe up, so I tried that.  I tried a number of different toe shaping techniques, and over time a number of heel shapings as well.  I found that I liked the process much better when I knit from the toe up.  It was easy to try on as I went, to make sure it would fit me right.  I also liked that I could knit until I ran out of yarn!  When knitting from the cuff down to the toe there is always the risk of not having enough yarn.  You have to guess whether you have enough of the yarn to make a cuff as long as you want to make.  And if you guess wrong, then you have to figure out what to do.  You have to either use another yarn for the toes, or you have to rip the knitting back, make the cuff shorter, then redo the heel and foot, again hoping you have enough to finish.

This made me very unhappy.  I knit for pleasure, I love the process, the soothing rhythm of making the fabric.  I don’t want the stress of having to hope I have enough yarn, nor the frustration of having to rip back and rework when I run out too soon.  So I found myself focusing more and more on toe-up socks.

Several years ago I started to try a number of different techniques for making socks, looking for a process, a set of guidelines, a general recipe, for making myself socks out of any yarn.  I already knew I wanted to knit them toe up, so I read about different techniques, different patterns, using that method.  One of the books I got was Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles by Cat Bordhi.  She had found a technique knitting socks on 2 circular needles instead of double pointed needles.  The use of 2 circular needles, which are essentially double pointed needle tips attached by a flexible cable, gave her a freedom to try socks on much easier than on regular double pointed needles.  Later she published New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One.  Her patterns were groundbreaking, and I loved knitting them.  There was magical shaping built into the socks based on math principles.  Loved that!  And the shapings were beautiful and intriguing.

Here is a sock with the Riverbed construction:

Socks.Blue.Merino.Riverbed.3.28Feb08

Here is a sock with the Sweet Tomato Heel:

MistiAlpacaSocks.2013Mar18.Foot.2

The switch from double points to using 2 (or more) circular needles was as immediate as I could afford to buy the needles I would need to do it.  2 circulars gave me more flexibility and control.  I continued to knit socks, but now I was trying different toe and heel shaping techniques.  I tried Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel, published in her ebook.  I tried various relatively standard short row techniques, I tried the Fleegle’s Heel published in Fleegle’s Toe Up Socks.  All worked, and made nice enough socks.

Here’s an example of a Fleegle Heel:

Blue Opal Socks

From these various books and other information available I cast on using Judy’s Magic Cast On.  There are various videos of this technique available also.  Works great, lets me decide how many stitches I want to cast on, seamlessly, for a nice toe.  I generally use 8 stitches, 4 on each of the 2 circular needles.  I then knit one round, then I increase in every stitch, starting an 8-pointed star toe.  I continue to increase into those 8 initial stitches every other round until there are 16 stitches on each needle, then I increase every third round, so 2 rounds plain between increases.  I continue the increases until there are enough stitches.  How many that is depends on the yarn and needle size used.

Mermaid Sock Hop

Then I tried the Fish Lips Kiss Heel.  Yes, that’s right, Fish Lips Kiss!  Otherwise shortened to FLK heel.  This is a fantastic recipe.  It’s a general principle recipe, not a ‘pattern’ as such.  It gives you a general recipe to create a template that can be used to determine when to start or end the heel and toe in a sock.  The template is used as the sock is being knit to try on the sock, even if the intended recipient isn’t available.  As long as you have the template, you can make socks to fit.  And the instructions have a wonderful way to turn short rows.

The author, known as Sox Therapist, has done extensive research on socks, how to construct and fit them.  And has all that wisdom available to anyone for just $1.00!  Well worth the very low price.  And the pattern gives instructions on construction for both toe-up and cuff-down socks.  So anyone can use it with their preferred technique and make great socks.

I liked this technique, and I like that I can ‘try on’ the sock using the template and know that the heel will be properly placed to fit me when I’m done with the knitting.  I can ‘try it on’ when I’m in a meeting, without taking off socks and shoes to do it!  Not something I’ll do in a meeting, unless it is with other sock knitters, of course.

