Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Doggy School Halloween Party

Pappy the Papillon Pumpkin. (my dog)

He wasn't all that thrilled to be "dressed", but he's a sweet, mellow boy and he put up with it. Once we started the games, I took his costume off and he was visibly relieved to be rid of it.

The party was a joint gathering of Pappy's class and Sunny's class. Sunny doesn't enjoy doggy partys, so I left her home. Pappy and I had a great time without her, and she was happy to skip it. Especially since we brought home lots of doggy treats to share.

Abbey the Schnauzer Hotdog.

Abbey was one of the hits of the costume parade. She was not excited about her fame. Good thing there were plenty of doggy treats to compensate for this indignity.

Barkley the Jack Russell Devil .

Of all the dogs present, Barkley was the most embarrassed at being dressed. He's twelve years old and thought his dad and mom loved him more than to make him wear this getup.

There seems to be a recurring theme here. The majority - a large majority - of the dogs did not enjoy being dressed up.

Grayson and Casey, the Australian Shepherd Biker and Cowboy.

These two were the exception. They were perfectly happy in their outfits. Grayson didn't even attempt to remove his goggles.

Casey is Grayson's biological father. Steve in the chair is their real dad - the dad who pays the bills.

Cheddar the 50's School Girl and Winona the Pug Working Girl.

Feeding treats is a good way to distract dogs who want to remove their costumes before the costume parade.

Cheddar won a prize for his costume which included a felt poodle skirt and saddle shoes.

Data the Bull Terrier Goldilocks.

Too funny for words.

Eddie Obama.

Eddie is wearing an Obama teeshirt and looks ready for his infomercial.

Pappy (on chair at left) was such a good boy to sit and wait for me while I went around taking pictures of some of his friends.

Favor the Australian Cattle Dog Farmer.

I'm not sure it's a farmer getup. Just guessing.

The jean shorts kept sliding off his butt. People kept pulling them up resulting in some discussion on "Is it possible to give a dog a wedgie?"

Gracie the Butterfly .

Please tell me I don't have to wear this!

Jane the Pit Bull Ladybug.

Jane was found wandering the streets and adopted by Gracie's family.

Now that she has a good home and lots of love, she's always a happy girl. She didn't even mind being dressed for the party. At least not much.

Kiva the Kerry Blue Terrier Clown.

The way Kiva prances around in class, she always creates smiles even when she's not dressed up in her clown outfit.

After the costume parade the dogs got to remove their clothing. We played some doggy games, and ate some good food. Tricks and Treats were had by all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Spider Scarf Finished

I've always wanted to knit the spider in Barbara Walker's Third Stitch Treasury. Usually I think of it the day before Halloween. This year I though of it ten days before Halloween, picked some yarn out of the stash, and went to work on a scarf.

Doggy school is having a Halloween party Thursday night with mandatory costumes for the dogs and optional costumes for the humans. I plan to wear the spider scarf with a bright orange turtleneck. Not exactly a costume, but certainly Halloweeny.

Pattern: Basic Seamen's scarf, 36 inches long. Spider is from Barbara G. Walker's Third Stitch Treasury in a tutorial on twist stitches.

Knit at this gauge in this yarn, the spider is about 5 inches long.

Yarn: Opal UNI-Solid, a fingering weight sock yarn.

Needles: #2

Gauge: 7.5 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kimmy Turns 13

#35 from 100 Things About Me: I was present when my first granddaughter was born in 1995. When she was ten minutes old, she grabbed my finger and we've been loving each other ever since.

Granddaughter Kimmy turned thirteen this week.

Today the four generations of women with the middle name Louise got together to celebrate at Chili's in Battle Creek.

On one side of the booth sat Grandma (me) and Kimmy.

On the other side of the booth sat daughter Heather (Kimmy's Mom), and my mother (Kimmy's great-grandma).

Just to prove that Kimmy is now a teenager, she sports a tiny nose stud. Grandma (me) thinks it's just perfect for her.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chat Back for October 24

Answering questions from comments and email.

Suellyn asked . . .
Did you adjust the pattern to be able to cover your mouth?

The Helmet hat pattern was knit exactly as published.

The part that covers the chin pulls up and down to cover or uncover the mouth and/or chin as needed.

Now if I could just come up with a way to keep my glasses from fogging over when I come in from the cold.

Jan asked . . .
When you say that the yarn hurts your hands, do you mean that it is difficult to manipulate with the needles and therefore causes pain? Or do you mean that actually feeling the yarn on your fingers is painful?

I have a moderate amount of arthritic stiffness in all my joints.

