Okay, as you probably noticed, Blogger tricked me into "upgrading" (harrumph) to the "New Blogger." I DID NOT want to do this, partly because I'm in the process of moving myself to DreamHost, and partly because I didn't want to register with Google.

Now, unbeknownst to me and without warning, anyone who isn't registered with Google has to have their comments "moderated" by poor ol' Ms. O'Kitten before they get posted. For this I apologize deeply. As soon as I get them I promise I WILL post them so don't stop commenting just because of stoopid GloogleBooger! (Or if it's too much of a pain, I don't blame you, just please don't stop visiting O'Kitten because she got swindled by Bloogle.)

I'm extremely aggraavated. Now I must whine and moan and garrumph for a moment or two.

Complaint 1: I'm very annoyed about Blooger closing its ranks against anyone not registed with Google. I'm sure they made a whole load of money, and I do appreciate free service without advertising (well, except for lots of advertising for Google). But still. I'm mad.

Complaint 2: Exactly as I'd feared, I have received email spam since I registered with Google (it requires your email address) -- at an address that was, to this point, entirely spam-free.

Complaint 3: I want anyone who wants to comment at ObsidianKitten to be able to do so, and I'm really annoyed that non-GloogleBloggerites are now required to have their comments "moderated." And even more irritated that no one told me that would be the case before I was tricked into switching to the new Blogger.

Complaint 4: I was tricked into switching to the new Blogger, as it became increasingly difficult to log into old Blogger.

So very soon you guys will find me at DreamHost...wish me luck, right now I'm just trying to figure out how to set up all the WordPress stuff on my Mac. Woo-hoo!

Project Spectrum 2.0

I was so envious of all of you participating in last year's Project Spectrum that I decided to jump in and join this year's PS 2.0.

February and March offer blue, white, and grey--nice winter colors, it seems to me.

And considering I have a whole heap of grey and white llama fleece (ok, with a little brown mixed in), plus a bag of Thorn's white lambswool, not to mention some other lovely fibers from my fantabulous SP, maybe it'll inspire me to get spinning again.

Graty at shearing time last spring

I began carding some of Graty's fleece with angora last fall.

Thorn at six weeks

Now for the blue...hm...now there's a spectrum in itself...

....from pale winter sky to the shadows enfolded in freshly-fallen snow...


Cats on Tuesday, Pt. 6

The Inimitable Isis

Now it’s time to tell you a little more about Isis. We adopted her last May when she was about five weeks old. I remain completely fascinated by her glossy black coat, her owl-like eyes with their general expression of surprise, and her polydactyl toes--six on each front paw, giving her almost opposable thumbs. (I’m convinced this is an evolutionary trait cats are working hard to develop and perfect. And when they do—watch out.)

Okay, can you stop with the pictures now? This is getting kind of annoying.

She’s pretty dextrous with these front feet (when she’s not tripping over them), but mostly she prefers to carry things around in her mouth. Namely, things you might be needing any moment, like pens, pencils, panties, knitting needles, socks, measuring tapes, toothbrushes and the like.

While Morgan likes natural things (plants, dried flowers, etc.), Isis much prefers people things. She’s the dangerous yarn and string muncher and has yet to be broken of the terrible habit of pulling plastic pushpins off the cork board (her favorite claw-sharpening surface) and carrying them around the house in her mouth.

And while Morgan and Emma resist being picked up and cuddled (not that they won’t seat themselves on a warm lap, mind you), Isis can be picked up, cradled on her back, and even carried into bed. She loves to lie under the covers, curled up against me, kneading her big paws and purring until we both fall asleep.

Fine, I’ll pose for the camera. Just a few more, though…

Ahem! Bored now…

This is Isis’ idea of hiding. It’s even better when she does it behind the shower curtain, which is about 12 inches off the floor.

Morgan is a bit more stealthy.

I didn’t want you to miss her “V” for “Victory.” She also has a little white locket on her chest and one ridiculously long white whisker. (Just for luck, I suppose.)

Here she is last May. She was rather small.

Now, nine months later, she is big.

But she will always be Batman-Killer Cat to me.


Irish Nacho Socks

I’ve been in semi-hibernation for the past week. Actually, I didn’t spend the whole time sleeping. When I wasn’t in repose, I was making these.

I should first tell you that since I began knitting a little over a year ago, I’ve had absolutely no desire whatsoever to make socks. None at all. They seemed like a lot of work for something that goes on your feet and no one really sees. And you can get a halfway decent pair for just a few dollars. I’m not very picky about socks—they've interested me, well, just about not at all.

But I had two skeins of this nice 100% merino KnitPicks Sock Memories yarn that my friend Purly Brites sent me last fall in a very wacky color called “Flower Power.” I hadn’t been able to figure out what to do with it (especially in such a crazy colorway) and it just looked like it wanted to be made into socks. And I wanted to prove to myself I could make socks.

