Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Monday, January 30, 2012

Things that are difficult to quantify -- and nearly impossible to photograph

It's been an interesting 10 days here in my little world.  First, Bob is a continued joy and a continued strain on the budget.  He had a heartworm scare -- which if you know anything about heartworm in kitties is terrifying.  If you have kitties, do your family a favor and read up on it.  It's not pretty and really dangerous for indoor and outdoor kitties and the kicker- it's preventable, but not curable.  Ouch.  While he doesn't have heartworm he does have some damage to the right side of his heart.  As Naomi (aka kitty godmother) tells me this somehow better than having damage to the left side.  So, yay?  Our intrepid vet will talk to the kitty cardiologist and see what his prognosis is now that we know he doesn't have heartworm.  It is possible it's just something we'll keep an eye on, he may need medication now or eventually to help slow the progress of heart disease, we don't know yet.  We're happy to have him in our lives as long as that may be.  He is on schedule to get neutered in a few short days which I'm hoping will make him a little more palatable to the other kitties and get rid of some of his less desirable behaviors.  We can hope.  In the meantime he's warm and snuggly and full of purrs.

I've made this crazy plan to try to move with as few unfinished projects as possible, which means clearing out some old, old, old, things that are on my needles.  Instead of committing to finishing them all, I'm also giving myself permission to take things off the needles and wind up the yarn and re-stash or give it away (ie. sell it during our summer sale) Because of this you may be seeing a few things here that you've never seen before, or things that you've seen in progress at the shop many many moons ago.

Anyone remember that ring of Kureyon squares?  Back in the day, before Naomi had the brilliant idea to rewind the Kureyon so we could see what the heck-o was in those center pull balls, we had a giant ring of knit squares, one for each color of Kureyon that we sold.  That was 30 colors, dear readers, actually 32, and I personally knit a square of each one in the awesome pattern Lizard Ridge.  Once we changed the method of displaying Kureyon the squares were obsolete and just sitting around... for 2 years.  I started knitting them almost 3 years ago and now, they actually resemble a blanket!
You may look at the original pattern and note it takes 20 skeins, assorted, one skein per square.  Ha, um, I had 32.  So I sewed 30 of them together and used the un-knit skeins from the other 2 squares, and a little bit I had left over to crochet the border.  Can you believe it took 2.5 skeins to sew that bad boy together and crochet the border?  Wow does crochet take a ton of yarn.  Anywho.  It is the largest blanket ever, Josh and I comfortably fit under it and it's warm and wooly, which is just how I like things.  I'm also super happy to have the closet space, and bonus, I found a Chibi just sitting in the blanket... The return of lost things is going to be a theme here.

I also spent the last week painting our den.  Some people have been calling these "caves" recently and ours certainly qualified.  It was amazing-- the same light no matter the time of day or the weather because we have black velvet curtains to block out all light and dark blue walls, it was like a timewarp.  This is super convenient when you are up at all hours with a newborn, 12 noon?  12 midnight?  It doesn't matter! 

It was also crammed full with furniture, a giant Ikea bookshelf to house all of my knitting books and tools and in-progress knitting, a giant black chest that I made (I think it was the 2nd piece of furniture I ever made all by myself) to hold everything we need to stay warm in our chilly little house and our home theater/entertainment equipment.  It was definitely high on the realtor and stager's list of rooms we needed to work on and definitely low on our list of rooms we wanted to change.  So, after finishing almost every other project on our to do list, this one had to be next.  It was traumatic at first to have such a drastic change, but I have to admit it's growing on me.  It's also much easier to see this as the 3rd bedroom in our house now that it is painted in a nice ice blue.

This really has been the hardest room to re-do.  The process of preparing our house for sale is really a long goodbye to this place.  We've lived here for 10 years, and celebrated all but our first wedding anniversary here.  It has been the theater for our lives for so much of our married life that it almost feels like a member of our family.  So I'm working (hard) at finding the positives.  It is a lovely color and in the process of tearing apart the room I have found 2 things that I've been looking for for years.  The first, many of you will understand, was my #6 addi click tip.  I honestly thought I had lost it in the store and it was going to be gone forever.  Imagine my surprise when I was sweeping under the heater that was previously behind the giant chest and there it was!  I put it to good use almost immediately knitting that pillow cover you see on the futon.

