Sunday, December 18, 2005

Cables for Cat

When a friend needed to be hospitalized last August, I met her in the ER around 9:30 PM and stayed with until she finally got a bed at 4 AM. Over the next couple of days, I spent time with her in her room and traipsing along when they took her for some of her tests. I spent the time not traipsing knitting, working on a pair of socks for me, and a scarf for her for Christmas.

This weekend I realized that the scarf has been long done and needed to get shipped out this week to make it to her on time. I thought I'd make a little prezzie for her cat, Cary. Cary's been a little miffed at humans lately because he objects to having his ear mites treated, so I made him a little sock to be stuffed with catnip. Needless to say, the fuschia and teal (really, it's fuschia and teal!) scarf is for Sue, the sock for Cary.

I would like to point out that I have yet to make myself a pair of socks with cables on it, but for a cat, I do cables. Go figure.

Cat Sock Update: My friend reports that Cary has been enjoying the heck out of his catnip-filled sock, surprising my friend, since he has never shown as much interest or spent as much time with a cat toy or catnip filled anything as he has my sock. Good kitty!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Lizard in Yarmulke

As the holidays draw near, I realized I'd better get to work on some other things, including a scarf for Mikey. I completed that last night, and went on to knit him a yarmulka (kippa).

This is the first time I've knit a loopy thing - thanks to Crazy Aunt Purl for her how-to description. I needed no help for the drop stitch part of the pattern, having done lots of scarves worked with 1 or 2 wrap yarnovers.

I then worked up a sort of disk in blue yarn with a row of white fuzzy weird stuff, on doublepoint needles. It looks weird from both the 'right' and 'wrong' sides. But hey! Iguana kopfs aren't conducive to kippot anyway, so whatever the finished kippa looks like, it's going to look silly on him. (Shhhhhhh! Don't tell him he looks silly! I told him he was even more gorgeous with it on so as to avoid any Stink Eye coming through in the photo.)

Now, off to finish my glovtens and work up a cat toy to pack up with a scarf for a friend of mine...Bless her heart! She's discovered Elf Hand Knitwerks, my favorite yarn shop, sells gift certificates, and has come to realize that they make excellent holiday gifts for someone who needs nothing. Else. Nothing else but y a r n.

You can never have too much yarn. Really.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dang! It's coooooold!

And so, my thoughts turn to gloves. And more scarves.

First, I knit an alpaca scarf for my aunt. The pattern stitch is a variation on another pattern stitch I've used. Just by adding a single stitch, it gets a whole new look! And, it is fairly mindless knitting, in terms of having only to remember one row. Of course, the first night I was playing with it, I had to undo it as often as I did it, because I'd goof somewhere along the row and couldn't parse it out. That'll teach me to try something new when I'm too tired and in too much pain and am just staying up to try to force myself awake until my regular bedtime.

So, anyway, here it is, in KnitPick's Elegance.

That's a white sheet I have draped on Mike and his lounge area, to give me a backdrop against which I can photograph scarves without them being draped around him. Here's a close-up of the scarf:

Below is the scarf I knit without the extra stitch in the pattern repeat (Elann's Baby Cashmere):

Here it is, held up to the light. The scarf color it darkened too much, but you can really see the lacy pattern this way:

So, Hanukkah scarf done, I went to work on one in the same pattern stitch for myself. The yarn I'm using is much finer (fingering rather than worsted), so it looks a bit different:

Now, gloves. One of the things that has occurred as a result of having long-term untreated tickborne infections is that my autonomic nervous system has gotten a bit wonky in various ways. One of them is my body not reacting appropriately to external temperatures. Example: I am sitting here in sweat pants, Polar fleece socks, sheepskin lined ankle-high slippers, a long-sleeved turtleneck shirt under a polar fleece long-sleeved high neck pullover, and my fingerless gloves. The doorbell just rang, announcing the postman's arrival to pick up some outgoing packages. He was dressed in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. One of us is clearly not dressed appropriately for the environment. That would be me. And these would be my fingerless gloves, knit 7-8 years ago, out of a now discontinued yarn, Superlana.

