Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival 2021

This was the first year that the Pittsburgh Knit ad Crochet Festival has been run by Laura Regan, during a pandemic and the Delta variant surge. I’d say despite all of that the festival turned out great this year. This year the festival was Thursday – Saturday, so I took two days off of work.

Soap Sacks for S.A.C.K.

Thursday I wore my Serengeti Tank by Charles Voth. I volunteered on that day, but spent the first couple of hours on the marketplace floor checking out all the vendors and working on the scavenger hunt. I kept my spending pretty much under control the first day, but still came home with some nice things. I bought a large African basket at Frog It Yarns. I bought a cute Wonder Woman wrap kit at Treasure Goddess Yarn. I decided to risk getting an Outlander Mrs. Frit’s Armwarmer knitting kit (don’t remember which vendor that was). And as always I bought some Ashgrove Soaps.

Friday I wore my Summertime Tee by Toni Lipsey. I spent the first couple of hours on the marketplace floors again. This time I did not control my spending as well, or at all. I bought a bunch of yarn from Underhill Farm, The Yarn Smith, Unplanned Peacock Studio, 29 Bridges Studio, and Sassy Black Yarns. I bought a tunic from The Maasai International (sorry about the wrinkled picture). I decided to try some arthritis gloves from And I bought some more soap from Ashgrove Soaps.

I spent some time in the make’s space and met a nice woman from the Bethany Community Ministries. They do a lot of charity work for the community. After speaking with her and learning they make crochet blankets for the homeless I offered to bring her yarn. Then I started a soap sack for S.A.C.K. I met Stacy Wiener, the founder. She’s a very sweet person and it was fun to crochet and talk with some other’s while making the soap sack. I had to go to my volunteer shift, so I took my project to the information table and made 2 soap sacks while giving out information to people.

I took the Intro to Tunisian class. A few years ago I had taken the Next Steps in Tunisian Crochet class, but after teaching myself Tunisian in a crash course in order to take the class, it was still a bit difficult, so I thought I’d start from scratch again. I can say, that I don’t think I really like Tunisian so much. I may give up on Tunisian for now. I think I’d rather learn knitting. I did get a nice ball of yarn from Bella Cash as a class gift.

Today I wore my Shoreline Raglan Sweater. I brought in two large bags of yarn for the Bethany Community Ministries and I took the Freeform Crochet class. I had taken it at my first Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet festival several years ago. I’ve been working on a freeform project, but I wanted a refresher on several things, mostly the bullion stitch. I enjoyed the class and had fun talking with the other women in there. I also helped out some with doing spirals and bullions, so it was fun to help as well. I wonder if perhaps I’ve reached a point where I could start to teach classes. I’m not sure what I would teach though. I was thinking I could do a crochet tips class with various crochet design tips? Or maybe to teach how to join in the round? Our class gift was a knitting booklet and some sample yarn.

Overall, I think this year was successful. I hope the vendors did well. I know things still aren’t back to normal and it certainly wasn’t as crowded as it was in years past. I also wonder if perhaps I’d want to travel to other crochet festivals in the future and learn as much as I can learn.

Shoreline Raglan Sweater

I’ve been looking for a pattern to use my Baah LaJolla from my stash and I came across the Shoreline Raglan Sweater on Ravelry. The pattern is by Tina Marie and she has a choose what you pay option $6, $7, or $8. I paid the full price, but it’s nice that the price is adjustable for those that can’t pay the full price. I have to say though, the pattern is completely worth the cost. It is 14 pages of detailed instructions with variations to add fading, optional waist shaping, short sleeve option, and optional sleeve decrease.

The pattern was pretty well documented, but I did have to create my own cheat sheet for the increases, though. They are documented on the last page, but I needed stitch counts per row for each section, so I charted them out in Excel. I made mine with the fade, but did not do any of the other options.

I’ve learned that I’m horrible at following instructions though. I didn’t follow the arm patterns close enough. I was focused on the pattern and the fade and didn’t do some of the special rows (double solids, double lace). It’s ok though, I still think it’s a beautiful sweater. I was hoping to wear it in England in September, but that trip is likely to get postponed again.

Serengeti Tank

I belong to a crochet Facebook Group called Life Long Crochet. The group is moderated by Charles Voth and Rebecca Mattison, who are both designers. I’ve belonged to a few crochet groups on Facebook, but this one is my favorite and the only one I regularly follow. It’s relatively small with 1,300 members and it’s nice and friendly. There is hardly any drama in this group, so it makes it an enjoyable experience. Charles and Rebecca often do Crochet-A-Longs and I participated in one several years ago, although that’s the one I’ve done (I feel too much pressure to keep up).

