Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Herding Cats

This morning we rounded up our four cats, loaded them into cat carriers, and drove the meowing, howling, hissing, and mewing lot to the vet for ID chips for all and shots and exams for some. I actually had to plot our course of attack this morning. Wake up at 5:30 am, enjoy shower, breakfast and newspaper before starting. Dress in cathair-resistant clothing (read: jeans and sweatshirt), check that all cats are in living/dining room, close the bedroom door to seal off the escape route under the bed. Order and plan of cat-catching: 1) Abby - she's formerly feral so she'll run from me. She has to share the largest carrier with Ella because they're the only ones who'd be compatible together. 2) Felix - the newest but also human-friendly and the smallest. Expect him to be fairly easy to get into the smallest carrier. 3) Ella - easiest to catch because she's the oldest and friendliest with humans. Has to share the carrier with Abby so putting her in and not letting Abby out could be a problem; therefore, this must be done in the bathroom with the door closed. 4) Sergei - he's also formerly feral and difficult to catch. He gets the medium size carrier due to his...ahem...sizeable girth. Despite his polarbear physique, he's fast and can squish himself under the hide-a-bed couch (how?????). Once captured, the transfer to carrier must be done in the bathroom to prevent escape.

The cacatphony of cries on the way to the vet made me laugh. Sure I know they were scared and stressed, but I couldn't help it when I looked at the back seat with three carriers strapped in, all emanating different ranges and pitches of kitty cries. They didn't stop at the vet's either. I was glad we had the first appointment of the day (7 am) so that other pet owners didn't either glower at us - what are you doing to those cats? - or smirk at us in appreciation of the experience.

One by one each cat was poked, prodded, and stuck with a needle for the ID chip, vaccine or both. All were declared healthy (except for some gingivitis) and of acceptable weight (even the polarbear). The trip home was not as noisy but the car still stank of cat mouth. As soon as the door to their carriers were opened, the former ferals scattered for safe havens. Ella and Felix more gingerly surveyed their surroundings and once content that they were home, proceeded to fill their bellies. The vet said the shots might make them sleepier today. As if we'd notice. Oh what a life. The horror of the vet is hopefully over for another year and so is the annual kitty roundup.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Some Sewing Progress

I decided to make one of the Burda patterns I found while leafing through the magazines last week. It's a hooded t-shirt, so I hope it will be easy to sew. I traced the pattern Saturday and made copies of the garment picture and instructions to keep with the pattern pieces. That's one problem with Burda WOF patterns - how do you store them once their traced? I've traced off a few patterns from WOF before and the pattern pieces are scattered somewhere in the sewing room. This time I decided to be organized.

I decided to use some mint green knit I bought a few years ago in Philadelphia at JoMar, a discount fabric store. I have this fabric in both light green and pink - don't know why I bought both. I recall at the time thinking that the fabric would look good in a cardigan set but realize now that it's much too casual of a knit for that. It has a fine stripe to it so I think it'll look good in this sporty Burda pattern, but I don't know what to do with the remaining ~2 yards. Pull-on pants maybe or shorts.

I only got as far as tracing the pattern, washing the fabric and straightening the grain. Cutting is always a milestone for me. I see it as the point of no return. Of course it's silly to feel that way with this fabric. I have plenty of fabric to try again if the pattern is too small, which it may be. The size only went up to 42 (European), which fits my bust but not my waist. I increased the pattern about 1/2 inch at the waist and bottom edge, but I'd feel better somehow if there'd been a size 44 to have traced the lower half to.

Another reason I didn't cut the t-shirt out yet is that I have the unfinished Burda blouse hanging on my dress form. There's that "one-project-at-a-time" rule I have. So I took the blouse off the form and hemmed the sleeves and got as far as pinning one of them into the bodice. I first had to transfer marks onto the fabric that I'd forgot to make. I hadn't made them on the traced pattern, so I had to do that to. Harrumph. I hate when I have to go back and redo something I forgot to do. Burda doesn't use notches on their patterns, instead they make little tick marks. Obviously I'm either not used to looking for those or just missed them. But that's as far as I got on that blouse and hence, the hooded t-shirt remains uncut.

