Saturday, March 31, 2007

Pink Blanket

Finally, finally, finally the dreaded pink blanket is completed. I'm telling you, it was the loooooongest project. I would work on it for hours and make almost no progress at all. It was like knitting into a black hole. I appreciate Jennifer and Elan's suggestions on the border, but I didn't think I could get the border from the Alphabet Blanket done in just a week, and don't feel comfortable at all with crochet (where DO you poke the hook through???), so just did the plain old picot border. That took longer than I thought it would, but I was working on 1,208 stitches around the freakin' huge blanket. Yes, I counted. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment.

This is one of the test borders - it is the Alphabet Blanket border from Debbie Bliss' Baby Knits book. I saw this blanket on Jennifer's Blog, and it is so cute I had to order the book. The yarn I used for the pink blanket was just too thin. The blanket in the book called for something closer to a sport weight, I think, and I had used fingering weight. The border came out all floppy and droopy. Plus, no way could I have finished it in a week.
Here is a close-up of the picot border. It is 6 rows in stockinette, 1 row of knit 2 tog, yarn over, and then 7 more rows of stockinette. For the corners I increased 2 stitches at each corner every other row, and then did corresponding decreases after the k2tog row. I picked up stitches from the blanket & used the three-needle bind off to finish it off.
I couldn't get a picture of the whole thing, so here it is folded up on the sofa cushion, ready to go. Hip Hip, Hooray!!!

Time to celebrate, now. What am I going to do? I don't know, but it won't involve anything pink!

An update on Mellie: She has been doing pretty good. She decided she doesn't care for chicken nuggets any more, and ground beef is not so much to her liking. Shaved beef (like for cheese steaks) is OK, but now and then she'll just take some scrambled eggs, if you please. I feel bad about all of the food that we are wasting trying to get her to eat, but what can you do.... Just keep cooking things in the hope that something tempts her, I guess. She is generally happy and has her frisky moments when she sees a bird or squirrel, and she's not in any pain, so we're just doing what we can to keep her that way. Thanks, everybody, for sending good wishes and healing thoughts her way.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Blankie (and Joey, and SP10) Update

Nothing much done on the mitred square blankie this week. Really, nothing at all has been done. I've been tied up with the pink baby blanket. I finished the border last night and only have to weave in the ends, photograph it for the blog, and then ship it off just in time for the baby shower.

Joey (stray cat who got shot with a BB gun by some horrible person who will, I am sure, find a special place in Hell reserved for him or her) has been doing great. I took his dinner out to him the other night, and brought my camera along. He always flops on his back and rolls around when you're getting his food ready, so I knew I could get a picture of his tummy. Look at all that pink skin - so soft and sweet. How could anyone do that to an innocent little kitty. Actually he's not all that little for a cat - he's just little compared to my dogs!

Here he is getting into position. He likes to eat underneath the boat, and on the strip of rug that we put out for him, thank-you-very-much!

I'm having a great time with the Secret Pal thing. This is my first time joining in, and it is so much fun. I can't say too much, or I might give away clues as to who my pal is, but I had the best time picking out little goodies for her Easter basket. I've also heard from the Pal who has me, and have asked her for clues, and all I got is that she (or he???) has been participating in this since SP7 and is located in the North East. Not much to go about another clue? Please?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Blankie Update and Happy Daffs

Welcome to Blankie Update Friday. Yes, it is technically Saturday here in New Jersey, but I figure that as long as I post some time on Saturday, it is still Friday somewhere in the world. Flawed, I know, but just let me have my little reality.

Anyway, 10 squares. Not too shabby. It's better than what will be done this time next week. I'm back to the everlasting black-hole that consumes my world. In other words, the pink baby blanket. The Baby Knits book arrived yesterday, and I did a sample edging, and it just won't look right on the pink blanket. Not to mention the fact that the blanket has to be done by next weekend, and there is virtually no chance of my completing the complicated border patterns all the way around the blanket. Did I mention that the blanket is HUGE? A side note...gauge swatches are NOT for sissies.