Here is an example of the FLK Heel:

2014-05-20 18.59.31

So now I have most of my ‘recipe’, my preferred techniques for toe and heel, short row method.  The instructions on how to do the short rows in FLK are easy to do, fast and simple once you know them.  No more wrap and turn (w&t) for me!  And with this heel there is no need for a gusset or heel flap of any sort, either.

Now I had to resolve another challenge.  How to do calf shaping on long socks.  Because I love long socks.  I want my socks to come up to my knees.  Not stop part way up the calf so they fall down.  Not just slightly above the calf, those fall down, too!  I want a sock that comes up to the knee and stays there.  Tall order, no pun intended.

I tried several options, including these, but wasn’t completely happy with the results.

MistiAlpacaSocks.2013Mar18.LegDetailOn

NoroSocks.2013Mar18.4

Regia Blitz 02530 Knee Socks Calf Detail

I even made myself a pair of old-fashioned garters, a very traditional way to hold up long socks.

MistiSocksWithGreenGarters.2013Mar21.5

So I needed to find a good ribbing that has good recovery, and I need to be able to do whatever will make a sock fit well around a calf, but still keep sock up above it.

One day I happened to be reading through one of the Ravelry forums on a thread about keeping stockings/long socks from falling down.  One of the posts gave instructions for her ‘Ma’s Favourite Ribbing‘.  So I tried it on the next pair of socks I made, and loved it!  I can see why her Ma used it on most of her socks.  It just works.  It has good stretch, but also the best recovery I’ve found in any ribbing.  So now it is my ‘Favourite Ribbing’ also, and I use it extensively where I need a ribbing with good recovery.  It also happens to be very pretty and looks very different when done in fine gauge yarn than in bulkier yarns.

I continued to make socks, now using that ribbing, trying different calf shaping techniques.  I was also during all of this concerned with durability.  It takes time to knit socks by hand.  So I want them to last as long as possible.  Most socks are knit with fingering yarn, which is suggested to be knit on needles of size 2-3 mm (US 0 to 2.5).  However, my reading had some references indicating that smaller needles, a denser fabric, would last longer.  This made sense to me.  Pressure from being walked on will spread out stitches, especially if the fabric is not very dense.  So I started to knit my socks on smaller needles.  And I found that I much preferred the fabric of the denser, tighter knit socks.  I now knit my fingering weight yarn socks on 1.75 mm needles (US 00’s).  I would probably actually prefer them knit denser, but I haven’t yet tried knitting socks on 1.5 mm needles (US 000’s)!  For DK yarn I use 3.0 mm (US 2.5) for the foot.

As I was not satisfied with the results I was getting by increasing the number of stitches to shape the calf, I decided to try changing the gauge of the fabric by changing needle size.  I first combined this technique with all-over-leg ribbing and this was much more successful.

Brabantio FLK EGS Socks

In the above photo it is possible to see where I changed needle size by where in the leg ribbing the color pooling changes.  If you look carefully you can see that after the calf shaping is done I go back down to smaller sized needles.  These are knit in DK weight yarn.  I love DK yarn for heavier, warmer socks, and because there are fewer stitches, they take less time to knit.

This technique worked very nicely, but I would have preferred the socks to be slightly longer.  Ribbing eats up a lot of yarn.  Each of my knee socks was using a full ball of yarn.  I didn’t need much more length for the socks to be plenty long enough, but if I continued to use ribbing I wasn’t going to get it unless the yarn balls came bigger/longer.  I also decided that for sleeping socks, all over leg ribbing isn’t as comfortable.  It’s fine for all day wear, but not so much for sleeping.

The obvious answer to leg length of the socks was to not do all over ribbing.  Stockinette uses less yarn than ribbing, so I tried that.  And that was very successful.  I tested again using DK yarn.

2014-05-20 18.59.13

This was also a full ball of yarn, and there is enough length that the cuff can be folded over some, which helps make them even more secure staying up.  The needle size calf shaping again changes the color pooling, and helps the fabric to shape itself to the leg securely.  These socks stay up.