Modeling my new tank top

So a few month ago, there was a sale on Charles’ Serengeti Tank pattern at Willow Yarns. Unfortunately, the pattern is not currently published, so I don’t have a URL, currently, but will try to add it here once it is available again. I also didn’t see the post in order to get the sales price, but that’s ok.

This is the first time I actually did any swatching before starting a pattern, but I decided that since this was clothing, I probably should swatch.

My first swatch

I decided to use my Juniper Moon Dappled Yarn from my stash, because I’m really trying to use stash yarn where possible. I have been saving it for a cute top and it seemed like it would look really nice with this pattern. I looked at what the pattern called for and according to my math it seemed I would need two more balls to make the tank. I actually made this tank with less than the 2 balls I started with, so now I have 2 1/2 balls of this yarn and my stash has actually increased. It appears I will need to make a second one for my mom now. Oops.

There were a couple of times I got got confused, while doing the increases of the motif, but outside of being stumped a few times, the pattern was pretty easy to follow. I think it came out great. I’ll admit that I made one modification ( a little bit of a collar). I just went back and did a few rounds of scs to give the collar a little more weight.

The pattern comes with the choice of doing an A-line, which I did. It draped very nicely while I was making it. But I decided to hang it dry to block it and that pulled the stiches down, which isn’t as flattering on me with my COVID 20, so I did go back and re-block it to stretch the stiches more wide.

Yarn Inventory

Over the years I’ve bought yarn here, there, and everywhere. I’ve gone on yarn splurges at LYS for Yarnapolooza. Sometimes I buy yarn for specific projects that I don’t start, or finish, or have left overs from. Once I had a whole bin of yarn donated to me from a friend. And once I get this yarn I stash it around the house, my office closet, in bins under the guest bed, in $10 footstool cubes from Target, still in bags hanging from hooks.

Often times when I’m out at a craft store, craft festival or LYS, I buy yarn because it’s pretty and I think, ooh I can make something nice with that, but I don’t actually have anything in mind. So this sometimes causes me to buy too much or too little of something. But then when I want to start a project, I look at my yarn and think, there’s nothing here for the project, and I end up buying more yarn just for my project. So I thought, geez I really need to do an inventory of my yarn and update my Ravelry stash, so I know what I have on hand and maybe I can use up this yarn I already have?

So I spent the week taking inventory of most of my yarn. I still have a lot of scrap yarn and amigurumi yarn that I didn’t inventory and perhaps my next project should be improving my storage so I can see all the yarn I have.

I have a bunch of yarn that is left over from previous projects or that I’ve used on multiple projects. I still love that Ice Yarns. I’ve used that several times and I still have about 2 skeins left, so I should make something else with it. The Toft yarn is left over from several Edward’s Menagerie projects.

Some yarn in my stash is specific to future projects I have planned. I have a bunch of yarn saved for my next super secret project. This Jambalaya yarn was bought at the last Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival. While going through my stash I found a yarn I had bought to make a gift for my cousin’s daughter, Marissa, abought 20 years ago. I wrote her name on the yarn, maybe if she has a daughter I can use it.

Some of my yarn is from local farms. I have some alpaca yarn from Magnus from Willowbrook Alpacas. I had adopted an alpaca for my friend for a year and we visited Marcus during Yarnapolooza II: The Marcus Adventures. And the Mohair is from Underhill Farm. I met the owners during the last Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival 2019.

I also have a few kits to complete. I have a few of these Outlander kits and some amigurumi kits, and a Stunning Strings kit.

A few years ago a friend gifted me a huge bin of yarn, and there was some really nice yarn in there too! These pics are just the odds and ends from the bin, most of the yarn that still had labels ended up in the inventory and were added to the stash.

OK, well I better get busy. I have a lot of yarn I need to use up.

Charming Tauntaun Blanket Wrap

Over three years ago, I had a New Year’s resolution to start this project and I had a follow up post with some progress. But once this monster got big, it mostly stayed in the project bag, because it was too heavy and hot to take out and work on. This winter I decided I was going to finally finish it, then as I was working on it I realized some of the yarns had been discontinued, so the fire was really on my butt to get this done. Here it is, 3 years and 3 months later, the giant Tauntaun blanket that I made for my husband.

My husband modeling his new Tauntaun blanket

This blanket was inspired by the Tauntaun sleeping bag. My original sketches had legs instead of a sack and I thought of lining it and adding a zipper, but in the end I stuck with simplicity. There is no pattern for this, I cobbled together the hood, the body, and horn as well as some modifications. The rest is pretty much free hand outside of the inspirations of the patterns. The body is all hdc, the arms are dc. This thing is heavy and warm.

