My cat,Tara, had an opinion on most things, from a cat’s point of view of course. She was not loath
to express this opinion vocally, sometimes very vocally. Tara was a world-class complainer, telling
me where to get off on many occasions. Although not perfect, she was picky about her food, Tara was
a very affectionate and a loving companion. I miss her. Fur is so comforting. Cat plumpness (because
they like to eat) is wrapped in warm fur and purrs.
It’s a comfort to have a cat beside you, interested in whatever you are doing. Having something to care for is important. It is important to think not just about yourself but about another living being who relies on you for sustenance , shelter, love and
The same week that Tara passed on to her reward, my sister and I went down to the Humane Society. There I picked out another lovely cat. She has a wonderful temperament and she too is a ‘talker’. My new cat, and I are bonding very nicely. I still miss Tara but Smokey is filling that cat-sized hole in my life.
Smokey is a six-year old Tortoiseshell, very muscular and friendly. (She just climbed up on me and gave me a ‘back-of-the-neck massage while I was watching TV). My sister thinks Smokey has some Siamese in her because she’s got the skinny tail, the squeaky-hinge voice and she’s very smart. Smokey got out the front door onto the patio and went walkabout, in the rain, for some time. She was back, however, in time for lunch which shows that she knows where she lives already.
My comfort during this time of stress has been knitting, rediscovered after a longish absence. I now have four, even five knitting projects on the go. I’m knitting dishcloths with knit and purl designs on them. The one I’m working on right now has a motif in the shape of a cat. Another dishcloth on the workbench is a leaping dolphin over waves. Then, there’s a mystery dishcloth from a Mystery Dishcloth of the Month Yahoo forum. We receive 10 pattern rows a day and try to guess what it will turn out to be. The first part of the month it’s a dishcloth with a pattern on it. a lighthouse or an oak leaf or some such, worked with knit and purl stitches.
The second knit-along of the month is patterned or lace stitches, which is a wonderful way to sample stitches in a small, do-able project. A dishcloth isn’t very big. You do it in pretty colours, then roll it up, tie bows around it and there’s your stocking stuffer. If you don’t need it yourself, you’ve had the joy of knitting the thing. I use them as washcloths and they’re wonderful for that. The best pattern so far was the leaping dolphin, over fancy work, patterned waves. I may make another one of those and turn it into a purse.
I used to be devoted to cross stitch and have a charting program for it called PC Stitch. With the Stitch-Along you only get 10 lines of the pattern at a time. Like cross stitch it is based upon a grid of small squares. At the start of the month I just chart the pattern as it comes along and then view it in my cross stitch grid. If I like the picture, I can knit it up and it is great fun trying to guess what the picture is going to be as the pattern is sent to the Forum bit by bit.This way I save my needles for the mid-month patterned stitch-along.
Purses are my current obsession. I’ve knit several purses. I felted one in a mossy-green, variegated pure wool. I got the wool on eBay. You knit an item to be felted bigger than it’s shrunken size, and on larger needles. Next, put it in the hot washing machine for 15 minutes with some heavier washables. It comes out smaller, thicker and denser - felted. You pull it into shape and set it to dry. This process is also called fulling which is “A finishing process in which the woven or knitted cloth is subjected to moisture, heat and friction causing it to shrink considerably in both directions and become compact and solid. In heavily fulled fabrics both the weave and the yarn are obscured, thus giving the appearance of felt.”
It took a while and people kept saying “What are you knitting. Is it a scarf?” because a bag when you start knitting it looks quite a lot like a scarf.
I also knitted up a sampler purse with various patterns on circular needles, using mainly moss and seed stitch. It’s finished. I’m creating I-cord on a knitting knobby which is one of those spool knitters with 4 pegs that creates a long hollow tube of knitting. You work it by putting loops a yarn over the pegs. It creates a nice strong cord, then this cord is is threaded through the loops created for that purpose. My sampler bag will have a very Victorian or 1920s look. Nice, if I do say so myself. I’m addicted to wool now and have started to accumulate a pretty fair-sized stash. Stash is an important word if you are into any kind of crafting. I have a collection of stashes from various crafting adventures: beads, cloth, glues, paints and now, wool. I’m a real yarn collector. Oh boy! Stash is everything. I have to have these yarns, both wool and synthetic, and their combinations, and cotton yarns too for the dishcloths.
