A knitted dog blanket, and a sort-of pattern

Please don’t judge me on the colour scheme. My yarn choices were very limited!

Don’t get excited anyone, this is not a proper professional pattern post. More of a ‘this is how I made it work for me’ kind of thing.

A little while ago I posted about making dog blankets for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Well, I started the blanket pattern that could be downloaded from their site, but I was having some issues. My ‘squares’ were anything but square and the different paw patterns were yielding different sized rectangles. Obviously I assumed it was my fault, that my tension was off, or varying wildly. Also perhaps the cheap acrylic (Battersea state they want acrylic) was not helping. It felt like the thickness varied a bit. But, seeing as I was going to have to sew the 25 knitted squares together, quite large discrepancies in size was going to be tricky.

Then the amount of sewing involved was putting me off a bit. I wanted a kind of ‘zone out’ project, where I could just knit and get back into the rhythm of needles and knots again. Without wishing to seem uncaring towards the eventual owners, I would rather be able to make three ‘no brainer’ blankets than one thing of beauty. Bearing in mind the thing of beauty might only last a week or two, it might be chewed, or thrown up on…well it seems to me that less finagling and more bulk would be a better option.

After speaking to my mum, who had already made the paws blanket, I found out she had exactly the same issues and, coming to the same conclusion, had made a simpler striped one as her second.

I decided to make a striped one too. And I wanted a border around it, to stop that curling up thing that happens otherwise. Please remember here that my knitting knowledge was never vast, and it is old and neglected. But, in a rare moment of knitting optimism, I decided to work it out for myself.

So, here we have the blanket that I actually wanted to make, if you ignore the colours that were dictated by the minimal array of shades in the shop.

Not many close-ups as my edges were a bit dodgy at first!

Now, I can’t write it up as a proper pattern, but should you want to make such a thing yourself, this is what I did, and what I used.

5mm needles

Baby yarn (thinner than DK, that is all I can tell you): two 50g balls of white, and three 50g balls of other colours. You will have plenty left over and don’t need two full balls of white, but my method of knitting made it easier. If you don’t know how to work different coloured yarn in, it is probably best if you go find out from a professional. YouTube will do the trick. Basically I just wrap the two colours of yarn around each other either side of the changeover stitch.

Cast on 100 stitches*

K rows 1-10 in white

Row 11; K8 in white. Work in colour choice as described unhelpfully vaguely above. K to last 8 stitches, change to white and K last 8

Row 12: K8 in white. Work in colour choice and purl to last 8 stitches, Take a second ball of white yarn, work in as per intarsia method and K8 in white.

Continue rows 11 and 12 until work is desired length, ending on a purl row of colour.

K 10 rows in white and cast off.

Weave in all ends.

That is pretty much it. I just changed the colours and stripes as I fancied – basically trying to make it a bit less like an object that can be seen from space. They will have no problem finding this blanket’s pooch in a power cut!

*As for the number of stitches, I was being guided by the paws blanket which knitted up to 50x50cm sq. I figured this must be a minimum size requirement for Battersea so just aimed for something a bit bigger. The finished blanket is 62x55cm so I could have used less stitches.

I will still finish the knitted squares blanket, as it is a nice diversion and the paw pattern does look really cute. I am in no way criticising it, this is just an honest opinion. I think it is brilliant that the designer allowed their pattern to be used in this way. I thought the intention was to give knitters an interesting project achievable for all skill levels, and it definitely is.

I have now come across a few more proper patterns so am going to use up the rest of the yarn. Maybe I should include some sunglasses when I post them off?

Finally, a gratuitous picture of my lovely Photographer’s Assistant, having a quick bit of shut-eye in the props after a hard afternoon napping…

riley in blanket

 

 

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Pawsitive thinking

What is your favourite thing about your pet? Physically, I mean. Not their winning personality, or the fact that they like your company, don’t answer back, gaze at you lovingly and laugh at your jokes. Tails are fun, and surprisingly communicative. You can tell a lot from a tail. Ears too, tell all sorts. Alert, chilled, interested, bored, ready to pounce and maim… Whiskers – meh. Not so much. Just glorified facial hair. For me, it is paws. Cat, dog, mouse, gerbil, all good. Not so keen on hooves. They are paws with toenails, really. But soft, furry paws and pads are the best…

So, what do you love about your pet?

Oh, and in case you haven’t seen this clip… (don’t worry about the title)

Such table manners! Can somebody please just give them a second bowl?!

 

Broken bones, real and imagined. And a ninja cat.

