Chip, Sophie & the Bunny

The dog days of summer are in overdrive here in North Texas, in the hottest, driest, most miserable summer since 1980.  What could possibly motivate two black Mini Schnauzers to stay outside for more than 30 seconds?  Prey!

What is this?  A mysterious scratching, scrabbling sound in the downspout?  (Get out of the way!  I want to sniff it!)  What could have crawled in there?

Time for the human to extract the mysterious critter.

Ooo, it’s a bunny rabbit, and not a baby but a full grown rabbit. Now for the final chase! (…after the human, er, points out the prey and said prey makes the mistake of moving.)

That’s right, doggies, you chased the bunny out of your yard, so it can no longer leave "bunny bearings" or tufts of fur or those glorious smells…  Wait!  Come back!

Margarita Cactus Tree Skirt

design by Susan L. HarrisonMargarita in a skirt

Ahh, Friday night.  It’s my favorite time of the week, when hubby and I unwind with our favorite beverage.  As designated bartender, I squeeze the limes and mix top shelf tequila with Paula’s Texas Orange to create those smooth margaritas that kick off the weekend.  The ubiquitous cactus-stemmed glasses work best – not too sloshy, not too big, just right.  In this achingly hot summer of 2011, ‘ritas and rocks cause cactus condensation that fills our thirsty stone coasters.  What’s a margarita lover to do?  Crochet an extra coaster layer, of course.  How to make something that will resist the naughty glass’ efforts to tip over when the second round is poured?  How about a tree skirt for the cactus?  In the fiesta spirit, it doubles as a mini sombrero.  ¡Que te diviertas!

Notes & Abbreviations

Ch 1 at the beginning of a row counts as one single crochet stitch.

CC:  contrasting color (yellow in photo)
Ch:  chain
MC:  main color (red in photo)
Sc:  single crochet
Sl st:  slip stitch
Tbl:  through back loops

Supplies

Approx. 10 yards worsted weight cotton yarn in 2 colors, about 6 yds MC to 4 yds CC.
Size G crochet hook, tapestry needle

Gauge

Rather than a normal gauge, I’m adding tips so you can check the fit on your favorite margarita glass as you work and adjust hook size if needed.

Instructions

•    Leaving a 6” yarn tail, ch 13 in MC.Margarita skirt in progress
•    Sc in 2nd ch from hook and in next 11 sts, switching to CC in loop pulled through final sc.  (12 sc)  Turn.

Tip: Hold your work around the stem of a margarita glass.  It should fit gently around with the initial chain about ½” – ¾” above the glass base, not overlapping but not stretched.

•    Ch 1. Sc in next 11 sts across.  (12 sts)  Turn.
•    Ch 1. Sc tbl in next 11 sts across, changing back to MC in final sc.  (12 sts)  Turn.
•    Ch 1. 1 sc in same st, 2 sc in next 11 sts across.  (24 sts)  Turn.
•    Ch 1. 1 sc in same st.  *1 sc in next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st.  Repeat from * until 4 sts remain unworked.  1 sc in each of the next 3 sts, 2 sc in final st (turning chain).  Change to CC in final sc.  (31 sts)  Turn.

Tip: Hold your work around the stem again.  The row worked tbl should form a turning point around the bottom of the stem so the two rows below flare out onto the glass base.  All rows should meet around the glass without stretching or overlapping.

•    Ch 1. 1 sc in the same st and in the next 30 sts.  (32 sts)  Cut CC yarn and pull through final loop.
•    Move to the other end of the piece, which has the working MC yarn tail emerging through the front side.  Move the MC yarn to the back around the edge of the piece, and pull up a loop through the turning chain of CC.
•    Ch 1. 1 sl st in the next 31 sts.  Work loosely to avoid tightening the edge.  (32 sts)
•    Cut yarn to leave a 6” tail.  Ch 1, and draw yarn tail through final loop.

