And what to my wondering eyes did appear, but… snow!

This was the scene on my street when I woke up this morning; a few more inches have fallen since.

I haven’t received my “The City of Minneapolis has declared a Snow Emergency and anywhere you’re even thinking about parking is now illegal” email yet, but I bet it’s on its way.

I’m knitting away on my Koigu Falling Leaves socks – I have about 2/3 of the 2nd sock left to knit. (What baby sweater? Huh? Ends? What are you talking about?)

No knitting pictures today because I wanted to show off my new slippers. One of my lifelong desires has been to own a pair of novelty slippers. As lifelong desires go, it’s pretty lame, true. But I had never come across the perfect pair of novelty slippers for me. There were some Siberian Husky slippers at Target once… only in kids’ sizes. An ex-boyfriend had some bear paw slippers (ala Homer Simpson), but they just really weren’t my thing. Then last week, I discovered… black cat slippers.

Oh yeah. Notice how the tails are shaped very similarly to the Chaotic Kitty’s crooked stubby tail?

“What the…?”

Happy feet! The soles on these slippers are about an inch thick and super cushy.

So far Chaos hasn’t attacked my feet while I’m walking, which I think shows admirable restraint, what with the tails and all.

Perhaps because he was much more focused on playing fetch with his tail-free red sparkly mouse.

“I’m a predator. Get over it.”

Big sigh

Last night I knitted with Jeanne again. More accurately, Jeanne knitted,


and I wove in ends on the sweater for my coworker Maranda’s baby (known to be a boy). The baby who was probably born days ago, but Maranda’s (male) boss told her to just give a call and let us know sometime after she was home… We figure we’ll hear back at about the time the baby starts preschool.

Jeanne kindly pointed out that the sweater I’m insisting is sized for a one-year old probably won’t fit an average child until he’s two. Huh. Well then. Why am I bothering to weave in the ends now?! I have years to do it!

When I weave in ends, I apparently emit deep sighs with annoying regularity. Sometimes I catch myself. Last night I caught Jeanne sighing, too, as the sweater she’s working on isn’t one she would necessarily have picked to knit (it’s a special request from her mom) and in revenge, the sweater is fighting Jeanne knit over purl.

Mr. Intensity (aka “Fang Boy”) hasn’t much to say for himself today. Just that he’s keeping an eye on you… and you… and you, too.

A girl and her cat, a cat and his… sweatpants

For the past several months, Chaos had an unusual interest in a pair of green sweatpants. This was not an exclusive relationship, however; he occasionally focused on a grey Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) sweatshirt. I have no pictures because he was usually quite secretive about this behavior. When he wasn’t secretive about it, I was generally gawking at him and trying to figure it out.

Friends pointed out that although it was certainly more simple to have a pair of sweatpants around than a second cat, maybe Chaos needed some company – company more interesting and interactive than sweatpants. However, since the sweatpants have remained on the shelf for the past several weeks, maybe the sweatpants thing was just one of those phases kids go through. (Don’t get me started on phases. His Sweatpants Phase was much better than, say, his Jackson Pollock phase. That was messy.)

What did this relationship consist of? Primarily of him dragging the sweatpants or sweatshirt off the shelf and often into another room. It isn’t easy for a cat to drag a large item of clothing around with his mouth, no matter that said cat is a muscular 15 pounds. I never wear the grey MPR sweatshirt, but when I put on the green sweatpants recently, I discovered that it’s not easy to be sweatpants that have been dragged around by a cat – my poor sweatpants are covered with numerous fang holes.

The Evidence
The Culprit
“Mmmmm… warm laundry…”

“Wait – are those sweatpants I see?!”

My name is Chris and I have a small weakness for knitting bags…

It all started harmlessly enough. My dad gave me a prototype knitting bag that one of the rubber stamp designers he works with had given him.

It’s a cleverly designed bag – it has pockets everywhere and is spacious enough for a good sized project. But I don’t do so well with light colors: I spill mochas and pinot noir on them and then set them down in muddy puddles. So this bag holds assorted tools, zippers, and early projects.

I next picked up a bag at the Land’s End Inlet. It’s good sized, has lots of interior pockets, and is water resistant vinyl.

