Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Mad Hatter

Did you know that Lewis Carroll never called him the Mad Hatter? He was just the Hatter. And "mad as a hatter."

Anyway, I've been knitting hats.


That's the hat for Halos of Hope / Buffalo Wool Company. I've discovered that I like mindless stockinette. Just knit round and round. In this case, I've measured how many yards it takes to knit one round (a bit more than 2 yards), counted how many rows I have to knit in the decrease section (23), multiplied to see how many yards I'll need for the decrease section (max of 46 since there are decreases on every other row). A full skein of this yarn is 100 grams = 400 yards. That means one gram is 4 yards (2 rows). So I'll need a max of 11.5 grams to knit the decrease section. I'm weighing my remaining yarn periodically. When I get to 15 grams left, I'll run a lifeline in the hat so I'll have a place to retreat to if I've done my math backwards. (Not impossible. I always had to recheck wordy math problems. I could do division--once I was sure which number went into which.) When I get to 11.5 grams left, I'll start the decreases.

The yarn is nice to knit with, but I've already discovered it's a beast to frog. There are leftover wispy hairs on the yarn. If I didn't know better, I'd say this yarn lived in a house with dogs, but the hairs were there when I opened the package--and I don't have dogs the color of buffalo. The hairs aren't a problem unless you have to frog your knitting. At that point--well, anyone who's ever frogged mohair or angora or another fuzzy yarn knows what the result is like.

The dye in the yarn is lovely. I love the color, and there's just a bit of variation in it so that it's not a flat green. At this point, I have 5.25 inches of hat, with 29.8 grams of yarn left.

Yes, I know there's a stitch marker knitted into the hat. I often do that deliberately to mark something. In this case, I've forgotten why I marked this row. I'll leave the marker there until I remember what the marker was for--or until I finish the hat--and then I'll cut the marker and pull it out. (It's a stretchy plastic hair band: $3 for 500 of them.) (And no, it wasn't supposed to be an end-of-round marker. I haven't bothered to mark the end of the rounds because that doesn't really matter until I start the decrease section.)


And this is my Tornado Hat. It's also destined for Halos of Hope. In addition to losing pretty much everything they owned, cancer patients in Moore, Oklahoma, lost their meds, their drugstores, their doctors' offices, and their hospital. And the hospital lost its supply of chemo hats. Halos of Hope has already sent more than 200 hats to Moore. This one will go to Halos of Hope, and they can send it on to Moore or use it to restock someplace that sent hats to Moore.

The yarn is Bernat Cotton. The initial request was for hats in cotton or cotton blends. Since cotton doesn't stretch well--actually, it stretches perfectly well; it just doesn't un-stretch worth beans--I wanted to find a pattern that didn't rely on stretchy ribbing for its fit. This pattern is called Hurricane Hat because the swirly decreases look like satellite images of a hurricane once you get to the top of the hat.

This is almost mindless knitting. You just have to remember to work an occasional purl bump. (And if I forget, I can fix it with a crochet hook.) I worked on this to keep my hands busy at a baby shower the other night. If I don't keep my hands busy with knitting, they'll be busy with food, which is pleasant but fattening. I need another inch and a half on this hat before I start the decreases: there's no shortage of yarn for this one.


That's Silver, roaching and being a flirt. The dogs had turkey necks again today and it appears they now understand what to do with them.

--Invoiced a client this morning. Tiny invoice. (Boo!)
--Little bit of freelancing today. There are some long-running projects I can work on though, which should get my income up for my next invoice.
--My financial woes haven't fixed themselves, but I took care of something that was about to flare up and be big trouble. I've postponed that trouble until October.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Busy Saturday

I haven't posted for a little more than a week. There's financial stuff hanging over my head, but it's not something I'm going to discuss on a public blog. It was/is so annoying, though, that it's playing a major role in my thoughts, and it's hard to conjure up a blog post while I tiptoe around money issues. But let's see what I can do here...

The dogs touched each other while sleeping.
This is an accident, not a detente.