If anyone has noticed a lack of posts and comments from me for a while, the reason is that I have been away from home and a bit busy. My poor mum has broken a limb, again. An ankle. Last time she was in plaster (one arm, one leg) it was about 18 months ago, and because some total idiot (IMO) hit her from behind as she was walking in a supermarket car park. It was life changing. The mere thought of broken bones kind of freaks me out. Apparently I told my sister she was one up from a zombie when she had a leg in plaster, although I honestly cannot remember saying it. Years ago when my partner was found to have been walking around on a broken leg for three days I threw up as they showed us the x-ray. Breaking bones easily, as happened this time, without any impact, trauma or fall is truly scary. All I can say is keep up your calcium intake and hope it doesn’t happen to you. Cheese sandwich, anyone?

But a broken bone needs help and company, so Riley (the cat) and I headed south. Like birds. Or the cavalry. Not that the Cavalry went south, particularly, just wherever the action was. Of course my sister and her partner are doing a grand job of looking after mum, but extra hands are always welcome.

Anyhow, once the exciting train trip with a cat was done, Riley and I took up residence in my mum’s living room, the room Riley had only briefly entered at Christmas before his tiny little melt down.

Hopes were high that this trip might ‘build on’ the last. Or at least that is what they say in those self-help manuals. In reality it just means pray for less of a disaster. Prayer was to be of no help here.

As soon as I brought Riley into the building, two of the three house cats (all girls) Poppy and Sandi came to inspect the sorry male specimen in his travel prison. The pheromones must have given him away. I think I registered distain, ennui and resignation on their furry faces. I let the cat out of the bag. Literally. I have a soft-sided cat carrier (like a sports bag) which I purchased with trepidation and is actually rather good. Riley shot under the sideboard. I say ‘shot’. It was fast, but not dignified as it required a fair bit of belly crawling and some shunting with the back paws. He stayed there for most of the evening, although a couple of times he scooted to the other side of the room and hid behind a chair. Nothing like a change of scene.

Eventually everybody went to bed, and with me being alone Riley emerged from the self-imposed exile. Sleep was had, and I was slept on, sporadically. Hopes were still buoyant.

The following morning I could not initially see Riley, but given his previous behaviour, I was not worried, and figured him to be under a cupboard or behind a chair again. But then I couldn‘t see him anywhere. After a bit of calling (he always comes when I call him) I was slightly less confident. The room had an inside lock, which I had used, in case one of the house cats had summoned up the strength of Hercules and launched themselves at the door. Stupid, I know, but sometimes we do these things just in case! So I KNEW he had to be in the room somewhere. After about 30 minutes I was feeling twitchy. Nobody else was up, so I kept it to myself. Another 30 minutes passed, and I had searched under every cupboard, behind every chair, opened every drawer, and called him about a hundred times. Nothing. No squeak, mew or meow.

A tiny amount of panic now. Controlled panic. “It’ll be fine. He can’t have gone anywhere”. But then where IS he? I searched the rest of the house as best I could, trying to be quiet, not scream, as it had now been a couple of hours at least. Then the rest of the household got up, and got involved. Now it is worth saying here that we are all experienced cat owners, so that room was searched like a forensic science team employed on a results only commission basis. Sofa and chairs were upturned (in case he had worked his way into the base, somehow). Cupboard doors and chest-of-drawers were opened, repeatedly. Tiny spaces were invaded. “Riley” was called a bajillion times, by four different people. Nothing. Zip.

By now I was freaking out inside, but trying to stay calm and not scream at well-meant suggestions. It seemed we had some sort of Sherlock Holmes thing going on. A locked room, a missing cat. But we also had a really old building to take into account. Riley can get into pretty small spaces and, as he could not be found by four people searching a room, the only other option would seem that he had got out. But surely that was impossible. As the panic took a further grip I was envisioning some horrible incident with plaster and lath walls and a freaked out cat pushing a hole and ending up falling through into a wall cavity and down two storeys. Nuts, I know, but explanations were scarce. Or, had he somehow got out of the building completely and was running around the town, with no idea where he was?

I went to throw some clothes on, intending to look further afield. And then a shout from my sister. Riley had been found. He had, quite amazingly, hidden himself behind the bureau. Amazingly because it is almost the exact same width as the alcove it fits into, so no room to get around the side: he had to go over the top. Amazingly because the cat-savvy people who knew he was coming filled (almost) all the space behind the bureau with boxes and plastic crates. Amazingly because the whole top of the bureau was covered with several large photos in frames, a piece of framed needlework, a lamp and pc monitor, and a random organza ribbon bow, leaving barely an inch or two between each object. And not one thing had been disturbed. It had not seemed credible that a large cat would have been able to negotiate these obstacles cleanly and find the tiny space behind. Never underestimate the ninja….

