Sunday, November 30, 2008

Knittin' fool

I confess, I am, at best, a sporadic knitter. I did the mile 'o yarn Who scarf, yes, but in the past year, that was just about the only project I've actually completed. Well, let's see, there were the rose colored mitts, I think those were in the past year, and.... Um. Yeah.

So imagine my shock to realize today that, not only did I finish my jabot, but I finished three, THREE!, Connor Caps. Yowza. One of them I even made up on the fly, as I was just trying for a nice, round number of hats to send (since even numbers are, per my OCD, teh ebil). Here they are, in reverse order.

Cap 3: I Just Want To Burn Through This Yarn Cap

That's an inch and a half of 2x2 rib (doubled up worsted weight yarns on size 13s, if anyone is curious), switch color, a row of knit, a row of eyelets, a row of knit, a row of double stitches (wrap twice around the needle and drop), a row of knit, a row of eyelet, two rows of knit, switch colors, knit a row (to make 5 inches of body) and reduce. Top with a cute tassel, which actually makes it look vaguely Oriental in person. Number of stitches doesn't matter, since I chose some that work on any number of stitches (except the rib; I did have two sets of knit at the join end, but I don't think it matters. Choose your own ribbing, whatever.) The picture stinks, because it doesn't show to advantage without a head in it. Took less than two hours to knit. Unfortunately, adult sized (I have wicked loose tension), but I'm sure there are children with adult sized heads in Wisconsin. I mean, my nephew is vaguely the size of a small horse, and he's only 10, so surely they've got some full sized kids up there.

Hat 2: Slouchy Square Hat

This was the easiest, but conversely the longest to knit, hat. It's just a tube with a weird cast off (to make it slightly wider so the tassels will droop off the sides) and two tassels. Fin.

Hat 1: Helix Hat

Simple, but not really quick. The worsted weight yarn made for a heavy slog in terms of knitting time. But once I got through the roll brim and started switching colors, it wasn't so bad. Most of the body of the hat was knitted during a viewing of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring on TBS, so it's possible there's some wonky tension in there. No matter, it will get stretched out properly once it's on a head.

I also started on the scarf I'm making for a friend for Christmas. I would take a picture, except a. I'm pretty sure she doesn't read my blog, but you never know, b. I've already put it away and if I take it out I might start knitting on it again, and c. I want to resurprise myself with how far I've knitted. I've got three repeats of the lace pattern (and a lifeline; heh, fool me once and all that garbage) done already (no errors!) At that pace, I'll be done with it in ten days (30 repeats for the whole scarf). If I manage that, I'll probably faint.

It's actually in a very nice yarn; Panda Silk. Well, I'm not very hot on the knitting with it, but once it's knitted, the fabric is very nice. Soft, sweet and drapey. Splitty and aggravating as all hell to work with, but the nicest yarns do seem to be!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pink Eye

Oh, we don't spoil the Nieceling at all. Witness what she got for Halloween:

No, she hasn't really got pink eye. She got red contacts. So she could go all crazy fangurl over Twilight and go Halloween'ing with her friends as Bella. I'd worry about her taste in literature if she weren't so self aware about the whole thing. I complained to her that it was written like bad fanfic by a 12 year old girl and she (quite reasonably) pointed out that she's a 13 year old girl, so it's just right. Le sigh. If she weren't so reasonable, I'd have more ease giving her direction. Then again, at 13 I, too, was most intractable when it came to reading materials. I suppose all we can do is give her her head and trust in her intelligence.

I'm sure she'll move on to the classics (ie, Tolkein, Scott Card, I'd say L'Engle, but she's already gone through that phase) soon.

In the meanwhile, I've finished my first self-written pattern.

