An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


Cat Got Your Yarn?

Yarn is the most important tool for every knitter or crocheter, and invariably, what once was a simple matter of seeking out a new skein for a particular project or replenishing the stash when it got low becomes an all-out conquest. New fibers are plucked off the shelf without the slightest idea of a final product in mind, and ridiculous quantities of the stuff too. Don’t think that you’re above this sort of behavior, either! Even if you’ve never hauled bags of yarn out of your local yarn store yet, you may just discover one that that the skeins have piled up over time, and now all of a sudden that meager stash you started with has grown to embarrassing proportions. At least, that’s what happened to me.

Starting with the old scraps leftover from my mom’s knitting days, it was a while before I even had to buy yarn for myself. When I finally discovered all the different colors, fibers, varieties out there… Well, there was no turning back. A small bag turned into a plastic bin, which grew into a very large two-drawer fixture, which then needed another bin stacked on top. While its helpful thing to have so many choices at hand to start up new projects, it can be a bit maddening to search for a particular skein. I try to keep meticulous count of what I have so as not to waste, but sometimes it appears that yarn simply disappears into the cottony depths. Frustrated at losing my precious yarn, even with so much still in my stash, it was high time to investigate this mystery. Digging through the drawers first with both hands, it was quite a shock to discover a small hole in the back of the fixture! Could we have mice here? I wondered, fearing my craft supplies had already been used as nesting materials or even consumed. Luckily, a trail of unraveled yarn meandered away into the next room, so I took the bait and followed it… But what I found at the end was certainly no mouse…

Yellow eyes gleaming even in the midday sun, a cat no larger than my fist stood guarding his stash just as protectively as I might have! Startled out of a day dream or deep thought, he stood perfectly still, unsure of how to get away with the crime he had just been caught red-handed for. No way would I let him off the hook for this stunt, but as something of a pacifist, I was still more than willing to compromise. Seeing as he had more than enough of my yarn to keep him busy as it was, I proposed that he could act as a “keeper” for those errant balls of yarn that might otherwise slip through the cracks (never mind that he was the one who created the cracks.) Only when I needed one for a project, he was to relinquish it from his personal stash.

A reasonable and generous request by all accounts, since this tiny feline had been caught stealing mountains of fiber, he quickly agreed to my proposal. I was just happy to be reunited with my lovely yarn… and now I can let my stash grow even further, because I have this new friend to hold on to it!


Deep Breaths

Our culture practically expects us to overload ourselves with work, live the most hectic lives possible, and quite simply stress the hell out of us. Work is the measurement of success, and while it’s true that nothing can be achieved without hard work, this never ending push to stay awake, keep pounding away at the keyboard even after midnight has long passed… It’s a fine line between average obligations and excessive drudgery. Thinking about it just now, considering the amount of sleep I’ve stolen away for myself throughout this entire week, it makes my head spin, and the most I can do is remember to keep breathing. Life is overwhelming for everyone, so I won’t make excuses; I’m sure you’ve already heard them all, anyways.

So for now, I’m trying to get through this stressful patch with as many brain cells intact as possible, and I hope that everyone else who can relate will do the same.

Just like this little lady, let’s all take a moment to smell the flowers, and breathe in deeply.


Monkey Business

Smash! Crash! Bang! Howls of laughter erupted from the room next door, following the most incredible cacophony to ever reach my ears. After such destructive sounds, I could only imagine some macabre scene lay on the other side of the wall, desks and dressers splintered into irretrievable shards, much better suited as tooth picks than furniture. Eyes darting about in the darkness, I wondered if perhaps the whole building might in fact be collapsing, or maybe some bomb had just gone off in the hall. Slamming doors and merry shrieks continued to fill the air, well into the wee hours of the AM. Tossing and turning, jamming my head into the depths of my pillow, nothing would muffle the noise. Should a lull drift in and quiet the conversation, music would shortly follow, the bass pumping and making all the windows vibrate. My head spun, heart raced, and I could scarcely believe my feet would be met with the ground anymore should I venture out of bed.