Relief was huge. But now we had to get him out. He was behind about 50 inches of solid furniture which had been nudged into an alcove barely wider than the object itself. And Riley was making himself flatter, and flatter with every grasp or grab. My sister gamely tried perching on one leg, on a chair, whilst her beloved held her bum so she didn’t fall backwards. Or forwards, to join the cat. No luck, as we are simply too darn short. My BIL volunteered for round 2. Positions were reversed. Contact was made and Riley was dragged, unwillingly, from his hiding place, making like a rag doll. To stop him bolting straight back there I bundled him into the cat bag again and sat him on my knee, relieved, only for him to return the sentiment and relieve himself on me. A dousing of cat pee on my pyjamas. Nice. Thanks mate.

To think we (ok, I) had delusions of providing help and support, some quiet time and company for my mum who is not supposed to weight bear on her leg, and who within a few hours of our arrival was trying to upturn her sofa until we stopped her….

So, I have no card or paper craft to share today. But I have to do something with my hands, so made a trip to a local haberdashery store, bought a couple of balls of this yummy King Cole Riot yarn and have started knitting a scarf.

 

scarf2

 

scarf5

 

The slide show and tiled or mosaic picture options do not seem to be working for me today. Again. Grrrrr! I will just offer up this shot of a half-finished scarf looking a bit like a T-Rex.

Apologies for missing posts and comments. Hopefully now you know I have had my hands full!!

 

 

 

 

3D Thursday: travelling light

Today I have 3 tiny little suitcases. They are made with Tonic Studio’s King’s Cross dies. Naughtily, Tonic omitted the apostrophe on the packaging. I think this could therefore mean the monarch is having a hissy fit instead…. I used a sheet of yellow gingham to brighten the day for one of them and some old Kanban printed cardstock for the others.

They are pretty easy to do – just a bit fiddly getting one side to close into the other as the are both the same size. The extra bits and pieces to decorate them are fun, and the corner bracket thingies were vital for me as I struggle to get a really good finish trying to shape a curve, so they hide the carnage nicely. They are 10 x 2.5 x 6cm, so good for small gifts, favours, gift cards etc, but definitely no heavy luggage!

kings-cross-yellowkings-cross-purplekings-cross-green

 

Travelling light is exactly what we had to do at Christmas, as Riley (the cat) was going on a long train journey for the first time, and carrying a wriggly cat is not the most practical way to travel. I won’t bore you with all the details, just the funniest bit. We were staying with family and basically I think we blew Riley‘s furry mind, briefly. Mum, sister and BIL have three cats between them already, so Riley was given my mum’s bedroom as his ‘safe place’. Early signs were promising as he seemed to be willing to leave the room and explore a bit on the second day. Although it was a few inches at a time, then back to the safety of under the bed, briefly, to then try again. I should explain here that the house has a flight of stairs, then a bedroom off to the left and living room to the right. For some reason (probably to do with the age of the house – it is a couple of hundred years old) there is an additional step up to floor level on each side once you reach the top of the stairs. So you arrive at the landing level, then turn either left or right and step up one more time to continue. I hope this makes sense?! Now the level that Riley’s room was on also has an area between the stairwell and the living room leading to the stairs to the next level of the house. Still with me? Good.

So, Christmas Eve, bed time. Riley decides it is time to channel his inner Christopher Columbus and go exploring. He makes it out of the bedroom, and oh-so-fleetingly across the stairwell and into the living room he had been eyeing up from a distance for a day or so. Then, panic, and he scooted back to the bedroom. But, he went for it again! I was so proud. Briefly. Alas he got it wrong, didn’t make it as far as the living room and instead tore around the corner and off up the stairs to where sister and BIL had, I thought, gone to bed.

Now, the layout of rooms and the location of the stairs and the superfluous steps is EXACTLY the same on this top floor. So Riley headed for the ‘bedroom of safety’, only to realise it was not the room he anticipated. So he shot across the gap at the top of the stairs and into the living room opposite. But, of course, this was not the room he expected or had familiarised himself with either!

