Crocheted Workout Buddies

I like to balance big projects like sweaters with small, quick silly things like amigurumi, so after finishing my Go-To Cardigan I whipped up these little guys. I've been making fitness more of a priority lately, so for fun I made these little workout buddies: a Kettlebell Cutie and a Darling Dumbbell! I just improvised the patterns myself based on basic amigurumi shapes (sphere, cylinder, etc.).

The Go-To Cardigan

Wow. It's been a while since I had a new finished knitted thing to share! I'm pretty pleased with this one. My goal was to make a cozy and versitile cardigan that I'd hopefully get a lot of use out of. You know, the kind of thing you can throw on over just about anything when the air is chilly. The result is this, my new Go-To Cardigan. The pattern was free online here. I used Cascade Yarns "Sierra", a machine washable cotton/wool blend. It's comfortable, pretty warm, and not itchy. Plus it comes in tons of colors, and was on sale at Webs, which is even better! I'd definitely use this yarn again. Heck, I'd make this pattern again! You'll notice that the pockets are not a part of the pattern. I added them myself.

Nice shaping at the waist

24 Hours With a Stray Cat

This certainly isn't my usual kind of post. It's not about something I made, but about something wonderful that happened that I feel is worth sharing. Here goes.

Recently, around the grounds of my apartment complex, we'd see this scrawny little long haired black cat. She'd be darting around the parked cars, slinking through the bushes, or just sitting in the grass. A tiny little thing, I thought that it couldn't have been too long ago that she was a kitten. Jeet and I each started toting around a small Ziploc baggie full of dry cat food to give to her when we saw her, but she was always too shy to come over and take it if we were too close. Tuesday evening, that changed.

We were just on our way out the door, heading to a yoga class together, when there she was, right in front of the door, meowing. The poor thing was obviously hungry. Jeet ran off to get his baggie of food from the car, and
I stayed behind. For the first time, the cat actually came up to me. I squatted down on the sidewalk, and she brushed her cheek against my hand, flopped down on the concrete, and began purring like we were old friends. We fed her as much dry food as she would eat, brought out a dish of water for her to drink from, and just sat with her as she purred, rubbed against us, and generally charmed the heck out of everyone going in and out of the building.

As we sat there on the sidewalk, we knew yoga was out of the question. This cat wanted friends, needed food, and had so much affection to give. Other residents stopped to pet her as well, offering their ideas and suggestions for local shelters. One woman believed that this cat had belonged to a former resident, and was abandoned when they left, and had survived the whole winter on her own. She, too, was one of the regular food providers for this kitty. We couldn't just leave her, so we had to think of a plan.

I sized her up. She was a little dirty (she had been rolling around on the ground in glee, after all), but otherwise looked healthy. She was extremely friendly, not at all aggressive or scared, very skinny, trusting, and, here's the kicker: she was pregnant. Leaving a stray cat to fend for itself is one thing, but a tiny pregnant kitty? Not happening. We decided to do what some might consider to be highly questionable: we brought this little stray inside our apartment for the night.

"So what are you, a dog? Big deal."
The rest of the night was pretty crazy. I gave her a bath and clipped her claws, for which she was amazingly patient and well-behaved. We set up a second litter box for her, hoping she'd use it correctly (she did!) and did our best to keep Casper, our resident fatty, away from her. He growled at her, hissed a few times, and was generally unimpressed with her desire for his friendship. I slept on the floor in the living room so I could help keep things from going too crazy, while Jeet pretty much stayed up all night emailing shelters and finding new shelters to call in the morning, all while making sure that the free spirited sweety didn't scratch the couch, jump on the counters, or get too close for Casper's comfort. As nuts as it was, it was fun, too! Kali, as we'd named her after the black-skinned Indian goddess, was just non-stop affection, cuddles, playtime, and action, with catnaps in between. As soon as I lay down, she curled up right on my chest, wanting always to be right up in my face. How can you resist that?
Little mama-to-be
Daytime brought frustration and worry on top of exhaustion. Jeet was as tenacious as ever, calling shelter after shelter, in an ever widening circle. Animal Control was out of the question, as they were so full they would just euthanize her if we turned her over. The result was always the same. They were full. Over capacity. There was a waiting list. I was getting really nervous for her. When I held my hand against her swollen belly, I could feel little baby kittens moving inside. We could not let her down, and keeping her just wasn't an option for us, even though we both grew very attached to her very quickly. We decided that if we couldn't find a place by 4 pm, we'd just have to let her outside again and try and keep feeding her, because we couldn't stay up all night again. 
Who knew Casper had such foul language?
Around 12:30, we got our wish. A wonderful shelter about an hour away called The Animal Haven, a no-kill shelter, agreed to take her as long as we could get her tested for various cat diseases beforehand. They closed at 3, and by a miracle we got an appointment with a vet less than 10 minutes away from the shelter with just enough time to get the tests done (came back negative! yay! also, 9.1 lbs, kittens and all) and rush her over to the shelter. They've got a great play room for the kitties, a nice yard for dogs, and most importantly, a nursery where Kali can give birth and nurse her kittens, who will then be placed in loving homes when they're old enough. Jeet deserves 100% of the credit for making this happen, for his can-do never-give-up attitude and stick-to-it-iveness! If any cat deserves a wonderful "forever home", it's Kali. She was literally the sweetest cat I've ever spent time with, and I already miss her. What a blessing to spend (nearly) 24 hours with a stray cat!

