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Bonding

The bonding process seems to be going well with the littles. They readily go into the bonding pouch each day, with much less crabbing at me about it. Inara, particularly, gives me more trouble about leaving the pouch than she does about entering it. Not really sure what that signifies. Today she nipped at me when I tried to get her out, and she’s not generally the nippy one!  That honor is Zoe’s, who will reach between the bars to grab my hand with hers and pull it close enough to nip. Still hasn’t broken the skin, but it’s not for lack of trying! Others have advised me not to pull away when she nips because it will give her the idea that she’s the boss, so I don’t, but it’s difficult not to, because those tiny teeth sting!! But I guess progress is progress.

Speaking of progress, Aneira’s bag is coming along well. I removed all the stitch markers on Bryony’s to motivate me to rip it back, but I haven’t had the guts to do it yet. That’s going to be a huge snarl of yarn. I’m not looking forward to the mess and I’m procrastinating. I know I have to do it soon, but I’m dreading it. 

I’d like to try my hand at glider toys too, and I have one idea already, but I have to get some glider-safe yarn before I try it. And I may have to take some sewing lessons as well, as I can barely sew a straight line as it is. Mom’s sewing machine has been in its box for the majority of the last ten years. I have it, I should learn to use it. I don’t know how much aptitude I’ll have for it with lessons on board, but I know how little talent I have for it without lessons!! Kind of wishing now that I’d taken the home economic class I disdained in high school! I’d be a lot farther on!

I’ve heard you can knit/crochet glider toys with fleece straps, so I’m curious how that can be done. I’m going to try looking on YouTube to see if there are any videos of that. Wish me luck!!!

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Settling In

Front, l-r: Inara and Mal Rear: Zoe

Front, l-r: Inara and Mal
Rear: Zoe

The littles appear to be adjusting pretty well to their new home, and the kids and I, at least, are thoroughly in love with them. Not so sure about the PIP, after last night lol.

I crashed early, primarily because the girls, who are currently enjoying a four-day weekend, have spent so much time fighting that the headache I had got exponentially worse due to yelling at children. Lately, they literally cannot get along for more than two minutes at a time. It’s been like this all summer, and has continued into the new school year. When I pick them up in the afternoon, they have not seen each other all day. Before I’m even off the school’s street, which is fairly short, they are already at it. In the truck, I generally make my displeasure known by turning up the radio. I don’t have that option at home. So listening to not only the fighting itself, but the many and varied complaints of one child about the other–because once Mama has yelled, it is now necessary to bring a suit against the other combatant and cite how she was looking at the other one, etc.–and then trying to settle them both down because they are escalating further as they each recite their respective litanies of horrible things the other sister has done to them, and then the tweenage attitude of Aneira because she doesn’t want to hear anything that doesn’t follow what she wants (at the rate she is going, her teenage years are going to be a nightmare, and I will run away from home)…I’m sure you get the idea.

So a couple of times a week, since the accident last May, I get headaches, and last night was one of those nights. The PIP took over the children and I fell asleep with the lights on, because falling asleep wasn’t actually my intention; it just kind of happened. I woke up again around 1 am because the PIP was visiting the finally awake littles. He was grinning over at me, telling me how cute they were being, and he wanted me to let one of them out. They make him nervous because they’re so tiny. Well, okay. I carefully opened the cage door. Zoe and Mal leapt away like they’d been scalded, but Inara leapt for my shoulder. As she landed, she urinated down my arm. For such tiny animals, they can produce a copious amount of pee! The PIP started to laugh at me, but Inara wasn’t done. She ran from one shoulder to the other and launched herself at him, landing on his shoulder and peeing down his back. As I said, copious. I wouldn’t have thought she’d had anything left, but their bladders seem to operate the way a male dog’s does. So at this point the PIP was yelping, “Get it off! Get it off!” Inara jumped back onto my arm and from there into the cage, apparently well-satisfied with her evening’s work, and the PIP ran for the shower. I just started to laugh, which really isn’t fair, since I did forget to warn him about sugar gliders going to the bathroom anywhere. He knows the rabbits do it, but they’re not generally doing it on his person!

