Le sac à tricot

Merde, merde and thrice merde: Zooplus have sent me the standard post-Brexit “Due to high volume of orders …” let-down email. So Louis Catorze may receive his Thrive in the next few days, or he may not. This is not good.

Meanwhile, Catorze is a rampant screaming machine, and he’s eating faster than I can sift. Thank goodness the second dose of appetite-enhancing medication is optional; if this is his behaviour on just one pill, there’s not a chance in hell he’s getting the other.

After a mammoth mega-sift at the weekend, I have managed to figure out that we have enough of Catorze’s food to last until Wednesday. So, if the Thrive doesn’t come before then, we will be trapped with a starving psycho hell-beast who would think nothing of tripping us down the stairs, then eating us alive, feet first.

So we had to devise an alternative plan … and, much as it hurts me to admit this, we were forced to hunt down the last remaining packs of the obsolete Lily’s Kitchen Marvellously Mature and buy them from an off-grid, Dark Web vendor. We know it was wrong, we were drunk when we did it, and we felt dirty afterwards. But the thought of him not liking the Thrive and us not having a back-up – or, worse, THE THRIVE NOT COMING AT ALL AND US RUNNING OUT OF FOOD ENTIRELY AND HAVING TO GRECO HIM WITH BRANSTON PICKLE – was just too much.

In other news, to cheer myself up from all the cat food chaos, I decided to treat myself to a knitting bag, because my knitting stuff was strewn all over the dining room table and Cat Daddy was starting to complain about it.

Cat Daddy: “What kind of bag did you end up choosing? What does it look like?”

Me: “It’s blue, with skulls on it.”

Him: “Skulls?” [Snorts with laughter]

Me: “What’s wrong with that?”

Him: “Well, it’s just that … knitting is the least goth activity ever.”

Me: “Well, would you rather I’d got one with flower pots on it? Or cartoon bumble bees? Or kittens playing with balls of wool?” [I wasn’t making these up; I had seen all of the above during my quest for something cooler.]

Him: “Evil kittens maybe. Black ones. With fangs.”

Well, this is the closest I was able to get to a knitting bag with a black, fanged devil-kitty on it. And, naturellement, our mutual friend is doing what he does best i.e. exactly the opposite of what we want:

So much is wrong with this photo.

Plus de place à l’auberge

The Yuletide season is a time for thinking of those who are less fortunate. And, in the spirit of this philanthropy, Louis Catorze has decided to offer his Château to another living creature as a warm refuge on these cold winter nights.

Despite Catorze’s best efforts to sabotage my knitting, I managed to complete one scarf of the set of two and I have now begun the second. However, I came downstairs yesterday morning to discover this:

Ugh.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs, this is snail juice. AN ACTUAL SNAIL HAS SLITHERED ON MY WOOL. And you won’t be surprised to learn who was responsible for bringing the snail into Le Château. I can’t prove that it was him, but I know it (which is starting to become a very common refrain when it comes to crimes of the Catorze kind).

Now, I realise that I should probably have put away my knitting. However, in my defence, of all the catastrophes that could befall unput-away knitting, I don’t think any reasonable person could have foreseen this. Had Catorze trashed the scarf and trailed wool all around the place and out through the Sureflap, yes, I would have taken full responsibility for not learning my lesson from the first time. But this? COME ON.

Before the “Maybe It Wasn’t Him” brigade start piping up, trust me, it was him. The little sod is very well known for having all manner of wildlife hitch a ride on his fur when he comes in from outdoors, and he really is so slow that the slowest animal on earth could slither up to him and climb aboard. The fact that the snail juice is only on the wool, with no trail leading up to it, is highly indicative of said snail having been brought in and deposited there – as opposed to coming in of its own accord – and, somehow, scooped away again. Unless snails can switch on/off their juice at will?

The lack of trails also means there are no clues whatsoever as to where the snail may now be. So it’s highly likely that we will find its gross mess elsewhere at some stage. This is not good.

