Friday, October 31, 2008

Please don't eat the forsythia leaves

. . . or the bunny poop you found in the grass, or the bottle of yellow food coloring that Nora left unnoticed in the toe-kick of the kitchen cabinet, or the paper towel I'm trying to use to clean it up, or the power cord for my computer, or even my toes (thank you very much).

My God, a puppy is exhausting! I really loved having a dog to keep me company on long walks, and to settle happily by my side as I knitted through a movie. And Luna, of course, has the potential to do all of these things for many years to come, once we get through this puppy stage. But meanwhile, she requires a frustrating amount of my attention. I'm having trouble finishing a simple garter-stitch shawl (due tomorrow) because the baby has to be let out on pee breaks every 20 minutes or so, and can't be trusted out of sight even when she's safely behind her puppy gate. And of course, I need to be home at lunch and immediately after work for her potty breaks, which should at some point allow her to keep her playpen clean. (Not yet, though.) And we start every morning with a pre-dawn rush for the door (followed by yet another kennel cleaning), and end every evening standing there in the darkness trying to make sure her bladder is absolutely empty before bed.

I've always picked out older dogs - admittedly with a mixed success rate, but I generally knew what I was getting into. But everybody loves a puppy, I guess. And she was pretty darn adorable last night when 4 of the neighbor kids offered to "walk" her around the back yard for a bit. They actually had her jumping into piles of leaves with them! But I can't wait until she's just a bit older.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Puppies and Knitting

I bought a gate to keep the puppy on the tile until she has a better sense of discretion, but the only one wide enough to span our 48" kitchen entry needs to be screwed to the wall (rather than relying on some sort of spring-loaded mechanism). Or more precisely, it will need to be screwed into the wall on one end, and the kitchen bar on the other. The wall needs to be painted anyway, and patching sheet rock is fairly easy; but there is no way I'll be drilling holes in the cabinetry before Rick gets back. So for now, we've worked out a system of barricades and constant supervision. And the puppy is working out methods to outsmart them.

And did you notice how her favorite squeaky toy (shown) is remarkably similar to a loose ball of yarn? She keeps trying to steal the shawl I'm working on right out of my hands, and this morning got away from me and dove into my bedroom. Two seconds later she's back, happily trailing a stream of alpaca with a wad of lacework in her mouth. (No damage, thanks.)
I was originally looking at a five month old dog, whereas Luna (chosen by Rick) is only 3 1/2 months. I figure that entitles me to voice my frustrations for the first 6 weeks, right?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Apple-Picking Helmet (a pattern)

I needed something to keep my hands busy for the car ride on Saturday, and grabbed some yarn from my stash without a clear idea of what it would become. I imagine the result would be the perfect apple-picking hat - warm around the ears without screaming "winter" just yet, and offering some decent padding in defense of randomly falling fruit. The garter stitch edge is purposely a little floppy on the back (that's my story and I'm sticking to it) in order to give the back of your neck a little more protection.

2 skeins Infatuation by Yarn Bee
1 skein classic Red Heart
(Both yarns are held together throughout.)

Size 8 double-pointed needles
Size 8 circular needle in a small enough length to handle 20" or so of work.
Size 17 needles (for matching scarf)

Gauge for hat: about 2.5 stitches per inch. Luckily, this hat relies more on gravity than on elasticity to stay on your head, so it's okay if the hat turns out a bit large.


Ear Flaps (make 2)
Cast on 4 stitches
Knit 20 rows of I cord.
Knit 1, increase 2, knit last stitch
Knit across.
Continue garter stitch, increasing 1 stitch in the second stitch from each edge in every other row until you have 20 stitches. *
Break yarn and place first flap on stitch marker (or string the tail of your yarn through it).

When the second flap is complete, switch to circular needle and cast on 20 stitches.
Place marker, then place second flap on left needle and knit across.
Cast on 20 more stitches
You should have a total of 80 stitches on your needles.

BEING CAREFUL NOT TO TWIST (we all know this, and yet I did it again), join work into a circle. Work 5 rows of garter stitch in the round.

