Archive for May, 2014

I’m having a proceed at your own risk kind of day. Everything I touch or do isn’t working out. I know I should stop while my blood pressure is only slightly elevated from annoyance and the headache that is forming over my right eye is still manageable. But heck, I got things I gotta do, which is exactly the wrong attitude for today.

In the top things I will screw up today is a baby sweater I am making for a company. This time it is for a boy and has a large size range: 3 months to 8 years old. Lots of math and figuring, and adjusting. Of course I’ll use a calculator, but with the way things have already gone today, I won’t trust any of the answers it gives me so I will be figuring everything twice. At some point, I can rest assured, the calculator will stop working, mercifully putting a halt to any feeling of productivity I might have accrued.

I need to procure buttons, one for a sweater I already made, 5 for the sweater I am making. I can take comfort that one or all the following will happen during the procurement process: traffic jam where I sit in a motionless car without forward progress for 15 minutes or more; when I cross the street to enter the button store I am run over by a crazy motorist racing to make the beginning of a movie that’s already started; the button store has no buttons in the size I want and the color I want, or the store has buttons in the size and color but not enough to fill what I need; the line at the checkout has more than 20 people in it and there’s only one cashier all the other workers are hiding in the stock room.

If I am not run over by a crazy motorist, food shopping is next. The store is in the exact opposite direction of the button store so it’s a bit of a drive. When I get there it is destined to be a mob scene where I can’t get near most of what I am there to pick up. Little children will be screaming at the exact frequency that will move my headache from manageable to pre-migraine. Feeling hurried to exit the store before the migraine sets in I hurry through aisle after aisle only to stand on the checkout line for 25 minutes. The headache moves to pre-migraine. I escape store, arrive home, unpack the groceries to find most of my food list has been unfulfilled. Schedule return trip to store, ask The Skipper if he minds having a sandwich for dinner.

With the migraine now in full bloom, I zoom over to my home, which I am renting at the moment (this is a whole different can of worms and problems), to see what the Real Estate Woman is talking about concerning pictures in the cobweb and spider haven area under the front porch. The area is accessed only through the garage, is meant to be used only to get to the main pipes coming from the village into the house should there be a need and has never had anything beyond a rake and a shovel stored in it. I can guarantee two things will happen: 1) I will hit my head on the pipe that I always hit my head on when I enter this little area; 2) I will get bit by a spider after blundering into its web. The hit on the head will spread the pain already in my head nice and evenly around my cranium. The spider bite will need tending to and allergy medication.

All in all I’m planning on having a good weekend. I just need to live through today to get there.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

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Need I even explain? Once the Golden Paw Award shows up at the top of the blog, can it mean anything other than Yarn Rascal has once again out done himself?

Let me start by saying the dog never sleeps. He will close his eyes for 5 minutes then spend the next 24 hours in full gear without another wink of sleep. He is nocturnal. All the while we’re sleeping he is up and roaming the house. Left to his own devices he finds all kinds of trouble.

Monday morning Yarn Rascal was not a happy camper. He was clearly feeling sick. He refused his breakfast and remained on the couch listless and lethargic. I was very worried. I knew it wasn’t yarn making him sick, because the yarn is now in jars. But I didn’t know what else he might have gotten into during the night.

Monday was a holiday, so his regular vet wasn’t around. It would mean a trip to the emergency animal hospital. I had an appointment with my graphic designer–yes some changes in look will be coming, and decided that I would see how The Rascal was when I got home.

Yarn Rascal was better when I returned. Not 100 percent but better. He was at least drinking water. I spent the rest of Monday comforting him, loving him, catering to his every whim. At 10 pm he finally ate his dinner and I was feeling sure he had turned a corner for the better. I carried Yarn Rascal to bed with me. I completely believed, in my delusional way, that he would spend the night sleeping since he had such a rough day.

I don’t know what time it was when I felt Yarn Rascal walk across my head holding something that felt “furry” when it brushed the skin of my face, with a “tail” that trailed behind it. But I do know my blood immediately surged through my veins bringing much needed oxygen to my brain which was screaming something about a mouse and my heart nearly exploded out of my chest as it went from first gear into overdrive. In the meanwhile, Yarn Rascal was thrashing around the bottom of the bed with whatever it was he had.

