Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dogi, part 2

I left you last time, on Dogi part 1 Update,  with these words:

“I now feel much better about this project, although it is resulting in being behind in the spinning. I'm looking forward to getting the new fiber rinsed and drying.”

That I did.

Good thing I have 22 years of middle school flexibility and organization behind me.

First Thinking  ---   salmony/salmony; darker/salmony; darker/blues
Second Thinking -- salmony/salmony; darker/salmony; semi/semi; semi/blues

When I really looked at the larger quantity of darker fiber I realized that not only was it a bit murky and softer, but the blue in it was tealish rather than a light blue. Since this color was going to be featured more than the original it seemed prudent to actually put the 4oz of spun blues merino/silk aside and look for another color. Which I reluctantly did.

I checked out all the multi colored merinos and the merino/silks (how convenient to have my own enormous stash umm shop right nearby - VBG) but none had that greenish blue in them. Jim to the rescue again. He looked at the darker singles, disappeared downstairs for a few minutes and came up with a full bobbin of teal Colonial. Perfect! Of course now I needed to rethink the stripes again.

Final Thinking  --- salmony/salmony; semi/darker; semi/salmony; semi/teal

This is a fun vest to work on. It combines social knitting with concentrated knitting very well. The 9 rows of stockinette between the button rows are each 196 stitches long but easy and relaxing. While the 98 button stitch row takes more concentration and definitely much longer to accomplish.

Button/ribbon stitich: Skip 2 sts, insert needle front to back and bring yarn forward creating a new st. Place new stitch on left needle and knit. Slip those 2 skipped sts to right needle and psso with newest st. Pretty isn’t it?, although it reminds me more of ribbon than a button.

I brought this piece to our guild’s retreat a few weekend’s ago to knit on when I was tired of spinning or tired of knitting on the Art Deco sock. I also brought the Hogwarts Sock Swap sock. Certainly you understand that I had to have choices depending on my mood of the moment. The social part of knitting on this vest was so pleasant with talk going on around me yet I could tune out the conversation long enough to work on the ribbon rows too.

That weekend I managed to get as far as the back, which halved the stitches for a while and went oh so fast.

Once home again I added the left front stitches. The measurements look good so far too.

And now I am only about 6 rows from starting the rounding of the left front bottom.

This is a neat pattern. The 10 row sections keep it 'chunked down' so I get to make marks on the pattern I am like a kid when it comes to checking things off. and enjoy the progress as colors change and stripe. Seeing those marks pleases me so. 

This vest is keeping my interest instead of turning into a UFO!  I realize the edging, using almost all ribbon stitch, will take a while but it should be fun too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Stump Mitten

Bob is my adopted brother.  He is one of the most generous, humorous and pleasant men I know.  Bob is always creating, whether it is dyeing fibers or yarn, making shawls on a continuous thread loom, spinning long draw, creating works of art in glass and even cooking.  Bob lives with his partner, Patrick, on a small farm in upstate NY where they raise sheep, goats, bunnies, dogs and cats.  As a matter of fact, that is where Sparkles came from. His mom was dropped off there while she was pregnant. 

 I love visiting with them.  Actually, that is where I go to make the wonderful Pixie Batts.  I bought my first wheel from Bob which is how I met them. Choosing a wheel with Bob was the most fun I had had in ages.   This dear man has mentored me from almost the beginning of my fiber business career and we continue to share ideas, and even vending space occasionally.

All this said, Bob has some serious challenges in his life.  He was in a shop accident a number of years ago which left him with only 1 hand.  He is also in constant back pain, and now mostly in a wheel chair, from another progressive problem.  Yet Bob does not feel sorry for himself. He and SmokeyBlue are very much alike in this way.  Bob works every day, keeps his business running with his partner and still has time to play and create.  I wanted to make something special for him, noticed he was often cold when outside so decided to make him a stump and matching fingerless mitten.

I looked a bit in books and on the internet but could not find a pattern or at least one I would be proud to have knit. Thinking up designs is fun so I wrote a pattern to fit the image in my head. I was a bit stumped on the size of Bob's arm and did not want to spoil the surprise by asking Patrick to measure Bob, so Jim helped me guess. Then I decided to use decreasing sized ribbing as the mitten would surely then fit better, slowly taper down the arm and stay on his arm. Actually this makes the sizing more general so the mitten can, hopefully,  fit many arms. Not being used to differently-abled wording I had a bit of hesitation naming it a stump mitten, but when I searched the internet using those words I found quite a few commercial stump sock/mittens, but none so fine as the one I gave to Bob.  The free Stump Mitten pattern is below.

Stump Mitten

Made from 2 colors of hand spun sport/DK weight yarn
Gauge = 5 sts/in in stockinette st
Needles = size 5 (3.75mm) dpns or whatever gets you gauge.
Fits a man’s arm.

CO 56 sts with color A. Place a multiple of 7 sts on each needle.

Note: If needed, as you decrease, move stitches to have correct multiples of 6, 5, 4 & 3sts on each needle.

