Monthly Archives: October 2010

Meet Tank, source of much joy and noxious odors

About a month ago we adopted a kitten.  Tank    When we adopted him he was only 3 weeks old and weighed about 12 ounces.  They had named him Tank and we thought name fit him perfectly because Tank has no fear.  Despite his size Tank can take down our 11 month old dog – who outweighs him by 20 pounds – and can climb anything.  I love him, boys love him and even my husband with allergies likes him.

Here is where things get hairy: Tank came to our house and immediately proceeded to go #2 on our off-white carpet.  We noticed that he had the most severe case of the kitty-trots.  The smell cannot be described by written word, you guys just have to experience it personally.  An emergency trip to the vet, tests and specially prepared meds for a small kitten,  prescription kitty food and a week later he still had the trots.  He started using his litter box but with emergency visits to our carpet.

So off we went to the vet again; an overnight stay, lab tests with clean results and a new perscription kitty food later back home we came.  The results are so so at best.  Mr. Tank should be named Mr. Skunk.   My sincere apologies for the way this post is going but I must tell you his gaseous excretions are constant and deadly.  Our carpet is a lost cause, he still has the trots and I am at a loss as to what to do and what to feed him.

I refuse to take Tank back to the shelter as we love him very much and Louis – our dog – has bonded with him as though Tank is one of his litter-mates.  But my sanity and my nose are suffering.  When we have people over you can hear us often say “that was not me!”   I smile while I type this but I assure you this is no joke.  If you are a cat owner and you happen to read this post please share your kitty-wisdom with me.   Many thanks for any suggestions you may have.  One final note on Tank, he is putting on weight and in general seems very healthy.  I leave you with a video of  Tank & Louis at play:

Click here to watch Tank & Louis at play

On a yarn related matter, watch out for a blog give-away next Monday.

Crazy mom

I vacillate between keeping this blog focused only on fiber related matters and writing personal entries.  I have some pending entries as old as the blog.  Maybe one day I will release the hounds, but today I had to post about this:

Some of you may know I have two sons, ages 7 & 5, and they have allergies.  They are life threatening such that we have to carry epipens with us.  These are the kind of allergies that make their lips balloon up and their breathing stop.  They are severely allergic to dairy and all tree nuts.

This summer on a late afternoon I had both of the boys with me as well as one their friends over for a play-date.  My husband was out of town for work so I decided to take the kids to a neighborhood restaurant.  Their grown up food is pretty good too so it was an easy choice.  I just wanted the kids to eat well and have a good time with their friend.  We have been there before – quite a few times – but I did my usual explanation about the kids’ allergies and how their food had to be dairy and nut free, and how these were life-threatening allergies (really, I added, they are serious allergies).

Spaghetti and meatballs came and I noticed that kids’ pasta had cheese on it (I specifically requested that our waitress remind the chef to hold the cheese given the kids’ allergies).  As a result their pasta had to go back.  I hated to do this but the alternative was not acceptable.  Dinners came back, everybody ate and everyone was OK.

At this restaurant kids meals come with soda/juice and desert.  Since the restaurant usually does not have anything that is dairy-free my kids usually have fruit for desert.  This is why I asked our nice waitress for some fruit but she told me they now had fruit-ice, something like sherbet.  Kids were excited and I was happy.  I asked her to please ask the chef and read the label to make sure there was no dairy or nuts in the fruit-ice/sherbet.  She came back and told me that they had checked and all was OK, the desert was definitely dairy and nut free.

So like the idiot that I am I trusted our waitress (and the chef), and ordered fruit-ice for everyone.   Desert came and my kids tasted their sherbert and then half a spoon more and the coughing started.  It was as though their throats were itchy, they kept coughing and making this throat cleaning like sound.  They were also nauseous.  I called our waitress and asked her if she had really read the label and she said she was sure it was all OK.  I paid and we left right away.  I wanted to get the kids home or to the ER to make sure they were OK.

In the car things got worse quickly.  I called the restaurant while driving and doing my best to calm down my 7 year old; he kept coughing, crying and asking me “are we going to die mama, are we?”  At this point I am trying to keep calm but feel like my body is on fire with fear and panic.  I am frightened for my kids and I am angry, both with myself for being such a fool and with the staff at the restaurant for their carelessness.  In the midst of this mayhem I explain the guy on the phone who I am and ask him to get the sherbet container and read the ingredients to me.  After a few beats he starts reading and the 2nd (or may be 3rd) ingredient on the container is milk fat!  Milk fat!!!   Milk fat = dairy.  So easy, so simple, so unbelievable.  I was in shock, I hung up so that I could focus on driving and get some help.

As I said it has been a while and I can write about this in a somewhat calm manner.  Kids are OK and I will spare you the details about the aftermath.  I did call the restaurant and talked to the manager/owner a few days later.  I did not raise my voice, I was not rude, I did not request a refund.  I asked them, pleaded with them, to educate their staff and to take the necessary precautions so that what happened to my kids does not happen to others.  The gentleman on the phone was mostly quiet.  He did not have much to contribute other than a brief apology and a comment about how they had talked to  their staff so that this would not happen again.  He asked how the kids were and I could hear the relief in his voice when I told him that they were OK (problem avoided, they are not dead, yey).  I was not reassured.

We will not be going there again as I don’t believe that the restaurant did much to train their staff on how to properly read food labels and/or how to work with people with allergies (this is what I believe and I admit I am biased).  Maybe I expect too much and we should not take the kids out for food.  I know that I will be asking a lot of questions the next time we take them somewhere and I will ask for ‘the container’ so that I can read the ingredients list myself.  I will be “that crazy mom” and I welcome the title.

Thank you for listening.