I flung my arm out and around searching for the switch to turn on the bedside lamp. Everything stacked on the table crashed to the floor, and the lamp itself almost went over. But I grabbed it with both hands. To my surprise, I was standing on my pillows. With the lamp now clutched to my chest (the lamp shade didn’t make it through this ordeal) I fumbled the switch on and there was Yarn Rascal in all his glory at the bottom of the bed with something brown with an off-white tail that looked like ribbon. He thrashed it around again and then looked at me. His tail went thump-thump-thump in that way it does when he is delighted with himself.

I tried to get my eyes to focus on what the little rascal really had. He thrashed it again, his tail went thump-thump-thump and it slowly washed over me that he had the little knitted baby hat that went with the sweater.

Charleston Baby Sweater and Hat Set

Charleston Baby Sweater and Hat Set

In all the doggie obedience books it says to use the same command words every time so the dog doesn’t get confused with what you want him to do. The command words I use most commonly with Yarn Rascal are “stop it” and “drop it.” The books never says, however, what to do next when the dog doesn’t ever respond to the command.

Upon fully realizing it was the knitted hat and not some decapitated mouse, I screamed said “drop it” in the best authoritative command voice I could muster in the dead of the night, while standing on my pillows clutching the bedside lamp with the crushed shade.

As usual, Yarn Rascal took the command to mean “let’s play” and off he scampered hat in mouth, ribbon flying out behind him and headed downstairs. Yes, at 3:30 am Yarn Rascal had fully recovered and wanted to play.

As I took off after him I tried to think of how he got the hat. I keep the set stored away awaiting its release date. Then I knew. I had taken it to the meeting with the graphic designer and when I came home, I was so concerned over Yarn Rascal not feeling well that I apparently didn’t properly store it away again.

We “played” for about 15 minutes. The ribbon is torn to shreds, but I have enough extra ribbon (I hope) to replace it. The hat has a few misshapen stitches but nothing was really eaten through. A soak and a patting into place should revive the hat.

Thus, Yarn Rascal has racked up yet another Golden Paw. And I have somehow miraculously avoided heart attack and stroke. Though I still say, this dog is going to be the death of me.

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A huge thank you to Megan Ann who suggested I put my yarn clippings in an empty glass jar with a lid to prevent Yarn Rascal from eating them. It worked beautifully. I was so much happier sitting in my chair weaving in sweater ends than I would have been sitting in my car in a parking lot.

The sweater is done.

knit baby sweater with stripes raglan shape

knit baby sweater with stripes raglan shape

Every yarn end neatly tucked away. When Yarn Rascal first saw the clippings going into the jar he high-tailed it into my lap, walked over the sweater and proceeded to inspected the closed jar like a TSA officer inspecting a suspicious person. He could see the yarn clippings but couldn’t get at them. He poked the jar with his nose. He nudged it with his little head. He pawed at it. He tried to figure out how to get his jaws around it, all to no avail.

Finally he turned his adorable little head and looked at me. My sweet, baby boy, Bichon had “this is war” look in his eyes. But his cuteness knows no bounds. He jumped off my lap and scampered up the stairs. Never a good sign when The Skipper and I are sitting downstairs. If he’s not on a terror mission he stays right beside us.

knit baby sweater hem

baby sweater knit hem

The hem of the sweater is knit in stockinette stitch with a garter st ridge. The hem is folded over at the ridge line and sewn to the sweater on the wrong side.

Yarn Rascal stayed upstairs for maybe three minutes. We could hear him banging at the closet doors to the yarn vault, then he moved to the bedroom, where we heard a stack of folders hit the floor after being pushed off the night table. “Let him get it out of his system” I told The Skipper. After all the poor thing had his yarn world turned upside down.

baby sweater knit neck

The neck of the sweater also gets folded in half and hemmed. The garter ridge line adding just enough texture to make it look like small picots. The original designer closed the neck with a button on the side. I need to find a button that I like to completely finish it off.

Yarn Rascal finally arrived back in the living room, a limp Mr. Dragon dangling from his mouth. I snipped two more ends of yarn, opened the jar, placed them inside, closed the jar. “You know you love Mr. Dragon” I told Yarn Rascal. “If you insist on hurting him I’m going to have to put him in a jar too.” I went to the kitchen and came back with a nice sized Mason jar, perfect for Mr. Dragon. I placed the jar on the floor. Yarn Rascal stared at his nemesis.

He laid down by my chair and still staring at the jar proceeded to try to remove Mr. Dragon’s right arm. I plucked the toy from his mouth and popped it in the jar. I returned the closed jar to the floor. Yarn Rascal was angry, but chasten. In fact I felt really bad for him. He climbed up into my lap and pouted. I gave Mr. Dragon back to him and put the Mason jar away.

