on the needles

Monday, March 31, 2008

Bath Time!

Lucy had her first bath at our home the other day. I filled the spray bottle with nice warm water and turned the nozzle to mist. Lucy was in heaven!! She immediately turned upside down and spread out her wings so that she could get a really good soak. Pure parrot joy! Hubby took lots of photos but most of them turned out blurry since there was alot of tail wiggling and wing flapping going on. You can really see all of Lucy's beautiful colors when she spreads out her feathers. So pretty! Lucy got herself good and drenched and then I gave her a bit of a rub down with a towel to get the excess water off. Her feathers were so nice and glossy and soft afterwards! I think most people don't realize how important it is for parrots to get a regular bath. Just think what you would feel like without a regular bath - yuck! It's been really rewarding to see Lucy getting comfortable in her new home and letting her personality come out.

In crafting news I finished the gimormous dodecahedron. Pictures to follow...

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Beautiful Sarah

Sarah is the beauty of our animal family. That red hair! Those soft brown eyes! She is the perfect family dog. So patient with the kids. They pick her up and carry her around like a doll. She will gladly sit on their laps. Children are often a challenge for dogs. Children are so wiggly, loud and unpredictable. It's rare to meet a dog that not only likes children, but knows how to approach them. Sarah's tail will be going a mile a minute but she wouldn't dream of jumping up on a child or barking at one. She is always curious but polite, mild mannered and calm. But don't think she is spiritless or has no personality! She is the one who barks (just one warning bark, no yapping for Sarah!) when the doorbell rings. And she is easily a match for Luca when he wants to wrestle. I always think of Sarah as a little lady.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Finger

Carrie asked me how my wounded, Jude-bitten finger was holding up to all the crocheting I have been doing.

The answer is, "Quite well, thanks for asking!" :)

Here's a photo of "the bite" after about six days of healing time. Most of the bruising was gone by that time and the wound was nearly all closed up. But you can still see the half moon shape where Jude fastened his beak and dug in. He nearly scooped out a nice chunk of my finger but luckily I shook him off before he completed the job. I was left with a pretty massive bit of finger that was barely hanging on. I thought about going to the emergency room (which I never do). I finally decided that it wasn't quite bad enough for stitches and luckily it seems to be healing up okay. It's still a bit sensitive in the center though.

So it's actually lucky that the crocheting bug hit me when it did because I can't knit with my finger like that! But, since I crochet with the yarn guided by my left forefinger it works out just fine. Nothing ever touches the finger tip.

I've never been so happy to be multi-crafty! :)


Monday, March 24, 2008

Ta Da!





Fun, fun, fun!!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bye Bye Jude

You may have noticed my bandaged forefinger in the second photo in my last post. That was the result of a serious bite from Jude.

The DNA tests came back & it turns out that we do have a boy and girl - just as I suspected.

And after talking with several different bird breeders and owners I was told over and over that Jude was not going to be able to be able to become a trustable tame pet. Once a male bird is set us in a breeding pair the hormones take over & boy do they rage! Poor Jude. I do sympathise. I think he might have a chance to be a good pet for somebody who can really work with him. But that's not going to happen when he is in the same house as his lady love Lucy. So Jude will be going to live with a lady I know that runs an aviary. I trust her to take good care of him.

This decision came before the bad bite Jude gave me. But the bite confirmed my feelings that it would not be good if one of the kids ever just couldn't resist and stuck a finger in his cage. He could easily break thier little bones! :(

We are taking Jude to his new home tomorrow and meeting some of the baby birds she has. We would still like a second bird. I think it is important for them to have another parrot to interact with.

In the meantime Lucy is turning out to be an awesome little bird. I'm not pushing her but she has already become so loving and trusting. Pionus parrots have a charming habit of purring when they are very very happy. It's so rewarding that we already have Lucy at that stage! She is just in heaven getting her scritches and even lets me pet her under her wings. Someday I will make a video of her purring - it's amazing!


The Madness!!

I have caught the bug - and this time it isn't the flu - thank goodness! Nope, this time it is crochet madness, specifically Berroco's new pattern Celestine Crochet. I took one look at that crazy dodecahedron and just HAD to make one.

Do patterns ever hit you that way? You see it and you drop everything to make one. I'm usually not that way. I think I have a slow burn as far as the knitting goes. I'm never the first one to hop on the bandwagon and crank out the latest popular pattern sweeping the internets. Nope, usually I am happy to go my own merry way knowing I'll get around to it sooner or later.

