Gratitude

Last May, MC and I lost our dear furry friend to a rapidly progressing illness. We were both devastated. Our only solace was discovering My Cat from Hell and thinking about the happy memories we shared with our cat. We didn’t plan to adopt again soon, but we were convinced we’d be even better cat parents this time around because we had learned so much about cat behavior from Jackson Galaxy.

In late July, as MC and I were out for a weekend stroll, I happened to see what looked like a cat out of the corner of my eye in the window of a local pet store. This was miraculous for two reasons: I have terrible peripheral vision, and the pet store was the sort that only has fish and gerbils inside. I pointed it out to MC and, upon closer inspection, we realized there were two cats sitting in a crate in front of the window. The cats looked terrified, the crate was much too small, and their surroundings were filthy.

Over the next several days, we were drawn back to this window over and over again. Each time we visited, the situation seemed more dire. At night, the cats were left in the uncovered crate in the window with all the lights on. One slept in the litter box. They appeared weak, skinny, and sad. Though we didn’t feel ready for (up to 20 more years of) pet ownership again, we soon decided we had to adopt these two creatures, if only to take them away from this tortured existence, or the other – worse – possibility.

The two cats, a few weeks after moving in with us.
The two cats, a few weeks after moving in with us.

The pet shop was “fostering” the cats on behalf of a large animal charity, and after about a week of phone calls, we were finally able to adopt – or, as I often say, rescue – these two cats. After bringing them home, we learned more about their history. They were raised in what was described as a “hoarder house” with almost 40 other cats. They had been rescued by “a good samaritan” who soon after became ill and dropped them off at the animal charity’s shelter. From the shelter, they were brought to the pet shop as part of an adoption outreach program. They had been living for several weeks in the small crate under bright lights for 24 hours a day by the time we found them.

As you might imagine given their history, the cats were not well socialized. Their hygiene habits were atrocious. They never purred. They were emaciated and stunk – for weeks. Their claws were black and brittle and came out in chunks on the floor. They fought and wailed for most of the night and hid for most of the day. They growled at each other – or us – while eating. On top of that, they seemed disinterested in forming any relationship with us. Life with these creatures seemed a thankless task – we saved their lives and in return, we were forced to live with them. It only made us miss our dear Mr. Tubby even more.

tiny
Cappuccino.

After a few weeks, the cats gained weight and their fur looked glossy and healthy. The putrid smells also disappeared. The litter box habits improved (just slightly, though) and they came out more during the day time. We finally gave them names – Cappuccino and James Bond. But the interactions were still pretty bad and the nights were still filled with caterwauling.

BondCappucchino
James Bond and Cappuccino.

And then, in early November, it happened. I had the bright idea of getting a new toy to try and play with them. Perhaps, I thought, I could tire them out during the day so they would sleep through the night (or at least be quiet enough to let us sleep through the night).

Before I could even take the toy out of the package, Cappuccino became interested in it. So interested, in fact, that he repeatedly bit me – hard – in an effort to grab it. After several bites, he punctured through my finger. I was shocked, screaming, and bleeding. James Bond hid as Cappuccino continued to play with the toy.

MC helped me to clean the wound, which was painful and looked even worse. I was between health insurance plans and I didn’t want to spend the money to go to the doctor. Within a few days, though, it was clear that something was wrong, and, since the bite was on my right (dominant) hand, I needed to have it checked out. Of course, it was infected and I had to pay for treatment and medication.

Cappuccino.
Cappuccino.

MC and I were both angry. And, frankly, I was afraid, too, though I hid it well. (No one wants to be around an animal that senses fear, after all.) What kind of crazy cat would bite you over and over, while you were shrieking, and then play with a toy as though nothing had happened? The worst part was the feeling of isolation. Everyone we spoke to said we should take the cat back to a shelter. This would definitely mean he would be put down, and I couldn’t believe we had discovered these creatures, saved their lives, and spent a full quarter of the year with them only to split them apart and kill one.

I researched sanctuaries and no-kill shelters, and all had notes refusing to take cats who had displayed aggression against humans. It truly seemed like we were out of options and were doomed to be stuck with these dreadful cats forever.

James Bond.
James Bond.