The second is an earring.  I love earrings and I always lose them and so some of my favorites I don't wear because I'm terrified to lose them.  I have so many single earrings that I often wear mismatched pairs because I can't give them up.  This pair matches a ring that Josh gave me a few years ago and I was so sad that I lost one of them that I really couldn't admit it to myself for at least a year.  I'm strange like that.  So when I went to pick up an envelope off of the floor and saw it sitting there as if nothing happened I almost cried big, fat, happy tears.

 They are now, happily, in my ears reminding me not to give up hope on things that I have lost, because you just never know what will come running back to you when you least expect it.

I am hoping that we will continue to find lost gems as we clean and purge the house.  As much as I miss my old cluttered house, there are parts to this cleaner, more streamlined house that are really quite nice.  I hope I can find a better balance between the two at our next home.  In the meanwhile I'll keep plugging away at the to do list and forming my vision for the next few years.  There are so many big changes coming that it is daunting at times to face them head-on.  Especially when so many of them are impossible to plan to the last detail (which is usually how I roll)  I have to have faith that things will work out, that the people I trust as experts know what they are talking about, and that the opportunities we need to move forward on so many paths are just waiting for me to take the next step.

In the meanwhile, I'll just be happy that the painting is almost finished.

Friday, January 20, 2012

knitting, this time for real

I have been knitting, honestly. I just haven't finished anything I can tell you about... gift knitting (shhhh!) But this post isn't about me...

There really is a special joy in sharing things that you love with the people you love the most.  It's really even better when it's with your kids.  It's hard not to hope that they will like at least *some* of the things that you like and when it comes together this well, it's pretty thrilling.

Clara took to knitting, like, well, the daughter of a yarn shop owner ;)  I have always said that she could knit if she'd like but I wouldn't pressure her.  She started asking to learn when she was about 2 and a half and I told her she would have to wait until she turned 4.  There are a few other things that I recommend to people when they are trying to figure out if it's time to teach their kids to knit.  Coloring in the lines or drawing their letters tells you they have the manual dexterity to knit.  Having the attention span is also important.  If they are the kind of kid that sits and plays with legos for longer than 5 minutes, that's a good start, 20 minutes is even better.  Clara is super focused and can play the same game for hours, but that's not entirely common ;) 4 is usually the age these things start to come together, but it's good to wait until you see those signs they are ready rather than use their age alone as a guide.  Nothing is worse than getting someone so frustrated that they never want to knit again.  If your little one is interested in learning to knit but you don't think you're the right person to teach them, I also have (grand)parent/child rates for my open knits on Thursdays and I'd love to help out ;)  Kids are *so* much easier to teach than grown-ups!

Anyway, after her birthday Clara reminded me that she got to learn to knit when she turned 4 and that she was anxious to do it.  We talked about what she would like to make and she decided on a toy for one of our kitties so I picked up some 128 Superwash in bright green (of course! her favorite color!) from the shop and took some nice sticky handmade wooden needles out of my needle stash and got her going.  She was thrilled, knit a couple of rows, and then promptly forgot about it for a few weeks.  This was precisely what I was expecting. 

So I was actually surprised when she asked to do more a couple of weeks ago and remembered nearly all of the steps.  She was knitting entirely by herself -- and telling stories to her sister at the same time!  Those of you who came to knitting later in life will know just how difficult it is to knit and talk at the same time in the beginning.  Color me impressed.  Josh didn't believe me until he saw her a few days later.   A few more rows and we'll have a nice little toy for monkey.  Then she tells me she wants to knit her sister a sweater... that's my girl!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Life lessons from Bob

 Well, we picked a very un-japanese name for our new kitty (who we've decided to keep by the way)  Bob.  He's a bobtail cat after all, and he's just such a sweet and unassuming kinda kitty.  I've never named a cat with a person's name, and I have to admit to anthropomorphizing him more than I usually do.  The days since he's joined our lives have been dramatic but just so wonderful and peaceful- almost like the heady days with a newborn.  The whole family has been hanging out with him in his isolation chamber- our den and half bath downstairs, snuggling and commenting and noticing his every move and attending to his every need, much like you do with a newborn! 

He's doing great, by the way.  His coat is shiny, his wounds are healing and his appetite and a bit of spunk are returning.  I don't believe this cat will ever be, well, energetic.  He's a bit of a lump, but a delightful purring lump, so we're just fine with that.  I just got a call from animal control and it looks like as long as we get our three kitties up-to-date with their rabies vaccines, we can quarantine him in our home.  He has to stay inside for 6 months and considering our other kitties have been inside for, oh, 5 years or so, that shouldn't be a problem.  We're waiting to find out if we can have him leave the house long enough to get neutered- if not it will have to wait until his quarantine is up.  I think we'll manage.