The cats love this blanket. Any time I was working on it, they would lay on it.

The entire thing cost about $400 in suplies:

Yarn Bee Snuggle Up White, 7 skeins

Yarn Bee Snuggle Up Silver Fox, 18 skeins

Yarn Bee Snuggle Up Silver, 26 skeins

Knitpicks Clarity Comfy Worsted,12 skeins

Knitpicks Light Blue Comfy Worsted, 40 skeins

Safety Eyes

And as much as I was afraid of running out of yarn, I ended up with a ton left over.

George Update:

He’s still with us, although not integrated with the other cats. He really doesn’t like them.

When Cat Introductions Go Bad Part 4

Well, here we are about 4 1/2 months after we initially adopted George. We’ve tried many things to fix how we screwed up our introduction of George to our other cats. I left off with the cat behaviorist and working on her plan. It took us about 3 months to go through all of the steps. We took it real slow (2 week full separation reset, 4 weeks of treat time, 3 weeks of scent swapping, and we added an extra week just in case).

George peeking out of his gate

We decided to try the introduction again the day after Christmas. George has seemed ready to come out. He was always trying to open the double doors at the gate.

Let me start by saying, George is the sweetest, most relax and chill cat I’ve ever known. He is so content and happy. He has been bonding with us and getting sweeter with every day. He comes to me in bed and paws at me when he wants to snuggle. He will relax with me in bed and purr. He likes having his belly rubbed. I’ve been working in the dining room and my husband has been sleeping on an air mattress in the dining room all so we can keep all of our cats happy and give them all enough attention.

So, the day after Christmas we let him out. My husband and I were watching him and playing defense. He was fixated on the other cats, but also trying to look around and explore. I tried to get ahead of him to make sure he didn’t sneak up on another cat. I also blocked him from getting close to Tuna. We cut it short after about 10 – 15 minutes and let him back into his area. A day later we tried again. Our cats are very wary of George and downright scared of him, except Marvin, who will growl and act tough. The second time George was walking around and really fixated on the other cats. Marvin was not helping with his growling. We were blocking and keeping between George and the other cats while he tried to explore, but his tail was starting to get puffy. I was out ahead and saw Pumpkin in George’s path, so I picked him up (Pumpkin was George’s punching bag before). When George came into the room and saw me holding Pumpkin it was like he wanted to climb me to get to Pumpkin. I had put Pumpkin down on the air mattress. Eventually George came in and tried to attack Pumpkin again, so we cut the session short again.

We’re heart broken. I was really hoping that we could get him to not attack our cats. We think he does it out of fear. They scare him and then he attacks them out of fear? If that makes sense. So we can either keep living the way we have been living separated with 1/3 of the house for George and the rest for the other cats. Or we can rehome him/take him back to the rescue. We’ve already put feelers out there to see if anyone we knew would want a cat (that doesn’t already have a cat or dog). We don’t know of anyone. Even his pee/poop issue has completely gone away. It was only triggered by the initial stress. Now that he’s happy and feels safe that has stopped.

I joined a few Cat Behavior groups on Facebook and posted a shortened version of my story there. A Cat Behaviorist reached out to me and I’ll talk to her on Monday. I really don’t know what else there is to do for George. Maybe over more time things could get better? I really don’t know.

Many people say that it is probably best to rehome George at this point. That’s such a hard thing to do. We’ve never given up on a cat before, but of course we want him to have the best possible life. I think if we knew he was going to a really good home it would be easier for us to let him go, especially now that we have bonded with him and he with us.

Because of all the George things going on this year I haven’t been crocheting much, but I did make this little freehanded phone holder for my treadmill. My little treadmill is to keep me running over the winter. But it doesn’t have a place to keep my phone and not all my shorts have pockets, so I made the little pouch to keep my phone handy, in case I want to change a song on my playlist.

Kitty Couch

I started making the kitty couch at the beginning of the summer and I just finished it this morning. While it’s a bit of a pain to make, it really doesn’t take months to make, I’ve just been distracted by George. I finished the couch itself this summer, but took forever to pick up the Afghan to finish.

Completed couch

My friend had given me a crate of yarn that she got from someone else. I had a few skeins of a teal yarn in there, so I thought it would be perfect for my kitty couch. The Afghan yarn also came from my free crate.

