Knitting in the Dark

Kyle has asked me why I keep knitting the same things over and over. For the record, they are not the same. They are similar in the same way that all shoes are similar to each other, but they are not the same.

You can’t have too many cowls in the fight against the winter wind. Plus, I wanted to practice knitting in the dark. The majority of this cowl was knit during, “The Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse”    I lost my place a few times when zombies were getting face-blasted, but it was easy to get started again.

If you too want to practice knitting in the dark or when you can’t see for whatever reason, (Hysterical blindness, perhaps? I feel that’s going to strike me any day now) this is an easy pattern to knit.  Plus, if you lose your place you’ll learn how to feel the difference between purls and knit stitches 🙂

AND BONUS: It looks super cute on your dog.

She’s so over being my model.

Materials:

  • Size 11 (8mm) circular needles, 24 inch  (Gauge: 10 stitches = 4 inches)
  • Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick, 1 skein (Pictured in Oatmeal)
  • Notions – tapestry needle, stitch marker

Pattern:
Cast on 53 stitches. Join in the round.  Place marker.
Row 1: Knit 1, purl 1, to the end of the row. The last stitch will be knit
Row 2: Purl 1, knit 1, to the end of the row. The last stitch will be purl.

Continue to knit the purls and to purl the knits until you’ve reached about 8.5 inches from the beginning of your work. Congrats! You’ve learned to knit seed stitch in the dark.

Bind off. Weave in the ends.
The end!

Notes:
This cowl is about 8.5 inches tall and 22 inches in diameter. It’s long enough to pull up over my nose when the wind is blowing or to wear like a hood if I’ve reached full-on winter despair. It also scrunches up super cute (I suppose it “drapes nicely” Whatever) under my chin when I don’t need as much protection.

This also isn’t a full skein of yarn; it’s maybe 3/4ths – 7/8ths. (I was stash-busting) The cowl is absolutely adjustable if you want something fatter, skinnier, longer, etc. Just make sure you have an odd number of stitches on your needles and go for it 🙂

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Knitting, experimenting, and dog models, oh my!

Yesterday I decided I needed another cowl because winter is coming.  I really hate the winter and part of me believes that if I just have enough cowls, and hats, and scarves, and gloves (and other knitted things) that it won’t suck so badly.

This is a lie.

Winter is terrible.

But that doesn’t stop me from making cowls.

People have asked me before how I just start knitting something when I don’t have a pattern. You don’t really need a pattern for a lot of things. You just need an idea, some patience, and the willingness to embrace imperfection (Or the mental fortitude to rip it all out and start over if you don’t like it) My idea started out fairly simple. I wanted a cowl. I wanted to play with texture. I wanted it to roll just a little. I wanted it to feel autumn-like, instead of reminding me of the dead of winter.

So, I set to work with my half-formed idea to see where it would take me. Slightly bulky yarn (maybe aran? but probably bulky), size 11 needles. Cast on 81 stitches, join. Knit for five rounds, work in seed stitch until you get bored, and then knit for five more rounds. It was cute, simple and fast and it felt like autumn.

But then…..well…I thought, what if it had a hood? Remember the wind and the rain? Do you remember how much November rain sucks?? (The song and the actual rain. They both make me hate life) I wanted to be wrapped up and warm, so I definitely needed a hood on this cowl. Only, I had never added a hood to something before. So, I googled it. And I looked at a few different ways people added hoods. And when I understood the basics of it, then I did it my own way. Of course.

I had visions of Grace Kelly and her scarf. It did not turn out that way. But that’s the risk you take when you work without a pattern and are simply trying to learn how to construct something. I feel it’s more like a post-apocalyptic-viking-helmet-hood-thing than Grace Kelly, which is cool, but not really the look I was trying to achieve.

I’ve put some buttons on the back so the cowl section can be draped across your face like a balaclava, but I don’t quite have the placement right yet. I might fix them. I don’t know yet, because I might actually rip out the bind off and the last few rows and do it again. (I was again playing with texture but it didn’t quite work) Or I might rip off the hood entirely. I haven’t decided yet. Do you see what I mean about being able to be okay with thing being “wrong” or imperfect? Rip it or embrace it. 😀

HOWEVER. I did discover it looks SUPER DAMN CUTE on the dogs. And if nothing else, I think that’s pretty good. (also I learned some stuff about knitting too, I guess)

Buster doing his best Ewok impression

Ripley modeling the cowl section and desperately trying to understand what she needs to do for the cheese I’m holding.

She figured it out! Yay, cheese! 😀

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How to make your cat hate you

Realistically, your cat should already hate you. It’s a cat. Cats hate most things. However, this post might push your cat from a cold disgust directed at humanity in general to a burning, twisted rage that will consume you all. I will not accept responsibility if your cat smothers you in your sleep or poisons your coffee.