I also have to confess. I bought more fabric. I know, I know. I don't need more fabric, I really don't. The culprit was some cute hippo print fabric from I thought it would make a cute purse and just had to have some.

I also bought this to make a purse and hat:


Then I saw this fabric and thought it'd be great for this Vogue dress:


And, to complete the order I bought a yard each of white, black and rose cotton to use as lining for the purses. So in all, that's another 10 yards to add to my stash. Gulp. Well, the good news is that I didn't buy any more fabric this weekend. I stopped at Hancock Fabrics to pick up a zipper and eyelets for the hooded t-shirt and only managed to leave with those and a pattern. The Simplicity patterns were a $1.99 so I picked up a Barbie pattern. It was a reissued vintage pattern, so it was really cute and reminded me of when I played with Barbie and made clothes for her.

On a sad note, I just got an email that a former colleague of mine passed away. Jerry Kull worked on the GOES program satellite project as a NASA rep when I worked for the contractor. He was an eagle-eyed stickler for making sure the spacecraft test data was correct and every "i" was dotted and "t" crossed in the documentation. He was a pain in the butt sometimes but I have no doubt he was a benefit to the program and the satellites are flying successfully - perhaps due to his persistence. He passed away after an illness, presumably from Leukemia or Lymphoma, as his daughter is asking for donations to the The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

But First I'll Just Look Through All My Burda Magazines...

While hubby is playing XBox college football, I thought I'd take the opportunity to actually get some sewing done. Well, no sewing was actually done, but I did manage to clean some things up. But then I got sidetracked by the Burda WOF(that's World of Fashion) magazines. Since I have issues from August 1999 until present, at about 20-30 patterns per issue, that makes, um, well, a lot of patterns! You'd think this would be all the patterns I'd ever want or need. Nope. If you want basic, ordinary looking clothes, you won't often find them in WOF. I decided to browse the magazines to look for a casual skirt pattern suitable for the pink denim I bought from Casual Fabrics. Oops, did I say that I bought more fabric? Anyway, every WOF issue has skirts, but they weren't exactly what I wanted. I did find one that I think will work. The one thing I realized looking through the patterns, is that I think it's a good idea to make the Burda clothes. They're different. They've got style. And IMHO, different, and definitely style, is good when it comes to sewing your own clothes. The last thing I want is to wear something that looks like I flunked Home Ec.

The doorbell rang last night. Was it Jehovah Witnesses? Kids hocking candy? Yet another person who wants to buy my 14 year old Honda for their teenage kid to mod? Nope. The UPS man. My Emmaonesock fabrics were delivered last night. The blue sweater knit wasn't quite what I expected. It looked better in the picture actually. It has a white backing so I don't think it'll work for the hoodie I wanted to make. The ribbed knit is pretty nice but not a cuddly soft sweater knit. It's linen, not cashmere, so I should have expected that. It's also more ivory than I figured, but that's good because I already have a white sweater knit I bought earlier from Emmaonesock. The soft polyester knits are fabulous. They melt like buttah!. The black stretch satin fabric is also nice and will make a really great pair of dressy pants - if I ever get around to it.

I could kick myself for not including a yard of another sweater knit with that order. I only need a yard because it coordinates with some striped sweater knit I bought recently. I did think about it, but I was thinking about buying it to make a shell to wear with the sweater. I plan to make a zipped cardigan out of the striped knit. But I have a purchased shell that would match just fine, so I didn't buy the coordinating fabric. But I recently saw a picture of a striped zipped cardigan with a solid collar in a coordinating fabric. That'd be perfect! I must do that! But I can't justify spending $9.50 for one yard of fabric (actually only need about 1/2 or even 1/4, but she won't sell less than a 1 yard cut) and another $7.00 to ship it. A coordinating collar is not worth $16.50. So what did I do? Select another fabric to make it worthwhile of course! I had been eyeing an onionskin (think lightweight polyester) for this bias cut dance dress. If the onionskin is sold out (which might very well happen), then I'll have to come up with another plan.

