Saturday, March 31, 2012

More Lace!

OMG, y'all. I think I'm finally starting to understand the mysteries of knitted lace. I just finished my third lace project, by far the most ambitious to date.

Tulipe Doily

I actually made a few mistakes and had to go back and fix them, but I finally, finally have enough of a grasp of what is going on with all the yarn overs and decreases and all that stuff that I was actually ABLE TO FIX MY MISTAKES PROPERLY!

That's huge, y'all. HUGE!

Now, I'm not saying I understand enough about knitting lace to start designing my own or anything - I'll leave that to the knitting geniuses, of which I am not (I don't even dare attempt to design a crocheted doily - too much brainpower required!) - but the mysteries of lace aren't quite so mysterious any more.

As for the pattern, it is seriously awesome. I can't peg exactly why but I had a blast knitting this. Now, I did have one particular day that was a bit difficult, but that wasn't the pattern's fault. (Some days my brain isn't snappy enough to knit. One day I will learn to actually not knit on these days.)

I will say, I absolutely detested the yarn - Crystal Palace's Mini Mochi. It's a running theme with this yarn, actually. It's so pretty but it untwists, fuzzes and splits like mad. So not the right choice for this project, but I wanted a yarn with a gradual color change and that was what I had. But I still enjoyed knitting this so much that I am seriously considering making another one (in a different yarn). And I virtually never repeat a pattern once I've made it. It's like a video game - if I've finished the pattern, I've successfully completed that crafting level so why replay it? (It's not like a pattern has special Easter eggs to find.) But this pattern? I'm itching to make another one.

Long Awaited Chloe Update

Well, after medicines and surgery and bladder stones and more medicine and tests (on the bladder stone and on Chloe) and research, we finally have some conclusion to Chloe's recent medical drama. A least, I hope this will be the conclusion.

Chloe in the Washer
No kitties were washed during the making of this photo

First off, Chloe's bladder stone ended up being an ammonium urate stone. Apparently this is very uncommon in cats (less than 6% of stones). Dogs, specifically Dalmatians, tend to get them, so maybe Chloe is hiding some Dalmatian ancestry. Anyway, this type of stone can mean liver problems so we had to have a bile acid test on Chloe to rule that out. The test came back fine so no liver problems for our little Squeaker.

Typically (in dogs), to help prevent a reoccurrence of the bladder stone, the animals have to be put on a low protein diet (since the stones arise from the liver processing protein differently, leading to a build up of uric acid which, call me crazy, makes me think my cat is now prone to gout, just like Dan). Of course, low protein goes totally counter to what the kitties are eating now since we intentionally pick the grain-free high protein stuff (Wellness Core for a while and now Blue Wilderness because it has little vitamin kibbles in it).

So now Chloe (and just Chloe) will have to switch to a low protein diet. In fact, she's going to have to get some Rx food from the vet that has easier to digest protein. (It's also supposed to be good for cats with food allergies so it might help her with her obsessive hair nibbling behavior that is mostly stress-related but I think does do better when she's on more allergy-friendly foods. I know that food allergies can present in wacky ways; corn (and I think gluten) allergies can cause depression, panic attacks and the like. I was a much happier camper after finally getting my diet corn-free so maybe this new diet will make Chloe a much fuzzier one.)

Neither Dan nor I are especially thrilled about feeding one of the kitties food that has fillers and ten-syllable words in the ingredient list, but the granola pet food market doesn't have anything for cats that can't have high protein so we really don't have an alternative. Well, I suppose I could cook her some food from scratch if I really wanted to, but I think the other kitties might try to beat her up to get to her bowl during feeding time so probably not the best plan. And please, I love my cats but I'm not ready to cook them meals every day.

Anyway, I imagine I'll pick up the food Monday or Tuesday or so. Then hopefully Chloe will be able to maintain a healthy bladder.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I Got a Sunburn!

Well, spring is officially here - the wildflowers are blooming like mad! Yesterday, Dan and I went to my parents' place for lunch and wildflower pictures. The weather was lovely - to the point of hot, actually. While walking around look at all the wildflower patches, I actually ended up getting sunburned on my neck! Which means pool season should arrive any day now. Yay!

Of course, it also means I took a lot of pictures. A lot. But I've narrowed it down to my favorite 60 or so. Hehe. I bet you can guess that this slideshow is a long one.