Finishing

Weave in CC yarn ends.
Thread each MC tail onto a tapestry needle, weave to the edge of the row worked through back loops, and tie a knot in the end of each to prevent unraveling.  Wrap the sombrero / tree skirt around your glass stem, tie the MC yarn tails together, fill the glass with your favorite margarita, and shout “¡Vamos a rumbear!”

Would you like a nice, printer-friendly PDF of this pattern that fits on one page?  Here ya go.

© Copyright Susan L. Harrison.For private, non-commercial use only.Created August 2011.

OCD Cable Knitting

So I’m not exactly a dedicated blogger. My commentaries tend to be told to the air or to my patient hubby, occasionally broadcast on Facebook, and for knitting-specific thoughts, I post on Ravelry. Ought one to share every synapse firing with the planet? Surely not, but perhaps one ought to share a tiny bit more, especially useful bits. Being a geeky sort — only a small serving of Asperger’s Aspic, thanks — I believe thoughts that might benefit someone else need sharing with the world directly, not merely transmitted to the air via ESP. One other thing. I’ve decided to write this post however it comes to me, using the written language formed by reading too many British authors at a young age, plus old Pogo cartoons and Ogden Nash. Enough exposition, on to the knitting.

I was looking forward to the Humanity Mitts project as comfort knitting. Cabling and 2-at-a-time mittens may not sound comforting, but after fiddley projects involving I-cording, sewing in a purse lining, my first lace weight scarf (in progress), and of course the dreaded Mantis, it was time for something familiar. Love the yarn, Sublime Cashmerino Silk Aran, and having completed three of Jared Flood’s Habitat hats, this derivative pattern was one to look forward to. I swatched, cast on, happily knit to round 5, and came to a full stop. Continue in p1, k2 ribbing. Purl, knit knit, purl…wait. You want me to knit a stitch that was previously a purl? What have I done wrong? …searching for errata…none… People say what a wonderfully written pattern. Yes, fine, but what about knitting a purl? ‘T’aint fittin’. Is it? Finally I found a Raveler who posted a reaffirming comment along the same lines, so at least I wasn’t crazy. After closer examination at maximum zoom on others’ project photos, I determined that this k-over-p technique produces angular cables that at least don’t look broken. Maybe a tad jaggy. Still, I couldn’t bear it, so I decided to add a simple cable switch on round 5, spent entirely too much time in Excel charting it, and have the result to share. (Finally, we get to the “something worth saying” portion of this post.) Here’s the chart.

I hope the cable symbols make sense to you, dear reader, as I could find nothing on the ‘net representing a 5-stitch cable with a purl. My text notation was made up too, and I don’t care for the number of characters, but it does tell me exactly what to do. 2b:p1-k4 means, cabling without a cable needle as I now prefer, take 5 stitches to the right needle, grab the rightmost 2 in back, swap with the other 3, and put back on the left needle. Then purl 1, knit 4, and done. The color coding derives from my usual highlighter-on-paper markups, so I figured I’d save myself that step. The pic of red cables shows how it works in yarn.

Finally, I do realize others who have knitted these mitts have made this change too, so what exactly did I bring to the party? Specificity. (Mrs. “Be Spe-cific” Nelson from McLean Middle School would be proud.) Should one find oneself knitting under the influence of a crisp white zin while watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, by wild happenstance, one can rely on this chart rather than on lightly pickled gray matter.

Technorati : knitting chart cable

Better living through chemistry (not) …

or “Look what I found in Dad’s garage!”Chlordane front label 02

If you live long enough, especially in recent decades, the world moves out from under your feet and a new one slips into place. My grandmother knew how to make fried chicken, starting by catching a hen in the back yard and wringing its neck. Mother played with little droplets of mercury brought home by Grandaddy the chemist. Did you know you can turn a gold ring silver by putting mercury on it? Cool! The color lasts until the mercury rubs off, on your skin of course. I remember adding freon to a ’74 Mustang by hooking up hoses and setting the can in a pan of hot water out in the driveway where the gas could fly away to widen the nearest hole in the ozone layer. What? It was fun to feel how cold the can got.