Anyway, I am now having to cut off the snail-juiced parts of the wool and attach on a clean part of the ball. This isn’t great because, as most crafters know, the fewer knots that are in a piece of work, the better. And I now have even less time than I had before, to complete a task that was already on a very tight deadline. But, if my maths serve me correctly, if I manage to knit 852 rows an hour between now and the 25th, I might just about make it.

Here is our mutual friend – all charged up from having climbed into a box of tissue paper at 2am that same day and thrashed around like a shark attack victim – giving his usual number of hoots, which is none:

“Pas mon problème.”

If you fancy some more gastropod-related fun and games, please see below:

https://louiscatorze.com/2016/04/03/la-limace/

https://louiscatorze.com/2017/09/18/les-escargots/

https://louiscatorze.com/2019/08/12/la-joie-est-un-escargot-rampant/

Là où l’air est doux

After Louis Catorze’s biopsy confirmed that his skin problems are due to an external allergen, I decided that beeswax candles should become a permanent fixture here at Le Château. Have a look at this link if you fancy finding out more about their air-purifying qualities: https://candles.lovetoknow.com/Beeswax_Candle_Health_Benefits

We usually get our beeswax candles from Cocoa the babysit cat’s mamma, but her beeswax is a very precious, seasonal, small-batch product. So, because her candles aren’t available all year round, we tend to save them for special days. And, after a number of hits and misses with other ready-made beeswax candles, I decided to have a go at making my own for everyday use.

Now, I had some reservations about doing this, for the following reasons: firstly, and most significantly, I don’t have a great record of handmade things turning out well. Secondly, many years ago, I had a horrible work colleague who made candles, and this was a hobby that the 25-year-old me regarded as deeply uncool. Whenever she was mean to me, my friend Jamie would attempt to cheer me up by saying, “Don’t be upset. She’s an idiot. Plus she makes candles for fun. FOR FUN.”

(Incidentally, karma gave her a hefty slap around the chops during one summer heatwave. All her carefully-crafted candles, stored away in her hot attic, melted together into one massive, waxy lump, resulting in inconvenience and mess for her, and the biggest laugh imaginable for me and Jamie. Revenge isn’t always a dish best served cold; sometimes searing heat will do just fine.)

Never before did I imagine I would now be doing that very same deeply uncool hobby. But here we are. And it’s all Catorze’s fault.

Cat Daddy: “You’re making candles? You used to ridicule your friend for doing that.”

Me: “SHE WAS NOT MY FRIEND.”

Cat Daddy: “And you laughed at her when she put her candles in the attic and they all melted.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets, then giggles from me]

Oh, come on. Anyone who claims not to find that funny is either a liar or dead inside.

Anyway, pictured below is my first attempt at a rolled candle using a Lammasy harvest-coloured natural beeswax sheet. Also pictured are the ten wicks that I ordered, which I imagined would be, erm, approximately as long as an average candle, but each one turned out to be 5 METRES LONG. So everyone I know will be receiving handmade beeswax candles for birthdays and Christmas for the next 734 years. Whether they want them or not.

It’s hard to know whether Catorze approves, as his “I approve” face is the same as his “Just go away and die” face, but I shall assume the former even though it’s most likely the latter.

So far I have used about 20cm of wicking. Only another 49m 80cm to go.
Beeswax sheets. Weirdest things ever.
Quality control test, part 1.
Quality control test, part 2.

I know that you don’t need to be told about not leaving pets unsupervised with burning candles, but it’s worth repeating. Especially if you have a pet who is known for doing exactly the opposite of what you want.

Le Spécial

It’s rather ironic that, after panicking that Louis Catorze’s skin flare-up might be an allergic reaction to The Special One (my merino wool scarf), and after shutting myself away and panic-speed-knitting like an absolute demon to finish the darned thing quickly, there is now no football due to the Covid 19 virus.

I finished the scarf quite some time ago, but it’s now sitting in the under-stairs cupboard, out of reach of curious pitter-pattering paws. The plan was to take it out on match days only, handling it very gently both to keep it from unravelling – because I accidentally cut off two stray ends of wool before I had knotted them, and now they are too short to knot – and to stop too many stray fibres from being dislodged and transferred onto La Personne Royale. But now, of course, with no football and with the weather turning unscarfworthy, it lives permanently in its dark prison, having barely seen the light of day.

