Thursday, April 30, 2009

We’re foster parents! For 5 Abandoned Kitties

Kittens1 Monday morning we got the call we’d been hoping for from Animal Humane of Albuquerque: they have an onslaught of abandoned kittens, and they have a litter that needs fostering!

Two weeks ago we applied to be “foster parents” for Animal Humane. We said we could take kittens, puppies or adult dogs.

(We figured that with our current pet population, we’d better not try to take nursing mothers of either species – too stressful for all involved.)

We have 4 cats and 4 dogs of our own (all but one are rescues). On 5 acres, in a smallish house, that’s plenty. We simply can’t permanently adopt any more. But, we realized, we can foster animals that need help.

How Animal Fostering Works

Kitten3_Gumdrop When Animal Humane receives animals too young, too small or too sick for immediate adoption, they send them to live with volunteer foster families like ours.

We give them the special care & feeding they need, and socialize them. They can get used to people, being picked up, petted, and fed -- and to being around other cats, and dogs, especially large dogs. Our smallest dog is a Weimeraner, to give you an idea.

Then, when they are old enough, large enough, and healthy enough, we return them to Animal Humane for permanent adoption. Strong and healthy, they have a much better chance of finding what AH calls their “forever home”.

Animal Humane provides us all the supplies we need to take care of the kitties. When we left the AH “campus”, we had two heavy sacks full of kitten formula, feeding bottles, stage-two weaning food, canned wet food, dry kibble, cat toys, a cat carrier and even a fleecy hammock to hang in our pet crate.

About the Kittens

Kitten5 These guys are tiny! There are five of them, from different litters. They do not yet know how to lap from a bowl, or to eat solid food, so we are bottle-feeding them every 2 hours.

On May 12, we’ll take them in to Animal Humane’s clinic for a check-up and vaccinations. Animal Humane provides all their medical care free of charge.

They’ll stay with us for an estimated four weeks, until May 25. By then, we hope we can fatten them up to 2 pounds, and they’ll be old enough for adoption. At that point, we’ll take them back, with their chances for survival greatly improved.

Other Ways to Help

Kittens6 As my veterinarian in Belize used to tell me, over and over like a mantra, “You can’t save them all.”

It’s not always possible to permanently adopt an animal, I know.

And I know that not everyone has the time that fostering animals requires. I’m lucky to be able to work at home, so I can provide the round-the-clock care & supervision that these little guys need.

But there are many other ways to help your local animal shelter. Our Animal Humane shelter has a list of ways you can help them, for example. Your local shelter probably has a similar list.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Cash donations are always welcome, of course. AH spends an average of $21.64 per animal, per day caring for their rescued animals.
  • If you can’t care for animals in your home, you can volunteer your time to help out at the shelter.
  • You can donate items from your shelter’s wish list. This might include cat litter, blankets, pet toys and so forth.
  • Many shelters like Animal Humane operate thrift stores to support their good work, so you can donate gently used goods and clothing to those for resale.

We are so grateful to the people of Albuquerque who support the efforts of Animal Humane. Their donations made it possible for us to foster these kitties.

Thanks to all of you who support animal rescue!

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM

P.S. If you’d like to take a peep at the kittens in real time, we’ve set up a Kitten Cam for streaming video, on-air live usually from 8 am to 6 pm or so, Mountain Daylight time!

Currently we’re trying to extend our feeding times from every 2 hours to 2-1/2 hours or so; feeding times are posted on the video site and on Twitter. (Follow me on Twitter for the latest updates.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fabulous Fiber Friday: Freebies, Contests & Sales

Welcome to my fourth “Fabulous Fiber Friday”, a weekly round-up of the best of the fiber-oriented freebies, contests and sales that’ve turned up through the week.

If you’ve got a fabulous fiber deal of your own, feel free to post it as a comment here (find how-to instructions at the end of this post). The more, the merrier!


Fiesta Yarns & Ironstone Yarns: Massive Sale in ABQ

If you’re lucky enough to live in Albuquerque in May, or even if you’re only passing through, you’ll definitely want to shop the week-long “Fiber Extravaganza Sale” culminating in a huge parking lot markdown frenzy, sponsored by New Mexico hand-dyed luxury yarn artists Fiesta Yarns and Ironstone Yarns.