A jabot! Don't ask me why, but I was having a miserable time a week ago, and thought to myself, Self, I want ruffles. Not girly ruffles, but the kind of ruffles worn by men in frock coat and knee hose (a crime, it is, that the fashion went out for men to wear knee hose and heels--they have such lovely calves, by and large, and to hide them in long trousers is most heinous). So I made a jabot. The brooch is a thrift store find from a friend, originally intended to hold my ruana closed. The ruana is a pain in the keister to wear (it's too big and drapey and tends to get shut in doors, so I typically use it at home, now), so I'm glad I found a use for the brooch. It hides the spot where the band is grafted together and the ruffles start. It's going to have matching gloves and hat, when I can get around to it.

I made it in two different parts--a band (2 1/2" wide) that goes around the neck and will have two buttons so I can wear it alone as a neck scarf, and then the jabot that loops over the band and hangs down in three ruffles (two in the knitting, but the bottom one was so wide, I folded it over and knitted the edges down to make the middle ruffle).

This is it, on. Pre-brooch, but you can't see the join from this angle.

I think it will work really well with my pea coat, covering up the open neck without being a big, bulky scarf around my neck. I hate wads of cloth around my neck. I'm a bit strange that way.

And for your random dose of cute:

He seems to be doing better, knock wood. Not peeing as much, not drinking as much and dragging me all around creation when we go Walkabout. He loves the cold, being as his people evolved in the Arctic. I hates the cold, I does, His tail gets to tight and curly, his step so high and proud, I can't drag him home too soon!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ghost wee

Ok, I know my dog is talented, but seriously, this is preposterous.

Since he's been "taken ill" (hah! Still don't know what's wrong, although we know it's not Cushing's, even though his adrenals are slightly enlarged--if the symptom weren't such a pain in the arse, I wouldn't be bothered any further about it), Dog's been peeing like it's his job. Since he's peeing to rid himself of the excess potassium that might cause heart problems if it's not controlled, I suppose in a way it is his job, but anyway. He's got two favorite potty spots inside--in front of the television on the patio and behind the patio couch. Since both are on a tile floor, I'm pretty pleased he's using these spots instead of the carpeted ones. I've been putting down housetraining pads for him, which he uses pretty religiously, to minimize the clean up and mess and all is wonderful.

I'm kind of amazed he can use the ones behind the couch, frankly. There seems to be less gap between back of couch and wall than there is width of Dog, and to contemplate him getting back there, squatting, peeing and then getting back out without pushing the couch out from the wall is mindboggling. But he's done it, so I suppose he's thinner than I think.

Anyway, about a month ago, I was cleaning up a spill behind the couch and replacing the old brand of housepads with the new, actually effective, brand, and didn't have time to let the floor dry before I put them down. So I put one layer of pads down (three across the back of the couch) absorbent side down, to dry up the floor, and then put three more pads on top, absorbent side up, for the inevitable next use. Dog has managed to keep using the ones out in the open (since we've destigmatized the whole 'I have to pee and the hairless apes are all sleeping, I'm going to have to use the floor' thing), so I've just been occasionally checking the pads, monitoring the situation, and they've been dry. Until today.

Today, I'm sitting on my chaise and notice that the corner of the pad nearest to me is wet. The corner that's under the couch, not the one next to the wall. Okay, whatever. I check the floor underneath (since the patio wasn't built on a level floor, and water runs downhill whether or not it's got...impurities, it's possible it came from in front of the couch and ran down the grooves between the tiles) and all the mortar is dry. Not just dry, but dusty. Even more confusion. But maybe he's a gymnast when it comes to the pee, I'm not sure, I don't even know how he got behind the couch in the first place.

So I move the couch out and flip the pad up to carry it off, thinking I'll just have to replace that one and maybe the one underneath (in case it was run off from a couple of weeks ago that's dried up.) The top layer, the one facing up, is dry, except for the corner under the couch. The one underneath, facing down, is soaked. All the grout lines leading out to the front of the couch are dusty dry, too, so I know he hasn't peed in front of the couch recently enough to get enough pee down there, recently enough for the pad to still be wet--those things suck up fluid pretty effectively, and then dry out really fast, which makes them wonderful for cleaning urine out of carpet; flip 'em over, step on them to remove the obvious pee, put a fresh one down on the spot, leave it overnight and Bob's your uncle, Fannie's your aunt.