HOW, you ask? HOW is this possible? (And if you are here from my Facebook post, you already know)  Well, I’ll tell you how it’s possible –

KITTY LEG WARMERS

“Now I hear the music
Close my eyes, I am rhythm
In a flash, it takes hold of my heart” photo 14B89EEB-F8A2-482F-A832-74D72B50CDB9_zpsmc1recgf.jpg

Disclaimers: No kitties were harmed in the making of these leg warmers. If your cats aren’t super chill and/or dislike being handled, don’t waste your time. Pine for a sweet kitty instead. (Ha. That doesn’t exist)

Fat Lumen, pictured above, is about 12lbs. (Husband says ten. I say 14) and these are a little large on her. They were made loosely on purpose as kitty claws getting stuck in knitting is going to be a painful experience for both of you.

We’re emotionally scarring the cats, remember? Not physically abusing them.

That being said, if you want to continue, this way madness lies.

Materials:

  • Size 2, US, four double pointed needles
  • Sock yarn. Not much.
  • Soundtrack to Flashdance (optional)

Gauge: Not important. Your cat isn’t going to wear these.

Kitty Leg Warmer Pattern:

  1. Cast on 28 stitches. Divide as evenly as possible between three needles (10, 8, 10) Join in the round being careful not to twist your stitches.
  2. Knit 2, purl 2 for the entire row. You should end on purl stitches.
  3. Continue to knit 2, purl 2 until it measures about 1 inch from the cast on edge.
  4. Switch to stockinette stitch. In the round, this is just knit stitches.
  5. Keep knitting
  6. Knit some more
  7. Have you reached at least an inch? Good. Knit another half inch.
  8. Measure your work. You should be about 2 1/2 inches from the cast on edge. Finish the row if you haven’t already
  9. Repeat Step 2. Continue to knit 2, purl 2 for about an inch.
  10. Bind off in pattern if you’re fancy. Bind off how you want if you’re not.
  11. Weave in the ends. Or don’t. I didn’t. You can’t keep leg warmers on a cat for more than 60 seconds so it didn’t seem worth the effort of finding the right tool.
  12. Repeat steps 1-11 depending on how many legs your kitty has.
  13. Ply the kitty with treats and slip on quickly. Watch the dew claws.
  14. Try not to lose your fingers.

Ta-da!
 photo D2FAF0D0-7372-41AD-A44E-8EBB6C2AD5FD_zpsqjxijm0w.jpg

Completely over my shit (The leg warmers are blurry but that face is perfection)
 photo 2AEF376D-84A0-4668-8CE6-A3C28F7FE9E8_zpsdnzhlozc.jpg

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Dogs are disgusting

Dogs are really, really disgusting.

I need you to really understand this before you read any further. Dogs are disgusting.  This is my disclaimer for this post. You have been warned.

The other night I was knitting in the basement when I heard “CRASH! CRASH! BANG!” Crashes and bangs are usually the result of the cats.  If you invite nocturnal predators to live in your home you have to be okay with things crashing and banging in the night, especially when those predators like to wrestle each other. So, I wasn’t too concerned. I kept knitting…but then I had this little annoying voice in my head that was all, “You need to check on that.”

I sighed at the voice because I WAS BUSY and I don’t have time for voices in my head. But still, I put down my knitting and went upstairs to take stock of the situation. Twenty minutes prior, my adolescent hound dog was happily chewing on one of her many toys and seemed to be thoroughly entertained.  In the twenty minutes I left her “unsupervised” (she’s a dog, not a baby. C’mon) she had found another way to amuse herself. Ripley had discovered there was a bottle of vegetable oil on the kitchen counter and had pulled it to the floor along with a few other items. (I didn’t even know it was out. I’m going to blame Kyle for this one) And not only had she pulled it off the counter, she had taken it to the couch, popped the lid off, and was trying to chug it like a freshman.

By the way, if anyone knows how to get vegetable oil out of a micro-suede couch I’m all ears. Freshmen are terrible at chugging.

So, I put her in crate with toys that’s she’s allowed to destroy, cleaned up the mess as best as I could, and went back to knitting.  About half an hour later, I heard her coughing. And then retching. Did you know that chugging vegetable oil will give you an upset belly? Ripley sure didn’t. So again, I went to check on her. She had sat in her vomit and was looking at me with the most pitiful expression on her face. When I bent down to inspect the damage, she sprinted out of her crate and managed to hit me in the eye with her tail.  Gentle Readers, she HIT me in the EYE with her vomit-covered tail.

 

That doesn’t feel good under normal conditions. It’s miracle that this situation didn’t make me curl up into a fetal position and die.

Maybe I should have. Ugh.  I put her outside and cleaned up her crate. Then I brought her back in and cleaned foamy regurgitated vegetable oil off the both of us. She spent the rest of the evening snuggled up against me on the couch. I thought we were fine.