The sale will include yarns of all descriptions, of course: first runs, short runs, odd lots, seconds, discontinued and closeout yarns; but also books, patterns, needles, magazines and notions … all at up to 75% off regular prices.

  • May 11-15, 2009: Big Discounts in the Fiesta Yarns Outlet Store, 10 am - 4:30 pm daily
  • May 16, 2009: Huge Parking Lot Sale with deeper discounts and deals, 10 am - 5 pm.

Here’s the official sale flyer with more info, and a Red Hot Deals Coupon to save even more money!

VK’s knit.1.08 Patterns Now Online

knit1_2008 Vogue Knitting’s “knit.1” Fall/Winter 2008 magazine issue sold out completely last year, taking some knitters by surprise, leaving them howling for the patterns.

Well, howl no more, all 24 patterns have been uploaded to the VK Pattern Store this week, and are available for online purchase.

Chance to Win $25 in Lion Brand Yarns

Just got an email from our friends at Lion Brand Yarns, who’d like to hear from you, and might reward you for sharing your opinions:

“We always love hearing from you, our customers. Take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us AND enter for a chance to win $25 to spend on any future purchase on! Take our survey by clicking here!


Talk to Planet Purl

Similarly, the knitting website Planet Purl solicits your input, and sweetens the pot with a lavish yarn prize.

“Post suggestions for what you want to see on the site in our forum and be entered to win. The winner will receive (4) 7.5 ounce skeins of luscious Look China Tussah Silk/New Zealand Wool, 440 yards each, 1760 yards total (a $120 value). The random drawing will be held May 14th. Post your ideas and be entered to win!

“Affordable Yarns” Sale on eBay

Frankfort Avenue Fibers, whose eBay outlet store is appropriately dubbed “Affordable Yarns’, has marked down more than 200 of their knitting & crochet patterns and mill-end yarn eBay listings by 15%. New sales begin weekly, so keep an eye on their store!

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM


Are You Having a Fabulous Fiber Sale?

If you’re offering a special fiber arts or yarn sale, contest, promotion or giveaway, and would like to share it here on Fabulous Fiber Friday, feel free to post your promotion details as a comment to this or any subsequent Fabulous Fiber Friday post.

Be sure to include your URL link, plus the beginning and ending dates of your special offer!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

De-stashing some knit notions …

Okay, it’s that time again: the ominous creaking sounds of my overstuffed studio about to explode!

So I’ve conducted another round of spring-cleaning-destash … this time focusing on knitting notions, patterns & magazines.

My rule of thumb this time that if I haven’t used it, looked at it, or even picked it up in a year, it needs to go.

Here’s what’s up for grabs:

  • BatesNeedles 3 pairs Susan Bates Quicksilver knitting needles, single points, US sizes 5, 8 and 9, at eBay auction. I know some of you are simply addicted to the Quicksilver aluminum alloy needles …

    I don’t think I ever used these needles, so they’re nice & straight & in their original packaging.

  • Knitters_Spring2009 The newest issue of Knitter's Magazine Spring 2009 that features a great how-to feature on ELISE DUVEKOT’s K1B (knit-1-below) technique.

    This issue looked so great (or I’m such an idiot) that I bought it twice. Now one of my copies can be yours, instantly, through my eBay fixed price listing. Last I looked, mine was the only copy out there!

  • KnittingMagazine_March 2009 Another new magazine - Knitting Magazine March 2009, featuring a Nicky Epstein pattern, a Rowan Classic pattern, & how-to lace techniques, also listed at eBay fixed price.

    I love the magazine, but this issue didn’t have any patterns that I wanted to knit. (Judging from the number of eBay watchers on this one, definitely a minority opinion.)

Remember, for the fixed price listings I can also accept “best offers”, so don’t be shy, make me an offer! Other knitting pattern books I have listed on eBay:

While you’re at it, you might also want to check out my fiber arts listings in my Bonanzle store – I’ve got knitting, crochet, cross-stitch and quilting books & patterns, and I have yet to make a single sale, darn it. You could be my first customer!

