After An Absence

Well, I took a break from blogging and paid more attention to family concerns, but I’m back now.  I’ve been knitting a bit compulsively (my shoulder is actually a bit achy), and there are a lot of new things in my Etsy shop.

One of my latest things is this gorgeous shawl, knit in Noro Silver Thaw.  This colorway makes me think of the northern lights.  It’s an aran weight yarn and I really like the way the lacy bits came out.  It’s warm and soft, and it wouldn’t break my heart to keep it!

Silver Thaw Northern Lights shawl

We’ve also added some pretty mitts.  Here’s a pair (for petite hands) in wine and green (Noro yarn again).

wine and green noro mitts

Then there’s a pair in purple and orange (also in Noro and also for smaller hands).

orange and blue kochoran mitts 2

We’ve been knitting some entrelac.  A small pink, green, and gray one knit by Cheryl came out beautifully.  This is Noro Kochoran.

small kochoran entrelac

There’s also a larger one Cheryl knit from Noro Kochoran. Can you tell we really love Kochoran?

Large kochoran entrelac

There’s also the pointy shawlette/scarf I knit from Knitpicks Chroma.  Really happy with how it came out.  I did have some problems with the yarn.  The first ball was very short, I called Knitpicks and they very kindly sent me another ball.  They have excellent customer service!

Blue Lagoon Scarf/Shawlette

This is a large shawl knit in Noro Kureyon (hey, we aren’t partial – we love all Noro!)  Love these colors!

kureyon shawl

Cheryl wanted a break from Noro, so she knit this nubby dove gray cowl in Twinkle 100% virgin wool.

Twinkle Dove Gray Cowl

And then – back to Noro for this cowl in cool colors.

Noro Cool Cowl

My latest foster, the lovely and handsome Sheldon, was adopted recently through reTails.  Here’s a picture of him.  I miss him a lot.  He is cuddly and great with other cats, and he likes dogs – what’s not to like?  His adopters are very lucky!

Lovely Sheldon

We are taking a break from kitty fostering for a while.  My personal clowder of cats includes a couple of members who find all these “outsiders” coming and going a bit difficult to cope with!

New Store

reTails opened their new adoption center (the store) on Friday, Oct 5. It’s far from finished, but the pets seemed to appreciate the improved facilities and bigger spaces.

Here are some pictures of the first evening.

The New Entrance

A Living Room For Kitties

Mia Is camera shy – can you see her?

Kitty Kitchen

Ernie approves.  He was adopted this weekend.

The dogs like their new kennels.  They can see visitors and their neighbors much better.

Doing two adoptions at a time is a big improvement!

Our First Adoptee In The New Store

reTails opened the first adoption center in October 2010.  Two years later we moved to the new store, which is four times larger, and next weekend we expect to do adoption number 2000.  We are making a big difference in turning Indianapolis into a community in which no healthy pet is killed for lack of a home.

Want to help?  Go to the website for info, or contact me via comments.

HoHo and Milo Mitts

Here is my next Wingspan, using Knitpicks Chroma Fingering, in the Mesa Colorway.  Loving it!  These are like potato chips for me, I can’t make just one.  I wasn’t very happy as I was knitting along early in the shawl and came to a knot where the color changed very abruptly and the direction of the color changes started going backwards.  Not sure how this will look, there’s just no way to tell until I knit quite a lot more.  Very annoying.  Otherwise, I do like this yarn, it’s super soft!

HoHo decided he needed to supervise the photography.  He is another rescue, from the first litter of kittens from Indianapolis Animal Care and Control that I fostered for reTails.  He was very, very sick with distemper as a baby, I had to syringe feed him for over a week (what a mess that was), so he’s kind of my special boy now.  His official name is Hermes, but that group turned into HoHo, PoPo (Poseidon), FroFro (Aphrodite), and NoNo (Apollo), the other two kittens, Zeus and Artemis, died of distemper.  The four survivors were also sick, but pulled through.  There were a lot of tears shed (by me) during this time!  The whole month of June 2010 was given over to kitten intensive care, including several meds, nebulizer treatments, force feedings, cleaning three times a day horribly frightening eyes that I was sure were going to be removed in the end (none were, unbelievably).  NoNo was never in good health, we adopted him also, he developed FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) this time last year and died.  I can’t believe it’s been a year!  He was 18 months old.  It was heartbreaking.  But, I’d do it all again in a minute.

According to the reTails database, I have fostered over 100 cats for them in the last 2.5 years.  Many litters of kittens have grown up a little bit here.

Almost all of my fosters have been darling, loveable cats with great personalities, I never had another litter do as poorly as the first one, thank heavens.   Fostering has been one of the best experiences of my life.