Here is a picture of the same daffs that were in last week's post. Look how happy they are this week, without all that nasty snow and ice. I just love Spring, mainly because it is the END of WINTER!

I also signed up for a couple more sections of a book with Librivox. I completed the chapters I was recording of The Scarlet Letter, and am now working on a chunk of Tom Jones. It's a lot of fun, if you call cursing at your computer screen fun. There definitely is a learning curve with the recording software, and lets just say that I have not yet successfully navigated the highway. Still, I am really enjoying listening to the books on my iPod, (Pride and Prejudice and Emma, so far) and am sure that recording will be fun, too, eventually.

Mellie had a very good week this week. The warmer weather helps. helps me, so I have to assume it helps her! Many, many thanks to everyone who is sending positive energy and good wishes her (our) way.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Note to Self

Don't do knitting math at 5:30am and then expect to come home after work and decifer it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

SP10 and Mitred Square Blankie

This post is dedicated to all things Mitred Square Blankie. Criquette asked about it in a comment to yesterday's post, and my Secret Pal 10 hostess sent out an email asking us to post about our favorite WIP, so this post accomplishes both! Plus, I love, love, LOVE talking about the mitred square blankie.

It all started when I was reading some posts in the forum about "What to do with leftover sock yarn". There a post about a knitter who was making a blanket from all of the leftover bits, with a link to Shelly's website. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was just the thing I have been waiting for. I have been knitting socks like a, well, sock-knitting-fool, for about 8 or 10 years, and have just been shoving the leftover ends into ziploc bags. The ziploc bags were increasing in number, and were full to bursting, and seriously taking away storage area from my stash of sock yarn, but how could I bear to throw it all away? Problem solved - make a blanket out of it all.

Shelly has some great tutorials on how to get started, how to join the squares, and how to do the finishing off with an I-cord edging. The links are posted on the right-hand side of her blog under "Blankie Tutorial." Treat yourself with a visit to her blog - she is a great writer, and her kids are just so darn cute.

I made a small alteration from Shelly's pattern, though. She used size 0 (US) needles and cast on 31 stitches for each square. I tried that, but though it would take forever, so I'm using size 1 (US) needles, and casting on 41 stitches for each square.

I just love the way the yarns are coming together into a lively mish-mash of colors and patterns, and what a great use for all of those odds and ends! Here is a fairly recent picture of it:

And here is a picture of it as the wallpaper on my computer at work. Forgive the messy work area - wow, I'd better straighten up that mess!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Widespread Pet Food Recall

News of a mass recall of dog and cat food from was forwarded to American Brittany Rescue volunteers from the New Jersey ABR coordinator. If you have a dog or cat and buy canned or pouch food, please check this out. In addition to dozens of "store" brands of food, there are even brands like Iams, Eukanuba, and Nutro. My dogs eat Nutro Natural Choice crunchies, but thank goodness the dry food is not included. Joey eats Whiskas or Friskies, but again, they are not included. Scary stuff, though.

Joey is still doing great from his BB pellet wound. Today is the last day of his antibiotic (Yay!). Mellie had an OK weekend. She has decided that chicken nuggets are not her favorite thing in the world, and after some experimenting, she now likes shaved beef - the kind in a Philly cheese steak. Ahhhh... the aroma of searing flesh at 5:45am. I never liked the smell of meat back when I ate it, and I REALLY don't like it now. While cooking it, I chant "anything for Mellie....anything for Mellie....anything for Mellie." It's cooling right now, so I'm hoping she eats it! Just in case, there are chicken nuggets in the oven, too. Wish me luck!


Post-Breakfast Update - The cheese steak was very tasty this morning!!! It's gonna be a good day!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Blankie Update and Sad Daffs

Another week has come and gone, and 14 squares have been completed. Yipee! I'm at a standstill with the pink baby blanket, so that helps. I took advantage of a moment without a dog on the ottoman to lay out the blankie and snap this picture. On second thought, a dog really would have added something special to the shot.

