Saturday, November 22, 2008

Princess & Pea

Princess & Pea II
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
This is Abigail. She is sitting on four felted bags. I made these bags as Christmas gifts and recently decided to felt them more than I had at first. I took them up to Connecticut and ran them through the washer. Left 'em up there to dry. When I returned, I stacked them up and Abigail claimed them immediately. She says there are no peas under her mattresses so her sleep is not disturbed.

Meanwhile (always stay away from recipes that use the word "meanwhile"--these are words to live by!) I made a felted cat bed, the Kitty Pi bed by Wendy Johnson, with Nora in mind. All the kitties like it, but Nora seems to have claimed it for herself. There are probably three more Kitty Pi's in my future...

More Pi Please

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Big Bag Swap

Penny's Bag II
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
I participated in a Ravelry swap. For those not familiar with a swap, it works like this. You sign up to knit a specific project to someone who is assigned to you whom you don't know. Someone else in the group is assigned to make you the same item. Often "goodies" are part of the swap--knitting things, chocolate, tea, etc. If the swap works, you send out a package and around the same time, you receive one. Fun!

So here is what I received. A lovely felted bag in the assigned pattern, some luscious sock yarn, cookies, candy, tea, a teleidoscope, a mug with a sheep, hand creme, Eucalan soap (for knitwear), a scratch pad in the shape of the letter "P" and some trail mix. I have to put off eating the goodies (except the tea) until I've finished my treatment for diverticulitis. One more day to go!

Penny, the lovely knitter who sent me these things, is from Winnipeg. I sent a similar package to Jen in California.

Here's the bag I made. I didn't photograph the goodies, but they included a soft sculpture elephant for Jen's 2-year-old son, chocolate jack-o'-lanterns, a tape measure, Soak soap, some tea, a wooden bookmark, a knitting project bag, a toy mouse for Jen's cat (gotta include the whole family!) and a toy sheep (ever knitter needs one!)

Big Bag Swap

This was fun!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
This past weekend was the third in October which means it was time for the Sheep and Wool Family Festival in Rhinebeck, NY. As usual, the weather was gorgeous, and so were the sheep. Here's one particularly beautiful specimen. I didn't get any photos of the alpacas, llamas or goats or of the fall colors, for that matter. But they were there in great numbers and looking good.

There were lots of Ravelry buttons. I couldn't make the events since Saturday is a workday for me and the big party was Saturday night. But it was good to see a lot of Ravelers in attendance. My favorite political button of the day read, "A llama for Obama". I would wear one of those if I could find one.

Beauty Salon

The sheep apparently have to primp as much as some of the people. As Frieda from "Peanuts" would say, "People just expect more of you when you have naturally curly hair."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cat Butts

Ifs, And, Butts
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
Mommy put some black oil sunflower seed on the windowsill, and a little house finch came to take advantage of the offering. Soon all the girls were at the window watching the bird.

That's Tortellini on the left, Nora on the right and the huge derriere of Abigail in the middle. She is one fat cat. Considering how skinny she was in May when I adopted her, this is not good. But she eats up everything the other two leave behind. She doesn't seem to understand that she doesn't have a tapeworm anymore. And there is no cat on Earth who is less inclined to move. Anyone know of a kitty gym?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Lou Grant: You know what, Mary? You're spunky.
Mary: Thanks.
Lou Grant: I hate spunky.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Big Bolt

Lightning Strike
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
I putted out of my driveway, and as I turned right I saw this tree. It was missing some bark although at the time I thought it was only a few feet of bark. When I came home, I explored the tree more carefully and realized that the damage ran the entire length of the tree which is 50-60 feet high.

Apparently a lightning bolt hit this tree at the top and stripped away a 6" wide piece of wood straight down to the ground. Wood pieces were all around the base of the tree and across the road. The neighbors had been away and knew nothing of what had happened. Lightning is powerful, and I'll bet this event was very loud. The kitties would have been freaked out. So would I. Now we know why "when it thunders, don't run under a tree."

I'll be interested to see whether this tree thrives during the next few years. I'm betting it will. (I think it's an aspen or at least it is aspen-like.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Waterlilies and More

Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
I took this photo in Warren, CT, at a place that some call Eel Pond and many locals call Warren Flats. It is part of the local land trust which is a good thing because it is a lovely place to see wildlife. It's right on Rte. 341 with part of it on each side of the road. I'd love to be able to visit the far side of the pond, but I have no idea how to get there. There are white waterlilies and another variety that are yellow.

I really want to write about knitting, but I don't have the photos to show right now. I finished the Windowpane socks, and I am pleased with them. This is not to imply they are mistake-free. Somehow there are some subtle errors in them. The Persian rugmakers always had errors in their rugs because "only God is perfect." Lord knows perfection eludes me! I have a whole ball of the pink yarn left over so perhaps I will make a second pair and make different errors.