It came with a mysterious little mat and a nifty little bag that was very handy for carrying extra circular needles. Eventually one of my friends broke it to me gently that it was a diaper bag.

Oh.

Soon after, while browsing at Depth of Field, I picked up what became my very favorite knitting bag. Alas, after I got Chaos, the lack of zipper on this beloved bag was extremely problematic.

“Cool! I haven’t been in this bag for a long time. I wonder where it’s been?”

(Shhh. The bag has been retired to my closet.)

It was replaced by a handy Eagle Creek tote bag that would be perfect if it was just a little wider. (I am completely weak for Eagle Creek bags of all sorts, from luggage to tiny shoulder bags. I probably have at least 15 Eagle Creek bags of various sorts. But, since we’re just talking knitting bags here..)

Moving right along… Next follows an assortment of bags in no particular order. Most hold yarn in my closet or are used for holding inactive projects.

This bag was from Yarnover, the Minnesota Knitter’s Guild’s annual spring market and class event. An attractive bag, but alas – no zipper.

This one’s from (you’ll never guess) the Taos Wool Festival. Since it’s the size of a small suitcase, it’s most suited for shopping at fiber festivals.

I have a pair of Bagsmith’s handy freestanding project bags. I like them, but mostly use them for storage because they don’t have zippers.

This is my sock knitting project lunch box, purchased for $0.25 at a yard sale a few years ago. Completely cat resistant.

I mentioned my Red Tango mini bowling bag a few days ago, so haven’t included it again here.

Here’s a very new bag that I’ve been using to carry my current sock project. It’s a Laurel Burch, about 6″ tall. Purple cats, black cats, green cats. Doesn’t get much better than that. I like this bag so much that I’m ordering a larger version of it because… obviously I don’t have enough knitting bags.

I also have a larger Laurel Burch bag, which was pictured a few weeks ago (without Chaos). It’s a fun bag that I picked up in Taos last year, but it’s so bright I find it traumatic to carry, so I use it to hold inactive WIPs.

Um, yeah, so maybe I have a small problem with knitting bags. Just maybe…

Free, free at last

We have our family Christmas on Christmas Eve, starting around 3 pm, so yesterday I was up at 6:30 am, baking a pumpkin pie and finishing Bamboozelle.

The pattern leaves attaching the i-cord until the very end. I decided that it would be a lot easier to attach the i-cord first, so the sewing would be hidden by the lining. If I’d really been thinking, I probably just would have knit attached i-cord around the top lip of the basket and saved myself some sewing. Then I started on the part I was really dreading – the internal structure. I’d picked up some buckram to use for this part.

I initially tried connecting the pieces with tape, as suggested in the pattern. It looked pretty good…

but made this weird crinkling noise that bothered me. So I stitched the corners together. (Let’s just note here that I have extremely rudimentary sewing skills. It would be swell if y’all skipped mocking me on the next bit.).

Nowhere near as nice as the tape, but at this point, I was starting to eye the clock nervously, so I pressed onward and started the lining. I had some nice cream-colored satin to use for the lining (and hey, if you need to line something, I have a lot left – what the heck was I thinking??? I can cut ya a deal on some buckram, too), although it looks creamy white in this picture…

Bonus – no blood was drawn during the finishing. Some days, I guess that’s all a girl can ask. For all my moaning about this project, I’m mightily tempted to knit Bamboozelle Leatherette for myself – especially since it requires no internal structure or lining. I do love that woven basket stitch… Back to our family Christmas. My stepmom liked Bamboozelle, my sister-in-law liked the tabbycat mittens, and they both liked the wine charms, so all was well. Whew!!!

I got several great knitting gifts. The first was a copy of Alterknits. Although I may never knit a screen door (one of the projects), it’s a beautifully photographed book that doesn’t cover the same territory as most knitting books, so it works for me. And I suppose I’d better just ‘fess up before Jeanne outs me… I’m helpless in the face of a nifty new knitting book. I have a startling number of knitting books for someone who has only been knitting for five years (um, does it help that only 1/2 the top shelf is knitting related?!):

Moving right along, I also got a fun hat kit from my dad and stepmom – they picked it up during their semester-long stay in Alnwick Castle and environs.