The dogs have had turkey necks twice since my last post. The first time, the dogs finally ate the necks without a problem; then Silver came in and upchucked hers on the carpet. She cleaned it up herself, and I discouraged Sam from trying to help. The second time they got necks, everybody ate, no one threw up. We may be making progress. More necks tomorrow.

At his age (he's 13), Sam has trouble staying cool, even with limited trips outside and with the AC running in the condo. But he understands what to do with a box fan: lie in front of it. Once he cools off, he moves to a comfy bed.


The baby sweater is finished, but I'm holding off on the photos. This blog posts to Facebook, and the mom is on Facebook. The shower is on Sunday evening (the 23rd), and I'll come edit this post to add photos after that. (So there, Cherelle!)

(It's Sunday night, and the baby shower is over.
I can post this now.)

I started knitting a Curiosity shop sample for Pat at Lovin' Knit. Pat chose Cascade Heritage 150 Paint yarn in "fall foliage" as the yarn. I got off to a good start, but I've had to put it aside for a bit.



I put it aside because on Facebook last Friday, a request was made for 25 volunteers willing to knit a hat for Halos Of Hope (chemo hats for cancer patients). The yarn is being supplied by Buffalo Wool Company, and we're supposed to mail the hats back to them within 30 days. (Buffalo yarn is pricey, and this is very generous of them.) I sent off an email. I didn't hear from them and didn't know if I'd made the cut of volunteers until I went to the mailbox Friday and discovered this:


The yarn is half a skein of Tracks in the colorway Mojito. Tracks is a sockweight superwash fingering that's 90% merino wool, 10% buffalo. There was a suggested pattern we could use, but I'm not really fond of it: it may be fine, but if I had cancer and was losing my hair, the last thing I'd want to wear is a hat that screams "I have cancer and I'm losing my hair!" Instead, I've chosen a nice, stylish slouchy hat pattern that I hope might be acceptable to any cancer patient, including a man or a teenager.


As it happens, Interweave is having their summer book sale, and I had already shopped and put a couple of eBooks of hat patterns in my shopping cart. When the Tracks yarn arrived, I just paid for the books, downloaded the PDFs, and got to work. There's a little uncertainty regarding exactly how much yarn I received (it's a "half-skein"--a full ball is 400 yards/100g, by weight (63.3g) this may be 250 yards) and precisely how much yarn the hat requires (the pattern calls for a yarn that comes 459 yards to a ball--but does it use 459 yards?). There'll be measuring, weighing, and lifelines involved--just to keep this interesting. (One thing I learned when I accidentally dropped my needles out of row 3 of the ribbing and had to rip back and start over: this yarn doesn't frog happily.)

And Craftsy had a special yarn sale on June 21. I bought 20 balls of Cascade 220 Superwash Tweed at an excellent price. The yarn is 10 balls of Chocolate Tweed and 10 balls of Ocean Tweed; the colors are nice, and even will work well together. Since there are 10 balls in each color, I'll be able to get more completed hats (for Hats for Sailors) from this yarn than if had I bought all different colors since leftovers from a couple of hats can combine to make another hat.

Today was a meet and greet in the Marietta Square. Seventeen greyhounds! Great crowd, lovely weather, and good donations. Since we got home a little after noon, Silver has gotten up to eat, drink, and pee; she's been unconscious the rest of the time.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Meet Blanca

Meet Blanca.


Blanca is a small wig head. Actually, she's an extra-small, which makes hats look silly on her. (An excellent hat sizing chart is located here. The size you get when you measure your skull is not on the same numbering scale that hatters use. And hat sizes in the US don't match sizes in the UK, which don't match sizes in France.)


But she cost less than $5, and hats look better on her than flat on my keyboard (my usual photography studio), so she'll stick around. (I wondered if the dogs would be frightened by her. They just came over to sniff her, then walked off. I suppose I should be glad they didn't want to play with her.)


The hat is knitted in Classic Elite Yarns Liberty Wool (brocade colorway) using Barbara Benson's Cross Stitch Mock Cable Hat pattern (free on Ravelry). (Barbara writes elegantly readable patterns: all the info you need, sensibly presented, with some nice extra features in her PDFs.) The hat fits my medium-sized head just fine and would be comfortable on a larger head as well.


