28 November 2008

Gordo's Latest Surprise

Gordo shocked and startled us last month by having an epileptic seizure. We took him to the vet right away and he was put on phenobarbital. He had a couple more seizures, one in the middle of the night. We raced him to the emergency vet clinic at about 0330 in the morning on Saturday and they kept him until Monday morning. Then we took him to the substitute vet (our vet was away at a conference). He's now on KBr (potassium bromide) and we're phasing out the phenobarbital. The KBr is easier on his body, particularly his liver, and doesn't make him so drowsy. He hasn't had any more seizures since.

Gordo goes over next week to have blood drawn, so we can see what the KBr level is. If it's good enough, we may be able to pack up and go to Palm Desert. We have a very good vet down there and our local vet is very confident that he can hand the case off without any great concern. Apparently, epilepsy is fairly common in dogs and controlling it is well-understood.

If the blood levels aren't good enough, we'll have to go back in another ten days and do it all again. By then he'll be off the phenobarbital completely and we'll be hoping that the KBr will do the job. That'll get us out of town around Christmas. We're already into the time of year that we have to plan our trip around the weather. We have to go over three passes to get to the Low Desert, although one of them, Banning Pass, is too low for snow but does sometime have fierce winds.

This will be Gordo's first long car trip since he came from Simi Valley. I'm hoping it isn't too stressful for him, because stress can bring on a seizure. He seems to deal very well with new experiences, though, so he may well take the whole thing in stride and have no problems.

I, on the other hand, will be panicking once we get down there, as my office is absolutely not puppy proof. I'm going to have to pick a lot of stuff up before I can let him in there. He doesn't seem inclined to take books off shelves, but the yarn is at real risk. He loves balls of yarn even better than he loves his stuffed toys. Soft, good mouth feel, the excitement of the chase--what more could a puppy want?

09 November 2008

The Dangers of Puppy Ownership

I've got a very garish black eye, sort of, thanks to Gordo. We were playing around on the patio and he thunked my right cheekbone with the top of his hard little head. I didn't realize that it had bruised until the checker at the supermarket asked me how I got my black eye.

During the night it spread up under my eye, to the bottom lid. Gravity, I assume. It's also run down my cheek a bit. The only part that hurts is where the original bruise was; all the rest is just colorful. I'm fairly pale and thin skinned, so bruises really show up on me.

Gordo has finally stopped trying to chew on my watch, which he did by grabbing my entire wrist. My lower arm was quite blue and purple, to the point that the nurse at my doctor's office asked me what I'd been up to. Fortunately, no one seems to think that my dear husband is abusive toward me, so there are no funny looks or anything. Some years ago I had some eye surgery, to raise a droopy eyelid and remove the bags under my eyes (the first was necessary and the second was vanity, which I actually have very little of, but the baggy eyes really bugged me). Naturally I bruised from this. Vividly. Luridly. I had a sales clerk give me the phone number for the Spousal Abuse shelter, telling me I didn't have to put up with being abused. She was kind of embarrassed when I told her it was surgery, not abuse, but I told her she was doing exactly the right thing and should keep on doing it.

The bruising was so bad, and leaving so slowly, that I went to a cosmetologist and learned how to use concealing makeup. After she did a complete concealment job (and taught me how to do it myself, as well as selling me everything I needed), I went over to show my oral surgeon. He was absolutely astonished by the difference, which I too thought was pretty amazing. Everyone in the office, including some of the patients, had to come look, too. The surgeon started referring patients who had oral surgery that bruised to the cosmetologist (I'd brought a handful of her cards with me), which those patients found very helpful.

Now, this isn't a history of my bruising, but I was just reminded of it after Gordo got me. He gave me a split lip, too, but it didn't bruise. We were both reaching for the same toy, which is why my lip was down at his level. Fortunately, that was after I'd been to the oral surgeon and had two bottom front teeth extracted. Otherwise all that keeping my mouth open would have been very painful with a split lip. I go in on Wednesday and get my new crowns cemented. I'll also get the flipper (temporary partial plate) to wear during the entire dental implant process. Because we spend the winter in the Low Desert, the process will take longer than it normally would, probably at least a year.

So keep an eye on those hard puppy heads, OK?

23 October 2008

Update To The Update

OK, so I went in today to get some cavities filled. Guess what? Right, another crown prep instead. And I'm going to have yet another on the 30th.

I know why I'm suddenly having all this trouble with my teeth. Last summer I was put on a medication that dries my mouth out really badly. This condition is called xerostoma, which means "dry mouth". When your mouth is dry, cavity bacteria run rampant all over your mouth, burrowing in wherever they can find enamel. Mostly it's at the gum line, around the outside.

My much-beloved and extremely sympathetic husband, who just had a root canal, has been wonderful support for me. Even Gordo the Collie has helped, by sleeping on my lap when I get home from the dentist's office. No, it's not very practical, because he weighs 45 lb now and is 22 in. at the shoulder, and I've just barely got enough lap to hold him, but it's very comforting.

Gordo's having problems with food allergies and is very itchy. Poor little guy. We got this great leave-in lotion that I spread where he's chewing and it gives him a lot of relief. I'm in the gradual change-over of food sequence, putting him on lamb and rice. We've got a couple more days to go and then he loses his chicken treats, rawhide chewies, pigskin chewies, and other delights. Fortunately, they make lamb and rice dog biscuits, but I suspect he won't be wild about the change. However, if he'll just stop itching, we'll be able to add the treats back in and find out what's safe for him.

22 October 2008

Update On The Busy Week

I went to the dentist this morning for the crown prep and first it turned into a crown prep and filling and then, after some drilling, it turned into two crown preps. The second tooth was right by the first and was crooked (it's a family characteristic), which is probably why it had the cavity. Fortunately, the first prep had gone very quickly and so did the second. I didn't even need more anesthetic, it was so quick.

It's a really pretty day here. Not terribly hot, mid 80's, and quite calm. The Santa Anas are blowing and we always get clear, calm weather from them.

21 October 2008

Busy Week This Week

Well, my week started on Sunday, getting a new toilet installed. It's a Kohler toilet that only uses 1.6 gallons, compared to the original toilet that used 6 or 7 gallons. As it was being installed, I was doing laundry and I noticed water running down the side of the water heater. We looked and the pipes were so corroded that it was a wonder that any water was going the right way. I spent the afternoon doing as much laundry as I could and going to the supermarket.

Monday I went over and had the first crown prep done and then came home to meet the plumber. He agreed immediately that we needed a new water heater and we scheduled it for Tuesday afternoon. He cut the insulation jacket off to be sure we had the right size (50 gallons) and that set the water hiding in the fiberglass free. By this morning it was really wet and messy in the garage.

So this morning I had to take my husband by the blood lab for a test first thing (fasting test, you know how that works). The guy is installing the new water heater as I write. The corner of the garage is sodden. There's no other word for it but that. Fortunately the wallboard around the water heater base is purely for looks and the 2x4 frame provided the real structural strength.

