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March 21, 2005

Kitty Pi (lots of pics!)

This is the story of my kitty pi, my first project knitted in the round. (I started a hat, but ripped it out midway through because of my "Pattern? I don't need no stinkin' pattern!" problem.)

This time, I made a commitment to follow the pattern through, no matter what. The only deviation I made from the original Kitty Pi pattern was in my yarn. The pattern calls for two skeins of Noro Big Kureyon, but I have big cats that like to cozy up on each other, so I needed a big bed. Having just completed the world's longest Kureyon (and on and on) scarf, I knew the knitted gauge of that yarn well. Funny how after nine feet of scarf knitting, you get the general idea. So I selected a much thicker lopi-style yarn combo for a bigger gauge and ergo, bigger bed:

[click picture for bigger view]

My contrast color yarn, a multicolor "Caldo" by Lana Grossa, is so pretty! I'm using it for stripes and for the edging instead of the eyelash yarn called for in the pattern (we have enough real fur at chez spinster, no need to add some faux to the mix.)

[click picture for a closer look]

Since this was the first time I have ever used double-pointed needles (dpns), I was sure I would cry midway through. I did not cry. It was fine. I am dramatic at times. The pattern moved along swiftly after I switched to my circular needles. Since I was using a thick wool yarn, the kitty pi was heavy and hefty just halfway through:

[click pictures for bigger image]

Traffic has been ridiculous all week (translation: lots of time spent sitting on a crosstown bus knitting like a maniac) so I moved fairly quickly on the kitty pi. With all the rain on Saturday there was no use attempting to work in the garden or otherwise leave the house, because everyone knows rain in Los Angeles means STAY INSIDE LOCK ALL THE DOORS DRINK WINE.

I happily indulged myself and knitted all the way through several TiVo'd documentaries, including one about fisherman in in the Bering Sea called Alaska On The Edge. I LOVE LOVE love shows about really cold destinations. Especially while knitting up some bulky wool.

By the end of the evening, the kitty pi was ready for felting on Sunday morning:

kitty pi, before felting
[click pictures for bigger images]

Instead of a zippered pillow protector, I used an old pillowcase and safety-pinned it closed. Next time I will just put a rubber band on the pillowcase, all the pinning and unpinning through each load and felting-check was tedious.

After one run through the wash on warm cycle with a capful of Woolite and some towels, my kitty pi had only barely fuzzed up:

kitty pi after one wash/rinse cycle
[click image for bigger pic]

After two(!) more cycles through the wash the grey had felted perfectly, but the stitch definition was still clearly visible on the Caldo. I should mention there was also one accidental spin cycle during the third felting attempt, and yet we still have visible stitches on the kitty pi colored stripes. (!) At this point I decide that I intended all along for there to be some stitch visibility so folks would know the kitty pi was a hand-knitted item, and the stitches add a nice artistic contrast blah blah blah. Honestly, at that point I had washed the kitty pi with all my loads of dirty laundry and I had run out of Woolite and I was impatient to begin blocking. But let's assume it was an artistic "I like the stitch definition" choice and move on.

The final felt -- third time is the semi-charm -- produced a smaller, denser item:

after three wash cycles and one accidental spin
[click images for bigger view]

For blocking, I used the bottom of a very clean Booda cat pan turned upside-down and covered with a towel. (Some cat talk here: I stopped using the Booda litterbox when I moved into chez spinster. Until then, I had never noticed that the round and expensive Booda was just way too small for my ginormous cats, and so I switched to the unglamorous but very serviceable $10 extra-large, plain old rectangular cat pan of their dreams and they love it. Go figure.)

Here is the gorgeous kitty pi, after some extremely zealous blocking on a beautiful (and finally sunny!) Los Angeles Sunday afternoon:

I blocked the heck out of the kitty pi
[click images for bigger view]

Tomorrow the kitty pi should be dry enough to take off the blocking form and throw to the lions. I left it outside to dry for several hours before bringing it indoors, and I think that accidental spin cycle on the final felting attempt helped wring it out a fair amount, too. I LOVE this Paton's Up Country wool for felting, it produced a lovely, dense and sort of fuzzy fabric with minimal fuzzballs. Overall, the kitty pi construction and felting was a breeze. I'm completely happy with the project this far, and apparently so is Sobakowa.

As you can see from the image below, Sobakowa (a superior cat) already knows the kitty pi is meant JUST FOR HER and she stakes her claim on it as it's still semi-damp and blocking on the kitchen table:

[click soba for bigger view]

That's my girl.

Posted by laurie at March 21, 2005 4:17 PM