Friday, March 19, 2004


We are not neat-freaks. Far from it. It's a good thing that dear hubby and I are both messy because we tolerate each other's messes. But when company comes, we'd rather not let them see this messy side. So, last night we vacuumed, scrubbed, dusted, put away, threw out, polished, washed, ironed, and whipped our house into shape until two in the morning. I remarked over coffee this morning that I didn't want to go to work - I'd rather stay home and enjoy our clean house. We reluctantly did go to work...late.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

No Willpower

I gave in. I couldn't resist the fabrics at emmaonesock. I bought two sweater knits (yes, I could have knit the yardage on my knitting machine, but that's asking too much right now):

photo photo

I'm thinking of making a long cardigan and shell out of the first and short sleeve hoodie out of the second.

And these soft polyester knits:

photo photo

The first fabric would make a great tshirt and the second would look great in as this, don't you think? Here's a better view of the fabric. I also bought some black stretch satin fabric to make the pants for that pattern.

I also bought half a dozen Kwik Sew patterns from wazoodle. They had a 25% off sale and even with postage from Canada, it's cheaper than buying them at full price. No, I don't need more patterns, but one of them is for the cardigan I want to make.

Now if I could just get some of the home improvement projects done so I could have some time to sew. At least when I watch TV I pull out my knitting. But it's hard to knit and play Xbox at the same time. We got a new game last night - college football. My Nittany lions didn't do so well...

The new kitty is now neutered and tested negative for the bad, contagious diseases, so we moved him to the hall bathroom. He was introduced to the others but greeted them with hisses and growls and wants to stay in the bathroom. The other kitties are just curious and also a little threatened I think. Abby is skulking around with a frizzed tail. Ella is behaving but is already asserting her dominance. She made point of using "his" litterbox, but thank goodness she used the box! Sergei is probably worried the newcomer will steal his food. I think Sergei actually growled at him but then I heard him doing his pathetic squealing/whimpering. He may be large, but he's a scaredy cat. I actually was able to pick him up last night but he wasn't in the mood for any snuggles. I should have brushed him - I was quickly covered in white hair.

We're having company this weekend, which will be interesting with the new kitten. Tonight we'll do a quick straightening and cleaning of the house and "tux" is going to have to be relocated from the bathroom, perhaps to the garage. I don't really want to force the cats to interact too soon. "Tux" needs to feel safe and the others need to know that "tux" isn't going to harm them. But the garage isn't an ideal place - too many dangerous things for him to get into. Plus, the other cats can't really smell or see him in there and vice versa. But maybe just for the weekend.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Costco Kitty

Last night we went to Costco to get mattresses for the new daybed/trundle bed in the guest room. On our walk across the parking lot to Bed, Bath and Beyond for twin sheets we came upon a little black and white tuxedo kitty. He was friendly, seemed healthy, but his white paws were oh so filthy, indicating he'd been out a while. I picked him up and he purrrrrrrrred. What was he doing there amidst the scary SUVs and sedans? The huge parking lot is surrounded by a major freeway, a 6-lane busy street and a 4-lane busy street. There are houses behind Costco and apartments behind the office supply store and huge drug strore across the 4-lane street - I suppose he came from either of those places, or worse, he was dumped. We couldn't leave him so we brought him home. The sheets could wait. The little guy (and yes, he's definitely a boy kitty), was soooo happy to be with us. He sat on my lap and purred and kneaded his filthy white paws on my lap. We put him in our garage with a litter box (whiche he knew how to use) and food and water. Since he could be positive for feline lukemia or FIV ("kitty AIDS") we couldn't risk infecting our other cats. We washed and changed clothes after each visit with him to be on the safe side. He wolfed down some food - the same food that is currently being snubbed by our three portly cats by the way. This morning we took him to the vet for tests and to be neutered. I haven't yet called the humane society. I know I should. He might be someone's cat. Someone might be missing him and care for him despite the fact he had no collar, no ID chip, was not neutered and was in a busy and dangerous parking lot. I'd hate to give him back to a less than ideal home. Certainly, if I see ads posted, I'll contact the owner.

There was a recent incident in our news where a woman's dog got out, wound up at the pound, she was too late to retrieve him, and he was adopted to another family as a birthday present for their 10 year old daughter. There was flurry of newspaper and internet commentary as to who should get the dog - the dog had been found without a collar (the woman was afraid he'd get it caught on something and choke) and he was not neutered. As a rule, the Humane Society neuters, so the dog got the operation in the end. The family gave the dog back and the Humane Society has changed their rules and processes slightly to help prevent similar situations.