It turns out that the old water heater was installed in 1980, making it 28 years old. Apparently this is beyond geriatric for water heaters, which have a normal lifetime of about a dozen years. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't really think much about my water heater. It just sits there in the corner of the garage, working away. I try to drain it once a year, but I suspect I really only manage about once every three years.

So we're about to have hot water again and I'm going to get the laundry finished, hopefully today. You see, I have an appointment for my third crown prep tomorrow (Wednesday). I'm hoping it goes as well as yesterday's did and I can get the laundry put away, etc.

Then on Thursday I have another dentist's appointment, to fill some cavities. The crowns won't be back from the lab for another couple-three weeks, so I'll have some time off until it's time to glue them on. A year or two back, I got a crown replaced and when we tried the new crown on, it was such a perfect fit it wouldn't come off after the trial fitting. Of course the dentist didn't want to do anything extreme to it so it took some time before it finally popped of. Then I nearly swallowed it. What a farce that was. Funny now, but not so funny at the time.

I'm almost done with the central section of the dramatic stole I'm knitting for a friend. I've taken so long to get even this far that I'm going to give her the Forget-Me-Not Shawl just to tide her over. The shawl has been finished except for blocking for literally months, so I've got to get myself in gear right now. I got a new blocking set, with wires and pins, etc, from Overstock.com for about $20 (I'm a member of their club and get an additional 5% discount and free postage). This shawl is vastly oversized compared to the original pattern, because I read it wrong.

Abut five minutes ago I got my copy of It Itches by Franklin Habit. Wonderful book. So much truth in it, too. I recommend it highly. I've only read the cartoons, not the essays, because I want to get this published before I get distracted by something else.

03 October 2008

Gordo Gets A Surprise

This afternoon the mobile dog groomer parked in front of our house and Gordo got bathed and groomed. This was quite a surprise to him, I think. The groomer said he was very obliging, except when it was time to clip his nails and trim the hair between his toes. Although he protested, he didn't used his new adult teeth or anything, which was a great relief to me.

He got a snappy Hallowe'en bandanna, too. He looks very dashing in it and hasn't yet tried to remove it.

He was five months old on Wednesday, 1 Oct. He's really maturing; he lost his last two baby teeth (OK, deciduous teeth) on Sunday. They were the two upper canines, which were very pointy long teeth. Now he has only shiny new adult teeth. He had to grow a bunch of muzzle to hold them all. I think I should probably be brushing his teeth, at least according to the pet shops and dog supply catalogs. The next time we go to the vet I'll ask about that.

It's cloudy today, with more predicted for the weekend. As soon as I can get some good snapshots of him out in the back yard I'll post them.

28 September 2008

No-Roll Stockinette Scarf

This is my pattern for a no-roll stockinette scarf. The latest version is made of Debby Bliss Cashmerino Astrakhan, which is a very textured yarn. There's no point in wasting a pattern on it and I prefer stockinette to garter stitch.

The pattern is more a recipe than a pattern. Pick your yarn and select the recommended size needles. If you know you're a tight or a loose knitter, adjust the size accordingly.

You want a nice firm fabric with some drape to it, not too loose (it won't keep the wearer warm) and not too tight (it won't drape around the wearer). I make my scarves about seven inches wide and seven feet long, because I'm knitting them for Iowans, South Dakotans, and Pennsylvanians.

Compute how many stitches it takes to make eight inches (look on the ball label) and subtract 10%. Cast this number of stitches on, using any cast-on method you like.

Bottom border:
Knit six rows (three garter ridges on each side), slipping the first stitch purlwise, with the yarn in front.

  1. Slip the first stitch purlwise with yarn in front, knit 4, purl to 5 stitches before the end, knit 5.
  2. Slip the first stitch purlwise with yarn in front, knit to end of row.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until the scarf is about five stockinette rows shorter than the final length you want, or until you're almost out of yarn.

Top border:
Knit six rows (three garter ridges on each side), slipping the first stitch purlwise, with the yarn in front.

Bind off, using a method that doesn't cause the end to flare. I like the knit two together, knit one, knit two together bind-off that Cat Bordhi uses for her Moebius scarves.

Weave in ends, wash gently, roll in dry towels (or spin in washer), and pat out into shape. Let dry, out of the sun.

21 September 2008

Shawls, Gordo, and Dog Food

I met a bunch of knitters and crocheters at the Lancaster Panera today and managed to get the ends sewn in for two shawls and one scarf. One of the shawls was made with only two skeins, though, so I can't take much credit on that one. I have two more shawls to go, one with four joins and one with seven. The first is black and I didn't think the light was good enough there to mess with and I just couldn't face doing the second.

Gordo went over on Monday for neutering and repair of his umbilical hernia. Because they had to do two separate tasks, they anesthetized him fairly deeply. We went over and picked him up at 5:00 pm and he was pretty groggy. He came home and wobbled around a bit before lying down. He looked so miserable and was whimpering so pitifully that I picked him up and put him on my lap. He promptly went to sleep, with nary a peep, and slept the sleep of the just for almost four hours. I just held my poor 35.5-lb baby, shifting him occasionally so that my various body parts wouldn't go to sleep.

He perked up a bit when he could finally have water and a light dinner, but went to sleep fairly easily. Now, a week later, he's quite back to normal. He hasn't really needed the awkward Elizabethan collar at all, as he's shown no inclination to lick the incisions. The prickly metal stitched might have something to do with that.

Speaking of dogs and just having fed mine dinner, it's interesting what the current trends in dog food are. I feed what's called superpremium food, because it greatly reduces the amount of waste that the dog produces and I have to pick up. The latest thing is no-grain foods. The position of those who formulate these foods is that dogs didn't evolve eating grain, which is pretty hard to argue with, except that they've lived with people for over 10,000 years and they have to have had the occasional bread crust during all those millennia. The foods do have carbohydrates, like sweet potatoes, fruit, and other vegetables. They also seem to have a variety of meats and meat meals, not just one kind.

Gordo definitely prefers one brand, Evo, over the other, BG, that he's tried. This kind of ruined my idea of puppies being willing to eat everything they can get in their mouth. However, he has, in the last ten minutes, proven that he'll eat aluminum foil and Stouffer's boxes, so I don't think he's all that picky.

So I, being so insensitive to my puppy's tastes (he's only a dog, what's wrong with the stuff they sell at the supermarket), just went by the feed store and picked up a big bag of chicken etc EVO. I only got a few coins back from the $50 I tendered. Fortunately, the superpremium foods are of such high quality that the dog actually eats less for the same number of calories, making this bag last longer than a similarly sized bag of the more common foods. I have checked this out myself, reading feeding tables on every bag of food I've seen. One of the things I discovered doing this was that IAMS cut its serving sizes when they started selling in supermarkets. There was no reformulation of the food to go with the smaller sizes, though.

14 September 2008

Gordo and Clyde Nap Together

Gordo and Clyde
Originally uploaded by Mary The Digital Knitter

Gordo got a new stuffed animal yesterday. It's an orangutan we've named Clyde. Clyde has three noisemakers: a duck-call in his belly and two squeakers, one in each leg. He also has long arms and Velcro on his hands, so I can stick them together and drape him around Gordo's neck.

