Archive for the ‘Yarn Rascal’ Category

If you love a big cozy shawl then Sprig of Hope shawl is a must knit.

sprig of hope hand knit shawl

The lace pattern is bold enough to be visible and not  get lost amid a yarn with multiple colors in it. I used Madeline Tosh DK with size US 8 (5 mm) circular needles. The colorway is Firewood. I loved the knitting and the lace edging is simple to follow. It is a delightfully cozy shawl and I love wrapping myself up in it on cold nights.

I would like to say that the knitting gods left me alone during this knit but that would not be the truth. When I completely finished the shawl and laid it out for blocking I realized I’d dropped a stockinette stitch. How I managed this is a wonder. It should have been immediately recognizable while I was knitting. But the gods had other plans.

Wanting to impale myself on my knitting needles I ran through the other options I had.  First, my perfectionist self said let the shawl dry then rip it back the full two-thirds to where the mistake was and reknit from there. This thought stayed with me for quite awhile as I stared at the dropped stitch. It turned what was to be a relaxing day into one where my blood pressure pounded at my temples.

Next came the small voice of sanity. Fix the mistake by using a crochet needle to weave the dropped stitch up and then securely sew the free loop to the back of the shawl. It took me all of 15 minutes to do this and the mistake is not visible from the front nor is the sewing obvious in the back. Even better, it is not a weak point in the knitting. I’ve been wearing the shawl often and it is still holding strong.

The next picture has nothing to do with the shawl. It is Yarn Rascal in his holiday bow-tie.

yarn rascal in holiday bow tie

What he is staring at is The Skipper who came in to the room holding a skein of merino yarn that Yarn Rascal hadn’t molested seen yet. It was to be one of his holiday presents. Let’s just say he got that particular present early.

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Yarn Rascal

This past week has been kind of rough. We learned that Yarn Rascal, who is 3 years old, has a small liver that is giving him problems. While the vet says the “prognosis is good” it has meant all kinds of changes. First he must take medication which he doesn’t like at all. Second we must feed him small amounts of special food three times a day. This just kills me because I had worked so hard to find organic high quality food which he loved. The special food is made up of chemicals which I am not comfortable with, but is necessary if we want to keep the liver from going into cirrhosis.

Yarn Rascal was given to me by The Skipper when I was in the middle of my breast cancer treatments and felt I just couldn’t continue on with them. I had hit a wall physically and mentally. Yarn Rascal rescued me and helped me continue my treatments. He is also the driving force behind my staying on my cancer medication for these last three years even though I am constantly in pain from it. Needless to say, this is all upsetting.

Yarn Rascal has a natural sunny disposition and is getting back to being himself though there is a lot that he can no longer have. His chew bones that he loved is one of the casualties. Needless to say, Yarn Rascal from here on in will have full access to the yarn vault and the Rubbermaid bins he so loves to open. It is my hope that Yarn Rascal stays with me for a long time still, but I only have so much control over what his liver does.

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Yarn Rascal’s Birthday

Yesterday was Yarn Rascal’s birthday. He is officially into his adorable twos. In addition to being yarn loving, he is also into snow, especially the kind momma has to shovel before his short legged little self goes out. Mother Nature celebrated his birthday with a very, very late evening snowfall. 3 am to be exact and he was just wiggling to get out there and rip around in it. (Yarn Rascal, by the way, is nocturnal. Midnight to 5 am is prime time for him.)

But before my loving bundle of fur could go out, I had to shovel for him. At least 4″ (10) cm had fallen and it was still snowing hard. I shoveled a nice large area, purposely avoiding the melting glacier, which is a field of smooth ice that has taken over a portion of the yard. At its deepest frozen point I believe we could go ice fishing. It’s a little disturbing, in a Stephen King kind of way.

With little one’s area nicely shoveled I put on his retractable leash and out he bounded. He traversed what I thought, and my back muscles agreed, was a large shoveled area in less than a second, diving into the untouched snow. A retractable leash only goes so far. Devil Dog’s is 16 feet (4.87) meters. Not a long length when the little love bug on the end is ripping around so fast he’s a blur of snow and fur.

Trying to stay up with him, I somehow ended up on the ice field and didn’t know it. So when cuddles zoomed past for the umpteenth time and I tried to keep pace I fell, just like I would on an ice hockey rink. I went down on my right wrist, the leash being in my left hand. One minute I was standing, the next I was looking at last year’s leaves and grass frozen beneath the ice field.

