Friday, February 03, 2017

Cats and crochet

Happy February! 

I don’t think I have ever before been so happy to see January go! Good bye to the dark days and welcome light; even with small increments daily, it is more and more and it shows. It gave me such a pleasure to turn the page in the almanac!
I have truly enjoyed your comments on the cats, thank you for all of them. When I started to make them, I thought that they would be too silly to show on the blog and for a while thought that I would just keep them to myself. While making, I heard this practical voice inside of my head pounding… “if you don’t have anything else to do, go clean the walk-in closet … or the kitchen cabinets would benefit from thorough look-through…don’t you have anything else to do?” Even though I kept telling me that this is my hobby, hobbies are supposed to promote mental health and well-being and that is just what I am up to, I kept thinking that this is utterly silly. But silly took over me and now I have six cats and one on the go.
Putting together one little cat takes lots of steps and is little bit fussy. Even though it is knitted in one piece, it is the after work that is fiddly. I have knitted the cats with the same pattern but with two different needle sizes, with 3,5mm the cat will be about 20cm/8” and with 3,25mm about 17,5cm/7” tall, but the yarn will affect the size little bit as well. I have not given up on writing the pattern to it at some point, but now I keep having headaches when I try to work on the computer. I had all my glasses updated last fall, and I even got myself special ones for the computer time, but even these have not helped much. I spend a lot less time at the screen these days than before. I have had these spells of migraines over my life, there have been very good years and then some very bad ones and for some odd reason that I cannot figure out, the headaches have been a nuisance lately, this past month was one of the bad ones, and I have had to restrict the computer time. Would be lovely if I could have you over and we could make one kitten together, it would be so much easier to show you the steps if you were here.
Even without looking at the almanac, I would know that it is spring approaching, since I am reaching for the crochet hook… come fall, and it is the knitting needles.
Last January, oh no, the one before, I decided to make lots of crochet swatches. I did keep that going for some time but when fall came, I got sidetracked. I am trying to get back to it, since I still have a dream of crocheting a cardigan for myself one day. But this is yet to come. A goal for this year is to use the stash. I am not sure what would be the best way to tackle the stash but this is what I have done so far…

Last fall while I was redoing the coat, I needed some beige yarn for the cuffs and knew that I had some alpaca in my stash. I went to the garage, got out the box that had all my alpaca yarns inside (I hope they are all there and I have not scattered them around) and brought it inside the house. I used little bit from it while upcycling the coat and then the brown cardigan; the blue hem was knitted with alpaca from that same box. Then I knitted a pair of mittens.
Most of the alpaca yarns I have there are thin, suitable for 2,5mm – 3,0mm (US1.5-2.5) knitting needles. While these yarns are lovely to touch, silky and smooth and soft, it is almost impossible to get even stitches with them. It is achievable, but I truly need to concentrate and keep the yarn quite tight and that puts a strain on hands which is never good. And thus, all these alpacas have stayed in the box for decades (I am not kidding!). I have tried them here and there and most of the balls there are without bands and look very unloved.

While thinking about this “use the stash” theme, I looked at the box and thought that why not start from there… But what would that yarn be good for… I could not bear to knit with it, there were so many false starts with knitting that it was out of the question. There was not enough for a sweater, not one color anyway and I am not quite ready for the crochet cardigan yet.

Last fall when I crocheted the shawl with woven stitch, I used too small gauge and the shawl does not drape well. I don’t like my shawls too soft and loose but not too stiff either. I took 3mm crochet hook and a stitch pattern that is called Crosshatch in Sarah Hazell’s Crochet Stitch Dictionary, but I found the pattern on Pinterest and there were the instructions on how to increase the pattern to form a shawl. 
I started with one repeat and kept crocheting and after a while, I blocked the beginnings of the shawl to see that the drape was right and it was. I continued with what I thought was all my light gray alpaca, (I did find more after I had bound off, in the same box there was one small ball hiding away) then used up the dark ball and luckily the shawl was big enough at that point. With the sun on the way, I added this one row of color and adjusted the stitch pattern a little bit to be suitable for the edging and then finished off with a row of crab stitches. And what I have now, must be one of the most beautiful shawls I have ever come up with. I am really pleased. (The shawl used up 300 grams/1080m/1200y.)
But that was not all the alpaca yarn yet. There is more in the box and I immediately cast on for a scarf and it is going to eat away most of the thin balls but not all…
As you can see, I am truly trying to use all these different colors -  and I have my doubts of the outcome… but I am determined to clean this box, if my “use the stash” is over soon (usually the new year’s goals are over by February), at least I want to see the bottom of this one box.
My goal is not only to get rid of the yarn, because I do love yarn. I rather would like to challenge me to use the stash the best possible way there is and sometimes it is good to give parameters to work with, otherwise the choosing gets too tough, and to have this box as my first parameter worked well… or rather has worked well so far. Once I get the long scarf done, I will see how much I have left and will go from there.

