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The Knitting Post

Posted Aug 25 2008 6:48pm
I'm off to a good start with my creative resolution for the year. I suppose it will surprise no one that the project I finished first became a cat toy--that would be my little practice stockinette piece on paintbrush needles. I set myself a deadline to stop on my last day in the store before Knoxville, which was Monday.

Cheetah made up my mind for me. She's obsessed with chasing those strings that are so high she needs us to pick her up--ceiling fan chains, and most especially the pull for the attic stairs. (My fault, I think; I let her and Velcro play with my hair when they were tiny, and they still like dangling toys.) She has gotten so spoiled that she will stand in the hallway beneath the attic and ask us to pick her up so she can sit on our shoulders to bat at the string--often leaning on our heads to maintain her balance as she stands on her hind legs. So I knew I wanted to make her a string that she could chase when I wasn't there.

I'd only used part of the yarn when I stopped knitting. I decided I'd braid the rest of it so the cats would have a different texture to pull on. I had a great deal of help (read f-e-l-i-n-e i-n-t-e-r-f-e-r-e-n-c-e) with the braiding process, but after about 4 feet of it, I discovered I still had a long way to go. So I knotted the end of the braid and again at the very end, leaving the strands loose but controlled. Thus the cats have effectively three different strings in one.

That's Velcro, all grown up now, waiting to see what I'm going to do with it next. I haven't entirely decided where to hang it, since I want part of it above their heads.

I'm definitely keeping it in the kittens room, also known as the exercise room, since the weight bench and stationary bike are in there. (It was a guest room when we bought the house, but our first guest stayed 3 years, so we've converted it. You'll notice the walls match the yarn perfectly--the former owner decorated this for his son. The third bedroom belonged to his daughters, and yes, it is decorated with flowers and pink stripes.) So far I've not been satisfied with its location, but it has gotten attention.

Cheetah still seems to prefer it when there's a human at the other end, but that is her up above while Bailey and Velcro interact with it below.

I did start another project long before I finished with this one. I wanted to use the yarn I got for the "beginner" vest, since I knew I had several balls of yarn left. I also remembered that my former sister-in-law had given me some for Christmas along with a sweater pattern book; she was a knitting fiend and was delighted when we had something in common. What I didn't remember was how much she'd given me.

The green yarn is from my vest project and the pale pink I bought as practice yarn, but the two full bags came from my sister-in-law. There are nine skeins and 6 hand-wound balls of yarn in these bags! Although I might not have chosen these myself, I think this is the part where you don't look that gift horse in the mouth. Thanks, Susan! I also found the incomplete vest, closer to completion than I remembered, but also more complicated. It had ribbing at the shoulders, a fancy lace-like pattern and pockets which I'd forgotten. I don't think I would wear it if I finished it now, so instead I pulled out the needles and cut the yarn away from it.

I started my project on a Thursday night, three weeks ago this coming Thursday. I will probably always remember that because it was at James' aikido class. He'd developed the inability to attend regularly that night because we both have the day off and he didn't want to leave me. Thus I made him a deal: if he started going to Thursday night classes again, I'd go with him. His teacher/shihan is fine with this. He calls me a passive participant in the class because he knows I'm watching and listening, not fidgeting and looking bored. (I'm partial to Eastern philosophy, so it's not hard.) Of course, I knew I would need to do something with my hands, because 2 hours can be a long time to sit on a couch in a chilly dojo, and I can barely watch TV without doing something else. So I took along the green yarn in one of the numerous totebags I've collected in my career in bookstores (at least one per annual meeting).

I decided this time I really would start a beginner project--a scarf, in garter stitch. Of course, to be perverse and different, I decided to do the garter in purl rather than in knit stitches. It looks the same, but I tend to purl slightly looser. So I cast on 40 stitches and started another row. And unravelled it. And started again. When I thought I'd messed up I started again. And again. And finally I got it right, and realized it had actually been right earlier. Of course, I didn't understand why I had so much loose yarn while I was purling from the original row, so I cast on 13 more stitches to take up the slack. Good thing this is for me, because I'm being completely unconventional.

The yarn is a pretty green, but as you look closely it also has orange, blue and yellow strands. It's a blend of wool, alpaca and mohair (from sheep, llamas and goats respectively--I've also heard of rabbit and bear fur being used to knit), so I suspect the other colors are different material. I've worked on it nearly daily since I started, including today while waiting for the car to be inspected. It's long enough to wrap completely around my neck and touch, but I'm not done yet. When I told James it would probably not be finished until the weather warms up, he responded with a grin, "hurry up." He's tired of winter, methinks.

Since I've been so focused on knitting so far, I've neglected my cross stitch. This is a shame, as I'm about 3 hours (one night in front of the TV) from finishing one pattern completely. I've also got projects after that lined up; again the next one is for the cats. It is a clear pet bowl with a piece of fabric safely underneath for a cross stitch or needlepoint pattern. I needed a second water bowl for our thirsty herd, and I plan to use a fish pattern to put underneath, possibly a betta. Also I rediscovered a pattern I want to use for a breadbasket liner I bought years ago. But I've also made a list of future knitting projects: a scarf for James (has to be black or navy blue), socks, possibly a hat for James, a purse, a poncho and eventually a sweater.

Of course, as I'm an internet geek, in the past week I've also bookmarked about 50 knitting or crocheting or cross stitch or general craft sites (some from magazines I'd been reading over lunch) with patterns or tips or handcrafted needles and hooks. I am pretty sure I could work on projects I already have for the rest of my life and not finish them, but why stop?

Don't ever let me gamble--with my obsessive nature, I'm not sure I'd stop before I lost my cats, husband and house in a pot. Of course, I'd have to put down the keyboard and the knitting needles for that. Not gonna happen.
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