I have only one foster right now, he is Milo Mitts, around 12 years old, very sweet, even though his gene pool is a bit shallow (as we joke), he has a very odd build, a very awkward walk and crazy staring eyes that seem to look in different directions.  He’s very, very sweet and just spends most of his day napping – no trouble at all.  He likes laps and being held like a baby!

There is an animal rescue group near you that needs fosters badly.  Please consider saving a life if you can.

Frosty Fan and a Theater Party

I recently finished a scarf in Rowan Colourscape Chunky in the Frosty colorway.  I used the Mochi Chunky Fan Scarf pattern here.

I love the scarf!  It would look wonderful on someone with summery coloring, blond or light brown hair, blue or hazel eyes.  It will be in the Etsy shop later this week.

Had another good weekend, I worked in the reTails adoption center as store manager on Saturday morning (I did three adoptions, 2 gray kittens, and an 8 month old puppy who looked like a living teddy bear).  reTails is closing in on adoption number 2000 since 2010, and I’m so happy and proud to be part of that!

After that, I came home for a quick lunch, had a little nap, threw together a couple of quick dishes for a potluck and then went to a nice little theater party.

The Mud Creek Players hosted a “meet and greet” potluck in between work sessions on their new play, Man of La Mancha.  As a spouse, I was invited, so I toddled over there with my italian coleslaw and a giant container of red and green grapes.  And, to my delight, one of the actor families had brought along their new puppy, Sadie.

Sadie is an 11 week old lab mix, and she is absolutely charming.  I stupidly did not have my camera or you could have enjoyed a lovely picture.  She is black with darling white toes.  I had some fun walking her in the big open fields surrounding the barn.

From my obervation of rehearsals, I predict the play is going to be excellent, there is a big cast and a lot of singing, fighting windmills, etc.  It starts Nov 16, if you are looking for a fun kickoff to the holidays, order some tickets!

After a nice little dinner of coleslaw, lots of fruit, some delicious pretzel crackers (that I must purchase but cannot find in my stores) and baba ganoush, I left them to their work and drove home to knit.  Stayed up knitting and watching TV until midnight, which is insanely late for me.

I later heard, via my dear husband, that some people are hoping that I get up on the stage one day.  Yikes, the very thought makes me feel absolutely ill!

Creative Weekend

A nice thing happened last week.  I finished a shawl and put it in my Etsy shop.  It was raw silk, so quite warm and had great drape.  Within 25 minutes someone purchased it.  I was quite surprised and happy, of course.  Here’s the shawl.

That was a great start to a very nice weekend.

I am well through another Wingspan shawl.  Here’s a picture.

This is another Noro yarn called Silver Thaw.   I love the way this yarn is knitting up, didn’t think much of it before I wound the skein into a ball, like so many Noro yarns, it’s impossible to imagine what it really looks like in the skein.  This yarn does have shorter repeats than what I consider typical for Noro.  This shawl might be a keeper, it’s really lovely and will be easy to wear with all those colors.

We went to a play at the Mud Creek Players on Saturday evening.  The play was The Trip To Bountiful, which I wasn’t sure about, but I really enjoyed it and the audience seemed to love it.  I knew they were all in when they all gasped at the right place (it was a heartbreaking moment in the story).  The actress playing the lead role was phenomenal, and the other female lead was great too (I really did not like her character, and the actress is actually quite a nice person – that’s acting!). There are still two more performances, if you are in Indy and looking for something different for next weekend click here to find out about tickets.  They are very affordable and the play is wonderful.  Live theatre is such a unique experience, you will be talking about it for days.  I was also crazy about the sets in this play, they were quite minimalist, but just perfect.  I am always astounded by the creativity displayed by set designers in our local live theaters.

Yesterday I spend quite a lot of time messing around in the kitchen.  First I decided that all the fresh figs I bought Friday were not being eaten fast enough.  I’ve never seen fresh figs in a grocery store in Indiana before, so I bought quite a lot (6 pints) and they were just beginning to get over ripe.  I did a bit of research and then bit the bullet and made fig preserves.

Thanks to Bayou Woman for her recipe.  Here they are before cooking.

After the sugar has melted

Cooked for a while

And – the finished product

I probably cooked these a few minutes too long, they came out more like candied figs than real fig preserves, but I believe I’ll be able to choke them down anyway.

Then, I made a big pot of ratatouille, which is so perfect for this time of year.  All the needed ingredients (zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers) are perfectly ripe and inexpensive.  I also used garlic, shallots, salt and pepper, and about a tablespoon of herbes de provence.