This is a shot of some daffodils in the yard. They were almost ready to "pop" when we got hit with some rain, then sleet, then snow yesterday. Poor, sad looking daffs.
Mellie has been doing pretty good. She has been turning her nose up at the chicken nuggets for the past couple of days. She considers scrambled eggs with cheese to be an acceptable substitute, but we are now out of eggs. This morning she ate almost a whole can of chicken & rice soup (Healthy Choice, low sodium) and a few nuggets. We're just waiting for the ice & snow to melt a bit before venturing out onto the roads. We're going to prowl around the grocery store and load up on anything and everything that we think she might be tempted to eat. Yes, this means spending some time at the meat case. Yes, we do not eat meat. Yes, it is extremely distasteful to buy the stuff. Especially when you think of the cows' big, brown eyes and soft noses, or the poor chickens who have to spend their short little lives in deplorable conditions before meeting an untimely end. But, hey, if it would get Mellie to eat, I'd go into the backyard and slaughter my own pet chickens. Good thing Duckie and Blackie can't read, huh? Ahhh, they're safe. They will be 10 years old in April (who knew chickens lived that long?) and are probably tough and stringy, and I'd rather pay someone else to do the slaughtering of unnamed chickens, anyway. Principles only go so far when you have a sick dog...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Secret Pal 10 Questionnaire

Well, lots of knitters seem to be having a grand time with Secret Pal exchanges, so I just signed up for Secret Pal 10. Come on, you can do it too...go to

As instructed in the directions, here is my questionnaire:

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I like all kinds of sock yarn, and generally use US size 0, 1 or 2 needles, if that helps. Any and all fibers. I'm not picky.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I store my needles in shallow plastic boxes that were meant for fishing tackle, but I have moved the partitions around to accommodate double pointed needles. The circulars are in one of those canvas things you hang on the back of a door and each size is separate. I forget what it's called, but it's great.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I first learned when I was a kid, but only made a few dorky projects, which I though were fabulous at the time. I picked it up again about 8 years ago, and mostly knit socks, but some baby/toddler items, too. I would consider myself at the intermediate level.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Yes, I have an Amazon Wishlist. It is listed under knittymcknitter.

5. What's your favorite scent?
Anything floral, rose & lily of the valley are my favorites, also fruity or spicy. Anything that smells "natural".

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Oh my, yes. Chocolate is a favorite, and I have unsophisticated taste buds. Plain old Hershey's milk chocolate or M&Ms put a smile on my face. I like anything that does not contain marshmallow or gelatin or an animal product of any kind. "No food with a face" is my motto.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I spin, a little, but would like to do it more. I also enjoy making beaded stitch markers for my knitting, and I like fussing around in the garden. All of this takes time away from knitting, though!

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I like a variety of music: country, bluegrass, celtic harp, English folk songs, classical, anything Yo-Yo Ma does.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I don't really have a favorite - I like all blues or greens, but like knitting with a variety of colors.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I am single with lots of pets. Three dogs (Mellie, Emma and Tara), four rabbits, (Momma Bunny, Little Boy, Sunshine and Mr. Darcy), and two chickens (Ducky and Blackie). Ooops, I forgot the stray cats that we feed: "Little Joey" who seems to be a resident, and "Tigger" and "Marcelle" who are frequent visitors.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I wear scarves, hats & mittens, but have never had a poncho.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Socks, by far, but I'm branching out. I've made baby layettes, sweaters for toddlers, a couple of hats, mittens, and a scarf.

13. What are you knitting right now?
Socks, of course, but I'm also participating in a Mitred Square Blankie knit-along (using odd bits of sock yarn - really fun), a scrappy hat, and I'm slogging my way through a lacy baby blanket.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Of course - who wouldn't?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I use double points and the occasional circular for socks, and circulars for everything else. I have mostly aluminum needles, with a stray bamboo here and there to make things interesting.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Yes, and yes.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
I have some partially finished socks that have got to be at least 2 years old, maybe more.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
I'm not big on holidays. Maybe Christmas Eve is my favorite, because that is just my sister and parents. I like the changing of the seasons, and especially the ENDING of winter.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
I don't collect anything in a big way (other than yarn, yarn and more yarn!). I like candles, chickens, anything "country."

