Monday, March 23, 2009

You win some, you Dim Sum

The jury is still out on this cat toy — Cat Dumpling. I gave one to Charlie & Tabbi and another to Marci for some non-scientific animal testing. I'm working on the the packaging and branding at the moment. I'm trying out a few tag lines.

"Cat Dumplings: Just as we suspected!"

"Cat Dumplings: For curiously playful cats."

"Cat Dumplings: Put more fiber in your cat's diet."

So far Cat Dumpling only comes in spinach and purple yam. There's more testing ahead, this might out do the Cat Bomb in popularity.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Animal Testing

Over the course of months I've been doing a little research and animal testing of my own to find the right size, shape, and color that cats will find more appealing. I guess this prolonged toy testing is also a sign that our recession is getting worse. I made a few Cat Bombs in different colors — yellow, blue, red, and orange and gave to a few people to road-test.

According to Cornell Center for Materials Research most people think that dogs and cats see only gray, but that's more urban legend than fact. To perceive daylight spectrum colors, one uses optical cells referred to as "cones." Humans and other primates have 3 cones — red, green, and blue, these colors also compose the colors projected from monitors and TV screens, while dogs and cats only have 2: — blue and green. Orange and red appear brown or to cats.

Cat's eyes are designed primarily to detect motion, especially in darkness. Cats don't really see in the dark — and their eyes don't glow either. Their eyes have a reflective membrane called the tapetum lucidum which reflect light back passing over the cones. This allows their eyes magnify available light, even in the almost complete darkness.

This is Ann Richards, she noticed the blue Cat Bomb right away. She prefers the ring at the end of the toy and attacks it with gusto. It was almost impossible to pry it free from her grip.

Aung San Suu Kyi didn't care much for the red Cat Bomb. I even dangled it in front of her face. Usually she prefers chasing plastic bottle caps around the floor.

But notice what happens when Suu Kyi is presented with the blue one. She rolls around and chews at it like a ferocious wild animal. Cats tend to like toys that dangle and roll, but cat owners like toys that they can find and retrieve easily from odd places such as behind the fridge or under the couch. Bright colors benefit both.

Cat Bomb is not treated with any kind of catnip spray. It's made from 100% cotton and stuffed with loose wool. I’ve found that this 3” proto-mouse shape is more appealing to a cat than a ball. It fits perfectly in their mouths — and of course what cat doesn’t like string? The tail is about 2’ long and weighted with a crochet loop at the end, the perfect length for psyching-out a cat with a fake throw. The next toy to test is the Cat Dumpling.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Knit PH at Prospect Perk, March 10 '09

Anastasia, Jan, Pat, Lisa A., Naomi, Eliza, Eve... we need a few more chairs at Prospect Perk. I should get some stacking stools from Ikea. We had some new folks, Laurie, Nancy, and Eve. Laurie noticed our Knit PH sign at the sugar and cream station and signed up. Eve is a beginner but a fast learner, she spent the evening going over the basics with Lisa A. and Pat.

The blanket squares are in! So far we have 21 knit and 20 crochet pieces... and a pair of mittens. Lisa G. and Jose popped into the cafe just to drop of her work while they were out walking the dogs. Lisa and Marci went the extra mile, they almost made their own blankets without us. Marina dropped off her work as well. Our goal is to make four baby blankets for the Afghans for Afghans charity.

In addition to all that work, Marci made Lisa a beautiful "thank you" scarf for having her as a guest while her apartment was being painted. I like this bias pattern, it's an interesting way to show off variegated yarn.

Marci mentioned that a new outdoor knitting circle will be meeting at the Brooklyn Public Library starting this summer. In part they want to focus on collecting and trading needles. "The return of the Brooklyn Clean Needle Exchange? That's a symptom of a recession and city budget cuts." I joked. I think it's a great idea as long as it's in a shaded area. At the world-wide KIP day last summer the heat became a unbearable on the museum steps after 2:00 PM. I remember sweat continually dripping down my face and arms and yarn sticking to my hands. But I did get a great even tan — win some, lose some.