But these little crochet 3D stars....SOOOOOO addictive. I've made three so far and I'm working on my fourth! I have no plans for stopping there (although I may take a break when I finish this latest one.)

The first one I made out of some Lornas Laces Shepherd Worsted. I decided that it would be a good idea to check out the pattern first by making it in a larger gauge yarn. I'm glad I did because I discovered a significant error in the pattern as well as just realizing much easier ways to achieve the same results. This one will go to my nephew.

The second one I made using some purple Regia sock yarn that had been kicking around in the stash for a long time. I knew I would never use it for socks since it had a high cotton content and I don't like the way that feels in socks. But what I dislike about the yarn for socks is exactly what makes it perfect for amigurumi type crochet. For anything that will eventually be stuffed you want to crochet at a tight, firm gauge so there won't be any holes - yarn containing cotton crochets up just perfect for these dodecahedrons. The purple "star" will be for my daughter.

I set aside the first two I made while I waited for some jingle bells to arrive in the mail. (I like to add jingle bells to the toys I make - I think it just adds some fun for the kids who will eventually play with them.) But I didn't want to stop so I cast on for a third...

For the third dodecahedron I (as usual) decided to push the envelope a little and make it bigger. I started with a base chain of 55 stitches which ended up being a good number. It uses up nearly the whole skein of sock yarn and gives you a nice sized star - about 9 1/2 inches. It is the same size as the star I made out of the LL worsted starting with a chain of 35 as in the pattern. I used Lana Grossa Meilenweit 100 Cotton Fantasy and I LOVE how this one came out. It's definitely my favorite.

As soon as that one was finished I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool to make an even bigger one?" It just so happened that I had two skeins of the last bit of cotton sock yarn in my stash - so on the hook it went with a base chain of 95 stitches. I'm using a beautiful Sockotta colorway. I can't wait to see how it turns out - and how much bigger I decide to make the next one. :)

The first three are finished and stuffed so FO pictures to follow soon....

As usual you can find more info and pictures on my Ravelry page.

PS - This is the first ever crafting I have ever done which impressed my son. Boys dig the dodecahedrons!

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Something Green For St. Paddy's Day

Well, something mostly green anyway - but also red, blue, bronze, pink, white and every shade in between. Meet our newest family member, Lucy, a Maximillian Pionus! She is a very quiet, shy, sweet bird so far.

Since our summer house remodel we really didn't have enough room for the Gouldian Finches large flight cages anymore. So we decided to look around for a nice, quiet, medium sized parrot. A bird breeder in our area happened to have two Maximillian Pionus - just what I was looking for - so we did a swap. It felt kind of weird swapping birds but it works out now that both sets of birds have a better suited home.

We are taking it slow but I'm pretty sure Lucy will work out for our family. Her "brother" Jude on the other hand....not so sure about that yet. Lucy is two years old and pretty much tame - just a bit neglected. I'm pretty sure "she" actually is a she but we are waiting on genetic testing to come back to be sure. Jude is four and very very cage territorial. He must have been someones pet at some point because he does talk - saying Hi, Hello, Uh-oh and Whatcha doin' - that we have heard so far. But I think at some point someone set up this pair to be breeders. For whatever reason that intention wasn't carried out and they ended up with me. I'm pretty sure we got Lucy in time to convert her back into a pet but I think Jude might be just too much for us to handle. He's a very smart bird - but unfortunately he has learned all the wrong things! Right now I have them in separate cages which has been very helpful in getting Lucy better socialized. We are waiting on the DNA testing to come back but if it ends up as I think it will with us having one of each - well then I think Jude would do better in a single bird home where he doesn't have his hormones in an uproar all the time. We'll see...

I was sorry to see the finches go - and I know you guys will miss them too. :) But I hope you will enjoy seeing Lucy just as much.


Portrait of Clemmie with Dodecahedron

Clemmie can't let Chaos and May model ALL the handknits in the blogosphere...

...well okay, technically this is crochet. :)

Just waiting on some jingle bells to arrive in the mail & then this thing will be stuffed and done!


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dreams Come True

Totally off the knitting topic, but something I am very excited about and want to share with you all...

You may have noticed some new additions to my sidebar lately, in particular the link to Children International. What's it all about? Well, around Thanksgiving last year I finally found a way to fulfill something that has been a dream of mine - to help impoverished children to receive and education and access to health care. I've wanted to do this for such a very long time, but never found an organization that I felt I could trust and that fit my criteria for support.