Today I am rejoining Mr. Dragon’s right arm and left wing to his body. The sewing operation will take about 10 minutes and my assistant will be avidly watching the whole time. No more Mason jars for his toys. I don’t have the heart to do that to him. I will just stitch them back up until they can be stitched no more and then buy him new ones. He’s just too cute for words.

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Yarn Rascal is besides himself waiting for me to weave in more ends on the girl’s stripe sweater. He likes to raid the pile of yarn clippings from sewing in the ends and ingest as many as he can. His digestive system, naturally, rejects the yarn as viable food substance, but this does not stop him. It stops me, however, from finishing the work I need done.

I tried keeping a small plastic bag near me to shove the clippings in, then secure it shut. Just the crinkling sound of the plastic bag shifts him into high gear and next thing we’re in mid raid.

I tried closing myself in another room, but the moment he hears the snip of the scissors it’s over. He repeatedly launches himself against the door to get in. Trying to neatly sew in yarn ends while the door is being battered down does nothing positive for my nerves or my sewing skills.

The only option I can think of is getting in the car, driving to a parking lot and sitting there until every end is sewn in. It’s precisely what I am doing this afternoon. What a way to begin a long weekend.

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Many people in my life have tried to help me “get organized”. Grandparents, aunts, parents, husband, sister, they all had a go at it. The truth is I am an organized person just not in the traditional sense of the word: systematically arranging things to, in theory, efficiently deal with them.

A place for everything and everything in its place is a sure-fire way to guarantee I will hunt for and never find the thing again in my life time. Such is the case with two items I’ve been looking for high and low for two weeks now. The CD for my printer so I can reload it into my computer and a pattern I need to reference a neckline.

It seems I was cleaning out computer files late one night two weeks ago and oops(!) there went the printer file. I have since imposed a rule on myself that prevents me from tinkering with and cleaning up the computer after 9 pm.

The printer disc was one of those things I distinctly remember The Skipper interferring helping in the placement of. I wanted to slip it into one of the little nooks in my antique secretary’s desk. He stopped me, gave a brief lecture on everything in its place, and had me put it…well that’s the question: Where? Where was this proper place for this thing?

I’ve asked him. He’s given me all the suggestion of where he would suggest it go and it’s not in any of those places. Though the desk nook might not have been the systematically correct way of arranging it I would have had it in my hot little hands by now and fixed the problem in what to me would have been an efficient and timely fashion.

The second item I am searching for is a baby sweater pattern which I had saved so I could reference the neckline design. The technique was interesting. The technique would also be of help to me at the moment with the little girl’s sweater I am almost finished with. I say almost finished because I still have the neckline to do.

I originally was going to put the pattern in with a stash of wool that if I was ever to knit up the pattern I would most likely use to knit it. Again The Skipper decided I need organizing help and stepped in to offer the systematically correct way of keeping reference patterns. His solution is binders.

The Skipper is a huge fan of notebook binders. The bigger the binder the better. He also covets page protectors. If you need a sure stock market tip, invest in a company that makes binders and page protectors. As long as The Skipper is alive the stock is safe. I am sure that his suggestion was to put it in a page protector and a binder. Well, I’ve looked through every binder he’s had me make and no pattern. I even opened the yarn vault (much to Yarn Rascal delight) and looked where it should have been. Still no pattern.

All of this is to say that while I may seem unorganized to the systematically efficient crowd, I’m really not. The executive function part of my brain just works a little differently in what and how it lumps things together.

And now I am off to hunt again for the CD and the pattern. Systematic efficiency is killing me.

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The weekend was productive. Although I am having the devil’s time with the yarn and getting gauge, I’ve managed to finish the back and front. Want to see the back?

raglan back baby sweater

No, it doesn’t say nautical, but I think its say contemporary. While I like the feel of the yarn, and I love the stitch definition, I am not liking the gauge issues with this yarn.

The yarn is Lima by Drops. A European yarn with a translation problem. The yarn band gives gauge as 21 sts and 28 rows = 4″ (10) cm on size 4 mm US 6 (British size 8) needles. I am not a loose knitter by any stretch of the imagination. When I was younger and still learning to knit I kept a small hammer by my side to tap the right needle through the stitch on the left needle. Yes, nothing says knitting like a little yarn, two needles and a hammer. Eventually, one of my grandmothers put me out of my misery and showed me how to knit a stitch that wouldn’t strangle the needle. I still have the little hammer, by the way. But back to the Drops yarn.The most I could get as gauge from a US size 6 needle was 18 sts. That was 3 sts less than the gauge on the yarn band and the gauge on the pattern.