I’ve read, over and over, and heard from owners in various glider groups, how noisy gliders are once they’re up for the night, and I don’t know what it is, if it’s because they’re still settling in or what, but I haven’t noticed it much. In all honesty, my rabbits make more noise. Certainly Blue does!!! Stitch is more the quiet type, but Blue does his level best to annoy. I’m convinced he does it on purpose. And Stitch has his moments too, but not as often as Blue does. In comparison, the littles are as quiet as church mice. Only once have I been awakened by a barking glider, and probably could have gone right back to sleep, but a barking glider is an awake glider, which is an opportunity for me to giggle, which meant I stayed up for two hours with them.

On the Yule present front, I am currently ripping back several rows of Bryony’s bag because I realized I had made a couple of mistakes in coloration, and I also can’t get the left side diagonal line to look the same as the right side diagonal. So it’s back to the drawing board there. Fortunately, the two bookmarks I’m tatting for them are going well, as is the other bag, so I’m thankful for small favors there!! I can’t wait for them to go back to school tomorrow, not only because I am heartily sick of the constant bickering, but also because it means that I won’t have unexpected visitors walking in on me working on Yule gifts! That’s been an issue. Fortunately they haven’t seen much!

Well, I guess I’d better get off the computer and commence with the chores of the day, such as laundry. If I don’t do it now, my own clothes will never make it to the washing machine!!!

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Family Expansion

Inara, the mom...I think.

Inara, the mom…I think.

No, I most certainly did not have another child, much as I wish I could, but we did expand the family by three this weekend!!

I’ve always been fascinated by, and wanted to have, sugar gliders. They are disgustingly cute little animals. I’d seen other people with them, and we briefly touched on them in school during the exotic animals portion of the curriculum (and when I say “briefly”, I mean it–there was only one chapter on gliders), but the purchase price for one was always extremely high, at least as far as what I ran into every time I looked for one, and then on top of that was the cost of purchasing and accessorizing a cage, which itself can be an additional few hundred dollars more. With a dog, you can opt to get only the dog, a collar, a leash, and food and water bowls. It’s far from an ideal scenario, but you could, in theory, do exactly that, not that I ever have. I’ve crate-trained–or attempted to, as Vanir has been particularly resistant to the idea–all of my dogs, and I have spent a fair share of my money on never-used dog beds (mine is apparently better), grooming tools (why, hu-mom, why?), and barely-touched dog toys of all kinds.

You don’t have the option of a bare-minimum approach with small animals, especially if there are other, larger animals in residence. The cage is an absolute necessity, even before the animal you’re going to install in it.

Zoe, the baby

Zoe, the baby

Once upon a time, I had ferrets. Six of them, to be exact: Loki, Timon, Khian, Ralph, Alysheba, and Brandy. I made a three hour drive from Long Island to New Jersey to buy a custom cage from a family who built the cages and themselves were owned by 40 of these little troublemakers. I drove home with the cage strapped to the top of my much-loved 1977 Chevy Malibu. When my mother found out, she pretty much had a belated heart attack, but that’s another story altogether. Suffice it to say, she was not happy.

Some animals are born escape artists. Ferrets are among them. Not all of them, of course, but there are enough within the species that it’s a rote caution when buying one to be warned that this tendency exists. Of my six, only one qualified. Their cage being built by someone who was well experienced with ferret capabilities, I thought I was safe. Khian was dead set on proving me wrong, and did so on many occasions, managing to work himself out of the cage and come find me every night for weeks until I finally figured out how he was doing it and solved the problem. But above all, ferrets are mischievous and playful, and they remain that way into old age.

Sugar gliders remind me of them. And for some reason, they also make me think of the fire lizards in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series of books. I don’t know why, especially as we’re talking mammals here, not lizards, but that’s what they make me think of.

Anyway, a good friend of mine let me know last week about a family of gliders that needed to be rehomed. Their human family is military and got orders to a state where gliders are still illegal. Mom, daughter, and neutered dad would come with everything: cage, toys, food, everything needed to start out with gliders, and the cost would be minimal compared to what I would have paid if I had gone about getting everything one at a time from different sources. Still more than I had available on short notice, but between me and the previous owners, we worked it out, and the trio came to their new home on September 2nd!