Now I have my full recipe, simple 8-star toe, FLK Heel, much smaller needles than usual for the yarn, shape the calf with gauge change by increasing needle size.  I made another pair of DK weight socks to confirm.  Don’t have a photo of them on, but they fit very well also, so now I’m trying the recipe with fingering yarn.  I’m most of the way done, well into the ribbing.  I’m very much looking forward to completing and wearing the fingering version of My Favourite Socks!

Look at her now! 16-18 weeks

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And look at her now!

16 weeks:

TimTam 28-Aug-2016 16 weeks old

As you can see from this photo, taken a couple of days prior to the above, the shadow striping visible when she was tiny is nearly gone.

TimTam AKA Tami 26-Aug-2016 16 weeks old

Yes, she’s wearing a collar and leash.  I’ve ended up managing her like I manage puppies/dogs when we first get them.  By having the leash on her I don’t have to physically catch her to catch her.  I can just step on or catch the leash.  So she’s learned that she can’t run and hide, and she’s also learned that we really aren’t chasing her when we walk through the house.  Now she will just sit or lay there when you get up and happen to be moving towards her instead of assuming that we are trying to play chase.

She and our dog Chip are great friends, and play together every day.  They love to lay on the ground, rolling around, mouthing at each other and generally enjoying themselves.  They also sleep next to or near each other.

Nap Time Chip and TimTam

Tami is 18 weeks old (estimates) as of today.  So much bigger, as one would expect.  She still likes her scratching posts, and can still manage to sit on top of it, but reaching the top of course is no longer a reach for her.

TimTam 6-Sep-2016 18 weeks old

TimTam 6-Sep-2016 18 weeks old

TimTam 6-Sep-2016 18 weeks old

Sorry about the blurry photos, she is nearly always in motion, so hard to catch in a picture!

TimTam 6-Sep-2016 18 weeks old

 

TimTam Update

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TimTam, Miss Tami Girl, is nearly 12 weeks old now.  She’s growing so fast, as she should be.

She’s gone from a tiny 5-6 weeks, here at just about 6 weeks (estimated of course):

Minion 14 June 2016, First solid-ish meal!

Minion 18-Jun-2016

About 7 weeks:

TimTam (Minion) 23-Jun-2016

She and Chip quickly bonded and enjoy playing together.

Chip and TimTam 2-Jul-2016 About 8.5 weeks old

About 8 and a half weeks:

TimTam 2-Jul-2016 About 8.5 weeks old

At 10 and a half weeks she went for a trip and was a great traveler!  She loved being able to run and play in the sun room.

TimTam 10.5 weeks

And here she is taking a quick breakfast break on her scratching post, still with food all over her face!

TimTam 24-July-2016  About 11.5 weeks

You might have noticed that she is on a leash most of the time.  This is because she has to be kept away from our other cat until the vet confirms she is free of cat lice.  Due to her tiny size she has been treated every 2 weeks, rather than the usual once a month treatment.

She isn’t bothered by it, and has quickly learned to unwind herself from chair legs and her scratching post.  Of course she is supervised during these play times, just in case.

By my estimate she will be 12 weeks old on Wednesday, July 27, 2016.  She enjoys coming with us when we walk the dogs, riding on a shoulder or on an arm.  She went from 16 ounces (1 pound) at just about 6 weeks old to 2.1 pounds at 12 weeks.  Her downy, fluffy kitten coat is being replaced by a smoother, shinier, sleeker coat.

Tomorrow she goes back to the vet where we all hope she is confirmed free of the cat lice and can begin the next stage of integration into our household.

And then this happened

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On Saturday, 11 June 2016 I was over near Caesar’s Creek Lake.  As I was coming south along North Clarksville Road, just south of the dam, traffic stopped as some cars pulled into the parking lots.  The vehicle in front of me, pulling a boat, started to move again, then stopped suddenly.  After they started to go again I see a tiny brown thing in the middle of the road.  Right in the middle, on the double yellow lines, was a tiny kitten.  I stopped, turned on my hazard lights (there was no one behind me, but just in case), and my passenger hopped out and got the kitten.  It was a very hot, humid, summer day, so the road was very hot, and this is a busy road.  No way it would survive long in the middle of the road.  We didn’t see any other kittens, nor mother cat, and the area isn’t one that one would expect to find either.