I should call. I know I'd be upset if one of our cats got out (they don't wear collars since they're always indoors but they are spayed and neutered) and someone "adopted" him or her without any attempt to find the owner. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 15, 2004

A Crafty Cat

Ella is my cat. She's one of three cats we have, but Ella will always be mine. She loves it when I sew.


She helps with the patterns:


She guards my sewing machines:


She wants to attack anything that looks like a snake, which means my yarn is at risk!:


When I get my knitting out, she sits and stares, very intently. She wants it...baaaaaaad. I don't have any pictures of her fierce intenseness because that would mean putting down my knitting to get the camera. And then she'd have her chance.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Rip, rip, rip

Well, I only had to rip a few rows, but they were the rows I knit the other night so I have made zero progress on this. I'm frustrated that it is taking me a while to get back into the rhythm of this sweater. I thought I understood the pattern but I should have read the instructions and not just gone by the graphic. I think I've got it now and hopefully I can just knit and not tax my brain trying to figure out what I knit three years ago and where I am now and what to do next. I want to finish this. It'll be cool if it actually works out and fits. Besides, I'm already thinking about what I want to do next and with my one-project-at-a-time rule, I must finish this sweater first.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Not the ET type of UFO, but the UnFinished Object type. I do have some UFOs, but I don't like doing that. I can't leave something undone and then jump onto another project. I'm a one-project-at-a-time kind of person. I may have many different types of projects going on, but I try to have only one sewing project, one knitting project, one house get the idea. That said, I do currently have two UFO knitting projects, a baby dress and a sweater, which I wrote about in my February 18 entry. I decided to work on the sweater last night. Fortunately I had kept some notes about where I was in the pattern. The pattern is not too complicated and repeats every 12 rows. It consists of four groups of three rows, two of which are just knit or purl and the other two are the same stitching, just offset from each other. The overall effect is a sort of basket weave. I'm new at knitting, so that lame description of the pattern is about all I can do right now. The pattern is from the summer 1999 issue of Knitter's magazine. I have the back done and most of one sleeve. After I finished the back I must have decided to do a sleeve. I know of one UFO in my past where I knitted the front and back and gave up before doing the sleeves. I hope this sweater works out. What I have knitted so far is kind of wavy due, I think, to the alternating knit 3 rows/purl 3 rows. The piece is also very stretchy perhaps due to the yarn (acrylic) or due to the pattern or maybe my knitting is too loose. I don't know. Will blocking make the wavyness and stretchiness go away? My gauge is pretty close but only if you pull out the waves. I guess this is just part of my learning curve for knitting. I don't have any friends that knit so I have no one to look at my work. If anyone reads this blog and cares to help, I'll post a picture of the sweater.

And speaking of sweaters, I just can't get those sweaterknits at Emmaonesock out of my head. I'm afraid I may give in to the fabric obsession. I can "see" the little short sleeved sweater hoodie I could make out of one knit, the long cardigan out of another, and the dressy pants I'd make out of some satiny fabric that'd go great with the asian styled top I want to make out of fabric I bought at Joanns recently.

On-line Fabricaholism May Cost Me Even More

Apparently there's a new line in the California state tax form for paying a use tax on items purchased over the internet. Uh oh. This could be expensive. Most of my fabric has been purchased on-line and not from California retailers. Maybe I'll just pay my tax with a million dollar bill.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Must Resist...

I really do not need more fabric, but I can't help from visiting my favorite on-line fabric sources to see if they have anything new. Well, one of my favorites, Emmaonesock has just posted more springtime sweater knits. Oooooh, they are so tempting. Of course I have a knitting machine and could make sweater knit yardage. But gosh, that would require me to drag it out of the closet and learn how to use it. And of course I recently bought three spring-weight sweater knits from this company to add to a few heavier weight sweater knits I bought a few months ago. Ugh. I must resist. I must resist. I must resist.

