Knit the Dog

[...because if I ever run out of yarn--- I can just knit the dogs.]

Friday, April 18, 2008

Crossing the finish line

I actually finished something! If you only knew how rare that is. This pillow was the result of thinking that it would be simpler to cover the throw pillows that looked icky on the new couch by knitting than by sewing something, which shows you how I hate to sew. But there is a lot of surface in a pillow. I could very nearly have made a sweater with that much yarn, and it was pricey. Lovely and soft, but a bit dear.
So the remaining three pillows, one the same size and two blessedly smaller, will be covered with the contents of this basket: lesser, but still worthy, yarns. Especially if they're going to be snoozed on and perhaps acquire a little dog hair.

I promised myself a knitting day today, and I did knit but have not so much to show for it. I must be much slower than I thought I was. Maybe we need someone to invent a knitting speedometer [and then maybe not.] I spent the morning trying to achieve gauge for a summer cardigan and did not quite get there. Then I went to the gym, which I have to do because I paid for it & told my husband I was going; ate lunch, and knit about half of one side of a pillow in very bulky yarn, and finished the ouevre above. How do the folks on Ravelry turn out so much work? Am I not watching the right TV shows?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mom's Laprobes

Mom would have loved our bright pink azaleas; just the color for an afghan. When I was young, she crocheted and tatted a bit, but was probably too busy to give yarn much attention. After Dad died in ’91, though, she took up knitting with vigor. She’d go to the bargain store and get log-size skeins of synthetic variegated yarn, the brighter the better, preferably with some pink or red included. [This woman had a bright pink kitchen with red and white curtains and red-checked oilcloth on the table for 60 years. She knew what she liked.] Then she’d cast as many stitches onto long aluminum straight needles as she could, enough to make a rectangle about three feet wide. The only stitch she ever learned was straight garter. When it was long enough, she cast off. My job, when I came to see her, was to weave in all the ends, go around the edge with single crochet, and then crochet a shell stitch border. When she had a few, she’d take them up to the nuns either for the old folk’s home [older folks than Mom] or to sell at a flea market.
The last afghan, knit during her final year when she was very unwell, was never finished. As her sight got poorer and the pain medication more frequent, the piece spread into an uneven mass of dropped stitches and knots. Still, she liked to spread it on her lap and pick up the needles, and drift off to sleep. I kept the last skein, a rather startling mix of fuchsia, purple, pink, and blue. I kept all her metal needles and the bone crochet hooks, the silver thimbles, wooden darning egg, and soft faded tape measures. I still use the needles now and then, and the worn down tips and silvery ends fill my heart. I feel connected to a long chain of women knitting and crocheting, back to some ancient Irish grandmother spinning thick sheepy wool for a fisherman’s sweater. Some Red Heart yarn in the “Azalea” colorway would have been right up Mom’s alley.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Eternal Sock

This sock would be a little less eternal if we could ever reach the heel. It’s a First Sock, so it’s entitled to have issues. But. Phase One started off bravely with an inch of ribbing & three inches of stockinet when I finally had to admit that----- either I would have to put both feet in one sock or find a sockless elephant to gift it to. Not being on friendly terms with any elephants at the moment, I ripped. Phase Two got off to a jaunty start too, and lasted for about two inches, when I faced the truth that if I kept going I would have a roll-top sock that would snap down around my ankles as soon as I put it on. Then I got distracted and made a cushy pair of alpaca fingerless gloves for my Spanish teacher, a few bibs for my granddaughter Cate, and part of a pillow cover. A day or two ago I embarked on Phase III, and I think this time the sock & I will successfully get to the heel-turning thing. Maybe. Stay tuned. But don’t you love the Regia yarn?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How I learned to knit

Actually I didn't, for many years. First I learned to crochet. My Mom had a German friend, Anna, who came here after WWII. Anna was a knock-out cook who always had cookies or cake on hand and lots of patience, and she lived three blocks from us. Back in the 50's a 7-year old girl could walk all over town without anyone being afraid, let alone me, and the only restriction was that when the Waterworks whistle blew-- a mournful hooting that could be heard for miles-- then we had to scamper home for either lunch or dinner.
So I pestered Anna on a regular basis. First she showed me how to make snakes with crochet thread and a wooden spool with small nails driven in the top [now we use a plastic gizmo and call it I-cord.] Then I learned to crochet with thread around the edges of handkerchiefs. Much later, in my hippie days, crochet was one of many arts used to make presents for long-suffering family. Every decade or so I'd try to knit and it seemed sooooo sloooow and frustrating compared to crochet, which I could knock out by the yard. Finally, now in my dotage, I retired and realized that I had pretty well saturated the market for lap robes, and wanted to make something that would actually fit, like a sweater.
Enter the internet-- the wonderful instructional internet. Do you have any idea how many knitting videos there are on YouTube? Plus wonderful step by step diagrams. I discovered how to hold the yarn, and the knit stitch was easy. I discovered (OK, so I'm slow) that when you purl you have to Move The Yarn to The Front. Hey, nobody ever told me that.
So now I can knit. But I wouldn't be doing it if it weren't for Anna, my Mom, and a host of wonderful women behind the scenes.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

About that dog

Two dogs, actually; Jack, who is knittable, and Rosie, who has tons of hair but also has water dog genes, so she's a little on the greasy side. Maybe intended for fisherman's sweaters.
Note in the pic Jack's luxurious caramel fur. Note also that we have dog-colored rugs. You know how sheep leave tufts of wool on fences and thorns during the shedding season? Jack does that all over the house, and is generous enough to do it all year. Birds in our yard line their nests with it; I've seen them carrying off the fluffies after he's had a good brushing. So I could absolutely knit the dog, if I wanted a comfy sweater imbued with a strong whiff of Eau de Best Friend.

So I thought I'd try this blogging thing---

I tried on all my summer pants this morning and only saved one pair to wear-- the rest were all TOO BIG. Yup, I has shrunk. This is a wonderful thing considering that I have gradually been gaining weight for oh, about the last 30 years. I only have a mere 40 more pounds to go. This will keep me occupied for most of the year, I suspect.
For reasons unknown I'm knitting pillow covers for the existing pillows that will live on our new couch. They're yucky colors, I have an awful lot of yarn, it's an excuse to buy more yarn, and they should be dead easy. If you knit, those are reasons enough. The first one is half Kara in a blue mix and half Baby Alpaca Grande, incredibly sensuous soft squishy yarn that you just want to crawl into & take a nap. If it weren't so pricey I would seriously make an afghan out of it. Like all my projects they are taking too long, because I think about knitting more than I actually seem to do it [kind of like I used to think about dieting more than........]
Tonight is the Third Night of the Chicken, ie a roasted bird, so I will either make soup or chicken salad. Since the azaleas are bursting out and sun is shining, all very Spring-y, I opt for salad. A few walnuts, some celery, a little fruit of some sort, a light dressing, something on the side; and we'll call it supper. Maybe the pound of fava beans I got at the store on Friday because I love their bright green. Of course a pound of pods will make about a tablespoon each, and every bean has to be shelled, blanched, peeled, etc., but I never mind interacting with nice vegetables. It's my fave part of cooking. Somebody else could come in and handle the nasty meat [and of course do the dishes and clean the sink] and I'll happily deal with any amount of vegetables.
Next post I'll explain the title of this blog.