Thursday, August 18, 2011

DIY Cat Toy

Since most of what I'm working on right now is super sekrit, here's an easy project.

Step 1. Use toilet paper until all that remains is a cardboard tube.
Step 2. Set tube upright near kitten

Kittens hate nothing more than the sight of an upright toilet paper tube.  They will go to any lengths to immediately knock it over and smack it around for daring to stand on one end like a small cardboard Rory Calhoun.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


The online cross stitch community uses "SABLE" as an acronym for Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy.  I think I'm still at a point where I could do all of my current cross stitch patterns if I actually sat down and did them (and maybe stopped trying to leave the house or work).  There might be some colors of floss I might not use again, but there are certain colors that I go through pretty frequently.  And while my floss collection can be a pain in the butt to deal with sometimes, it still could all fit in a reusable grocery bag.

Yarn takes up a lot of space.  And sometimes you end up with a little extra that's too much to throw away, but god only knows what you could actually do with it.  And if you get into crochet for the amigurumi, well, you totally *need* certain colors, and it's cheaper to buy the whole thing of Red Heart that you'll only use a tiny fraction of, and seriously, some day I am going to make that wool blazer I bought all the damn yarn for.  So, I am no longer buying yarn (except for the times I do) and only looking for projects that will let me use up all the damn yarn I already have.

My grandparents are moving into a retirement home (This may seem completely unrelated, but just go with it).  They've been slowly giving their possessions away for years, but my grandfather's 95th birthday was a hobbit celebration: guests were offered whatever they wanted to haul away.  Such as liquor purchased in New York state.  Which seems perfectly fine unless you know that my grandparents haven't lived in NY since the mid-80's.  Some of the things poured down the sink were probably older than my sister.

My grandmother knits and crochets.  She is no longer able to go up and down stairs, so it's difficult to date her yarn stash in the basement.  As a devoted descendant (inspired by my mother's nagging), I have hauled away at least two bags of yarn.  This picture is just what made it into the house, and what I haven't already started using.

Having recently tried to figure out how vintage/potentially poisonous old booze is, I have decided that "not having a website on the packaging" is a bad sign.  For the yarn that's still labeled, the term "Machine Launderable" suggests some distant era as does the price tag--68¢.  

I'd make some "Depression Era at Work" comment about all the tiny little yarn scraps, but this is the Hoarders gene.  This is why I was already Code SABLE before taking in somebody else's stash.

Having grabbed some slightly larger stray balls (hurr hurr), some of them don't appear to be the same type or weight as the others.  Which I suspect will make even scrap afghans or shelter Snuggles difficult.

Solution: cat toys.  Lion Brand has a free pattern for a fortune cookie, but that's just stupid.  And I would've had to walk all the way upstairs to get some fortune cookie colored yarn.  Which is part of my Too Much Fucking Yarn Collection, not What the Hell Am I Going to Do With Grandma's Yarn? Collection.  

Making Pac-Man combined using up some of my yarn inheritance and my love of blatant copyright violations.  Crochet a circle, fold it in half, and crochet the edges together.

Once you've gone a little over halfway, add some stuffing and catnip.  You'll need to add a little more stuffing as you finish it.  I'd also say more catnip, but that's because I like my cat to get completely stoned.

A smart person would've remembered that Zoot is 6 (old, fat, and lazy in puss years) and that the little foster kitten upstairs would probably enjoy beating up Pac-Man more.  Zoot deigned to swat at Pac-Man and chew on him for a bit, but this completely exhausted her.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What the Hell is Needle Tatting?

Got The Forgotten Crafts out of the library.  It's interesting, but it's much more "here's some shit you would've been expected to know how to do" than "here's how you do it."  I still don't really know what tatting is, but now I know that you need a shuttle and some thread, and it's "much as a spider spins a web behind her as she goes."

My interest in tatting is based on the fact that Ben Franklin (and I think Hobby Lobby too) have a kit on needle tatting which is the only place I ever see the damn thing referenced.  Knitters and crocheters are easy to find.  Outside of family members I don't think I've encountered another cross stitcher in real life, but I can find them on the internet.  I've at least seen crewel and candlewicking and other obscure needlecraft that nobody other than my mother wants to do.  But needle tatting?  Other than two paragraphs in The Forgotten Arts and Crafts and that kit at Ben Franklin, needle tatting does not exist.  Sometimes I think I want to learn it just so I can make my own needle tatting book and/or kit.  Working title: What the Hell is Needle Tatting?

Despite being written in the 1980's, The Forgotten Arts and Crafts still manages to long for a time when people knew their place and you could refer to people as "peasants".  Such as the peasants who enjoyed the useless, decorative results of tatting.  Ahh, for those halcyon days when the lower classes could be contented with a tatted collar and embroidery had yet to be ruined by the Victorians:

"As the nineteeth century wore on so taste declined (according to my taste at least) and embroidery reached perhaps its pit in Berlin wool-work....

On second thoughts, perhaps this was not the bottom of the pit.  Perhaps that has been reached today, when ready-to-embroider canvases are sold in shopping malls.  Clumsy representations of the paintings of old masters are already painted on them and the colored wool to create the picture is supplied with it.  This is not what the high art of embroidery is all about."

I'm trying to decide what exactly sullies the good name of high embroidery.  The ugly pattern?  The fact that it comes with the materials?  The male author manages to separate knitting, crochet, lace making, and tatting, but there is only a section on "embroidery."  Based on the description I assume he's complaining about needlepoint kits.  Needlepoint (like cross stitch) is technically a type of embroidery, but no gentlewoman would ever refer to it as such.  To appear suitably educated, a lady must remember that embroidery primarily refers to a trasnfered or drawn design covered over or filled in with a variety of stitches.  Such as this.