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
A few books are in my Amazon wishlist, sock yarn and patterns are always welcome, I'll try any dp needles---you can never have too many! I subscribe to Knitters and Spin Off.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I'd like to work up the courage to knit a lace scarf or shawl. I'd also like to learn how to do the grafting of two yarns together so you don't have so many ends to weave in when changing balls of yarn.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Yes, and I wear size 8 1/2 shoe. I'd measure my foot, but I can't find a tape measure, like always!

23. When is your birthday?
May 12

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Border Blues

Or should I say "Pinks"? Either way, the border of the baby blanket I have made to match this sweater set...... positively giving me the berries. I don't know what I was thinking when I started it. There is no pattern, and I NEED a pattern. True, I used the stitch pattern from the body of the sweater, but I need someone to tell me "Cast on ______ stitches and blah, blah, blah." I can read. I can follow a pattern. I cannot make decisions on my own. I know this about myself. Why I ignored this defect in my understanding, I cannot say.

Anyway, I cast on 360 stitches, thinking that would make a nice size blanket. Wrong...360 stitches makes a honkin' huge blanket. I used a provisional cast-on, thinking that I could worry about the border later. Well, later is NOW. For weeks I've been looking through my meager library of stitch dictionaries, flipping right to the edgings and borders, made a few samples, and promptly frogging them. My problem is the corners. What to do with the corners. I don't want an awkward break in the border pattern.

Last night, I did this little sample:

It's a simple picot edging that I have used on socks before, and I experimented with doing increases and decreases to go around a corner. Not bad. Not bad at all. Then I read Jennifer's blog today, and saw the border on her alphabet blanket. Wow. Look at the corners - they look great. That border is so much better than my piddly little picot edging. Last week I ordered the Debbie Bliss book with the pattern in it, and am anxiously waiting its arrival. If I can make that border fit, wouldn't that be so much better? Plus, I would have a pattern! In truth, if I hadn't spent so many mind numbing hours on the endless pink blanket, I would frog the whole thing and make the alphabet blanket. Thanks for the post Jennifer - you are a lifesaver!

Now for an update on the pets - Mellie is doing good. She ate maybe 6 or 8 chicken nuggets this morning. Whenever she eats, and it stays down, it's a good day. When I went home at lunchtime, she was wiggling and waggling that little tail of hers, and barking at people who have the nerve to walk by HER house. Both excellent signs! Joey is doing great, too. His wound looks much better, and he doesn't mind the taste of the liquid antibiotic (it smells like ripe bananas - yummy).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Joey's Trials and Tribulations

Meet Joey:

Lovely cat, don't you think? He has been hanging around the property for several months now, and, much to my dismay, I think we have an "outside" cat. Joey is a nice cat, as cats go, and I don't have anything against cats, but we can't have an "indoor" cat since my sister is terribly, horribly allergic, and...well...the dogs would eat him. Not a pretty thought. Even though I am 100% against having outside pets, what were we going to do, not feed him? He was such a straggly, pathetic looking thing when he first started coming around. Now look at him!

Well, as a responsible (albeit reluctant) cat owner, a few weeks ago we made an appointment for Joey to lose his manhood. That's "little Joeys" running around. We made an appointment with our vet to give Joey the full treatment. Being dog people, we had a vague idea that it would be shots and tests and then, you know, "SNIP SNIP." Honestly, I don't really want to know all of the details. It needs to be done, so just do it, right?

Well, it was Joey's lucky day - he had already been neutred. Lucky for him... really, really embarrassing for us. Mom said "Didn't you girls looooook before taking him to the vet?" Of course we didn't do that. Pulling up his tail and oogling at his private parts - that would be rude. Anyway, he got his shots (rabies and something else, I forget what it was) and was tested for leukemia and HIV (negative, hooray!) and came home no worse for the wear.