The kitten appeared to have been dropped from far enough up that when she landed she hit literally face first.  Her nose and mouth were bloody, her eyes were runny and there was some sign of infection in them, especially the left one, above the cuts on her mouth and face.  Her lower left canine was broken off.  We couldn’t tell at first if she had internal injuries, but we had to get her off the road, but it turns out that the only other injury was a problem with her right front foot or leg.  She kept weight off it, but it didn’t seem to be broken or cause her undue pain when she was held.

She appeared to be about 5 or 6 weeks old, very tiny.

Little Puddy Minion, found on the road

We took her home, put her in a small box with some towels and she went to sleep.  I got out a litter box for her as well, hoping that she knew to use one.  I offered her water, but she didn’t appear to know what to do with the bowl, nor did she seem to know what to do with water.  I moistened and softened some of the cat kibble my adult cat eats, and she seemed to have no idea what to do with that, either.  I dribbled some water into the right side of her mouth, away from the bruises and cuts on the left side, although I did get some water on them to keep them soft.  She sort of drank it, but seemed pretty confused.  So off we went to a pet store looking for some kitten milk replacer and a bottle with which to try to feed her.

Mission accomplished I mixed up the milk and tried to offer it to her in the bottle.  She got a couple of drops on her mouth, which she seemed to really like, but with the cuts on her gums, lips and face, to say nothing of the broken tooth, she just wasn’t able to suckle.  So I sort of squeezed the milk out of the bottle on the right side of her mouth.  She lapped and drank it, very eagerly.  She drank about a tablespoon, cuddled for a bit, then I put her into her box to sleep.  Which she did.  A few hours later she peeped/meowed so I got her out and took her to the litter box.  She use the litter box right away, which thrilled me beyond words.

We fed her with the bottle Sunday, and she took at least a tablespoon each feeding.  She started to seem to be feeling better and wanted to pounce and play.  She was pretty unstable on her feet, limping and keeping weight off her right front foot, but otherwise seemed to be recovering from her ordeal.  At first she was somewhat afraid of us and our hands, but quickly learned that we are gentle and will feed her.  I gave her a bit of a sponge bath with a washcloth, but was afraid to give her a real bath in case the injury to her leg was worse than it seemed, and in case she got chilled.  I also diluted some hydrogen peroxide and with a cotton swab I cleaned her cuts and her eyes.  The right eye pretty quickly cleared up.  The left was getting better, but still not clear.  It seemed like it would just take another few sessions, though.

Monday I called the vet and explained how I found her and asked what I should do.  We already have 2 dogs and a cat, and weren’t interested in having any more pets, but I just couldn’t leave her there to die.  Our vet is wonderful.  He said to bring her in anyway and if we decided we couldn’t keep her they would work to find her a home.  They kept her overnight, treated her for cat lice and worms, xrayed her right front leg and just took fantastic care of her.  There were no breaks or fractures in her right front leg.  It took a bit of doing, but the problem turned out to be pain in one of her toes, from which she should recover completely.  The broken tooth is a baby tooth, which will be replaced by her adult teeth before long, so nothing needs to be done there.

The vet tech who cared for her taught her to eat canned cat food mixed with kitten milk replacer out of a bowl.  Being able to eat from a bowl was a high priority if I was going to keep her.

After much thought and discussion with the members of the  household I decided to keep her after all.  She was literally placed before me.  I just have to care for her.  So Tuesday afternoon I picked her up from the vet and brought her home.

Here she is after arriving home.  Notice the healing cut on her upper lip.  The photo shows her eyes looking bluish.  They don’t appear that blue in person, they are an indescribably sort of neutral color.  No clue what they will change to as she gets her adult coloring.

Minion 14 June 2016, Home

We are still trying to decide what her name should be.  Minion is one option being considered, Mini for short.  One of the household members doesn’t like that, so we are hoping that the perfect name makes itself known soon.