Here’s hoping everyone had a great holiday, whatever that might entail for you. Chaos sends his regards…

Tagged again…

Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot.
The Houston Chronicles
Kim’s BlogPlanet
Alien

Where am I going…and why am I in this handbasket?
Stumbling Over Chaos

Questions
What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was in grad school for rhetoric and technical writing and was actually involved in a relationship (gasp!).

What were you doing a year ago? Pretty much exactly what I’m doing now, except I wasn’t blogging. It’s a wild life, I know, I know.

5 snacks you enjoy?

  1. Orville Redenbacher SmartPop! Kettle Korn
  2. Brie on Blue Diamond Pecan Thins
  3. Olives (garlic or feta stuffed in particular)
  4. Flourless chocolate cake
  5. Peanut butter M&Ms

5 songs you know all the lyrics to
This is kinda hard, because I don’t necessarily remember that I know the lyrics to any particular song unless I’m singing along.

  1. “The Revolution Starts Now” by Steve Earle
  2. “Mark Rothko Song” by Dar Williams
  3. “America, America” by Libby Roderick
  4. “Statue of Jesus” by the Gear Daddies
  5. “Handcuffed to a Fence in Mississippi” by Jim White

5 things you would do if you were a millionare

  1. Quit my job
  2. Pay off my mortgage
  3. Buy slightly larger (maybe even 800 sq ft!) condo or loft in the same neighborhood – I want indoor parking
  4. Travel in Europe
  5. Bike across the US

5 bad habits

  1. Blowing off exercise
  2. Eating Orville Redenbacher SmartPop! Kettle Korn
  3. Drinking too much wine
  4. Being impatient
  5. Constantly applying Un-Petroleum Vanilla Lip Balm

5 things I like doing

  1. Reading
  2. Knitting
  3. Bicycling
  4. Playing Diablo II in the winter
  5. Hanging out with friends and family

5 things you would never wear, get new, or buy new again

  1. Bell bottoms
  2. Leg warmers
  3. Tube tops
  4. Thong underwear
  5. High heels

Tag 5 people

  1. Ana
  2. “me” from Bermuda
  3. Eileen
  4. Jeanne – even tho she probably won’t play :p
  5. Hickmama

Bambooblock

Jeanne got a picture of me taking a picture of her the other night. Am I glad she just had her camera phone! You’re going to go look at that picture, and all you’re going to have to say about it is “my, what large hands you have there, Chris.”

Bamboozelle is blocking as I type:

Yup, that would be a square Rubbermaid container under there – 680 ml, if you’re particularly curious.

Chaos didn’t particularly care that I finished knitting Bamboozelle:

“Heh. You read the finishing directions yet? Heh. Come back and talk to me when you get through that bit. And where’s the i-cord, eh?”

He was much more interested in tracking down his lost fetch toys:


“I’m sure it ricocheted off my paw into here, but I just…can’t…quite…reach…”

My coworker Rose gave me a very funny book for Christmas: How to Live with a Neurotic Cat. Hmm… wonder what gave her the idea…

Why, yes, that is me reflected in the background (remember the giant living room mirror?).

Bamboozled

Last night I got together with Jeanne for a bit of knitting. Since Jeanne and I have both recently started blogging, we discovered that there are new rituals we must learn – mainly, taking more pictures:

Before I tell you anything else about knitting with Jeanne, I have to provide some backstory. I’ve been working on Bamboozelle from knitty for a Christmas present. The pattern has been fighting me from the very beginning.

I’m not using the Alchemy Bamboo called for in the pattern. True, it’s completely gorgeous yarn, but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend $28 on 138 yards of yarn for a teeny-tiny basket. Instead, I’m using Southwest Trading Company Bamboo (Fiery Red), which has a lot more yardage, is $14 cheaper, and not nearly as spectacular as the Alchemy Bamboo. The weight of the two yarns is comparable.

After I cast on and started to knit the basketweave pattern, I could tell something wasn’t right. The stitches that slanted to the right looked great, but the stitches that slanted to the left were strangely twisted and not at all like the picture.

I have a fair number of stitch dictionaries, but could only find the “woven basket stitch” in my beloved Mon Tricot Knitting Dictionary (well worth the $0.69 I paid for it at the thrift store).

