Sunday, December 28, 2008

Where was I?

It looks like family and friends and the xmas holidays take precedence over blogging, not just here but at many blogs around the world. Hope everyone is enjoying their respite.

Not much knitting has been happening lately, either. I was intrigued by a chapter in the Yarn Harlot's book Free Range Knitter where she describes going off into the middle of nowhere to finish some writing. She took a bit of knitting with her, anticipating lots of down time when not actively working, but much to her surprise, she did not knit all that much. Which raises the question of why we knit when we knit? I truly enjoy knitting, but sometimes I think I use it as an excuse to avoid other things that need my attention. It's a pretty good excuse, too, because it's an activity that actually produces something.

And speaking of Yarn Harlot, look what I got from my SO for xmas:

Now I have to toddle off to bed because, even though I am on vacation this week, I have scheduled something almost every day. Tomorrow is a morning teeth cleaning and an afternoon furnace cleaning.

Monday, December 22, 2008

In Progress

Last week, instead of finishing up an existing WIP, I started something entirely new.

This is a Booga Bag, from Black Sheep Bags. I didn't have three skeins of Noro Kureyon, so I knit the bottom and a few rounds from black Cascade 220, an idea I got from Shea. It's ready for felting, which I have never done before. Wish me luck!

And Wisp and I are getting along these days (knock on wood).

This project requires good light and strict attention to detail. Every stitch is counted, every row checked off. It is about half done. And I'm feeling comfortable enough with the Kidsilk Haze that I am contemplating more projects with it. (Famous last words!)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It happened again

I ran out of yarn while knitting a pair of socks. Again! Fortunately, I had not grafted the toe of sock 1 yet, so I was able to frog back and divvy up the remaining yarn between the two.

About a yard of yarn remained for grafting.

These are for Mr. Skinnylegs, so they felt tight on me. And short. Blocking to the rescue.

Pattern: Magic Stripe Socks from Lion Brand
Yarn: Schaefer Yarn Lola in "Toni Morrison"
Needles: US2
Modifications: Ribbed the legs and the instep for a better fit

The heel stitches for this pattern create a very dense fabric that I like. And I don't know why I ran out of yarn, because Lola is a 4oz skein. Does ribbing really use up that much more yarn?

Side note: I like to knit both socks at the same time on DPNs. My two sets of US2 DPNs are not from the same manufacturer, though, and are not the same size. They both fit the US2 hole in my needle sizer, but the naked eye can see they are not identical. Hence, I knit these one sock at a time. If I had been knitting both socks at the same time, I might have realized sooner that there was going to be yarn shortage.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Must Be Getting Old

Wisp is kicking my butt.

Several years ago I gave up on counted cross stitch because of my aging eyesight. Now I may have to give up on Kidsilk Haze.

But not yet. The above two gaps weren't the first boo-boo's on this scarf, though, so I frogged and began anew.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

No Mas

I think I am done with neck warmers for now.

These two make four in all, two in Noro Silk Garden, the one above in Nashua Handknits Snowbird (which looks surprisingly like this one) and the one below in Autunno.

At some point, I tried on the Snowbird neck warmer and came to the conclusion that 50g of yarn is a bit stingy. I used up yarn leftover from the Pine Cone scarf for the other one, hence it is a bit more generous.

I would like to make myself a neck warmer, to wear when walking in the winter because the cold air makes my lungs ache. In my fantasy world, I could pull the neck warmer up over my mouth and warm the air by breathing through the wool. But that neck warmer can wait, because I am a little sick of them right now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Swoon

The other day I mentioned my own personal stimulus package involving yarn on the one hand and books on the other. Besides some xmas gifts, I purchased three books for myself from Amazon.

First up, two by Barbara Walker.

I have been thinking about knitting a blanket for my queen-sized bed but feared I could not stick with a project that big. With the Learn-to-Knit-Afghan Book, said blanket will feel like 63 little projects. Heh. I can do that. Just look at the "FO's in 2008" in the side bar. Of course, nothing else may get done in 2009.

But if I do decide to knit something other than blanket, I can knit it top down, with the help of this book.

Yes, I know I talk about knitting socks toe up, but really, everything else should be knit top down, dontcha think? And without seams, if possible.

