22 April 2007

Killer Instincts

Warning: There is no yarn content whatsoever in this post. But it is pretty entertaining.

This morning, as has been my normal routine the last few weeks, I woke up at about 9:15, brushed my teeth, and left the bedroom in my pajamas to take care of the animals. So I had only been out of bed for about 10 minutes when the following disturbing scene took place.

As soon as I opened the bedroom door, Bettie darted in and under the bed, with Riley barking at her heels. I scolded him and shuffled him into the living room and toward the back door. In typical Riley fashion, he hesitated in the doorway (I'm guessing, he's unsure that the 20 year old wood will support his weight.. but who knows). With the door wide open, I try and goad him outside, when all of a sudden the cat - an indoor-only cat for the month or so we've had her now - flies past me, past Riley, and out onto the deck.

At this point, she's unsure what to do next. She's apparently shocked to have made it outside, when all her previous attempts at escape have been blocked. So she just stands there a moment, getting her bearings, and I start to call to her in an attempt to keep her from moving long enough that I can snag her. And then, a lizard I had not yet spotted decides it's going to make a run from under the patio table toward the trees.

Bettie saw the lizard at the same time I did, and what happened next looked like something you might see on the Discovery Channel. There was a leap into the air, a somersault, and the next thing I knew, the rear half of the lizard was dangling from Bettie's mouth. The tail was flailing about, but I couldn't tell whether the thing was actually alive and struggling or if it was the involuntary last movements of a severed spinal cord. Again she froze, perhaps impressed by her own hunting prowess, perhaps trying to determine whether Riley or I was a threat to her kill. It was long enough that I was able to grab her by the scruff of the neck. I attempted to shake her a bit, then picked her up, but the prey was not about to be released. And I was definitely not going to grab it and pull, for the fear that I would end up with half a lizard in my hand. (Ew!)

So I couldn't make her drop the lizard, but I didn't want to let go of her and have her run off into the yard. So I quickly carried her into the house, hurried through the living room, thrust her and her giant mouthful into the guest bathroom and shut the door.

Half an hour later, I tentatively cracked the door on a strikingly clean bathroom and a cat eager to be released. There was no blood, but a little black blob of unidentified lizard innards... I coated the bathroom in Clorox.

Riley was so bewildered by the whole episode that he completely forgot he needed to pee in the first place. As for me, I'm pretty convinced that Bettie's former life was pretty exciting, and probably involved more than a couple of lizardy meals. Yum.

*On a completely different note, I am now employed! I start work - full time! - on Tuesday. Wish me luck!

16 April 2007

F'Argyle Socks

These socks are a very basic sock pattern embellished with a simple "Faux Argyle" - or "F'Argyle" - pattern band and contrasting color heel and toe. If you've never tried two-color knitting before, this might be a good place to start. They originally were supposed to have a more complex pattern around the ankle; then I discovered that stranding that stretches is beyond my personal knitting limits. So, this is what I wound up with. Fits an average size man's foot.

KnitPicks Essential Sock Yarn (75% Superwash Wool, 25% Nylon) - 2 balls Ash (MC), 1 ball Navy (CC)

Needles: US Size 1 & 3 (DPNs or circulars depending on your preferred sock-making method)

Gauge: appx. 36 sts x 24 rows = 4"

(Warning: I realize the pattern may not be written using perfect terminology, so let me know if it doesn't make any sense.)

With MC and size 1 needles, CO 84 sts.

Cuff: Work in the round in K2P2 ribbing for 1.5".

Leg: Change to SS and continue for 1".

Pattern Band: Switch to size 3 needles (to accommodate for non-stretchiness of stranding), attach CC, and work pattern (7 reps around) over next 13 rows.
(Black = Navy/CC, White = Ash/MC)

Leg (Cont'd): Switch back to size 1 needles. Within the next few rows, dec 4 sts = 80 sts total, and if necessary, rearrange your needles so that the "jog" in the pattern lies in the center of the back of the sock.

Work in SS for 3" or until leg of sock is desired length.

Heel: Divide sts in half, front and back, 40 sts per half. Place 40 front sts on stitch holder. Attach CC, K 1 row even across back, then turn, sl 1st st, P across, turn. Work heel flap as follows:
Row 1 - *Sl 1, K1* across
Row 2 - Sl 1st st, P across
Row 3 - Sl 1st st, *Sl 1, K 1* to last st, K 1
Row 4 - Sl 1st st, P across
Repeat these 4 rows until heel flap meas 2.25"

Turn heel - K across 23 sts, SSK, K1, turn. P 8, P2tog, P1, turn. Continue to work in this manner, slipping 1st st of each row, decreasing across the gap, until all sts have been worked - 24 sts remain on needle. Cut CC.