Vol3_Pt35_inside_sm 97_FebMar_sm And, over on Etsy, my destash of vintage 1960s knitting patterns, (only $4.95 per mint condition book) and back issues of American Craft magazines (only $3.95 each) goes on …

Happy shopping!

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM

Monday, April 20, 2009

I won a bag of AlbuqCookies!

I can’t believe I actually won a contest drawing – I almost never do! – but I did, I won a bag of AlbuqCookies, yay!

And you can, too: just enter the monthly drawing on the AlbuqCookies website. Quick, go enter right now, because the cookies are wonderful!

AlbuqCookies Here’s the pic. Isn’t the bag design great?

Okay, so, somehow half the cookies got eaten before I got the camera out, but I’m sure you can just imagine how the bag looked when it was full.

I discovered this great local product back in February, at the Fiery Foods Fiesta in Albuquerque.

As I noted at the time, AlbuqCookies were one of my three favorite foods at the Fiesta!

The flavor I sampled at the Fiesta was Leah Rosie’s Chocolate Pepper Chile. Mmm, crisp spicy chocolate.

In the mail, I’ve just received my prize bag of Chocolate Pinon Biscotti – also delicious, but not spicy. Better for breakfast, I suppose!

Other AlbuqCookie flavors include Green Chile Pecan Sandia Cookies, Lavender Lemon Biscotti, Toffee Almond Biscotti, and Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cherry/Cranberry Biscotti.

In Albuquerque, AlbuqCookies can be found at La Montanita Co-op, Kellers Farmers Market, and Model Pharmacy. And AlbuqCookie owner Steve Hoffman tells me that within the next couple of weeks, Triangle Grocery in Cedar Crest will start carrying them, too!

I can’t wait.

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The balm of new music

I’ve just finished filing our taxes, whew.

It was unusually difficult this year, as I discovered yesterday that DH had somehow lost, shredded or otherwise disposed of all the 1099s I’d been saving since January. Sigh.

Then this morning a virus somehow got past McAfee and crashed his computer’s hard drive. Karma, you think?

Definitely a challenging day.

So now I’m rewarding myself by not working, instead just piddling around listening to music, auditioning new aural input.

First up, I fell in love with this music video, a compilation of artists all around the world playing “Stand By Me”. It truly brought tears to my eyes, not only triggered by tax stress.

The video is a project from the Playing for Change Foundation, BTW, “building and connecting music & art schools around the world”; worth a look-see.

Then I stopped by Pandora Radio to update my artist list. (I’m listening to it now; you can listen in too on my MaggieBelize “radio station”.)

JardinInterior I heard a good cut from Jardin Interior by Las Malas Amistades - “the bad friends” – a Colombian “psych folk D-I-Y punk” band made up of non-musicians who spontaneously record without first writing or rehearsing.

Psych folk”?? I might not buy it, but I had fun hearing it.

While I was at it, I added my longtime favorites Julieta Venegas, David Byrne, Juana Molina and Leo Kottke to Radio MaggieBelize.

Then I moved on to David Dye’s World Cafe NPR show.


I love the World Cafe show. I listened faithfully when I lived in Houston, and through it discovered all sorts of wonderful then-new music: Raul Malo’s Every Little Thing About You and Billy Bragg’s Accident Waiting to Happen, for example, just off the top of my head. When I lived in Belize, well out of radio range, I bought World Cafe’s annual compilation CDs to tide me over.

So one of my biggest disappointments in moving back to the States was to discover the show isn’t aired in New Mexico! But now I can subscribe to the show podcast, which gives me the featured artists at least, if not the whole show playlist.

bajofondo Anyway, I was on the site looking for Bajofondo Tango Club, an Argentinian-Uruguayan tango band featured on World Cafe last August.

(I found my months-old note-to-self about Bajofondo when I cleaned off my desk, looking for those darned 1099s.)