Over these past two weeks she has changed a lot.  Typical of kittens at this age she is eating very large amounts for her current size, sleeping a lot, playing non-stop whenever she is not sleeping or eating.  She loves to play with toys, is trying to explore her world and has learned that her people won’t hurt her.  She has also learned that the 2 dogs aren’t that scary, and she is considering trying to play with them.  They like to stand or lay behind me when I’m playing with her, so she has gotten used to having them nearby.

This was taken shortly after she arrived home.

Minion 14 June 2016, Home

And here she is having her first semi-solid meal at home:

Minion 14 June 2016, First solid-ish meal!

Here she is at an estimated 7 weeks:

Mini Minion Cocoa Puff about 7 weeks

Hawkeye Cat hasn’t been thrilled to have a tiny interloper in his space, but since she is confined to one area, and kept in a carrier when not being supervised, he seems to be getting more interested in her.  They must be kept separate for a month due to the lice.  Both have been treated, but due to her tiny size (16 ounces when she went to the vet on 13 June) she has to be re-treated again after 2 weeks, and I believe once more 2 weeks after that.  At first they hissed at each other, but now he’ll sometimes come watch briefly when she is playing.

He sleeps by me on the bed.  I bring her upstairs in her cat carrier so she is near us, but no risk to him.  I’ll take her to her litter box if we wake during the night, but won’t let her play.  I play with her when we get up in the morning until she seems to be hungry and ready to eat.  Feed her, pet her and then time to rest.

Knitting Talk and Keeping Track of Row Count

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I’m not the usual knitter.  I rarely knit sitting in a chair or on the couch.  Most of my knitting is done either while walking or while commuting.  In both these cases I need my knitting supplies to be portable.  I’m also usually also doing something else, like talking or even reading.  Thus I’m nearly always distracted at random intervals.

So I love to knit things that I call ‘mindless’.  That means that I’m relatively easily able to do the pattern without having to constantly keep an eye on a chart or instructions.  I knit socks using a recipe, not line by line instructions.  I knit lace where once going the pattern tells me what comes next.  With lace usually I just need to know what the repeat is and I can just do that all across a row.

But just because I want to be able to simply knit and knit and knit doesn’t mean that I don’t have to pay at least some attention to how long my piece is getting.  With socks for example I need to make them match.  So I have to do the same things in the same places on each of the pair.  Many people do this by taking notes and  having the notes with their project.  But my projects must be able to go on the move with me, walking dogs or whatever, so I can’t easily keep a notebook by me.

Instead I use a combination of things.  First I keep my counting on my project and second I use Ravelry for my notes.  I’ve tried any number of methods of keeping track of rows, from some lovely tools by Hide and Sheep to simple coil-less safety pins from Schoolhouse Press.  For larger projects the counters by Hide and Sheep are marvelous, but for socks I prefer the pins.

I enjoy knitting socks.  They are a great take along project.  While I have knit socks using many techniques over time I have come to prefer knitting toe up, on 2 circular needles using the Fish Lips Kiss Heel.  Many people like knitting socks 2AAT (Two at a time), so both socks of a pair on the same pair of 2 circular needles, but that technique I find very slow and cumbersome.  However, I do want to finish both socks of a pair at about the same time.  I enjoy the excitement of a new project, but hate to finish a sock and then have to start the mate!  The initial excitement of a new yarn, a new project, is gone, and even worse, I have to figure out all the decision points, where to put the heel, how many increases how often for the toe, when to start the cuff ribbing, and then do it all over.

Instead what I like to do is start the toe of the first sock, knit several rounds, then start the toe of the mate.  From that point on I alternate back and forth every so often.  I stop at or before every point of change, finishing the toe, starting the heel, where calf shaping starts, etc, and get the mate to the same point before doing the change and moving on.

Mermaid Sock Hop

When I’m done doing the toe increases and get a few rounds above I’ll put a coil-less safety pin in the last increase, and then count rounds from that point up.  I’ll insert another one after 10 rounds, then 20 rounds, then 30 rounds.  After a while I’ll take some out and just know that the remaining ones are 20 rounds apart, or 50, or 100, depending on the size of the project.