I can’t even begin to explain what a ride the last two days have been. Well, the last week, really. I joined every single online glider group I could find. I put books on my Kindle. I nailed my friend with every question I could think of. I started researching diets. I am armed, but far from dangerous…I will probably be asking questions for a good long while!

Zoe, again

Zoe, again

Being the good little Firefly geek that I am, they have been named Mal, Inara, and Zoe. They are tiny little handfuls of joy and utter chaos. Playtime takes place in the bathroom, because it is the only room that can be completely shut off from the rest of the house and in which, as long as the toilet is closed and the tub or sink is not full, there is nothing which they can use to get into trouble. We bring a few toys in, then we bring in the gliders.

It’s like two people trying to play tennis with three balls all at the same time. Gliders never stop moving, unless they’re asleep. If they’re out to play, and you are supervising multiples, it’s a hilarious comedy. Even with Aneira and I both in the bathroom, and possessing one more hand over the number of gliders, we wind up just keeping an eye out for potential trouble and let them wreak havoc until they’re tired…which takes awhile. We’ve been peed and pooped on, and it hasn’t put us off. I guess that’s to be expected with me, who chose to become a vet tech fully knowing that such things could and would occur, probably daily, but for my fastidious Aneira, I was amazed that she handled it very well, and still loves the gliders!

Bryony still hasn’t really been allowed to do anything with them. Being younger and more hyper, she’s likely to terrify such tiny animals. Right now, we’re letting them settle in, and during the day, I carry them around my neck in their bonding pouch while they sleep. The dogs are endlessly fascinated, but they’ve been ousted from the bedroom unless supervised. Love my dogs, but don’t trust them an inch with tiny animals.

Just watching them jump all over their cage has been so much fun, and makes it so hard to leave them be, but I know they need the time to get used to us. Still, I just keep thinking of the old Looney Toons character–a Yeti?–picking up Bugs Bunny and saying “I will love him and hug him and squeeze him and I will call him George.” That pretty much sums up how in love with these three I am!!

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Underway

First mochila well underway!

First mochila well underway!

Now that I’ve brought the impending holidays to my own attention, suddenly the impetus to do and to make things is much greater. I didn’t honestly realize myself that the holidays were just around the corner. Ninety days is not a lot of time if you plan on making most of the gifts yourself.

With that in mind, I went looking for tapestry crochet and mochila tutorials last night after posting. The picture is the result of that search.

If you already crochet, this is not really all that difficult, especially if you also have any skill in Fair Isle knitting, which I do not. This is all single crochet in the round, which I’ve done before, but what’s new for me is doing it in more than one color at the same time. Once you start working another color, you do not cut off the first color. You carry it inside your stitches and switch back and forth according to the needs of the pattern, without cutting any of the yarns you’re working with. Whichever yarn isn’t in use is along for the ride in the stitches, waiting to be needed again, and thus, no knots. This is actually really cool, but at first I thought, “That amounts to a lot of wasted yarn”, because it’s carried for the duration of the project. If you weren’t using it, it would be a lot of wasted yarn, but once I got into the pattern, I realized how much color switching I’m doing as I go, and if I cut the yarn and tied it off at every color change, it would probably cost me more in waste than just carrying it in the first place.

Charting the pattern wasn’t that hard either. After I figured out the number of stitches per row, I figured out how many pattern repeats I could fit into that window, then charted it based upon one repeat within that criteria. For example, each row has 126 stitches. If you divide that by 7, you get a whole number: 18. So my pattern had to fit within 18 squares horizontally across the graph paper, and there would be 7 equally spaced repeats around the mochila. I made my own version of graph paper with a piece of looseleaf paper–my printer still does not recognize its own ink cartridges–and plotted out a simple arrow design, and started the bag.

There are mistakes. Oh, are there ever! I must have been really tired last night, because I forgot about stitch markers and just relied on my own memory–never a good idea! So somehow I completely overshot my projected 126 stitches. I first noticed it a few rounds into the body of the bag, and when I counted them up–again, still without stitch markers–I came up with something like 140 stitches.

Clearly, I was foggy brained, because rather than ripping it all out, I went with decreasing instead, counting backwards in my head. Still didn’t remember to get the stitch markers.

