Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fear the Kitten

Today we received two new family members. My daughter has longed for a cat for years now, since our last cat died of lymphoma. So we planned, and read up on cats, and finally made a trip to the shelter.
Meet Spock.

Nothing to fear in Spock. According to my son, this cat commanded us with his eyes to take him home. He purred and rubbed against our fingers through the cage bars and told us he would be a very pleasant companion.
And so he has proven to be, in the space of an afternoon. He made his name known on the car ride home, perhaps a record for our fastest-named pet. And after a brief adjustment period in an unused hallway, Spock made peace with the dogs and found his bathroom, his food dish, the couch, and our hearts.
This one-year-old kitten also had the grace to arrive neutered and with his rabies inoculation. What a thoughtful fellow!

Fear and trembling, however, may now ensue:

She looks harmless enough, this darling eight-week-old tabby kitten with a big purr, rabbit-soft fur, and the cutest little paws. You can't tell from this picture just how small she is: this is one tiny little kitten. The "awww" factor is high here. She grabbed my daughter's heart as soon as we walked into the shelter.
Citrus, as she is now named, told our dogs quite firmly and loudly that They Are Not Welcome In Her Presence. I have never heard a growl this loud from any cat. She also has a fearsome hiss and lightning-strike paws. While the dogs have learned not to approach her, just the sight of them arouses a constant low humming growl in her tiny little body.
Luckily she likes us just fine. We are making allowances, as she is so young and so small. It must be quite frightening to enter a household with animals many times larger than herself.
In the meantime, however, Fear the Kitten. She can roar.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Grandmother's Granny Squares

When my father-in-law moved to a smaller place recently, he gave us a lifetime's worth of treasures. Months later, we are still fitting them into our house. Wait till I show you the delicate crocheted lace! There is also a garage full of tools, but they're for my husband's blog, if he ever starts one (heh).

My daughter and I were going through one of the boxes a few weeks ago and pulled out this colorful crocheted throw. As my husband's grandmother was an accomplished needlewoman, we believe it to be her work.

At first glance (and whiff), I wondered if it was worth restoring. There were at least fifteen holes, some of them quite large, and it was dirty with age and smelled very strongly of mothballs. But daughter was entranced (and so was I) so restoration ensued.

First came several trips through the washing machine. This removed the dirt, but not the smell. I put it outside in the sun for a day. What a miraculous transformation! The odor dissipated, leaving a mild yarny aroma that isn't unpleasant at all.

Next I attempted to crochet replacement squares. After three or four, I came up with a recipe that, while not exactly the same, looks nearly identical and is the same size.
(Note: the three on the right are original centers that I salvaged. I just had to add the black border.)

The next part terrified me: cutting out the damaged segments. Nine squares needed removal; in the end, I cut into two more by mistake, so that brought the total to eleven (this doesn't include small holes that I'll simply darn).
In theory, this should have been easy: find the joining thread and cut it. But over the years, the yarn had become fuzzy and matted. It was difficult to distinguish the yarn used for joining from the yarn of the blocks. And of course, all that yarn is black. I only cut into surrounding blocks twice, which isn't too bad, though I did say a few choice words. ("I didn't say that," I told my children. "No, you didn't," they agreed.)

I have asked myself if it's really worth putting all this time into repairing an obviously worn-out blanket. It does have sentimental value, but it really is extremely worn. (There are many, many more holes. If I were going to do a proper job, I'd remove much more of the black yarn and re-crochet it. As it is, I'm going to take black yarn and just darn the heck out of it.) But yesterday, my daughter came over and sat down by the blanket, spread out on the floor while I looked for holes. She pointed out differences in the yarn between squares, and even in the same square. We thought about who might have made those replacements, and when. We counted the blocks made out of a single variegated yarn, versus those done in two or three colors. We picked our favorite colors and styles. My daughter likes the orange ones because they look like flickering flames. I'm partial to the three-color ones done in shade gradations.

So much thought and work went into this blanket over the years, by more than one pair of hands. I love the story it tells, and the questions it raises. And I hope it will last one more generation.