I’ve done it again. A while ago, I sat down with some recording equipment and some sheets of paper and a glass of water, and I got to read a haunting story for Cast of Wonders.

That is my third narration for the Escape Artists, and the third for Cast of Wonders. Fun fact: I actually applied to narrate for EA because I love EscapePod so much, and at that point, I hadn’t listened much to CoW. One day, there will be a SFF story that fits my voice. Or at least I hope so… and until then, I’ll happily go on reading stories for Cast of Wonders.

This time, it’s episode 362, “Hare’s Breath” by Maria Haskins. I hope you enjoy the story!


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The last part of the excursion was a visit to Hütscheroda – that’s a small place in Thuringia which calls itself “the wild cat village“.

Wild cats live in the forest next to the village – but these critters are so shy, and so well-disguised, and so quiet that to see one in the wild is an extremely rare thing. So in addition to a small path through the forest, and a longer route if you want to see more of the beautiful landscape, there are a few enclosures with male wild cats (who come from breeding programmes, they are not taken out of the wild). Chances to see one of the cats there are higher – and you are guaranteed to see them three times daily, when it’s feeding time.

You also get some info about the cats during this feeding time… and if you are lucky, a photo or two with more or less of the fence visible.

One of my lucky shots – that is Carlo.

If you are interested in wild cats, this place is definitely worth a visit! In addition, they are now having a lynx pair, in hopes of breeding some more lynxes. We didn’t get to see these, as they are freshly arrived, but they will soon go into their enclosure.

Wild cats make funny faces, too.

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A while ago, we got surprised by an offer to participate in an excursion organised by the BUND (which is a nature protection organisation) – to go see some very special, protected forests such as the Hohe Schrecke (page all German) and the Hainichenforst, and some wild cats in Hütscheroda (English/German page, and pics).

We decided to go – and we had an amazingly wonderful weekend, with lots of really uplifting information. There was a bunch of success stories about smaller and larger things that are good for the region around the protected areas, and of course the protected areas themselves. There was also a bonus fruit juice tasting from a local fruit juicery, bonus info on how to prune cherry trees (which was very timely, and very helpful, for the sour cherry bush tree in our garden), and lots of wonderful forests and meadows and birds and bugs.

Here’s some forest for you:

There were also beautiful meadows in the open land between fields and the forested areas, and I was utterly delighted to see several of these butterflies – it has been years since I last saw any of them:

Their German name is, literally, “chess board butterfly”.

I also loved this small but bright little flower:


And here’s one of the many insects that live in the forest:

I have no clue what this is, but I think it’s pretty.

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After figuring out the letters, and how much space to leave between words, and how far the lines should be apart, one more thing remained to do: the layout.

Measuring the ratio between height and width of the knitting, and counting the individual letter width, and cutting strips of paper with the appropriate measurements, and some more fiddling later, I finally had this:

which was my super-sophisticated knitting plan for actually making this. Including a plan on how much to cast on.

And then came some swatching:

Which only left one thing to do – the actual um knitting. That took some time, especially as I managed to botch in a few instances. That’s proof that one should not knit things that require brains while tired!

I finally finished this knit, though. There was a stint of late-night-blocking, and it came out like this:

Now I only need to turn it into a button – and hope it will amuse other people just as much as me. That’s how it will look, approximately:


The buttons have a diameter of 55 mm, which means that it will be possible to see a bit of the knit texture in the background, or so I hope. It’s not blatantly clear that this is knitted text, I think – but it wil have to be good enough, as there’s no way to knit letters across fewer stitches.

So. What do you think? Should I go for it?

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While at the topic of buttons related to knitting, well, there’s one utterly classical phrase that lots of people find funny, or appreciate, or want to use as a heads-up for their environment.

Which, of course, needs more letters than k, n, i, and t. So I sat down and started to figure out the tricky complex letters – s, e, o. And then other stuff. The first tries were, um, rather wonky:

But eventually, there was progress. And something more like actual text:

Have you guessed the text of the classical slogan yet?

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Let me tell you about buttons. Not the kind to close your garments, but the kind with a pin on the back that you pin to your clothing, or backpack, or whatever, to make a statement.

Though I rarely wear these, I very much like them. I like the way you can easily add them to whatever fabric you want to, telling people something about you, or your mood, or to amuse them with a funny quip or picture.

As with so many things that I like, and where I think the world needs more of, after a while, I’m getting an itch to have it made, and offer it in the shop. (Yes, I know, it’s not medieval at all. That’s why I have the “miscellaneous” section, and I’m actually pondering making a “This Is Not Medieval but Fun” section in the shop. Though I might call it “Modern Shenanigans” instead – much shorter.)

There was one teeny tiny problem, though. To have a nice button, you need a nice design – and I wanted something more than just a random selected font centred on a round button to write stuff. That’s just… hm. Well.

It is, of course, technically possible to make a button design like this with hand-lettering. This could even be enhanced with a bit of a drawing, where it suits, here and there. Which would be a spectacularly wonderful thing, but unfortunately, both my drawing skills and my hand-lettering skills are, at best, mediocre.

And then it somehow struck me. I could knit the button design. Because… well… that’s how my brain works, sometimes, when I wake up early on a Saturday morning.

So I sat down, and I cast on some stitches, and I made this:

and showed it to the Most Patient Husband, and he said “maybe do it with smoother yarn”, and he suggested some cotton yarn that I had lying around, so I finally got to use my very small needles as well, and I made this:

and this could actually already be turned into a button design, and it would look like this:

or, with the first version, like this:

and I must admit it amuses me no end. It’s knit and says knit. Knit knit. Ah. (Yes, I’m easy to amuse.)

So. Should I do this? Get these printed as buttons? And if so, which version?

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If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that we have the privilege to be door-openers and can-openers for a little (though really not so little) cat. Things that you might not know about said little cat:

She came to live with us in 2012, when we fetched her out of an animal shelter. She’d been found, as her previous owners had set her out in the midst of winter, so her history is unknown. The shelter gave her a name (Madonna), sterilised her, had her chipped and her ears tattooed (these are standard shelter procedures in Germany, to help identify an animal if it gets lost), and gave her a general health checkup. She never felt at home living with other cats, and from what we gleaned from her behaviour, she was probably all on her own, and she definitely had no possibility to go outside in her former home.

After she’d been with us a bit, we realised she had weird coughing fits. A bit like coughing up a hairball, but never with any hair coming out… so we did a bit of research, and then we went to the vet, and we were told that yes, she has feline asthma. So we did some more research, and we found out that there’s several ways to treat the asthma: Depot cortisone injections, cortisone pills, or inhaling cortisone with a special inhaler. The two first methods are systemic treatment, and daily doses of cortisone are, unfortunately, not without side effects. Inhaling, in contrast, puts the drug only there where it’s needed: into the lungs.

So we got an inhaler, and cortisone spray, and started the rather long and tedious process of getting the cat used to inhaling. (She got pills during that time. That was even less fun than the inhaling training.) It took about three months, and it is daily ritual since, morning and evening. Usually, it’s a very quick procedure – she gets a “bribe” treat, lies down, inhales, gets some more treats, we wipe her nose, even more treats (they are small ones), and then she’s getting her food, or we open the door so she can go out and do Important Cat Things.

This process has fascinated quite a few people in our acquaintance, so in case you are curious now as well, here’s a video of me doing the inhalation stuff with Madonna. The colours are a bit flat, but everything should be visible enough…


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