Knitting in spite of the cat

My cat, Sissy Two, learned very quickly not to perch in my lap when I was knitting. I said, “No,” to her only a few times before she got the message. She took that as a blanket statement and refused to curl up on my lap even when I wasn’t knitting. But she had other ways of getting involved.

At first, she perched on the back of the chair opposite the one I occupied. She kept a bright eye on me, her head resting on her paws, taking in the motion of my hands, listening to me whenever I murmured, “Don’t get any ideas, Sissy.”

This went on for several weeks until she got bored and sought out the cat toys piled for her convenience in the clothespin basket. She dragged the feather wand or one of the cloth mice to my feet and waited for me to play with her. I parked my knitting, waved the wand, and watched her jump, twist and turn herself inside out in her attempt to swat the feathers. The mouse toy was a different story. I tossed that across the room and she went after it at a full run, skidding to a stop as she grabbed it with her paws and tossed it in the air. Every so often she would pause and look at me, as if to say, “See. This is way more fun than knitting.”

Gradually, Sissy’s tactics changed. Undeterred by the fact that the small table beside my chair was littered with a lamp, journals, odd balls of yarn, thread scissors, a little painted tin container holding thimbles, a small box holding embroidery projects, a cream pitcher filled with fountain pens and mechanical pencils, and a flat wooden box full of crochet hooks, she took over the table. She planted herself under the lampshade in the warmth of the light bulb and napped unperturbed atop the lumpy stuff.

She developed a sudden, overwhelming interest in pens and pencils, hooking them out of the cream pitcher with a deft swipe of her paw and cuffing them under the chair or dropping them in the wastebasket beside the chair. I gave her a pencil of her own to play with. She preferred the ones that were taboo. She ignored the odd balls of yarn, but enjoyed dumping the thimbles onto the floor.

I said, “No,” a lot during those weeks, picked her up and tried to interest her in something else — the mouse, the wand, a ball of paper? No.

Lately, Sissy employs what I have dubbed “the ooze approach.” When I pick up my knitting, she jumps onto the table and arranges herself in such a way that her hind end is on the table and her front end is on the arm of the chair. She gazes at my face in a way that invites me to pat her head and scratch her neck. When I resume knitting, her paw bats gently at the head of the knitting needle. She grabs it with both paws, tests it with her teeth, lets go. I keep knitting, shifting position so she can’t reach the needle. She oozes more of herself onto the chair. I switch the ball of yarn to my right side to avoid cat spit. She jumps to the floor, waits a few seconds, then leaps into the narrow space between me and the chair arm. I extricate the yarn from her claws and her mouth. I distract her with a mouse toy. Two minutes later, she’s back on the table hunkering down into the “ooze” position to begin her antics all over again.

When she has been thwarted once again in her attempt to dislodge the knitting from my hand, she steps lightly into my lap, on top of the knitting, veils my face with the abundant plumage of her swishing tail and jumps down. She strolls into the kitchen with a quick, dismissive backward glance in my direction. She’s done for the evening.

But the next time I sit down to knit, we will do the whole thing all over again. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A Mariner’s Compass paper-piecing workshop will be held 1-5 p.m. Tuesday, June 19, at the Wilson Museum, 120 Perkins St. in Castine. Deb Norton of A Straight Stitch Quilt and Sew Shop in Brewer will lead a group of up to 10 quilters through the steps of paper piecing a section of a mariner’s compass block intermediate class. Advance registration is required, as is purchasing a copy of Carol Doak’s book “Mariner Compass Stars.” The cost of the workshop is $15 plus the cost of the book. For information or to register, call 326-9247 or email

The Orono Bog Boardwalk annual yard sale will take place 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 16, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 17, at 139 Main St. in Orono. The sale will include quality knitting and crochet yarns, fleece, spinning and knitting tools, baskets, yarn totes, stitchery supplies, craft kits and more.

Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153, or email Don’t forget to visit her blog at