Any proud cat owner would hope that their furry charge would realise the error, remember the stairs and slink back down to familiarity. Right? Well, sadly my friends that did not happen. Riley just shot repeatedly from bedroom to living room, vaulting the stair gap like a gazelle fleeing a crocodile. Each time he found himself in the ‘wrong room’ he froze, turned and legged it out again at speed. We realised what was happening after about the sixth time, and, well an intervention was staged. I never knew I could catch a speeding cat in mid-air so cleanly. Maybe this should be my Olympic event?

 

Between a rock and a wet place

That is where I have been – geographically, not figuratively – since before Christmas, staying with family. The ‘rock’ is actually a cliff, directly at the back of the house, and the wet place is the sea, smack dab in front. The cliff interferes rather with phone signals and internet access, but not quite so drastically as leaving your gadgets on the sofa 50 miles away does…. Hence the ’radio silence’ for a while, apart from a few hours where I borrowed a Kindle. Actually it was quite good to have an enforced severance – it did make me realise just how much I use the internet (an alarming amount, if I am honest), and that it is possible to survive without it.

Still, I am back now and whilst unlikely to make it through every blog post I missed, I will try to catch up a bit over the next few days. I also needed (it appears I need to craft regularly!) to rustle up a quick Happy New Year card, for all my lovely blogging chums, or indeed anyone who comes across it, really! This is very simple – just die cutting the champagne bottles, making a layer to go behind each bottle and then die cutting the greeting. Done in less time than it takes to eat the last mince pie. Well, if you keep stopping to make a card, that is!

 

happy-new-year-card

I may need to address my prioritising in 2017. In the haste to get en route (first train journey with the cat, I was a nervous wreck) to our Christmas venue the technology got left behind, but the elf kitty costume was safely transported to the coast. Go figure. Here is a picture of my sister’s rescue cat Sossage, happily sporting the elf collar. Sossage is a tiny, tiny cat. Not just ‘a bit small’, but really tiny. She is 100% adorable, and seems perfectly happy to be dressed up, and to pose for pictures.

And don’t worry, this is a battery candle, not a real one!!

sossage-with-candle

I think she was less convinced about the hat…

sossage-elf

 

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and I wish you all the best for 2017!

 

S’elf’ish shopping

This is why I need parental controls for internet shopping. In my email I came across a spanking little elf outfit for cats or small dogs. It cost a couple of quid, free p&p and before you could say ‘disgruntled pussycat’ one was in the post.

I am not one to routinely dress the cat, but I had a brief moment of optimism here when I thought I might get some cute pictures for next year’s Christmas cards. Totally forgetting of course that cats will pretty much do what they want, and you can’t easily make them pose for any photo, let alone a shoot in good daylight, on a nice rug or cushion. Throw a bit of fancy dress in there and you are channelling Pollyanna big time. It is definitely more ‘carpe diem’ than Annie Leibovitz.

The outfit arrived on Saturday. It is just a hat and a collar with bells on. So, collar has to go on first or you will knock the hat off. Easy. The elf collar is elasticated and quite loose, so certainly not going to constrict in any way. I know that if you want to do something to a cat (flea it, worm it, medicate it, put it in a costume for you own entertainment) then it is best NOT to give chase, but bide your time. So, Riley (the cat) is dozing on the sofa. I had already let him sniff the hat and collar when they arrived so they were familiar. Pretty much any new item needs to be sniffed. Now I just gently popped the collar over his head. So far, so fancy! Then we went for the hat. I knew that the hat was aspirational (for me) and probably never going to work. I was not wrong. Nor was I quick enough to get a photo of the walking backwards (why do they think that will help?), or the rapid flurry of paws that speedily dislodged the offending headgear.

Maybe I will try the hat again. I will leave it lying around, see if he gets used to it. But I am not going to push it. His dignity must be considered!

I don’t think he liked the collar as such (judge for yourself from the following pictures), but he was ok with it and didn’t try to pull it off or run away. Maybe he just needs some time to earn his stripes!

elf-1elf-ginger-2elf-ninjaelf-2elf-squirrelelf-funnyelf-surrender

Ah well, there’s always next year.

 

Who says cats have expressionless faces?

pet-shaming

Guilty? Sheepish? Penitent? Or smug? This week my Tree Landscape die was stolen overnight. I cannot find it anywhere, but then again it could be literally anywhere. I have found the other items that went missing at the same time: silver ink pad (under a sofa), eraser (under a chair) and marker pen (bottom of the stairs).  I know who did it. The guilty party is currently draped over my left arm, elbow and knee, so I am typing with one hand, have my leg propped up to support his undercarriage and an aching shoulder from holding it in an uncomfortable (for me, super comfy for him) position. Every now and again his head is turned towards me and up, which means ‘scratch between the ears, please’ and of course I oblige.

