Had tea with yarnivore and friends yesterday during a weekend of rain, cold, and sick kids. I told her about the awesome, awesome book Home Life in Colonial Days and she talked about spinning. I can’t knit, as it hurts my hands too much, but am something of a knitting/textile/ravelry fangirl.
I suddenly remembered that I’d gotten the book Crafting with Cat Hair for Christmas and so demonstrated cat-combing using this tool called The Furminator, which sounds like something stupid I would invent but which works incredibly well, producing a huge amount of fluffy, sheddy, cat undercoat. It is best to furminate your cat while saying FURMINATE HER like Darth Vader, or FUR-MIN-ATE like a Dalek. Yarnivore astonished us by spinning several feet of cat hair yarn and then demonstrating how to ply it.
Milo and I both tried hand spinning without a spindle. You pull your hands gently apart while spinning the fiber in one direction, which pulls the fibers from the undifferentiated wad of woolly stuff into a triangle called the draft, which leads into the twisted bit that is about to become thread or yarn. Fascinating! We talked about dyeing fiber with local plants like fennel and pokeberry. The thing that fixes the dye is called the mordant; alum sounds like an easy and cheap mordant. I spent some time poking around on Wikipedia to see what it has to say about hand spinning and yarn terminology. I love all the special terminology for textile stuff. Heddle, spindle, roving, batting, loft, worsted, woolen; all very beautiful middle-englishy words.
Yarnivore also told me about FiberShed which is a sort of consortium of Northern California fiber people who are trying to encourage local production of textiles from start to finish. Apparently they are trying to start a maker space and are hoping people in other areas will do the same. I thought again of Kevin Carson’s book The Homebrew Industrial Revolution and may take a look at it in the next few days.
So, I’m hoping to learn to spin with a drop spindle! Wool, though, not cat hair. Though I wonder if cat hair yarn would be as nice and warm as New Zealand possum yarn?
I have two more bad inventions to add to the world, both cat-related!
Think how awesome it would be if we had cat treats that had the varied textures of dead mice! Pampered indoor cats could have the fun of chewing on the leathery outer skin made of meat jerky, crunching the fake bones, savoring the squooshy fake guts, and dragging the horrible fake mouse around by its meat jerky tail to leave it on your pillow as a gift. Dead mouse cat treats would be totally amazing and also the worst invention ever.
Except for … 80s sugar cereal cat litter! I thought of this yesterday while cleaning the litter box. We accidentally have an extra-rancid smelling brand of cat litter right now. Imagine a half assed attempt to make cat litter smell pleasant! It could smell just like Lucky Charms, or Frankenberries or whatever, and look like it too… the little blue odor-crystals would be the marshmallow bits.
The cat litter containing boxes could look excitingly like breakfast cereal boxes perhaps even with fun prizes inside for that ultra-hipster retro enjoyment of life… but the prizes would be FOR YOUR CAT.
As an extra bonus, you can combine both these inventions so that your box of Lucky Charms Cat Litter contains a Dead Mouse Treat prize.
Past cat-related inventions include Cat Eggs and the Catula. Other inventions from today: Feminist Bitcoins, the Social Justice Slot Machine, and the charitable causes first person shooter (“Give a hoot, shoot & loot!).
This weekend one of my sister’s chickens laid an egg for the first time. I can’t wait till I get to find and eat an actual home-made egg. Everyone was super excited about this egg. My brother-in-law showed me an entire photo slide show of the egg, its yolk color, what it looked like cooking, and the egg on the plate with some toast, half eaten. I stared at their newly mature hen. Suddenly instead of looking delicious, like a cartoon moment where a starving shipwrecked sailor sees the chicken turn into a roast chicken, the hen morphed into a weird science-fictional egg-producing machine, and I saw it like a little robot centered around manufacturing this very complicated object, in cross section like a diagram of the Digesting Duck. OMG chickens.
The amazing taste and healthy yolk color of the fresh eggs from your very own hipster chickens, the fact that you fed them mealworms from your own urban homestead worm farm and the tops of the organic beets you had for dinner, are all lovely thoughts. But that’s not the point of chickens to me. My main love of the idea of eggs right from the chicken are about a farm girl mythos. I totally wish I could be a farm girl. In reality wouldn’t go well at all.
In books about kids on farms, chickens are awesome. You go into the barn or the henhouse amid soothing clucks and happy peeping chicks. It’s equal parts peace and bustling. You put your hand under the fluffy butt of a warm chicken into the sweet-smelling hay, and it sleepily protests as you take out the eggs and put them in basket lined with a red-checked cloth. It’s like this primal experience of nurturing comfort. Nice mother hens! Eggs! Yay! A little child could do it!
In reality, I’m allergic to chicken dander. Last time I touched a chicken, my face swelled up so much I could barely see. And hay makes me sneeze. It would be 4am and freezing on the farm. The hens would peck the hell out of my arms and face as I tried to reach under them. Even an inch-long cockroach flying into my face would make me scream and freak out, so a flapping chicken would basically be like a super powered palmetto bug that could knock your glasses right off. There’s no way. Also, in my real world, there would be no basket and everything would be covered in smelly chicken poo. Likely also covered in the blood streaming from my face and arms from being pecked half to death.
So the obvious way to fix these problems is to create cats that can lay eggs. A little genetic engineering and wham, we get CATS OF THE FUTURE. Cat eggs! There you are in bed in your cosy house. You get up and in its nest box your cat has laid a lovely unfertilized chicken-tasting egg. Hens are *not* peaceful and cosy and sleepy. Cats are! You simply side your hand under the fluffy cat and remove the egg. Instant breakfast!
Justbeinlacy suggests modifying the cats to also provide coffee. That sounds great in theory, but I draw the line at milking my cat.