So, there's only two options for how this happened. One, Dog moved the couch, lifted the pads and peed directly on the tile under the pads, replaced them, moved the couch back and went on his merry way, or two.... Aw, hell. I can't think of a two. It's like the pee just...teleported into place under the pad. The underneath pad next to it was wet, as well, but that top pad was dry as a bone. So we might have a ghost peeing on the floor behind the couch. It's just as reasonable an explanation for how it got there as the dog moving the couch.

On to the knitting.

I can hear you now, what is that, SK? It's pink and blobby--does it have a purpose?

It's high fashion!

Actually, it's a doorknob chill-chaser. The back door knob at work was so loose in the door that you could actually see daylight around the edges. I put lacing through it and tied it to the door to keep the wind out. It worked, too. And irritated the facilities people enough that they tightened the damn doorknob. Heh.
This isn't knitting, but he looks so intense, so focused on the yogurt. He takes his dairy very seriously. Dog reminds us all that proper calcium intake is important for health.

This is a highlight of a new project I've started. My first realized design. I'm still not sure it's working, but I'm willing to let it progress and see where it all shakes out. Might turn out better than I'm thinking, if I can manage not to get into my own way.
Well, that's the highlights of today. The holiday upcoming is getting in the way of my happy knitting, but I've got three days after Thanksgiving to actually knit. I hope. I may get roped into some sort of cleaning bollywoggle. I'm hoping not; I've got lots of plans and things I want to get working on, and I'll need the time. Sigh. So much to do, so little time to do it!

Friday, November 14, 2008

One down....

One to go. Let's hope the next is as happy as the first. Dog's first blood test came back today, it was normal. The high end of normal, but normal. I am breathing and allowing myself to be cautiously optimistic.

The sonogram on Monday is just a precaution, which I heartily agree is a good idea. I'm (as noted) cautiously optimistic that it will be a complete and total waste of money.

Let's all hope.

I'm also looking at properties, checking them out, getting a feel for the market. I've got a number to call back in middle of December if I move out in January, and there's another location that I'm going to check out that is available now (which I can't afford now--not if I've got a deposit and all), and I'm--right now--just checking out the scene. So to speak. The hard part is Dog. Well, and Cats, but I'm not talking about them right now with too many property managers.

I'm also applying to jobs at present. Even a raise of $1.50/hour would make this whole venture a lot more...relaxing. I can do it with my present salary, don't get me wrong, but it would allow me some breathing room. A yarn allowance (which I don't really need; I have got a huge stash box that's full to the brim). Or something.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Dog's first batch of testings came back, inconclusive, of course. He does so love being a medical mystery. Keeps our relationship from getting stale, I suppose. As you can see, however, he seems terribly worried:

This is how he sleeps--butt on the squishion, head on the floor. I'm not sure if he's trying to provoke a stroke, or if it does something good for his spinal alignment, but he's been this way since he was a pup in arms. Fluffy goofball. Awww, but it's so cuuuute!

Anyway, the tests (as previously mentioned) were inconclusive. The way this past test works is this: he goes in, they draw blood. They give him a drug that will stimulate his adrenal glands, they draw more blood. They note the ranges and differences, and have a diagnosis. His results came back mixed. His original test showed his adrenal levels were normal (which is good), but his second batch was elevated (which is bad--did we have the talk about Addison's versus Cushing's and how we wanted it to be Addison's because of tumors with Cushing's? Yeah, high adrenal activity = Cushing's.)

Now, the vet noted, this by no means proves he's got Cushing's, it just makes us wonder a little more. I am encouraged by the initial normal reading--this means that when he's just being Dog, laying around the house, mack pimpin', his adrenals aren't hyperactive. This is good. And she even noted that it could mean that he was just really stressed (which, she said, was possible--he was in and out of cages all day, and he's got issues with the whole cage thing; my bad). It could also mean he's heading into Cushing's, which is always better caught early rather than late (which makes no sense; he's had the symptom all summer, he's not going into anything at this point, he's done been in).

