Wednesday, April 30, 2008

International Cat Hat: Japan

The Tilden Park Scarf is an easy ruffled and ruched infinity scarf that adds a feminine touch to any outfit.


 
Yes, I am aware that technically this is an International Cat Mask, but I couldn't resist the lure of the ninja. Besides, cats are natural ninjas. They are sneaky, stealthy, and when provoked by wild spiders, they are swift assassins.

This mask is knit starting at the eye hole and ending at the ear holes. Much like a toe up sock, the beauty of this ninja mask is that, cat willing, you can try it on your cat as you knit and adjust the pattern as you go. I'll give you an outline of what I did, but unless your cat has the same head size as Fifty-Fifty, you'll have to modify the pattern.

As much as I hated to do it since I was aiming for an easy pattern, I added some short row shaping to the lower part of the mask. Without it, the mask wouldn't lay flat against my cat's head. You can see pictures of my earlier attempt here. Round 2 of this pattern is a doozy, but if you get through it, you'll be rewarded with your very own ninja cat.

Don't forget to check out my other free patterns listed on the sidebar!

Materials
• 60 yards of DK or worsted weight yarn. I used Tahki Cotton Classic because it's in my stash.
• 2 US size 8 circular needles, any length, OR size needed to achieve gauge. US size 8 DPNs may also be used instead of 2 circular needles
• 4 stitch markers
• Row counter
• Tapestry needle

Special Skills Needed
• Knitting in the round
• Yarn over short rows
• Making two row button holes
• Whip stitching

Gauge
• 5.75 stitches = 1 inch on US size 8 needles in stockinette stitch

Finished Measurements
Finished hat circumference is roughly 9 inches near the ear holes and 7 inches near the eye holes. To adjust the hat’s circumference, increase or decrease the cast on number of stitches.

Abbreviations
[ ] repeat instructions between brackets
bo bind off
co cast on
k knit
k2tog knit two stitches together
ktbl knit through the back loop
M1L make one left
M1R make one right
p purl
rnd round(s)
ssk slip one stitch knitwise, slip next stitch knitwise, then knit stitches together through their back loops
sts stitch(es)
YO yarn over

Directions
CO 40 sts onto one US size 8 circular needle (needle A). Slip 20 sts onto the other needle (needle B). Join to knit in the round.

I used the cable cast on instead of the long tail cast on because it looks better and it is not as stretchy. Remember, this is the mask's eye hole.

rnd 1: k all sts
rnd 2: On needle A, k all sts. The rest of the instructions for rnd 2 are all for needle B.
On needle B, k until 3 sts before the end of this needle, turn. Working yarn is now forward.
YO on the right needle by wrapping the working yarn one full revolution counterclockwise around the right needle.*
P until 3 sts before the end of needle B, turn. Working yarn is now back.
[YO on the right needle, k until 1 sts before the first YO, turn.
YO on the right needle, p until 1 sts before the first YO, turn.] Repeat one more time. You are now on the knit side of needle B with your working yarn in the back.
K until you reach a YO. k2tog 3 times (each time knitting a YO and the sts next to it), k until the end of the needle.

*Um, say what? Just pretend that you're doing a regular YO. Sure, your working yarn is attached to your left needle after the turn, but don't let that confuse you. Some knitting instructions call this a reverse yarn over. I find that term really confusing so I omitted it, but I felt obliged to mention it just in case you are already familiar with this technique and were confused by my lack of "reverse yo" terminology. Carry on, knitters, carry on.
rnd 3: On needle A, k all sts. On needle B, k2 sts, ssk 3 times (each time knitting a regular stitch and a YO), k until the end of the needle.
rnd 4-13: k all sts.
rnd 14: On needle A, k1, M1L, k until 1 sts from end of needle, MIR, k1. On needle B, k all sts.
rnd 15: k all sts.
rnd 16-19: Repeat rnd 14-15 two times. Needle A has 26 sts.
The basic idea here is to knit until your mask reaches the front of your cat's ears when the eye hole is aligned correctly.
rnd 20: On needle A, k3, bo 8 sts, k4, bo 8, k3. On needle B, k all sts.
rnd 21: On needle A, k3, co 8, k4, co 8, k3.
Use backward loop cast on. On needle B, k all sts.
rnd 22: k all sts.
rnd 23: Loosely bo all sts and cut yarn, leaving a 6 inch tail.