The night broke and morning came, and yet the racket still carried on. Sun filtered in through the cracks in the window shade, prompting me to give up the fight; The day was here, and it was time to go meet it. Staring blankly out into the courtyard, I saw that one of my neighbors had relocated and was still partying away outdoors…

That crazy guy, monkeying about high up in a brittle tree branch. Still in a drunken stupor no doubt, he carried on with joyous shouting and slurred songs. The lack of sleep didn’t seem to bother him one bit, but then again, you probably could have cut off his arm and that wouldn’t even register in his addled mind.

So many classes await me now… And I am so utterly exhausted. It’s going to be a long day.


Whale of a Tale

Busily racing through classes, homework, and more classes, all sense of time seems to fly out the window. Plans for today end up being bumped to tomorrow, and the clock strikes midnight earlier and earlier each evening. Really, it’s enough to drive one mad, what with all of the emails piling up like some horrific car crash, demanding attention and yet remaining unanswered for weeks. Speaking of piling up, that’s exactly what all the dirty dishes have been doing as well. Hasty meals come and go, quickly forgotten, but those darn plates and bowls stay soiled all the same. Returning from another “fun” dash through the rain (or hail, or snow…), the last thing I want to do is to submerge my clammy hands in water yet again and just take care of all those serving vessels, and so the stack continues to grow higher. Resembling a precariously built tower within just a day or two of this neglect, my laziness must be set aside in favor of keeping the mess to something more manageable; Broken ceramic coated in vegetable soup residue would not make a lovely addition to the decor.

Dishes in one hand and soap in another, relocating this whole balancing act was a task in itself. Prepared to thoughtlessly plop the mess into the nearest sink, I may as well have been sleepwalking up to this point. Glancing toward the stainless steel basin, as if awoken by a nightmare, I jumped nearly a foot in the air and came just inches away from dumping my entire load. Well, I was certainly awake now, after having caught sight of the most unusual creature perched atop the faucet.

A bizarre and inexplicable event? Yes, and I’ll understand if you think this is all just one big fish story. I wouldn’t believe it either, had I not seen the tiny blue whale with my own eyes. About the size of a field mouse and as friendly as any standard house cat, it was simply unfathomable from any angle. Perhaps the drain was connected to the ocean, and this miniature whale was just lost? Maybe someone brought him to school as a pet, but became tired of the maintenance work and tried to flush the poor little fellow. No matter, it was hardly a time to ask questions. Quickly rinsing out one of those food-encrusted bowls to a much more hygienic state, I scooped this new friend up and filled this make-shift tank with water. Safe for the time being, his smile appeared to grow even larger, though I doubt much would be able to shake his naturally cheery disposition.

It would be difficult to impossible to locate his proper place, being that this is such a huge mass of people and the ocean is so far away… So this new friend will be staying with me, unless another caretaker comes asking. Instead, perhaps you’d like to adopt someone like him for yourself?

With an F hook and worsted weight yarn, ch 6
Sc into 2nd ch from hook, sc into the following 3 sts, sc 3 times into last stitch. Continuing around, sc into the backs of the next 3 st, sc 2 into the last one (12)
2 sc into first st, sc into next 3, 2sc into next, sc, 2 sc into next, sc 3, sc2 into next, sc (16)
2 sc into first, sc 4, 2sc into next, sc 2, 2sc into next, sc 4, 2sc, sc 2 (20)
Sc for 5 rows
Sc 2, sc2tog, sc3, sc2tog, sc 11 (18)
Sc around
Sc1, sc2tog, sc2, sc2tog, sc11 (16)
Sc1, sc2tog, sc1, sc2tog, sc 10 (14)

Embroider smile and secure eyes

Sc2, sc2tog, sc10 (13)
Sc1, sc3tog, sc 9 (11)

Insert stuffing

Sc1, sc2tog, sc7 (10)
Now crocheting flat…
Sc4, ch 1, sc2 into one, 2 sc, sc2 into one (6)
Sc even
Ch2, dc twice into 2nd st, sl st into next two sts, dc 5 times into next, sl st in last st
Break yarn leaving length to sew. Weave yarn back to opening and sew shut.