(You can always see them in non-slideshow format here on Flickr.)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Productivity Has Occurred!

My porch has had a rather difficult winter. Once fall truly hit, Dan and I pulled all the pool stuff in and put the plastic up around the porch... and then kind of forgot about it. I had intended to clean it up and get it neat all winter, but injuries, illness and cold weather all conspired against me. Last weekend I had plans to clean the porch but came down with some sinus issues and the weather was super cold so I let myself be lazy instead. This weekend, however, all the factors converged nicely and I was able to not only clean the porch, but repot a massive number of plants and clean off the super-messy plant stand in our bedroom. How exciting!

Okay, maybe not exciting for the world at large, but Dan and I find it pretty nifty. The porch is a useable room again!

It's Clean!

And I repotted a lot of plants. Before the massive clean, I had one lonely plant on the outside plant stand. Now I have lots!

Repotted Plants

Some of these plants will move back inside once they've had a chance to root nicely (specifically the spider plants since the kitties like to snack on them) but until then, our inside plant stand is pretty naked.

The Un-Plant Stand

I'm hoping (and aiming) for the inside plant stand to stay on the more spartan side of things even when I bring a few actual plants since before it managed to get pretty overrun. I should have taken some before pictures, but at the same time I'm kind of glad there is no actual proof about how bad it looked.

In other organizational news, I also managed to straighten up my tea pantry. Which is nice because it means I can find things easier, at least for a little bit. Want to see what just under one hundred teas looks like?

My Tea

It's three and four tins deep in most sections. Also, I have it ordered by tea type because I'm a big giant nerd.

But I'm a big giant nerd with a lot of awesome (and accessible!) tea, a clean plant stand and a homey, comfortable porch so I'm happy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

33% Accomplished

I've got two goals for this year: read 24 books (not doing so well on that - I'm on number three) and
... try new tea vendors. Specifically TeaSpring but also Sugimoto and American Tea Room. Nothing too ambitious, just three new vendors spread over twelve months. (Of course, if I can fit Ito-en and Ippodo in there, it wouldn't upset me in the slightest.)
And done! Well, not totally done. Only about a third done. Because yesterday, I got this:


Yes, I finally ordered from TeaSpring. So happy. And even happier, I didn't spend a ton. I mean, it wasn't like a tiny purchase, but I could have gone much crazier. Much. I got 10 different tea, 9 of which I got 25g. One, the delightful Tan Yang Te Ji, I ordered in a larger amount. But only 50g. I really should have gotten something larger. (But I stuck with the 50g because I was trying to keep my order under $100. Next time, screw the budget, I'm going for 100g.) But anyway, tea!

Right now I'm sipping on some Zhu Hai Jin Ming to start my day and it is lovely. Lovely, I say! (Mostly Keemun-y with rye and faint toasted-smoke but with a nice Golden Monkey-like roundness and hint of creaminess.)

Anyway, huzzah for me! I tried a new tea vendor (one I've been meaning to order from for ages)! I think next up will be Sugimoto since I've had their Temomi Shincha recommended to me (which is a shincha that comes out in April, apparently). Until then, I'm going to work on my TeaSpring teas... and maybe finishing off some of my other teas. Because I currently have 96 teas in my pantry (not including a few one-cup samples from friends, of which I have about a dozen). I'm trying very hard to keep the "official" number of teas down under 100. I'm cutting it a bit close now that this new order has come in.

Oh, and one fun thing about this order - US Customs in New York was kind enough to open the box for me so I didn't even have to struggle with the tape. How nice of them! I suppose that's what happens when one is shipped a box of poorly labeled something or other (poorly labeled, you see) from Hong Kong. (Fortunately they just looked at the packages of tea and didn't actually open any of those. Which means if you want to send something less than legal through the mail, perhaps you just need to put a tea vendor label on it.)

And now I'm off to have another steep!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Made Lace!

I don't know why it is that when you crochet something out of thread, you are making a doily, but when you knit it, you are knitting lace. I mean, ultimately it's the same thing. Maybe because "lace" sounds cooler (and younger) than "doily"? Regardless, I had some leftover thread from the pretty I made a little bit ago so I though I'd try my hand at knitting a doily with it.


I think it turned out quite nice! I did make a mistake on it (which is fairly obvious to me but hopefully doesn't scream at any non-knitters too loudly) but I remember messing up and how I attempted to fix it so I pretty much know why it didn't work, which means hopefully I won't do that again in the future.