Now, on to the swooning.

I liked the first M-D book, but this one has me in a dead faint. Coats! Rugs! Swiffer covers! Little girl dresses and big boy sweaters! Cozies for cardigans! Wearable poetry, for god's sake! But what has absolutely slayed me are the knitted jeans, made from denim yarn, complete with authentic stitchery.

Ann and Kay, you are killing me.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

That's Better

As you may recall, I was trying my hand at the 1x1 ribbed Noro Silk Garden scarf that everyone has been raving about. As you may also recall, I was not loving the results. Somehow I had picked two colorways that did not play well together. Also, I did not purchase enough yarn for a complete scarf. Not feeling inclined to throw good money after bad, I separated the squabbling colorways and made two neck warmers instead.

Now I am enchanted with the results.

Just like some creatures of the feline persuasion need to be in single-cat households, these colorways look their best going solo.

Pattern: Neck warmer from Knitty Keen
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden (I've lost the ball bands so I don't know the colorways)
Needles: US7 circs
Modifications: Cast on with a 1x1 ribbed long tail cast-on, knit until the yarn is almost gone, bound off with EZ's sewn bind off as described at knitty

This is the same pattern I used for a previous neck warmer and is so easy and quick to knit that I am doing a little stash busting by rounding up stray 50g worsted weight skeins and converting them to neck warmers. These will be great to have on hand should the sudden need arise for a little xmas present.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Men in Knits

Knitting Daily conducted a survey a while back that asked, "What do men want in a sweater?" To quote from the results:

The Perfect Men's Sweater is a long-sleeved pullover (80%), without a hood (64%). It is dark in color (90%), preferably solid blue (82%). It has minimal texture (68%), although something subtle, such as a bit of ribbing, is acceptable (58%).

Apparently, Tara Jon Manning did not read this survey before published her book Men in Knits, which is subtitled Sweaters to Knit that He WILL Wear.

Let me say first that the book is chock full of lovely sweaters. Lovely textured sweaters. Lovely colorful sweaters. And vests. And cardigans. I would love to knit any of these sweaters. They are gorgeous and interesting and fun.

What I had trouble imagining was any man I know wearing them. So I decided to conduct my own unscientific survey by asking a few men to do the following: peruse the patterns and mark any that 1) you would consider buying for yourself, or 2) you would wear if someone gave it to you. (Oddly enough, I had to assure some of these men that participation in the survey would not lead to their receiving any handknit items from me.)

Male #1 was my SO (who sadly is not destined to ever receive a sweater from me because of the curse of the boyfriend sweater, but I think a vest may be in his future). SO is from a blue collar background but is well read and kind of artsy fartsy, especially regarding color and texture, and is closing in on 60. He marked a surprisingly variety of items, eight in all, including pullovers, cardigans, and vests. I was a little surprised and wondering if my premise was ill founded.

Male #2 was a co-worker, formerly in the military, very Republican (but hates GW), and a history buff in his 50's. He picked only two items, a surprisingly busy Aran cardigan and a pullover with colorwork. He also admitted that he rarely wears sweaters.

Male #3 was another co-worker, a newly minted AARP member, rather red in the neck but kind to animals (he once twisted his ankle rescuing a turtle from becoming road kill). He also does not wear sweaters much, but picked three items, two of them busy Arans.

Male #4 was yet another co-worker, yet another non-sweater wearing middle aged guy but left leaning and very left brained. He picked three items, one of which was a busy Aran.

Males #5 and #6 were supposed to be my son and son-in-law, both of whom escaped before I could corner them, but my daughter offered to pick for them, assured she would know what they would wear. She picked nothing.

So. What conclusions could one draw from my survey? I think if the knitter is inclined to stray from the results of the Knitting Daily survey, an Aran sweater is a safe bet, unless the recipient is under 30.

Or do what I do: Ask before knitting.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

That Darn Internet

I've been looking for what appears not to exists: DK weight self-striping superwash sock yarn in manly colors. DK weight because xmas is rapidly closing in on us, self-striping because the sock pattern will be generic and I need some entertainment to see me through, we know why superwash, and manly colors because the socks will be for a man. Not an easy bill to fill.