Nowadays folks buy boxes of ladybugs to eat aphids in their gardens, rather than seasoning the leaves with Sevin Dust. Maybe you, dear reader, wouldn’t dream of using chemicals in your yard, but recent generations were happy to use the little gem below — the best thing ever for killing termites. Take a gander at this bottle of sure-fire pest control.

vcm_s_kf_repr_355x480Chlordane by Green Light

Directions for Use [excerpts]
Regular Mixture: 8 ounces per 25 gallons of water or 1 tablespoon per 1½ gallons of water.

LAWN PESTS: For ants, sod webworms, fall armyworms, crickets, mole crickets, tarantulas, scorpions, fleas, chiggers, wood ticks, sow bugs, spray regular mixture at the rate of 1 gallon per 100 square feet. Do not water lawn for several days afterwards.

SARCOPTIC MANGE MITES and LICE ON DOGS: Wet animal thoroughly with regular mixture. Do not spray dog if suckling young, nor on cats.

WARNING: Do not use on humans or cats. Contact with skin can cause toxic symptoms. Avoid breathing spray mist and skin contact. In case of spillage on skin, wash immediately with soap and water. Avoid contamination of feed and foodstuffs. Harmful if swallowed. Keep out of reach of children. [etc, etc..]

Here’s the good bit…

This product will kill fish and wildlife. Birds feeding on treated areas may be harmed. Keep out of lakes, ponds, and streams. This product is toxic to bees and should not be applied when bees are actively visiting the area.


So it kills bugs but – oopsie – it also kills wildlife? It’s OK to apply it all over the dog, but don’t get it on the cat? Is the warning not to water the lawn for several days supposed to “keep out of lakes, ponds, and streams”?

As startling as these statements printed on the label are, the effects we now know about are downright chilling. “Documented health problems can include child cancers, neuroblastoma, leukemia, chronic infections, bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, infertility, neurological disorders, aggression and depression.” Holy crap!

Uh, now I have a nearly full bottle of this on my desk. Which I’m afraid to touch. At least it’s no longer in the hands of someone who might see it as “just the thing” for that recurring termite problem.

Field Trip to Fancy Fibers Farm

FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_009Today my local knitting group In Stitches in McKinney took a field trip to Fancy Fibers Farm near, fittingly, Farmersville, TX. Mary Berry, a fiber enthusiast gone wild, gave our group of kids and adults a guided tour of the pastures and their fuzzy inhabitants, a collection of sheep, goats, alpaca, guard dogs, and (token non-fuzzies) chickens.

FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_039 FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_015FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_013FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_005 FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_020

Mary must have deep stores of patience, as her talk was punctuated by correcting errant quadruped and little-kid behavior. It’s a pity kids don’t come with horn handles like the goats do, hee hee.  FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_010

On the other hand kids don’t leap as high, hooves flying.

If only we had touch cameras, I could share the soft cuddlyness of this baby Nigora named Han Solo. Only five weeks old…aww.FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_017

Somehow the alpaca hFancyFibersFarmJuly2010_019ad been a major draw for me, never having met an alpaca, but the goats and sheep were friendlier and more pettable. These guys were skittish and reputed to spit – no thanks! They sure are interesting to look at, though.

 

 

FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_014
Hmm, does this shot remind anyone else of the final scene in Close Encounters?

 

FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_024

After the field tour, the humans and other animals moseyed back toward the fiber FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_036FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_044FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_042processing building, where we saw angora rabbits, English bunnies, some German ones I think, plus two mouser cats and oh yes, wool, roving, devices for getting pasture pieces out of wool, a spinning wheel, dyes, a weaving loom, and more. Mary does it all, from lanolin-greasy wool to gorgeous yarns. Once a month she invites people in to dye yarn or roving too, with her instruction. The experience gave us knitters a new appreciation for expensive, hand-dyed, hand-spun yarn. Wow, so much work, but it’s surely Mary’s passion. Thanks to Mary for the tour and to Sarah Dedman for organizing this fun day!

