Friday, October 29, 2010

Catnip-stuffed Cat Toy: Free Pattern

I've developed a knitted cat toy pattern recently, and being currently without a cat, I would love a few knitters and their kitties to test it for me.

Sarah and her adorable Gabby have already given it a go and it found it reasonably suitable.

In particular, I'd like it to be tested with a superwash wool and a non-superwash wool - I want to know if the felting works for or against it in terms of longevity of play.

Please leave any and all feedback as comments - thanks much! Easy to read? Makes sense? Fun to knit? Fun to play with? The pattern is designed to be a reasonably easy intro to working on DPNs - do you think that's the case?

And even if you don't have comments - knit away, and may both you and the feline members of your family have fun!

Mouse for Kittie
Materials, Finished Size & Gauge:
I used Sirdar Eco Wool DK and 3.75mm dpns, but any pure wool would work nicely; use needles a size smaller than the ball band calls for.
This yarn and needle combo gave me a finished size of mouse about 3 inches long, with a gauge of about 23 sts per 4 inches. Ultimately, as long as it's a reasonably tight fabric - to keep the stuffing in - you're good.

Cast on 12 sts using your favourite method, leaving an 8 inch tail. Distribute across 3 dpns - 4 on each. Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist.

(Bonus expert tip: even if it is twisted, you can fix this after the first round. Make sure you check after knitting the first round, and if you need to, untwist!)

Knit 1 round even, pulling the first stitch nice and snug. Place a safety pin in the fabric to mark the start of round.
Round 2: (K1, m1, k2, m1, k1) 3 times. 18 sts.
Round 3: Knit.
Round 4: (K1, m1, k4, m1, k1) 3 times. 24 sts.
Rounds 5-9: Knit.
Round 10: (K2tog, k6) 3 times. 21 sts.
Round 11: Knit.
Round 12: (K2tog, k5) 3 times. 18 sts.
Round 13: Knit.
Round 14: (K2tog, k4) 3 times. 15 sts.
Round 15: Knit.
Round 16: (K2tog, k3) 3 times. 12 sts.
Round 17: Knit.
Round 18: (K2tog, k2) 3 times. 9 sts.
Round 19: Knit.
Round 20: (K2tog, k1) 3 times. 6 sts.

Cut yarn, leaving a 4-inch tail. Thread yarn onto darning needle and pull through rem stitches. Cinch to close.

Stuff mouse firmly with a combination of wool roving or snipped wool yarn ends, with a little bundle of catnip wrapped in a tissue in the middle. (Cats don't like the smell of plastic, so they may not like a polyester-stuffed mouse as much.)

Thread tail from cast-on onto darning needle and use it to gather the cast-on edge. It doesn't need to be pretty. Pull it tight to close and weave in both ends.

To make a tail, cut three 16 inch lengths of your yarn. Thread them through the gathered cast-on end, ensuring they are hanging evenly - you want 6 threads of about the same length. Tie an overhand knot in all six as close to the top as possible, and then braid the tail together, doubling each strand. When tail is about 3 or 4 inches long, finish with another overhand knot, and trim, leaving a 1-inch tassel.

Hand to cat, and see what happens.

Monday, October 25, 2010

One lousy stitch

The Harlot has experienced this issue recently, too.

I have been working two socks at the same time - no, not that way - just two socks on two different sets of needles. One is on dpns, the other on magic loop. I often do this, to take as a prop to my sock knitting classes.

I've been working on the two, on and off, and as it often the way with projects I take to classes as demos, I'm not always paying full attention to them. Stuff goes wrong.

Take a look at the current pair - both almost finished.

See something odd?

The one sock (the upper one in the photo) has a nice organic stripey pattern all throughout the sock. The second (the lower one in the photo) has a rather nifty and much more regular stripe pattern on the foot. The red is pooling on one side of the foot.

All well and good, but they don't look the same anymore.

I did some thinking and some counting and came to a rather embarrassing realization: I'd missed a gusset decrease somewhere, and one sock has one stitch more than the other. One single lousy stitch can make this much of a difference. Wild, eh?

(Yes, that's Dexter helping me with the photoshoot. He is sad that the socks seem to be too big for him.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

3 Months

Three months ago today Dexter moved in with us. In the first days after he was found, we shared fostering him with a neighbour, the lovely Florence. Dexter spent the days with us, and nights snuggled with Florence, as we didn't want to leave him alone in his injured and confused state.

In those first days, he mostly slept, as he was recovering from his injuries. He had a nasty cut on his tail, and wobbly back legs - likely due to a run-in with a bike or a scooter.