*k5, p2* around for 1.5”

*k2, k2tog, k1, p2* for 1 round (48sts)

*k4, p2* until piece measures 3”

Change to color B yarn.

*k4, p2* around for 2 rows.

*k1, k2tog, k1, p2* for one round (40sts)

*k3, p2* around until total length is 4.5”

*k1, k2tog, p2* for 1 round (32 sts)

*k2, p2* until mitten measures 7”

*k2, p2tog* (24 sts)

*k2, p1* around until total length is 9”

Change back to color A yarn.
*K2, p1* around for 1 more inch

Change again to color B yarn.
*k2, k2tog* (18 sts)

Knit 1 round

*k4, k2tog* (15 sts)

Knit for 7 rounds.

Cut off a tail of about 10” and thread end through an embroidery needle. Run the needle through all the sts, pulling into a tight circle. Tie off. Weave in ends.

A matching set for one stump and a regular hand could be done by using the same yarn on a regular mitten or a fingerless mitten.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pecking Order

I just had to share this with you.  
We all know that bunnies are on the bottom of the food chain. That is why they are so prolific. However, SmokeyBlue has not read Darwin.  His best friend is a Rottweiler. So when we brought home a 3 month old half feral kitten that weighed only 2.5 pounds, SB decided to keep him well trained.
Sparkles, the kitten, has come a long way.   He rarely bites anymore. He can be held for long periods of time and has good manners; at least we don't actually see him on the table or the counters.  He has rid the house of many mice.  He goes in and out the doggie door at will and climbs trees. And at 10 months he weighs over 10 pounds.
Sparkles has been mentored by both a French Angora rabbit and a Rottweiler.  He comes running when he is called by name, he follows us on walks and trots along after Jim to his shop. La Kitten also thinks he should be eating hay and seeds and greens.   He keeps trying them and then spitting them out.  He intently watches SmokeyBlue eating greens hanging from the branches of the Hibiscus bush in the living room, then munches on the branches themselves.  He may be a bit confused but he is one happy kitty.

This morning he watched SB again, casually walked over, drank some water (all 3 drink from SB's water bowl) and then decided to lie down right in front of SB's dish, hay and greens.  He got really comfy too.  Actually looked like he was falling asleep before I snapped the picture.

I told you SmokeyBlue was not the neatest of roommies.

The buns looked at Sparkles for a minute or two and then stuck his nose under the cat and lifted him up.  Once, twice, three times. I was so enthralled that I missed that pic.

Sparkles moved but did not really get the point.

Mr. Blue made sure he understood.

Then proceeded to chow down.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Nature Called

SmokeyBlue watching his world.  Winter 2006

This is a tale about how some males will do just about anything; perform acrobatics even, to get to a female.

It was almost 2 years ago, in April that I remarked to Jim about the plethora of rabbits hopping around our yard. It was just greening, just really feeling like spring and there they were about anywhere I looked. Wild rabbits munching, hopping and looking like they might fit into an Easter Basket.

The very next morning I went out onto the back deck to feed SmokeyBlue. SB lived out there in a 2-story palace with fencing around the railings and a dog fence at the half way mark. I could not see him in his palace, not in his hidey cave, nor under the BBQ, not under the table or the benches. Uh oh. I called and looked some more and asked Basel to help too. He just looked out over the railing. Hmmmmm.

This was not a frequent occurrence but it had happened twice before. After the first time we put up extra fencing and after the second we put up even higher chicken wire. Sure enough I looked over the railing and there was SB on the grass, some 8 feet below. I went down and around and picked him up. Strange, he did not try to hop away to eat more grass. I brought him back up stairs onto the deck and set him down. He did not move, he tried but his legs weren’t working. It took us a while to puzzle this out. He was not stunned but was paralyzed. SB had actually hopped over a 3-foot fence to jump 11 feet down to get him a girlfriend. sigh  He really did prefer being on the grass to overlooking it.

SmokeyBlue had broken his spine. I knew bunnies had a weak spine, which is why they travel in such small cages, to prevent a jumping up that would break it. In this case it was a jumping down. I went onto the Internet to see what could possibly be done. Most of the information told me to keep him warm and dry and comfortable. To bathe his nether end and try to express his pee and poop. Most of the information told me he might last a month. His ability to pee on his own came back within 10 days and his poop a bit sooner. Both excellent signs of healing.

I began a process of experimentation with diapers and diaper covers and Frisbees. One to catch his pee and poop, one to hold it on and the other to allow him to slide around. We quickly nixed putting him in his palace as he would pull himself out of it and flop to the ground. He needed a sleeping shelter so we got a cathouse that he could pull himself in to. It had taken SB about 2 weeks to figure out and to strengthen his front legs. He became very adept at pulling himself all around the deck. He did not like the Frisbee or any hard sliding object we used. I think he did not like the noise they made. For a long while I settled on plastic baby bibs. They protected his knees and allowed him to slide over the wooden decking.