I cooked it in my pressure cooker pot for a while (uncovered), then transferred to my slow cooker to continue cooking while I went to work in the reTails adoption store.

I adopted out a dog and two cats during my shift – yay – then came home to finished ratatouille, all I had to do was cut up some peaches, slice some grainy bread and sit down to eat.  Heaven!

I will concede that my daughter Cecily makes much better ratatouille than I do (from her authentic recipe acquired from her host mom in France this past summer), but hers requires messing around stirring it every  15 minutes for 3 hours and I am not often motivated to do that!  I may try a modified version of her recipe next time.

We endured a bit of drama at dusk when one of the biggest boy cats decided to take an evening stroll on top of the deck canopy.  It has some skylights now.

Niblet fell about 8 feet, landing very awkwardly on a chair right across his midsection.  I was afraid he had seriously hurt himself.  He took off running, but came in for breakfast and seems none the worse for wear today.  Cats never cease to amaze me with their athleticism and sturdiness!

My to do list for today includes ordering a new cover.

Completed Projects

I updated my Etsy shop yesterday with several finished items.  One million thanks to Cheryl, my business partner, who has become a fantastic photographer.  Her pictures just sing!

Here is a cowl I knit on Labor Day.  I really love the fall colors!  It’s a Noro 100% wool yarn.

And, a shawl I knit last winter.  The colors on this one are fabulous, too.  I call this the Vineyard Shawl.  This one was lots of fun to knit, I really enjoyed watching the color changes.  This is knit in Kureyon, one of my favorite Noro wools.

Something else I knit is this pretty shawlette, called A Perfect Day at the Beach.  I kept dreaming of the beach as I knit it, the colors made me think of one of those great beach days with blue skies, a little breeze and lots of cool water.

Here’s the Plum Tree Scarf, knit in a terrific Noro yarn that is silk, cotton and wool.  Fabulous nature inspired colors and wonderful texture are this yarn’s trademarks.

Cheryl finished some great things recently too.  I don’t know how she finds time to knit so many items!  She is the most productive knitter I know.

Here’s a cowl she just made.  This is the Royal Burgundy cowl, the yarn is so smooshy and warm, it’s 64% wool, 24% silk, 12% angora, and 100% wonderful!

And, she recently completed this completely gorgeous Leaf Scarf in another 100% wool Noro yarn.

She made another Leaf Scarf too, in a different colorway.  This one is wool and silk.  It’s also beautiful.

Here’s a vividly colored Ruffled Scarf she knit from Noro yarn.   This yarn is silk, cotton and wool.

There are a few more new items too.  I’ll feature them next time.

I’ve been spinning, here’s a picture of my latest single in progress.

I’ll have a finished yarn from this soon.  The vibrant colors are a joy to spin, and the roving (blue faced leicester) is lots of fun to work with too.

Hope to get some spinning (or rather plying) time in today.  A couple of kitties have a doctor visit this morning so stealth preparations must begin soon for the transport operation.  Really looking forward to that (not).

Reclaiming Yarn from a Thrift Store Sweater

I went to my local thrift store yesterday looking for pans to use for dyeing roving, that was a bust (disappointing!), they had nothing suitable. But, while I was there I did take a look at sweaters. For a while now I have been wanting to try my hand at reclaiming fiber from a sweater. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this in case I ruined it and came out with nothing usable, so a thrift store sweater is definitely the way to go.  For $4.59 including tax I picked up this really pretty rose sweater, ladies size small.  Well, it’s nice yarn, anyway.


I took the pieces apart, which took a couple of hours since I didn’t know how to do it the “right” way.  I have since looked up on you tube a couple of videos about disassembling sweaters, and next time I will do it much more quickly, I’m sure.  I did notice that the last button band came off much more quickly than the first piece, so I was improving during my first try!

I unwound the back onto my 1.5 yard niddy-noddy.  I need a 2 yard niddy noddy – Christmas list!

The back gave me around 300 yards of fingering weight yarn.  I still need to unwind the 2 front pieces and the sleeves.

After skeining all the yarn I’ll soak it in hot water to remove the crinkles (I wonder how long ago this sweater was knit?), and put it out to dry with a weight on it to help straighten it out.

I am very pleased with this project.  I have maybe 600 yards of fingering weight wool in a really great color for less than $5!  I don’t even need to dye it, since the pink is fine just the way it is.  I am less pleased with amount of time I spent on it, but I imagine I’ll get much faster.

I foresee another trip to Goodwill soon (and a sharper eye at garage sales).

Special thanks to my assistant, Stitch, for his help.