I realize how unlikely “electro-tango” sounds as a music genre, but their sound is so inventive and unusual: “a sensual soundscape of tango, trip-hop, drum & bass and pop elements that redefine the essence of tango for the 21st century.”bajofondo_mardulce 

The band’s producer / guitarist / vocalist is Gustavo Santaolalla, two-time Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning composer of Brokeback Mountain and Babel.

Their latest studio CD, Mar Dulce, was recorded in real time in Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo and Madrid … and includes vocals from Elvis Costello, Nellie Furtado, and Julieta Venegas.

Based on the cuts I heard on World Cafe, this one’s a definite must-buy. And I’ve just treated myself to it! What with our tax refunds coming, and all.

Ahh, new music …  I feel better already.

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A brightly-colored Easter

Just a quick note to post our doings this holiday weekend.

Last night we went wild coloring Easter eggs. Of course we had to try Martha Stewart’s technique of dyeing eggs using patterned silk. We used a 50-cent silk tie we found at a yard sale on Friday.

EasterEggsThey came out kinda cool, we thought! To make the egg at the upper left, we used the maroon lining of the tie; the other three were made using the maroon tie fabric itself, which had blue and yellow stripes.

We weren’t sure how well this would work, after reading MaryBT’s CraftFail tale of her attempt that inexplicably yielded utterly white eggs … but fortunately our efforts went smoothly.

Then we dyed a bunch more eggs using a variety Paas dye kits. I’d gotten some crazy ones, including a Marbleized Egg kit and a Tie-Dye egg kit. Frankly, neither of these worked very well. They were fun to play with, but the resulting eggs were oooo-gly. (I’ll spare you the photos.) The best news is that the dyes did not permanently stain the granite countertops.

And once you start coloring things, it’s hard to stop. Here are a couple of shots of our Easter table, ready for our feast this evening.



Isn’t it great when you’ve bought a bunch of crazy random things over the years, and one day they all just come together? And look as if you planned it all along?

For Easter dinner, we’re making the maple-syrup-braised ham from Ruth Reichl’s revised Gourmet cookbook – my idea of a “desert island” cookbook -- plus cheese grits, a tossed salad of spring greens, and oven-baked zucchini and onions Parmesan. (Yeah, that probably sounds like cheesy overkill, but that’s the family’s vote so I’m going with it.)

Then, if we’re not too sick from eating chocolate bunnies and malted milk “robin’s eggs” all day, or maybe even if we are, we’ll have Ghirardelli brownies and peanut-butter ice cream for dessert.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Snow

Today, unexpectedly, another spring snow storm! 

It started snowing early this morning, pre-dawn in fact, so we scrambled to rearrange today’s plans.

As I write, the flakes are getting fatter and falling faster. Our cat Minnie is watching from her comfortable perch on the back of the couch.

Our satellite TV dish is already full of snow, so no reception, and I imagine the internet satellite dish will fill next. I could climb out the bathroom window again onto the roof to shovel it out … or – yawn! -- maybe not.

After all, we still have the Nintendo Wii!

Happy snowy day,

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bummer Basket: When Knitting Goes Awry

I recently discovered a wonderful website called Craft Fail: “a community blog dedicated to sharing our not-so-successful crafting attempts.”

I joined Craft Fail immediately, and not just because of that lovely warm feeling of schadenfreude (noun - satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune), but also because I just happen to have a ridiculously failed project of my own, ready to share.

(Unlike the failed project sitting in my craft room right now, that is, a decoupage disaster waiting for me to photo it before giving it a decent burial. I may share that one later.)

This is the story I’m sending to Craft Fail.

The Bummer Basket, A Christmas Story

It started as such a simple plan: I wanted to knit a gift for my mom for Christmas. I love knitting for my mom, because no matter how lame my projects are, she “ooohs” and “ahhs”” and makes me feel as if I’m the best knitter in the world.

SecondTreasury So, last November I returned from Cat Bordhi’s knitting retreat all fired up about the Moebius cast-on & knitting techniques I’d just learned.

And in Cat’s Second Treasury of Magical Knitting book, I found the perfect Christmas gift project for my mom: the Moebius Bum Basket.