After I had myself a good blubber, I caught myself looking in the mirror and realizing--Dog's problem is ME. It might be Cushing's, yes, but honestly? I'd think his initial reading would be high if he had an organic problem. His problem, the cause or the exacerbation thereof, is ME. I think, in my gut, that he's picking up on the increasing stress levels around the house and around me, I've pulled back lately to deal with my own stress, and the whole thing has left him feeling even worse. Holy carp, y'all, if I'm not careful, I'm going to kill my dog. And not on purpose, oh, God, no, he's the only completely honest critter in my life (seriously, think about it: I can understand dogs and cats because they're completely honest, both with me and themselves. Humans are the only animals I know that can lie not only to me, but to themselves, and not even realize they're lying, which just leaves me a whole lot of confused, because it's really pretty obvious if you study human behavior when they're lying--no wonder I doubt my ability with people!) I would do anything for him, anything within my power.

And so, I believe, I must do in this case. He's signed up for more blood work on Thursday and a sonogram on Monday, and I will let these tests run their course even if I don't seriously believe they'll find anything because, hey, I've been wrong before and it's in everyone's best interest to know the truth. And then I will throw myself headlong into the breach for both our sakes, because I have to. Because he is my mirror self--what I see in him is the thing I am most avoiding seeing in myself (see bit about humans lying to themselves and not knowing)--and I know however tense he is, I am ten times so, and I must change my life to make us both better. We can't go on like this any longer. Even if he does have Cushing's, the situation must be improved so that his condition is not made worse. I have been negligent, and the worst part of it is that I make the change, not because of my misery, but for his. I'm not sure what that says about me, but it's not anything I'm proud of, I will tell you.

I know the first step I need to take, and I am terrified. But a part of me is willing to put up with the fear, because I made a promise. I made a promise to a little five pound puppy, sitting in a puddle of his own pee on a newspaper in a cheap pen (oh, how prophetic!) that I would do whatever I had to to keep him happy and healthy for however long I was lucky enough to have him, and that if he would give me his best, I would give him mine. And I know I can't put it off any longer. Regardless of what the tests show this week, I must move out on my own. The situation is rapidly becoming untenable, I'm more and more aware of the strain I'm under and not just because I can feel it--I look at my dog, and I see it. It's slowly killing us both, and I can't let that happen.

I put it off and I put it off and I put it off, and there are a million reasons why I should put it off again, but I think that allowing myself to do so until the time is, somehow, magically perfect is not the way to go. We need peace, we need calm, we need space and quiet and time to ourselves, and those are things we just don't get in our present living quarters. Neither of us is happy, both of us are stressed, and frankly--I'm tired of playing this game.

Christ Almighty, get me through this and I will know miracles happen!

Anyway. Speaking of miracles.

Here's my yarn balls for the Connor Caps:
These are beautiful school colors! I got totally gypped; maroon, pink and gold my ass. I've got tons of easy hat patterns, too, which is necessary, since I really do need idiot-proof patterns in the hat department--I seem constitutionally incapable of making a coherent hat. Which makes my decision to get involved with this project a little baffling, but I consider it a step toward personal redemption, and a learning experience. Blech. I tend to dislike learning experiences, but what are you going to do? Stop learning and you generally get old and die. That's not really a good option, either.

Anyway, for your moment of Zen:
He looks so sweet when he's sleeping! Like a little furry angel!
A little, furry, $6,000+ knee replacement surgery angel who's bitten (in his defense, stupid) people, destroyed a couch and several yards of carpet in situ, loves cats and keeps bringing them home and now wants a possum for a pet (not kidding), but still. He's my little angel.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Drunken posting

But you know, I deserve to be drunk. Sorta.

This past week, I went to my LYS to get yarn for the hats I'm making for Chocolate Sheep, and luck was with me when I found the perfect three colorways (Cascade 220 in 9484-blue, 9463B-gold, and 8401-grey). So I snagged one of each (surely I can come up with three hats with 660 yards of yarn!) along with a nice little hank of Alpaca With A Twist Fino in yellow ribbon, just because (ok, ok, so I got lucky--she'd mismarked the box of yarn and I got a bit of money off because of it). In all, a good shopping day.