So socks I made. I used the Pippi Kneestockings pattern from S’n’B vol. 1. I figured that as a sock first-timer, I probably couldn’t go too wrong with instructions from S’n’B.

The only thing that strikes me as kind of funny about them (aside from the completely chaotic riot of colors) is the heel flap. But it works, they fit, and they’re so kooky they make me giggle.

Oh, you’re wondering about the Irish Nachos? Irish Nachos consist of an enormous pile of french fries smothered in melted cheddar and mozzarella cheese and a hearty dose of green and red peppers.

So these are my Irish Nacho Socks.

By the way, the mozzarella cheese color used for toe and heel is (brace yourself, purists and fiber snobs) 100% acrylic Dream Baby yarn. I like to force the common fibers to mingle with elites like the high-falutin’ merino. And it’s all I had that matched.


O’Kitten’s Winter Collection

Let It Snow

There’s finally some snow on the ground here in Michigan and it feels like winter at last. I love winter, I adore snow, I like cold weather.

I know. I’m a lunatic.

Right now I'm living on the farm where we resided when I was four and five years old. At that age, snow isn’t something you have to shovel, dig your car out of, or scrape off your steps and walks and porch. Snow is a wondrous thing that transforms the world into a white playground that you can slide on, burrow into, and basically build, sculpt, shape, and mold to your heart’s desire. Kind of like play-dough--except that it’s everywhere. When you’re four, I don’t think snow is even cold.

Right after I turned six, my mom got a job in Augusta, Georgia and we headed down south. We moved in June. This part of Georgia isn’t near the ocean or the mountains, but is part of something called the Piedmont Plateau and the weather is very predictable: hot, humid, and sunny. Sunny, in fact, for some 300 days out of the year. Which would be nice, except that it’s as humid as the devil’s armpit with scarcely a breeze to stir the air, and it doesn’t cool down--not even at night.

The seasons change a bit—while summer lasts from May through September (or maybe April to October—at least we didn’t have to wear coats over our Halloween costumes)— winter would see cooler temperatures, maybe in the 50s (10-15C) during the day. But the leaves don’t change color in the fall, and very few trees lose them over the winter.

One winter coat was enough, because you’d barely need it, maybe for that one rare morning a year when the Southern world would be dusted with the barest sprinkling of snow and everything would grind to a halt, school would be cancelled, and we’d scramble outside to try to scrape up enough of this extremely precious substance for a snowball fight (very unlikely) or a teeny snowman (even less likely) because we knew it would all melt by 10 a.m.

So this brings me to my obsession with coats.

Having grown up where I barely needed one, winter coats meant going to Pennsylvania for Christmas (which we did every winter) to that magical wonderland where maybe it would snow.

In this winter fantasyland, I had cousins that lived on farms with animals like sheep and horses and lots of cats and dogs, grandmothers let you eat cake for breakfast, and you could walk—actually walk—from the house to the store, church, and even (gasp!) the one-screen movie theater. And, of course, you needed a warm coat.

When I was four, my Grandma got me and my cousin fuzzy purple winter coats for Christmas.

That’s me on the right. I can’t explain the suitcases. I’d forgotten about them until I found the photograph. Maybe Santa brought those. It was 1972. Fabulous pattern, isn’t it? We look ready to go to the moon.

I still remember this coat very clearly, as does my Grandma. So does Tonya; the three of us were just talking about them over Thanksgiving.

And now I collect coats. I guess some women love shoes, or handbags—for me it’s coats. Particularly fake fur, fuzzy vintage coats.

So I decided to show you some of my favorites.

Fresh Coats

This one is from an antique store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I found it in the late 80s when I was shopping with my dad and my grandma. The high collar is really warm!

The fabric is still in excellent condition (even the big covered buttons), but I think the lining is the best part.

Another favorite, a thrift store find. I had to replace all the buttons.

You saw her already, modelling the Braided Cable Scarf. I love the lavender fake fur on this one, and it’s so soft. I found her last winter in NYC at Love Saves the Day.

And she has another wonderful lining.

Cookie Monster! A much-loved Christmas gift from a friend. So 80s, this crazy shape. Believe it or not, under all that fur it even has shoulder pads. I kid you not.

Emma likes Cookie Monster, too.

Not a coat, just fuzzy.

Not fuzzy, just a coat, but an old favorite. Janine Antoni gave this to me when I worked for her in the mid-90s.

My oldest coat. Would you I got this coat in 1980? (Okay, looking at her now, maybe you would believe it.) I still wear this one. We were in Columbus, Ohio and I was twelve years old when my parents bought this for me at the Lazarus Department Store. It was my first “grown-up” coat; I distinctly recall picking out in the Women’s department.

