Helper Kittens

I believe I’ve mentioned the importance of bins to my organizational scheme.  They really are quite central to the overall structure of my world.  Each book gets two bins, one for the yarn and swatches, and one for the finished pieces.  Watching the bins fill and empty is how I mark the progress of the books.

And yet, at the moment, I find myself with two empty bins (because Curls just finished up, and the next book is all ready for its photo shoot and so put tidily away,  Curls 2 is in progress, and the yarn for the book after that hasn’t started arriving yet).  Barry and Levon are quite content with this arrangement and have suggested I make it permanent.

helper kitten helps


Kitten Overlords Barry and Levon would like you to relax.  They think you very likely need a bit of a rest.  To help you in this quest, they will demonstrate a high quality napping strategy.  Please pay close attention.

kitty nap


I have a process.  I have a very specific process.  First I get yarn, then I swatch, then I write up a shockingly structured page of notes, then I type up the pattern.  The swatch and the page of notes and the label are all stapled together (with my nifty staple-free stapler…no actual staples needed, it makes a hole to tie the swatch through, so clever it hurts).  The result looks something like this.

swatches and notesThat is the process.  There is no changing the process.  There is no questioning the process.  It works beautifully.  I have everything I could need in one lovely pile.  It’s easy to keep track of and easy to refer to.  It’s a good system.

Unless, that is, you have a kitten.  A kitten with very bad habits when it comes to yarn (later events made it quite clear that the yarn fiend in question is Barry, but the details of those events will be left to the reader’s imagination).  If you have such a kitten, you may face a nibbling issue.

nibbled swatchIn which case the tail you intentionally left nice and long to tie to your page of notes may get chomped right off.  Now this is clearly not an insurmountable obstacle, and I can think of several solutions.  But it is an excellent reason to glower at Barry and question his decision making skills.  And possibly a reminder to put my notes away on a higher shelf.


I should be displaying impressive industry.  There are emails to write, yarns to select, stores to contact, swatches to knit.  In short, there are things to do.  But I regret to inform you that I will be doing none of those things for the next few minutes.  Because there is also this.

tonalA rare moment of kitten calm.  I’m going to bask in it while it lasts.  I’m sure you’ll all understand.  A moment like this needs to be documented for posterity.

HMS Cardboard

A box came in the mail yesterday.  A box of lovely yarn from Jaala over at Knit Circus.  The timing was perfect, as it was a cold, gray, rainy afternoon and The Boy was out of town and my sinuses were giving me fits and the dishwasher was broken and being an adult was feeling hard.  So a box of smooshy colorful yarn was the perfect remedy.  And very soon, I will be a good blogger and tell you all about the yarn (and maybe even send some of it home with a few lucky souls).

But today?  Today I simply must show you Kitten Overlord Barry, standing valiant at the helm of HMS Cardboard.  It’s a daunting task, but he’s up to the challenge and will bring us all safely home.

barry captain, small



The morning had one goal.  Now it’s not exactly a small goal, but it was something that could reasonably be accomplished if I was diligent.  The goal was pictures.  Pictures of the slippers, pictures of a technique I want I want to talk to you guys about, and pictures of our newest housemate.

I started with pictures of the slippers.  I got some snugly blankets, set everything up all tidy, and laid down the slippers.  I turned to grab the camera and, when I turned back, there was Barry.  Which made it more or less impossible to get just the right angle on the slipper because I was far too busy being stricken by the extreme cuteness overload.  Can you blame me?

helper barryI’ll get proper pictures in a minute, but for now, I need to revel in the cute.

P.S. The pattern will be coming out late this week (baring any excitement).  If you’re not already on the mailing list, you may want to join.  Folks on the list hear about new patterns first (and often get a discount or some other goodie).

True Love

Barry is a helpful and trustworthy kitten not normally prone to fits of yarn abuse.  After I’d carefully laid out the rainbow of yarns to take the picture I showed you last time, he sauntered over to see if he could be of any assistance.  I informed him I had the situation well under control and graciously sent him on his way.

I looked back a moment later to find he’d stretched himself out next to the rainbow and carefully pulled out his very favorite yarn in the whole world.  Out of the 56 yarns in the pile, he went straight for the Shibui Silk Cloud (delicately moving another yarn out of the way to get to it).

I'll take this oneI don’t know what it is about this yarn that fascinates him (I have other yarns in the same blend that he ignores, and other bases by the same company that he also ignores).  But this one clearly has some magical property that he simply cannot resist.  Whenever I’m working with it, I have to store the project zipped up in a knitting bag and keep the bag on a high shelf, or else he’ll dig it out and have a deeply private moment with it.  I found this out the hard way in the middle of a book project and I’m still not quite over the trauma.

He has excellent taste in yarn.  Clearly I need to use the leftovers from the project to make him a toy.