As you can see in the photo, Clyde is quite large, although he isn't very heavy. Gordo can just pick him up but has to be careful not to step on trailing arms or legs.

Gordo has become very fond of Clyde and has brought him to me to play fetch any number of times. The last time I tossed Clyde Gordo carried him back but laid down instead of giving him back to me. Gordo then fell asleep on Clyde's arm, as you see, and I couldn't resist taking snapshots. It's almost 2100, well past Gordo's bed time. He falls asleep easily after the sun goes down.

Gordo goes to the vet tomorrow for surgery to repair his umbilical hernia and neutering. He'll also get his rabies shot so that we can get his license from Los Angeles County. I think we'll register him with Riverside County, too, so that we'll be covered in Palm Desert. He was chipped right after we brought him home, of course.

I stopped at the pet shop today and bought him a larger collar and leash, as he has nearly outgrown the first set. That set is quite narrow, made from ca. 3/8-in. webbing, and now looks too fragile as he has grown so much. The new collar and leash are wider, made of ca. 3/4-in. webbing, and are more proportionate. It'll be interesting to see what happens when we hang the license disk on the collar. I don't think he'll like it.

09 September 2008

On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're a Dog

Last night Gordo was sitting on my lap and he discovered the keyboard of my laptop. The flash washed out the monitor or you'd be able to see that he was reading alt.fans.cecil-adams on Usenet.

I can tell that Gordo's days as a lap dog are numbered. We went to the vet this morning, to have the blood drawn for his pre-surgery lab work, and he weighs 32 lb. He's 19.5 in. tall at the shoulder (adult male collies are 24-26 in. at the shoulder). Most of his height is in his legs. It's going to be a close race to see whether he gets too heavy for me to lift or he gets too leggy to fit on my lap.

Here's another photo. Doesn't he look older in this one? Usually he looks very puppy-like in photos, but there are a few angles at which he looks older. He's only four months and one week old, so he is still a puppy and usually looks it.

Here's one of his four-month birthday presents. It's a magenta tiger, with squeaker, and he's very attached to it. It started with a round ball, about an inch in diameter, on a cloth tape for a tail. It took Gordo about ten minutes to remove the ball. He has subsequently removed most of the cloth tape. It's just visible here; it's the light spot in the center of the back, toward the bottom.

Gordo got an extremely charming sea turtle from his cat cousins in Iowa last week and fell in love with it. He carries it around everywhere and sometimes naps using it as a pillow. The next time he does so and I can reach the camera I'll take a photo. It's really cute.

The cat cousins also gave him a stump with three squeaky squirrels in it that we haven't let him have yet. We're waiting until he gets bored with the current plushy toys (or until he wears them out completely) to give him the stump, which is really great. Too many toys can be confusing to a puppy. Plus, the family room floor is already pretty much paved with dog plushies, rawhide chewies, pig skin rolls, and squeaky latex hippos and frogs. Not that we spoil our dogs or anything, of course.

27 August 2008

Gordo Grows

Look at those long legs and big feet. Gordo had a growth spurt on Sunday and Monday and added an inch of height, I think, all in the legs. He was kind of inert on Monday, except for twice polishing his dish so clean that it was a good mirror. I gave him a little extra for dinner and he didn't even pause, but just ate it down.

Another view of the legs. His muzzle is more readily visible here and its increased length is easy to see. He has to grow muzzle because he's got to fit about twice as many adult teeth into it as he had baby teeth in his little puppy muzzle. He's teething right now and there's just not enough in the world to chew on. The family room floor is an obstacle course of rawhide and pigskin and nylon chewies. He also has a couple of freezable canvas chew bones that seem to give him some relief.

There's the muzzle and nose close up. You can just see the pale spot on his black nose, on the left just above the nostril. I think that's related to his being a merle.

We went to the vet yesterday (Tuesday) to get his last puppy booster shot. He has graduated from the little tabletop scale to the big floor scale, as he now weighs 30.5 lb. That's twice what he weighed when we got him. We also made appointments for his pre-anesthesia blood workup and for the surgery, which will combine neutering and repairing his umbilical hernia. He's almost four months old, meaning that Los Angeles County wants him licensed soon. He'll need his rabies vaccination certificate and his neutering certificate to get his license.

The trip to the vet and the vaccination really wore Gordo out, coming as they did on the heels of the growth spurt. He spent most of the day sleeping, only reviving after dinner. By bedtime he was his usual perky self, racing around the back yard and harassing his beach ball.

12 August 2008

Forget-Me-Not Shawl

Forget-Me-Not Shawl
Originally uploaded by Mary The Digital Knitter

Here's the latest photo of my Forget-Me-Not Shawl. The pattern, like the yarn, is from Elann. The yarn is a fingering weight yarn made from soybeans. They use what's left from making tofu, which is, based on the recommended acid dyes, protein. This yarn only comes in the cream color you see here. It's intended as a base yarn for hand dyeing. I really like this yarn and I've ordered a bag (ten skeins) of it for another lace project.

I've finished 114 rows, comprising the setup and three repeats of the first pattern. I'm going to add another repeat of this pattern before going on to the three repeats of the second pattern. I'm adding the repeat because the shawl is 66" wide when made with six repeats and I'm making it for someone who is taller than average and would look better in a larger version. The original six-repeat version calls for five skeins of yarn. I bought six and I think that's exactly how much I'll need for the seven-repeat version. However, if I'm wrong it'll be OK, since I bought the additional bag.

Edited to add: According to the triangular shawl progress calculator, I'm about 30% done. The person I was making this for expressed a burning passion for brighter colors, so this shawl has a new recipient. She's shorter and more slender than is the original recipient, so I'm knitting it to the pattern, not larger.

Gordo helps me by grabbing any piece of the shawl or yarn he can reach and pulling on it. His long puppy canines are very good at snagging the yarn. Fortunately, I'm fairly quick and he doesn't get very far with it. So far all the snags have smoothed out very nicely. I'm glad it's resilient yarn in fingering weight and not a more delicate fiber in lace weight.

05 August 2008

Gordo and the Purple Hippo Squeakie

Originally uploaded by Mary The Digital Knitter

Here's Gordo, three months and four days old. He weighs 22 lb and is a lot taller. Notice that the tail, legs, and nose have grown quite a bit. He won't fit through a couple of his favorite shortcuts any more, which surprises him.

He's got a lovely nature, very amiable, and is a joy to have around. He's figured out the house-training business completely. He's an intelligent little fellow and has picked up several commands. He has a burning passion for shoelaces but no longer unties my husband's laces, after a few admonitions. However, my friend Pat's laces are fair game.

We took him over for his next-to-last puppy shot today. It doesn't seem to have slowed him down a bit. He's been bouncing around all afternoon, except for an hour or so. I went out to run a few errands and he went into his crate for a nap. Amazing how a short nap will re-energize a puppy. When I got home, he was ready to go for another four or five hours.

The sun has set now and so has the puppy. He's definitely diurnal. Perhaps puppies run on sunlight and puppy kibble....