Usually, because I am a tight knitter, I have to “size up” to get gauge, using a larger needle than called for. Now I found myself in the strange position of having to “size down” the needle. I got gauge with a 3.75 mm US 5 (British size 9) needle. I’d like to say and that was that and everybody scampered into the woods and lived happily ever after. But not quite.

I completed the back, adding 1″ (2.5) cm to the length to compensate for the intentionally rolled cast on edge that was making the sweater come in too short. Stitch definition looked great. The body looked a little wider than the 10.5″ (27) cm called for on the schematic, but hey, it’s a raglan and it’s striped. Stripes always make garments and the people wearing them look wider. It’s why I don’t wear them.

Onto the front. I knitted it up to the neckline while the “optical illusion” of wideness ate away at me. Not able to stand it anymore I took my handy tape measure, ran it from one side of the sweater to the other and surprise, surprise, surprise! It’s 11″ (28) cm wide and not an optical illusion. My brain immediately jumps in with “but when you seam it up….” Nice attempt at delusion, but when I seam a garment I lose maybe a half inch (1.5) cm not a whole inch (2.5) cm.

I checked my gauge again this time in various spots and viola the answer appeared.

rglan baby sweater 2

The stripes were not only alternating color, they were alternating in pattern too. The main color stripe was knit in stockinette stitch. The contrasting color stripes were knit in a pattern that included yarn overs across the row. Even though the yarn over was immediately followed by a decrease, the decrease was such that it didn’t pull the fabric in. And so the patterned stripes had a bit more expansion width-wise than the stockinette stitch stripes.

After mulling over a number of options, I decided to leave the anomaly in place. It is only an inch (1.5) cm and to try and off-set it would cause the sweater to become to small. Tonight I alter the front neck so the entire neckline becomes a funnel neck. Then I calculate and start knitting the sleeves. What could go wrong?

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I’ve been knitting. To be precise, I’ve been knitting the same 22 rows for 2 days now. I am starting to feel like that woman who slowly goes mad in the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” as she covers the same ground over and over again.

The yarn arrived. All of it.

Could it be any less nautical in theme?

Could it be any less nautical in theme?

I started the sweater. It’s a three color sweater. The main color and two contrast colors to make up the stripes. It takes 22 rows of knitting before I get a good look at how the colors are working. After the twenty-two rows I ripped it all out. I didn’t like the way the colors looked together. I gathered the yarns, moved them around, came up with another combination.

I started the sweater again. Twenty-two rows and I ripped it all out. I didn’t like the way the colors looked together. I gathered the yarns for another group session and came up with another combination of colors.

I started the sweater again. Twenty-two rows and I ripped it all out. I didn’t like the way the colors looked together. I gathered the yarns, the group session was a little tense this time, but I came up with another way of mixing the colors.

I started the sweater again. Twenty-two rows later…. Yes, I could have a finished sweater by now if not for the ripping.

When these “snags” happens not only do I have to attend to my own growing frustration, I need to keep The Skipper calm too. He hates when I knit and rip. Each time I rip a piece of knitting the hair on his head stands up and his jaws tighten. I was into the fourth straight hour of knitting and ripping when he said, “Do you have to do that?” At the time, neither of us knew I’d be knitting and ripping for two entire nights. I find great solace in not being able to foresee the future because often the present is just about all I can handle.

Yarn Rascal, on the other hand, made every ripping session a winning situation for himself. He sat patiently on the floor watching until the ripping was done. When the entire 22 rows of yarn lay in my lap, up he’d come pretending he wanted to be loved, all the while rooting around in the yarn, some of which just happened to find its way into his mouth.

The final group session with the yarns was held last night. Staring at them, wondering how they wanted to go together that would be pleasing to me and to them, my brain said, “Think fresh.” Fresh? When I think fresh I think of bright fruity colors, the only ones that came anywhere near that was the orange (it said it was russet but it clearly is orange) and the light green that when put next to the orange makes my eyes want to pop out of my head. That left me with dark brown, dark green, and light brown.

I eyed the light brown. My brain said, “It’s the color bananas turn when they’re ripening.” Does that qualify it as a fruity color? I hope so. I really want to get past 22 rows.

Have a good weekend.

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