Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Special blog appearance: Donna Druchunas

Charcoal is not a companion animal snob. In fact, so gracious is the black bun that he has invited Donna Druchunas, author of the newly-published Kitty Knits: Projects for Cats and Their People (Martingale 2008) to make a special appearance today here on Go Knit In Your Hat.

You may recall that Donna guest-blogged a few months ago, when she released Ethnic Knitting Discovery and before that, upon publication of Arctic Lace, a book inspired by the knitting of Inuits and other Native Americans living in the Arctic. She has also written The Knitted Rug
and blogs here.

Donna's latest book was inspired by her kitties, and includes items for cats (like cat beds and toys), items for people who love cats (like these cute kitty socks)

and items for the cat-lover's home. In honor of this cat-themed post, I shall liberally spinkle throughout adorable photos from my archives of Kute Kitteh Fotoes.

GKIYH: Tell us about your first cat, Donna.

Donna: My first, first cat is a sad story. When I was about 12, my sister and I talked my mom into letting us get a cat from my uncle. My mother acquiesced, but she wouldn't let us keep the cat in the house. We also didn't know enough to get her fixed. So our little kitty lived in the garage and outside, and killed too many birds to count. Then she got pregnant. My mom really didn't want a cat at the time, so we ended up giving her to a friend who had a farm. I hope she lived out a full and happy life there.My first cat as an adult was a member of the family. We got Kittens when he was only about 4 weeks old, not really old enough to be taken away from his mommy. But they owner was going to have him put to sleep if we didn't take him, so he came home with us. He was my best bud, and would ride around the house on my shoulder, and sleep in my briefcase. He only lived 3 years, and died of congestive heart failure with absolutely no advance symptoms. I still miss him!

GKIYH: How many cats do you have now? Tell us about them.

Donna: I have two cats right now, but will have four in a couple of months when my mom moves in with us! My two cats are Uno and DeeDee. The both came to us from the humane society. DeeDee came after another of our cats died of cancer, and Uno came when I went to the humane society with someone else to help them pick out a cat. Uno stuck is foot out of the cage and patted me on the head as I was walking by, and I knew right away he was going to come live with us. It was mid December, so I went home and told my husband, "I found what I want for Christmas!" We went back the same day and filled out the paperwork to adopt Uno.

GKIYH: Do you have other pets? Are you partial to cats as opposed to, say, dogs or hamsters? If so, why?

Donna: We have no other pets right now, although I'd like to get a fish tank with fancy goldfish. Is that really tacky? I think they're beautiful and they would also entertain the kitties. My grandmother always had goldfish in a tank in her kitchen, and I think they'd remind me of her, too. I am not sure why I love cats so much more than other animals, but I do.

GKIYH: What inspired you to create a book with this theme?

Donna: An accidental discussion where I was complaining about all the dog knitting books that had come out over the past few years. I am pretty sure that more knitters own cats than dogs, but no one in the publishing industry had figured that out!

GKIYH: Did you road test the kitty items on real cats?

Donna: It's impossible to keep knitting away from my cats. They don't eat yarn, thankfully, but they do like to test out everything I'm knitting. They love the toys, especially the felted balls with the bells in them, and my mother's cats have used the cat beds so much that they are totally smushed!Speaking of the toys and beds, I'd like to mention the eyelash yarn that I used on those. This is only appropriate for older cats who do not eat strings! Some cats like to eat strings, and kittens are especially prone to this. But it's very dangerous to let cats eat threads or strings, because they can get tangled in their intestines and cause injury or even death. I did put a warning about this in the book, but I want to point it out here because we have to make sure to keep the safety of our kitties our first priority! The projects I made with eyelash can be made with faux fur yarn or plain by simply leaving out the carry-along yarn.

GKIYH: What is your favorite project in the book and why?

Donna: Well, there are a lot of projects that I love. I am sure several people will ask me this question, and I'm going to try to answer it differently every time! I designed the Men’s version of the Scandinavian Kitten Fair-Isle Sweater with my husband in mind. He doesn't wear a lot of sweaters, and he wants everything to be pretty plain. I knew he would never wear something with a blatant cat design, so when I saw these little Scandinavian kitties, I knew they'd be perfect for him. He wouldn't even realize there were cats on his sweater, but I would always know! Thanks so much for letting me visit your blog to talk about my book and cats. There's nothing better than cats & knitting!

The Beu would heartily agree with that...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Our spokesbun

Charcoal becomes a star of the prestigious internets here.

And for those of you who were wondering what the spoiled bun selects when it is his night of Speranza'a, allow me to enlighten you:

With carrots on the bottom.
Radicchio in the middle.
And edible flowers on top.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Happy Speranza'a

I have hesitated to write about this before for fear that people would think I was disrespecting their holiday traditions, but I hope by now you know that's not how I roll. So here's what we've been doing this week.