19 July 2008

A Little Explanation About Collies

This whole collie story is kind of complicated and now that we finally have our collie, I can set the story down in an orderly way. There are five collies involved, all sable and white or sable merle and white, and all male.

The first collie was the rough-coated collie puppy who died shortly after he was born, about two months ago. I mentioned him here before.

The second collie was Dakota, the three-year-old rough male who had decided he didn't like going to dog shows. His breeder decided to try one more show season to finish his championship in the conformation ring (he was halfway there already). However, it took her almost a month to decide this, while we waited in Palm Desert in a very hot June. On the other hand, we were there to have company from New Jersey that we wouldn't have had in Lancaster.

The third collie, from the second breeder, in Simi Valley, was another rough puppy, but the breeder's daughter decided she wanted him if he was of good enough quality. She's married to another collie breeder in the Midwest. He was, so off he went.

The fourth collie was a two-year-old rough male with an overbite and a bit of a history. He, however, developed collie nose and the breeder decided to give him to a friend who had known him for some time. She didn't feel comfortable about him coming to me in the desert, as she couldn't give her usual guarantees of good health.

So, after deciding that I didn't really want a puppy, even though they're precious and adorable, and even after preferring rough-coated collies (like Lassie), I changed my mind yet again and ended up with the fifth collie, a smooth-coated puppy. We've had him for nine days. He's grown so much you can see the difference from day to day. He's very smart and is figuring out the house-training business very well. We just love him.

11 July 2008

Gordo Comes Home

Originally uploaded by Mary The Digital Knitter

This is Gordo, my new puppy. He's a smooth-coated collie and is 10.5 weeks old. He's a little sweetheart and we just love him. He weighs 15.2 lb, which is about a fifth of his adult weight.

He came yesterday and has made himself quite at home. He spends a fair amount of the day sleeping, naturally. He keeps me running, I tell you.

The wire in the foreground is the ground wire for the electrical panel we added on when we installed an emergency generator. The generator burns natural gas (or propane) and will run almost everything in the house.

The escrow closed on my mom's house, a week ago. That's a real weight off my shoulders, although in a way I was very sorry to see it sold. They wanted to do an EFT, Electronic Funds Transfer, but I refused that option. I wanted to hold the check in my hands, not just see an account balance change.

I spent a little money on yarn to celebrate the sale. I'd take some photos, but Gordo is a little unreliable around yarn. Actually, he's quite reliable, but I don't like what I can rely on him to do, which is to put it in his mouth, carry it around triumphantly, and then lie down and chew on it. That's bad for the yarn and, if he swallows it, possibly worse for the puppy.

08 June 2008

Here's Dakota

This is Dakota, the collie that is coming to live with us fairly soon. Isn't he handsome?

27 May 2008

Sad Puppy News & Good Collie News

I'm sorry to have to tell you that a sable and white male puppy was born as part of the litter I was talking about, but he was very small and didn't breathe right and died within a day of his birth. The other five puppies were all, every one, female. I'd never even seen this puppy and I didn't hear about his death until two days later, but I just feel so terrible I can't find words to describe it. I think all the (human) deaths in the family have made me really sensitive on the subject.

Anyway, the breeder asked me again if we really had to have a puppy, not an older dog. We talked it over and I called her back to discuss the matter. She has a lovely (six points toward a championship in the conformation ring) sable merle and white rough-coated male collie she's looking for a home for. He's three years old and, she says, an absolute sweetie who would love to be the only dog of doting owners. He's been lying around her house, being adorable but not earning his keep, because he retired himself from the show ring after deciding that he absolutely did not like dog shows any more at all whatsoever. Part of the deal is that we'll keep him unaltered for a while, in case she decides she wants to use him in her breeding program. As soon as the breeder can get away from the puppies (she's having to supplement their feeding, as the dam didn't have enough milk), she'll bring him over and make sure we all like each other. Then he's ours.

And--I'm crossing my fingers here--it appears we've sold my mother's house. As soon as I sign the paperwork that's coming tomorrow and get it back (what would we do without Fedex?), the house goes into escrow. It's an FHA loan, too, which means a forty-five day escrow. Now you and I both know that houses can fall out of escrow for a zillion reasons, but I think we can safely let ourselves be a little optimistic here.

30 April 2008

Hot Puppy Love

Have I got news! I talked to the Collie Club of America representative in Hesperia (less than an hour east of Lancaster) and one of her dams is going to have five puppies on Cinco de Mayo. As soon as she knows what they are she'll give me a call. If there's a sable and white male, he's mine, all mine! OK, ours, all ours!

His name will be Gordo, named after Charles Gordon "Gordo" Fullerton, NASA astronaut and now a Dryden research test pilot. He and his wife live two streets over from us and they have also had collies. The previous two collies were named after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Before that, I was using names from "Macbeth".

If we don't get a sable and white male from that litter, her friend has a sable dam about to have puppies, so there's a second chance. And the third chance is the representative's second dam.

I talked to her for about half an hour and gave her several references. One of them, Sheri Moss, is the top gun in working collies. Another, the breeder I got Donal and Malcolm from, is a good friend of the representative. That was a real relief to both of us. Good, careful breeders don't like to send their babies home with just anyone, you know. I was all prepared with even more references, like vets, but it's OK.

I'm so excited. I can hardly wait.

15 April 2008

I've Got the Blahs

As the title says, I've got the blahs. I'm not knitting, I'm not baking, and I didn't even take my recyclables out for today's pickup.

It occurs to me, however, that I'm not baking because I don't really like lean breads that have been baked in such a hot oven that they have little charred spots on the crust. That is to say, artisan bread. I mean, I'm not even that wild about baguettes (although I'll make an exception for several baguette sandwiches I've had in my life--jambon in Paris, brie and onion in Snowmass, and Serrano ham and avocado in Santiago, Chile). But that's what I've been trying to bake. Or not.

Meanwhile, I've got a Tupperware bowl full of bread dough out in my casita fridge. I'm afraid to throw it away. I know it's not going to ooze out of the bin and chase me around the kitchen, but I saw "The Blob" at an impressionable age....

No, I think it's time to try sourdough. A friend from afca has sent me starters, so I'm all set. Yes, sourdough is a lean bread (flour, water, salt, yeast in the form of starter), but it's a lot different from baguettes. It doesn't go stale in four hours, for example.

Just think of me when you hear a news story that starts "A retired NASA engineer in Palm Desert was found smothered by bread dough", OK?

14 April 2008

Late Spring Is Here

It's late spring, maybe early summer, here in the Coachella Valley. The jasmine (which is think is Carolina jessamine; it's not star jasmine) is covered with fragrant blooms and the white gardenias are blooming robustly. We have a jasmine vine out by the outer door (that opens into the courtyard) and another by the front door, so visitors are greeted with sweetness.

It's been fairly cool here, in the 80's, until yesterday. Today the high is predicted to be 102° and we've had the a/c on since lunch. I just hope it'll cool down enough to open the windows at bedtime. I'd rather sleep with open windows than with the a/c.