He moved in with us full-time on July 23rd, exactly a week after he mysteriously appeared in another neighbour's front yard. We got him a new collar and leash, and a tag with our phone number and his (new!) name inscribed on it. At that point, we were still searching for his family - online, through various animal services, and with posters distributed to vets all around the city and around the neighbourhood. At about the three week mark it became pretty clear that he'd settled in, he was feeling much better (thanks to Dr. Larry and team, our excellent vets) and no-one was looking for him. And over those weeks, he became our dog.

Based on how he looks, and his personality and behaviours, we're absolutely confident he's a beagle mix of some kind. We are also fairly sure that the other half of the mix is coonhound, as he looks remarkably like one - just half the size - and displays a lot of their known behavioural and personality traits, including a passion for treeing and barking at squirrels.

Whatever he is, he's definitely a scent-hound. He's also a quick study, a little stubborn, and mouthy.

Things we've learned in three months of living with a hound:
  • His favourite walk of the week is Tuesday morning - garbage day! Much to sniff.
  • He can run with great speed, although his right back leg is a bit flappy, the only lingering effect of his injuries.
  • He can open our front door if we forget to lock it.
  • He has a bedtime. Whether we've walked or not, no matter what we're all doing, at 10:45pm Dexter gets up on the bed and snuggles down for the night.
  • And balls of yarn are precisely that.... balls, to be chased around the house and played with.

Friday, October 22, 2010

If they don't provide a lanyard for the pass, you can always make one

Look! A crochet FO!

This is about as sophisticated as I get with a crochet hook, but I thought it was pretty clever....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Creativ Festival Classes

Just a reminder that I`m teaching a few classes at the Creativ Festival in Toronto this coming weekend...

Some of them are sold out (!), but a few spaces remain in the following classes:
-Cables 101, Friday at 6pm
-Fixing Mistakes, Saturday at 11am
-Designing Custom-Fit Socks, Saturday at 1pm.

More info on the classes and registration details here...

I like teaching at this show - it`s a great way to meet knitters from outside of the Toronto area.

And of course, there`s always some shopping to do.

I`ll also be making some appearances in the booth of A Needle Pulling Thread magazine - drop by to say hello.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Lizard Ridge Leftovers/Insanity Vest Continues Apace

This will certainly be a discussion piece. You're not seeing the full impact of the colours since it's a self portrait taken in our green bathroom in poor light.

I will wear it as you see it here - with a black t-shirt and jeans.

Since the photo was taken, I had a good evening of knitting and I'm into the final stretch of the body. The only decisions left will be how to edge it, and what I'll need to give Denny to thank her for weaving in all those ends...

I think for edging I'll just do a simple rolled edge - picking up stitches all the way around, knit a round or two, and then cast off.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

In Which I Show My Dirty Laundry, Metaphorically

A post on the Knittyblog about why I love spreadsheets, and how I use them to help me in my knitting.

Showing the world that snippet of my stash inventory feels like showing my dirty laundry in public, it really does.

Denny confessed to me today that she really couldn't understand how I could be good at math and bad at arithmetic. Ask anyone who's tried to split a restaurant bill with me - I always have to get my writer hubby to work out the tip.

On a different note: Happy Birthday, John. The world misses you. I miss you. You have been more of an influence on me than many know - and not just because of my undying love for Chelsea boots and caps.

Monday, October 04, 2010

At Last! A Solution for My Lizard Ridge Leftovers

I finished Lizard Ridge 3 years, 3 months and 10 days ago.

Since then, there has been a little plastic bag of leftovers in my stash.

When I cleaned out my stash a few weeks ago, I was reminded that it was there.

And I started thinking.

I'd always meant to use them up, these leftovers. I'd weighed it - there was about 400gm in the bag. (If truth be told, it's not entirely Lizard Ridge leftovers. There are a few bits and pieces from other projects in there, too.) But net net: I had 400m of Kureyon, mostly in little tiny 5g balls.

I had tried some crochet, but since there wasn't enough to make an actual blanket - and given that I already had a Kureyon blanket - it didn't seem like the right application.

I've been teaching a class recently on my Top-Down Vest pattern, and I've been working with the pattern, trying a few modifications and variations. The original pattern calls for worsted weight gauge - 20 sts/4 inches. But there was no reason I couldn't do it with an aran weight (18 sts/4 inches) - and 400m is just about exactly what I need to make a vest.

And the die was cast.

So I have began a top-down vest with my Lizard Ridge Leftovers.

There is a fine line between a knitting project that marks you as eccentric, and one that marks you as truly insane.

I'll let you judge whether I have crossed the line...

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Hats Hats Hats!

A few months ago I worked on a series of hat designs for Estelle yarns. Much fun was had...

There's the basic hat... Nice and simple, using Cascade 220 - with earflaps for warmth.

There's a kitten...

A devil...

A polar bear...

And naturally, a raccoon...

Free patterns available for download here. Something for every taste and personality!