The pattern is available for sale and is only $2. For the most part, I found the pattern easy to understand, but I made some mistakes and modifications along the way. My first mistake was that I used a size G hook for the couch, and that hook was only supposed to be for the Afghan. As a result I needed to modify the entire pattern to fit the dimensions of the couch.

My next mistake is that I ran out of yarn, so I had to buy some more skeins. Thankfully it was no dye lot so the colors matched, for the most part. I think the older yarn from the crate may have faded some.

I used white yarn to join the panels. It reminds me of the piping that couches used to have in the 70s or 80s. The cats couldn’t wait for the couch to be completed before testing it out.

All of the cats have been on the couch and they love it, although I don’t have a picture of Tuna on it. I’ve had the couch done for months now and the cats have been using it regularly. I really dragged my feet on the Afghan. I hate making Granny Square Afghans, in general, but a mini one? I only really pushed myself to finish it because I wanted to complete the look.

Anyway, now that I’m done my husband wants me to make more so the cats don’t have to fight over it. Perhaps I’ll make a round one next. I could probably free hand something like that.

When Cat Introductions Go Bad – Part 3

An update on George’s integration into our cat family.

After the Cat Behaviorist came, she gave us a map for our re-introducing plan. To start, we need full separation for 2 weeks to reset everyone. We keep George in the bedroom area and the rest of the cats have the rest of the house. So I set up my office on the dinning room table, so I could spend the days with the other cats. We also bought an air mattress and one of us sleeps on the air mattress with the other cats while the other one stays and sleeps with George. With this arrangement the cats get company most of the days, but my husband and I don’t get to see as much of each other as we live mostly separate lives on opposite sides of the house.

One of the other things the Cat Behaviorist recommended for the introduction phase was medication to reduce George’s anxiety and aggression. In general, I’m against medicating cats for things like this. But at this point I’m willing to try just about anything, so long as this is temporary and not a life long thing for George, I’ve agreed to medicate him during this initial introduction phase. The vet did warn that in some cases the medication can cause aggression to increase as the inhibitions decrease, so that is a possibility. So far George has been on the medication for about 6 weeks. He does not appear to be scared or anxious, and he does not seem to be more aggressive. The one odd thing we have noticed is that George stares at himself in mirrors now. He never seemed to do that before the medication, so it’s a bit odd.

The first introduction step on our plan is for treat time. We can provide treat time as many times a day as we want, but we usually do once a day. We started the treats on practically opposite sides of the house and opened the hallway doors so the cats could see each other through the baby gate. We were told to only move them forward about 6 inches at a time and only when they are all comfortable. The important thing is for the session to end on a positive note, so if things look like they are going south, just end the session. Short and sweet is important.

The other important thing is for the treat to be amazing, something that makes the cats go crazy. So we tried to see what the cats like, and of course, they all seemed to like something different. At first we tried bonito flakes and Tuna and Pumpkin appeared to like them, but they tired of them quickly. Marvin and Nathan love kitten food. George appeared to like canned salmon, at first, but in the end goes crazy for Temptations. Now everyone pretty much gets kitten food, and George might get a few Temptations as well. At one point George escaped the gates and rushed to the other cats, just to get their food, so we found it promising that he was only interested in their food and not attacking them.

So that’s where we are at right now. We are still on the treat time step, moving forward slowly. Taking baby steps. George seems to be getting antsy and ready to come out, but as tempting as it is, we want to keep following the plan and not rush it. We probably have at least 4 – 5 more weeks of this to go. We are hoping that by Christmas, or at least by New Year, that we can try to introduce them again. We will need to see how it goes.

This little sweetie pie is worth it. We love him and we’ve been bonding with him and he’s been bonding with us. Let’s hope this all works out in the end. This little one deserves a good home.

Socially Distant Candy Distributor

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love it and I always look forward to it. While COVID-19 has caused a lot of disruption for 2020, I still want to participate for Halloween. Our town is allowing trick or treating for those that want to participate. And they are also providing alternative activities for those that don’t want to participate such as two Halloween parades (fire trucks etc throwing out candy to kids).

Anyway, of course I’m decorating. And I already have a costume (Doctor Who), so I figured I’d give out candy too, if anyone comes around. But, I also want to be safe and cautious due to the pandemic. My one friend is setting up a table with a plastic tablecloth. She plans to keep a bowl filled with candy and at the end of the night, just scoop up the whole table cloth and throw the rest out. That will keep her from getting germs, but that candy bowl will spread germs to the kids.

I saw an idea on the news of a tube to slide the candy to kids. I decided to make my own. The first time I tried it I decided to use toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls. I taped them together and then with colored duct tape, taped the whole tube. It was ok, but came out a bit crappy, the tape was getting bunched and I wasn’t happy with it.