We were not.

We had been in bed for about an hour when Ripley suddenly stood up. And I when I say suddenly I mean she sprung up, like…well, like a loaded spring.

I asked her if she was okay. Because you know, when I’m mostly asleep apparently I think my dogs can respond to me in English. That’s a thing that dogs do, right?

She responded by explosively vomiting all over the bed. And my feet.  I think she might have even gotten a cat too, because Nox made a very hasty exit. Then she lay back down and went to sleep like absolutely nothing had happened even though she had traumatized a very tiny cat.

This is not allowed.  The whole reason I have dogs instead of kids is so that no one will projectile vomit in my bed at midnight.

I cleaned up that mess as well because my other option was to sleep in vomit. It’s always fun to see how far behind you are with the laundry when it’s past midnight. It makes you feel amazing about your life choices. I was all, “Wow. I’m super awesome at being an adult.”

I had finally made it back to bed when Ripley got up again and sprinted out of the bedroom. I shouted at her to get back to bed immediately. I was 10,000% done with her shenanigans and I was not having any more of it. She came back. I was proud of both of us. She had recalled so well! I had trained her and she listened! Good job, Ripley.

My pride was short lived. Vegetable oil is a laxative. Ripley had sprinted from the room because she was trying to get outside. When I called her back, she let loose on a pile of dirty laundry that I hadn’t taken downstairs yet. Not only am really good at being an adult, I’m also apparently a genius.

As I cleaned that up, I discovered that she had been eating Hawthorne berries. Should I make a joke about how she ingests the unborn in mass quantities? Or should I marvel at the evolutionary mechanism that allows tree seeds to be transported via animal waste?

I did neither of those things. I gave up. You would too if you had touched warm, feces-covered, partially digested berries with your bare hands.

I literally threw a towel over the remaining mess, washed (scalded) my hands, and went back to bed. This was a problem for Future-Me. Incidentally, Future-Me is also Tuesday-Morning-Me who ended up doing a lot of laundry before work. It was a rough morning. Ripley, on the other hand, was springing and spronging around like a bunny because life is a wondrous adventure for her.

Bravo, Demon Dog. Bravo. I might dump holy water on her head and see what happens. You know, for science.

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Life with Dogs

I haven’t been up to posting lately. I had something compiled about my cat, River, and then she died….and I was too bummed to talk about her much publicly.

However, if you’re ever in a situation where you have to decide between euthanasia or learning to live with a handicapped animal, please contact me. I am grateful for the last month I had with River but I also know the idea of caring for a handicapped pet can be scary and daunting and overwhelming when you first consider it.

BUT, in my very humble opinon, paralyzed kitties are way easier to take care of dogs with dementia. Oh yes, River wasn’t my only handicapped pet. Technically, Bear the Bad Dog is handicapped as well. Beware the dogs with dementia.  They will destroy everything you own but you will still love them so fiercely it feels like your heart could break.

Anyway, Bear has dementia.  He was diagnosed two years ago. Other than that and mild arthritis, he’s in very good health for being 14 years old. I guess his kidneys aren’t great either. Also, he has cataracts and is mostly deaf, but I swear he’s great for being the equivalent of human nonagenarian. When’s the last time your grandfather (or great grandfather) chased a squirrel up a tree? Or danced around when you told him it was time for breakfast? I bet never.

However, caring for him does present its own set of challenges.  For instance, everything is food:

Bear: What’s that? Can I eat that?
Me: No. That’s a beer can. They aren’t for eating.
Bear: I could eat that.
Me: Please don’t.
Bear: I’m going to eat that.
Me: Leave it.
Bear: I’m eating that.
Me: Bear!
Bear: OM NOM NOM NOM

And sometimes I can’t find him even when he was seriously just right there.  For an old beastie that can’t manage the stairs or jumping on the bed somedays he really can get around. I think he has a teleporter.  It wouldn’t be so bad but he gets lost constantly.

I’ve made a series of steps of how to find him.

How to Find A Sneaky Old Man Dog:

Step 1) Check the bathtub.
Step 2) Are you sure he’s not there? Check the bathtub again; he’s sneaky.
Step 3) He’s stuck under the bed.
Step 4) He went to the basement when you called him to come up to the bedroom.
Step 5) He went up to the bedroom when you called him to the basement.
Step 6) Still can’t find him? Check the damn tub. He’s thirsty and has forgotten there’s fresh water in his bowl.
Step 7) He’s stuck under the porch
Step 8) He’s on the wrong side of the tree.
Step 9) He got lost behind the couch
Step 10) He’s climbed into the cat box and it’s become his Mt. Everest. Or maybe the Garden of Eden. Nothing else exists.
Step 11) He’s trying to get under the shed.
Step 12) He’s climbed onto of the dining room table and can’t get off. To be fair, he doesn’t want to.
Step 13) Seriously. He’s in the bathtub. Just turn on the water and let him drink.