When I knit more than a few hours at a time on Painful Pearl my finger joints and wrists got sore. Not totally painful, but sore enough to notice. The yarn has no give to it, so when I knit it at a firm gauge there was continuous tension on my fingers.

I was able to knit an inch a day on the body in the round without getting sore.

On larger needles, the soreness happens quicker and is more noticeable.

Twenty minutes with #7 needles and Sugar'n Cream (a worsted weight cotton used for dishcloths), creates more soreness than I care to tolerate for a knitting project.

Debi asked . . .
I have a question, which of the Barbara Walker books do you find to be the most useful?

1, 2, and 3.

If I didn't own these books, they would be at the very top of my list of knitting books to acquire and I would get them in numerical order for lack of any other way to decide.

1 and 2 contain a wealth of stitch patterns in written form. In order to use them in the round, I chart them out.

3 has less patterns (still a lot), but they're charted. It also has a reference section for converting right side stitches to wrong side stitches and wrong side stitches to right side stitches. So valuable when changing flat patterns to be knit in the round, or round patterns to be knit flat.

For example, the pattern calls for a purl right twist on the wrong side, but you're knitting in the round so you need to make the equivalent stitch on the right side. Looking it up in Walker's chart, you see the right side equivalent is a right twist. She also gives detailed instructions in how to execute the purl right twist and the right twist.

Book 3 also has a thorough lesson in twist stitches. This spider, both charted and written out line by line, is used as an example.

I've always wanted to knit it, and this is the year. It's going to be a Seamen's scarf with a spider going up one side and a spider coming down the other side.

Perfect for Halloween and not much else except my knitting enjoyment.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chenille Back

Back is done and I'm ready to cast on the front. After knitting sweaters in the round all summer, it's a bit strange to know I have to cast on at the bottom of the sweater again to knit an almost identical piece.

Another thing I love about Knitpicks Options needles - almost instant stitch holders. Just unscrew the needle points and screw on the endstops. (The first things I love about Options are the sharp needle points and the flexible cords.)

And, speaking of Knitpicks, this Elann alpaca is not as nice as Knitpicks Andean Treasure. Almost as nice, but Andean Treasure is a little softer and more evenly spun. That's a comment, not a complaint. In fact Andean Treasure has less stitch definition than I'd like for a cabled sweater.

Pattern: Set-in Sleeve Aran from Janet Szabo's book Aran Sweater Design.

I'm calling it Chenille because the cable designs are similar to patterns found in old fashioned chenille bedspreads.

Yarn: Elann Peruvian Pure Alpaca, 100% fine grade alpaca, worsted weight.

Color: Creole Pink

Needles: Options #5

Gauge: 5 stitches/inch, 7.5 rows/inch

Variations From Pattern: Simple one stitch cross substituted for three stitch narrow cable that crossed on every row including the wrong side rows. I told myself I didn't want to twist the alpaca that tight, but the truth may be I was just too lazy. I do like the looks of the every other row twist better.

Zig-zags changed so sides mirror each other.

Used short rows to shape shoulders instead of binding off in ladders.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We're Talking the S Word

The seasons are rapidly changing here in SW Michigan.

Just one week ago I stood at the base of a Tulip Tree, aimed the camera up, and took this picture.

Today, just one week later, I stood in the same spot and aimed my camera at the ground for a shot of the same leaves.

The S word is in the weather forecast for next week. S stands for . . . I can't write it! I'm still in denial that summer is totally over. How about a hint? S stands for something white, cold, and needs shoveling.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Painful Pearl Modeled

For more details on the sweater and close up pictures of the lace, go here.

There were a few occasions to wear Painful Pearl before the weather got too cold for short sleeves, but today was just for the camera.

I'm so glad I got bored knitting stockinette and put that extra row of lace across the shoulders.

The same faux seam and gusset detailed in my previous post.

Pattern: My own creation. I'm calling it "Painful Pearl" because knitting this yarn hurts my hands and the yarn color is Seed Pearl.

The horizontal lace pattern is the Garland Pattern on page 252 of A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker. Two rows of stockinette have been added before and after the start of the lace.

The lace triangle is adapted from the Idella Seamen's Scarf in Stahman's Shawls and Scarves by Myrna Stahman.

Yarn: Elann Soie Lin. DK weight. 70% silk, 30% linen.

Color: Seed Pearl.

Needles: Options #4.

Gauge: 6.25 stitches/inch, 9 rows/inch after washing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gusset Notes

A long time ago before the trip to Idaho and the basement flood and my computer crash, I promised to write about how I did the gussets for Summer Spice.