I used to knit a lot of mitten sets for the local women's shelter, but haven't in a long time. I started knitting a pair of gloves in the same yarn as a pair of socks I recently knit, in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn, in purple and hot pink stripes. The pattern I'm using is a two-needle one, and for some reason it did not occur to me to work the thumb and fingers in the round on double points. Here's the right hand glove, with the finished thumb and index finger:

The yarn is thinner than the Mondial Gold I'm using for the new red scarf, and not as springy as the Mondial yarn, and, well, as much as I enjoyed knitting the socks in DPs in the round, I'm not enjoying making the gloves as much.

So, I thought I'd start another pair of gloves. No, mittens. Gloves. Mittens. Mittens are easier (no fingers) but I really like having my index fingers free to operate independently. So, a compromise: Mittens with separate pockets for the thumbs and index fingers. I'd bought a couple of skeins of Inca Alpaca on sale some months ago, but didn't know what to do with them, as they weren't enough for a scarf, and I'm really not a big hat wearer. So they were recruited into making my new glovtens. Here's an in-progress photo, with a too-long index and too-long thumb. Despite using a schematic of my hand as a guide to how long and wide to make things, I managed to space out when knitting the two digits, and made them too long. So, after the photo, I unraveled them and finished them off at the appropriate length.

Mind you, this was after realizing, at 1230 hrs earlier in the morning, I went to try on the gloveten with the nearly finished index finger, and belatedly realized that I had knit it in where the pinkie finger would be, not next to the thumb. So, that had to be frogged back to the hand, and worked again, this time on the correct set of stitches. ::sigh::

So, finally, last night, I finished the new index finger and the pocket for the remaining fingers. Now all that needs be done is sew up the cuff's side seam and all the ends! Oh, and make its mate. The color of the yarn is a sort of heathered light denim color, the color in the above photo.

I'm also making a loopy fringed scarf for Mikey, but enough is enough already - I'll post that once I'm done with it and photograph the two of them together.

Gloveten Update: When I started wearing them in the fall of 2006, they started...growing. I finally threw them in the washer and dryer, felting them a bit. They are now nicely snug and very warm. In the mood to work on another pair of fingerless gloves (my original pair are getting very ratty and and holey as they get mangled when I wear them to bed after a day of wrestling with scaley lizard skin and lethal claws), I came across this pattern for Glittens!

At last mopth's knitting guild meeting, I mentioned having felted my glovetens. One of the members said she used to knit such things for her father, a hunter. They are thus, in some circles, called shooting gloves. And, speaking of variations on a theme, here's an absurd pair for a smoker (I mean, really, shouldn't they just stop smoking???).

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Lizards in Kevlar

A herp-world friend of mine, Roger Van Couwenberghe, has started selling Kevlar gloves and gauntlets that he found very useful in protecting his hands from serious and painful lizard bites. Roger asked me to give them a try and let him know what I thought about them. Since I found them useful, I thought I would post my experience with them here, as well as send them to Roger, in case any of the three or four of you who are reading my LIS blog have any interest in trying them out.

Hi, Roger,

Thank you for the opportunity to try out the kevlar gloves and gauntlets you have started using with your lizards. As you know, I don't have anyone at the moment who actively wields teeth and claws as weapons, so I had not been able to give the gloves and gauntlets a try. I just recently, however, found another use for them: abrasion eliminators!

Mike, my 7-year old Cyclura iguana, has skin crafted out of various grades of sand paper, none of them fine. Most of his limb and belly scales project back in upraised points. So, while he may feel smooth to the touch when running your hands over his chest and legs in one direction, running your hand in the other direction is a great way to remove calluses…and several layers of skin if no calluses are present. At 21 pounds, and 21 inches snout-vent length, there's a lot of power backing up a large abrasive area.

Mike will occasionally decide to hang out under my king-size bed or one of the large upholstered, skirted chairs or couch in the living room. In the summer when the temperatures are fine for him to overnight under furniture, I just leave him there overnight, knowing he will emerge in the late morning, ready for some serious basking and grub.

(Have I mentioned yet that sometimes menopause is harder on the iguanas than it is on the women going through it? This is why all the hunkering down under heavy furniture is happening - the weirdly fluctuating hormone levels are driving us both nuts. Thank goodness he's finally figured out that the space underneath armoire is too small for him!)

