Monday, May 27, 2013

Pollux: Loved Now More than Ever- March 29, 1999 - May 24, 2013

I know I'm a day late... I've been distracted.  It took me a while to come to grips with things and figure out what I was going to say.  I've borrowed some details from Castor's memorial because, they were twins.

Pollux was born as one of seven kittens to a mother owned by a couple other college kids in the town my university is located.  He and Castor were the only two Siamese looking kittens in the entire litter.  We wanted named that wold reflect their twin-like appearance and ran through several, rejecting the most obvious ones like "Cain and Abel," "Romulus and Remus," and "Heckle and Jeckle."  I came up with the idea of Castor and Pollux.

Like his mythological counterpart, Pollux did indeed outlive his younger brother.  His personality was different from Castor's in many ways.  First off he was more reserved, still friendly, but he would give people time to settle in before he'd invade their laps.  He also would take a turn around the room to visit with all of the people before settling down.  

Unlike Castor, I didn't pick Pollux.  I didn't want Pollux.  I wanted their white and gray brother who never got a name.  My then boyfriend picked Pollux as his kitten.  When we split up, he left Pollux with me.  I was saddled with a second set of vet bills for another cat with irritable bowel disease.  It was hard, but I made sure I could afford the food they had to eat so they would be sick less and medicines when they needed it.

Over time, his nickname became "Pollywog," which eventually shortened to "Woggs."  He began to become more of "my" cat than I wanted, but he was still my responsibility and Castor loved him.  I learned the hard way that he had a penchant for pasta in Parmesan sauce and peppermints.  Peppermint was his absolute favorite, but he wouldn't turn down the chance to steal pasta.
After Castor died, Pollux was my link to both Castor and Confetti.  We also became more watchful of his condition, in case he started developing any of the same symptoms.  For almost two years nothing changed.  He still loved to drink water from the bathtub after someone showered, still slept on his back with his front feet curled over his belly, and played with his toys.  Then he snagged a claw on something, pulling it out of his foot and the wound became infected.

Last Monday Pollux wasn't doing well at all.  He was still fighting with the flare up of irritable bowel disease that came with those antibiotics he had to take for his foot.  His balance was off, he seemed more distracted, and despite eating like a horse he was still loosing weight.

FH and I decided to see how he progressed during the week and to spend as much time with him as possible.  Artie and Pixel didn't seem to care about what was happening, but Artie did become more aggressive toward Pollux.  I think Pollux's smell was changing and that bothered Artie.

I spent a lot of time stitching in Pollux's company last week.  We'd listen to the birds outside the window and he'd sniff the air when the breeze came through.  Sometimes he would decide I needed to put down my work and have him in my lap.  That's when I'd watch a movie and pet him until he decided to go have a snack.  We also let him fill up on his favorite canned foods.  At night I slept with him in the guest room, shutting the young cats out.  That way he had me to himself.

Friday rolled around and he was no better, in fact he was worse.  When we listed off our observations about his attitude and symptoms, our vet told us that Pollux's liver was definitely failing and it was very possible that his pancreas was also failing and the irritable bowel disease may have turned into cancer.  That left us with only one option for his care and comfort.  Pollux didn't flinch and like Castor, he looked relieved.
Artie and Pixel spent some time looking for him after we came home with the empty carrier.  Gus did some investigating of his own and did his best to make me relax.  I've been trying to wind down from the stresses involved with palliative care and loosing a member of the family.  

Enjoy your rest, my Pollywog Kitten.  Remember me to Castor, Confetti, 'Bert, Tempie, and Meat Loaf.  I'll see you all again someday.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Mini Tutorial and Two Stitching Updates

I've been putting together a tutorial for minis to share with some friends.  I thought I'd share it here because it's lots of fun and it was a creative project.

First I'll get the stitching photos out of the way.  I'll link to the previous week's images in the name for easy comparison.

Black Bear is coming along nicely.

I did get the background trees in the middle of the piece going this week.  I also finished a chunk of clouds in the sky and started on the tops of the foreground trees on the right side.  The bear's face got filled in too... because I got tired of seeing a faceless bear.

The Aragon Blackwork did get the lower right motif outline in place this week, and its surrounding crosses.  I also stitched the right side pattern, started the upper left motif, and purchased a larger frame to make it easier to work on.

Now for the tutorial!  Here's how to make mini bolts of fabric and fat quarters.
You will need:

- pieces of thick cardstock, I used the backs off legal pads, cut to 7/8 of an inch by 2 inches.  I painted the ends of my bolts white, but that's optional.
- strips of appropriate fabrics 4 inches by 22 inches; if you're cutting from a fat quarter, just cut a 4" piece the length of the fabric.
- scissors for paper and fabric (a rotary cutter and mat would make things go faster)
- a ruler
- tacky glue
- clothespins for clamps
 Fold your fabric strip in half, wrong sides together, so that you have a rectangle 2" x 22".  Put some glue on your bolt .
Press one end of your fabric to the bolt and begin tightly wrapping fabric around the bolt.
 When you've reached your desired thickness, trim the remaining fabric off (save it for cutting fat quarters!), fold over the cut end, and glue it to the bolt.
 Clamp in place with clothespins.
As a note, if you have a light fabric and don't care for the dark card showing through or didn't want to bother with painting ends, use a white piece of card instead.  I had a small white piece that came folded inside a real life fat quarter, but only one piece.  That's why I opted to paint the ends of brown card.