I've been so very calm since he's been with us and I've spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out why.  It would make sense for me to be more frazzled.  We've had to run all over getting him to the vet twice, we've been cooped up in the den, there are so many things to think about with a new member of the family.  But I've been calmer, more peaceful, less fazed by the circus I call my life. 

I was driving to the grocery store (again, seriously, how much milk can 4 people drink?) trying again to figure out what made the rest of my life seem easier and possibly more fulfilling to have helped Bob.  Talking it over in my mind I think about the family who had him before, how they were in over their heads (much how I feel with my girls many days) how they didn't have the knowledge or capacity to love him as much as he needed.  I can say without a doubt that his life is better in my house than it was before.  It's so easy, at least we love him. 

I spend so much time questioning whether I am enough mother to our girls.  Clara, as many of you may know is a very intense kid and I sometimes wonder if I am the best mother for her out there.  If there is a mother out there who doesn't wonder sometimes if she's doing the best, or is the best for her kids then I don't really want to know. (please don't tell me) That kind of self-confidence is something I'm not capable of.  I doubt myself.  A lot, actually.  But for whatever reason the universe sent my girls to me and I am the only mother they have.  And I love them.  A lot, actually.  Why, I ask myself, is it enough for Bob that we simply love him, provide him soft places to sleep, excellent health care and tasty food.  If our love is enough for him, if it all seems so simple for him, then why do I question if my love is enough for them?  Really, it is.  It is all they ever really need.  There were lean times in my childhood when love and a place to call home was about all my mother could give us.  It was plenty.  Why, then, do I spend so much time hating on myself and my parenting?  I have no idea.  My new mantra- Love is enough.  Thank you, Bob. Every time I start to feel a little overwhelmed, I'm going to go give you some pets and remember this.

Friday, January 13, 2012

kitty update!

I'm afraid the newest addition to our family (we're still not sure we're keeping him, but I'm hoping we do.. lots of factors... ) may be hijacking the blog for a few posts.  There are a few people who have expressed interest in how he came into our lives so I thought I would tell his story as I know it.

He was taken as a kitten for the daughter of a family who apparently never had cats.  He'd never seen a vet, but it appears that he was an indoor kitty.  My thought is that the family just had no idea what caring for a furry mammal was all about.  When he got a bit older he was causing a little damage to their leather furniture, and well, they decided that having a cat wasn't for them.  It was at this point that a friend of mine who helps re-home kitties was notified and she posted a plea to facebook last week.  When I saw his picture he reminded me so much of a dear kitty of mine and I fell in love.  What can I say?  I talked with Josh about it and he is just so practical that he said, "Really, are you nuts?"  I mean, I freak out all the time about how busy and insane our life is, his logic is the last thing we need is another thing to care about.  Fine, I try to put him out of my mind.  He's right, honestly, the last thing we need right now is something else to worry about.

Well, the following Wednesday I see another post from my friend on facebook that this little kitty got out accidentally and got in a bit of a fight and now the family is really not having it.  There are rumblings that he may just get let loose somewhere... or worse.  Sigh.  I go back to the sweetie and this time I'm a lot less flexible.  I see lots of calls to help animals (these are the crowds I run with) and usually I am moved, but not called into action.  This guy was different and I knew I couldn't see him die.  Not him. 

So we arrange to meet up with the liason- my friend's friend- the next day.  I manage to get a quick appointment at the vet Naomi uses (our usual vet couldn't fit us in that day and I really needed him to get checked out before I brought him home) and off we go.  Like any good story, it was storming and raining and blowing, and we were late.  But my friend's friend is lovely and tells me a few spots he was hurting that we should be sure to check out- his cut on his face and his back left leg that he is favoring.  As crazy as the day was the kitty is very calm and full of snuggles- even at the vet he snuggles!

He, of course, has a few issues, fleas, a heart murmur we need to get an ultrasound before he can be neutered, we have to call animal control because he has a wound of unknown origin while not vaccinated- we're still waiting to see if he needs to be quarantined... it's amazingly complicated.  All of our kitties have come from rescue organizations but this is my first time organizing the rescue so to speak.  I'm relying on the help and expertise of many people who have done this before and his kitty godmother (Naomi) is an ever present gentle source of encouragement that we can do it, that we are doing the right thing, that we need each other.