The sweater was knit bottom up and in one piece. Other than the three needle bind off shoulder seams, the rest of what looks like seams are fake - a column of two purl stitches into and out of the underarm gusset.

The small underarm gusset allowed me to avoid armhole shaping and get a better fitting drop shoulder sleeve than if the gusset wasn't there.

I wanted a smallish gusset about 1.5 inches/9 stitches wide and about 2 inches/18 rows long. The number of stitches and rows is calculated from the garment gauge.

The bottom half of the gusset/1 inch/9 rows of increase, is knit in the round with the body. The remaining stitches are put on a stitch holder. The top half of the gusset/1 inch/9 rows of decrease, is picked up with the sleeve. The sleeve and gusset are also knit in the round.

The beginning and end purls in this gusset pattern are the two purls of the sweater side seam that already exist.

Row 1: p, M1, p
Row 2: p, k, p
Row 3: p, M1 left, k, M1 right, p
Row 4: p, k3, p
Row 5: p, M1 left, k3, M1 right, p
Row 6: p, k5, p
Row 7: p, M1 left, k5, M1 right, p
Row 8: p, k7, p
Row 9: p, M1 left, k7, M1 right, p

Put seam purls and 9 gusset stitches on hold. Pick up with sleeve.
Row 10: p, k9, p
Row 11: p, ssk, k5, k2tog, p
Row 12: p, k7, p
Row 13: p, ssk, k3, k2tog, p
Row 14: p, k5, p
Row 15: p, ssk, k1, k2tog, p
Row 16: p, k3, p
Row 17: p, slip 2 knitwise-k1-psso, p
Row 18: p, k, p
Row 19: p, p2tog

Resume p2 seam.

As always, for much more detail on gussets including many different kinds to integrate with different types of side seams, this is the book to buy. It's one of my most used knitting reference books, written so even a beginning knitter can learn to knit a bottom up, seamless gansey.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Warmth is Beauty

Three years ago I knit a helmet hat in bulky weight alpaca (see it here) and for three winters I pulled it on my head multiple times a day to walk the dogs during the five coldest months of the year.

The beautiful colors of autumn reminded me that my three year old helmet looks ugly and used. So I searched my stash for yarn to make an ugly new version.

There is nothing visually attractive about this pattern or the way a person looks when wearing this pattern. But when worn, no cold breezes are going to assault the neck and that is beautiful to me.

I wear my helmet with a Land's End Squall Parka, so there's a hood on my head as well as the helmet.

The section over my mouth pulls down under my chin if, for some reason, I want my mouth out in the cold.

Readers who endure winter understand. Readers who don't endure winter are likely wondering why anyone would knit anything so ugly. The answer: Cold, wind, snow, sleet, ice, wind chill, chapped lips, and did I mention cold?

The pattern is knit top down in one piece shaped with short rows. For a better look at the construction, my former version knit in a much light color can be viewed here.

Pattern: Turns Ahead Helmet from Fall 2003 Knitter's Magazine

Yarn: 2 strands of Dream in Color Classy Worsted Weight Superwash Australian Merino and 1 strand Knitpicks Gloss

Color: Midnight Derby and Dusk

Needles: Options #8 and #10

Gauge: 4 stitches/inch, 4.5 rows/inch in ribbing (This is what the pattern says and the size of mine came out approximately OK, so I'm guessing my gauge was approximately right. I have no idea how to measure gauge in ribbing. I can expand or contract ribbing to be almost any gauge I might desire.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

One of Many Deer Visitations

Many of Michigan's estimated 2 million deer have been feasting in my yard this summer.

A few days ago I interviewed Bambi's mom. This is what she had to say.

Although I mostly live in the woods, I like to cross the street and check out the goodies in Marguerite's yard.


Family and friends have gnawed Marguerite's hostas down to the ground, but occasionally I find a new leaf or two that begs to be eaten.

Back to the woods.

I'll return tomorrow to check for more goodies.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Comfy Yarn Revisited

When I finished this project back in June, several readers were curious about how the Knitpicks Comfy yarn would hold up with wearing and washing.

I just washed this sweater for the third time in a regular warm machine load and threw it in the dryer with all its washer mates. It's looking great.

At the end of a dryer cycle, it is still damp while everything else is totally dry. I grab it up and spread it flat to finish drying, being careful not to let it sit and wrinkle in the dryer.

There is no pilling, no stretching, and no shrinking. I won't hesitate to use this yarn again.

One word (or maybe more) of warning: Other knitters have reported Comfy pilling and/or stretching. I attribute my results to knitting at 5.5 stitches/inch in stockinette, a nice firm fabric for this worsted weight yarn.