After that if I can’t find him, I yell all the words he still knows – BREAKFAST OUTSIDE FOOD TRUCK!

I’d yell his name but he’s mostly deaf and besides, I’m pretty sure he’s forgotten it. I think. Sometimes Kyle and I take stock of the words he knows. Kyle told me which words he was going to say the other day to test Bear….but he spelled them so as not to get the dogs overly excited. I, however, was mostly asleep and was deeply, deeply disappointed when I realized it was just a vocabulary exercise.

No. It wasn’t time for breakfast.  No, there wasn’t a food truck outside our house. 😦

I feel that Bear and I have a lot in common. Maybe I should try to eat a beer can after all…

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A rock and a hard place.

This started out as Facebook post but it got too detailed and complicated. So, now it’s a blog post.

I met my book club for dinner in Fountain Square. We laughed, we cried, we talked about books. (Okay, so we didn’t  cry. We’re not that type of club.) As we were leaving, several friends offered to either take me to my car or walk with me since I had a parked in different area than them. I reassured my friends that I was fine – and in my opinion, I was. It was only 8pm, my car was parked in a well-lit spot, it wasn’t terribly cold and I wasn’t worried about getting stuck in the snow. See? Nothing that I couldn’t handle.

As I was walking towards my car, I spotted a man shuffling in the snow.  He was angry, yelling at nothing and ignoring traffic lights. My experience has taught me that angry, shuffling, potentially intoxicated people who are yelling at nothing are best avoided. Since I was by myself, I crossed the street and I waited until he passed.

As I was waiting, a woman approached me and asked, “Is he okay?”

“I think so. He’s just yelling so I’m giving him some space.”

“Oh.” She seemed taken aback by my answer and then continued, “I meant, is he okay because it’s so cold out?”

“Oh.” I wasn’t expecting her response either. I thought about it. “Maybe?”

We both stood on the corner, assessing the situation. I realized I had absolutely no idea what to do. (I also realized there are radically different interpretations of the word okay.) Her assessment of the situation made me want to help him but I couldn’t even decide if assistance would be welcome or safe to offer. The woman standing next to me obviously didn’t know what to do either since she didn’t approach him. It’s possible my assessment of the situation made her decide it was dangerous to initiate a conversation with this man. We both stood there in silence for several moments, watching him, and then we both continued on our separate ways.

Obviously, nothing was resolved. However, it did make me think. Her immediate response was to help another person. My immediate response was to keep myself safe. I don’t think either reaction is wrong.

That man, by virtue of being human, deserves be treated like he matters.  This should go without saying – no one should freeze to death because they are mentally ill or poor or both.

But, I matter too. I have been harassed by all sorts of men in public. (One time an older man followed me around WalMart with his coveralls unbuttoned. I was in middle school.) I have learned that angry and intoxicated is my least favorite combination of personality traits. And this should go without saying- I have a right to keep myself safe.

Why am I posting about this? I’m curious about what you would have done. Is there a happy medium between avoiding this man altogether and getting help for him? Have your experiences taught you that strangers are safe? Have your experiences taught you that angry and intoxicated is a horrible combination? Does anyone want to discuss intersectionality? Any other thoughts?

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January 9, 2014 · 3:16 am

Conversational snippets

She watched him silently for a few moments as he worked at the stove and then said,”I need you to show me how to grill pork chops. I don’t know how.”

“I can’t.” His slight chagrin was accompanied by a charming smile, “I literally have no idea what I’m doing.”

“So what are you doing?” she asked, “What’s your plan?”

“I decided to put the raw meat on this hot thing.”

She tilted her head, and inspected the meat with a critical eye, “That’s a pretty solid plan.”

“I thought so too.”

……….
Me: Can poinsettias live outside? I want one but it would be safer for the the animals if we kept it outside. They’re cold weather plants, right?

Kyle: Seriously? What in our thirteen years together makes you think I know the answer to that question?

Me: I thought you’d be use to my questions by now and prepare accordingly.

Kyle: You’re right. That’s how I spend my spare time. Reading up on poinsettia trivia.

>>>>>>

“I need your help!” she shouted from the bathroom.

He bounded across the bedroom, scolding the dogs to get the hell out of the way. When he reached her, the concern on his face was evident. “What? What’s wrong?”

“I slept in this shirt but I still want to wear it today. Help me rub the dog fur off of it?”

He stared at her, his face torn between amusement and irritation. Finally he said, “I’m posting this on Facebook.”

“Good. I hope you do. Now help me with my shirt.”

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December 8, 2013 · 1:59 am