Tomorrow I should hear about a knitalong and swap of the Big Bag pattern that I have been knitting of late. We'll have 6 weeks to knit it and ship it to the designated recipient. Shipping is easy for me since I have a UPS account at the store. Selecting the goodies to go with the bag should be fun. The knitting doesn't take long--less time than the political conventions--but it takes about three days for the felted bag to dry so I have to figure that into my calculations.

Meanwhile, I am trying valiently to finish Cleopatra's Stockings, the June/July offering from the Rockin' Sock Club. I hate the pattern so I am having a serious bout of "second sock syndrome." Today I started the second one, weeks after I completed the nasty first one. Talk about errors in my knitting! There are far too many charts in this pattern. No sock pattern should be 11 pages long! Especially when the finished product is so ho-hum. Oh well, they can't hit one out of the park every time.

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Little Knitting, A Little Birding, A Big Spider

Windowpane II
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
Just came back from the Wild Bird Center Annual Convention in Annapolis, MD. I had a great time and even had a little time to work on my Windowpane socks. I started this sock just before I left on Sunday. Sock #1 is done almost up to the toe. This pattern is quite easy to do--although that didn't keep me from reading the charts from left to right rather than the other way. It didn't really make a heck of a lot of difference, fortunately.

Saw lots of birds in Maryland. We traveled to Blackwater National Wildlife Reserve. There were eagles everywhere and osprey too. Lots of great blue herons, great egrets, snowy egrets and Carolina wrens. We saw about 38 species from red-headed woodpeckers to red-eyed vireos. We did not see the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel although we did see a sign that said "Caution-Endangered Squirrels".

The weather co-operated. It was hot and sunny, but there was a light breeze which kept it bearable. The insects weren't too bad. Some of our colleagues didn't want to come for fear of mosquitoes and other biting insects so they missed out on some great birding. There was the occasional deer fly, but no worse than the ones we get on our summer walks in NJ.

Big Spider

We saw this spider making a web by an informational sign. I'm told it is called a black-and-yellow spider (surprise!). It's not something we get in the northeast (thank you!), but it is apparently not that unusual south of where I hang out. I was glad it was making a web and not jumping out from a tree or shrub. Its body is about an inch-and-a-half long. This specimen seems to be missing a leg.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
This is Tortellini, my newest kitty. She is 2.8 lbs. and totally delightful.

I'm amazed at how different the three kitties are, and how different they all are from the late Nicholas. Nora is a climber and loves to visit any high place she can get to. She likes to hide in closets and the back of shelves. Abigail wants to spend time with people and will even nap right out in the open because she doesn't want to miss the action. She's a huge eater.

Tortellini is affectionate and likes to play with other kitties--although my other girls haven't reconciled to her yet. It's only been three days. Nora is totally pissed, but Abigail shows signs of relenting.

Nicholas was dignified and he could tell time--sort of. He would start to ask for dinner about an hour and a half before dinnertime. It never hurts to ask! Nick did the meet-and-greet with customers until naptime. He'd nap in the chair at the register so that he could keep an eye on things. He warmed his paws on the credit card machine because, well, it's important to have warm paws. He always deferred to Nora at the food bowl because he was a lover and not a fighter.

Three cats seems like a lot. Especially when they all want to be next to you. I can't stand up without attracting a crowd. It will be interesting to see how sleeping arrangements evolve. On her first night with me Tortellini slept between two felted slippers at the side of the bed, and Abigail slept at the foot of the bed. (Nora spent the night in the closet.) The next night she slept in the crook of my arm and Abigail was elsewhere in the room.

We also have to resolve who is going to work each day. For now Tortellini needs to go to work every day because she's a kitten and needs attention. Abigail likes to go to work in spite of not liking the car very much. Nora resists coming down from the top shelf in the closet, but she should come to the store occasionally. We'll work it out, I'm sure.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Big Bag

Big Bag Felted
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
Well, any family member who reads this will probably know what she's getting for Christmas...

I made this felted bag from a pattern on Ravelry. A friend had made it with reds. Her young son quickly dubbed it the "Elmo bag" because one of the colors matched his hero. I went a different route, but I do love the pattern which is very easy but produces a lovely finished product. I haven't decided if perhaps I should felt it a bit more, but the density of the fabric is very nice as it is.

And don't we all need more bags to take to the supermarket? Those dumb bags they sell at the store are practical, but boring--and they have those store logos on them. This bag makes a statement without any ads.

Kitten Approved

Nora seemed to like the bag too. So far she hasn't been inside it, but I imagine that's in her future too.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Kitty

Second Photo
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
With the passing of dear, sweet Nicholas, Nora and I had a hole in our hearts. I took myself off to Kent Kats whence came both Nick and Nora, and I walked out with this new kitty, a one-year old who we think will be called Abigail. (When I had to select a Hebrew name for my mother Beatrice, I picked Abigail. Hmmm.)