That being said, the mysteries of knitted lace still confuse me. I mean, I totally get crochet. I can look at a doily and break it down and recreate it without needing a pattern. And I grasp the basics of knitting. I can look at something and know it is knit and know how the simpler stuff was done. But you start getting into yarn overs and increases and decreases and I just can't track the flow. I made this and I still don't fully understand why it turned out like it did!


Well, logically, I kinda do. The bits where the lacy sections twist, well, I figure that has to be the knit rounds connecting them, right? But I don't' get why the combination of those stitches results in what it results in.

I think this means I have a lot more to learn about knitting. Which is totally cool because I like learning. Just as long as it isn't too over my head. Maybe one day I'll understand why this turned out like it did!

(Oh, and here is a link to my Ravelry project for this, if you want to see a couple of in-process type pictures. I used double-pointed needles for it! Go me! Only my second time ever using them and it went well. Woo!)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stoned Chloe

Chloe is back home and settled into the guest bathroom. She'll have to stay separate from the other kitties for 10 to 14 days. Right now she's not too bothered by not being around her people but that's because she stoned out of her gourd on pain medication. Instead, she's a bit hyper and squeaking lots as she fidgets and rubs against everything with the force of only the truly stoned. Once she's off her pain medication, I'm sure she'll start getting a little unhappy about being away from us but for now, she's feeling no pain. Literally.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Surgical Chloe

Well, Dan and I just dropped Chloe off at the vet. She has surgery scheduled today to remove a bladder stone. Poor little girl. She's been getting bladder infections off and on for months now because of this. We tried to treat it with food, but no go. So surgery it is. She'll have to spend the night tonight but we'll have our Chloe back tomorrow, stone-free. Yay!

Update: Chloe came through the surgery fine! There were a few issues in regards to finding the stone - apparently it managed to slip out without being noticed - but it was recovered so it can be sent off for analysis (so we can figure out what diet change Chloe needs to have to prevent this from happening again). We'll be able to bring her home sometime tomorrow. Until then, she's doped up and resting comfortably.

And speaking of comfortably, or rather uncomfortably, this is a picture of the (eraser-sized/disc-shaped) stone that came out of her bladder!

The vet texted me the pic so it's not the most high quality thing, but honestly? It looks pretty nasty so I'm not sure if I want to see it in full detail!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Sunday, I finally finished Dan's gloves!


I made them to match his hat and just in time for spring!

Wait a minute...

Technically, these were for his birthday, but since his birthday was in February (you know, a month he would have actually gotten to use them)... I did cast on for them on his birthday, though. Which means it took me one month to finish them (and then two days to block them because, honestly, I forgot about them yesterday even though they were probably ready), so these are now officially gloves for the one month anniversary of his birthday.


Happy anniversary!

I will say that these gloves are pretty awesome. I want to make a pair for myself and I don't think my parents would mind getting some, either! There are a few things I'd do differently on the next pair (work the increases one stitch in from the purl stitch instead of right after it, in particular) but I'm really happy with how they turned out, especially since I had to do massive adaptations to the pattern to make sure they'd fit Dan's hands.

And just in case you are interested in those massive adaptations, here's the Ravelry project page for them.

Next up: I have no idea! But I have lots of options. Maybe I should make a roulette wheel of them or something...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

We Match

When Dan and I were in St. Louis, Dan's mom got some nifty little nail polish strip things (specifically Sally Henson nail strips). I didn't get a chance to try them out while we were there (thanks, stomach flu) so she let me take some home to play with. And that's what I did last week.

Checking Out the Manicure

As of last night, they started to chip a bit, but honestly, they've lasted six days, which is pretty impressive. Most of the time polish on my fingernails only lasts two days, three if I'm really lucky. And even though they have a few chips now, they still look nice enough that I'm in no hurry to take them off.

Not that anyone needs to know about my manicure, but I thought they were pretty wild. Plus, kitty picture!

I Made A Pretty

At least, I think it is pretty.

Round Doily in Valdani Heavenly Hue

And good news: crocheting doilies? Nowhere near as awkward as crocheting potholders. Huzzah!

And speaking of crochet versus knit (sorta), I attempted to do some knit lace yesterday... It didn't go so well. I'll try it again later with hopefully more success.