This coat, with its once-again cool 80s stylings (not only the shape, but the drawstrings on the sleeves and at the bottom) has been my constant companion for all these years. It has the uncanny ability to be comfortable whether it’s 60 degrees or 35 degrees out, suits sun, wind, or rain, and is lined with something like a light army blanket so it can be balled up and shoved in a bag.

She’s traveled with me across Europe and into the Soviet Union (yes, it was still the Soviet Union then), to Korea, Canada, and I can’t remember where else. She’s great for napping underneath on trains, planes, and automobiles, and doubles as a picnic blanket when the need arises.

I fondly call her my Fig Coat, since she looks like a great big fig. In Italy, I described her rather proudly to some new Italian friends as Fico Mio. (I like figs; I was pleased to have learned this word and found it useful in the local market.) They burst into hysterical laughter; I didn’t think what I’d said was quite that funny.

They were kind enough to explain to me that while “fico” was indeed the word for fig, when pronounced “ficco” with a double C (as might happen by those of us unused to distinguishing between the sound of single and double consonants) it actually indicates a part of the female anatomy.

I won’t be more specific here, but I did look this word up in my Italian dictionary. “Ficcare” is a verb meaning “to thrust, drive (in, into)”. I’ll let you figure out what the Italians heard when I described the big brown sack I was wearing as Fico Mio.

I’m still wearing her around the farm. At the ripe old age of 27, her zipper finally broke, but since she has snaps it really doesn’t matter. I still adore Fico Mio, and I hope we’ll continue our happy relationship for many years to come.

Finally, the old stand-by: my black peacoat. I got him at a Burlington Coat Factory Outlet when I first moved to New Haven. My only serious criterion for college was that it be somewhere that it would snow. Little did I know that New Haven enjoys not only snow, but every possible form of damp, wet, icy stuff that could possibly fall out of the sky.

A peacoat is the perfect thing for just that sort of weather. Those seaman sure knew what they were doing when they designed this coat—it doesn’t matter how cold or windy it is, or what falls out of the sky, I’m warm in this fellow. And he hasn’t lost a single button in twenty years.


Cats on Tuesday, Pt. 5.1

Cat Bath

And now it's time to nap again.

On Bananas and Squash Soup

Here’s an update on my efforts to nourish myself a little better this year. As you know, the cats, llamas, chickens, and sheep eat very well around here. (This week, the cats are enjoying Polenta with Salmon and Mackerel.)

So this week I bought two nice, smooth, yellow-green bananas. Once they get brown spots on them, I get all finicky and don’t want them anymore. I ate one of them. An hour later, I found the other on the floor. And it looked like this:

I’m sure Nature-Mamma Morgan is the culprit. Don’t those look like her little claw and fang marks? I couldn’t tell you what this poor banana did to offend her, but it certainly looks well-abused.

Then again, maybe she just wanted to find out what Mother Nature had hidden inside such an odd yellow package.

I had more success with the batch of Cream of Squash Soup I made. I adapted it from a recipe I found in the most recent issue of Bust. Not a huge fan of the vegetables, me…but this turned out fairly well. And isn’t it pretty? (Um, squash is a vegetable, right?)


Cats on Tuesday, Pt. 5

More About Morgan

We adopted Morgan to keep Isis company. She is about six weeks older than Isis, although only about two-thirds Isis’ size. She was born last February, so she probably won’t get much bigger than the dainty six pounds she weighs now.

She was a stray found at the Michigan State Veterinary Clinic, living at our vet’s office when we took Isis in for her first check-up. She was such a busy little acrobat in her big cage in the corner of the waiting room—performing for all the visitors and capable of the most astounding acrobatics, including climbing across the top of her cage while hanging upside down.

We were convinced she and Isis would be great pals.

We were correct.

Morgan loves anything related to plants. Live plants, dried plants, fresh flowers, dried flowers...she’s Mother Nature’s best friend. Many a plant has enjoyed her attentive ministrations.

While Isis has a lot of muscle and momemtum, Morgan definitely wins out when it comes to agility and strategy. They have some stupendous catfights (we constantly enjoy the free WWF around here--World Wrestling Felines).

While Morgan runs up a cabinet or a wall like a little ninja, Isis often finds herself skidding right past her quarry, sliding across the linoleum, and running headfirst into some solid object. Morgan, meanwhile, has handily doubled back and disappeared into another room, or sidled herself into some narrow opening where Isis can’t follow.

Sparring on the couch…

…in the laundry basket...

...and in the cat tree.

Morgan is also a big love-bug. For such a small cat, she has the loudest purr of the three girls. At bedtime, she likes to do a little dance, prancing around on the bed in circles and purring, patting my face, and kissing me on the nose with her nose.

She’ll even lie down for a few seconds but—psych! She’s up again for more waltzing and kissing and dancing. More purring until she finally settles down to sleep.

Sharing the love.

Morgan and Grey Cat.

Because there's always enough love to go around...