Finishing
For maximum ninja appearance, whip stitch about 1/2 cm of the eye hole at each end. You can skip this step, but I found that the eye hole puckered in quite an unsightly, un-ninja like manner without seaming outer edges. Weave in all ends.

If you make this, as always, I'd love to hear from you and see your ninja cat!

http://spindlesandspices.blogspot.com


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ninjas and cats do not mix

Some days, I feel like chucking my knitting needles across the room and plugging in a sewing machine. There are more than a few problems with this urge, like I don't have a sewing machine, I don't know how to sew, and I love my Addi Turbos too much to throw them, but my frustration level has been rising.

Why? Well, because of this:



The ninja cat mask is just not going to happen. I've tried 6 different iterations of this mask, and it none of them look quite right. My cats look like they are Hannibal Lecter or surgeons ready to operate. Either way, they don't look very ninja-like.

Greaseball is happy that I am moving to the next idea and giving up on this one.

At least I learned a few useful tricks, like the cable cast on and a one row button hole. Perhaps they'll surface in one of my patterns at another time.

Amidst this frustration, a few nice surprises greeted me. Patwoman finished her cat beret for Gracie. It's so exciting to see another cat furmiliated!

Also, Meera made me some ubercute finger puppets and sent them my way. Rest assured that the number of leggy bits on the squid is correct, for she had wikipedia on her side.

Octopus and Squid came into my house and started to play Heart and Soul.

They really need to learn a new song.

ETA: This failure to come up with the perfect cat ninja mask is eating me up inside. I'll keep on working on it so I can hopefully post a pattern for y'all... Sheesh! The pressure!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Meet Spud

While honing my gathering instinct, I found Spud.

I can hear your mocking comments. "What's so special about him? Potatoes are a dime a dozen!" Well, allow me to correct you. First of all, potatoes around here are $0.85 per pound. He's an organic potato, after all. Secondly, take a look at Spud next to Fifty-Fifty, my 9 pound cat.


Yes, folks, Spud is freakishly huge. He can feed the boy and I for dinner, and those of you who know me and the boy know that we are not the daintiest of eaters. Even Greaseball had to give Spud props.

Spud and his friend really want to be French fries when they grow up.

I'm going to miss him when he's gone.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Best Blogoversary Present Evah

Look, Greaseball is a star! Craft: Blog had a blurb about the International Cat Hat series, and Greaseball got his 15 minutes of fame. Reactions around the wildtomato household varied.


Greaseball: I knew it. I knew I would be a star. All the other animals here are just posers and haters. I'll just continue to stay up here on top of the cat tree and look down on all of you.

The boy: OMG, my cat is famous! Greaseball, you're a famous cat! Hey, notice how I always pick the cutest pets?

wildtomato: Look, my blog got 720 hits at 5:31 PM! At 8:43 PM it got 834 hits! At 10:55 it got...

Mingus: It's no big deal. Greaseball thinks he's all that and a bag of chips, but he isn't. I'm the real star here.

Vespa: Why is everyone in a different spot? Must. Maintain. Order.

Fifty-Fifty: Call me when this all blows over, 'kay? I'm getting hate mail from other cats demanding to know how I could let this disgrace continue under my nose. Cats are supposed to be dignified. I let my species down and I'm supposed to be proud of it?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Happy Blogoversary to Me!

Today is the fateful day that I decided to start a blog. I was hemming and hawing about it for some time, but I needed a way to remember my projects and to show them to my friends, so I decided that a blog was the best route.

Mingus and Vespa, who are on the fence about this whole blog thing due to their rise as B level stars, helped me pick the winners for the blogoversary contest. How did they do this? Why, it's simple, really.

First, I made tags for all of the people who left comments on this post. People who linked me on their blogs received two entries.


Then, enter the Buster Cube. I wadded up all the tags and threw them and some treats into the toy.