And then, eventually, it started happening. The growling became less and less frequent. The crying over night decreased as they eventually learned to play with some of the toys we brought home. They stopped having stare downs with us and flinched less and less as we approached. This fall, after over a year of living with us, they even began to occasionally sleep on the bed.

MC continues to push Bond’s challenge line by picking him up (though he doesn’t like it) and blocking off his hiding spaces. I continue to carry Cappuccino around and cuddle him, which he now accepts as part of the deal that includes yummy food. Neither one purrs, which is just super sad. But, in many ways, they are turning into “real” cats. We can play with them and even trim their nails. They can fight with each other in a playful rather than terrifying way. They don’t display any aggression towards either of us, even if we move their bowls or approach them from an angle.

putties2

I’m sharing this today, which is Thanksgiving in the United States. My mother, who in a protective mode last November encouraged me to return Cappuccino to a shelter, thought I should tell our story on my blog so that other people who rescue pets will know there is hope.

It takes a lot of focused work and dedication, and I’m so grateful to MC for the many nights he stayed up with them and for all of the work he has done with them. I’ve come to love these creatures deeply, even if it isn’t returned in the way that I grew accustomed to with my other cats. There is something incredible moving about looking into the eyes of two creatures who know you saved their lives, and being open to the unique journey you will share with them.

NaBloPoMo

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through November, 2014.

Voting is open for the Flamies!

flamies

A few weeks ago, I shared my nominations for the Flamies, also known as the Crochet Awards. Voting is now open, and I’m excited to see that many of my nominees made the final ballot.

Please take a moment to vote over at the official Crochet Awards website here. There are 31 different categories and a lot of great designers, teachers, bloggers, authors, yarn companies, and hook makers and manufacturers listed.

NaBloPoMo

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through November, 2014.

2014 Crocheter’s Gift Guide: Handmade Crochet-Friendly Stitch Markers

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheters Gift Guide - Handmade Crochet Stitch markers

It’s that time of year when we all start thinking about gifts for others – and for ourselves – so I’m sharing a series of gift guides for crocheters. Yesterday, I shared 10 yarn clubs and community supported agriculture projects that are accepting new members/shareholders for 2015. Today I’m sharing a roundup of 11 handmade crochet stitch markers.

These are all stitch markers I found while browsing on Etsy. Each one has a locking/opening closure (often using a lobster claw fixture) that makes it crochet-friendly. I use stitch markers all the time to keep track of right and wrong side, to note the beginning or end of a round when crocheting in unjoined spirals, or to keep track of row counts.

Stitch markers are a great gift because there are so many different types that you can choose something very suited to the recipient, and they are relatively inexpensive when compared to other gifts for crocheters.

Images are copyright the respective shop owners. Prices are listed in US dollars.

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheters Gift Guide - Handmade Crochet Stitchmarkers

The Color of Dreams BoutiqueGranny Square stitch markers

This is a set of 4 stitch markers using polymer clay beads that look just like granny squares! Price: $10. Ships from US.

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheters Gift Guide - Handmade Crochet Stitchmarkers

Haberdash-a-dooMade with Love stitch markers

This set of 6 non-nickle heart-shaped stitch markers include a keyhole opening and the phrase “made with love.” Price: $8.04. Ships from UK.

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheters Gift Guide - Handmade Crochet Stitchmarkers

AbsoKnittingLutely: Macaron stitch markers

This set of 5 hand-sculpted stitch markers are the perfect no calorie substitute for tasty macarfons! Price: $12.89. Ships from UK.

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheters Gift Guide - Handmade Crochet Stitchmarkers

FC Whimsey: Film-inspired stitch markers

This set of 6 polymer clay stitch markers are modeled after one of my favorite film series and make a perfect gift for the special sci fi nerd in your life. Price: $15.99. Ships from US.

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheters Gift Guide - Handmade Crochet Stitchmarkers

Crafty Cat Knitty bits: Round flower crochet stitch markers

A set of 10 polymer clay stitch markers with a floral theme. Price: $14.49. Ships from UK.

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheters Gift Guide - Handmade Crochet StitchmarkersKnit Cubby: Kokeshi Doll stitch markers

This set of 5 stitch markers is graphically designed and then finished with a waterproof finish. Price: $14.99. Ships from US.