She is what I call a "tabico" because she is part tabby and part calico. She's about Nora's size and very sweet. Nora is not yet reconciled to the idea of another girl in the family, but I think she'll come around. She's hissed at the new kitty and growled, but then she runs away from her. No fighting so far.

Abigail was pretty calm when I brought her home to the house in Kent, but she flipped out this morning and didn't want to get in the carrier even though she'd been in and out of it all day on Monday and Tuesday. She hid all day in the store. When I tried to get her out, she resisted--and boy, is she strong...and fast. Got her home and she is currently hiding under the chest of drawers. It's been a confusing couple of days and I don't blame her for being a little freaked out.

She's slept on the bed with me the last two nights. Very agreeable. And she eats anything that isn't nailed down. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Latvian Mitten

Latvian Mitten
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
Started this some time ago, but other projects got in the way. It's really lovely, and not terribly hard to do although the needles are small. It's about to come to the top of the project list since I just invested a huge amount of money in 50% off yarn at Enchanting Yarns which, alas, is going out of business. I bought a lot of yarn to be turned into Latvian Mittens so I'm obliged to finish these soon.

Please note the space where the thumb will go. Not hard to do. Weaving in the ends will be the part that annoys me. For the next mitten I will carry the yarn much more often. I'm still learning the best way to do these. Haven't decided if I want to line these. It will depend on the fit, I think. If there's a lot of room, I'll do a lining, but I suspect these will be a good fit rather than a loose fit.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I Visit Cape May

Paca Dude
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
My friend Liz and I went to Cape May, NJ, this weekend. A lovely customer of mine lent us her house. She warned us that we'd probably need to wash sheets when we got there. However, when we got there there were no sheets or towels to be washed. We hightailed it back to Cape May Courthouse which is just north of town and found a Home Goods and got what we needed. (The towels were great--soft and absorbent--and I could use some new towels, but the fitted sheet didn't fit. I improvised.)

The weather was supposed to turn lousy, but it never did. We didn't see a lot of birds--disappointing that. But we saw lots of dolphins and a couple of huge (100+) flights of cormorants.

The trip home was "eventful". We'd gone in Liz's car which is 15 years old but only has 67,000 miles. There was a piece of something loose on the front which broke off on the Garden State Parkway and shredded the rear driver-side tire. Then the donut tire which the service guy put on for us went flat and we got towed to a PepBoys in Hazlet. Much waiting and a trip to an Italian restaurant with patrons from a sociological group with which we were unfamiliar, and a new tire was installed. We made it home without much more ado other than a slow trip through the Lincoln Tunnel.

The cute alpaca shown here was from an alpaca farm in Cape May. They have about 23 boys, girls and babies. Alpacas is adorable! I love this dude's haircut. These people also refer in their literature to the "alpaca lifestyle", something I'm still trying to understand. Their fleece is very soft though. I bought some yarn there. So what else is new?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Finished Leaflings

Finished Leaflings
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
Well, I finally finished the Leafling socks. Started April 9, finished on April 28--not too bad. I like them, I like the colorway. I finished with a "star" toe because I hate the way toes finish with Kitchener stitch. In my experience Kitchener always spreads and the space gets too big. The star toe ends with six stitches that you run the yarn through. You get a tight circle and a nice look on the toe too.

I've started some socks with a bright orange and yellow yarn that is called "Florida Sunshine" if memory serves (and when does it these days.) Very cheery, but I'm not sure about the pattern, and I was going to do them on one circular needle but seem to be all bollixed up on that front. Right now one sock is on a single circular needle and one is on two circulars of the same size. I'm not sure about the pattern, and the whole project my wind up in the frog pond. The process was not improved by young Nora who chomped into the yarn and broke it on one sock. Grrr...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Spring Blue
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
You gotta love spring. The little flowers--the crocuses, the grape hyacinths, the miniatrure daffodils--are beginning to pop. The leaves on the trees, at least in the Litchfield Hills, are for the most part a thing of the future. So the little bits of color are a real joy. The snow is gone--has been for a few weeks--but the lawns are mostly brown.

This is the time of year when you don't feel so bad about the labor, sweat and tennis elbow you experienced last fall when the bulbs were planted. Truth to tell, these were planted a couple of years back.

Soon the forsythia will be in bloom, looking like this:

Forsythia III

Even though it's only yellow for a couple of weeks and then grows at a prodigious rate and has to be hacked back with a machete, even though...ya gotta love it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

World's Loudest Mitten

World's Loundest Mitten
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
This is my finished mitten from the Magnificent Mitten class. It's all done. I've even knitted the lining and started the second mitten. They actually knit up fairly fast if you work on it, but I have 5 projects that are currently on needles. The Yarn Harlot calls this "startitis", the desire (and act of) starting a new project even though you have plenty of other works in progress. (See "Second Sock Syndrome".)