But, without the die, there is no Christmas. Bah humbug.

 

A proper scientific experiment, with unexpected results

Another Caturday post…

Whilst reading one of my favourite blogs samanthamurdochblog last weekend, apart from adding to my ongoing crystal education, and making me laugh as she always does, Samantha mentioned a self awareness test for animals. It rang a tiny, tiny bell. Somewhere in my brain, behind the Doris Day archive, next to the ‘what is my favourite cake’ index (pretty large), I had tucked away a little snippet of similar information, but, once retrieved, dust blown away and cobwebs removed it just read ‘see if they recognise themselves in a mirror’ without the added and interesting ‘stick something on the cat’ element from Samantha‘s post. And I knew I had previously tried this first version of the test with every single cat I have cared for. With mixed results. No ‘amazing, awesome, this cat is a genius’ results, to be clear. Just mixed from zero reaction to a reflection, to attacking the reflection, to checking around the side of the mirror to find the ‘other’ cat, to running away. So I had fairly low expectations with the current incumbent of the pussycat-in-residence role, Riley. But, you never know, right? Why not try the newer version of the test and see what happens!

So here is the (very) scientific experiment.

Apparatus:

One cat

One bit of not-too-sticky sticky stuff. I am a crafter, so plenty of low tack masking tape on hand. I felted it a few times just to be sure it was barely sticky at all.

One mirror

 

Method:

The googled version of the experiment I found said the animal should be sedated first. Obviously this is not going to happen. I opted for a a catnip treat as a suitable safe alternative. For the cat, of course. I had a glass of wine, to be sociable. Human catnip.

Affix the barely-sticky sticky thing to a part of the body the subject (Riley) cannot see. This took longer than expected. Cats can swivel their head A LOT. I stuck it on his back – saw it. On his shoulder – saw it. Back of his ear – fell off. My care to make sure the sticky stuff was not too sticky was backfiring somewhat. Top of the head – he saw it coming and just threw his head back so again it fell off. About five times. This calls for a bit of sleight of hand: make an interesting diversion with one hand (pretending to be a spider) whilst positioning with the other. Houston, we have contact!

Results:

Now as I wanted to capture the moment my dear pet proved he was indeed self aware, I needed to take pictures, whilst holding the mirror. Really this was a two-person job, but there was only one person around at the time. So I tried holding both bits of kit and took quite a lot of pictures of my knee, the carpet, the corner of the sofa and the ceiling before giving up on the photo shoot and just showing him the bleeping mirror. An instant reaction! Ears pricked and forward, whiskers perked and….and…and nothing. He was reacting to the spot of bright light created by the mirror. Or ‘Tinkerbells’ as we call it, courtesy of my brother-in-law. Once the Tinkerbell disappeared he settled back down, sticky stuff still in place.

But, here’s where it becomes truly great science. Does everyone know the story about Viagra? How it was developed as a drug for cardiac problems but in the clinical trials, where each tester records in great detail all the side effects they have noticed…well, that’s when the target market was changed. It’s the testing you see, where you make great discoveries. And this is what we found out…

Felting (sticking on your clothes a few times to make it even less tacky) a small, normally super-light strip of low tack masking tape, changes the density, or atomic weight, or something science-y anyway, as my pictures clearly and irrefutably demonstrate…

sticky-riley-1sticky-riley-catnipsticky-riley-3sticky-riley-4

After the last photo the sticky paper fell off and he jumped up, right as rain. Clearly it is kryptonite for cats. No doubt the Nobel Prize will be in the post.

 

 

 

 

The great gift wrap search

bow

Today, walking into the living room, I found this, thoughtfully positioned in the middle of the floor. Have the gift-wrap elves paid an early visit? Perhaps we have unwittingly been signed up as a training site for Santa’s little helpers? If so, I think they need to polish up their skills a bit. One stick-on bow does not a present make. Especially as it now is a rather hairy bow, with a bit of carpet fluff attached.

The bow was not a welcome sight. It means the addict has fallen off the wagon. Not that he chose to get on the wagon, so to speak, it was imposed on him, for his own good. I thought that every bit of temptation had been either disposed of permanently or was safely hidden inside a bag, inside a box, in a cupboard. I went to check, and yes, still all untouched and accounted for. Like any good addict, he must have a secret stash somewhere so I had to investigate. After a thorough search I am none the wiser. Hopefully this was his last fix.

My name is Riley and I like to chew curling ribbon. And bows. And tinsel.

tinsel riley