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheters Gift Guide - Handmade Crochet Stitchmarkers

The Clay Sheep: Pastel Sheep Stitch Markers

This set of 6 polymer clay stitch markers would make your favorite wool-lover very happy. Price: $24. Ships from US.

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheters Gift Guide - Handmade Crochet Stitchmarkers

My Polar Projects: Letter Stitch Markers

When you love the alphabet (or want to spell your best friend’s name or favorite crochet stitch), try this set of 6 metal stitch markers. Price: $18. (Additional letters are $3/each.) Ships from US.

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheters Gift Guide - Handmade Crochet Stitchmarkers

Little Knitty Bird: Grandmother’s Lavender Stitch Markers

This set of 5 stitch markers are made from plastic and metal beads and have a classic look. Price: $10. Ships from US.

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheters Gift Guide - Handmade Crochet Stitchmarkers

Teri Loves: Miniature Cassette Stitch Marker and Counter

This retro mini cassette stitch marker and row/stitch counter makes a great gift for your favorite audiophile. Price: $6.95. Ships from US.

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheters Gift Guide - Handmade Crochet Stitchmarkers

Snarky Llama Creations: Pinups Stitch markers

This set of 9 stitch plastic stitch markers include vintage-style pin-up images. These are a bit more risqué than the others, but are undoubtable a perfect gift for someone on your list! Price: $10.99. Ships from US.

NaBloPoMo
I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through November, 2014.

2014 Crocheter’s Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

It’s that time of year when we all start thinking about gifts for others – and for ourselves. I’ll be sharing a series of gift guides for crocheters, starting with today’s edition: Yarn Club Memberships and CSA Shares.

Yarn club memberships and CSA shares are gifts that keep on giving. For the next month, or season, or year, the recipient will receive a delightful package of yarn in the mail, sometimes even including a pattern. These gifts are also great for knitters. (If you’re looking for options for spinners, many of the companies in the gift guide also have a fiber or roving option.)

So what are yarn clubs and yarn CSA anyway?

Yarn clubs are subscription services for yarn lovers. Many yarn clubs operate on a mystery model, where the exact yarn and/or colorway isn’t revealed until the package is received. Some yarn clubs are organized by a single yarn company and include exclusive colorways or first releases of a new yarn; others are coordinated by one company and include yarn from several dyers, spinners, or manufacturers.

CSA is an abbreviation for community supported agriculture. (You can read a brief but interesting history of CSA in the United States here.) Members buy a share of a farm’s fiber or yarn production in advance, which allows the farmer to plan and budget and also gives the share holder the opportunity to get to know more about how the yarn was produced and the animals that contribute to the yarn. CSA yarn is sometimes undyed, in which case it would also make a great gift for a dyer.

I should mention that I haven’t participated in any of these yarn clubs or CSA programs in the past, but they look like a lot fun! I’ve compiled a list of 5 yarn clubs and 5 yarn CSA programs that are still open for 2015.

5 Yarn Clubs Accepting 2015 Subscriptions

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Ladybug Fiber Company: Self-Striping Sock Club (3 Month Subscription)

  • Shipments: 3 – January 2015, February 2015, and March 2015
  • Yarn: 1 of 6 different superwash wool blend sock yarn bases are hand dyed each month
  • Cost: $95
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

stitchjones: Yarnageddon 2015

  • Shipments: 4 – March 2015, June 2015, September 2015, and December 2015
  • Yarn: Each package contains hand dyed yarn (in a colorway inspired by the Beatles) accompanied by an original pattern, PLUS a yarn alternate or fiber selection, PLUS a special themed gift
  • Cost: $210
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Sundara Yarn: The Happiness Yarn Club

  • Shipments: 3 – January 2015, March 2015, and May 2015
  • Yarn: Hand dyed Sundara Yarn, 8 skeins, 2050 yards, DK Angora (angora/wool blend), Worsted Silky Alpaca (alpaca/silk blend), and Sport Silk (100% silk)
  • Cost: $310.50 (6 monthly payments of $51.75)
  • Deadline for sign up/order: Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 5 p.m. PT