I also knitted some more on the BSJ: rows 38-57 (about 50% through the sweater).

But I missed blogging last night: a freelance job arrived about 7:30. I worked on it from 8 to after midnight, then got up at 6:30 to give it another pass. I'm expecting another freelance job today (different client), about noon.

Exciting Braves game last night in San Diego. Braves down 7-2 at the end of the 8th inning. They worked back to 7-6 in the top of the 9th (and that's how it ended). Lots of Braves fans at the game, and they got their money's worth in long balls: Heyward hit two, and El Oso Blanco pinch-hit a 3-run homer.

Yesterday morning, I got errands done: bought Blanca, shopped at Costco (probiotics and other stuff), went to Sam's vet (for his soloxine), went grocery shopping (more turkey necks), picked up Sam's gabapentin at Walgreen's. I came home, unpacked the groceries, and took a nap. I've been watching the Golf Channel's coverage of the U.S. Open, which doesn't even start until Thursday. The course (at Merion) received more than 5 inches of rain from Friday through Monday. The volunteers have done a remarkable job getting the water off the course, but there's all kinds of debate about how this very short course--with skinny fairways, limited lines of sight, multilevel greens, and gallons of unwanted water--is going to play.

See here for the story of the most famous photo in golf history--taken 63 years ago yesterday at the 18th hole at Merion. There's a plaque--smack in the middle of the 18th fairway--commemorating this shot.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Turkey, Round 2

After Friday's experience with my dogs and turkey necks, I decided to try a different approach today.

First, I pulled all the bedding out of Silver's crate, put her inside, and dropped her turkey neck in her bowl. I latched the kennel and left her staring at the turkey neck. This time, she was drooling, but she still didn't launch into it.

The BSJ, through row 37

I took Sam outside. It was raining, so I couldn't hook him to his usual post in the carport. I held his leash and put down the bowl with his turkey neck in it. He picked it up firmly--and stood there. He wouldn't lie down. He wouldn't relax his grip on the neck long enough to actually eat it. He just stood there. I wanted to check on Silver--make sure she wasn't choking herself--so I fastened Sam's leash to the post I put Silver at the other day--out of the rain and close to the door. I stuck my head back inside to check on Silver and found her furiously crunching away on her turkey neck. Back outside--Sam still standing there.

Minutes went by. Silver finished her turkey neck (I kept ducking back to check on her), and Sam still stood there with the neck gripped between his jaws. I let Silver out of her crate. She'd come to the storm door and look at Sam, and he still just stood there. Finally, I took his leash and led him back inside, still holding his prize. I shooed Silver away from the front room, and I aimed Sam at her empty crate. He didn't want to go inside--I've never crated him in all the years he's been here--but I pushed him in and closed the door behind him.

He still stood there, holding his turkey neck. Silver started to come in the room and I shooed her back out. I draped one of the blankets Silver uses in the crate over the front of the kennel, so he couldn't see out in that direction. I stood where Sam could see my feet if he looked out the side of the crate, but he no longer knew if I was watching him, and he couldn't see Silver at all.

Finally. He finally started eating his turkey neck. I kept praising him, and I watched until I was sure he'd eaten it all. Then I let him out of the crate. He went through the kitchen to get to the living room. Silver came from the other direction to inspect the crate, but she wouldn't go back in there while Sam was out of her sight.

Honestly, food shouldn't be this difficult. I'm guessing that each dog is motivated to protect his/her high-value turkey neck, and that while in possession of the Precious, neither dog is willing to relax guard against the other. I'm not stupid enough to disregard their feelings. If they don't trust each other, I'm certainly not going to leave the two of them alone with a high-value prize. (The whole situation is complicated by the fact that while Sam's been off his feed, Silver's been eating whatever he's left in his dish. Often, I pick up his not-empty dish and put it away to keep little Porky from eating Sam's food. But I haven't always done that--and now I need to start.)