Stitch Wants To Help

Inside Spring

It’s not quite spring yet here in Indianapolis, but I have a raging case of spring fever. I’ve made a pretty terrarium that sits on my dining room table, and last weekend I bought a couple of small phalaenopsis orchids to sit with it too.

I’ve got orchids on the brain, I’m afraid. I went to the Orchids by Hausermann greenhouse on my visit to Chicago last weekend. Their annual open house is Feb 24 – 26 and March 3 -5 this year.  Our new family tradition is to visit the weekend prior, to avoid all the crowds, and we still see all the fabulous plants and get a blast of springtime.  I stupidly forgot my camera, but I do have some photos I took at home.

Phalaenopsis 'Kitty Face' - I didn't buy it for the name, I swear

My spring fever is also manifesting as an irresistible desire to repaint the entire first floor of the house.  I’m sick to death of tan, and ready for something fresh and lovely.  Pink, turquoise and fresh bright green are my picks, poor Craig will be living in a Barbie tea party for a while, I guess.  Something like this, with turquoise added.

Add turquoise and you've got it

Love the site I took this from – Design Seeds.  She has dozens and dozens of beautiful color palettes you can use for home decor, weddings, the sky’s the limit.  She’s a color genius!

So, Lydia has been press-ganged into painting, my downstairs powder room is now a shocking pink shade that puts me in mind of an orchid everytime I go in there.  It’s pretty and clean (for the moment – nothing stays clean long in a house with 3 teenagers and 7 cats!), and I am liking it a lot.  Still many hours of work ahead, but Lydia is always looking for ways to make money, so, I will bribe her to paint a little every weekend until it’s all done.

I’ve been knitting a bit, the Mae Geri scarf is all done, and the new project is called Little Shells, which I’m knitting in a 100% silk yarn from Alchemy.  The yarn is Silk Purse, the color is Dylan’s Blue Depths, it’s a lovely watery silvery blue, nice for spring!

Little Shells Shawl - color is off, but pattern is clear

I have a new foster kitty now, her name is Felicity because she is so pretty and sweet, super friendly and loving.  She has really great markings, they make me think of a reticulated python.  She is only about 7 months old, already spayed and ready for her forever family.  I’ll be kissing her goodbye soon, I imagine.

Felicity is a very pretty girl

Going outside to enjoy a bit of sunshine now!  Maybe a cup of tea and a bit of knitting (I have things in a little tangle right now – got to sort it all out before I can move forward – shouldn’t talk and knit at the same time when I’m doing a tricky part I guess!).

Restoring My Faith in Humanity

I am Operations Manager for a pet rescue group called reTails.  We have a store in a local mall that we open on weekends to do pet adoptions.  Sometimes we hear things that really make us question our faith in people.

Last Sunday a young female cat was found in a bag in the donations at a Goodwill store on the west side.  One of their volunteers took the kitty to a local Petco, who referred her to our volunteer, Scott.  He is a cat rescuer deluxe, and has rescued hundreds of cats!  I want to be like him when I grow up.  Scott met the Goodwill person the next day, and she surrendered the kitty to us.  She kindly gave us a $50 donation to help the cat.

The sad part is, none of us were surprised about this, but, of course, we were very angry.  The rants flew into our email inboxes all evening.

Yesterday, Scott got a call from Goodwill saying that there was a flyer up in their store about a lost cat that looked very much like the found kitty.  Scott called the person who had posted the flyer and they met last night.  It was their kitty, who had crawled into the donations while no one was paying attention (naughty, curious kitty).  They did not discover she was missing until after the boxes and bags had been taken to Goodwill.  They went to Goodwill to ask if a cat had been found, but the volunteer in the store didn’t know anything about it, so they posted a flyer and left.

The flyer stated that there was a $100 reward for the finder of the cat.  The kitty’s owner insisted that reTails take the reward, which she gave Scott all in one dollar bills except for a single five dollar bill.  She told him “Now, I didn’t get this money dancing at a gentleman’s club”.   The kitty’s owner was at least 70 years old.  There was a lot of laughter and maybe one or two happy tears too.

So, reTails was able to return a beloved lost cat to her grateful owners and received donations totaling $150 to help other pets.  And our faith in humanity was somewhat restored!

I’m knitting a scarf now.  The pattern is Mae Geri and I’m using a cool yarn made from corn!  It’s Queensland Collection Haze. It’s 60% corn viscose, 40% cotton, which I think makes it very appropriate for a summer scarf.  I like this yarn, it’s easy to knit with, not splitty at all like some cotton yarns can be.

Here’s a picture of my progress.

And here’s my helper, Rudy,  advising and inspecting my progress.