I pulled out the Cascade to start up a swatch when I realized they're in hanks. And my ball winder isn't that big. Oy. So tonight at church, I wound the blue one into a passable ball--my very first! When I get the other two into balls, I will take a picture. I'm so very proud of them (and isn't that sort of sad?)

I stopped at Dad's bar (I rarely mention it, but he tends bar on weekends for pin money--and to get out of the house. I guess retirement isn't all it's cracked up to be) on the way home and bought my beer--the one I kept saying I was going to drink after finishing the Who scarf. I keep forgetting to buy beer (I don't tend to keep it at home; I'm not that big a drinker) until Sunday afternoon, and that's a bad time to be remembering I wanted to buy alcohol! Anyway, I got a bottle, kept the cap on and took it home (we have 'open container' laws in my state, but it was closed, so it didn't count). I had another promise to keep, you see.

Look at the mess I made when I got home:

Sticky pots--this isn't the worst of it, either, I had a mixing bowl, a cutting board and various utensils in there before I got to this point. So what do you think I was doing?

Marshmallows and pizza! I won't bore you with the long story that involved my getting all my ingredients in a pile then realizing I didn't have my instant pizza crust in a box (and having to trot the dog out for a ride to the store to get some--oh, I could have gotten my beer then--and a pint of Honey Bee Haagen Dasz), but suffice it to say, it took me until around 6:30 to settle into making a serious mess in the kitchen.

But I'm quite OCD, you know, so even before I sat to dinner (which was timed really well--the pizza came out to cool just as the marshmallows were done whipping up and ready to pour into the pans) I had to scrape sticky sugar syrup out of the pan and clean the proto-marshmallow goo out of the mixing bowl. And off the counters, and off my chin. Hey, Quality Control is very important in candy making! I actually had some huge crystals in the hot goo when I made the marshmallows (you aren't supposed to mix the sugar as it boils, which would seem to me to be rather short-sighted, since it's not like you can't mix the water and corn syrup in before you heat the mess up), so I'm hoping there aren't tons of crystals in the finished product. Oh, well. It's sugar. People like sugar.

So, anyway. Kitchen cleaned (mostly), beer opened, marshmallows on the cooling down

It's a good day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I feel like such a wanker.

It's amazing how much of an idiot I can be if I don't watch myself. Today, Dog went for a Very Expensive blood test to test for an adrenal disorder (high potassium=maybe Addison's Disease, of course it could also be kidney disease, but he has no other markers for kidney disease), and I've been very worried about him. I mean, he's my baby, my big, fat, fuzzy boy! So all morning, I was fretting and fussing over his (possible) illness.

Then, to ease my mind (since I have to wait until Monday for the results of his tests) I started surfing for patterns, and one blog leads to another when you're on break and I found a blog called Chocolate Sheep. And read Connor's story, and the call for 200 hats. And felt like a huge, wankery wanker.

I mean, yes, my dog is important to me. But, to paraphrase the brilliant Terry Pratchett, personal isn't necessarily important. It's just personal. In all likelihood, there's nothing wrong with my dog that a daily med won't fix, and he'll just keep on...keepin' on. For a while, because it is the nature of all things to one day die, but I do my best to keep that day as far off as possible for him, because he's really a good pet and, really, once you've put as much money into an animal as I have into Dog, you tend to protect your investment.

But. As horrible as it sounds to my animal-lovin' heart (and my OCD mind, which is screaming about cursing my luck--which is silly, yes, I know), he's just a dog--and I know, I knew the day I bought him, that he most likely would die well before my lifespan is spun and that I would then find another dog that needs a human and start the process over again. He's not an actual child, one I birthed and nursed of my body and taught to walk and talk and tie his shoes and kissed boo-boos on and hugged when the monsters under the bed came growling (because you know they always do) and fully expected to outlive me and bring me comfort in my own age. It brings all my Nervous-Nelly-ing into sharp perspective, which is always a horrifying thing to have happen at 2:30 in the afternoon on a Wednesday.