During this time of grief over cat loss I have comforted myself with wool more expensive than I usually buy. It helps, as does the moving meditation that knitting is.
I am prone to obsessions in handicrafts. One obsession was making purses - all kinds of fabric purses, lined and quilted and what have you. I use them. The problem is you sort of have to have a ‘purse kit’ containing your keys, wallet, comb, credit cards etc. all ready to go so that when you change purses you don’t forget your keys, your coin, your cards – whatever. I’m getting the hang of that. I seldom forget my keys now.
There’s an on line facility called Meetup.com (http://www.meetup.com) which helps niche interests, no matter how obscure, to meet up at local venues such as coffee shops, restaurants, etc. I joined up with the local Stitch and Bitch group that meets on Wednesdays in a coffee shop. Fifteen or so of us, maybe twenty, sit there for two hours and just knit!,
We talk about everything. These are very intelligent ladies with decided opinions. Knitting, particularly the fancier bits of knitting, are not so simple and require a certain amount of brain power and persistence,. Knitting acts like a filter to get a bunch of lovely, intelligent ladies together. I really enjoy these meet-ups. I go every single week and I sit and knit. I’ve learned not to take my more complex patterns to the meetup because you get to talking and you’re going to drop a stitch or miss part of a pattern. I just take the simple stuff – hats that are knit in the round, scarves and things like that.
Speaking of scarves, oh my gosh, there are fancy yarns called ribbon, ladder or eyelash yarns and for my young nieces I have put together scarves made with eyelash yarn that are very fluffy, fancy and colourful. I added a nice brooch to go with them because they are short scarves. The brilliant pastels make them really fun to knit and to give.
I get bored fairly easily or I have a short attention span, something like that. In any case I need variety. Some don’t like this phrase but I practice a form of knitting that I call ‘knit and hurl’ I have, a whole bunch, of knitting projects on the go right now. Two scarves, 2 hats, a pair of socks, a cotton dishcloth, a dress for Barbie which I’m trimming with some extra eyelash yarn to see what it looks like, a lace pattern bookmark and, oh yes, another hat. When I get tired of one project I pick up another. It keeps me from being bored. I’ve got plastic bowls with handles which I got cheap at a dollar store. I keep my knitting projects in them and move the plastic bowls forward or back, depending on which of them holds the project of the moment.
Thank goodness for the Internet! What a wealth of patterns are out there, quite unbelievable. I was looking for a pattern for a bolero shrug. I’m not quite up to sweaters as yet. I’m sticking with smaller projects because I’m afraid of getting bogged down. I found 6 or 7 bolero patterns before I settled on the one that I wanted. You can get these patterns free because
I took my knitting to a local pub for the computer folks EMCC beer bash. These system programmers and the like meet every 6 weeks. Being a senior I was immediately classified as ‘Miss Marple’ because of my attained years and my bag of knitting. I get along with these guys and gals, been with them for quite a while. I sat there doing my knitting and sipping a beer. I’ve scaled down from Guinness to Upper Canada dark lager. We had a wonderful time. There’s something about knitting that promotes conversation. It was almost as if my computer-folk outing had turned into my knitting group, although I was the only one knitting. That was funny.
Knit I must and everyone will get a scarf or a hat or a dishcloth this Christmas. Thereafter, I’ll have to go into production for myself. I think I’m going to have to focus on socks a fair bit or start knitting purses again. I don’t know how long this obsession will last. I never do. Cloth doll making lasted most of my life. I hope knitting lasts a while because I’m enjoying it very much and I have a LOT of wool now!
© Sonia Brock 2006