I need to figure out a way to feed them both safely. I don't like feeding her inside and him outside: the dog I'm not with is at risk of choking, and a dog tethered outside alone is at risk of a loose dog in the neighborhood. I could feed both dogs in Silver's crate (if Sam will cooperate with going in there), but they can't both eat there at the same time, and I'm hesitant to blatantly feed one dog in the crate while the other waits. I think that next time--weather permitting--I'll hook them both to carport posts again and try feeding them outside at the same time. That worked (eventually) for Sam on Friday, and now that Silver understands what a turkey neck is, she might be willing to eat it outside.

Today--when I wasn't directing the lunchtime epic--I got a lot of knitting done. I finished the hat for the shop sample (still needs blocking and a good photo). I also knitted 14 rows of the BSJ (it's about 30% done). Tomorrow, I'm going shopping for a wig head I can use for blocking and for photographing knitted hats: stuffing a hat with wadded up shopping bags hasn't worked well, and I don't always have a nephew handy to model for me.


1--No upset stomachs from the turkey necks. Knock wood.
2--Lunch with Mother this Wednesday (probably)

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Silver and I did the meet and greet this morning in the Marietta Square. Silver has a fan club, and one little girl showed up about 8 o'clock looking for Silver.

I showed up at 9 o'clock.

We had a good crowd. Silver was her usual charming self, and she and Lily Moran have learned to get along. (Actually, Lily is much better mannered than she was last year.)

After that was WWKIP Day. We had a small turnout, and it was hot. I worked on my BSJ--and I got sunburned.


Lovin' Knit has started carrying Barbara Benson's patterns. Pat (store owner) wants some samples to display, but they need to be knitted with yarns she carries. That requirement rules out my Curiosity in Rios:


But my Golden Lion Throne in Classic Elite Bam Boo is okay:


And my No Mr Bond, I Expect You to Die will work--if I can get it finished. (I haven't pushed on this because it's going to be a Christmas present.)


But for the short-term, I'm going to knit a hat for the Hats for Sailors group. I'll use Barbara's Cross Stitch Mock Cable Hat pattern and a ball of Liberty Wool:


I'll loan the finished hat to Pat until November, when I'll need to send it off to the Hats for Sailors group.

1--Just 2.5 hours of freelancing tonight. I've now completed both the jobs due this weekend. More work, please.
2--Poop is good, so we'll try a second round of turkey necks tomorrow. I may just give Silver hers in her crate to start with (but take the bedding out first).
3--Red fingernails!


Friday, June 7, 2013


If you look very closely, you can see that Sam is holding something in the side of his mouth.

Turkey Neck #1a

It's a turkey neck. And he's holding it--not eating it. You'll have to ask him why he held the thing for ten minutes before he decided to eat it. He's had turkey necks before. He knows what he's supposed to do with them.

Silver, on the other hand, may not know. Certainly, she didn't appear to have a clue. She took the neck out of her bowl and put it on the doormat. Then she licked her empty bowl and laid down next to it.

Turkey Neck #2

After Sam finished his neck, I put him in the house, in case she was feeling intimidated by him (although he was tethered 10 feet away from her and she's never--ever--been intimidated by him for even a second).

Turkey Neck #4

That didn't work, so I moved her forward to the comfortable mat where Sam had laid (and which I now needed to wash).

Turkey Neck #5

Finally, I brought her back in the house and put her in her crate. She was appalled when the turkey neck joined her.

Turkey Neck #7

But I left her there, and within 5 minutes I heard crunching. Less than a minute after she started, she was finished.

I let her out. I let the bedding from her kennel join the other mat in the laundry, and I ran their bowls through the dishwasher. (I only ever run the dishwasher to clean dog dishes. I can just hand-wash my own.) I'm hoping the next experience with turkey necks (probably Sunday) will go a bit smoother. Honestly, though: who'd have expected greyhounds to have such a hard time figuring out food?

In July, Craftsy is having a mystery KAL for a pattern by Stefanie Japel. No idea what the project is, except that the come-on called it just complicated enough to keep your interest, while still being portable, easy to pick up, and easy to put down without losing track of what you're doing. $14.99 for the class, pattern and some scrumptious yarn. This is not remotely an accurate color representation of the most lovely blue-green fingering weight Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn in the 5655 Como Blue colorway:


(Even the photo here is inaccurate. The yarn is closer in color to the Jade (5627) sample.) I'll get pattern info about the beginning of July. It's good to have a project for July: most of what I've got going now is due in June.