Mainly I was concerned to find a charity that was:
1) well established
2) spent the majority of it's money directly in assisting the children and their communities (rather than on other "overhead")
3) had a high level of accessible documentation available so that I could see exactly what they did with my money
4) did not have a religious basis or affiliation (Although I'm not religious myself, I have nothing against people who choose to be religious. I just feel it is better to respect the beliefs, culture and values of the community you are trying to assist and to refrain from imposing our own beliefs, culture & values etc.)
5) it would be a great bonus if I were able to have a real relationship with the child I was sponsoring

Well - Children International does all those things and more! I don't want to get all preachy about it - even though I am super excited to be involved with this organization - but I do hope you will consider sponsoring a child. If this is something you have ever thought of doing I can't recommend it highly enough! In fact, I'm so happy with Children International that I and my family have sponsored eight little girls from Guatemala, Honduras, Chile and the Philippines. They range in age from five to twelve years old. Each of my children has their own special sponsor child. My kids LOVE to get letters from their sponsor child and they write back via email (which is translated and passed on to the children). We also send cards, pictures and even little gifts if we wish to. We get pictures of our sponsor kids regularly. We hear from Children International exactly what they have spent our sponsorship money on. Today we heard that one of our children, Lesly, got a new pair of shoes. You have no idea how happy it made me thinking of little Lesly and her new shoes.

Sponsoring a child costs $22 a month. That's $264 a year that will buy an education and health care as well as help with food and clothing. It blows my mind how much just $22 does for these kids, most of whom live in one room houses (often made of scraps of metal with thatch roofs) with no running water or electricity. An entire family has to exist on an income of around $75 a month in most cases. I think that, as Americans, when we envision poverty it is a somewhat abstract idea. Learning about my sponsor kids has really brought home to me what true poverty is. And my children have really learned something as well. Recently, I was reading my daughter (who is the same age as many of our sponsor kids) the pamphlet on Guatemala where her special sponsor kid, Lesly, lives. I also read her the most recent letter from Lesly (written on Lesly's behalf by her mother since Lesly is too young to write on her own). I did not emphasize any of it, just read it to her. My daughter was so delighted to hear from Lesly! After I finished reading, my daughter was quiet for a minute and then she said, "I have a GOOD life, don't I momma?" I swear, that moment, when my child connected in sympathy with another child, a stranger to her, and realized all the gifts she has in her own life...well, that was worth every penny I will ever send to Children International.

As an aside I want to say that by discussing the poverty these kids live in, I don't mean to suggest that they are unloved or neglected in any way. Their parents love them just as much as we all love our own children. I just can't imagine how I would feel as a parent if I were unable to send my little girl to school or buy her a pair of shoes when she needed them....

Anyhow...this is the first picture of Lesly that we got when my daughter chose her as her sponsor child. Lesly had probably just joined the program and had probably never had her picture taken before.

Isn't she adorable?

This is the picture of Lesly that we received recently.

If that smile doesn't convince you to sponsor a child then nothing I can say will!

You can see pictures of my other sponsor kids on the flickr badge on my sidebar. And you can access Children International through my Lift One page. There is a short video about Children International on that page as well. It is a good place to start learning about the sponsorship experience. If you have any questions I will be more then happy to answer them.

On the surface it may seem like sponsorship is a gift that you can give to these kids. In reality, you will receive far far more than you ever give!!

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Blankie Love

Have you ever had a project that you enjoyed knitting so much that you were actually surprised when you found yourself nearing the end? Well, that's how it is with my stash blankie.

I started knitting it last year during the Word Series and now I'm down to the point where I have only one skein left of each color. Looking back it seems to have knit up so fast - probably because I haven't had any of those "when will this end?" moments that tend to hit every knitter at some point on large projects. It's such an easy project to come back to that it has never seemed burdensome. I knit on it between other projects and it has been a great mental refresher, like a knitted palate cleanser that gets me ready for that next sweater. Some knitters have socks to fill those gaps. I think I'm more of a blankie gal. :)

Now I've started knitting the edging triangles out of a charcoal grey Cascade. I don't want to finish all the colorful squares and then be left with only grey to knit, so I thought I ought to begin. I think it makes a really nice contrast to all the color. I've also been weaving in the ends as I go so when I finish that last square then - ka-boom! - I'll have me a blankie!


Friday, March 07, 2008

At Least Some of Us Are Feelin' Good...

Too tired tonight for a "real" post - but Hubby did take some beautiful pictures of my recent projects so I will have some stuff to share soon. But right now I'm pooped. Both kids have been home sick for nearly two weeks with the flu. I had my shot so I only came down with a touch of it for a few days. Thank goodness!!

Luckily Clementine and her Daddy have been perfectly comfortable.