I am less sanguine about his camping out overnight during the Winter. This means I have to move the heavy bed faster than he is able to move with it so as to remain covered. Ditto the couch. Ditto the large heavy living room chair. The problem is that I have had to move the heavy furniture far enough away from him so that enough of his body is exposed to enable me to pick him up. If I have to pull him at all, I lose much of the epidermis on my fingers and palms as Mikey digs in and pulls away from me or locks himself into position. If I stop so I can to again push the furniture away to expose him further, he will have moved himself back into deeper cover by the time I get down on the floor again. Brat.

And thus it was one night last week. I let him stay under the bed during the afternoon, but with the outside and inside temperatures rapidly dropping, I wanted him back in his heated room. And so began the bed pushing once again. Mike was apparently taunting me, managing to reposition himself to keep just his nose even with the edge of the mattress frame. I reached under the bed, putting my hand under his belly and arms to start pulling him forward, whereupon my skin started to rip. Again. Just as I was deep into my "Don't give you - you have to get him out - Brat! - Don't give you - you have to get him out - Damn it, Mikey, stop pulling back! - Don't give you - you have to get him out", I remembered: kevlar!

So I stumbled to my feet, ran to the ig room, and grabbed the gloves and gauntlets, pulling them on as I returned to the bedroom. By the time I had returned, Mike had pulled back under the bed a few inches. No matter: I got down, got my hands under him, and pulled him out with no loss of skin. I did, however, get a major dose of Stinky Eye as I walked him back to the ig room. I told him to blame Roger and the kevlar, not me. Well, and himself for being such a doofus as to pick the coldest night of the Fall to decide to hunker down under my bed!

Friday, he went under one of the living room chairs in the late morning and stayed there. I gave him several hours of 'alone time', then donned the kevlar and got him out. More Stink Eye. And a harrumphing sigh.

This morning, he worked his way into one of his more accessible places: in between the file cabinet under my desk, and another file cabinet sitting about 18 inches away. Lined up on the floor in between the two are a bunch of notebooks topped by some bags of yarn. Behind the notebooks is a rather unruly mess of computer, phone, and other cords. Mikey insinuates himself into this area from behind, so he is hidden by the notebooks but still able to spy on me while I'm working at my desk. I play along for a while, making like I don't see his great hulking dark gray and spotted body filling up the space between the notebooks and phone jacks when I'm walking to and from my desk.

The problem is, however, that because he is as big as he is, he can't turn himself around to get out of there, not without getting tangled in the cords and hanking them out of the walls or equipment they are plugged into. My moving the notebooks out of the way certainly give him the space he needs to move forward, but that's not the point, that's not why he's planted himself there.

So, after running through my morning email and first mug of chai, I went and got the gloves and gauntlets, moved the notebooks to one side, and extricated him yet again.

This time, there was no Stink Eye, but that's just because when he plants himself in that spot, it isn't so much to hide because the hormones are making him cranky, as to annoy me. In this case, probably because I failed to leap out of bed and rush to fawn over him when he descended from his earlier this morning. Other times he's done this has been when my goddog, Sidney, has spent a night or two here. Or I "ignored" him for an entire day, when I've had to leave the house before he gets up and return home long after he ::gasp:: puts himself to bed for the night. Regardless of his motivation, however, before the gloves and gauntlets, extrication always involved loss of dermal integrity (mine) and smirking (yes, lizards can smirk, as any keeper of large iguanids will tell you).

No more! Now we both emerge unscathed, and only one of us is miffed.

I have never been a fan of using gloves with reptiles or other animals. Too often, people using thick leather gloves end up doing more harm than good, injuring or otherwise scaring the animal. While most critters learn that biting the glove is doesn't work to make the annoying/scary human leave it alone, that behavioral modification can be lost if the glove--the hand inside the glove--applies too much pressure or torque, unintentionally countering the desired modification.

These kevlar gloves and gauntlets are nice because they are thin and flexible enough that I don't feel like there is much of a barrier between my hands and Mikey. Mike is comfortable because the finely knitted fabric is soft, pliable, and relatively warm to the touch (compared with the outside surface of leather or other thick safety gloves worn for the same amount of time).

So, thank you, Roger, for saving my skin.


If you are interested in trying a pair of gloves and gauntlets for yourself, check out Roger's Kevlar Gloves & Gauntlets site.