The struggle with the halogen reading lamp is finally over. The first bulbs I bought were the right shape and voltage, but the base pins were too wide. I don't like bayonet mount bulbs anyway and this didn't make me like them any better. I put my husband to work combing the Web to find the right bulb. First, though, we measured the pins carefully. He not only came up with them but found them for $2 each. Great deal, except the site had a minimum $10 S&H fee. So he ordered two of them. That brought the price down to about what the supermarket charges.

I stole the replacement halogen reading lamp he'd bought as a stop gap. It wasn't a great substitute, because the arm is shorter than the original one and it only has an on-off switch, not a dimmer. These made it not very good as a bed-side lamp. However, they're not a problem for a chair-side lamp, so it's now perched right beside the chair in my office. I expect it to be a great knitting lamp.

15 March 2008

A Death In Our Family

My much beloved father-in-law passed away, peacefully and painlessly, at about 5:00 am today. He was the last of our four parents and his death brings back all the pain of the other deaths, as well as its own pain.

He was a wonderful, kind, loving, intelligent man and he'll be sorely missed by his family.

14 March 2008

One Fewer of the Greatest Generation Soon, Apparently

We got a call from my husband's sister-in-law in Iowa. His father, at 96, is doing very poorly and may not last through the night. This will be the last of our parents to die.

I've been struggling with the first anniversary of my mother's death, too. I may not be here much for a while.

More Lace Yarn

This is all Knit Picks lace weight yarn. It's very inexpensive compared to a lot of others. This is heathery yarn and the colors are a bit light. The skein in the middle is actually very greeny-gray and the other two skeins are darker. I have twelve skeins of this, or at least twenty-four shawls.

This is Knit Pick merino lace weight. It's hand dyed (but not hand-painted, which is an important distinction). It's a very nice yarn and I like some of the colors very much. For some reason, totally unknown to me, I have thirty-eight skeins of this. I had forty, but I knitted the Angel Lace Shawl from two of them.

This is the Knit Picks 70% alpaca, 30% silk lace weight yarn. It's finer than the all-merino yarn above it. It makes a very pretty scarf, like the Forest Canopy Scarf I knitted from two skeins of this in turquoises. I currently have eighteen skeins of this.

I also have four skeins of a beautiful teal alpaca heather lace weight from Knit Picks. And I have four skeins (100 g, 880 yd) of their lace weight merino Bare, in natural.

I probably have more Knit Picks lace weight yarn than I really need.

Here's the lace weight yarn bin. It's a twelve-gallon bin from Costco and except for the apricot cotton at the back, the tangerine skein center front, the alpaca in the left corner, and the hand-painted Morehouse Farms merino in the bag and to its right, this entire bin is filled with Knit Picks lace-weight yarn.

I'm considering making about half of it available for trade or purchase on Ravelry. I've already sold about twenty skeins of yarn there. If anyone sees anything they'd like here, let me know.

13 March 2008

The First of the Burst

Originally uploaded by Mary The Digital Knitter

This is the Elann Baby Lace yarn that starting my buying binge. The photo is a little fuzzy, but I'll go back and correct that . I bought four balls of each color. The balls have 663 yd, meaning that there's over half a shawl per ball. I just bought ten shawls, at least.

I also found my camera, as is exceptionally obvious. I'd filled up the memory card and had to download all the photos on it to CD-ROM before I could take any photos. I forgot my other memory cards and will have to get them when we run back up to Lancaster.

11 March 2008

Down In The Low Desert

We got back to Palm Desert a week ago and it's been unseasonably warm here. It was 85° today. The lemon and the clementine are absolutely covered with buds and blossoms and that whole corner of the back yard smells heavenly. The clementine is also covered with orange fruit, but they've been on the tree too long and they're kind of dry. The lemon, which did poorly after the hard freeze, has exactly two lemons on it. I expect a lot more this year.

I've got three shawls and a scarf to block and about a dozen boxes of books to put away and I've been buying lace yarn and fingering weight yarn and Aran weight yarn. I don't know quite how it happened, but I bought four skeins of five different Elann Baby Lace colors. That's at least ten shawls. That wouldn't be so bad, except that the twenty new skeins are sitting on a twelve-gallon bin full of lace yarn and there's six skeins of Zephyr Wool-Silk (three shawls) on the way. I also bought three shawl patterns to go with the Zephyr. All I have to do is hold off from starting another shawl before I get the blocking and unpacking undone. That may be very difficult as knitting shawls is sort of addictive.

I got a copy holder from Office Depot to hold the lace charts. I've been fiddling around with markers and correction tape and magnets. Right now I think I like the copy holder best for knitting here, particularly on long repeats. I think I prefer highlighter pens and multiple copies (a lace book, to use the proper name) for shorter repeats.

The repeat on the Dramatic Shawl is 80 rows, for example, and the copy holder really works well. I've just finished the half-way row in the third repeat. Photos will follow as soon as I find my camera. I know it's here someplace and I think it's in a knitting bag. I'll also take photos of all the lace weight yarn on hand.

04 March 2008

Two Projects: One Done and One Frogged Back to the Initial Slip Knot

The finished project is the Faina's Scarf, which I've finished knitting. I still have to wash it and put a fringe on it. It's a difficult color to photograph well, so I'll wait for daylight as soon as it's done.

The Project that got frogged back to the initial slip knots was the Dramatic Stole. This was going to have five panels taken from the Faina's Scarf pattern, connected with large panels of Rayon Bouclé and edged and fringed with Incredible ribbon yarn. However, the bamboo yarn used for the patterned panels demonstrated its propensity to sagging and stretching after only two panels were finished. Here's a photo of one of them:

Yesterday I pulled back the seed stitch border and bind-off on one of the panels and started to knit more of pattern, but I just couldn't get the chart and the knitting to agree. I knitted about a quarter of the pattern three times and the pattern just was not working. The diagonals weren't, mostly. So I decided that I'd screwed up the pattern when I knitted the original panels. There was nothing to do but to frog them both completely, which I did. Then I discovered I had the chart upside down and there was nothing wrong with my knitting.

This morning I finished loading the van and we drove down to Palm Desert. Mostly I loaded yarn and clothes, as my friend Pat and her husband had taken the heavier stuff, like books and kitchen things, down on Sunday. I've got the van about half empty already and I should be knitting some Drama tomorrow. I'm too tired to wrestle with it today, after making such a dumb mistake yesterday.

I just love my Palm Desert house. It's so bright and cheery that it makes me very happy to walk though it. I don't know quite where all the yarn is going to go. I keep looking at the walk-in closet in the casita, but I'm trying hard to keep the guest room just for guests and not use it for hobby materials storage.

To make the storage problem worse, I mostly knit lace shawls and scarves. Neither project uses much yarn, so finishing one up doesn't even make a dent in my yarn stash.

24 February 2008

Library Dedication

On 2 February the Friends of the Lancaster Library dedicated their bookstore within the library to my mother's memory. Here's the photo of her, a small plaque explaining why, and the official Los Angeles County Library System sign.