Yarn Rascal is a very sensitive little guy. He immediately came rushing toward me, ran over me, then raced in circles around me and the only thing I could think of was RICE: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. Rest? Check. I was at rest, albeit face down. Ice? Check. I was icing any possible injury as I was in laying on the ice and snow. Compress? Check. The wrist I had fallen on was pinned under me, that counted as compression as far as I was concerned. Elevate? That was a bit of a problem. But three out of four not bad, I thought.

I finally did manage to ease myself off the ice field without standing. By the time we got back in the house we were both covered in snow. Fur child’s hair was filled with thousands of small and medium snowballs that form when his hair and snow collide. They had to be defrosted and then the hair dried. That was a process.

Surprisingly, I have no problem with the wrist, not even a twinge. Rest, Ice and Compression work well when immediately applied.

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It’s been awhile since Yarn Rascal last snagged a Golden Paw Award, but he’s outdone himself once again.


I was attempting to pull together the prototype of the 1960s baby girl sweater I’m designing. I had a small ball of merino wool (the perfect size to fit comfortably in Yarn Rascal’s mouth) cast on to a dpn to test run the placket construction. It was innocently sitting on the table next to my knitting chair. In my lap were the two halves of the sweater and a large ball of alpaca yarn attached to the front half of the sweater. I was trying to figure out why the front half of the sweater was a full 2 inches (5) cm longer from hem to the start of armhole shaping than the back half. I checked gauge, needle size, and strained my eyes to count each row. All to no end. I kept losing count after 10. I took my reading glasses off, closed my tired eyes, and laid my head back on the chair for a 5 minute time out during which I planned to pull myself together and do away with the vision of climbing onto the roof and jumping off.

The Yarn Rascal attack was almost instant. He jumped into my lap, snatched the small ball of merino into his mouth and then plastered himself to the front of me, his little front paws wrapped tightly around my neck. The plastering and wrapping is new behavior. Lately, when he has something in his mouth that he knows he shouldn’t have, he flattens himself against my chest and, like a human child, wraps his little front arms around my neck. In doing so, he places his head and mouth so far behind me that it is impossible to extract the thing from his mouth. When I try to reach back, his neck grows longer, as if he’s part giraffe, and I can’t gain access to his mouth. It’s a win-win situation for him. I adore the hug, and at the same time I feel terrible about taking whatever it is out of his little mouth. Thus, he ends up with it in his mouth a little longer.

In the meanwhile, his little back feet, nails and all, were dancing on the sweater halves and the ball of alpaca yarn in my lap. Now alpaca isn’t the type of yarn that can take heavy wear and tear. It tends to shed and shred when abused. So I lifted his adorable little back feet off my lap and swept everything to the floor. With Yarn Rascal clinging to my front like a bib, and the dpn needle dangling from the yarn down my back, I sought out The Skipper who prised my little darling loose and removed the wet yarn from his mouth. I then raced Yarn Rascal back to the living room throwing myself onto the knitting and yarn I had swept to the floor like a football player on a loose ball.

Finally, at the end of the evening I crawled into bed and found release from my aching lower back vowing never to throw myself on yarn like that again. I stared up at the ceiling took a deep, relaxing breath, released it, and heard the distinct crinkling sound of a yarn band still wrapped on a skein of yarn. My head snapped to the bedroom door and there he was, tail thumping in wild pleasure, an entire new skein of alpaca in his mouth. He opened and closed his smiling little jaws twice, the paper yarn band rustling. The chase was on.

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So much is going on that it will take more than one post to tell it all. But first up, a little aside. Yarn Rascal won another Golden Paw Award!


Along with Mom not doing well, Yarn Rascal’s decided, for some unknown but worrisome reason, that he can’t eat his food out of his dish without being hand fed by me with a spoon. Even then, it is reluctant eating. However, the Little Devil Darling had no problem chomping down this:

Spool of Thread Yarn Rascalized

The plastic parts of a spool of navy blue thread which I mistakenly left on the end table after sewing on the buttons to my two newest baby sweaters.

baby hoodie fs 1

Baby Sweater Collar LS

While I am waiting to see what’s up with my mother’s condition, I am also nervously awaiting complications in Yarn Rascal digestive tract from eating the plastic spool. Oh how I wish spools were still made of wood!

In the meanwhile this picture I found on the internet sums up exactly how I feel.



It’s my next knitting project.

