So maybe I’m a pessimist

This is what the sweater looked like after yesterday’s knitting was done:

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That’s another ten and a half rows, or about 3500 stitches.  And I lost track of the time, but it took around four hours.  Some of that was ‘knitting as fast as I can’ time, and some of that was knitting and nattering with J; so probably a fair split.  Recalculating my knit-rate based on that brings me down to the 1.5 hours per day range; still ambitious, but nowhere near as scary as over 3 hours.

And Woody says:

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#3: You get more fusses if you show interest in their hobbies…

Dad’s sweater update, and Thinking About It Seriously

I spent *hours* knitting yesterday.  Seriously – I must have found four or possibly even five hours of knitting time, possibly a smidge less if you count doggy interruptions.  So, loads of progress, right??

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Well, it’s definitely progress.  But ‘loads’?  I’m honestly not sure.  What does ‘loads’ look like on a large man’s sweater body, knit in the round?  It strikes me that as of today, there are exactly two months left to the gift-giving date.  62 days.

Assuming I do no other gift knitting AT ALL (which was the plan, actually), how many stitches per day do I need to knit to finish on time?  (Warning:  maths ahead)

OK, let’s assume 7 days for blocking, steeking (oo-er!), seaming, sewing in ends and Having Sore Arms.  That leaves me with 55 days max.

The body is 336 stitches round, and 167 rows tall; a total of 56112 stitches.

The sleeves will contain about thirteen and a half thousand stitches each; altogether, 27048 stitches.

Then there’s the neckband; let’s assume that this is going to be equivalent to the two cuffs together; another 1848 stitches.

That, my friends, is a grand total of 85008 stitches.

So far, I reckon I’ve knit about 12936 stitches – or, I’m about 15% of the way there.  Isn’t that weird??  It doesn’t *look* 15% knit.

So that leave me with 72072 stitches to knit.  In 55 days.

Or, 1310.4 stitches per day.

Yesterday, I knit about 5 rounds – 1680 stitches.  If that took me four hours, I need to find 3 hours 7 minutes a DAY to knit.  That’s a lot, even for me.

First real snuggle – it’s official!

Just a quick snap from last night, but this picture makes my heart sing:

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The hounds have been doing well, but Woody wants to snuggle up (with everyone!) and Kita has not been tolerating him doing that – until last night.  I know she doesn’t look very happy in that photo, but that’s actually because she was trying to work out if I was bringing her a treat.  In actual fact, the snuggle situation lasted a whole half hour.  This is real progress.

And just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, this is from this afternoon:

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Not only are two dogs snuggled up and relaxed, there is a toy there, and they’re not wrestling for it.  I didn’t actually notice until after I’d snapped the shot (and toys aren’t normally allowed on the sofa), but it’s darn cute anyway.

The day I grab a shot with Kita’s head resting on Woody, I’ll know we’re really, *really* settled.

Dad’s Fair Isle: progress

Slow but steady!

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There has been an awful lot of knitting hours invested in this so far, and relatively little progress made.  The prime culprit has been the first dark brown/yellow patterned row.  I’ve knit it two and a half times in total; the first time I got all the way round the row before realising I’d misread the chart and had been knitting a 13 stitch repeat instead of a 12 stitch one.  No fixing for that except frogging.

The second time I got all the way round with the *correct* pattern, except had one stitch left over at the end.  I’d missed one stitch of the pattern about half way round.  Arrrgh!!

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Meanwhile, Woody continues his crusade for keeping *all* my attention:

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#2: ham it up

(in which I show my love of brackets)

Feeling pretty knackered after the weekend; yesterday was almost a
complete wash-out as I accidentally drank too much on Saturday night.
It was our next door neighbour’s wedding celebration party (not the
reception – she was married several weeks ago in Sweden, and this was
the party for the folks round here).  I’d promised we’d go, but at the
last minute, J pulled out, so I had to go by myself.  I didn’t know
anyone there except the hostess, so I was feeling decidedly nervous;
add that to the fact that we were standing, there was no way to put
your drinks down, and someone was always topping up your glass, I don’t
actually know how much I drank.  I was worried that I’d made a bit of
an idiot of myself, but J says I didn’t seem at all drunk when I got
home – until I sat down and stared into space for a full half hour,
anyway!  I felt so silly for having done that – OK, I wasn’t horribly
drunk, but far more than I’d normally drink at such an event, and I know better than to
allow someone to top up a glass that isn’t empty yet.  Oh, well, I
guess we all need a reminder from time to time!  So I felt sicky and
fragile all Sunday morning, and just tired and slow after that.