Naturally, once the arrow pattern began, I wondered why there were a lot more stitches between the last arrow and the first one, when all of the others were evenly spaced. I shrugged it off and kept going. It wasn’t until I picked up the work half an hour ago that I remembered to get the stitch markers and count off every twenty stitches to place one. Guess what? 131 stitches. And guess what else? I am not ripping it all out. Nor am I going to decrease. I am going to brazen it out. Aneira is never going to notice anyway, and I’ll do better on the next one.

The current plan is to make a mochila for each girl, plus some micro-macrame jewelry, some kumihimo jewelry, tat some bookmarks in each of their favorite colors, and at least try to get their Night Fury stuffed dragons finished. I have my doubts about getting those done in time. I haven’t even begun on Aneira’s.

The mochilas being the largest projects, those are getting done first. Because the kids are so small yet, I can knock out all the jewelry pieces within a week, and I’ve gotten good enough with the two Mary Konior tatted braid patterns that I have that the same goes for those. A couple of gift boxes to wrap each of the smaller gifts, pile them all into each bag, and my contribution to the gift-giving process is covered. That’s the plan, and I get to practice my skills in a number of fiber arts while I’m at it. If I have any time left, maybe I’ll add some scarves to the lot, or some fingerless mitts. Ninety days? Pffft…I’m a mom, I can do anything…I hope!! And the only things I’ll have to buy are jewelry findings, which are fairly inexpensive. This will be a mom-win. Thank the gods I have a huge stash of everything I need to do this!!

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Alice Down the Rabbit Hole

Same pattern, top in C-lon, bottom in satin cord.

Same pattern, top in C-lon, bottom in satin cord.

I wonder, if the rabbit hole had led to fiber arts, would Alice have been so quick to leave Hatter and Wonderland?

I did another macrame piece from another tutorial. This one called for nylon cord, of which I have plenty, so it was a bit larger than the last one, which turns out to be a good thing. The satin cord being much thicker than the C-lon, it’s easier to get a grip on it and see what I’m doing, and that’s great for practice!

I’ve decided that I’m going to have to invest $8 to buy a macrame board. It’s not an expensive purchase, and neither are the pins. A corkboard could work too, it just depends on which is the least expensive. After all, Yule will soon be here, with all its attendant pomp and pageantry, and I’ve got to cover gifts for two kids, one of whom has yet to discover that the bearded chubster in the red suit with eight flying reindeer doesn’t actually exist in that form. Per se. Meaning that toys for me occupy a spot very low on the totem pole for the next few months. We’re already starting to collect stuff for the kids and hide them in various parts of the house. Slow and steady wins that race.

But I’d also like to make them some things too, like bracelets, and finally complete their stuffed dragons, maybe make a few other small, uncomplicated amigurumi as well. It’s not as if there’s a dearth of ideas on Pinterest. And making things for the girls puts the project board a little higher up on the pole, because seriously, no matter what, making something for them is going to be a lot less expensive–in terms of materials–than buying some cheap prefab crap that won’t last six minutes, never mind six months. Case in point, the dollhouse their father built them a few years ago, using $60 worth of plywood and trim, is not only intact, but thriving. I’m pretty sure it’s three or four years old now. Their previous, prefab dollhouse was dead within a year. The mourning was heartwrenching…for about three seconds.

I’m learning quite a bit from this experimentation with micro macrame:

  1. This is an activity that can be hard on your hands. You actually have to put at least a little bit of torque into tightening the knots down, and after awhile your hands start to ache. It’s not as bad with the larger piece with the satin cord, but with the C-lon, yeah, you’re gonna feel it a bit.
  2. Take breaks. No matter how much you enjoy watching that pattern emerge, take. A. Break. Your hands need it. I can tat, weave, knit, crochet for hours and not feel a thing. I can’t spin forever, and I can’t do this for hours either. Take a break before your hands start to hurt.
  3. A project board is definitely going to work better for me than a clipboard. While tugging on knots, I have tugged the piece out of the clipboard any number of times. The sound of the clip snapping loudly as it hits the board will do lots for keeping you awake, but makes me jump every time.