I got the restarted BSJ far enough along that it's mindless knitting for the next 20-something rows, so I can work on it tomorrow afternoon at our local WWKIP gathering (they're long rows). Silver and I will be at the Marietta Farmers Market meet-and-greet in the morning. I had about 4 hours of freelancing to do today, so I didn't get a lot more knitting done.

I'm about to do the fingernails. After that, I have freelancing--one project that's all here and ready to read, another that I'm waiting for feedback on. They're both due sometime this weekend.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Mixed-up Thursday

I woke fairly early, checked emails and Facebook, got up, walked dogs, fed dogs, and went back to bed. The official pollen counts aren't too awful, but the grass pollen is wiping me out, and I knew I'd be in trouble since the landscapers were here yesterday.


By the time I woke up again, it was after noon, and I hadn't even thought about all the stuff I needed to do. I got dressed, fed and walked the dogs, then headed out. I got my hair cut. (I've added a reminder note to myself for six weeks from now. Maybe I won't wait until my hair is long enough to annoy me to get back to get it cut.) I did my grocery shopping, having violated the cardinal rule: I was starving. Potato chips, plantain chips, lots of microwavable breakfast stuff. (If someone had been standing there selling hot bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuits, I'd have gone broke. I had a real craving for breakfast--at 2:30 in the afternoon.) Diet Coke (an essential). Oh, and turkey necks for the dogs. I'll be giving half a neck to each dog at lunchtime tomorrow. (It's messy and definitely an outdoor dining event.) Home, unpack groceries, eat one of my microwavable breakfast things for lunch (I hadn't eaten since breakfast).

When I got up this morning, I had a message on Facebook from a friend who'd received the baby sweater I'd shipped to London. The baby's a girl, and it seems that green looks good on her. (I'd gone for a color that would look good if she'd had her mother's red hair. The baby's more blond than red, but mum says the color is perfect.) The baby's name is Nellina Wren Mann; I didn't know it, but her mum sometimes calls her Ladybug. Ladybugs, as they're called in the States, are a symbol of good luck, which is why I added the button. (In British countries, it's called a Ladybird.)


Last night, I got the BSJ to a good point for me to knit on it at Saturday's WWKIP event--except for two things. 1--I didn't like the sweater in a single color (bor-rinnng!), and 2--I didn't like the fabric on US5 needles. (It's a baby sweater, not a suit of armor.) I frogged the first try and hunted out a lighter blue yarn from stash. I wouldn't like these two colors together if I used them in big patches of color, but I'm planning to knit skinny stripes, and I think this will work. I've cast on with US6 and knitted just a couple of rows, and I'll work on it more tonight. The Braves are in LA, so it'll be late games tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday nights. There are also replays of golf action (PGA and Champions tours) on TV tonight. (The LPGA tournament got rained out today--standing water on the greens, although not as bad as the tournament in the Bahamas a couple of weeks ago.)


I'll paint my fingernails and toenails tomorrow. (I'm thinking red to match Silver's new collar for Saturday's meet and greet.)

1--Fingers crossed that this isn't the last day of good poop from the dogs; turkey necks tomorrow.
2--The nearest Great Clips is pretty good, and if I take my receipt with me on my next visit, they'll knock $4 off the price.
3--Knitting can be hard on fingernail polish.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A quiet Wednesday

I finished the baby blanket this morning, then washed and dried it. (Acrylic yarn, and it'll get machine washed and dried its entire life, so might as well start now.) The final size was 35" x 33" because it draws up vertically. I should have gone longer, but I thought it would stretch on its own. (And it will if it's stored hanging up rather than laid flat.) But it's plenty large enough.


My next planned projects were 1--finishing the toy pink elephant I started over the weekend, and 2--starting another baby blanket. Instead, I immediately started on a Baby Surprise Jacket to match the baby blanket. (So much for planning.) The BSJ now becomes my most urgent project because I need it finished (including buttons and seams) by June 23. I don't need the elephant until the first Saturday in July, and the baby getting the second blanket isn't due until September. (I'm still debating which pattern to make for that blanket.)


