Tuesday Mewsday: The Cats of Summer

Today’s the All-Star game, and even the cats are getting into the spirit.
Timmy's baseball card
That’s Miss Timmy, aka Little Timmy Fast Paw, the closer on the baseball team Melissa and I are forming, the Whatif Puddin’s. We’re still short a few players, so we figured we’d give you an update and see if your have any prospects to help round out our roster. To sweeten the deal, we’ll send one of Miss Timmy’s cards to anyone who proposes an addition to our team. Cats only! No dogs, gerbils, ferrets, budgies, or rabbits. (Although Archy says he wouldn’t mind a gerbil or a budgie—wink, wink!)

First off, pitching:
We’re a bit short-handed here. We’ve got Little Timmy Fast Paw, who’ll keep the team ahead in the ninth. Archy “Mad Eye” Katz will lead off our rotation, but after that we’re coming up empty. We could use another four pitchers for our rotation–and a few more good paws for the bullpen.

We’re hoping to draft Penny from Seattle for the season. Nothing got by her back when she lived at my house (particularly not other ctas), so we think she’ll do a fine job covering the plate. We need an additional cat (large paws preferred) to act as back-up catcher.

Sparky will be playing first. We’re putting Oliver from next door at short—first because she is short, but also because with her crush on Sparky she’ll jump at every chance to “make a play” with him. We’re also sounding out my friend Ellen to see if her cat, Toonces, wants to be our utility infielder. He’s the kind of cat who’s at home all over the place (the entire neighborhood is his fan base), so we think he’ll be able to work comfortably at a variety of positions. That leaves us still looking for second and third base.

Bea “The Black Hole” Schwartz-Noir will be playing right field. That way she can keep an eye on her nemesis Sparky. We expect she’ll suck in balls with the efficiency of a singularity. Damian “Mr. Whippy” will be playing center. (We confess that we told him he’s at center because he’s the center of the game—but it’s really because we think he’ll do the least damage out there.) That leaves us in need of a left fielder and a utility outfielder as well, just in case Damian strains his tail or knocks out one of his teammate’s teeth in a wild gallupmh toward the ball.

Designated Hitter:
Neither Melissa nor I believe in the DH, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. We’re thinking the neighborhood scrounge, Mooch, will be just the fellow to “clean up” at the plate.

Maggie “Ma” Moo-Woozle will be our equipment manager. She can use her excellent wood-furniture-destroying skills to customize the players’ bats. We’re making Mortimer, who lives in terror of pretty much everything (I thinks he’s afraid of nothing, too, so far as that goes), third-base coach. That way he can focus on just yelling “Run! Run! Run!” Positions still open: coach, first-base coach, pitching coach, and trainer.

So—if you have cats who are ready to play ball, send us their stats. We promise them a full-season contract with a no-trade clause.

P. S. In case you hadn’t guessed, the artwork comes courtesy of Melissa. You can see her art here and read her blog here.

Charting Socks

So the sock designing and knitting continues apace. As anyone who knows me as a knitter can tell you, I prefer designing and working from charts, so I can see the stitches in relation to one another and visualize the finished project. My sock knitting experience is limited, but what I’m finding is that most sock patterns don’t use charts—or don’t use them as well as they could.

When I’m planning a sock, I start with a large sheet of graph paper (Melissa got me some 1.5 x 2′ stuff with 8 squares to the inch for my birthday last year). I block out an area along the bottom that’s roughly 64 squares across, then draw a perpendicular line up from the center. That 64-square line is the top of my sock (I’m working top-down exclusively just now). Each end of the 64-square line is the right side of the leg; the line down the middle is the left side. The 32-square right-hand area is the back of the leg. The left-hand 32-square is the front. From there I can plug in stitches as I want. (The 64-square size can be adjusted up or down a bit to accommodate different stitches.)

Some of the possibilities to play with include
• charting different stitches on the front and the back of the leg.
• running a special stitch along the vertical edges of the chart and/or the center line (just remember that you’ll lose a stitch on each side of the heel when you pick up gusset stitches, so don’t include those in the design).
• staggering the placement of stitches so they spiral around the sock.

I make the leg of the sock somewhere between 50 and 80 rows (more or less), then divide for the heel. Most heels are pretty simple: slipping every other stitch in either a vertical strip or a checkerboard pattern. But if you look at your design up to that point, you can easily come up with something more interesting. If you’re working with a diamond-shaped pattern, you can stagger the beginning points for the slipped stitches to echo the diamond. You can twist the slipped stitches (working these as if to purl through the back loop gives the prettiest results) to echo twisted stitches along the leg. Just make sure that the start of each row (RS and WS) is a plain slipped stitch to prepare for the gusset.

Once the back of the heel’s done, you can follow almost any sock pattern to turn the heel and pick up gusset stitches. Keep working the top half of the sock in your established pattern and knit everything else (or purl or rib—don’t be afraid to experiment).

I’ll be posting a pattern here soon so you can see how this method works.

Tuesday Mewsday: Literary Cats

Sometimes I write blog posts; sometimes they are bestowed upon me. Check out this email from Chris, musing on the cats’ literary counterparts:

Damian—hastily chooses Dr. Seuss but gives himself a migraine thinking of a rhyme for orange. Decides on e e cummings because he thinks it’s hip to write your name in lower case.

Queen Bea- Jane Austen. The sarcasm and insults are so beautifully written you barely know you’re being insulted!

Sparky- Ernest Hemingway before his mental health issues. Or perhaps Robert Louis Stevenson.

Archy- F Scott Fitzgerald

Maggie The Cat- Agatha Christie

ScaredyCat- a ghost writer of course

Miss Timmy- As herself of course. Part of her book tour to promote her autobiography “Little Orphan Timmy: My Rags to Riches Story”

So, who would your cats be–and why?

Too Clever for My Own Good

I am slogging my way through one of my own sock patterns. Slogging because in a fit of let’s-make-socks-fit-for-the-queen madness I threw in just about every trick I could think of: twisted stitches, twisted crosses, wraps, lace. One the first go round Friday, I dropped a stitch after working 32 rounds and, after a long stretch of muttering and puttering, admitted I was not going to be able to fix things and just pulled out the needles and undid the whole thing. Yesterday, I had better luck and made it all the way to the heel flap. To get the look I want on the slip stitches, I’m having to slip them as if purling through the back loop.

Is this a lovely design coming to its realization or is it just baroque madness? (“Too many notes in it,” as the king said to Mozart in Amadeus.)

I Will Not Title This Entry “Sock It to Me”

So here’s photographic evidence of sock knitting.

First up, the socks from Knitting Vintage Socks.
Socks and prints
These are hanging in Meliss’a studio with some of her works-in-progress. (They look a bit puckery on their own, but are gorgeous on.)

Once I finished that pair, I decided it was time to make sure I really understood sock architecture, so I knit up this pair for Melissa without looking at any patterns or books. (I did phone my friend Chris to double check my plans before I began turning the heel.)
Melissa's socks

After that I knit up a pair of Hydrangea socks from The Ecclectic Sole, but I rewrot the pattern some.
Socks and flowers
My changes:
• continued the “stems” down the back of the heel as slip stitches
• worked the gusset stitches in purl to match the rest of the sock
• worked the twisted ribbing around the entire foot
Doing all this was fun and confidence-building. I liked solving the little puzzles the changes presented. I’d recommend that anyone who wants to learn a bit about socks try making a few design modification when they knit a pair.

You’ll also note the single green toe I added as I was running out of yarn. It tickles me to know I’ll have that hidden inside my shoe when I wear these beauties.