Vespa and Mingus patiently waited for me to give them the green flag.

GO!



And the first winner is...

LadyPatsFan! She has three four adorable children who need to start a rock band, two cutie patootie dogs, and three sibling cats. And a full time job. Does this woman ever sleep???

Round 2! Wait for it...


GO!
And the second winner is...

LeannIAm! You can read about her adventures here and here. Her husband just built a life sized backstop in their backyard so their three daughters could have a place to practice softball. This makes me very glad that we have a postage stamp of a house and backyard, because projects like this are right up the boy's alley.

And the third winner is...

Kathleen at A Bag of Olives! I've had a great time reading about her adventures, which are sometimes as simple as a walk around her neighborhood or getting dinner at a local restaurant. She's an expat living in Lima, Peru with her adorable dog, Celeste and adoring husband, O. She also knits, crochets, and spins!

After I picked the three winners, something was nagging at me. I could've have sworn that during the first round, I saw another tag fall out. Yet, when I searched the house I couldn't find any more of them. I emptied out the rest of the tags from the Buster Cube, and sure enough, my dogs ate two of the tags. Since I'm not going to wait a day or so and dig through poop to confirm this, we have two more winners: Meera and Kristie!

Congratulations to all the winners! Expect emails from me soon...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Secret Love Child Returns

What do you get when you cross this dog with this dog?

Why, Secret Love Child Scarlett, of course!

SLCS spent her afternoon and evening trying to convince Papa Mingus to frolic with her. She turned on her puppy charm and told Mingus how much fun they could have if he would only return her play bow.


When her siren song fell on deaf ears, she had to resort to a more direct approach to convince him that he wanted nothing more than to chase her around the yard.

Still, Mingus did not take the bait. An even more direct approach was needed. His tail must be pulled. Now, that he noticed! Success!

The "pull my tail" trick got Mingus riled up, and many laps around the backyard followed. They even took some time to dance.

Mama Vespa patiently watched the whole thing take place, as evidenced by the bits of her in every picture.

Once Mingus grew tired of the chase game (it must be noted that Scarlett never tires of the chase game), all three dogs spent some quality time together watching squirrels. Mama Vespa usually doesn't condone squirrel watching because she thinks it will rot a puppy's brain, so this was a special moment indeed.

Meanwhile, in the house, Fifty-Fifty was feeling a bit... French.


Thankfully, she had an emergency beret handy for such an occasion.

Prolonged exposure to the beret does cause grumpiness and a craving for a stiff drink, so I had to pry it off of her head before it was too late.

I was too late.


In between designing new ways to furmiliate my cats, I have managed to knit a pair of socks. I call these my Chocolate Cherry Jaywalkers.


Pattern: Jaywalker by Grumperina
Needle: US size 1
Yarn: Koigu Painter's Palette Premium Merino, Colorway P621
Size: Small. 68 stitches for the foot and 76 stitches for the cuff.
Modifications: Plenty! Besides knitting these toe up, the biggest modification I made was to add an extra stitch to the zig zag after I turned the heel. This resulted in 8 more stitches on the cuff in comparison to the foot of the sock. The reason I had to do this was because the first time I knit this sock I couldn't get it over my ankle. I put more details on my Ravelry project page.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It all started with one little post...

This post, to be exact.

My 1 year blogoversary is coming up! You know what that means: free schwag!

The contest rules couldn't be easier. Just leave me a comment in this post to let me know you're here. If you feel so inclined, post an idea for a future International Cat Hat. I'll pick at least one lucky winner on April 16th!

If you want to better your chances, pick one of my posts, any post, and link to it on your blog. I'll enter your name in the contest twice. Drop me a line to let me know if you do this so I can keep track.

What will you win? Well, I promise you it will be something good! I want to tailor it to you, so it could be a baby hat, a cat hat, some fiber, or even some of my handspun!

International Cat Hat: France, Le Mieux

The Tilden Park Scarf is an easy ruffled and ruched infinity scarf that adds a feminine touch to any outfit.

