Monday, January 29, 2007

who knew i would become a multi-project kind of girl?

Preemie sets
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
after a flurried frenzy of Christmas knitting, i took a couple deep breaths... and started back in. although i made a variety of things for charity in honor of special friends, that didn't take care of my public service needs. so to start, i made a couple of preemie sets...

i made a couple burial buntings...

Burial bunting
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
then i felt a lot better about drifting back to less altruistic projects.

Behold! my first pair of socks. i know what you are thinking. you are thinking, 'Why on earth would anyone make socks when you can buy them for two dollars?'

well, i was as sick as sick gets for a while there and reading The Yarn Harlot's books where she waxes poetically about socks. this reminded me of Mickey telling me she used to make all of Grandpa's socks - argyles no less. it just seemed a great way to connect to Mickey's past and i thought it might help me over the stumbling blocks i had trying to make Hailey's stocking last year. i think they turned out pretty cool.

My first socks
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
the best way to really learn something is to do it twice but i wasn't quite ready to make TraV the matching socks he wanted. that is just an awful lot of one shade of blue (on US 1's - no less).

did you know they make a magical thing called self-patterning sock yarn? it is pretty slick but you do have to get the gauge right for the pattern to be 'just so'. sadly, that meant that these are being knit on US 0's.

Self-patterning Socks
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.

a bit like magic. which is saying something since i still find knitting a magical wonder - you just wiggle your hands for a while and fabric appears. its slow magic, i'll grant you, but magic nonetheless. the other cool thing about yarn with stripes or a pattern is that it accentuates the structure of the sock.

well, a girl can only knit so much on US 0's before her fingers start rebelling. i was going to start work on a pair of slippers but didn't have the right needle size. how that is possible is a mystery for me. here i have been knitting twenty years and yet it seems every project requires a new needle. with one and 1/3 pairs of socks under my belt, i felt emboldened to return to the stocking i frogged last year and give it another whirl. to decrease frustration, i bought a second set of needles (US 6, thank heavens) so i didn't have to knit against tension and deployed a liberal amount of yarn bobbins.

Hailey Christmas stocking
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
it is coming along nicely i think. it won't exactly match the ones my Great-grandmother Margaret made for my brother and me, but it will be pretty close. of course, making one commits me to making three. Hailey cannot have one while Kylie and Cailee have none. happily i have about ten months and Cailee is young enough that hers can wait till the next year if necessary.

i also cast on the slippers last night but temporary stupidity led to a big enough error that i frogged it and will have to start again later. the bright shining ray of joy? US 15's baby! (and i really need a new pair of slippers.)

pretty weird for a girl that believes in serial projects, but one cannot live on US 0's alone and evade carpal tunnel forever.

Monday, January 22, 2007

aww, they liked me!

today i arrived home to find this waiting in my mailbox...

and there was more on the back.

i almost cried.

how very lucky i am.

Friday, January 12, 2007

defeating the 'death crud' going around this month

finally starting on the upswing, i have compiled some tips for surviving the Cold of Doom that seems to be circulating coast to coast right now...

1. start the nasty zinc lozenges as soon as you think you might be getting a scratchy throat and don't know why you can't shake that headache. maybe you are not getting sick but why risk it? they are proven to make colds go away faster. by the time i knew i was actually getting sick, i was too sick to pick them up.
2. hot apple cider is easier on a sore throat than OJ and has the same amt of vit C.
3. DayQuil should be taken with food in the stomach. trust me. it is better to eat dry instant oatmeal than take this on an empty stomach. if the first dose doesn't get you, the second will.
4. NyQuil is not a good choice for this cold. remember when Jane Grey got slimed by Toad in the first X-men movie? nuff said.
5. as disgusting as it feels, nothing beats Vicks VapoRub. the shower version is helpful but a tablet is probably good for three or four showers - after 5 minutes, the intensity of the aroma will make you nauseous. [Note: if combined with disregard for #3, expect a burgeoning and intimate relationship with a different fixture in the bathroom.]
6. Mucinex is a good thing. combine with DayQuil for maximal relief.
7. Kleenex with lotion and aloe is your new best friend.
8. you can microwave your buckwheat/rice pack and drape on neck for soothing itch/pain relief without the mess of a poultice.
9. noodle soup can only take you so far. eventually you are going to need protein.
10. you can sleep sitting up if you have enough pillows. in the end you will get more rest than if you alternate between partial asphyxiation and lying down.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

being sick sucks

because i didn't have enough 'fun' when i was sick in December and had to go to hospital, i now have the mother of all colds. i have a croupy cough with miserable congestion and voice loss. my throat feels about how i imagine tenderized meat would, if it happened to still be alive and able to report back on the experience.

i finally had to cave and pick up the Quils, since i haven't slept in two days and the cough drops are only kind of helpful. (i have been avoiding this since they ironically give me a headache.) how crappy i feel was driven home to me when the checkout clerk said, and i quote,

"I hate to say this to a woman, but you look like you feel terrible. Do you need us to get you a ride home?"


wish me luck finding my voice to conclude negotiations with UTK this afternoon...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Cabled dog sweater knitting pattern

so, i decided to make Glenn a sweater for Christmas, but all the patterns i could find were either too fluffy, too ugly, or unuseful as an actual warming device. after reviewing a large number of patterns in books and online, i ended up synthesizing a pattern of my own. the Patons yarn i used totally rocks for this and wasn't the tiniest bit itchy.