Mermaid Sock Hop

The photo above shows my initial marker with a lettered stitch marker in the safety pin to let me keep track of which sock is which.  Notice the distance from that first pin to the next one is farther than the ones after.  I have reused the one I had in the 10th round and used it to mark the 60th round.  As I go farther I will remove the marker for the 30th round and reuse it, eventually leaving me with markers every 20 rounds.

After I start above the heel I’ll move the starter marker to the completion of the heel turn and use that to count on up the leg.

Mermaid Sock Hop

Mermaid Sock Hop

So that’s how I like to mark my rounds/rows in travel projects.  It works well, is light weight, simple and easy to use.  Every so often I’ll edit the project page in Ravelry to keep track of how many rounds/rows to some point of interest, both so I can do the same thing with the mate and so I’ll know what I did if I use the same or similar yarn again.

Linen Hankies

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I love linen hankies.  At first they are a bit crisp, but with use they become very soft, with a smooth subtle sheen.  I prefer cloth hankies to using kleenex, so I have and use a lot of hankies, both cotton and linen.  A few years ago I looked at my hankies and realized most of them needed to be replaced.  Some due to staining some due to the fabric disintegrating.  Cotton especially will simply fall apart after a while.

Some of my favorites were some small, women’s sized linen hankies that I had purchased years before.  When I tried to find more they just weren’t available.  I could find some linen men’s hankies but they were incredibly expensive.  So I decided to make my own.  I purchased 2 yards of white handkerchief linen fabric for less than it would  have cost to purchase 2 men’s linen handkerchiefs.

I always wash fabric before I make anything with it, so I serged the cut edges of the fabric then washed and dried it twice to remove any sizing.  Then using the pulled thread method I trued (squared) the cut edges of the fabric.   The fabric was about 53 inches wide before washing.  I didn’t measure it after washing, but I expect there was the usual amount of shrinkage.

Not wanting to waste any fabric I decided to use the full width of the fabric and make as many hankies as would fit across evenly.  I measured off 5 equal width hankies across the fabric, deep enough to make them essentially square, about 10″ x 10″.  I made 10 of these.  But they were pretty big, larger than I need, larger than fits easily in my pocket.

So the next set was 6 across.  These were about 8.5 x 8.5 inches, a much nicer width for my needs.  Plus it would give me more hankies for the same amount of fabric as the 10×10’s.

All of these I used pulled threads to be sure that I was perfectly with the grain, that they were perfectly square.  The first of the hankies that I hemmed I kept the edges square.  I prefer to use a rolled hem.  After the first one I decided it would be faster and easier for me if the corners were rounded instead of square, so all the rest have been rounded.  To round the corners I fold the hankie blank in half then quarter, being very careful to keep the edges and corner points together.  Once it is folded into quarters, all 4 corners together, I cut off the corner into a gentle curve.

The rolled hem is a lovely way to hem linen as it completely encases the cut edge of the fabric.  With fabric this fine I can do a very narrow hem that is very stable.

A very nice thing about linen is that I can finger press the fold to make this hem.  Just a bit of careful folding then press the fold between my finger and thumb to crease it.  My sewing books say to use a sharp needle when working linen.  For this hem I much prefer a blunt, rounded needle, as it will move easily between threads, not pierce and split them.

There are plenty of resources on how to do a rolled hem, but here are some photos of what I do.  I start in the middle of a straight section, take a tiny stitch to anchor the thread then start the alternating tiny stitches between the folded edge and down into the fabric far enough from the edge to make the rolled hem.  The left has been hemmed, the right not yet done.

Linen Hankie Rolled Hem

Here are some photos of a section already in progress, where I have the needle through the folded edge.

Linen Hankie Rolled Hem

Linen Hankie Rolled Hem

Linen Hankie Rolled Hem

Here are photos of the alternating stitches.