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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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Knit Night

A peaceful evening of knitting hasn’t been had around here for about 1 year. Hmm…1 year, ah! The arrival of Yarn Rascal. Taking up needles and yarn is Yarn Rascal’s cue to engage in destructive play, whereby he methodically tears apart his favorite toy of the moment while staring straight at me. After all, why bother doing the crime if Mother isn’t watching?

An evening of knitting means I keep one eye on Yarn Rascal and one eye on my knitting. It also means positioning yarn, project, and equipment so it can be quickly and easily put aside to make a mad dash attempt to rescue the toy before the coup d’etat. It is everything but relaxing.

I scour pet stores and online pet shops for soft toys that are specially constructed for the destructive soft toy loving dog. When I find them and if they have a shape I think he will like, I buy them. Yarn Rascal has cost me more in toys than a really good bad yarn binge.

Last night he pulled out Mr. Dragon. He loves, loves, loves, Mr. Dragon so I knew the toy had to be saved. At first, I put the knitting down buying time for Mr. Dragon’s life and me. Yarn Rascal countered by laying his chin on the toy. We stared at each other for a bit. I reminded him how much he loved Mr. Dragon and why Mr. Dragon did not deserve to be turned into a rag.

When I thought the crucial moment had passed and the crisis averted the idea of picking up needles and yarn briefly flitted through my mind. At the same moment, Yarn Rascal began wagging his tail in that way he has that means he’s up to no good and the rescue of Mr. Dragon was fully engaged.

I jumped from the chair, pulling an upper back muscle I didn’t know I had until the exquisite pain made my breath catch, and crashed to the floor, right arm extended, hand open but just missed grabbing Mr. Dragon. I stayed on the floor frozen by upper back pain. Yarn Rascal, tail madly wagging with delight, had Mr. Dragon dangling from his mouth just out of my reach.

During the time it took me to get to my knees and then stand, Yarn Rascal had commenced chewing Mr. Dragon’s wing in hopes of separating it from the body before I became mobile again. I am happy to say he failed. Another lunge by me, another stab of pain from the muscle, another successful feint by Yarn Rascal and chasing the dog through out the house to get his toy away from him was top of the agenda for the evening. The time flew by.

At the bitter end, Yarn Rascal was so tired he finally collapsed on the floor panting, dropping Mr. Dragon. I retrieved the toy, still intact, and hobbled to the antique secretary’s desk where I put Mr. Dragon inside for safe keeping.

The rest of the night I sat in the chair. Yarn Rascal was asleep at my feet, a small heating pad was on my aching back muscle, and an ice bag was on my right knee. I didn’t even flirt with the idea of yarn and needles.

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Snow fell again yesterday. The Weather Channel and local forecasters said it would be a quick storm starting at 7 am and ending at noon. No more than an inch (2.5 cm) or three (7.5 cm). They lied. It snowed the entire day covering all the crucial areas I dug out for Yarn Rascal. As the snow storm lingered and the day grew later my concern over Yarn Rascal’s lack of business transactions increased and I realized no amount of relaxation techniques can halt a migraine that comes from nerves stretched to the fraying point. For while The Skipper and I had no food in the house, Yarn Rascal’s pantry is always well-stocked. Thus, I spent yesterday watching crucial bare ground disappear under heavily falling snow, while Yarn Rascal packed away the food. Yes, he spent yesterday eating like there was to be no tomorrow.

We have 2 acres of yard. When Yarn Rascal wasn’t eating, he was outside with me. Every 30 minutes we walked every inch of that snow and ice landscape to no avail. Even though the roads were not fit for driving (New York state, to my constant amazement each winter, is unable to clear snow from its roads) I called our vet to find out how long can a 13 pound dog last without a business transaction. But they had closed early because of the storm. I toyed with the idea of leaving a message with the answering service. Was this enough of an emergency to bother the vet or should I wait until the sound of my blood pressure gently pounded in my ears? In the meantime, Yarn Rascal scampered back and forth with his toys and eyed the Shetland Yarn on top of the desk well out of his reach. (Yes I started the Shetland Baby Shawl and completed 20 rows of some 400 rows needed for the center.)

Bedtime came and still no business transactions. Yarn Rascal slept straight through the night, very unusual for him.

Up with the sun, Yarn Rascal bounded out into the blinding white snow this morning and viola! A grand business transaction. Honestly, I don’t know if I’m going to make it through the winter sane.

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