A couple of years ago, my kids got a Sesame Street DVD called Elmo's Happy Holidays.
It's very cute, and covers Christmas, Hannukah, Eid and Kwanzaa, explaining the basic idea behind the holidays and showing real kids and their families celebrating them. My kids have watched this DVD over and over (and over). Somehow they got the idea that we should create and celebrate our own family holiday. Since their last name, like my husband's, is "Speranza," the obscure festival of Speranza'a was born.

Each winter, when the days are gray and cold and it seems like spring will never come, it is time for Speranza'a. (Technically speaking, it begins on the first Monday after Valentine's Day.) Each person in the family gets their own day. Monday is Tom's, mine is Tuesday, and so on, and the sixth and final day is for Charcoal. The person whose day it is gets to pick what we are having for dinner. Candles are lit and the person whose day it is gets to make a wish and blow out the candles. After dinner, we dance in the living room.

We are still working out some of the finer details; for example, someday I will have to take the kids to one of those paint-your-own pottery places so we can make special candleholders (a spenorah?). We still need to work on the Six Principles of Speranza'a: so far we've got the Principles of Irony, Gluttony and Magnetism, but I think they need tweaking.

But all silliness aside, it is sweet and surprising to see how much this family tradition means to my kids. They've been talking about it for weeks. They talk about what they are going to pick for their dinner (Elvis picked turkey breast; N. is opting for shells in tomato sauce; G. will probably ask for bacon and popcorn) and they are thrilled when it's their turn to make a wish and blow out the candles. From the parents' perspective, it is heartwarming to feel like we are making some special memories with our kids. I have little daydreams about them coming over when they are grownups, still celebrating this made-up holiday with us as we all grow older.

So from my family to yours, we wish you a happy Speranza'a!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I think I'll keep her

I mean, you gotta love a girl who does this

to Ken.

I did have a nice relaxing weekend -- including a dinner out with Tom on Saturday night -- and feel much less prone to committing child abuse today. I do find that trying to laugh about it with my blog-friends is the best antidote to these awful, stressful times.

In the meantime, I've been dyeing and website-building. Today will be my first update on the new dot cahm.

There's some wool/nylon sock, a few Corriedale blend sock, a few DK merinos and some rovings. Please be patient in case there are things that don't go perfectly smoothly. I need to throw out a huge mea culpa to my non-United States friends: right now, the website is only accepting U.S. orders but I hope to have that fixed soon. After today's update I'm going to tinker with it some more.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Please. Don't forget the condoms.

I spent the morning hard at work, and was happy to see the kindergarten bus pull up mid-day. Had I but known, I would not have been nearly so happy to see it. Here is what happened next.

1.Daughter comes off bus. She gets mad when I remind her she lost computer privileges because she called me "stupid mommy" this morning
2. She screams and throws tantrum
3. She screams for lunch, then screams when told it will take a few minutes to prepare
4. Still calm, I ask her if she wants juice; she refuses to answer, making "unga bunga" noises.
5. Screams because i haven't given her juice
6. Gets a sheet of paper to draw
7. Crumples sheet of paper b/c she's still mad at me
8. Yells at me b/c there is flour on the table
9. Yells at me b/c I have wiped table off with wet paper towel and now it will make her paper wet, forgetting she's already crumpled it
10. Remembers paper is crumpled, lays on floor because I refuse to get her a new sheet of paper after she hurls crumpled one at me
11. Lays on floor screaming and kicking
12. Refuses to get up, notwithstanding loss of other privileges, no dessert, being sent to her room (refuses to go), and various other non-corporal punishments
12a. Gets up and hits me
13. When I say "aha, so you can move," she falls back on floor pretending to have legs that are "too tired" to walk
14. Misc. screaming, yelling, hitting and throwing things (by her)
14a. I try to hug her and hold her, talking in soft voice to see if she'll calm down
15. She gets splashed with cup of water
16. Goes ballistic and takes off dress, uses a la twirled towel in locker room
to snap me
17. Undresses and says she won't put on underwear again
18. I pretend to leave a message on Nana's answering machine telling her how bratty her only granddaughter is.
19. Panics and puts on underwear (her, not me)
20. I tell her next stop if she doesn't stop screaming is back porch. (Hollow threat)
21. She runs onto front porch wearing only underwear.
21a. I bring her back into house before child protective services is alerted.
22. More sundry screaming, hitting, kicking
23. Dumps over 2 clothesbaskets of folded laundry
24. Runs upstairs to evade my wrath and gets stuffed cat
25. I confiscate stuffed cat and tell her she can't have it back unless she picks up laundry and goes into room and quiets down
25. Picks up laundry
26. Has spent last 25 minutes screaming "kitteh" while pointing at high shelf where I placed it.