It wasn't really the perfect day to pick him up, on Thursdays I go to the shop and we have our babysitter, so I wasn't able to be with him the whole day.  When I got home Josh mentions that he hissed at him once when he was petting his back leg, and he's limping on his front leg.  I snuggle him while watching Star Trek, I make sure he has some food and we go to sleep, he's sad when we leave and I am already wishing we could let him out so he could sleep on the bed.

When I woke up this morning he's still really not putting any weight on his front left paw and I call the vet again.  They fit me in in the morning and kindly wait to call animal control back (oh that is a long and silly story) so they can treat his paw regardless of his quarantine status (they are so so kind) He's got a bit of a raw spot on his foot pad that needs cleaning, and he needs some special litter until it heals, but other than that he's just fine, and did we mention sweet?  and full of snuggles?

It honestly broke my heart to take him back to the vet this morning because I just knew he thought we were taking him to another house.  But we're back home now and he's resting on his favorite spot.  He's had quite an exciting couple of days and he's sleeping a ton.  When I pick him up and snuggle he's ever so willing to lay there and purr.  He is a truly gentle soul.  We all adore him- especially the girls.

So now the fun part!  We need to pick a name for him.  His old family named him Demon- the irony.  We temporarily named him Ollie- short for Oliphant.  Because he is so grey.  But we need some help finding a name.  He's a very sweet, kind, gentle cat- possibly the most mellow I've ever had.  He also has a very short tail (not a sad story, a birth defect!) about 5 inches long- seriously that's it!
But he's not an Ollie.   I'm thinking he needs something literary, or something Japanese (since all of our cats have Japanese names) he's a survivor, someone who did what he needed to do to make it, but generally wants to live a quiet life.  I feel like he deserves a big name, a quiet name, a name with a great story.  Any ideas?  I promise some knitting soon- I'll be spending a lot of time hanging in quarantine with my new friend so I should be quite productive... that is if I can manage to stop petting him!  Thank you for all your support on our adventure (and cross your fingers this animal control thing is a non-issue)  more soon!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

unexpected delights

Well, dear readers, it has happened again.  My marvelously insane little life has thrown some unexpected things my way.  Last week at this time I was marveling at this kitty who needed a home who reminded me so much of my dear cat Selki, this week, well, see for yourself:

His previous family sounds like decent enough people, just not cat people.  We are cat people and as you can see from his forehead, his circumstances were fairly dire.  It's complicated rescuing any animal and I am working on managing all the details, getting him well, neutered, and settled.  But he's just such a dear and I hope that if we can't find room in our home for him permanently then we'll be able to find a place for him once he's fully recovered.

Also, I may have stepped into a mitten obsession- I have been putting them off trying to finish things that are already on the needles, but I took a little detour this weekend for Josh.  Since I still can't find the zipper for his sweater (where did it go?) I needed for him to have something!
Were you expecting snowflakes?  not Cthulhu?  When I saw this pattern I just knew Josh would love them and when I found the vile looking lime green/yellow I managed to resist casting on for about 24 hours.  They worked up quickly and delightfully in Sheep -,a yarn I actually cried when it was discontinued.  Luckily I have enough in my basement to keep me well supplied for approximately the rest of my life.  He tells me they fit better than any mitten ever has, which may just be sweet talk, but I'll take it.

There will be more as we settle with our new kitty and work out the logistics of his rescue... I've been knitting like a mad woman (and painting, and cooking, and and and) and I have so much to share!  Isn't he adorable?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Holiday Knitting

It's funny how to do lists have a way of making me feel calmer and more panicked at the same time.  It's as if I say, "That's it?" in one breath and then in the other realize exactly how much is there.  During vacation I took the time (in the glow of the grandparents loving on the babes) to make a monster to do list.  I hoped that I would be able to get everything out of my brain and then make a nice plan.  You know, plan the work and work the plan.  When I was finished I took one look and decided (as I told you last time) that I was going to put off this website nonsense until after the house was on the market.  I made a spreadsheet of all of our time and all of our projects and I tried to make sense of what we needed to do, when we should do it, and to come up with a reasonable timeframe for when we would be ready to put that little sign outside.

I figured somehow, someway, we would be kind of ready come the middle of February.  And with any luck there will be a little snow, enough to hide our somewhat amateur landscaping, but not so much to keep people away from the open house.  And there will be no other houses on the market so our little gem will be super sparkly and sell in, like, 3 hours.  (a girl can dream, right?)