Naomi lost her Trixie (Berroco) pattern while she and her husband were in DC, so instead she worked on a scarf. I Googled and searched on Ravelry for th pattern, but so far no luck with the pattern but a few people do have the booklet. In the worst case scenario we can count through the back piece and write the front panels.

Eliza is working on her linen stitch jacket. I like this stitch pattern, the gauge is almost perfectly square and I think it's very elegant. So far she has one sleeve in progress. I'm designing a baja jacket in linen stitch, summer is around the corner. I'm also working on another wedding shrug for Caroline's sister Gabriella. I've sketched out some ideas, one of them a hooded shrug. That might work it's way into my LOTR inspired knits.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Deep Forest: An Elven Hooded Scarf

This is Justin, he works at Prospect Perk Cafe. He was kind enough to show off my blue Elven hooded scarf. I call it "Deep Forest". That's just the working title until I figure out a name that won't get me sued for copyright infringement... blah, blah, blah. Tolkein's Elves were an advanced race from Middle Earth who were masters of the woodland realm. Their armor and weaponry were known for their precision and artful craftsmanship, making them elegantly fatal to their foes.

I actually designed this for my friend Matt, who turned 33 again this year. The Elves are considered immortal, Matt considers himself eternally middle-aged. I digress— however, the hood on this scarf is formed by picking up stitches and knitting the left and right panels downward from each side of the central band. A cleaved leaf pattern runs from the front of band tapering into twisted ribs at the back.

The interior facing of the hood is turned with a ribbed band for stability — without this reinforcement the hood tends to flop around awkwardly. Simple four-plait braids mark the back of the hood. Both panels are also finished with braids.

Each panel is about 5 feet in length, which seems excessive, but when both are wrapped around to the neck to front, they cover the chest comfortably and form a very warm cowl. I used a double moss pattern on the panels, but any reversible pattern should work well.

I used 3 skeins of Berroco "Peruvia" and #8 SPN to knit this scarf, that's roughly a total of 528 yards (483 meters). Some sewing is required. Peruvia is loosely spun from 100% Peruvian highland wool, it's almost worsted but very light-weight and spongy — this makes it perfect for making larger garments. I recommend washing a test swatch to get an accurate gauge before starting a project with this yarn, it tends to shrink by 4%, but retains the light airy quality.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Announcement: Casserole Night at Freddy's

A casserole is an oven-baked meal that's prepared and served in a deep earthenware, glass, or cast iron dish. The traditional variety typically includes meat, root vegetables or beans, and stock (or alcohol). Our domestic version includes convenience foods such as noodles, cheese, tuna or ground beef, fried onions, and chips among its ingredients. International versions include Mexican chilaquiles and enchildas, sweet eastern European kugle, British cottage (shepherd's) pie, Japanese chawanmushi, and of course French white bean cassoulet.

The Prospect Heights Casserole Preservation Society is dedicated to perpetuating and exploring a tradition of oven-stewed meals. Casserole Night is not a contest, it's an interactive exhibition of cold-weather victuals. So, what can be better than sharing a hearty meal with friends over a frosty beer? Bring a friend and join us at Freddy's on Saturday March 21st for an early evening treat. Uncle Greg's Army-style Iceberg salad with Thousand Island dressing will be served. Paper plates, plastic forks & spoons, and some take-home containers will be available.

Freddy's Bar & Backroom
485 Dean street
Brooklyn NY 11217
(718) 622-7035

Saturday, March 21 '09
From 6:00 until 8:30 PM


- Bring your home-made casserole or salad & bread.
- Bring a take-home container.
- You must provide your own serving utensil.
- All casseroles will be served at room temperature.
- Label your casserole as either meat or vegetarian, or if it includes nuts.
- Seafood dishes and soups are not recommended at this event.

We ask that you RSVP with your dish so that we don't end up with 30 green bean casseroles.
Subject:Casserole Night at Freddy's