My Cat is a Fibre Snob

Let us be honest: cats are weird. There are cats who like to sit on people’s heads; cats who are obsessed with toothbrushes; there are even the famous cats who like to hide in boxes.

Cat refuge (423926200)

My cat (hereinafter “the Cat”) is a fibre snob. Like most cats, she likes to sleep on our bed (or, as she thinks of it, her bed), but she is very particular about what exactly she sleeps on. It was some time before I noticed the trend behind her choice of sleeping location: she prefers wool.

She is particularly pleased when there is a wooly dressing-gown available with the capacity to accommodate her furry middle-aged spread, but if there is no wool in evidence but that of a solitary bed-sock which has wandered off from the herd, she will carefully settle herself on that – even if she overflows it on all sides.

I suppose I should be grateful that she hasn’t shown any interest in occupying said socks during construction – unlike her son (hereinafter “the Kitten”).

But I am quite certain that should I ever be fool enough to take her to a yarn shop, she would within seconds be ensconced in the most expensive yarn present, with a self-satisfied purr emerging from her smug little face. Qiviut, perhaps, or vicuña.

Of course, it could be argued that I am to blame for this snobbish attitude on the part of the Cat. I don’t think I’ve knit anything acrylic since long before she joined the family, nearly six years ago now. And while it is nice to know that she approves of my fibre choices, it is a little annoying that everything I knit ends up as a mixed-fibre piece: lambswool and domestic short-hair; merino/possum/tabby blend…

That’s the downside of tortoiseshell/calico cats: they have hairs to stand out on everything. Knitting something dark? The cat sheds white. Knitting something light? The cat sheds black. And if you think to outwit them by knitting something with flecks, well, they’ve always got the orange to fall back on.

Yawning Calico (DFdB)

So there she sits, on my dressing-gown or my jersey or the Caped Gooseberry’s bed-socks, shedding madly, legs primly tucked under her in the classic “cat of paradise” position (i.e. no legs).

Incidentally, have you ever wondered what’s actually going on under all that smoothly arranged fur? They look so sleek, so well-arranged, so put-together. Like a swan cruising serenely through the waters.
Well, wonder no more: the internet hath provided.


The secret is out.

I Made A Cake!

Not just any old cake. No, this is an intentionally inedible cake.

yarn cake

Ingredients: yarn (in this case, 75% merino and 25% possum), and a nostepinne.

This is the first time I have ever made one of these, because in New Zealand, yarns are almost always sold in a balled state. I was greatly surprised when I discovered that in other parts of the world, e.g. the Americas, yarn is sold in a twisted skein, and it is the knitter’s responsibility to ball it.

Of course, back in the day when knitting wool came from a sheep you knew personally, winding the skein into a ball was the natural last step before knitting it. I am just lucky that I don’t have to start each knitting project by following a sheep around to collect the wool it sheds, as with the Soay sheep – or combing the animal’s neck, as with a cashmere goat.

gathering wool

Despite the extra work involved, I can understand why people like to buy yarn in skeins. It’s certainly more visually appealing that way, and you can wind the yarn into any shape you like (e.g. A Complete Dog’s Breakfast). The benefit of cakes as opposed to balls is that cakes have flat bottoms and don’t go rolling about while you use them.

Also you don’t have to fossick about in their insides trying to find the inner end, as you carefully ran it down the handle of the nostepinne when beginning the cake, so as to have it handy when you need it. Indeed, I think this humble piece of rimu is going to join my list of treasured old technologies.

Yarn-caking can be very relaxing – once you’ve really got the hang of it, and don’t have to keep worrying about your cake losing shape. (MacArthur Park, anyone?) I myself have not yet attained to this height of nostepinne mastery, having only made one cake to date.

skein nostepinne cake
skein + nostepinne = cake

I have started knitting from my cake, and while the actual knitting is proving more problematic than I thought (due to gauge issues and use of techniques at which I am not yet proficient), the cake is performing splendidly.

It’s fat-free, sugar-free, suitable for sharing with people who are dairy- or gluten-intolerant, and a joy to both make and consume. What more could one ask of a humble cake?