(And yes, I do still need to do this dishes.)


Chilled in the Home

Brr, is it cold out there! Just the other night I watched as those heartless weather reporters on tv damned us all to temperatures of single digits, occasionally drifting down into negative numbers, just when we’re starting to adjust and thaw our frost-encrusted fingers. Too cold to even tempt the snow to fall, all that meets the eye outside is a desolate wasteland of naked trees and dead grass, looking none too inviting. If even the plant life can’t stick it out, accustomed to rude changes in atmosphere like few other organisms, then you can count this pampered, warm-blooded organism out. Hiding out, sheltered by my lovely abode, one would think that I’m safe from these harsh conditions… If only!

Certainly no where near as brutal as the conditions just a step outside these doors, it would still be hard to say that the temperature inside is ideal. Conserving energy is the name of the game, and if that thermostat mysteriously drifts up above 70, there will be hell to pay. 70 should be enough, you say? True, if it actually were that temperature all throughout the house… Too bad that meager breath of warm air gets sucked up into about a dozen large rooms, extinguishing any punch it might have had before ever making itself known to human skin. After racing around the frigid wilderness of downtown shopping centers, all I want is to warm my hands and peel off this thick layer of thermal padding, but alas, my room is its own icebox.

Now I don’t want to harp on the subject too much, as it has yet to kill any members of the family, but I can’t help but notice how much warmer everyone else’s homes are. Stepping inside feels like a warm embrace, enough that one might shed the protection of long sleeves even, and then returning to my own residence is more like a slap in the face. No, it’s not unbearable, so I might as well just bundle up, grin and bear it. Searching through piles of old, ragged quilts to protect my frost-bitten appendages, I just wish I had the time to finally make my own soft, cozy blanket to hide beneath, as I had dreamed of for so many chilly seasons now. The forecast doesn’t look so good on that one though, what with the endless to-do list that could keep me occupied for a good couple of centuries… But thankfully, I’m not alone on this quest.

Kind enough to take this project upon herself, this friend of mine has vowed to make a quilt to share. Judging by her slow but careful progress, I can’t say that it will be done anytime soon, or perhaps even in time to combat the elements… But I’m still certain that it will be done before I myself could find the time to make one. Silently stitching away while I take shelter in the toasty kitchen, heated thanks to the oven that is constantly cranking away, we both have our separate projects to keep us warm. Hopefully the season takes pity on us both, because while I do love baking for at least the first 4 or 5 hours, the constant work isn’t exactly my idea of a “winter break”!


Heart-Felt Holidays

Cold as the frozen, snow-covered ground itself, there was but one friend who I simply couldn’t reach out to all year long. Unfriendly at best, this “friend” never seemed motivated to keep in touch, or give me the time of day to hang out for one lousy minute- Eventually, not even birthdays would warrant a good reason to actually get together. I simply couldn’t understand, it was as if he was a robot, made of metal and without any feelings to speak of. Frustrated and disappointed in our capsizing relationship, I regretfully decided it was about time to walk away… When all of a sudden, he surprised me.

Reappearing into my life out of thin air, it was obvious from the first word that he wasn’t the same heartless jerk I had become accustomed to. With a big hug and many smiles, he wore his heart right out on his sleeve and tried to mend things between us.

I can only guess that the holiday season finally got to him. It does get to all of us eventually… That infectious spirit that makes you want to spread good-will all through the streets, bake for hours or days or weeks for every person you’ve ever met, or decorate the house so thoroughly that it looks like a store’s window display? You know what I’m talking about. Luckily, this friend of mine didn’t go over the top like otherwise normal folk occasionally do, but it was all he needed to reach out and prove that he really did care.

…And that was the best gift I could hope for.

To all who celebrate, Merry Christmas.