crafts · sewing · Uncategorized

Guinea Pig Hay Bags: The Quest for the Perfect Pattern

The past few weeks have been chaotic. I’m so thankful for the ability to write posts ahead of time and schedule them to post for me when I cannot get near a computer.

We enjoyed a wonderful week of vacation. Our plan A of visiting Shenandoah National Park and Congaree National Park followed by a wedding in Florida at the end of the week had to be scrapped due to the crappy weather thrust on the eastern US by Hurricane Ian. We decided to go with plan B which was to take the week one mostly spontaneous decision at a time. This was tricky for a planner like me.

We ended up spending three days in Pennsylvania, hiking through state parks and along the Allegheny River Trail. (Side note: I lived in PA for 4 1/2 years as a child, so it was wonderful to see the mountains of my childhood again.) We hiked 50 miles in three days and returned a pair of lost dogs to their owner. Then it was on to Georgia for a stop at Jeckyll Island State Park and Florida for a visit to Anastasia State Park. Attending a family member’s wedding on Friday night marked the end of our vacation fun. Then it was two full days of driving to return home.

Driftwood Beach, Jeckyll Island State Park, GA

(If you’d like to know more about our vacation adventures or our other adventures, check out my other blog at https://100booksin1year.wordpress.com/ If you just like to look at pretty pictures of nature, you can find mine on Instagram at s.wild.photog.)

What was waiting for us at home was nothing pleasant. We’d boarded our dogs for the first three-quarters of our trip. Our daughter picked them up on Thursday and stayed with them until our son could return home on Saturday to take over their care. (We usually like to leave the dogs with the kids when we travel, as both dogs don’t handle separation or stress well, but two of the kids are still in college and this trip did not correspond to their breaks. Our eldest lives a few hours away now, so she wasn’t available to pet sit either.) Both our daughter and our son warned us that the pups were experiencing some very unpleasant tummy troubles. I won’t go into detail. Let’s just say that I’m so thankful we own a carpet cleaner.

This past week we’ve been feeding the doggos a bland diet (chicken, rice, hamburger). The little guy started to feel better fairly quickly. Our old girl, though, couldn’t seem to get past her troubles.

So it was off to the vet for her yesterday, where she was diagnosed with colitis caused by stress. A couple prescriptions and 12 cans of extremely expensive special food in hand and $172 less in our wallet later, and we were on our way home. Thankfully, she seems to have improved overnight.

(I didn’t look until this morning at the cost of those special cans of food. It’s $4 a can! The serving size for a dog her size is three cans a day. That’s $12 a day! I don’t think Hubby and I eat $12 of food a day. She’s totally worth it, but I’m glad she’s only to be on that food for a few days.)

Between the doggos digestive distress that had Hubby and me monitoring them continuously for signs that they needed to get outside RIGHT NOW, doing copious amounts of vacation laundry, and a back injury that sidelined me on the couch with a heating pad for a couple days (I’ve apparently reached that age where one innocent movement can cause injury), I hadn’t had much time to get into the sewing room.

Until yesterday.

A few months ago I made some new hay bags for the two tiny potato-shaped tyrants that live in my “office.” (It’s labeled as a living room on our house plan. For many years we called it the Reading Room. Now we refer to it as the Guinea Pig Room. Our son refers to it as nothing. He does not like Guinea Pigs and refuses to enter the room. I just happen to have a desk in the room, so I consider it my “office.” The piggies will be packing their little suitcases and moving out when our daughter graduates from college this coming spring to go live with her, so we’ll need to come up with another name for this room then. I’m thinking it will become the Plant Room.)

Basil and Winston, the bossy little boys

Anyway, I digress. Back to the hay bags.

Having no pattern to follow, I made up my own. Unfortunately, I made the holes for the hay too big. Winston and Basil could pull the hay out too easily and would yank it all out, leaving it in heaping piles on the floor of their cage, where it would remain to be peed upon, trod over, and mostly ignored. They would then cast about for food, acting as if they were going to starve.

Middle daughter, to whom the little cavies belong, attempted to stop this wastefulness by sewing a strip of fabric across the middle of the holes, which she believed would make it a bit more difficult to pull out massive amounts of hay with one tug.

It worked.

For about a week.

Until they ripped those strips of fabric off with their very sharp teeth.

So when I set about designing a new pair of hay bags, I went with slightly smaller openings. Nearly 18 hours after filling them up for the first time last night, they are not empty yet. I think I might have finally gotten the pattern right. (You’ll note that my stitching isn’t perfect. I was fine with that. These hay bags are going to get chewed on, peed on, and ripped up. And Winston and Basil don’t care if my stitching is straight.)

crafts · knitting · Uncategorized

Sock Drama part deux

The sock drama continues.

Yet again we were watching an episode of Grantchester. Yet again I was knitting away at a pair of socks. Yet again I was paying full attention to neither the show nor the mess of needles and yarn in my hands. Yet again I missed part of the plot and made a mistake. And yet again I wondered why I bother knitting socks.

The end result: there was a hole in my sock. It wasn’t a big hole. It was barely noticeable. After a close inspection, I determined it wasn’t a dropped stitch. It was more like something got twisted in a funny way. I decided I could live with that. Who would ever even notice such a tiny hole other than me?

And so I knitted on.

For about six more rounds.

Then the little perfectionistic demon that I usually keep under control reared its ugly little head and insisted I needed to do something. I whined. I complained. (Mostly in my head.) I swore at that demon. (Also in my head.) Then I gave in. I could not allow that hole to remain.

I decided the best course of action would be to work up to the problem stitch, drop it down to the hole, and pick all the stitches back up. While this would be a challenge considering the thinness of the yarn and tinyness of the stitches, it was preferable to picking out six or more rounds of knitting and re-knitting everything.

Apparently, a tiny crochet hook would have been the perfect tool for my stitch picking up. I learned this after the fact. Unfortunately, I don’t own a tiny crochet hook because I don’t crochet. (I tried it once. It made my hands hurt. Don’t do things that make your body hurt. I learned this the hard way with running.)

Strangely, as we began season 3 of Breaking Bad last night, I managed to knit several inches without any mistakes. Could it be that Grantchester is the problem and not me?