Cabled dog sweater
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
US Size 5 and 7 knitting needles (or size needed to match gauge)
Cable stitch holder
Worsted weight yarn, preferably natural fibers to limit risk of skin irritation: ~ 4 ounces for smaller dog, up to 8 ounces for larger dog. I recommend Paton’s Classic Merino Wool.

Gauge: 8 stitches by 14 rows = 2” x 2” on larger size needles.

NOTE: Before starting, you will need to record all the below measurements for your dog. Using a soft tape measure (not a ruler) applied loosely, take the below measurements and record where indicated. This will save time and stress later on.

Neck (about where the collar hits): ____

Size 1 2 3 4 5
Neck circumference 8” 10” 12” 14” 16”
Stitches to cast on 36-38 40-42 44-46 48-50 52-54

Back (from top of shoulder blade all the way to the top of the tail): ____
Distance between front legs: ____
From thoracic inlet (pointy tip of bone in the end of the neck) to top of front leg: ____
Whole belly piece:
Male dog: From thoracic inlet to the second to last rib: ____
Female dog: From thoracic inlet to front of the back leg: ____
Front arm hole length: From front of leg to back of leg (be slightly generous): ____

Back piece:
Using smaller needles, loosely cast on ___ stitches as determined by the chart above.
Alternate K2, P2 ribbing until:
1 ½” if want short mock neck for shorter necked dog or dog needing to wear an Invisible Fence or bark collar.
3” if want mock neck for longer necked dog or short turtleneck for dog described above.
6” if want full turtleneck.

Change to larger size needles. Work in stockinette stitch, inserting cables as follows:
For sizes 1 and 2, center 2 smaller cables (4 stitches apiece) separated by 6 stitches in the right side of the piece (see below). For the larger sizes, I would recommend centering 2 larger cables (in parentheses).
Row 1 (right side): Knit.
Row 2: Purl.
Row 3: Place 2 (3) stitches on cable holder and place behind. Knit 2 (3) stitches then knit stitches off of the cable holder.
Row 4: Purl.

Continue in pattern until total length is 2" short of the correct length as measured above.
Switch to smaller size needles and knit 2" of K2, P2 ribbing used for the neck above. Cast off.

Chest piece:
Using the smaller size needles, cast on 3 stitches.
Row 2: Purl.
Row 3: K1, M2 in next stitch, K1. (5st)
Row 4: Purl.
Continue in stockinette, increasing 1 stitch on each edge of right-sided rows as follows: K2, M1, K to last 3 stitches, M1, K2.
When you reach the width indicated between the front legs, stop increasing. Work in straight stockinette until you reach 1 inch shy of the total chest length you noted above.
Work the last inch in K2, P2 ribbing as for the neck.
Work 6 stitches in ribbing and place on a stitch holder, then bind off stitches until you get to the last 6 stitches. Work these stitches in ribbing until the total length including this edge matches that of the back piece. Bind off.
Pick up 6 stitches from the stitch holder and work in ribbing until length matches other side. Bind off.

Finish work:
Sew the neck seam, remembering to sew halfway down on the right-side and switch then to the inside for a turtleneck.
Place the chest piece at the bottom of the neck rib, and sew a seam down both sides, until the chest piece length is equal to the thoracic inlet-leg measurement.
Leave an opening for the front legs equal to the length you noted above and continue the seams down each side to the bottom.
Weave in loose ends.
Pick up 4 stitches on the bottom of the back ribbing at the corner (see photo if confused). Knit in stockinette until stirrup is appropriate length to fasten where the ribbing started without pulling on the dog’s groin. This particular measurement should be made with the sweater on the dog.
Attach the stirrup by Ktog the stirrup stitches with the four stitches directly above the ribbing on the back piece while binding off.
Pick up four stitches on the other corner and knit other stirrup to match.
Weave in ends and block.

If in an area with high snowfall, consider picking up stitches around front leg openings and knitting in K2 P2 ribbing 1-3 inches.
Instead of knitting the neck in rib, for a polo or rugby style, knit neck in K1P1 ribbing or reverse stockinette (P on ‘right side) for 3-5 inches. Start the neck seam 1 inch from the bottom, and fold down the top to make a collar. In this case, eliminate cables and knit in stockinette in alternating large and narrow stripes of gray and blue.