I made a cardigan! It's not perfect, but for my first attempt at a "structured" garment, it's not bad. I didn't really have a complete design in mind, only the idea that I wanted to try raglan shaping. In doing some research, I came across Janis Cortese's General Guidelines for a Basic Sweater (update - unfortunately this page is no longer available), which is a great resource for getting started. I began with the neck and chest measurements of a favourite sweater and went from there, improvising along the way.
I'm happy with it overall, and especially happy that I finished it without ripping it all out and starting over every time I changed my mind about something. It's a little shorter than I wanted, but I ran out of yarn and decided to just use what I had (hence the short sleeves). It's also a bit on the boxy side - I might add a little belt at the back to give it some definition in the waist. Now of course I'm itching to start another one and do it "properly" this time, with more planning and less improvisation. I'd also love to try developing this into a written pattern.
In other news, we have a new family member, also called Maria. No, I'm not that vain - she was given to us by friends who were moving and unable to keep her. We actually got her in early December, but she managed to get one of the windows open (she's pretty clever) and escaped the very first night. She was lost for nearly two months before someone found her and took her to the local shelter. Thankfully she was microchipped, so the shelter was able to contact her former owners, who called us. We're very happy to have her back home with us, and it seems like she's pretty happy to be here too.
Oh, and happy Valentine's Day!