Saturday is World Wide Knit in Public Day, so I need a fairly mindless project I can work on while I chat with other knitters at Lovin' Knit Studio on Saturday afternoon (1-3pm; bring a lawn chair--and a project). If I get this BSJ to the right point, it'll fit the bill. I'm using yarn leftover from the blue baby blanket. (And if you see knitters--or crocheters--stitching in public on Saturday, now you know why.)

While I knitted today, I watched Ciaran Hinds in Persuasion. Then I watched the Braves game. (Julio Teheran got 7 and 2/3 innings through a no-hitter. Braves beat the Pirates 5-0.) Now I'm watching Season Four of Doctor Who on DVD. This is my favorite season of Ten's stories. Catherine Tate was wonderful, and she got such great stories. (But lots of tearful ones.)

I think I'm going to watch some Firefly on Netflix tonight. I never watched it when it was on the air (I don't watch many TV series), but I have lots of friends who love it. I can watch and knit. (A BSJ is all garter stitch, with occasional decreases and increases.)

1--It's thundering nicely outside. Sam's sound asleep. Silver just got startled awake, but she'll go back to sleep. She's fine with the thunder as long as she's touching me.
2--Good, solid poop from the dogs. (I'm tracking this because I'm about to try raw turkey necks on them--as soon as I go shopping. I had trouble years ago with Sam and Jacey. But Jacey is gone and Sam is now on a maintenance dose of metronidazole, so we'll see if the dogs can handle the necks and thereby improve their teeth.)
3--Haven't redone the nails yet.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Not Catching Up

I'm not going to try to catch up on this blog. That would be silly. I'm going to try to jump back into blogging and pretend I haven't posted just 4 times in the last 18 months. I'm also going to start blogging absolute trivia. Trying to wait until I have something momentous to say is why I've posted just 4 times in the last 18 months.


Want to see some adorable greyhound puppies? Check out the live feed here. (The feed is live for two or three hours at a time, three times a day. Sign up on U-stream and officially "follow" the feed to get an email notice of when the feed is live.)

The mom is Carlee. On May 4 she arrived at a southern California greyhound rescue looking a wee bit pudgy. On May 31, she had five boys and one girl, delivered by c-section. At this point, the puppies are too young to do anything but nurse and sleep. (The white with black pup nurses like a fiend, falls asleep exhausted, then heads right back to the milk bar.) The puppies are cute, but they inspire no desire in me to adopt a puppy. At my house, mealtime lasts only moments, sleeping lasts hours, and that's the way I like it.

No freelance work today. I have some fill-in stuff I can do later, but today I took advantage of the quiet to get some knitting done. The baby blanket is nearly finished. When I finish the blanket, I'm either making a blue bunny (from the Craftsy pattern) or making a blue BSJ with the leftover yarn. It's been quite a while since I made a BSJ (finished my most recent one in January 2012). I worked on the baby blanket while watching Pride and Prejudice on my laptop and watching (muted) the Braves-Pirates game tonight. (Braves 5, Pirates 4 in 10 innings.) At present, the blanket is 36" x 31"; I'm aiming for approximately 36" x 36". I'm also aiming to not be knitting on this thing for the rest of my life.

(Wondering why the photo is at the top of this blog post? It's there so it will show on blog thumbnails that appear elsewhere--such as Ravelry.)

The dogs are well. Silver hates being on a diet, but she's really not starving to death. (Thank goodness she doesn't have her own blog to contradict me.) She's been eating too much of the food in Sam's dish. Sam is wobbly, but still able to get around on his own and is eating well. Lots of panting in the heat until he gets settled in front of the box fan.

Trivial notes (even more trivial than the above):
1--Nice weather. Not too hot.
2--Advantage Multi on both dogs today. Should be soaked into Silver's coat and invisible by Saturday.
3--Solid poop from both dogs ('cause you know you were dying to know).
4--I don't like this pale gold nail polish, but I'll change it another day.

Going to watch the second DVD of P&P again and stay up late knitting...