Piles and piles and piles

What was that?  Not enough yarn around here lately?  Well, I was just at Rhinebeck, and I do have every intention of bombarding you with just a wee bit of yarn from that little adventure.  But Rhinebeck is being followed by an honest-to-goodness vacation (the sort where I’m trying not to get on the computer every day and write blog posts), so said bombardment is going to have to wait till I’m back from that.

In the meantime though, rest assured there is yarn in my life.  This, is the pile of yarn for the current super-duper-secret project.

sneakypants yarnsMore specifically, that is most of the pile of yarn for that project.  There are a few others still waiting to find their way into that pile.  A nice purple, a creamy yellow, and even a totally respectable brown.  I think the mix at the end will be absolutely delightful.  Putting together yarns for a book always feels absolutely impossible, right up to the moment it’s done, at which point it feels like these were all meant to be together and no other choices were possible.  Every single time.

And don’t worry, Guard Barry is keeping close watch on the yarns to make sure super-secret project stays appropriately secret!  I swear that center basket is kept free of yarns (it holds notes and labels) so he can nest in there.  It’s his favorite spot in the whole house.

watch cat

Printing…not on paper

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s a very good chance that most everyone in your life has a birthday more or less every year.  I, personally, find this super irritating.  I’ve decided I’m just about as old as I need to be, and most folks I know (at least most over the age of 25 or so) feel the same.  Alas, it’s not in my power to change.

So given that pesky reality, I occasionally find myself in need of birthday presents.  I ran out of ideas for these things long long ago, so I’ve taken to blatantly stealing ideas from other people.  This time, the idea was using spoonflower to print old family recipes and make dishcloths.  My mom had the birthday, and my sister was pressed into super secret squirrel service to dig up old recipes of my grandmother’s.  I did the mucking about with images and sewing parts.

Now, these sewing parts were done last minute (shipping took rather longer than expected), which means these pictures were taken rather late at night in my dark dining room.  You’ll have to forgive me.  It was that, or no pics.  And it’s way too good for blog fodder to go the no pics route.

1The process starts by creating the image you want to use.  That meant some quality time with the scanner (my sister’s job) and indesign (my job) to get all the images in a file of the right size and resolution for spoonflower’s system.

2When the fabric comes, it’s got a good bit of selvage around the outside, so all of the image you provided is printed on useable fabric.

3It does mean a fair bit of trimming though.  I’m usually a fabric ripper, rather than a cutter, if I’m dealing with long, straight lines.  Something about the weave of this fabric (I used the linen cotton canvas) meant it would tear one way, but not the other, so I had to cut that direction.

4After the trimming came the ironing, first to make the fabric flat, then to turn the edges under.  We all know how I feel about ironing.  I’m still petitioning to have ‘sewing’ renamed ‘ironing with extra stabbing.’  Barry kept the ironed pieces safe.

5Very safe.  He may, in fact, have insisted he be left to guard them all night.

6After that, it was just a matter of sewing them up.  You will all graciously pretend I am able to sew a straight line.  Failing that, you’ll not mention it unless you’re also coming over here to do it for me.

I like how they came out.  I’m impressed with the print quality, and I think the fabric will just get softer with washing.  I will never come to revel in ironing, but I think this has great potential to either preserve a sentimental image in a useful form (I’m a terrible bear of a person and have a hard time hanging onto things for purely sentimental reasons…they need to be useful for me to want to keep them) or make exactly what you want if you have a specific vision in mind.  Anybody else see some potential in custom printed fabric?


Last night found The Boy and I clambering around on the underside of our local abandoned railroad bridge in pursuit of excellence in sock photography (as you do).  This particular spot had lots of advantages.  It’s local, accessible through one of the area parks, and maintained enough to be safe yet decrepit enough to be picturesque.  It’s really all you could hope for, and the shots came out beautifully.

Alas, there was one small problem.

Some of those more picturesque bits?  They were sticky.  Sticky in a way that got all over the bottom of my sock.  Black, sticky, gooey tar (or, more technically, probably creosote) on my lovely pale green wool socks. Quite a lot of it.  Enough that this happened too.

Nifty.  So after a restorative dinner and a beverage or two, we came home, and I went straight to the computer to see how to best remove such marks from fabric.  I set the socks on my desk (goo side up thank you).  A moment later, a snarling, thrashing streak of fur leapt up beside me and began trying to save me from the terror of stained socks.  It was the normally mellow Barry.  The idea of sock stains (or, more likely, the smell of the creosote) had driven him into a kitten frenzy.

I snapped only the quickest of pictures before separating the combatants, (the socks had suffered enough trauma, and I didn’t think Barry would benefit from a creosote snack), but I hope it captures the mood of the moment.  The socks are undergoing treatment, I’ll report back once I know their prognosis.