PSA! Adopt shelter pets, have your pets spayed or neutered, and donate to shelters if you can. Thank you!

Patchwork Pillows

I never thought I'd have any interest in quilting. Technically, of course, this is not quilting. It's just the patchwork sewing that comes before quilting. My mom recently took up quilting again, and when I saw the bold colors and modern graphic design of the quilt blocks she was making, it really made me think again about something I'd never really considered as being "for me". She referred me to Craftsy's free series: Craftsy Block of the Month 2012, a set of free instructional videos and patterns for making a whole set of different quilt blocks. I really liked the first two (January's blocks) and decided to make them into new pillows for my couch. Actually, they're pillow covers to go over pillow form from JoAnn Fabric. I made them easily removable for washing. I'm really interested in doing more patchwork projects in the future. I love sewing, and I love the idea of fabric as an artistic medium. We'll see where this takes me!

The finished products. I love gray and yellow! As usual, the yellow is a bit brighter looking in real life.

Asterisk block
Wonky pound sign block
Casper keeps me company

Yoga Mat Carrier

This is the third incarnation of this particular project. The first time, I had just learned how to knit, so I improvised a sort of net-like bag with a strap. That, however, was way too stretchy, and as my skills progressed, it just looked far too amateurish for my tastes. So I pulled it all apart, and tried a crocheted thing. I liked the model I came up with, also improvised, but it was actually a bit too big because I used the wrong mat to model it around (duh). I left it like that for a while, but it just wasn't really working for me. It would slide off. Yesterday I took it apart yet again, and remade it. The same, yet just slightly smaller.

Here it is. It's just done in cheap-o Red Heart brand Super Saver yarn, which is just fine for this. Plus, the colors are fun. The yoga mat fits into the bottom cup thingy, and it's fastened at the top with velcro. You can sling it over your shoulder with the vertical strap. I'm finally happy with it.

My Bionic Hands

At last, the final part of my Winter 2013 accessories is finished, hopefully with plenty of time left in the season to wear them all! This was my first time knitting full gloves, rather than just little fingerless mitts. Not too hard, really. This pattern is also from Knit Picks, and it's called In Touch Gloves. They've got a circuit board motif in pink (hence my name, Bionic Hand Gloves), and if you look closely on the tip of the thumb and forefinger there is a bit of electro-contuctive thread sewn in, which allows you to keep your gloves on when using a touch screen for a smartphone or something. And it works! Huzzah! I finally have the sort-of bionic hands I've wanted ever since I watched The Terminator and T2 (not to mention Star Trek TNG) oh-so-many years ago, forever associating android with awesome. 

Candy Skull Cap

I was worried that this winter might be too short or mild for me to make some new accessories, but boy, was I wrong! This weekend we were visited by winter storm Nemo, also known as Snowpocalypse 2013! All roads in Connecticut were closed, and with good reason! You can't go very far in 2 ft of snow. Luckily I just finished knitting a fun new toque, the Candy Skull Cap. I used the same yarns I used in the previous brioche scarf. Now I'm just about ready for anything!

The aftermath of Snowpocalypse 2013!

Colorful Keyhole Scarf

I needed a quick yet satisfying project to follow the Christmas sweater, and boy was this it! It's a little keyhole scarf done in brioche stitch, which was a new technique for me. I loved learning it! As you can see, it is a reversible stitch, with the colorful yarn prominent on one side, and the black yarn prominent on the other.

A Trio of Sweaters

It's been quite a while since I last posted, and for good reason! I've been hard at work knitting sweaters since the fall. My plan was to make a sweater for Jeet for Christmas, but then I was commissioned by my dad to knit a sweater for a family friend who had recently had a baby. On the side, I also knit a teensy weensy sweater from a Christmas ornament pattern, just because it was cute.

I ordered the yarn for the big Christmas sweater, and while I waited for it to arrive I knit up a sweet little cardigan for our friend Julie's baby boy Timothy. I bought the pattern here on and purchased the yarn and buttons at JoAnn Fabric. I made a baby version of a classic men's sweater, complete with little pockets and faux leather buttons. It took less than a week to finish. By then, the yarn for the Christmas sweater had arrived, and it was time to get started!

The Christmas sweater, a colorful, cabled zip-up cardigan, had a few challenges. From having to rip and re-knit several sections, to having to do minor surgery to take apart and then graft back together a piece that was accidentally too long in the middle, to having to special order a zipper long enough because the length recommended in the pattern was too short... Well let's just say I'm really glad it is finally finished! :-) Phew!

And now, a much deserved break from knitting sweaters. My next few projects are small, quick winter accessories. I need some near-instant gratification now! Oh, and that tiny sweater? Maybe a gift card can fit in it someday? I'll just file it away under "cute but not very useful".
The tiny sweater, next to a quarter to show scale
The baby cardigan
The Christmas Sweater


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