Bamboozelle has this for the right side row:
knit 1, [knit into back of second stitch on left needle, knit into back of first stitch on left needle, slide both stitches off the needle together] to last stitch, knit 1

Mon Tricot provided this for the right side row:
knit 1, [pass right needle behind first stitch on left needle, knit second stitch on the left needle (through the front of the stitch, as usual), knit first stitch on left needle (through the front of the stitch, as usual), slide both stitches off the needle together] to last stitch, knit 1

The Mon Tricot version looked pretty good on the dishcloth I started for testing stitch patterns because the bamboo yarn didn’t hold up well to being ripped out a few times (it started to get very fuzzy).

Back to the bamboo.

The stitch pattern was fun to knit once I got the hang of it, but I couldn’t read while I worked on it. Anyway, I brought Bamboozelle along last night. Jeanne had a scarf that she quickly decided wasn’t the right use for the yarn and so ripped out. Alas, it turned out she didn’t have another project with her, so she was a bit at loose ends (sorry, couldn’t resist the bad pun).

Meanwhile, I was hoping to get the best of Bamboozelle’s bottom shaping. I was completely stuck on the first row and couldn’t get the count even close to right:

K6, [(k1, k2tog) six times, k10] three times, [k1, k2tog] six times, k6. 90 sts rem.

Jeanne eventually took pity on me (I suspect it was just too painful to watch me knit and tink and knit and tink and knit and tink…) and took over Bamboozelle while I pulled a sock project out of my bag. Whew!

She was great! She knit bottom rows 1 – 8 (um, I think – Jeanne, can you please confirm that?!) with no trouble at all. Obviously, she is very gifted and you should all bring your knitting woes to Jeanne to solve.

Onward. I am completely weak when it comes to knitting bags. Sometime I’ll do an entire entry with nothing but pictures of my knitting bags. You will probably want to stage an intervention. Look at this cute little Red Tango bag (perfect for a small project!) that I picked up at Whole Foods a few weeks ago:

Since I only came home with this bag instead of this bag and the 6 others that I also liked, I think I did pretty well.

Here’s a gratuitous shot of Chaos taken with my new camera. Love my new camera! It’s an Olympus Stylus Digital 800 (and no, I didn’t pay anywhere near the suggested retail price).

Yes, Virginia, you can read and knit

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I can read and knit at the same time. In the comments, Carrie K gave me an idea for a blog entry on how I accomplish this (thanks again, Carrie!).

Knitting while reading is a skill that, like any other, can be developed – if it’s a skill that interests you. It appealed to me because I don’t watch TV and I got kind of behind on my reading when I started to devote a lot of time to knitting.

Five years ago, when I first started knitting, I would only listen to music without words while I knitted. Then I graduated to music with words and eventually to books on tape (unless the project required a lot of focus). But most of the books that I wanted to read weren’t available on tape or cd from the library.

When I complained about this problem to my knitting friend Lisa from Duluth, she asked why I just didn’t read while I knit. Um, whoa – because I never considered such a thing possible? I was awed by her ability and sure that I could never do that.

But just in case, I picked up a ReadUpon book holder. (No link provided to ReadUpon.com, since they appear to no longer exist, alas.)

The ReadUpon seemed like it would pretty well for holding a book in my lap while I knitted in my comfy chair.

So I grabbed some large print books from the library and decided that I should start with a very simple knitting project – the miles of i-cord I needed to make for felted bag handles.

It wasn’t immediate. I started out looking at my knitting more than I was looking at the book, but slowly was able to look at the book more than my knitting. I quickly graduated from large print books. The second it took to lift a hand from my knitting and flip a page became no big deal. Soon I was able to read virtually anything while I knitted. And I became able to count things in my knitting while I was reading (which must be good for my brain!), so that I could knit more complicated projects while reading.

I still can’t read while I cast on or bind off or do cables or complicated stitches like the woven basket stitch. But ribbing, seed stitch, and some simple lace patterns go ok. And I get a lot more reading done now. But there’s still one large problem…

“Why the heck are you reading and knitting when you should be playing with me?!”

Added later: Now, really – this was meant to be a rough how-to. There’s nothing special about me except that I wanted to be able to do this and I practiced, starting slowly and simply, then working up to more complicated. If you like to read and you like to knit – it’s definitely worth a shot. YOU can do it. Yes, YOU. If not you, than who? 😉