Cats and Socks

April 27, 2010

Grey Cat went for bloodwork yesterday. His CBC is good, but his kidney values were still elevated so not sure if they can continue chemo. The tumor in his mouth does not seem to be getting any larger at the moment and he is able to eat okay. He has been very companionable to all, and is spending time today with Hal, his long-term little cow-colored buddy and the second oldest cat in the tribe:

You can see in the photo that Grey Cat’s cheek is a little brown; this is where he had the two radiation treatments. They are happy old boys right now, washing each others faces and enjoying the moment.

I have been able to get some knitting done at the vet’s office. Here is the progress on the Rivendell socks, designed by Janel Laidman and started in a previous post:

The color is coming out exactly as hoped. I deliberately started with the part that was all greens and light browns mixed, and aimed toward having the pinks begin lower down. In a woodland, you would have the greens and browns of the higher foliage with the pinks and red lower down in the understory growth.

Here is a closer shot of the design element:

If the design looks vaguely familiar, then you saw “Lord of the Rings.” The twist pattern mimics Arwen’s Evenstar pendant design:


Please stand by …

April 22, 2010

Sorry for no recentposts. My almost 20-year-old part Russian Blue cat has been getting ready to check out, and has needed almost constant care. He keeps bouncing back, so we have had him with us longer than anticipated.

Thi s cat had a vaccine-induced fibrosarcoma removed last August, and at that time, the vets did not think he would make it. He recovered wonderfully well, and made it through to February, when we found a lump in his jaw. We thought it was the fibrosarcoma returned, but it turned out to be an oral squamous cell carcinoma.

He was not a candidate for surgery, but they did remove several bad teeth and he had his first radiation treatment. He weathered this well, as he did the second radiation, but then had a reaction to the anesthesia and crashed. He required hand-feeding about every 3 to 4 hours for a week and a half before he came around and looked like he was going to make it.

Because they could no longer do anesthesia, they could not finish the course of radiation. He started chemo a week ago, responded well, and then last Saturday morning at 4:30 AM, we wound up in Red Bank Veterinary Hospital with our Grey boy almost in renal failure. After 3 days on IVs to flush his system, he has bounced back again and is home, eating, and getting various meds and herbal treatments (milk thistle for his liver, another tincture for kidneys).

All this, and trying to get to work every day and some other boring professional things. I picked up knitting needles one day and said, “what are these wonderous items?”

Poor Grey Cat. He is, at the moment, doing well, eating, marching around like he owns the place, and being the same old Grey Cat I have known for 17 years. I will try to post over the weekend, but this is where I have been the past couple of weeks.

Windswept Shetlands

April 11, 2010

We recently went through a veterinary emergency which threatened to remove Grey Cat, my senior statesman for the resident cat tribe, from us. Fortunately, he has pulled through for the moment although we know he is on borrowed time. We are just enjoying each day we have with him.

Prior to knowing I was about to spend an inordinate amount of money on veterinary bills, I bought the Little Peggy wheel blogged in an earlier entry along with the Coopworth fleeces below and an assortment of shetlands from  Windswept Farms in  Michigan.

Of the half-dozen Shetlands, all were nice but this is the one I started working with first:

This is a lovely musket color fleece, soft and clean, with very even color variations.

I had just read an article on spinning lace weight yarn with Shetland wool, so this was an opportunity to try out the process. The fleece is worked with in the grease. I bought a metal dog comb to comb out each lock, opening the tips and fanning out the cut ends of each. This is an extremely clean fleece and easy to work with in this fashion. Here is what the combed locks look like:

Notice that this box top is from a carton of printer paper, so it is eleven and one-half inches across — the flicked-open locks are almost that long!

What I had been reading said that spinning in the grease allows for a thinner strand — the grease holds things together. The idea is to try to spin down to a strand that is about 5 hairs thickness. So far, so good — it is holding together well and is pretty thin!

That is Emlyn, the blind cat, in the upper left, just below the flyer! He happened to be passing by as I took the shot.

The only problem is that I’m sure I started out spinning counterclockwise, but am now going clockwise so I may get a rude surprise when I skein off and find the first few yards going the other way!

Rivendell Socks

April 11, 2010

Sometime over the winter, an advertisement in one of the knitting magazines caught my eye. There were two of the prettiest socks I’d ever seen, both with a nature aspect to them. I immediately looked up the Web address given and found the site for knit designer Janel Laidman. Her two books, The Enchanted Sole and The Eclectic Sole, contain tons of fabulous socks inspired by nature, legends, fairy tales, and other colorful realms of idea. I ordered both.

The Eclectic Sole: Socks for Adventurous Knitters contains the pattern for the Rivendell Socks. Not only because I’m a big Lord of the Rings fan, but also because this is a very elegant looking design, I immediately had a similar reaction as I did with the Russula Cap. I had to have a pair.

Shortly after receiving the books, I began spinning up some green hand-painted merino roving I’d bought at the Woolbearers booth at the Garden State Sheep Show in October. It has varying shades of green, yellows, pinks, and light brown in it. It reminded me of the dappled sunlight filtering through new pale green spring leaves in the woods. Definitely material for the Rivendall Socks!

This was a big step for me, as I had always managed to avoid knitting from charts up until now. Just couldn’t manage to figure them out. However, Laidman’s charts are large (good for people with less-than-great eyesight) and clearly explained. I just wish the legend of which stitch is which was on the chart page so I didn’t have to keep looking to the back of the book. However, this is a small inconvenience to trade for such lovely patterns:

This is at the end of the first chart and has progressed a bit further in the past week. I will post another photo when I get to the end of the second chart.


April 10, 2010

I’ve been spinning for over 10 years now, but somehow managed to skip over spinning with Coopworth wool. Recently, I was pleased to be able to latch onto a couple of fleeces from Jim and Martha McGrath at Deer Run Sheep Farm in West Virginia.  Wow, was I happy with what popped up out of the box:

This is Sid the ram’s fleece:

And this is Agate’s wavy fleece:

The Coopworth is a relatively new breed, a cross of Romney and Border Leicester, both breeds I like to work with. I am very  much looking forward to spinning with these!

Spring 2010 Spin-Off

April 7, 2010

What fun!  I’m in the Spring 2010 issue of Spin-Off!

I entered a skein in their hand-dyed, hand-painted contest. Waited and waited to hear, then gave up and figured I was an also-ran. The new issue was posted online and I wanted to see who the winners were.

Downloaded the PDF of the article and flipped through it. Page one, nothing; page two, nada; page three, zip; page four — whoops! look at that!

Unfortunately, the photo was only of one strand and, of course, featured a lovely overspun spot. It did not give the slightest hint of the real color so, for all of you out there wondering, here is the full skein:

Slightly different than what made it into the magazine!

By the way, this was dyed using Wilton’s Icing Colors from the local A.C. Moore’s craft store.