For the fat quarters, neatly stack your leftover ends from the fabric bolts.  Cut two inch strips first.
Then cut 1.5 inch pieces off of those strips.
 This way to can create multiple fat quarters at once!  It saves time.

 Another note, I folded one mini fat quarter into a small square, like they come at JoAnn's and some other fabric stores.  You could also fold the fat quarter in half, roll it, and tie it with a piece of thread.

 Maddie and Nugent decided they would pose with some finished bolts.  If you poke the photo, Nugent is peeking out from around the bolts on the left.
I have many more bolts to make since I've got a mini quilt shop in mind.  There will also be baskets to display folded and rolled fat quarters in eventually.

I hope you've enjoyed the tutorial.  It was nice to play with minis again... it's been too long.  See you next week!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day and A Tale of Two Bears

First off: Happy Mother's Day Everyone!  I hope today is filled with happiness and fun.  :-)

Now to the bears...

Here's the first one:

The Black Bear cross stitch has rolled out of UFO hibernation again.  The only post I could find about him was back in November 2009.  He's come in and out of hibernation a few times since then.

Here's a picture from July 2010:

This one is after I'd started stitching this week and thought to take a picture.  Whoops.  But at least I have a reference from earlier in the week.

I took this one this morning, after stitching until 1 a.m.

To make working on this huge piece easier, I make "working copies" of the chart, i.e. ones I can scribble on, and have been shading the stitches in when I've completed them.  I don't do this on the real chart in case I mess up where I'm scribbling.

Just to make it easier for me to know what I'm supposed to be doing, I started using a different color of pencil every day.  I hadn't been doing that initially, but I find it easier to keep track.  Taking time to shade in the stitches does slow me down a little, but that means fewer mistakes to frog and re-stitch.

The blue pencil is everything from 2010 and a little bit I did whilst we were in Michigan last summer.  I couldn't get comfortable enough there to work on such a big piece.  Orange pencil is this past Thursday, and part of Friday until I had the brilliant idea to switch colors.  I moved on to green for the rest of Friday.  Pink is yesterday.

I'll be choosing another color after this post and will spend quite a bit of today stitching.  I figure I'd better stick with this guy as long as I find him fun.  He's been neglected for far too long.

My goal for this piece for next week's blog entry will be finishing the pine trees on the left of the piece and moving into the background trees that stretch across to the "closer up trees" on the other side of the design.

I do have a second BAP stitching project going, but it's a completely different style.  I started the blackwork piece I kitted up two years ago... finally.  But I figured out I'll need the frame I've got the bear in to hold it before too long.  Using a regular hoop for the moment is fine, but once I get the center sections done, I'll need the Bear's frame so I don't damage the center stitches.

This is what I've done, as of Thursday.  There will be a total of four large motifs around the little motif on the left.  It's actually the center of the piece.  An elaborate border goes around the edges.

Unlike the Bear, I'm only working with three floss colors.  I'm hoping to finish the lower right-hand motif's outline by next week.  Bear is my main focus though, so really any progress here will be nice.  I like to rest my brain with this design since I don't have to really have to worry about "getting lost."  Symmetrical designs are nice that way.

Now for the other bear!

In case you didn't know, the name Artan translated to "little bear" in English.  Well my "Little Bear" was having fun this morning.  He loves fresh flowers... which can lead to lots of spilled water and petals all over the house.

One of our neighbors brought me a sweet little bouquet that was extra from the high school's prom.  (She's the faculty adviser for the prom committee and thought I could use a pick-me-up, which was really nice.  I'm hoping I feel up to spending more time with her this summer.)  Artie was in seventh heaven!

The best part is the flowers are all tucked into the plastic tubes that florists use for corsages and single cut flowers.  No water to spill!  He's already knocked them over twice today so he could get better sniffs.  :-)  I can keep refilling the tubes until the flowers wilt.

Well I'm off to pick a new colored pencil and start working on Black Bear again.  I hope everyone has a nice week!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

So Many Finishes

Last week was a week of several finishes.

First up is the needlepoint heart from last week.  After I got all the backstitching done, it occurred to me that I shouldn't have done the cool background stitching around the heart and finished it an an ornament instead.  Oh well.  Maybe I'll turn it into a box top or something.

Second is the Violet Tool Case.  I ended up having to sew around the piping by hand.  My sewing machine didn't want to go through all the pocket layers and the piping.  Oh well.

Next up is the framed Tuscan Greeting sampler.  I finished stitching it last August, but never got around to framing it.  As it is, I have to re-frame the piece because it shifted in the frame when it was wrapped up and taken to the PASG Judged Show.  The shifting was enough to cost me a blue ribbon, but I'm still ecstatic about the red ribbon.

I also finished Musical Roses last August and finally framed it last week.  It was also entered into the show and took a ribbon.  Despite the frame being too small for the design (which I'm absolutely irritated about), it took a blue ribbon.  It's also going to be re-framed, but with a larger frame and a mat.

I've saved the best for last today.  I finished my original cross stitch design that features a poem that I wrote. They share the title of Paint the World.  I plan on offering the chart for sale as a .pdf file at some point in the future.  I'm not sure when, but it is in the works.

I'm happy to say this piece took two blue ribbons at the Judged Show this year.  The first in it's category, the second was a special award for this year's theme, "Tell Me A Story."

 It's been a crazy week, so I'm going to take the rest of today off and put my feet up.  See you next weekend!