Now, I'm not really a cat person. I don't have anything against them, really, but they just can't compete with dogs. Some would say that it is a flaw in my nature that I have the need to be loved and adored by my pets. Do cats love you? Maybe, maybe not, who can tell with those aloof creatures? Do dogs love you? Hell, they just about turn themselves inside out when I come home from work. Dogs are the only beings I have found that offer unfailing, unconditional love. Who wouldn't want that?

But I digress...we're talking cats here. Last week Joey wasn't coming around for his meals, and believe me, that cat does not normally miss a meal. One night S saw a couple of drops of blood by his food dishes, and we knew something was wrong. Anyway, even though I have different feelings toward cats, that doesn't mean that I want them to be SHOT WITH A BB GUN. Yes, little Joey was shot. Don't get me started on guns and the fact that there are irresponsible people out there who have them and buy them for their children to take pot shots at innocent animals. Sheesh.

This is a picture of poor little Joey the day we caught him and took him to the vet for the second time in as many weeks. You can't tell from this picture, but there is a BB shaped hole in the middle of his chest. He licked all of the hair away from it. Poor little guy.

Fortunately he had just had a clean bill of health, and they felt around and didn't find a BB, so they gave him a shot of antibiotic, three shots of fluid to hydrate him, and sent us home with 10 days worth of antibiotics to give him. He is doing much better now. He should be - he's getting "people food" shrimp and crab and tuna and herring in addition to his regular cat food. I'm beginning to wonder if he shot himself just to improve the menu options. Cats are sneaky little beasts and I wouldn't put it past him...

P.S. Why do my paragraphs switch line spacing like that? It's reallllly annoying. I'm helpless at html. Sorry if it annoys you as much as it annoys me.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Blankie Update SUPER HERO Friday!

It's a's a's SUPER MELLIE!!!!!

To the untrained eye, this may look like an ordinary doggie coat, but alas, it is not. It is a super hero cape. Mellie has been sporting this cool "caped crusader" look since having her belly shaved for her ultrasound two weeks ago. You are probably asking what her super power is, so I'll keep you in suspense no longer. She has the ability to keep fire-breathing dragons out of the backyard. Truly. We have not have a single fire-breathing dragon in the yard on Mellie's watch. Here's another shot of her menacing "NO DRAGONS ALLOWED" stance.
Hey, I'm scared! She has had a really good week - breakfast every day, and only declined dinner once. She thinks vanilla ice cream (melted) is very tasty, and doesn't mind the fact that there are crushed-up pills in it.

As far as knitting this week, the mitred square blankie (3 squares only, I am sad to report) has taken a back seat to an experiment. At the forum on, one of the discussions is debating the use of reinforcing thread in the heels and toes of socks. I have always used regular old cotton/poly sewing thread, thinking that it gives the heels and toes a little something extra. One knitter asked whether the thread was too tough, and actually wears the sock out faster by rubbing against the soft wool. My efforts to extend the life of my socks may, in fact, be hastening them to an early demise. Horrors! Anyway, I have knit up a pair of Grumperina's Jaywalkers, one using thread in the heel and toes, and one not. I finished them last night, and will being trying to wear the heck out of these suckers in the interest of scientific experimentation.

Wish me luck!

Monday, March 5, 2007

My Girls Have Come Home

Yes, after a couple of weeks at the framer (is that a word?) my girls have come home.
This is a portrait of my lovely girls, past and present, done by Kristin Osgood, an artist who works with my sister. She really captured the personalities of each dog - their eyes are so true-to-life, it's almost freaky. She incorporated a lot of personalized items into the painting - forget-me-nots, their favorite toys, how they all center around Scarlett. Kristin is so very talented, and she really "got" each of the dogs and captured them magnificently. I'm afraid my photography of the painting doesn't do it justice.