Ooo la la! Your cat will be très sophistiqué sporting this chic beret. The swirling decrease and tiny nubbin atop this hat sets this cat beret apart from the rest.

Don’t be surprised when your cat dons the beret and demands a cigarette and coffee for breakfast.
Make sure not to miss my other free patterns listed on the sidebar!


Le Mieux is already available as a free Ravelry pattern, but I will reprint it here for those of you who are still on the waiting list.

Materials
• 60 yards of DK yarn. I used Tahki Cotton Classic because the resulting fabric is floppy.
• 2 US size 7 circular needles, any length, OR size needed to achieve gauge. US size 7 DPNs may also be used instead of 2 circular needles
• 4 stitch markers
• Row counter
• Tapestry needle

Gauge
• 6.5 stitches = 1 inch on US size 7 needles in stockinette stitch

Finished Measurements
Finished hat circumference is roughly 12 inches. To adjust the hat’s circumference, increase or decrease the cast on number of stitches by 6.

Abbreviations
[ ] repeat instructions between brackets
co cast on
k knit
k2tog knit two stitches together
ktbl knit through the back loop
M1L make one left
M1R make one right
p purl
pm place marker
rnd round(s)
ssk slip one stitch knitwise, slip next stitch knitwise, then knit stitches together
sts stitch(es)

Directions
CO 60 sts onto one US size 7 circular needle (needle A). Slip 30 sts onto the other US size 7 circular needle (needle B). Join to knit in the round.

Rnd 1-5: [ktbl, p1] until the end of round
Rnd 6: On needle A, k10, pm, k10, pm, k10
Repeat for needle B.
Rnd 7: On needle A, k1, M1L, k until 1 sts before marker, M1R, k1, slip marker, k1, M1L, k until 1 sts before marker, M1R, k1, slip marker, k1, M1L, k until 1 sts before end of needle, M1R, k1.
Repeat for needle B.
Rnd 8: k all sts
Rnd 9-18: Repeat Rnd 7 and 8. 132 sts total.
Rnd 19: k all sts
Rnd 20: On needle A, ssk, k until next marker, slip marker, ssk, knit until next marker, slip marker, ssk, k to the end of needle.
Repeat for needle B.
Rnd 21-40: Repeat Rnd 20 until 6 sts remain.
Rnd 41-43: k all sts. Repeat this round 2 more times.
Rnd 44: k2tog 3 times. 3 sts remain. Cut yarn, leaving a 6 inch tail.

Finishing
Using the tapestry needle, thread yarn tail through the 3 remaining sts. Pull closed. Weave in ends.

If you make this, I'd love to hear from you. Have fun humiliating your cat!

http://spindlesandspices.blogspot.com


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
ETA: This pattern can be found in .pdf form on Ravelry here.
6/21/01: Corrected errors in rnd 7 and stitch count rnd 9-18. Corrections are in red.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Homemade Pasta

Homemade pasta made with Giusto's semolina flour, a pinch of salt, and some eggs makes a for a pleasant Sunday afternoon activity. It is also a quick activity, not counting pasta dough resting time, if one has a food processor and a stand mixer equipped with a pasta roller.

Dinner tonight will be said pasta paired with green garlic, parmesan reggiano, Bariani olive oil, and roasted asparagus. Albarino wine to drink. There will also be some grilled black cod. The fish and the vegetables are all from my foray to our farmers' market.

What a perfect day.

Another Episode of Cats in Sunny Spot





Lastly, a height comparison:

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Thai Headdress Sighting

Patwoman sent me a lovely note telling me that her cat Zeus sends prrrrrs of thanks for his spiffy new hat.


Zeus proves that even a Greek cat can rock the Thai headdress! I am impressed that he can balance the hat in between his ears. That cat has talent, I'm telling ya.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sneak Peek: Le Mieux

Next up in the International Cat Hat series: France. Le mieux!

Take 3

Just in case you were wondering how big or small the hat is, here it is on Mingus.

I'm so excited about publishing my pattern! So far, 15 people have downloaded it and 7 people have it in their queues. One person has started it, and I've been getting lots of funny and nice email from people about the pattern. I cannot wait to see some finished projects!

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