So I went to Lowes and grabbed a 2″ diameter PVC pipe from the plumbing section. Now I taped that up with my colored duct tape and added my Doctor Who sticker. Since I don’t have a staircase, I didn’t have a banister to run the tube down. So I hung it from my porch. It’s a little heavy, but I think it will do the trick. So far it is weather resistant as well.

The original tube was a bit more narrow and a bit half-assed.

The final tube hanging from the porch and a close up of the colored tape.

I also made a Dalek. It was a last minute decision, but he turned out ok, considering he’s mostly cardboard boxes and duct tape.

I also dressed up my skeleton as a Weeping Angel.

When Cat Introductions Go Bad – Part 2

I left off the story of George on a good note. Things were going well. We were following the steps and we were really hopeful. But then things stalled and started to go in reverse.

The baby gate was working well, and feeding time was working well, but play time was not working very well. The second time we tried to have a play session with Pumpkin, George rushed Pumpkin and swatted at him. Pumpkin just rolled over and took it.

We soon realized that George was territorial and his aggression seems to be triggered by it, the peeing too. Yes, his peeing was starting again (or continuing) so the bed tarps seemed to come in handy after all. He also peed on the couch, a cat bed, my husband’s blanket (from what I could tell so far).

So now I bought another book, The Cat Whisperer. I also bought more Feliway and a calming collar. We tried a third play session with Pumpkin. We tried it in a neutral location, the basement. I was able to keep George busy with play. Pumpkin didn’t want to play, he mostly tried to hide from George and kept his eyes on him the whole time.

One thing we noticed was that George was shaking his head and rubbing his ears. So was Nathan, so we scheduled them for a vet visit. It turns out they both had yeast infections in their ears. I also talked to the vet about George and told her all the things we were doing. She mentioned there was a calming food we could try, but since I wasn’t able to get George to try the calming treats, I wasn’t sure if I’d get him to eat the special food. She said it was too soon to try medication. Honestly, medication would be a last resort, and even then, I wouldn’t want to need to medicate him other than as a temporary solution.

I was able to treat George with the ear cleaning and ear drops, but when I tried to treat Nathan, he acted like I was murdering him. He was scared of me for a day and kept running away from me. I felt like a horrible cat mom. I cried. My baby cat was afraid of me and our new cat wasn’t getting along with the others. Nothing was going well.

It seemed that when the cats came onto George’s side of the house, that he would be more territorial and likely to attack. I tried to limit George’s time on the main part of the house, that’s the side he prefers and I was trying to not allow him to own it as his territory as much.

At one point Nathan got onto George’s side and George tried to chase him down again. My husband was able to grab him and hold him until I got Nathan back on his side. Nathan broke out a few more times, thankfully without incident.

George has become more vocal. For a while we were able to leave the doors open at the baby gate, but then he would get aggravated at the gate at he’d vocalize. Sometimes he’d rush the gate and swat at the cats if they were there. Granted, sometimes the cats would instigate it.

We had the idea to try to use a leash on George during playtime to prevent him from attacking. Using the leash seemed to work. I even started using the leash this week for feeding time as well.

Last night I tried walking George through the living room on a leash. I lead him around by using a toy wand while playing. At one point Nathan jumped on the wand toy and George rushed him. This morning I tried leading him around on a leash, more just letting him explore on his own, while I followed him. He locked eyes on Tuna. I kept trying to break his stare and redirect him. He started to walk away, but he just tried to approach her from a different angle. Then he tried to rush her. Thankfully both of these times he had the leash on, but it really has us feeling defeated.

I’m not sure what else there is to try at this point. Tonight, we have a cat behaviorist coming over. We are running out of ideas. It has been almost 4 weeks since George came back to us. He is the sweetest, most affectionate, and playful cat. He loves people, but we’re not sure if we’ll ever be able to get him to accept our cats. It’s really heartbreaking.

My husband can’t stand to think of him going back into a cage at Petsmart. I’m afraid of him getting adopted, he wasn’t adopted for 2 years already; he was with the rescue since he was a kitten without being adopted. But if he was adopted, and he pees on someone’s bed out of anxiety or fear? What’s going to happen to him? If we could only get him to accept our cats, we can give him a good life. And if he pees on the bed every now and then, we can live with that.

Fingers are crossed that the cat behaviorist can help us. I know we’ve made small improvements over the past 3 1/2 weeks, but I’m really hoping we can get past the attacks on our cats.