Pick Up row: With MC, pick up 21 sts along side of heel flap; K even across 24 heel sts, pick up 21 sts along opposite side of heel flap, K even across 40 front sts. Arrange needles as makes you comfortable depending on your sock-knitting method, keeping 40 designated front sts.

beg of rows = beg of back "half"
Dec row - K 1, SSK, K to last 3 sts of back "half," K2tog, K 1. K front even.

Alternate 1 dec row, 1 K even row, until 40 sts remain on back half.

Continue to work even in SS until foot measures appx. 2" less than the intended recipient's foot.

Dec row - (Back) K 1, SSK, K to last 3 sts of back half, K2tog, K 1; (Front) K 1, SSK, K to last 3 sts of front half, K2tog, K1

Alternate 1 dec row, 1 K even row, for 1", then change to CC and continue to alternate 1 dec row, 1 K even row, until 20 sts remain each half/40 sts total.

Graft toe together and weave in ends.

11 April 2007

An Absolute Tragedy

This weekend, the Jacksonville Humane Society - the very same one that Bettie came to us from - suffered a terrible fire.

200 animals were inside when the fire began. The Fire Department apparently rescued many dogs, but it appears that a lot of the cats were killed, and most of the ones that were freed ran off into the woods, some of them injured, all of them completely terrified.

The Humane Society faces a million dollars' worth of damage. They are accepting donations.

A couple articles:
Several Animals Dead After Humane Society Fire
Jacksonville Humane Society Recovering After Devastating Fire
Jacksonville Humane Society Website

I just can't imagine the fear of those poor animals, trapped in their cages and kennels... And the families who (like us) had visited, picked out their new pet, and had to leave it there while they waited on permission from their landlord or some other issue... How do you tell your kids about something like that?

02 April 2007

Lots To Cover

First of all, Bettie is doing wonderfully. She still spends a good part of the day lurking under the bed, but isn't that what cats do? And she hangs out with us looking for attention pretty often - especially when I'm trying to knit, or Brendon's on his computer, or somebody's generally trying to focus on something other than her. Again, typical cat.

She and Riley are doing about as well as expected together. She is rather timid when he's around, and he's alternately jealous of the attention she gets and fascinated whenever she moves at all. Basically, the dog has been operating on high alert since we got her, to the point where I finally had to remove her jingling collar so everybody could get a moment's peace. They are still working out their dominance balance, and there have been some stand-offs but so far no injuries. Then there are occasional harmonious moments like this.

And she is the recipient of a new crochet project. ("Recipient of," "excuse for," call it what you like.) Bettie's blankie! Currently it's a dining mat, but the food dish setup is still in a temporary state, and eventually the blankie will probably end up on the couch as a cat hair buffer, instead of picking up cat food crumbs.

It's so small and so basic (HDC's worked in a square with a shell edge), and took me so little time (2 evenings), and made of such a non-notable yarn (I lost the ball band but I think it's So Soft) that it doesn't even warrant FO status - just worth mentioning in passing. Especially since there hasn't been much crochet content recently... But I wanted to prove I still break out the hooks every so often.

My other current projects are a little more deserving of attention. I got re-motivated on B's socks; the first one is done and I've just finished the pattern part of the second. And they actually fit over his heel! Hooray.

Up close:

But since I didn't feel like dragging this sock to any more knitting group get-togethers, and have just been working on it at home, I've been working on this in the company of others.

So far it's just a bra, but eventually it's going to be a sleeveless cotton top. The band up close:

So, that's what I've been up to yarn-wise.

Sharp readers will perhaps have noticed a sudden increase in photo quality. That's because B got himself a fancy birthday present. I've played with it a little; B has taken probably close to a thousand pictures in the last week. Turn my head and there's a camera pointed at me. It's a bit unnerving. But after spending that much on a new toy, I'd be highly concerned if he didn't play with it incessantly.

And I apologize for not keeping up with this thing on a regular basis. I blame two things. Number one, I've been doing a lot more social knitting, and I think perhaps when I go out and share my knitting with others and they share theirs with me - in person - well, I don't feel as strong a need to do the exact same thing online. Number two, my biggest frustrations lately have not been about knitting, and I haven't wanted to post about them on my knitting blog (but mostly they have to do with not having a job, and not being able to do much about it, while I wait on one thing so I can wait on another..). I will try and do better, but until I have some other life changes, I make no promises.