I think I will go buy these instead. I can't make these, so I wouldn't feel guilty. I've always wanted moccasins. Well, not that I have pined after them for years and years, but I remember seeing moccasins in (usually) touristy shops and wanting them for some reason.

I've gotta get that fabric off my mind! It is just too easy to click "add to cart". Just too easy. Must resist. Must resist.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Act Your Age

Another week has gone by and no blogging - well sometimes you have to work and sometimes work requires you to stay late and come in early (blech). And sometimes you just have to play. While errand shopping this weekend we bought an Xbox on impulse and there went the weekend. So much for priming and painting the hall. Instead it was Halo and the Simpson's Road Rage on Saturday night and for a good bit of Sunday. It wasn't like we planned to spend the weekend doing this. It was an impulse buy but admittedly something we'd both thought about buying but hadn't talked about to each other. And why not buy an Xbox? It was fun asking the pubescent clerk at the Best Buy what his favorite Xbox game was. He didn't seem to be surprised that two adults, old enough to be his parents, were asking his advice on what to play. Maybe here in Silicon Valley it's not such an anomaly.

It wasn't a totally non-home improvement weekend, we did buy and install new doorknobs for the linen and furnace closets and for the door to the garage. And I did do some more swatching and cataloging of fabrics. The end is in sight. Really. I'm glad I'm doing this little exercise in organization. I now know that I have at least three cuts of navy blue lining ranging from three to five yards. I say "at least" because there's one box I know contains lining and I didn't swatch the contents. I just wrote a vague description on one card for the whole box - not very helpful but at the time I just needed to get it boxed up. Anyway, I don't need to buy any navy blue lining. Or white. Or black. Or many shades of brown, ecru... you get the picture.

I also dusted off my embroidery software this weekend. DH wants a shirt with a 3 1/2 inch floppy disk embroidered on it as if it is in his pocket. We got the inspiration from one of the hosts of "Screen Savers" on Tech TV (are we geeky, or what?) who was wearing such a shirt. I thought I had a ready-made design for this but don't and DH didn't like the one I could purchase that also had cables and pliers in the pocket. He said it looked like a fake pocket protector. I have the expensive software to digitize a clip art and some software that provides an obscene number of images so of course I should make my own. After spending a few hours futzing with the clip art to cut part of the disk off ('cause the rest is hidden by the pocket) and then more time to figure out how to use the digitizing software, I produced the fake floppy disk. I'll want to stitch out a test first and then go find the box I packed all the embroidery shirts in. Thankfully I labeled the box!

Monday, March 01, 2004

Weekends are too short

I spent a lot of time this weekend repacking stuff that's in our spare bedroom, aka the fabric room. I have just about all of my fabric swatched, cataloged, and stored away in plastic boxes. The last remaining fabric to go through is...big sigh...the first fabric I started stashing. At the time I naively thought a hanging closet organizer was all that I'd need for my fabric collection. I'm just going to measure the yardage, cut off a swatch, fill out my index cards and put the fabric back. It's happy in the closet organizer where it's been for the last six years. I'm hoping that by having all my swatches on cards, I can see the fabric I have and resist the temptation to buy more. Yeah, right.

I also went through my yarn stash, which is thankfully much, much smaller! I do have about a half dozen large cones of thin yarn that I purchased from Stitches a few years back or from a store that was going out of business. Why is it that when a store is quitting business or having a huge sale, we suddenly feel that we NEED the item(s). I remember when Service Merchandise went out of business and they were selling the display items, most of which were either chipped, cracked or only part of a set. People were buying them! Anyway, I have enough cone yarn to make quite a few sweaters. It'd be great if I could get my knitting machine up and running. Ah yes, the knitting machine. I purchased it off eBay a few years ago. It's a Brother punch card - I can't remember the model. The case arrived a bit dented (it's heavy!!) but I learned the basic and tried it out and the machine works. And then it went under the bed where most knitting machines live. I really do need to get it out again. I have tapes and books to help me learn how to use it and being a stubborn engineer, I know I'm smart enough to figure it out.

My hand knitting stash has some nice yarns in it and I'd like to get back into knitting. I should knit while I watch TV since I do a lot of TV-watching. I didn't watch the Academy Awards last night though. I did watch a dumb movie - "Phonebooth." Waste of time...