But I did find DK weight superwash yarn in manly colors that, while not self-striping, will still amuse, at Simply Socks.

Schaefer Yarn Lola in "Toni Morrison". It is so lovely, I could not wait to cast on the socks.

And, since I could think of at least one other man who needs another pair of socks, I also bought "Empress Wu Zhao".

All fine and good. But then I made the mistake of checking out the sale items and wound up adding some Noro Kureyon Sock (I did not pick the colorway because that was the deal - potluck)...

... and also Cherry Tree Hill in "Island Red".

The next thing I knew, I had free shipping.

Lesson was not learned because within 24 hours I was also at Amazon, but we'll discuss that economic stimulus package on another day.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wear Your Sitcom Chic to Work Day

Post blocking, I slipped on Sitcom Chic the other night and said to myself, "Huh. I knit me a sweater." Not the first one, but the first one I feel comfortable wearing in public.

Pattern: Sitcom Chic from knitty
Yarn: Classic Elite Four Seasons
Needles: US 7 for most of it, US3 for the ribbing and edging (because I didn't have US4 circs).
Modifications: Made the body and sleeves longer, and in the process made them a little bigger around; omitted button/button loop (because I don't have any good buttons for this sweater)

I really like this yarn - 70% cotton, 30% wool. It is not as stiff as cotton and knits into a nice dense fabric, which makes it surprisingly warm. It blocks well, too.

Since my yarn choice deviated from the yarn recommended by the pattern, I calculated how much I needed by yardage. After all, I had seen this done in yarn stores. But it might have been a ploy to sell more yarn, as I have over SEVEN 50g skeins left over. Since it is such an intense color, I'm not sure what I will do with it.

Thursday I wore my new sweater to work, but had to go begging for compliments. One of my knitting cohorts has been "made redundant", another fellow knitter was out sick, a third was on the phone, etc. While chatting with the cashier in the cafeteria, I pointed out my new hand knit sweater, then mistook her polite interest for more and started waxing poetic about learning to spin. As her eyes glazed over, my supervisor stepped up beside me in line. He thinks I also churn butter. The cashier suggested I could add adobe brick making to my repertoire of skills. Ha. Ha.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Darn socks

Another FO, another finally finished FO.

Pattern: Hedgerow socks from Knitter's Review
Yarn: Yarn Daze in Raspberry
Needle size: US1
Modifications: Increased girth by one pattern repeat, leg length by one inch

I thought I had enough yarn to make these bigger, but the result is I ran out of yarn. Consequently, the feet are really short, too short for me. Blocking makes them wearable by my daughter. (You're welcome, dear.)

See? This is why I need to learn to knit socks toe up.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Xmas shopping, sort of

If you need some individual attention, Thanksgiving weekend is a good time to visit your LYS. I hit all two of them on Saturday, and was the only shopper there.

LYS #1 didn't have anything on my shopping list, but felt compelled to make a pity purchase, two skeins of Noro Silk Garden. I wanted to see what the big deal was about the striped 1x1 ribbed scarves "everyone" is knitting with this yarn, alternating colorways.

So far, I'm not in love with the colorways I picked. The dark blue belched green from the center pull skein, the mauve spit out gold and pink. And I think I was supposed to by four skeins, not two, to complete a scarf. We'll see how this goes.

LYS #2 had the Addi Turbo Lace needles I wanted, in US8, for knitting Kidsilk Haze.

I started Wisp on Sunday, and these worked better than anything else I tried. I'm not loving Kidsilk Haze, either, but I viewed some finished Wisps on Ravelry and am inspired to continue.

Then, in the interest of learning to knit socks toe up, I purchased some superwash worsted.

My plan is to practice toe up with worsted, then DK, and finally fingering. I can wear these red red socks with my red, red, red sweater. Should be comfy.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dash it all

The Dashing mitts are done.

Pattern: Dashing from knitty
Yarn: Gedifra Volata Tweed, colorway 9093
Needles: US6 DPNs
Modifications: None

If I were do knit these again, I would select a less busy yarn, as the cables get lost in this so-called tweed.

These are going to be "computer gauntlets" for my dad whose computer room is a converted sun porch. These should keep his hands warm so he can write me emails more often.

So, that completes the xmas gift package that needs to go in the mail. Onto the presents for those who are not only dear but nearby.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Elbac Is Cable Spelled Backwards

FINALLY! It's done.

Pattern: Elbac from knitty
Yarn: Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Worsted in "Soft Sage"
Needles: US6 straights
Modifications: None

I did soak and block this scarf, which helped relax the yarn. It is still a little scratchy for my tastes, but it's not for me.

(This scarf was made possible by the many web-based conference meetings that occurred at work during the month of November. Not that I would knit at work.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Idle Hands

Last night I was too tired to knit (hard to believe but it was true), so I decided to check the stash for xmas potential. Specifically, I was looking for some manly sock yarn. Two possible candidates were all I could find, so I wound them into balls while listening to the final chapters of The Amber Spyglass.

The one on the left is Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in "Serengeti" but I would call it "Muted Fall Foliage". The one on the right is "Coffee Pot Rock" from Sprightly Goods, which I thought would look more like coffee not coffee pot, let alone rock (one of the downsides of buying yarn online). The latter is unassigned, but the Serengeti is destined to become a pair of Monkey socks. Hmmm. No xmas potential here - besides, it's getting late so I'd better make those socks from DK.

Now, a smart knitter would have put that yarn away. And I truly did try to ignore it. I even tried to start a little something with Kidsilk Haze, but came to the conclusion that I need some lace Addis for that. I even went to bed, figuring tomorrow is a new day. And yes, today was a new day, a beautiful day, the perfect day to start those Monkey socks.

My only defense is I am trying to save gas by combining car trips, so I couldn't go to the LYS until Saturday, after yoga, to find some DK or Addis. And this is a little reward for having not one, not two, but three FO's ready to block. Whoo! I think I deserve a little quality sock time when not eating Tday leftovers.

Betsy, aka Roomba, says, "Make me a plate, too!"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Take Your Sitcom Chic to Work Day, Part II

With many knitting projects, when the actual knitting ends, the real work begins: seaming, edging, etc. Not so Sitcom Chic. Last night I started the edging and today at lunch I finished the edging. Now I just have to sew up the armpits, weave in the ends, and convince the ribbing not to curl.

Betsy update: The good news is Betsy's lymph nodes are back to normal, so we will interpret that as meaning no lymphoma. I was feeling a bit discouraged that the ACL surgery did not make Betsy good as new, but then I remembered that she was not all that good to start with. Prior to blowing out her knee, she had been on prednisone for unknown back problems. So last Friday I convinced the vet to provide more prednisone and now, five days later, Betsy is close to being back to what is normal for her. She still needs to build up her strength, but at least I don't have to carry her around anymore.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On, Dashing!

How did I wind up with two cable projects at the same time? I think I remember wanting some cable practice, in preparation for a cable-y sweater. Be careful what you wish for.

Fingerless mitts are an easy project (except for the thumbs), sort of like socks without the heel turn or Kitchener stitch. Dashing is broken into sections by the cabling, so it has also easy to pick up and put down. But now I am in the homestretch, heading for the finger tips.

The cables make the wrists kind of snug, to the point of impeding circulation. I hope blocking will relax them a bit.

Scarves go on forever, especially if they are supposed to be 80 inches long and even more so if one is not sure how to bind off cables while doing a diagonal decrease. Regarding the latter, I did not like how my first attempt turned out. I tried to just rip back to where the diagonal bind off started but discovered that the yarn wanted to cling to itself, almost as bad as Kidsilk Haze. Eventually, I tinked back, row after row, then more rows because tinking cables is a bit tricky and I kept dropping stitches. That was how I spent Friday night. Saturday afternoon I recovered and finished the scarf. I decided to soak 'n block, hoping to make the yarn bloom more and to soften it a bit.

Once it is dry, all that remains is to weave in the ends.

The above projects are xmas gifts that need to be mailed, so I have been concentrating on them instead of finishing Sitcom Chic.

As you may recall, I ripped back to the armpits to make the sleeves and body longer. In the process of lengthening the body, I also increased the width a bit. When I re-attached the sleeves, though, I forgot about the increased body width and set them in their old location. This error actually turned out to be a good thing. My shoulders are kind of broad and rounded, so this gives the sweater more room where I need it. Serendipity, baby!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Socks for Bottles

I thought I would get a lot of knitting accomplished at WW. I took Elbac, Dashing, and Tropical Treat. But the cabin where we stay is not well-lit and it was too cold to sit on the porch and there were movies to watch, so after a while I just gave up.

A friend of one of my WW friends knit this water bottle cover for her.

Basically, it is a sock without a heel. The decreases on the bottom look like those on a sock toe or a raglan sweater, but one could also decrease like the top of a hat or a pinwheel.

Wouldn't this make a quick and easy xmas gift?

P.S. My SO just called from the library. He spotted Free Range Knitter on the shelf. Score!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Take Your Sitcom Chic to Work Day

I really, really, really wanted to work on Sitcom Chic last night, but when I got home, the dog looked perky so we did 10 laps around the fireplace. Then I had to feed her and eat something myself and change clothes and read the paper and go to yoga. On the way home, I stopped at Pet Supplies Plus, Walgreens, and Marathon (gas is under $2 a gallon! Time to stock up!) When I did get home, I made some popcorn (this too made the dog perky) and cleaned up the kitchen and performed a bit of neighborhood association business I had been neglecting (I'm the treasurer), and updated two of my blogs, which led to a little blog reading. Suddenly, it was 9pm. Bunny Hour was reduced to Bunny Half-Hour while I knit a couple of rows on Sitcom Chic. Then it was time to do bunny chores, take the dog out one more time, surreptitiously feed the cat out of the dog's bowl, and crawl into bed with a crossword puzzle.

This morning, when I picked up my knitting bag and saw SC sitting forlornly on the coffee table, I said screw it, the cables can wait. Although technically a bit bulky to be portable, SC crawled into the bag and off to work we went. I didn't make all that much progress over lunch, but with every two rows, the stitch count drops by 8 stitches, so the more I knit, the faster it goes. Every little bit helps.

Tonight, date night is over, I'm in my jammies, so it's just me, The Amber Spyglass, and Sitcom Chic. Aahhh!

Update on Betsy: We went back to the vet on Monday, for a butt squeeze (the dog's, not mine) and consultation. Dr. M was a bit shocked (but not dismayed) that Betsy is doing better. He thinks her stiff gait is related to her ongoing back problems. A co-worker of mine whose golden retriever recently had hip surgery has had good results with fish oil, so I will start Betsy on that soon. And Who? Me? recommended Ester C, so I may add that to the arsenal. Betsy is only 6 years old and should be enjoying her life more.

BUT. The lymph nodes behind her knees are still a little swollen. I worry that she is really sick but we don't know for sure and I don't want to know for sure because I am 99% sure I would not put her through chemo anyway, so why spend the money to find out? Sometimes I'd rather just be fat, dumb, and happy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Did I Do That?

I screwed up posting my last post, and some comments got lost. It's a little fuzzy, but I think I published, then unpublished because I wanted to add some pix, then gave up on the pix and republished.

Anyway, I didn't delete your comments! Don't stop commenting! It's not you, it's me!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Trouble with Scarves

Most patterns for scarves that I am interested in knitting invariably give the finished length as 80 inches. Gah. None of the patterns are THAT interesting. I do get in the neighborhood, though. Eventually.

Elbac is bogging down again, about three-quarters of the way through. I even bought myself some real cable needles to help spur my interest. But Dashing started whispering my name. Today at lunch, instead of slogging through more reversible cable, I cast on Dashing - both mitts - and worked about ten rounds on each.

First off, I want to whine about yarn that comes in doughnut shaped balls. Ostensibly, these are center pull balls, but about 90% of the time, I cannot find the end that is buried inside the center of the doughnut, 75% of the time when I do find the end of the yarn and pull, half the inner contents of the ball belch out from the doughnut hole, and 50% of the time, I have a snarly mess on my hands. These statistics appear to be holding true with the current yarn.

Otherwise, I'm liking Gedifra Volata Tweed. It's made in Italy for a German company, and little of the labeling is in English other than "New wool". It's fuzzy, though, and feels like it would felt well. If I have enough left over, I may use it to make a little felted bag or box. If I manage to accomplish that by the end of the year, I will have attained one item from my "Learn in 2008" list. Whoohoo.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

On Screen Knitting

I watched "Babette's Feast" the other night, a foreign film with subtitles (see my review here), but I had a difficult time reading the dialog because I was distracted by the handknits. Two of the main characters knitted socks for the needy and sported some lovely shawls and wraps. While watching the movie, I wore one of my own wraps. Cozy!

I'm up to the yoke detailing on Sitcom Chic. The fuchsia is getting tiresome, but I still like the cotton-wool blend yarn.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

It's Okay - It's for Xmas

The other day I pulled out the pattern for Dashing and perused the instructions. Afterwards, I examined the yarn that I now feel was foisted upon me at a LYS. Not quite what the pattern calls for, which was an excellent excuse to buy yarn, this time at a different LYS.

Although I have been fairly successful as of late refraining from yarn purchases (yarn purchased while out of town on vacation does not count, as vacation is all about contributing to the local economy), Dashing is for my dad for xmas.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Disappointed in Me

While updating my blog template, I noticed that I have not accomplish any of the things listed under "Learn in 2008". Other than my half-assed attempt at spinning, nary a one was even contemplated in any depth. Not that I did not knit (see "FO's in 2008".) I just did not try anything really new.

It's not entirely me fault, though. There are so many intriguing patterns and gorgeous yarns, it is difficult to see beyond them.

And then there are the UFO's, many of which have been sitting in the sidebar for at least a year. Unlike some of us, I lack the discipline to stick with self-imposed rules. My rebellious nature fights my inner adult as well.

The past two years I have been successful at keeping my New Year's Resolutions, though. Maybe I can work some knitting goals into this year's resolution.

Update on Betsy: She continues to feel better - her appetite is improved, she is back to barking at nothing again, and there has been further reduction in the swollen lymph nodes - but she is still stiff. Before her ACL surgery, she had x-rays which showed insignificant amounts of arthritis, so it's not that. She has lost muscle mass, though, so I think she is just incredibly out of shape from laying around for the past seven weeks. She is not a high energy dog to begin with, so it doesn't take much for her to give in to total inertia. (Like owner, like dog?) So I'm trying some gentle doggie massage and PT. She loves the extra attention. (Don't we all!)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Cautiously Optimistic

Betsy appears to be responding to the antibiotics and new pain meds. The swelling of the lymph nodes on the backs of her knees has gone down some, she is getting around a bit better, and she is displaying some of her old self. I'm hopeful.

I did a little Internet research on lymphoma in dogs and discovered that chemo, when it works, extends their lives only 12 to 14 months. I think Dr. B is the kind of vet who will spare no effort, while Dr. M takes into consideration the cost effectiveness of a treatment. ACL surgery can make a dog as good as new, while with chemo you are just buying time. We shall see.

Meanwhile, the arms are back on Sitcom Chic. Since I am reknitting the yoke, I am trying out the SSK "Improved" as described on Knitting Help, to see what the difference is.

Elbac has been neglected for about two weeks, but tomorrow we have a "lunch and learn" session which should allow me to make some progress.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Poor Dog, Part II

Betsy has never recovered from her ACL surgery. After her pain meds were gone, she was obviously still in pain, so I started giving her baby aspirin. This helped some, but she continued to walk stiff-legged. I tried weaning her off the aspirin a couple of times, but then she was truly miserable.

She had been back to the vet clinic where the surgery had been performed a couple of times, once to have the sutures removed and again when I felt she should be improving more rapidly and wanted someone to see her stiff gait. They seemed to think she was doing okay, and assured me it would just take time.

Six weeks later and she still has good days and bad days. Today is a good day - she is willing to hobble around and can make it up the one step it takes to enter the house. Sunday was a bad day - she whimpered and trembled, not even getting off her pillow for popcorn.

Today we went back to the vet clinic where the surgery was performed, to make sure the problem was not related to the surgery itself. While waiting our turn, one of the techs came out to give Betsy some love and commented that Betsy felt warm. The exam revealed no fever, but Dr. B found some swollen lymph nodes. Fever + swollen lymph nodes = infection. Swollen lymph nodes without fever = ???

He drew some fluid from the most swollen lymph node and examined it under a microscope. He had two other vets look, too (which I later found added to the bill). They felt there was a definite possibility of a tumor.

Further diagnosis involves blood work and a biopsy, and presumably more visits, so I decided Betsy should return to our regular vet whose office is much closer to home. In case my regular vet didn't treat lymphoma, we discussed possible treatment if it were a tumor: chemotherapy, three doses, three weeks apart, administered "in hospital".

Um, how much does that cost? I asked.

Oh, it won't be that much, said Dr. B.

I recently had a lawyer tell me his fee would not be that much, I countered.

Ha-ha-ha! Okay. Around $200 a treatment.

$$$! went my brain.

Only because it has to be done in hospital. The chemo itself is not that expensive.

How successful is the treatment? I asked.

Oh, very successful! I get almost 100% remission rate. But it will come back eventually, and then we just try a different chemotherapy. And then another.

$$$$$$!!! went my brain.

Oh, and by the way, her other knee is showing signs it will need surgery, too. See? Dr. B wiggled Betsy's "old" knee. Jeesh, I'm thinking, don't add to the damage!

As I was leaving, I asked Dr. B if I should continue to give Betsy the aspirin. Oh, no, don't do that. The aspirin may be masking a fever. Huh?

$100+ and a phone call later, we are on our way to Dr. M. I'm petting Betsy as I drive, thinking, Hmmm, her ears feel warm. When my kids were small, I used the Mother's Kiss Method of Fever Detection. There is something about a feverish child that just feels different from a hot and sweaty one. Dogs don't get sweaty, but Betsy definitely felt unusually warm. Maybe it is just an infection?

At Dr. M's office, Betsy still had no fever. I told him the whole story, then suggested, before we go crazy with tests, that we just try a round of antibiotics. He agreed, added a different pain reliever to get Betsy off the aspirin, and offered a cortisone shot to boot. I said, Let's try just one thing at a time. Besides, he said that if it were a tumor and I decided to treat it, the cortisone may affect the efficacy of the treatment.

So now we are home. Betsy has been dosed and is near comatose from exhaustion. And so am I (exhausted, not dosed). I think I'll just knit a bit and take a nap.

Owning a dog - and being a dog - can be exhausting.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vintage Shawl

This dropped stitch shawl was an unusual experience, because dropping stitches (like steeking and felting) just feels wrong.

But the results are interesting.

Pattern: Vintage Shawl from Runway Knits
Modifications: None, except I didn't understand the bind off instructions, so the ends don't quite match
Yarn: Krabella Aurora Bulky in "Aubergine"
Needles: US10 straights

This is for my daughter, per her request. Hope she protects it from cat puke because I'm not sure how it would stand up to washing.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Lucky IU Socks

The problem with striped patterns is, unless you can carry the yarn along, there are a bazillion ends to weave in at the end. Alas, I did not carry the yarn along, but socks are small (compared to sweaters or blankets), so the final weave-in was not too bad.

Pattern: Men's Striped Socks from Lion Brand
Modifications: Used only two colors, contrasted toes and heels as well
Yarn: Moda Dea Washable Wool, in "True Red" and "Ivory"
Needle size: US5 (cuffs US4)

These are for my son, ostensibly for xmas, but he may get them at Thanksgiving. Gifting knows no season.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

I Blog Three Blogs

It is NaBloPoMo again. I participated last year, but that was possible only because I magically was able to blog from work. Ordinarily, I can read blogs at work, but not comment or write blogs, at least not in Blogger. For the month of November, however, the blog window opened. Someone, somewhere up the chain of command, must have decided it was okay, but then on December 1, the window slammed shut. I am curious to see if the same thing happens this year.

Anyway, I actually have three blogs, one for knitting, one for home and garden, and one for everything else. I seriously doubt I could post in all three everyday, but I will try to hit at least one of them each day. We'll see. No promises.

It is also NaNoWriMo, but I'm not that crazy. Yet.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I Passed

Since the instructor let me knit in the training class at work, I felt obligated to pass the test at the end, just to prove that knitting does not interfere with learning. My score was 83%, so now I'm certified (or certifiable).

Otherwise, just playing around with this blog's template. Don't be surprised if it changes a few more times.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How Lucky Can I Get?

Facing three days of training this week, I was looking for something small and inconspicuous that I might work on during class. I didn't know if the instructor would mind, but I decided I'd rather be prepared. Sitcom Chic and Tropical Treat are too bulky, Elbac a little too futzy because of the cables. Maybe now would be a good time to start a pair of Lucky IU socks for my son.

It took me a while to find the yarn that I just knew was in the stash somewhere - Washable Wool by Moda Dea. I bought it specifically for this project but it's worsted weight so I wasn't sure where it would be. Well, by golly, it was in the drawer with the sock yarn! My stash is more organized than I thought.

I planned to do these socks in two colors, red (crimson) and white (cream). In my pattern stash, I found a Lion Brand pattern with stripes on the leg, and I decided I could just wing the heel and toe. Usually I drop a needle size, but for some reason I am short on US4's, so I went with the recommended US5's. Looking back, this is a good idea.

Okay. Yarn - check. Pattern - check. Needles - check. Last night I even cast on and worked the ribbing. All I needed now was a compliant instructor.

This morning I kept my knitting hidden away until a pause during a group exercise when I decided it was safe to pull it out. To my surprise, the instructor marched over to me and exclaimed, "I wish I could knit socks!" Turns out she is a knitter too, but she hasn't mastered knitting in the round yet. I knew I was safe when she said she drove her college professors nuts by knitting in class. And as an instructor herself, she appreciates how engaging all the senses can enhance the learning experience.

So I made some progress.

I'm going to cast on sock #2 tonight so I will have plenty to keep my hands busy the next two days.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Today is the last day of my vacation. Boo! I am so ready (except financially) to retire. With the economy not just in the toilet but down the pipes and halfway to the sewage treatment plant, I've been wondering if real retirement will be possible in the future. I'm not one of those people who say, I'll always work somewhere doing something. Uh-uh. I have plenty of things to keep me busy. I just hope I get to do them someday.

Maybe I would get more done now if I didn't have to redo so many things. Like Sitcom Chic. Yes, I thought I would be wrapping this baby up while travelling to and from southern Illinois, and I did, sort of. I finished the knitting part and tried on the sweater before applying the final finishing touches, only to discover that while I had made the sleeves longer, I had not made them long enough. And while we are at it, the body could be longer, too.

Yesterday, I assessed the damage and decided to frog the yoke. Then today I frogged the body a bit farther, so I could add more increases. I'm knitting forward again now.

Since vacation knitting on SC was on hold, I worked on Elbac some, and on the drive home, slaved away on Tropical Treat. The latter is turning into the Never Ending Blanket. It feels like I have been working on it forever, and yet am only two-thirds of the way done. It doesn't help that the Lion Brand Babysoft yarn occasionally belches a wad from the center-pull skein, which, if one is not careful, can lead to a snarly mess. Which is what happened in the car. Not that I would have gotten anywhere near finishing TT on the drive home anyway. Still. It was annoying.

I follow NFL football, but apparently not close enough. Why are the Chargers and Saints playing in London? The cabin we stayed in had Dish Network, so I was able to watch Monday Night Football for the first time since it moved to ESPN. Too bad the Colts weren't playing then instead of tomorrow.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

You know how you lose track of what day it is when you are on vacation? If my daughter had not called to wish me a happy one and had my son not remembered either, my birthday would have passed unnoticed by me.

While I missed out on Rhinebeck this year (I think I was the only one not there), I did find an LYS on the way to southern Illinois. River Wools in Terre Haute has quite an extensive selection of great yarns. I have been in the market for some Euroflax as I want to make a Mason-Dixon Bubbly Curtain for my kitchen window.

The "pure white" skeins are for the curtain, the multicolored skein for another M-D project, the Moss Grid Hand Towel.

Aloo is from Himalaya Yarn, made in Nepal from the Himalayan nettle plant. It feels like rough linen.

I plan to use it for a string bag and/or a wash mitt.

If yarn was not birthday treat enough, when I got back to town, my daughter presented me with this book...

... and flowers...

...and a fajita dinner (with beer!), which I wolfed down before thinking to take a picture. I should be the one treating her, though, as she kept Betsy while I was gone.

Next time: vacation knitting.