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

sweetgeorgia: Sock Yarn Club

  • Shipments: 3 – January 2015, February, 2015, March 2015
  • Yarn: Approximately 4 oz (113 g)/375-425 yards (343-389 m) each month of a unique colorway of sweetgeorgia sock yarn (exclusive for at least 1 year) in wool or wool blend
  • Cost: $105
  • Deadline for sign up/order: Wednesday, December 31, 2014 or when supplies run out

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Yarnbox: Classic Crochet Gift Subscription

  • Shipments: Monthly (3 and 6 month packages available)
  • Yarn: Customizable by weight and color
  • Cost: $39.95/month – $215.70/6 months
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

5 Yarn CSA Offering 2015 Shares

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Feederbrook Farm (Maryland): 2015 CSA Membership

  • Shipments: Ships late August, 2015
  • Yarn: Wool – 6 skeins of natural colored or organically hand dyed, locally milled 2 ply DK yarn (approximately 260 yards) from Bluefaced Leicester sheep
  • Cost: $175
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Foxfire Fiber and Designs at Springdelle Farm (Massachusetts): Sheep Shares CSA

  • Shipments: Spring Share ships in June 2015
  • Yarn: Cormo Flock Sock (90% Cormo wool/10% Bombyx Silk), 220 yards (approx. 2.2 oz) skeins in 3-ply, fingering weight
  • Cost: undyed: 2 skeins/$48; 4 skeins/$90; dyed 2 skeins/$52; 4 skeins/$98
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Grand View Farm (Vermont): 5 CSA Options

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

 

Juniper Moon Farm (Virginia): 2015 Colored Flock CSA

 

  • Shipments: Ships September 2015
  • Yarn: Varies from year to year with an average of 6 skeins of worsted or dk weight yarn in a full share
  • Cost: $125
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Where the Rooster Crows (Montana): Shetland/Romney Wool

  • Shipments: 1, late summer 2015
  • Yarn: A variety of natural colored wool yarn in whites, browns, blacks and gray, typically 12- 16 skeins.
  • Total Cost: $150
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

If you’d like to find more yarn clubs and yarn CSA programs, I have a Pinterest board devote to this theme. Many of these open up at different points during the year and aren’t accepting new subscriptions or shareholders now.

Follow Underground Crafter’s board Yarn Clubs & Fiber CSAs on Pinterest.

NaBloPoMo

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through November, 2014.

Indie Design Gift-a-Long 2014: Last Minute Gifts

I’m finishing my series of roundups featuring designs from the Indie Design Gift-a-Long, an awesome virtual event on Ravelry happening through December 31, 2014. All of these patterns are 25% off through 11:59 p.m. Eastern tonight with coupon code giftalong2014! In addition to this sale, the Indie Design Gift-a-Long includes a massive knit-and crochet-a-long, and phenomenal prizes.

Earlier this week, I shared roundups of some of my favorite crochet designs in the Gift-a-Long sale bundles: 9 patterns for men12 crochet lace patterns9 neckwarmers, and 12 crochet hats. (You can find even more great patterns on the Pinterest board I set up of all the crochet patterns on sale.) Today, I’m sharing 16 great last minute gifts. Each of these projects is relatively small and/or holiday related, so these would make great last minute holiday gifts.

Links to the patterns and designers are below the gallery. All images are copyright the designer unless otherwise noted.

Top row: La Villa Lace Fingerless Gloves by Betty Fay Wallace, Sweet Shells Purse by Melinda Miller, Snegurochka Mitts by Yuliya Tkacheva, Swift Kick Boot Cuffs by Janet Brani.

Second row: Crochet Splat Cat Coaster by cheezombieHardware Heaven – Boot Spats & Wrist Warmers by Sarah Jane, Cat Santa Hat by Akua Lezli Hope, Crocheted Vintage Rose Bracelet by Maya Kuzman.

Third row: Stash Pillow by Beth Graham, Dreidel Bowl by Lindsey Stephens, Mill Run Mitts by Amy Maceyko, Reindeer Baby Hat by Denise Balvanz.

Bottom row: Summer Girl Crocheted Headband by Monika Sirna, Mendeleev Vest by Debbie Sullivan, Tunisian Cat by Jennifer Raymond, Unraveled Sheep Bookmark by Justyna Kacprzak.

I hope you enjoyed this series, and I look forward to seeing you in the Indie Design Gift-a-Long group on Ravelry!

NaBloPoMo
I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through November, 2014.