And then in the evening, I went to London with friends to see a gig –
we’d had the tickets for a couple ofmonths, and J had already pulled
out, and I felt that I couldn’t.  Besides, I *do* like the artist (Ani
diFranco
).  I’d forgotten, though, how much I hate the way live music
events work.  Doors at 7, support scheduled to start at 7:30, but it’s
most likely going to be 8:00; the support is probably dreadful, but if
the support is any good you can’t hear it anyway, because everyone’s
talking and they only want to see the main act; support goes away and
there is at least another half hour wait before the main act arrives.
It’s 9pm by this time, I’m bored, my back and shoulders are killing me
(because it hurts to stand still too long – walking around, I’d have
been fine) and I’m paranoid that someone’s going to lift my wallet out
of my back pocket (because London scares me).  The act itself is superb – I love her music and her stage presence is awesome – but by the time we’re back in the car, it’s 11pm, I’d normally
have been in bed an hour, and we still have to get home.  (Fortunately,
I’m not driving).

I was in bed by half 12 – which is late for me, but hardly anything for
some of you night birds, I know! – and slept well until I was woken by
the sound of a retching dog at half five.  Poor Woody was sick twice
(on the washable dog mat – phew!) and looked very sorry for himself
when he was done.  I think we are seeing the effects of a scavenging
lifestyle on this dog – it’s not so much what he eats, as what he
drinks (bit like me really).  In the garden, anything is fair game –
the pond, weird little puddles, the water that soaks the labels off the
beer bottles for recycling.  Apparently, he found a plastic container
with its own ‘really yucky’ little green ecosystem yesterday, and got a
good few mouthfuls inside himself before J got him to stop.

So all in all, I’m up, showered, dressed, breakfasted and I’ve emptied
the dishwasher.  I should have taken the dogs for a walk an hour and a
half ago, but haven’t made it that far yet.  I think I might have
another cup of coffee whilst I think about it all.

Actually on to the stranded bit…

I’ve found a few hours today to spend with needles and wool, and have actually managed to start the stranded bit of the knitting.  I think I have knit 6 rows, 2 of which contain stranding.  See??

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In other news, Woody is settling in like a champ, and Kita is *almost* willing to accept him snuggling up to her.  His default is to snuggle up to the humans, and he has a repertoire of hard-to-ignore techniques:

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#1: stare really hard, preferably from close range

Today, I have mostly been winding yarn

I’m just starting to realise what a big job I’ve taken on, what with Dad’s sweater and all.  The body for this beast is knit in the round, and I decided to go for a tubular cast on.  I think that beast took about three hours, if not longer.

I have knit on this just about every evening since, and I am just about finished with the body ribbing – all two inches of it.

And today, I wound yarn for it.  Not a scientifically calculated amount – but a basketful with about the right balance of colours in it.  That took an hour and a half, all by itself.

You want progress pictures?  OK.

Before:
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After:
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By the way, I *do* plan to post pictures of my meagre haul from Ally Pally – I did take some, I swear, but now I can’t find them and I’ve put the yarn away.  🙁  I’ll have to get it out again and try harder next time!

Dog days

Dogs are important to us.

We have had Kita living with us for almost two years now – we didn’t even wait a month after moving into a ‘real house’ (i.e. one with a garden) to adopt her from Wood Green animal rescue.  In that time, she has gone from a scared pup to a loving and (mostly) well-behaved girl.  It seems amazing that we ever *didn’t* have her.

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She has also shown us that she loves playing with other dogs, and we have thought for a long time that a calm, older boy might help her through the last of her anxiety issues, but we’d probably like another sighthound type that can keep up with her at play (because, boy oh boy, is she fast!)