So I'm going to be contributing hats. As many as I can manage between here and November 24th (to allow for shipping time). And if anyone out there reads this blog at all, I'm asking you go, check out the requirements (she's not asking for anything complex, and you can find a blue million beanie and beret patterns here and just adjust for striping), and make a hat or two. While, yes, it is personal to the family involved, it is also important that people who are seriously ill know they aren't alone, know that the rest of the human family feels for them, is pulling for them and is there with them.

And if you know of anyone in your own lives who can use support, give them a call, send them a note. Heck, go lo-tek and physicially visit them in person. Humans (like dogs, which is why we like them) are social animals. The pack, and the wellness of all members within it, is important. Maybe that is all that can truly be considered important and not just personal.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fringed and folded up

Tonight, I had nothing to do but sit on my hands, so to speak, and wait for the Dirty Jobs Dirty Presidents Super-Special Episode, so I decided to go ahead and fringe the scarf. I got a smaller crochet hook and went to town. It's amazing how much faster the job went with the proper size hook.

Here we have the artistic shot--all scrunched and crumpled and bed-head-ish.

And then I folded it up all nice like. I didn't trim the fringes, I left them a bit ragged, because I liked the look. It has a pleasantly rustic and rumpled appearance with the fringes left 'natural'. Either that, or I'm lazier than I knew.

A friend asked what it weighed, being over a mile of yarn as it is. Less than (just) one pound. It's actually quite wearable as wide as it is, too. Not that I'd tolerate it for long, but you know. It's not bad. I believe I will get around to my own scarf one of these days.
Now to cast on for some lace. But which project, oh, which one!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Beer Thirty

I was sitting on my chaise on Saturday morning, and thought you might appreciate the view:

This is me, under a red blanket (fleece; very nice), with a river of lovely yarn. I was toasty-oasty warm, since if you look carefully at the photo, you can see the heater glowing cheerfully in the top center of the picture. As the sun came up, I got a bit too toasty-oasty, and had to turn the heater off, but I soldiered on. I was a total trouper (yes, trouper--it's from the concept of the acting troupe, not a military trooper) and kept going all day long until suddenly:

My needle came free!

Can it be? Is it possible? Has my Clover Bamboo size 5, 24" circular come free for the first time in six months!?!?!?
Indeed it has. I've completed the heavy knitting on the Doctor Who scarf, and all I have left is the tassles (which I've started. I need a smaller barrel crochet hook to finish-you can't get a size 10 crochet hook through the bottom loops of a fingering weight on size 5 knitting needles scarf easily, as I've discovered.) I felt such a sense of palpable relief, I almost passed out. Of course, the fact that it was 11:30 at night probably contributed (although, mark one off on my list of goals. I did, in fact, complete the main knitting on the Who scarf on November 1. Barely, but there it is. Huzzah for me!)

I was curious, though. Is it as long as advertised in the pattern?

I had to fold it into quarters to get the measurement. 26" times 4=104", or 8' 8". 5" of fringe on both ends adds a further 10 inches, making the final scarf 9' 6". If I managed to cut the fringes so that 5" will hang off. I believe I did. The test fringes (I've only tied on 4 tassles) are coming in between 5-6", and I'll trim it even.
I'm just so vastly relieved to have that bad boy off the needles. Good gravy. When I do my version of this scarf, I'm only casting on half as many stitches as this one--I don't like really wide scarves (I don't like them bunching up at the back of my neck), and this sucker is wide, like the Mississippi Delta. Because the yarn is so thin, though, it's not too onerous. I'm glad I'm not going to have to carry this sucker, though. It's not a light weight item!
I'm getting ready to start a new scarf, Rivolo from Knit Spot, which has the redeeming feature of not being anything at all like garter stitch, nor 9' long and 10" wide. It should be way easier on the hands, elbows and rib cage. I may even take this project on with straight needles. Maybe. Who knows?