A Unique & Beautiful New Yarn from Habu

As a yarn buyer I have to be careful not to allow my likes and dislikes get in the way of our process of yarn selection so that we can have a wide range of fiber and yarns.  This becomes difficult when I am shown ribbon like yarns or yarns with a paper/linen like texture.  And that was my first reaction to Habu’s Root Sizing Silk, a 100% silk made of multiple strands of silk put together flat/parallel with a vegetable root coating to protect the fiber while being worked.  My reaction quickly disappeared when Takako (owner of Habu), showed me a scarf knitted with this yarn, which after its first wash turned into a beautiful silk scarf – exactly like you would expect from silk fiber – with a soft and smooth feel next to skin and a lovely drape.

Habu Root Sizing Silk in Deep Gold

The coating is Konnyaku, a vegetable root, which holds the fibers together and protects the silk fiber giving it a ribbon like look.  When we worked with Root Sizing Silk it felt something like working with a paper-linen-ribbon yarn that is somewhat stiff and may be a little crunchy-like. But the real surprise for this yarn comes after it has been – gently – washed in warm water with mild soap. This is when the sizing washes out and the yarn becomes soft, feels great next to skin, and drapes beautifully.

Habu Root Sizing Silk in Mossy Bronze       Habu Root Sizing Silk in Smokey Plum-Purple       Habu Root Sizing Silk Orchid

Root Sizing Silk has a beautiful sheen, comes in rich colors with depth, and once washed it morphs into something different and even more so unique and lovely.  This silk also works perfectly as a warp yarn.  We wanted to share Root Sizing Silk with you as part of a series of new yarns we will be listing from Habu within the next week.

Hope you are all well and working with your yarn with a smile.

Ann Weaver at Little Knits!

You might know her from Knitty, with her Tempest  Ann Weaver's Tempest or the beautiful Neiman  Ann Weaver's Neiman or may be from her new site or her blog…regardless, our news: Ann Weaver will be Little Knits!  We are excited to let you know that Ann will be teaching two classes, including two sessions on Thursday, October 7th and two on Saturday, October 9th. 

Before I go into the details for the workshops I wanted to tell you that I have not met Ann in person but I have known her from afar for a few years.  She is one of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of working with and sweet as she can be.  She also has an excitement and “youth” about her attitude toward knitting and life in general that makes her unique and fun, which in turn makes me want to knit her patterns and actually wear them.  If you scroll through her patterns and see her choices of yarn, color and structure I think you too may agree.  I hope you can make the time to come and meet Ann in person.

Here are the details for Ann’s workshops:

Stranded Knitting and Braided Trim: Go Dutch! mittens (Class Length 2 – 2.5 hours -  Class Cost $30) 

GoDutch by Ann Weaver

Dates: Thursday, October 7th from 4:00 to 6:00-6:30 PM and Saturday October 9th from 4:30 to 6:30-7 PM
Skills: Knitting in the round, stranded knitting, basic increases and decreases

Pattern description:  While watching the 2010 Winter Olympics, I was captivated by the colors and pattern of the Dutch speed skaters’ uniforms.  These mittens are my tribute to these intense, speedy athletes in their stunning black and orange suits.

Requirements (what to bring or purchase before class):

Set of 4 US 4 (3.5mm) double-pointed needles.  Alternatively you can bring two circular needles in US size 4.  Ann will be teaching on DPNs.
3 stitch markers
Stitch holder for unworked stitches (optional)

Yarn: Any worsted weigh yarn would work.

88 yds/40 grams in Main Color (black in the sample)
66 yds/30 grams in color A (white in the sample)
110 yds/50 grams in color B (orange in sample)

In this workshop we will learn to work right and left-leaning braid trims, which is a fabulous ornamentation for the edges of hats, mittens, gloves… even sweaters!   We will also work a simple stranded pattern from a chart, which incorporates three colors at a time for a few rows.  You will leave class with the skills and confidence to work braids and stranded patterns even while working thumb increases.

The Albers Square: Log cabin knitting  (Class Lenght 2 hours -  Class Cost $25)

A Pattern from Ann Weaver's new book

Thursday, October 7th from 1:00 to 3 PM or Saturday October 9th from 9 to 11 AM

Skills: Garter stitch, picking up and knitting from a bound-off edge

Pattern description: Lately I have been obsessed with Josef Albers’ Portrait of a Square paintings Albers’ spirit of curiosity and experimentation is infectious.  You can use any fingering weight yarn to create these squares.

This class will cover the techniques used in the Albers Cowl and Albers Shawl patterns.  Ann will go through the requirements for the Albers Cowl.  We will focus on log-cabin knitting with a few twists and talk about selecting colors (in light of Josef Albers’ color theory).  Attendees will learn to pick up stitches perfectly along all edges of a square.  Ann will share hints about proportions in squares and how to keep your work perfectly square.  Ann will also go through the sewn bind-off method in this class as this is the method used to bind-off Albers Shawl and in quite a few of her other projects.

Requirements (what to bring or purchase before class):

US 2 (2.75mm) straight or circular needles.  If using straight needles make sure they are 12″ long.

For Square 1:
16 grams of fingering weight yarn in color A, 16 grams in color B, 18 grams in color C and 20 grams in color D.  Great project to use your left over fingering weight yarns.

Ann will also make signed copies of her new book Craft Work Knitavailable (with each book purchase you will also receive a free eBook).  Finally, all attendees will get 10% off of in store purchases at Little Knits.

You can reserve a space by calling us at 206.935.4072 or by emaling us at littleknits@comcast.net.  We are keeping our class sizes small so please let us know as soon as possible if you would like to attend one of Ann’s workshops.

Hope to see you all at Little Knits!