So we’ve been watching.  Keeping an eye out at Wood Green; keeping an eye on the dogs pages forum.  And we were starting to despair; so many of the sighthounds there wanted a home with a ‘calm older dog’ already in it – whereas we wanted to adopt that calm, older dog ourselves!

So, meet Woody.

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Advertised as approximately four years old and VERY laid back – he’s all that!  He was found straying, with no collar, microchip or any ID, and in very poor condition.  He was apparently very thin when he found his way to PUP, and had multiple wounds, though none severe.

We have no idea what his previous life was like, though he has an interesting set of scars, including what looks like a burn at the top of his left thigh, and is just now re-growing some of his fur.  He thinks that the right place for a dog to sleep is on top of the humans, and walks exceptionally well on a lead – so maybe he belonged to a homeless person?  He didn’t know what a sofa was when he arrived, and was a bit freaked out that it was a wobbly surface, though he is learning fast:

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He really, really wants fuss and attention and will push his nose under your hands so you can pet his head.  He also seems to think that he can climb into your lap on the sofa, which is a bit hard to ignore, as he is not a small dog.  So far, he has been impeccably clean in the house, but kept us up for most of last night by whining because we left him outside the bedroom, on the other side of a dog gate.  We are going to have to be *very* careful that this boy doesn’t develop an over-attachment to humans and thus a separation anxiety problem; he *will* be left on his own (or with Kita) in the fullness of time and we don’t want that to be an issue.

Kita, on the other hand, is not completely impressed with him yet.  She’s a bit jealous and they haven’t quite sorted out their own sub-pack hierarchy – but they will!  It will be much easier when he has some basic training under his belt and we can let them off lead in a large area to play together.  He really wants to snuggle with her, too, but she’s not having that just yet – keeps wandering off to ‘her’ end of the sofa when he tries.

Quick ‘n’ Easy

  • 1 skein Rowan ‘Chunky Print’
  • 7mm needles
  • Urchin
  • c. 2 hours

The result is slightly too small for me, but suits the dog much better:

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I used the remaining yarn to make a single, matching gauntlet:

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  Very simple – cast on x stitches, keep going in garter stitch for a while, cast off some stitches in the middle of the row then cast them back on again next row (=> instant thumb-hole).

I plan to use the same beret pattern for some particularly fine handspun yarn I have hanging around.  I have more of that than I did of the chunky print, so might actually manage a *pair* of matching gauntlets…

This was a *seriously* quick and easy project; the beret took about two hours, and the gauntlet about one.  In fact, it’s almost taken me longer to blog about them than it did to knit them. (well, not quite…)

First Fruits

Remember the fleeces?

I haven’t been idle -far from it – but the writing up has taken a back seat to the washing.  That very first day, I pulled all the really daggy bits off the three fleeces, and from them, threw out anything that was *truly* hopeless, and experimented with washing the rest.

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I got it suprisingly clean, but somewhat *felted*.  Oh, well, lesson learned!

Still, being the frugal Northern lass I am, I decided to see what could still be done with it.  I dusted off the carders, and set to:

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Lumpy, neppy rolags.  Unsurprisingly, lumpy rolags spin up into very lumpy singles, which I didn’t photograph, but which I Navajo-plied into rather lumpy yarn (which I also didn’t photograph).

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Apparently, lumpy yarn knits up into really *deliciously* pleasing fabric.  I’m in love with this stuff; I keep carrying it around and petting it absently.  It’s not particularly soft – possibly even wiry – but it is *incredibly* satisfying.  I’m definitely going to card and spin up the rest of this, and then, I think, I’m going to dye some of it grey, brown, and black, and use it to produce warm, sturdy accessories – hats or gauntlets – with Nordic-type stranded patterns.

I would love to be able to present J’s parents with small gifts made of it – and the owner of the sheep, too, if possible.  And I think it will be possible; I have carded, and carded, and carded, and though I have an ever-growing pile of rolags, the pile of washed, uncarded wool does not seem to be diminishing.

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