I have one more thing to experiment with, and that’s tapestry crochet. I love the Wayuu mochila bags, and if I can find a tutorial on how to make them, that’s something else I can do for the girls for Yule. So I’m off to play on YouTube for a little while!

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Trying the Micro Macrame

Novice micro-macrame project

Novice micro-macrame project

I found a beginner’s micro-macrame project on YouTube this evening, so after the kids went to bed I gave it a shot. It’s fun, and I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially the part where I was able to use the S-lon bead cord to do it. That stuff has been sitting in my stash for several years doing nothing because it didn’t work for the purpose I bought it for. Now it has a purpose.

My project did not turn out like the instructor’s at all lol. But there was also a bit of improvisation on my part to make it work at all. Turns out that I had forgotten that my stained glass project board is plywood, not cork, so pinning anything to it is next to impossible. Okay, not next to, is impossible. Then I couldn’t find my head pins, only safety pins. Nor could I find my self-healing cutting mat. Improv was a necessity. So I grabbed the box my stethoscope came in and flipped it over to become my project board, and I bent a few safety pins to resemble–sort of–head pins, and went from there.

One of the most irritating things about S-lon is trying to straighten it in order to do anything with it. The instructor, Sherry Stokey, had an answer for that: run it through a curling iron. I have to admit I was a little skeptical, but gorram if it didn’t work perfectly! So I was off and running. The tutorial was very detailed, literally step-by-step, and about 45 minutes long, but once I’d done one, I had it memorized because it wasn’t hugely difficult, and I did a second one. It was no more perfect than the first one, but I did the steps correctly, at any rate.

So this is definitely a new rabbit hole…I have a whole lot of S-lon cord.

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No Home Runs Here

First attempt at ply-split braiding

First attempt at ply-split braiding

Well, I just gave the Celtic tatting two more tries, and gave the Japanese hook tatting two tries as well, and I am 0 for 2 on both. The Celtic tatting is incredibly frustrating. I’m not getting my joins to work right at all. In normal tatting, my joins through the picot allow the thread to slide back and forth through them, and my joins in Celtic tatting are not doing that. I’m not sure why. I have four shuttles actively involved in two separate Celtic snowflake patterns right now, neither of which is going well, so I have sent out a scream for help to both Craftree and Ravelry. It would be so nice if I wasn’t the only tatter I knew locally. Sigh.

As for the Japanese hook tatting, thus far I have found very little in the way of tutorials online. This is something I may have no choice but to buy a book or two for. I made two attempts at it with the little leaflet that came with the hooks and some #10 crochet thread. It’s initially like needle tatting, as far as getting your stitches on the hook. After that, you’re looping your working thread around the hook and pulling it all the way through the stitches you’ve made, leaving a small loop at the starting end. This did not go well at all, in either attempt. There is no give in crochet thread, and trying to pull the hook through the stitches just resulted in the hook getting snagged inside the stitches. And there’s no getting out of this easily or gracefully, because there are hooks at both ends. It actually took me longer to work the thread off the hook than it did to get it on the hook in the first place.

So the experiments were epic fails so far. I’m eyeballing the ply-split braiding and the micro-macrame and debating over whether or not I want to go for 0 for 4…I’m thinking not right now!

********************************************

The first part of this post was written last night, so now I can add to it–this morning, after dropping the kids at school (Am I a terrible mother for thinking it feels so good to say that??), I made my first attempt at the ply-split braiding. I am 1 for 1 on that one!! It was lots of fun for me, and I had a hard time putting it down even to take the picture of it. The cords I used are the ones I bought from the supplier. I’m still not having any luck making my own cords. It may be that the Lacis cordmaker is not up to that kind of a job. For now I can keep buying cords from the supplier, but I can’t do that forever. Well, I could, in point of fact, but I like bright jewel tones, and there are only eleven color choices on the website. For now, it’ll do, though.

Next on the agenda is the micro-macrame. I don’t know if I’ll get to it today, as much as I’d like to try it. I’ve been watching tutorial videos to get a feel for the difficulty of it. Some of the finished projects look pretty complicated, but when you watch the tutorials, they’re not really all that bad, and nothing so far that I feel incapable of doing. So maybe I’ll get to it this evening!

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