Why I’m Making a Blanket in the Summer

I suppose the statement “my cat is crazy” will elicit eye rolls the world over. Whose cat isn’t crazy, after all? And who among us hasn’t known at least one crazy cat in their lifetime? One time, years ago, my cat was making me particularly crazy, so I wrote as much on my Facebook wall. A beloved former professor wrote back, “You could just as easily have said ‘I have a cat,'” which is pretty hard to argue with.

But I’m here to talk about a blanket, which, I promise you, is related to my cat’s crazy behaviour. My cat, Manolo, is a peculiar mix of affection and antisocial behaviour. On the one hand, she loves to be touched. Loves it! This has been especially obvious since I started working outside the home. Now that I’m not around all the time to give her loving throughout the day, she’s very persistent when I get home. She even follows me to the bathroom, often pushing the door open if I haven’t closed it all the way and pacing in fast, short circles before eventually flopping on the ground and showing her belly expectantly. This is how she invites me to touch her. But the moment I’ve decided that I want a cuddle with her without her making the first move, she’s gone. She’s sussed out the best hiding spots in the apartment, away from prying eyes and the reach of unwanted handsy people like me, and she’ll run fast and hide deeply when she decides that cuddles are not her idea and, therefore, I can’t have any.

In addition to hiding places, Manolo, I’ve observed, has designated certain spots in the apartment as single use spaces. My favorite of these is how she uses the living room windowsill. The righthand side of the sill, where the window opens, is a favorite lounge spot, and I can see why: the breeze that sometimes comes through must feel great on her skin, and it’s the place that gets the most sunlight in the whole apartment. If I were a cat, I’d probably spend most of my time there, too. The lefthand side of the windowsill, though, is clearly her toilette. It’s now the only place in the apartment where I ever see her clean herself in the weird, flexible way that cats do, and when she wanders over to that side of the sill, I know it’s bath time.

My least favorite of her cat behaviours is the way she has claimed the couch blanket has her own territory. I know that lots of cats are immediately interested in whatever their people are interested in, and Manolo is no stranger to plopping down on books, papers, computers and knitting the moment I leave them out for even a second. But the blanket is by far the worst of it. Because, unlike papers or metal computer casings or even knitting, which I usually snatch away as soon as I see her near the yarn, that brown polar fleece blanket seems to retain smells like a box of baking soda in the fridge. And, based on the smell, it appears that Manolo has decided her favorite use for the blanket is as a dampener for her farts. So, because there are few things more unpleasant than draping oneself in cat farts, I have decided to make us a blanket this summer.

The pattern is Martine Ellis’ Knitted Patchwork Recipe, a foolproof project that makes for perfect summer knitting. Each 2-by-2 inch square requires around 2-3 grams of sock yarn (less than the size of a walnut) and takes about 20 or so minutes to knit, which makes it ideal knitting for the commute to and from work or on days when I’m dead tired but still need to do something with my hands. It’s also a great way to use up odds and ends left over from sock knitting, which I seem to have in abundance. I haven’t made many decisions regarding how big I want this blanket to be, but I think it’s a good idea to aim for at least 2 squares a day, which will give me somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 squares by the end of August. I’ve also decided to sew the squares together at the end rather than knitting them together now. I realize that I may come to regret this decision later, but I just don’t know how I want to arrange the colours yet.

As for preventing cat farts on the new blanket, I’m going to have to get creative. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Thankfully, the sock yarn is machine washable.

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