Linen Hankie Rolled Hem

Linen Hankie Rolled Hem

After I have 3 or 4 of these paired stitches it’s time to pull the thread to tighten and roll the hem.  I will help it to fold over, flattening it as the thread is tightened.  Sorry that there is blurring, it isn’t easy in relatively poor lighting to get clear photos of something this small.

Linen Hankie Rolled Hem

Linen Hankie Rolled Hem

Linen Hankie Rolled Hem

As might show up in the photos, I take the stitches through 2 or 3 threads at a time.  I use the same technique and number of threads regardless of the weight of the fabric.  The scope just changes, the distance that the fabric must first be folded, then that distance again as the line along which to take the body stitches.

That 2 yards of fabric gave me a lovely stack of new hankies.  At the very end of the fabric I ended up changing from 6 to 8 across the width of the fabric, making 2 courses of that instead of one of 6 across and  having extra fabric left over.  The 8 across are only about 6.5 inches across, and slightly less deep.  They are not quite square, but they let me use all of the fabric.  I do like the small size as well.  They fit well in smaller pockets.

Schoppel-Wolle Fliegende Untertasse Socks

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In my last, now long ago, post I had a photo of a pair of fingering socks I was working on using Schoppel-Wolle Fliegende Untertasse yarn.  I picked this yarn up on sale in part because I liked the colors and in part because it looked new and interesting.  It comes the paired yarn in a disk, wound around a core, sandwiched between 2 pieces of stiff paper/thin cardboard.  The yarn information is printed on those pieces of cardboard.

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I forgot to get a photo of the spool as it came.  Here is a photo from the Schoppel-Wolle Fliegende Untertasse page on their web site.  The core and outside paper have been removed so you can see the color all the way through.  Note there are 4 colors.

Schoppel-Wolle Fliegende Untertasse

The yarn on the spool is wound with 2 strands together.  So each strand is dyed the same, to make matching socks. There is enough yarn to make a pair of crew or low crew length socks for my medium sized woman feet (Women’s 8.5 Wide or Men’s 7.5 Wide shoes).  So about the ‘usual’ length one gets for a ball of sock yarn.

The instructions said to mount the spool in a way that the yarn may be unwound in order to wind each strand of yarn into its own ball.  I took a pencil and a string, put the pencil through the spool, tied the string to each end of the pencil and hung it over a chair back.  Then I sat on the floor while my DH had a movie on and I would pull off some of the paired yarn, then wind each strand into its own ball.  Pull, wind one, wind two.  Repeat till all the paired yarn has been separated into 2 balls.

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As per my preference I started these socks from the toe, knitting up the foot to the cuff.  Because of the way the yarn would pool I was very careful to start the same point in the yarn on each sock.

Schoppel-Wolle Fliegende Untertasse FLK socks

The knitting was fun as it was a bit of an adventure to see what color would come next, what the yarn would do.  Part way up the foot the colors started to behave differently in how they swirled.  At first I was confused, but then realized that the swirls were changing direction as well as width and vibrancy!  That was really fun.

Schoppel-Wolle Fliegende Untertasse Fish Lips Kiss Heel Socks

The spirals narrowed back down, which worked very well for the heel I prefer (Fish Lips Kiss Heel) not significantly changing how the spirals behaved.

Schoppel-Wolle Fliegende Untertasse Socks

Going up the leg the spirals again changed width and vibrancy.  I just loved how each stitch, each round, was different.  Not in the knitting, this was all stocking stitch, but in the mystery of what color would come next.  The color repeats are short, only a few stitches each, most places, so it was always fun to see what came next.

Schoppel-Wolle Fliegende Untertasse Yarn

In order to get as much length as possible I did most of the leg in stockinette, then changed to my favorite ribbing for the last few inches.  I think another time I would do more of the leg in the ribbing, but I’m not sure, as my preferred ribbing is a slip stitch ribbing, which disrupts the pooling.

Schoppel-Wolle Fliegende Untertasse

I expect I will keep an eye out for more of this yarn.  It is really fun to knit, I love these colors and love how the color changes keep things interesting in an otherwise very plain, simple project.