Oh and in this photo Basel has a sore foot.  One night around 2am, he started growling. When we turned on the deck light there was a raccoon on the railing. We guess he had come to eat from the bird feeder. This was scary, since the buns was no longer closed into his palace at night which kept him safe from marauding hunters.  That night we took him inside and inside he has been ever since. He does go out occasionally for an hour or two but then comes back in.

Life with a paraplegic rabbit is interesting. His teeny diapers are changed 2-3 times a day, he is bathed every evening and he gets bedsores that need padding but do heal. His little bum is as small as a newborn’s so finding the right size diapers was a trial and error process. After a year I didn’t really like how many Pampers I was adding to the landfill and found some g-diapers to use. The covers are washable and the diapers themselves are paper so are flushable and compostable. We use denim doggie diaper covers over his diapers, which shield his knees from sliding burns. You can see a photo of him wearing them in the previous post.

SB likes to roll his ball to empty and eat the seeds I put into it. He also will tip his crunchies crock to get at some better morsels. Rabbits are not neat roommates. We find hay just about anywhere, seeds too. I hang organic greens from chair rails and plants to keep him busy as they are foragers. I think hunting around the room looking for greens is akin to normality, or as normal as it is going to get. SB likes the aromatic greens best –basil, cilantro, dill, then dandelions, parsley and watercress. He adores curly kale and striped sunflower seeds and raspberries. Basel now eats seeds too. And Sparkles keeps trying to eat the hay, although each time he finds it lacking.

So it is now almost two years since SmokeyBlue’s accident. He will be 3 in April as well. Sadly his leap for rabbitkind did not net him a score but he is a happy bunny that could teach us a lot about living each day to the fullest. He does not get depressed. He does not feel sorry for himself. He does not languish or lie around. SmokeyBlue has made friends with Sparkles, the kitten, he watches the squirrels at the bird feeder and moves about the living room at will. He feeds himself from my offerings and likes to snuggle up to Basel. He also comes and sleeps under the chair next to mine when I read or knit at the table. We don’t know how long he will be with us, healthy bunnies can live up to 10 years, but we are certainly enjoying his sweet, unusual and inspiring personality.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ice Day Ice Day

Today was the kind of day I was looking forward to when I retired from teaching and started working for myself.  Actually the first thing I did when I retredded was throw away my alarm clock.  Getting up at 5:30am for 22 years was way too much early rising for my body's natural rhythm.  Last night's weather report was for ice, snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain with windy conditions for most of today.  That made it a possible 'snow day'.

When I taught, last night would have been a series of getting up, looking out the window, going back to sleep, getting up again a few hours later and repeating that until rising even earlier than usual, putting on the radio and listening to hear if school was closed.  I taught in Ithaca, where closing school did not happen often, even when surrounding schools were closed.  I remember mornings, at a barely light 6:45 am, of scraping and banging enough ice off my windshield to have a circle to peer out of, then hacking my way into the car and cautiously backing out of the driveway, slowly making it down to the main road, and then in to Ithaca, 12 miles north. Sometimes those few miles took 45 minutes or more.   

Sooo I was one happy camper when I read the forecast yesterday.  I packed up my portable office from the shop and set up the computer, cell and other needed items in the yarn room, ready for today. This morning surprisingly brought the predicted forecast.  I got up so happy to spend the entire day inside in my jammies, doing work, catching up on things and generally having a good time with myself and any fiberholics ummm customers who happened to call. 

 I had a long list of jobs to get done-----
  • Hauling equipment up the stairs so Jim could refinish the floor. Doesn't it look nice already?  

  • Rinsing and drying 5 pounds of targhee
  • Stopping up the sink.

Well, not really, but it did happen right in the middle of rinsing some biscotti targhee. So Jim was called down from the floor work above to be a plumber.  Jim wears many hats, besides the balaclava.  He is a carpenter, cabinet maker, floor refinisher, plumber, electrician, spindle turner and a whole bunch of other useful things.  Of course while he was unstopping the sink he managed to get pink water all the way to the other side of the kitchen. We are not discussing that, although the floor is now much cleaner. Now we have to avoid using the sink until tomorrow morning.  Once I get going on my list of things to do I really want to be crossing items off, not postponing them.  Sooo after considering the options I completed rinsing  the targhee in the bathroom sink; not an easy process but it did finish the job.  Jim even made us some nice eggs, toast and coffee just like a holiday or Sunday morning.
  • then to cook ummm, heat set more targhee.
  • Pay some bills as it is the first of the month.

  • Enjoy the fuzzies.
Yup, that's Basel, SmokeyBlue and Sparkles all comfy right near the dining room table.

  • Make ads for Ravelry. 
Another one is at the bottom of this page.

  • Watching the redpolls through the icy window at the feeder.
These little finch sized birds come all the way from arctic coastal areas to winter in upstate NY.  I get boggled thinking that they think this is warm.

My reward is going to be to spin up more fiber for the Dogi Vest.

  • and to make some yarn samples for the 5 new tonal colors in Blue-faced Leicester. 
Sneak preview