The Christmas countdown clock was ticking, but this project looked like a quick knit. And one which would be felted. Felting, I naively thought, would cover the multitude of sins I might commit as a new Moebius knitter.

This is Cat’s picture of her Moebius Bum Basket, which I intended to re-create:


It’s funny! It’s cute! It would make a great gift!

And before we go any farther, I want to make one thing completely clear: there is absolutely nothing wrong with Cat’s knitting pattern or instructions. This story is totally about operator error.

The Moebius bum basket is intended to be a sort of saddlebag, as you can see, two round baskets suspended from a shared handle in the middle. You begin by knitting the handle and the rim for both baskets, with waste yarn knitted into the middle of the rim.

When you finish the rim, you pull out the waste yarn to open up live stitches, like unzipping a zipper, and pick up and knit each half-basket downwards from the rim.

Cat warns, “You will find that the rim sts on your needle are grouped in oddly twisted sets …”

Yep, it certainly looked twisted at this point. And that’s where I got lost. I’m still not sure exactly how I did it – did I pick up those stitches upside down? Or backwards? Did I have a 50/50 chance of success, or only a 1 in 4?

Whatever … it wasn’t long before I suspected I’d made a terrible mistake. The stitches for the second basket compartment were buried deep within the interior of the first basket.

And for a while, in deepest denial, I actually knit faster.

When even I had to admit my project had gone horribly wrong, it was three days before I had to leave for Austin. The thing still had to be felted and dried. It was way too late to frog and re-start. In desperation, I decided I’d simply knit the second basket separately and suture it to the outside of the first basket. Everything would straighten out in the felting, right?

On the back jacket of Cat’s book, it says that Cat “likes nothing better than to have a knitting experiment go awry, because it means very interesting, possibly never-before-seen things are soon to be revealed.”

So, for your enjoyment, here’s my finished, possibly interesting, but certainly never-before-seen “bummer” basket:


Ta-daa! And please note that it looks equally stupid from any angle:



You know what may be the saddest part? I went ahead and gave it to my mom. That’s right, I wrapped it up and put it under the tree.

I wish you could have seen the look on her face, as she struggled to (a) figure out what on earth it was, and (b) come up with a compliment for it!

The bummer basket now lives at the back of the top shelf of her closet, along with the lopsided clay vase I made in kindergarten, and the souvenir pin I brought her from Washington D.C. in sixth grade, that has “Mother” spelled out in rhinestones above a dangling White House charm.

Good place for it.

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vogue Knitting Pattern 3-Day Sale

Just got an email alerting me to Vogue Knitting’s three-day sale on knitting patterns: from now until midnight Thursday, April 9, all VK patterns are marked down to only $1.99!

Since VK’s patterns are regularly $6 each, this is a great opportunity to snap up any you need. It must be a very popular sale, as their pattern database has crashed twice while I’ve been trying to shop it!

Before you pick & purchase a pattern, be sure to look through the number of free patterns available for download from the main pattern page, including the Silver Anniversary Cover series.

VogueKnittingSpringSummer2008 In my case, I’ve apparently lost my copy of Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2008 that had that great sideways-knitted lace cardi on the cover …

I know I bought the magazine, but now it’s nowhere to be found.

And, of course, the pattern I want isn’t in the free download selection.

So this is my chance to get it!

I know, I’ll feel really stupid when I find the magazine hiding under the bed or behind the couch. But I really want to try that cardi, so I’m going for it. Don’t try to stop me.

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM

ShiriMorCardi ETA: Ran one last search mission before ordering. Found the magazine: the cats had hidden it under chair in studio.

Bought Shiri Mor’s cardi pattern instead, from VK Spring/Summer 2007.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fabulous Fiber Friday: Freebies, Contests & Sales

Welcome to my third “Fabulous Fiber Friday”, a weekly round-up of the best of the fiber-oriented freebies, contests and sales that’ve turned up through the week.

If you’ve got a fabulous fiber deal of your own, feel free to post it as a comment here (find how-to instructions at the end of this post). The more, the merrier!