Of course I put all of the house things on the list, and promptly forgot about those little things like laundry and dishes, so when I woke up this morning to laundry all of over the place I panicked.  How are we to sell the house if we need it to look like a Pottery Barn shoot 24/7 and we can't even manage to put dirty laundry in the basket?  Queue panic attack.  You know it's a great morning when you hear your 4 year old ask, "Daddy, what does 'overwhelmed' mean?"  Awesome.

If you are a normal person you take a deep breath and start folding laundry and putting it away.  If you're me you think (as you have panic attack #2 in the downstairs half bath) that it would be really nice if just one of the rooms in your house looked amazing, just like the real estate stager wants it to look.  You look around for the room that is the closest and coincidentally it's the room you're in- oddly it's also the smallest room of the house.  So instead of working on Mount Washmore (laundry) I decided it was the perfect time to install the new faucet in the pedestal sink.  Thus removing the box with the new faucet that I've been kicking for a couple of months. 

It really only should have taken me an hour but the wonderful human who owned our house before us was not the best plumber and tightened the plug on the bottom of the sink way way too tight and I had to dismantle the entire sink to remove it.  The sink has a very very narrow pedestal.  It was impossible to remove the plug any other way, argh.  This required more tools and a trip to the Home Depot.  The weather is trying to convince me that it's really really winter (this time we mean it!) and it's super cold today and we had to get all bundled up.  So in my mixed-up world, I justify throwing away the to do list (temporarily) because it presented the perfect photo shoot for holiday knitting project #2 knit in the 48 hours before christmas.  Tiny Tea Leaves for ZoĆ«. Details on ravelry

Aren't you glad I'm a little nuts?  These photos were taken moments before we all piled into the car to buy tools.  And really, how perfectly does her outfit match that sweater?  Total accident!  And the adorable christmas book she's reading (upside down)?  I had nothing to do with it!  It almost appears that I planned the whole thing.  Sometimes flying by the seat of your pants works.  Of course, that implies you actually have clean pants.  I should get on that.

Monday, January 2, 2012

new inspirations

I've been (periodically) hard at work creating an ecommerce site for Bella.  Which sounds terrible, doesn't it?  Most of you know I'm totally into knitting and the kids, but fewer know that I was a big geek in college- math and computer science.  So while web design isn't something I may have done, ever, it has been fun dusting off all of that programming I did in college.  It's shocking how much I actually remember, and how really well that education has served me.  Given my terrible memory, I'm surprised at how easily some things have come back. 

But, you know, we have a *lot* of things for sale at the shop.  About 10,000 items.  That, my friends, is a lot of pictures, a lot of text, a lot of data entry and tweaking.  And really, I'm just one person, and while Naomi is helping a lot with the copy for the items, but the rest is squarely on my shoulders. 

To say that the tedium of taking thousands of pictures of yarn was getting to me is a bit of an understatement.  I love yarn, and I love my camera- but shooting and re-shooting all of the yarn will test even the most profound love of yarn.  It has also been an enormous challenge just to find time during bright daylight to take all of these pictures now that the sun sets at like 10am.  Me making a crack about not having light really tells you something- the dark is the thing I love about winter!  I have been really frustrated and stalled on the site because of this.  That is, until, my father in law gave me a new lens for my camera for christmas.  Have you ever seen Cascade 220 superwash look this amazing?  This was on a cloudy afternoon!

If I were crazy (crazier, actually) I'd be tempted to re-shoot the entire store.  Of course I had just decided to put off true insane work on the site until we have our house on the market.  Trying to paint every room in our house, do some carpentry, and re-tile our kitchen floor and trying to spend a couple of hours a day making these items beautiful for the shop is too much for me right now.  I try to tell myself that the world has waited this long for the most amazing yarn shop online, it can wait a few more months.  Besides, I'm supposed to be the shipping department for this operation and if my grand plan goes well, I'll be able to walk to the shop to pack all of those boxes.  In the meantime I'll just be taking more and more pictures and drooling at the lovely things we have. 

I have a few knitting posts in the pipeline for you- my holiday knitting is almost finished (Josh, the patient man that he is, doesn't mind that his sweater wasn't ready for christmas, hannukah, or new years) and I'll be parading those this week.  Lots to look forward to in the new year.  Again, if all of my grand plans come to fruition it should be a very exciting and eventful year. I can't wait to share it with you here!  Happy New Year!