See, the thing about kids is they don't read the same parenting books that adults do. So they tell you your kid will get his first tooth at age 4 to 6 months, but your baby doesn't read that book, and so soon your kid is a year old and has barely a tooth bud. Likewise, they tell you you can "Ferberize" your baby, but they don't tell your kid that, so you end up listening to the kid scream all night, every night for a week, then give up. Your nerves are shot; your kid is fine.

So here's a kid who gets disciplined consistently, is showered with love & attention, has no physical or mental disabilities, and -- much to my surprise today -- doesn't get smacked. But she still doesn't listen.

I don't know where she gets that from. (Hint: her father.)

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I will confess that I'm a fan of LOLCats. If you don't know what they are, you'll have to read the hilarious entry on Wikipedia, or check out I Can Haz Cheezburger or if you, like me, are an Obama fan, you may enjoy Yes We Can Has.

If you want to know where all this LOL-ishness will end, perhaps you'd like to help translate the Bible into LOL-speak. The 23rd Psalm is already done, though.

Now back to the dyepots.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Guest Blogger: Miss Thang

My kids got wonderful digital cameras for Christmas. They are specifically made for kids so they are brightly-colored and rugged. Really rugged. Today, G. -- home from school due to ice -- steps in her mother's shoes, providing today's post and photos:

My Christmas Pictures
by G.C.S.

This is our Santa. He plays music and dances. Mommy still hasn't put him away yet.

We have a fireplace. This is where we hang our stockings for Santa on Christmas.

This is Charcoal.

This is N. He's my twin brother.

Here is Mommy.

This is J. He's my big brother.

Here is Daddy.

We had a pretty Christmas tree. I like the lights.

These are my everyones. (Note from Mommy: "Everyones" is a word my kids coined to refer to their favorite stuffed animals and dolls. As in, "I can't go to sleep without my everyones in bed with me.")

This is Panda, but when I was little I used to call him "Panna."

This is Violet-Rose. When you turn her upside down, there's another girl!


This is Snowflake.

This is Snowgirl. She's a Webkinz. Her birthday is February 19th. It's coming up!

This is Sparkly. She's a pink pony.

This is Splashie. Splashie is a duck. My brother's toy is next to Splashie.

This is Chewie. Chewie is a Chihuahua!

This is Gus. Gus is the name of the mouse in Cinderella, too.

This is Lovy. A love frog!

This is Pinky, the pink poodle.

This is Pat the Bunny. This was my big brother's bunny. He loved the book "Pat the Bunny." When he was little, he used to call her "Pa Ah Boom."

This is Rattle Cat. When I was a baby, my daddy used to put her next to me and I would knock her over.

This is Rose. She's a pink poodle!


Monday, February 11, 2008

On the horizon

One of the on-going things I've been playing with is switching Black Bunny Fibers to its own domain. After looking at a lot of options, I found a very user-friendly e-commerce interface and I was able to build my own website in an unbelievably short time. This week I'm "beta-testing" it but I think I'll be ready to switch over from Etsy to my own domain later this month. Etsy is a wonderful website, but at this point, my volume of sales justifies the switch, since those Etsy fees (for listing and a percentage of sale) add up. And saving money on fees means cheaper yarn for my customers. I"ll let you know when the Grand Opening is, along with the URL.

January Books

Here's what I read in January:

1. Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia by Edward Humes. Story of a Mississippi judge and his wife, and their unsolved murder; their daughter began investigating when the local police didn't get the job done. Interesting background on the "Dixie Mafia," which I had never heard of before.

2. Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography by Andrew Morton. Yeah, and I read People Magazine at the hairdresser's, too. Your point? Cruise is a fascinating figure with power, celebrity and influence in Hollywood. Morton seems to have done a lot of research, including numerous interviews with people who knew Cruise, and he also extensively quotes Cruise's own words in interviews over the years. Unlike some reviewers, I think Cruise's "religious" beliefs are fair game, since Cruise himself speaks publicly of them in an attempt to influence others' behavior (think Brooke Shields). Morton provides an eye-opening view of Cruise's involvement in that regard.

3. Switching Time: A Doctor's Harrowing Story of Treating a Woman with 17 Personalities. Oy, this was a bizarre tale, written by a psychiatrist who treated a woman for depression, only to realize as treatment progressed that she was one of those extremely rare cases of multiple personality. I would have thought this was fiction were the psychiatrist not clearly identified and if he hadn't included scans of various notes and letters written in the different handwriting of the various personalities.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Please bear with any technical difficulties

that you may see in my blog over the next week or so. I'm going to update the look of it and God only knows what kind of html hell will break loose until I get it right.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Well, I think that the Saga of the Bus has come to a close.