Also, don't pick a pattern where elasticity is important. Comfy is 75% cotton and acts like a cotton yarn except it's lighter in weight, softer, and easier on the hands while knitting.

Pattern: The twist stitch center panel is from the third Barbara Walker Treasury - Three Diamonds flanked by Braid X. The rest I'm making up as I go along.

Yarn: Knitpicks Comfy, Worsted weight. 75% Pima cotton, 25% acrylic.

Color: Lilac Mist.

Needles: Options #4

Gauge: 5.5 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sample Skeins for October

When I subscribed to Elann Sample Skeins, one of my goals was to knit up each sample skein, including yarn I would never dream of buying. Because who knows? I might fall in love with a yarn that I otherwise never would have tried. Or, in short, I wanted to experiment a little and expand my yarn exposure.

The following are my impressions of the October sample skeins. These are NOT comprehensive yarn reviews. They are my opinions reflecting my personal preferences and prejudices.

These swatches have not been washed.

Rowan Classic Yarns Soft Lux.
64% Extra Fine Merino Wool, 24% Nylon, 10% Angora, 2% Metallic Fibre. Worsted weight. Swatch knit on #7 needle. My gauge: 4.2 stitches/inch, 6 rows/inch.

This is not a blurry picture. The yarn is super soft and has the appearance of handspun.

The metallic thread is subtle. It looks like little twinkles in the swatch.

Nice yarn but I find the available colors to be blah. If it was available in red (thinking Christmas sweater) I'd be tempted.

Needful Yarns Filtes King Extra Stampato
100% Australian Merino. Aran weight. Swatch knit on #7 needle. My gauge: 5 stitches/inch, 7 rows/inch.

Nice yarn with short color repeats. It's soft, smooth to knit, and all the colorways are appealing.

I'd love to buy some, but can't rationalize it. Any sweater knit with this multicolored yarn would look best in stockinette, and I prefer knitting stitch patterns. It would be fun to have some for charity knitting, but I have several years worth of charity knitting stash to use up and don't want to get distracted from that goal.

It doesn't go on sale until October 14. Maybe I'll think of a reason to buy some before then.

Needful Yarns Filtes King Extra.
100% Australian Merino. Swatch knit on #7 needle. My gauge: 5 stitches/inch, 7 rows/inch.

Same yarn in gorgeous colors, some of them very bright.

Same thoughts. I wouldn't mind having some of this yarn.

Araucania Copihue.
100% Super Fine Alpaca. Bulky Weight. Swatch knit on #10 needle. My gauge: 4 stitches/inch. Not enough yarn to measure row gauge.

If someone handed me this swatch and told me to guess the fiber content, I would guess wool. And, when they told me the swatch is 100% super fine alpaca, I would argue with them.

Maybe it will get softer when washed, but it's not soft now. I want my alpaca soft and cuddly while knitting as well as after knitting. Not even tempted to buy this yarn.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

First Frost

On a chilly early morning Saturday walk with the dogs we passed the neighbor's horse pasture.

Only a few trees have started to show some autumn color, but we've had frost on the ground the last two mornings.

It seems early in the season to have so much ice on the plants.

An old folk myth looks at the Woolly Bear Caterpillar to indicate the severity of the coming winter. The wider the center stripe, the harder the winter.

From the looks of this guy I spotted yesterday, there's going to be lots of knitting time before spring.

Friday, October 03, 2008

No Rant and Bob's Birthday Socks

Since I try to keep this a pleasant place to visit, I won't whine on for paragraph after paragraph about all the fun I've had reloading programs and files and configuring my laptop since it came back from being repaired.

Just this evening I've been able to edit pictures to post. And one important task isn't done yet - I still don't have virus protection because my virus software company thinks I don't exist even though I have a serial number and confirmation numbers for the past two years updates.

I know. Virus protection is super important. I'm going to give them one phonecall to make me happy before I change companies. Meanwhile, here I am bravely online unprotected.

Yesterday was DH Bob's birthday, and his birthday socks were appreciated since temps were in the 40s and it was the first day we turned on the furnace.

He likes wool worsted weight socks. He wears them around the house without shoes, so I have to go for tough yarn and tight stitches. The socks I knit for him are next to indestructible.

Pattern: Basic 48 stitch sock. k3p1 ribbing on cuff and down instep.

Yarn: Opal 6-ply shades of gray with Opal UNI-Solid red held together to make a worsted weight yarn.

Needles: Addi Turbo #5 circulars.

Gauge: 5 stitches/inch and 7 rows/inch.