This was at the annual meeting and they also installed their officers and had a great speaker, a local author who has sold one of his books to be a movie. A lot of my mom's friends and fellow volunteers were there and everyone said wonderful things about my mom, even the speaker who had only met her once, some years ago, and had remembered her very well for her efficiency and her kindness. He writes a column in the local newspaper and, it turns out, mentioned my mom in his column after the dedication. I haven't seen it yet, but one of the volunteers saved it for me and is going to drop it by later today.

I said a few words about her love of reading and of books and how important the volunteers and the library were to her. Everyone seemed to like what I said and they laughed at my little jokes and nodded in agreement with what I said.

Here's a close-up of the official sign, made to match all the other official signs throughout the entire county system:

And here's the photo of my mom, taken at an angle so that the flash wouldn't reflect off the glass and ruin the picture:
Isn't that a pretty frame that they picked out? I'm very impressed with it.

22 February 2008

Another Finished Lace Shawl

Here it is, the beautiful Angel Lace Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark. It's knitted from two skeins of KnitPicks Gossamer in Caribbean. This yarn is 100% merino wool, 440 yd (a quarter of a mile) per 50-gram skein. This shawl used almost exactly two skeins, half a mile; I don't think there's more than two yards left over. As I was binding off, I was starting to wonder if I'd make it. Not that it would have been the end of the world or anything, since I have another half a mile in the same dye lot. It just would have been a nuisance.

In this photo the texture of the lace is a lot easier to see. Of course, that will all vanish with blocking, but it's pretty. It's just that to retain it, I'd have to make the shawl about twice as large and never wash it. That's not practical.

I'll get it blocked in the next couple of weeks, along with the two other shawls that are waiting to be blocked, and put up photos of all three of them in their final glory. Two of them are for me, the only ones I've kept of the eight lace shawls I've knitted so far. I hadn't realized I'd given so many away until I just counted them up right now.

Here are two close-up photos, showing the angels and their wings. They also show the colors of the yarn.

I've had the pattern and the yarn for a while, although they weren't intended for each other. What inspired me to get both out and start knitting was seeing a beautiful version, knitted in variegated blues, on Wendy's site. You can see it here, just as I did. In other words, it's all Wendy's fault.

I looked at that and said to myself, "Self, you've got that pattern and you've got an entire bin of lace-weight yarn, so what's stopping you?" My self replied "Nothing, but it won't look just like that because there's no yarn just like that in the bin." (My self is fond of pointing out the obvious.) So I picked out an interesting yarn and started knitting. I pulled the first version back because I had the wrong size needles, but it still went very quickly. I was going to give it to a friend, but decided to keep it for myself instead. I'm not sure how fond the friend is of chartreuse, which is a color about which most people have strong opinions

21 February 2008

De Source For Denise

I've mentioned before that I use Denise needles, particularly for Moebius scarves, and really like them. In all my tidying up and sorting of needles, I discovered that I've lost one US 11 tip. I've looked in every project bag, turned my knitting accessories bin upside down, and moved furniture looking for this tip. It's gone.

When I took Cat Bordhi's suggestion and bought the Denise needles and long cables for Moebius scarves, I looked all over the net and asked several people for recommendations. Based on this, I bought everything Denise made from The Patchwork Frog all at once. I got the basic set, the companion cable set, the three long cables, and the US 15 and 19 tips. The transaction was quick and graceful and the shipping was practically instantaneous (although this wasn't exactly surprising, as we're on opposite sides of Los Angeles County). The needles were all I expected and more and everyone was happy.

Then I lost the tip. The Denise company doesn't sell the individual pairs of tips separately, I discovered. What to do? Remembering how well the original purchase had gone, I sent a forlorn yet hopeful e-mail to The Patchwork Frog. She replied immediately, offering to take a pair of tips out of one of the sets she had in stock and send it to me, while ordering a replacement from the company. Doing this means that she now has a set in stock that she can't sell until the replacement tips arrive. She's willing to do that, rather than make me wait for the replacement tips to get to her.

That's a lot of stock to tie up for a $4 pair of tips and she doesn't know me at all. We had one transaction ages ago, is all. Yet she's more than willing to go to such lengths for me. Folks, this is what customer service is all about. Let's reward it and shop at The Patchwork Frog.

I'm just a customer, by the way, and have no other relationship with her. She, I, and over nine million people live in this county, so we're not what anyone would call neighbors, even. I've never met her in person and probably never will, but I recommend her highly.

17 February 2008

Sorting Needles

I've been tidying up my rolling bin full of knitting needles and other accessories. I got pretty much everything but the needles done and finally gave in to the inevitable. I have too many needles. I had too many before my mom died and I inherited hers. I'll probably still buy more needles for specific projects.

Among the circular needles my mom had were two with metal cables. Fans of Elizabeth Zimmerman may recall her writing about the first time she saw and, briefly, used a circular needle. That needle had a braided metal cable, as I recall, and one strand of the braid had broken and would snag the yarn, but still the needle was regarded as a wonderful tool that EZ wanted. My mom's two needles are in extremely good condition, a beautiful bit of knitting history.

She also had some 14" plastic single-point needles in US 2 or 3, which probably date from the '40s. A lot of knitting back then used much lighter yarns and much higher stitch counts than we do now. I think of worsted weight as being pretty standard for sweaters, but then it was sport or fingering weight.

She kept up with the times, though. There are a lot of larger needles, including circulars. I remember using a one-piece nylon circular in about a US 13 to knit a top-down raglan sweater in coral Spinnerin Frostlon. It had a vee neck and was a perfect color match to a straight skirt I had. That was when I was in high school. I also remember knitting a lace shell in avocado at about the same time.

My mom knitted a lot of slippers from a pattern popular in the '50s. They used a US10½ needle and two strands of worsted weight yarn in the adult size. Smaller sizes used lighter yarn and smaller needles. They were really simple and I, too, knitted a fair number of them. I could probably reconstruct the pattern without much effort. Anyway, she still had three or four pairs of 10-inch US 10½ needles, the ones we used for these.

Obviously there's been a lot of nostalgia involved in this needle sorting. It's been thirteen months since she died and I still miss her acutely. The probate closed last week, incidentally. It had been complicated by one particular asset that we had a little trouble getting transferred or it would have been done last year.

Another reason I have too many needles is that I have a personal quirk that I like to have complete sets of things that come in sets. I bought the larger tips and longer cables that weren't included in the KnitPicks Options and Harmony sets, for example, and I'll probably finish out the 16" circular needle set one of these days (I'm missing US 6, 7, and 9, which were out of stock earlier). I also really like sets that come with nifty storage systems for all the components, like the Options interchangeable circular needles. Fortunately my quirk is controllable and I can limit it to inexpensive sets. About the most expensive knitting set I have is the Weldon's Magazine facsimile set, all twelve volumes of it, and I bought at least half of those as Interweave Press brought them out.

11 February 2008

The Dramatic Stole Is On My Mind

It's kept me awake a couple of nights, fretting about it. My friend J. picked up some Lion Brand Incredible yarn in the Rainbow colorway when our local Hancock Fabrics closed up. She wanted a Dramatic Stole and she's exactly the right person to wear one. She's tall and carries herself beautifully. Drama becomes her.