At least for now.

Earlier this week, Tom and I sent a polite yet indignant letter to the school superintendent expressing our concerns about both the bus incidents and the reaction of the principal. We sent the letter by snail mail and email, and a few hours after the email went out, Tom got a call from the superintendent. The superintendent said all the right things -- and interestingly, he told us that the principal admitted to the superintendent that she was out of line when she spoke to me. (My personal suspicion is that the guidance counselor ratted her out, but I am merely speculating.) The principal is supposed to apologize. (Hasn't so far, but I'm not holding my breath.) The hitter was assigned a special seat in the front so the driver can keep an eye on him. We will continue to keep an eye on things and keep y'all apprised. Meanwhile, my posse of bus-stop moms has been alerted and they, too, will continue to monitor both the bus -- and the principal.

Thank you again for all of the thoughtful and supportive comments. It helped a lot for me to be able to reality test and know that I was doing the right thing.

On a lighter note

Thanks to Liz who tipped me off that the two patterns I did for JCA/Reynolds at the end of last summer have magically appeared in the Patternworks catalog (click on the Spring 2008 tab). Both would be very quick knits for experienced knitters and good easy ones for a relatively inexperienced knitter to try. There's the Flutter Sleeve sweater

and the cap-sleeve top with a cable detail running down the front. Both are knit in the round to streamline finishing.

Now I have an Etsy update to see to -- and I'm a bit behind on my photographing... Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Back to fiber

Suddenly I have diarrhea of the mouth. Well, enjoy my frequent posting while it lasts, eh? Back to fiber-y pursuits today. This is my new sweater project.

Doesn't look that exciting yet, but that's okay; it's early days. It's the skater sweater from VĂ©ronik Avery's book; I'm going to make the undersweater only, shown here.

I snagged some Wool Bam Boo on sale in a charcoal-gray color called "Flint." I love that this sweater is knit in the round (from the bottom up). I'm very much enjoying both the yarn and the pattern.

I've also been getting ready for a Black Bunny update on Friday. I've got a new, limited edition sock yarn: this is a Corriedale blend from Wild Geese Fibres, 50% corriedale, 20% alpaca, 30% lincoln wool, and around 7 sts to the inch (maybe 6.5?).

Each skein is 200 yds., so I'm going to sell in batches of two. I've got 10 pairs' worth. About half of them will go up this update; the rest the one after that. I've also got some rovings and some wool/nylon sock yarn and a few large skeins of laceweight (2400 yds). Update goes live Friday around 1 p.m. EST.

I also need to do a quick shout out to Sheri at The Loopy Ewe. I had a yarn emergency last week -- yes, even someone who has as much fiber around the house as me sometimes has a yarn emergency -- and Sheri came through in the clutch with an overnight shipment. (Chill, Philadelphians; it was a yarn that Rosie's doesn't carry.) I can't say exactly what it's for, though, as it's a new project I'm working on for Interweave Press. Thanks, Sheri!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

If you're in a U.S. primary state, please vote.

"Hope is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.

[That is the message] that can change this country brick by brick, block by block, calloused hand by calloused hand - that together, ordinary people can do extraordinary things; because we are not a collection of Red States and Blue States, we are the United States of America; and at this moment, in this election, we are ready to believe again." -- Barack Obama

Monday, February 04, 2008

Pam Allen, will you marry me?

Okay, I'm already happily married, and we'd both have to move to Canada (which wouldn't be that much of a hardship, but still, those pesky green cards), and you probably prefer tall, dark and handsome to medium, blonde and plump.

But I must say that receiving three brand-new CEY (i.e. Classic Elite Yarns) pattern booklets in the mail on Saturday made me very, very happy, reminding me of those halcyon days when you were editor of IK (not that I don't still love IK, mind you).

Oh the gorgeous photography!

The adorable models who don't irk me at all!

The lervely, lervely patterns!

Kate Gilbert, you can be a bridesmaid at our wedding --I love this sweater

Don't forget the purty new yarns -- in addition to Wool Bam Boo, which I dearly love working with, there's a new Cotton Bamboo and a blend of linen, wool and alpaca called Soft Linen (which is what this hoodie is knit in).

[Sigh of pleasure.]

It was almost enough to make me forget about the dreaded Bus Incident. (Thanks for all your comments and ideas. We're drafting our letter and sending it out today. In the words of John Paul Jones or Patrick Henry or whoever it was, "I have not yet begun to fight!" My kids are everything to me and woe betide anyone who doesn't treat 'em right. I'll keep you posted.)