Here is a picture of my funny-faced Scarlett that Kristin used for the painting. She asked for several pictures of each of the dogs, and wanted to know all about their personalities, and it really comes through in the painting. Even though Scarlett will be gone three years next month, I still miss her each and every day. She really left a hole in my heart.

Mellie is still doing well. She ate 12 chicken nuggets for breakfast, and 12 more for dinner tonight. It's a good day. Any day she eats is a very good day.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Blankie Update Friday umm, Saturday

First, thank you to everyone who is sending good thoughts and healing energy to sweet Mellie. She is having a run of good days - eating, sleeping through the night - and I have to attribute it to the positive energies she is receiving. Thanks very much.

Since it has been more than a week since the last blankie update, I took the blankie outside and took a picture of the whole thing laying on the driveway stones. I don't know how long it's been since I posted a full-size picture. Anyway, there are 18 new squares on the blanket. Seems like a lot, but it is two week's worth, so not really.
I was just coming in from the mini photo shoot, and look who appeared.

That's my sister S. on the way back from taking Mellie for a special ride. She loves car rides, and lately it has been all to Doctor's appointments, so as a special treat she got to go to the post office. You do realize I'm talking about Mellie, not my sister, don't you? It would be pretty pathetic if my sister were to run around in circles and whine and "wooo-woooo" at the prospect of going for a car ride. She's been eating really well - chicken nuggets or cheese omelets, and vanilla ice cream (melted in the microwave) for her crushed up pills. Again....I'm talking about Mellie, not S. Ha!

This week I have discovered the joy of audio books - I downloaded Pride & Prejudice onto my iPod, and have been listening to it while knitting, cleaning, and riding in the car. It's fabulous. Yes, I have read it about a half dozen times, and have a couple of versions of the movie, and practically have the 1995 BBC production (Colin Firth - be still my heart) memorized, but one can never get enough of Jane Austen.

I went to and they have tons of audio books to download for free. Yes, FREE! They have volunteers who read a couple of chapters, or an entire book, and they are available for us book-lovers to enjoy. I love it so much that I went out and bought a headset and microphone, and downloaded the recording software so I can record for them. I haven't chosen a book yet - I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

A Good Day...

...all things considered.

Yes, just last week we were told that sweet Mellie had 8 weeks left. We saw our family vet (have I mentioned how much I love him? He's the greatest!), and he said to get that number right out of our heads. There are so many variables. And we don't have conclusive proof from a biopsy (which we are not going to subject Mellie to - knock her out, tube down the throat, take a piece of her stomach...). How can they give such a definite diagnosis, even down to the time frame, without lab work to back it up?

Am I kidding myself? Do I think she is perfectly fine and has many, many, many years ahead of her? No. I know that they are right in the general diagnosis. It is what we all have been suspecting, but as our vet said, they are giving us a "definitive prognosis on a presumptive diagnosis." He said to continue the meds and food as usual, and send her positive energy, and to love her while we have her. You just gotta love him.

In an effort to make every day as good as it can be, and send as much positive energy to sweet Mellie as possible, I will concentrate on only good things every day, and just let the bad roll away like water off a duck's back, or grease through a goose, or something not quite so disgusting.

The good part about all of this is that it takes very little for me to have a good day, now. My standards are pretty low. In fact, they are in the toilet, so to'll see what I mean. As long as Mellie is eating, poo-ing, and is not in pain, it's a good day. Car won't start? That's OK. Didn't win the lottery? That's OK. Roof blew off the house in a hurricane? That's OK. It could all be worse.

Today, for example. She ate 12 (count 'em, TWELVE!!!) chicken nuggets for breakfast this morning. Wolfed them down. Did not hesitate for a second. Plus, she ate two milk bone treats when I left for work. Now that's a good day. Who cares if the car repair bill is in the hundreds of dollars this afternoon. Hey, it could be in the thousands for all I care (as long as they take Visa). Mellie ate her breakfast. I feel like shouting it from the rooftops! MELLIE ATE HER BREAKFAST!!! That's what I'm talking about.

(The fact that I took a fistful of Prozac this morning really does not enter into it in any way.)