Be well, enjoy February, and wool with you,


  1. I get migraines too, and have never been able to predict what does or does not cause them.

    I'm glad you showed us the kitties, because I think they are adorable.

    Your crocheted pieces are just lovely! It sounds like you'll be through that stash in no time.

  2. So sorry about your headaches. I do love your kitties - they are just wonderful and your shawl is GORGEOUS!! Love your choice of colors.

  3. I love the shawl - fab colours with a lovely pop of sunshine to cheer it up. The cats are great fun. Well done in de-stashing, you make me feel guilty. Sorry about your headaches. Migraines are not fun.

  4. The cats are adorable. Silly? Well, maybe, but silly is good. Everyone needs a smile, and looking at them surely makes me smile.

    I am so sorry about your headaches. I used to get really bad headaches, but now that I am past menopause, I have many fewer. Fewer headaches, and easier to get rid of. We have over-the-counter (no prescription needed) pills that combine aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine. This combination works well for me.

  5. Anonymous22:16

    I like your 'random' rows of color in the scarf and the green 'edge' on the shawl. Your color sense is always remarkable. Hate the headaches thing. I still get some, usually left lower back of my head, hard to sleep on that!

  6. I love the cats, and the crochet shawl. Is the pattern for the shawl out there somewhere? I looked for it, but couldn't find it.

  7. Anonymous16:49

    Those cats are such rascals--each wearing their creator's signature. A little whimsy in a world turning back again into the sun. Sometimes the darkness is fine--when it is that lovely wrapping darkness that causes pause and offers a place of slowing, but after long enough there is an oppression there and it is good to read that the time of light is edging it away. It is so fine to find you in cats and crochet. The crochet is the pristine, while the cats are making merry. Isn't life good?

  8. Oh I love your kitties! I think I wouldn't be able to stop making them until I had a whole litter of them. When I look at them they make me smile...which I really need right now in my life. So count me in...I would love to come over and learn to make these sweet kitties :)

  9. Anonymous20:33

    Your cats are cuties and there is nothing wrong with silly once in a while, in fact, it is quite necessary! A suggestion for thin yarn - do you ever double it up, combine two colors or strands of the same, to make a thicker strand? I have tried this, and it can make a nice effect. I also have to say, when I have a 'stash' hanging around, it feels like a weight on my shoulders. I always feel lighter after I create something new and use things up. This is why I don't have much of a stash - I buy what I need for a project, finish it, then move on to the next. I usually don't save left-over yarn either, for this reason. Too much pressure! I just wonder if others feel this way? Do you feel this sense of lightness as well as accomplishment as you move through your stash?
    PS I am sorry to hear about your headaches, I hope you don't feel any stress regarding posting. Hopefully they will clear soon and you can enjoy Spring as she arrives!

  10. Beautiful work.

  11. Happy February dear Lene! The kitties are delightful. I especially love their little sweaters :) Headaches are awful. Since you are getting them when you are on your computer, perhaps it is the placement of your computer that is straining your neck or even eye muscles. I have given myself headaches before in this same way. I have a laptop and will sometimes take it off the table and too the bed or the sofa. Quite often, I find I am getting a headache/eyeache, and have to reposition myself. Anyway, I hope yours go away and stay away soon.

    1. I hate it when I hit publish, read my comment and see an error. I really need to reread and then hit publish! Please disregard the extra o in "too the bed...". I shouldn't care, but I do :)

  12. Sonja04:58

    I had not visited too recently so when your blog appeared, with the new banner of happy cats, it was such a wonderful surprise and just gave me such a lift. They all have such character! I always enjoy your posts, and seeing your part of the world.