I, being a knitter who is always looking for projects, said I knit a dramatic stole for her and we went to the new LYS and picked out some Blue Heron Rayon Loop in Blueberry, which is a very nice boucle. I haven't knitted much boucle, so this promised to be an interesting experience. And the colors are so luscious. Boucle knits up into a unique fabric in garter stitch. It's too loopy to knit into fancy stitches, as they won't show.

For a textural contrast, we chose Yarn Place Vivace (bamboo) in Purple Rain. Believe the promise of the yarn in the skein, as you pick it up and feel its soft slinkiness. It truly is soft and it has that wonderful heavy drape of rayon and silk. It also holds a stitch nicely.

So here's the total collection.

My first thought was symmetric stripes in random widths starting at the center back, sort of like the spreading zone in the middle of the Atlantic. I tried that, starting with the Vivace and following with the Rayon Loop, but it really didn't work. The Vivace needed more of a pattern and the gauges were just too different.

Even that little bit of knitting with bamboo yarn had kind of hooked me, so I'd gone back to my LYS and picked up three balls of SWTC Bamboo, which is DK weight, and restarted Faina's Scarf[1]. I got about halfway though it and had an idea for the Dramatic Stole. I decided to make lace panels in the Faina's Scarf pattern in Vivace and join them with garter-stitch panels in the Rayon Loop. I've knitted two lace panels. The panels are about 11" by 22", although I can change the size a fair amount.

Here's a close-up of one of the panels. I should point out that this pattern is copyright Fibertrends, so I won't be showing the whole thing in loving detail or anything.

And here's a close-up of the other.

Chevrons and diamonds, to summarize. You can probably just see that there's a chain selvedge on the side of the panel. I'm going to knit a Rayon Loop panel, picking up the selvedge stitches, to join these panels. There will be five lace panels and six boucle panels. Then I'll edge the whole thing with Incredible, in a knitted-on i-cord, and add the Incredible fringe. That should be dramatic enough, even for her.

[1] More about the Faina's Scarf soon. I need to take photos in good light because the yarn is all blues and lavender, which doesn't photograph well in poor light. The colors are beautiful and I want them to show up in all their glory.

03 February 2008

Another New Scarf

I started another quick scarf, after buying three balls of SWTC Bamboo yarn from my LYS. This isn't a very good photo, partly because the yarn is very shiny (and soft) and partly because it's been cloudy here. These are also difficult colors for the digital camera. The yarn is variegated from a light lavender to a medium teal via light green blue. The colors are actually very pretty and not all faded out, the way they look in both these photos.

The colors are a little better here. The pattern is Faina's Scarf, from Fibertrends. This is at the end of the first chart, the increase at one end.

See the pretty seed stitch border? it's also got a slipped-stitch selvedge that is visible along the left side. While this is lace, it's not very lacy, which sounds contradictory, but isn't. I started this scarf once before in red Lion Brand Microspun, which is very nice yarn, but was way too heavy for this scarf. The Bamboo, which is DK weight, is really a bit too heavy, too, but it's a lot closer. The pattern wanted sport weight, but I didn't have anything really pretty in sport weight.

I'm actually almost done with the second body repeat, but it's too cloudy to get a better photo. As soon as it clears up I'll snap a photo to show it off in its true colors.

28 January 2008

Starting Clapotis Again

For the third time I've finished the increase section of Clapotis. The yarn is holding up well, better than I am. I'm not very happy with the edges on this, but I keep telling myself no one will notice. For once, I think that's an accurate assessment. Usually it's just trying to avoid pulling the whole thing back and starting over.

Here's the first photo, of the set-up and increase sections. No dropped stitches yet (the first one will be in six rows). I've got twelve pattern repeats, instead of the called-for sixteen. The version I just pulled back had all sixteen but it was going to be too wide for the amount of yarn I have.

Here's a close-up photo showing the twisted stitches on each side of the soon-to-be dropped stitches. These twisted stitches (knit through the back loop) are a little firmer than the regular knit stitch and will help the piece hold its shape.

And here's a photo of what happened when I unpinned the tip of the triangle. It's stockinette stitch and it promptly rolled itself up. Dropping the stitches reduces the rolling quite a bit, though.

23 January 2008

Rain, Rain, Hang Around

It's been raining all evening, a slow, steady rain. I hope this is what they're getting in the burned off areas, as it's not heavy enough to get the hillsides moving. I think Los Angeles has had about an inch of rain and we've had a quarter or a third of an inch.

It's been snowing heavily at the Grapevine since 1100, according to the TV reporters, and I-5 is quite firmly closed in both directions. The CHP was running escorts for a while, but as the snowfall got heavier and the day wore on they gave that up and shut the whole thing down. Those big heavy tractor-trailers that fill half the road were slipping and sliding and who knows what the people in SUVs were doing.

The Grapevine is at about 4200' and the snow level is somewhat below that. We're at 2356' and it's 40°F here and dropping. This is the kind of night when you go to sleep to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof and wake up to a very quiet neighborhood, with every sound hushed by the snow on the ground. I used to like snow days when I worked, but not any more. I ran all my errands early this week, partly in the hope that doing so would stave off the snow. It's sort of like washing the car to get it to rain, I guess, only backward.

I've finished all the setup and increase rows on Clapotis and actually dropped the first stitch, which is a little short ladder. As soon as I get enough stitches dropped to make it interesting, I'll put up a photo. Right now it just looks like a variegated triangle in stockinette stitch. I have great hopes for it, but I have to admit it's a little unimpressive so far.

21 January 2008

Rain and Snow and Knitting

The weather predictors are really confused about what's going to happen here the next week or so. First they were predicting rain today and tomorrow, with snow maybe down as low as 2000 ft on Thursday (Lancaster is at 2360 or so), then they made that prediction kind of blurry because it looked like a cut-off low (occluded front being the other name for the phenomenon). Now they're saying something about part of it spinning off and coming here, with the rest to follow more slowly. I hardly know what to expect.

However, I can say that it's chilly and cloudy and windy here today. I went out and brought three loads of firewood around from the far side of the house onto the patio, so that I won't have to go out into the rain for it. I also checked the rain gauge to be sure it was clean and empty.

I'm ready. Let water fall out of the sky, I'll be sitting in front of a nice fire, knitting, reading Usenet, and surfing blogs. This is the SoCal version of real winter weather, like the rest of the country has been having.

Edited to add : If you've got markers on your knitting, you'll spend a lot less time getting up to retrieve the bouncy little rascals if you slip them purlwise instead of knitwise. I'm fond of the markers shaped like little rubber o-rings and it's amazing how far they can bounce after an energetic launch. I'm re-knitting my Clapotis, from scarf size to wrap size, meaning I have seventeen markers, one every six stitches.

16 January 2008


Here's the latest picture of my Angel Lace Shawl. I've added one more pattern motif repeat (ten rows) since I snapped this. Just for orientation, the center top of the shawl is at the center top of the photo. In this photo I had about a quarter of the first ball of yarn left, meaning I was about 3/8ths done.