After researching merino wool, I have discovered that it’s actually LESS likely to trigger a reaction than many other fabrics. But, since we will probably never know the cause of Sa Maj’s irritation, we intend to keep treating the scarf in the way one would handle an unexploded World War II bomb. And, knowing Catorze, it would be typical of him to be allergic to a hypoallergenic substance just to be difficult.

They say that the football is only on hold until 3rd April, but this seems like an eternity. And the thought of having to fill in the time by making actual conversation, with actual people, about things that aren’t football, makes me shudder.

What a good thing there are still cats.

“Où est le football?”

Dieu doit penser que je suis un chat génial

A further addendum to Little Sods’ Law is now in place: a black cat’s attraction to a ball of wool is directly proportional to the cost of the wool.

Louis Catorze showed moderate interest when I was knitting cotton scarves at £2.50 per ball but, now that I have made a start on The Special One (my scarf made of merino wool at £783.99 per ball), his “Urge To Kill” switch has been well and truly activated.

I have learned the hard way that knitting with merino wool is complicated if you are a novice and not following a pattern. It takes several goes with different sizes of needle and various numbers of stitches to get it right. And drink-knitting is an absolute no-no: just a couple of glasses of Crémant give me the dangerous false confidence that I can fix anything that goes wrong, which invariably leads to making everything worse. And there are only so many times that I can message Wife of That Neighbour with Knitting SOS distress signals before she and her husband become even angrier with us than they already are because of Catorze’s disturbances.

In short, my task is arduous enough and I could really do without him attacking both the wool and the needles every few seconds and generally being a shite.

I have to wind the wool around the table leg as I work to stop it from twisting and, as you can see, this is like an injured seal to Catorze’s great white shark. In the last picture he decided to actually SIT ON MY WORK to take a break from his tomfoolery, and I am very unhappy indeed with the position of that needle.

L’écharpe à trous

I am not pleased.

Cat Daddy and I have a present box in the attic and, every time we see something that reminds us of one of our friends or family members, we buy it, put it in the box and save it until Christmas or their birthday.

I spent November and December working flat-out to knit a scarf for someone in time for their late January birthday and, after completing it, I put it in our present box. However, a certain little sod has somehow managed to bypass my cleverly-constructed barricade, climb into the box, roll all over the scarf and make holes in it. So not only is it covered in cat hair, but it looks as if I drink-knitted it when I didn’t.

Cat Daddy: “I thought it was a little strange when I saw that massive cushion in the middle of the floor.” The cushion, which was the barricade, is about 78 times the size of Louis Catorze and there’s no way he could move it on his own. Or so I thought.

Anyway, I don’t have time to knit another one, so I have no option but to hand over a holey, hairy scarf. Thank goodness the recipient likes Catorze. Because I’m not sure I do at the moment.

Chacun tire la couverture à soi

The members of our knitting class are now busily working on new individual assignments, having submitted our group one a few weeks ago. And we have welcomed Wife of That Neighbour as our newest recruit. Well, after making Freddie Mercury’s “I Want To Break Free” jumper she is knitting royalty, so how could she NOT join us?

Puppy Mamma is going to make a jacket for Nala the dog and I have started making a scarf for Cat Daddy in Brentford FC’s colours, but we might tell Cat Daddy and Puppy Daddy that our next assignments will be matching Freddie Mercury-style pink sleeveless jumpers for them, just to see their faces.

Anyway, I am sure you’re desperate to know what our group project was. (Cat Daddy: “NO. BODY. CARES.”) The multi-coloured, spirally squares that we made have all been coordinated and sewn together by our instructor to make a throw, and we have decided to donate it to a local charity shop to be sold or raffled. So, if you live in or around TW7 (which is where the shop is located) and you happen to purchase or win this item, you may wish to pay extra attention to the areas circled as they contain cat and dog spit: