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.