Let's see. WIPs of the day: mitten #2; sock #2 from the Rockin' Sock Club's first offering of 2008 (note my restraint at not having started the sock from the second offering although I admit to having wound the yarn into two neat balls); Liz's scarf; the Latvian Mitten; the Central Park Hoodie. I also knit the toe of a sock in the most amazing yellows and oranges, but I have restrained myself and put that aside. I don't even really consider that project a work in progress. After all, a to isn't much more of a commitment than winding the yarn, right?

If I weren't writing this silly post, I could get some good knitting accomplished! Bye.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Central Park Hoodie-Part Trois

Central Park Hoodie-Part Trois
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
Well, the hoodie is making progress--although there seems to still be a long way to go. I've finished the back and the left front. The right front is in the early stages. The good news is that I blocked the two finished pieces and they block to the correct size and are the same size as eachother. (This latter really shouldn't be a problem since the cables give you a reliabe way to count rows.)

The right front, the two sleeves the hood and the front bands remain. And of course, sewing the @#$%& thing together and putting in the zipper. I have already told myself that I will have a professional put in the zipper. My mother would have rolled her eyes at this, but then, she was the professional. I don't have a sewing machine, and I don't want one. There's a very good tailor in town, and she can do it for me. She can use the business.

By the time I finish this, it will be too late to wear it until fall, but then fall has a way of sneaking up on me, and it will be a thrill to have a nice new hoodie to wear when there's a chill in the air.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Central Park Hoodie

Central Park Hoodie
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
Well, it's been ages since I've knitted a sweater. The past couple of years have all been about socks, more socks, scarves and felted slippers and bags.

Then I got the idea that I wanted to knit a hoodie. Looked for a pattern for a long time. The Yarn Harlot started to knit a sweater out of a Paton's pattern book and I discovered that it contained a great hoodie. But all the Harlot fans bought up the book at every Michael's and Joann's in this part of the world. So the search continued. Then I discovered the Central Park Hoodie. I downloaded the pattern (which cost more than the Paton's book with 5-6 patterns in it) and started. It's knitting up fast.

Of course, I made a boo-boo at the second cable and only discoverd it later. I'm too lazy to frog back since it isn't impossibly obvious. I remind myself that Persian rugmakers say that their wares always have errors because only Allah is perfect. I know I'm not, and this will prove it.

I like the color--more than the gray or green that the pattern uses-blech. It's Lion Brand Wool--soft, a rich color, not terribly expensive.

I'll have to decide down the road whether to go with buttons or a zipper. I'm tending towards the zipper since that seems more compatible with a hoodie, but time will tell. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

World's Loudest Mitten

World's Loudest Mitten
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
Okay. So I signed up for the Magnificent Mitten class at my LYS, Enchanting Yarns and Things. Magnificent Mittens is a book by Anna Zilboorg that is now out of print. So Lisa, the instructor, got permission from the publisher to teach from it and photocopy the patterns.

I chose really loud colors. I couldn't get quite the colors I wanted so I threw caution to the wind and said, "What the hell," and went with what you see. It will actually match a fuschia storm jacket and a fleece hooded jacket I have. You'll be able to find me in the snow, I think.

The knitting is actually very easy on these mittens, but the instructions in the book are a little confusing at first. Once you understand what's what, it's not hard to make these babies. I am a bit apprehensive about knitting the lining since that's mostly (or completely) done by improvisation. I don't want my lining to be lumpy or too tight so I'll have to experiment. Lisa points out that since you do the lining with big needles, it's no big deal to frog back if you get it wrong since it knits up fast.

Mitten #1 is nearly done--or at least the outside is. The lining and mitten #2 will follow soon. (I hope--got to start my Rockin' Sock Club offering before the next one comes later this month. I tried to start it last night, knit a swatch and decided I needed smaller needles which I didn't have with me in CT. )

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Blue Sock

The Blue Sock
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ
I seem to have a lot of WIPs ("works in progress" to you non-knitters). I started this one earlier this week and then went to a mitten class and started a new pair of mittens although my Latvian mittens aren't that far along. Soon I'll need to start the first sock pattern from the Rockin' Sock Club or I will get hopelessly behind for the year. Oh, and I'm making a scarf for a friend. While scarf season will soon be over, I'm working on the theory that it is the thought that counts. Well, it is, isn't it?

I also have 4 (or more) projects gracing the stash. These are projects where I have the yarn and the pattern rather than just the yarn with no idea about what I'm going to do with it. Busy, busy.

The nice thing about the mittens from the class is that they are worsted weight and move along smartly. The Latvian mittens are done in sport weight on size 1 needles. Pictures to follow.