Next row (switching to Stockinette Stitch): Knit 20 stitches of ear flap, knit 1 stitch of back, knit two together, knit 14, SSK, knit 1, and knit the rest of the round. You have just decreased two stitches right behind the ears to pull the hat in a bit at the back of the neck.
Knit one round.
Knit 20 stitches of ear flap, knit 1 stitch of back, knit two together, knit 12, SSK, knit 1, and knit the rest of the round.
Knit one round.
Knit 20 stitches of ear flap, knit 1 stitch of back, knit two together, knit 10, SSK, knit 1, and knit the rest of the round.
Knit one round.
Knit 20 stitches of ear flap, knit 1 stitch of back, knit two together, knit 8, SSK, knit 1, and knit the rest of the round. You have now decreased a total of 8 stitches, and should have 72 stitches left on your needles.
Work even in stockinette stitch until your hat measures about 5" from the cast-on. (If you'd like your hat to come a little further down onto your eyebrows, keep going until about 5.5".)

First decrease row: Knit 6, knit 2 together, repeat until end of round.
Second decrease row: knit.
Third decrease row: Knit 5, knit 2 together, repeat until end of round.
Fourth decrease row: knit.
Fifth decrease row: Knit 4, knit 2 together, repeat until end of round. Switch back to double-pointed needles as necessary.
Sixth decrease row: knit.
Seventh decrease row: Knit 3, knit 2 together, repeat until end of round.
Eighth decrease row: knit.
Ninth decrease row: Knit 2, knit 2 together, repeat until end of round.
Tenth decrease row: knit.
Eleventh decrease row: Knit 1, knit 2 together, repeat until end of round.
Twelfth decrease row: knit.
Thirteenth decrease row: Knit 2 together, repeating to end of round.
Fourteenth decrease row: knit. You should now have a total of 9 stitches. I found it easier to rearrange them so I had 3 stitches each on 3 needles.
For each set of 3 stitches, slip one stitch, knit 2 together, then pass the slipped stitch over the decreased one. You should now have 3 stitches left.

Break yarn and draw through loops. Draw the yarn tight and secure it, then weave it in on the private side of the hat. Weave in remaining bits of yarn, and enjoy.

* Did that make sense? In other words, every odd row would be "knit 1, increase one, knit to the second stitch before the end, increase one, knit one."


I had yarn left over (those Red Heart skeins go forever), and decided a matching scarf would be appropriate. I wanted to mimic the combination of stockinette and garter stitch in the hat, but I really didn't want to think too hard or take too long with the scarf. So:

Using the size 17 needles, cast on 18.
Work 5 rows of garter stitch.
Row 1: knit.
Row 2: knit 3, purl 12, knit 3.

Continue rows 1 and 2 until the scarf is the length you want or you are in danger of running out of yarn. (I wasn't even close.)

Work 5 more rows of garter stitch.
Bind off loosely and weave in ends.

(c) 2007 by Jami Huisjen Scott
All rights reserved unless it's for a good cause, yada yada yada

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Puppy

I know it's fast. I'm still collecting little drifts of Nora's sheddings from various unexpected parts of the house, and am barely past the point of expecting her greeting when I walk through the door. But another dog was definitely going to happen, since it seems to be an important part of the way I deal with Rick's travel schedule. And after a week of mourning Nora, it gives me someone else to concentrate on and distract me from too much useless emotion. So meet Luna:

That's not some weird reflection in her eyes; they are actually blue on the bottom and brown on the top. She's about 14 weeks old, and the vet report hazards a guess that she'll be about 40 pounds as an adult. And with those eyes and her brindle paws, he thinks there's some Australian Cattle Dog in her genetic makeup.

In any case, I was actually looking at another dog (older, and at least partly house-trained) when this little girl stole Rick's heart. She does seem to have everything we could wish for in temperament, even if she did manage to both pee and throw up on me in the car on the way home. She's smart enough to have figured out in less than 24 hours how to get through the barrier between the tile and carpet areas of the house, and also smart enough to learn that she's not supposed to do it (at least, while I'm watching). And she sleeps in her crate just fine at night, even if she's not wild about it during the day. Does anyone have any idea how long potty training might take with a little girl like this?

Today is also Lucas' 19th birthday. I made him sweet rolls for breakfast, and gave him a big birthday hug. He's been sweet and caring of feelings around home, is doing well in college and is highly conscientious about his work and class schedules as well as his financial obligations. I told him I think adulthood is working out well for him thus far.