EtsyKnitters’ Spring Scavenger Hunt

This week, I am so excited to announce the EtsyKnitters Team Spring Scavenger Hunt!

We have a grand total of 31 Etsy shops participating, each offering BOGO specials, discounts of 10-15-20% on purchases, and/or free shipping, and/or charitable donations from their sales!

The eye candy clues on the official Hunt page are worth the trip alone. Wow, it’s really an honor to be a member of such a creative & talented group of knitters! (Learn more about the EtsyKnitters team.)

The Spring Scavenger Hunt is a simple concept:

  1. Find any 10 items in the EtsyKnitters’ stores, using the gallery of photo clues we’ve provided.
  2. Send us the 10 item numbers matched with the Etsy store where you found them, using our easy online Entry Form.
  3. You’ll get the “magic word” back by email!

Use that magic word with any order you place with these participating EtsyKnitters, and voila! You get tons of great deals on handmade, fiber-y goodness.

The Spring Scavenger Hunt promotion begins today, Friday April 3. Deadline for entries is Sunday, April 12. Your special discounts will be good for shopping throughout the Hunt, plus an additional week – until April 19. Click here for complete details.

Let the game begin!

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM


Are You Having a Fabulous Fiber Sale?

If you’re offering a special fiber arts or yarn sale, contest, promotion or giveaway, and would like to share it here on Fabulous Fiber Friday, feel free to post your promotion details as a comment to this or any subsequent Fabulous Fiber Friday post.

Be sure to include your URL link, plus the beginning and ending dates of your special offer!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I Love Things That Work …

As opposed to things that don’t! When I shell out my cash on a craft gadget or an exotic food or a miracle cosmetic, and it actually works, I’m thrilled! And often surprised, too.

Today I am very happy with my new ribbon organizer.

I know, organizing ribbons sounds like a simple thing. But it’s not! If you’ve seen the fiber care tags I make & sell in my Etsy store, you’ll notice that each and every one is tied off with a pretty fabric ribbon.

Like this, for example:

PUPPY LOVE with YARN BALL Set of 8 Fiber Care Tags for KNIT or CROCHET from kNotes for kNitters

Most of the tag designs I make require a different color ribbon to match … so the upshot is, I currently have over 50 rolls of quarter-inch ribbon that have to be stored somehow, somewhere.

Stored, that is, where I can see all the colors I have – but where the cats won’t find them. (My cats really like ribbons.)

And I thought it would be nice if I could easily pull out a roll to use, and just as easily put it back when I’m done … that’s the kind of convenience I need to keep my studio clutter under control.

After looking at various models of ribbon organizers, and ruling out any with spindles that I’d have to take apart to add or remove rolls, any that let ribbon ends dangle temptingly in cat’s paw range, and any that required stacking, I found the only one that works for me and my 50+ rolls: the Simply Renee Clip It Up Ribbon Organizer.

RibbonOrganizer1 This wall-mounted, trough-like rack is three feet long, and 5-1/4” deep. Today it’s holding 52 rolls of variously sized ribbon in my craft room.

Since that should be enough ribbon for anyone, I’ve sworn I’m only going to refill by attrition.

I am also very pleased with the 40 clips that hook onto the bottom rail. You can use these clips to suspend scraps, or bags of ribbons and fibers. The clips were an unexpected bonus! You can hang all sorts of odds and ends from them.

RibbonOrganizer2There are two scissor-holders, one at either end of the rack. I’ve got a pair of scissors in one slot, and a paper punch in the other.

And it comes with a handy ruler decal, which I applied to the front left. Nice!

You could optionally feed the ends of the ribbons out over the lip of the trough, but I decided against that. The cats, doncha know.

Okay, so this gizmo wasn’t cheap, but I did have a coupon that took almost 50% off the total. That helped!

Quite possibly you could rig up your own homemade version, starting with maybe a length of gutter from the hardware store? And I’m thinking about adding a flip-up lid from some kind of clear plastic material to keep the dust out.

But the best thing is that this gizmo works really, really well.

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Sandia Park, NM