Another photo of the shawl, from slightly further back. In this photo the center of the top of the shawl is slightly left of the bottom of the photo. The tip of the triangle is at the upper right of the photo. I need a longer cable on my circular needle to lay the shawl out in its proper shape.

Now it may seem that I haven't made much progress on my shawl since I last reported and I really haven't. I had something else to do. My dear niece, The Best Niece In The World or TBNITW (not that I'm biased or anything), sent me some beautiful hand-painted rayon chenille yarn. This part of it hadn't traveled well and I hadn't treated it carefully enough when I took it out of the box and looked at it. Chenille has so much twist in it that this yarn had really snarled itself up, with only a little help. So I found an end and untangled. And untangled. And untangled.

Isn't this beautiful hand-painted yarn? The colors remind me very much of turquoise and amethyst. I have no idea what I'm going to knit from it, except that it needs to be knit fairly firmly in a pattern stitch to prevent worming. Here's a closer look.

And here it is, untangled and wound into a nice firm ball slightly bigger than a baseball.

TBNITW sent more than just one kind of hand-painted chenille, so I'll share more photos as soon as I take them. She has wonderful taste, but what else would you expect from TBNITW?

11 January 2008

So Quiet!

You wouldn't believe how long it takes to accumulate enough dirty dishes to run the new dishwasher with a clear conscience when there's only two people and Stouffer's meals are not uncommon. I finally managed to gather together six bowls, three plates, a bunch of flat ware, and the glass carousel from my microwave, plus the two Stouffer's trays, and call it a light load.

Well, the new dishwasher is a real success. It's so quiet, which is really important because our family room, where we actually live, and our kitchen are really just one big room. Running the previous dishwasher meant turning up the TV and speaking more loudly. Not so with the new one. It's rated at 47 db and they mean it. When it was being installed, I could see all the soundproofing wrapping around the tub. Impressive.

The dishes got nice and clean, including the microwave carousel that had baked-on macaroni and cheese (yes, Stouffer's). The dishwasher also has all kinds of fancy gadgets to hold stuff and "power scour" dirty pans, but I haven't tried them out yet. I guess I need to do some real cooking to test out all the features.

If anyone wonders, it's a Whirlpool GU2700, in black, from Lowe's. I have a similar dishwasher from GE in my Palm Desert house, installed by the builder. It's not the Profile, but the next best. I like it, too. I just like Whirlpool better.

I'm still knitting away on my Angel Lace Shawl. I've gotten beyond the point I'd reached on the US 5 needles. I'd pop in a photo but it doesn't look any different, really. Maybe a bit bigger, but that's about all.

10 January 2008

Great Knitting Site

I was looking around the web for how to do the Portuguese purl, which I'd seen mentioned a while ago on someone's blog, and I found a great knitting site. It's KnittingHelp.com and it has an incredible number of instructional knitting videos. There are well over a hundred knitting videos, ranging from casting on to short rows and turning heels. There are also free patterns for a variety of projects. The knitter who created this site, Amy Finlay, also has a DVD that has all the site videos on it.

I found the Portuguese purl stitch on YouTube and it's not something I intend to switch to. I'm perfectly happy being a right-handed yarn thrower, so the Portuguese purl doesn't offer me any advantage.

07 January 2008

A Finished Lace Shawl, A Re-Started Lace Shawl

I finished my Flower Lace Shawl two days ago. That is to say, I finished knitting it. I haven't woven in the ends yet. Once I do, I'll wash and block it. I'm thinking of taking it down to Palm Desert to block because I have a big, out of the way casita bedroom that's just perfect for blocking. It has a ceiling fan to speed drying, too.

Here's a close-up of the rolling border. The points, which will be pinned out flat in the blocking, are quite visible. Since the bind off is completely rolled up and invisible, I'll just say that I did a very even, uniform bind off that I'm very proud of. I did it all in one sitting, beginning to end, which contributed to the evenness. The bind off I use on almost everything (not scarves in bulky yarn, though) is the Flexible Bind Off that Cat Bordhi and Evelyn Clark recommend. It's very easy (k1, *k1, slip the left needle into the front of the two stitches and knit together, repeat from * to the end of the row). It's flexible, as the name promises, and attractive.

And here's a close-up showing the Flower Motif.

This is the Angel Lace Shawl. I'd started it on US4 needles (the first version was the subject of a posting here, with photos). However, I felt that the fabric was just too tight at that gauge, so I switched to US 6 needles. Here's where I've gotten back to. The stitch marker shows where the body motifs start. These triangular shawls are typically knit with the pattern set-up, multiple repeats of the body motifs, and an edging. In this pattern, the first twenty rows are the set-up, the body motifs are ten stitches by ten rows, and the edging is sixteen rows deep.

Here's a close-up, showing the angel with wings. The head is just left of center.

When I picked this yarn out, I didn't realize that it had quite so much chartreuse or that the chartreuse was so vivid. It looks quite different in the skein. I've gotten used to it now and I like it, but when I was knitting the first version I was a little worried about it.

Edited to add that my new dishwasher gets installed tomorrow morning (Tuesday, 9 Jan). I'm ready for it to be here. Amazing how nice it is to put dirty dishes into the machine and get clean dishes out.

04 January 2008

Rejoice, For That Which Was Lost Is Found

My lace shawl book was shipped from Elann, so the inevitable happened. I found my copy.

This came at a good time, as I decided that my Angel Wings Shawl needs to be frogged and re-knit on larger needles. Right now I'm used US 4s, but I think I'll try 5s or 6s. I'll finish up the Floral Lace Shawl and then start over on the Angel Wings Shawl.

01 January 2008

In The Absence Of The Pattern

Since I can't finish my Floral Lace Shawl until the new copy of the pattern arrives, I decided to start another. I know I've got other projects I should be working on, but lace shawls are just plain addictive.

Here it is, Evelyn Clark's Angel Lace Shawl, knit in Knit Picks Gossamer in Caribbean, from my stash. It's the first time I've used this 100% merino lace weight yarn. I like it much more than I liked the KP Shimmer, probably because it's about twice the diameter. The Shimmer makes a beautiful sheer shawl but drives me crazy. The Gossamer is a lot easier for me to knit with.

In this photo I've finished the first chart (center back, twenty rows) and four repeats of the second chart (body pattern, ten rows). It may be that the colors in this yarn are a little too contrasty for lace, but I like them.

Here's a closer photo, where you may be able to see the angels' heads and wings:

This shawl is a lot solider than most of the other lace shawls I've knitted. I assume that it'll be warmer as a result, but I'm not sure it's going to stretch as much when blocked. I have a mile of this color lot, but I will probably only use two skeins, half a mile, 880 yd. The pattern calls for 550 yd, but the resulting shawl is only 28" by 56". That seems a little skosh to me, so I'll probably use both skeins and have my shawl come out a little larger.

As soon as the replacement pattern arrives I'll finish the Floral Lace Shawl. This time I'm going to measure both before and after blocking.