P.S. I even bought farm fresh eggs! Who wants a blue/green omelette? FancyFibersFarmEggsJuly2010_002


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Jaywalker Socks – Toe Up Rewrite

Jaywalker socks in Lornas Laces 02smFor knitters who want a more consolidated toe-up rewrite of the Jaywalker socks pattern, originally by Grumperina, here ya go. Someone else adapted the pattern for knitting from the toe up, but it involved more flipping back and forth than I cared to do, hence this copy/paste/reformatting job. If you use this and like your results, I’d love to hear about it! If you see something that could be written more clearly, let me know that too.

Since making these socks, I’ve received Wendy Johnson’s wonderful Socks from the Toe Up book, which has become my sock construction bible. Check it out!

My Dog Is Awesome

OK, so this won’t be original any more than the umpteenth “LOL Cat” video, but it has to be written to show my love for this little dog.Chip hoping for a treat

Two years ago Chip the Miniature Schnauzer became part of our pack. Here are a few things I absolutely love about this remarkable dog, in no particular order. These behaviors are part of his nature; we have not taught him any of this.

  1. Chip can sit directly in front of people food and not even try to eat it. I’m talking chicken, cheese, and tortilla chips — he may look at us, look at the food, look at us, to say “Wouldn’t you like to share?” but he does not sneak a bite, even if we walk away.
  2. If you pretend to throw a toy for him, he runs to the spot where it normally lands and bounces like a cartoon character while looking for it.
  3. When we humans come home, Chip gives a greeting growl, grabs a squeaky toy, and races around the house squeaking it for joy.
  4. He loves meeting other dogs with an open heart and a tail spinning like a propeller.
  5. If a human offers a tasty treat like cheese, Chip gingerly takes it without accidentally biting or slobbering on the hand that feeds him.
  6. Chipster is allowed to sit beside us on the couch, but he waits to be invited and curls up on his towel. Well, sometimes he does inch closer to the people and off the towel but only for good reason like the need to have his head or tummy rubbed.

Chip spent his first three years of life in a dreadful puppy mill before it was turned in to the authorities, the dogs seized, and this boy sent to the Miniature Schnauzer Rescue of North Texas. They cured him of a severe case of heartworms plus other parasites and injuries. Now Chip is strong and healthy, runs and walks with his humans, even 3 mile walks, which keeps him in fine form at 15½ pounds. If you have room in your home and time to devote to a fabulous family member, consider adopting a Mini Schnauzer from MSRNT. They’re great!

Chip after grooming 7-7-2010

Puffy Coffee Cozy

I was working with some knit/crochet ladies on making coffee cup cozies for charity and Puffy coffee cozy2could not find a crochet pattern that was fun but not too tough, so I made one up. The nice thing about this cozy is that the rows of puffs or baubles fit comfortably between the fingers. Let me know if you have any trouble or questions. Happy crocheting!

Supplies

G hook

worsted weight yarn

Stitches

ch hdc puff rsc

Puff = [Yarn over (yo), insert hook through desired stitch, yo and pull up a loop] 4 times in same stitch. Yo once more and draw through all 9 loops on hook. Puff complete.

Notes

Work in the round, joining at the end of each round.

Chains at the beginning of a round count as one stitch, i.e. Ch2 + 31 hdc counts as 32 hdc.

Work reverse single crochet loosely in final round to avoid adding too much tension.

Directions

1. Ch 32.

2. Sl st in 1st ch to join.

3. Rotate around end instead of turning to work in far loops of beginning ch.

4. Ch 2, 1 hdc in 1st st after join and in each st around. Join in top of ch 2. (32 hdc)

5. Repeat step 4.  (Check the fit on a coffee cup. You can undo and add or remove multiples of 2 sts to adjust the size.)

6. Ch 2, 1 hdc in same st as join and in next 15 stitches. 2 hdc in next st. 1 hdc in next 15 sts. Join in top of ch 2. (34 hdc)

7. Ch 3, 1 puff next st. [Dc 1, puff 1] around. Join in top of ch 3.

8. Repeat step 4. (34 hdc)

9. Ch 2, 1 hdc in same stitch as join and in next 16 sts. 2 hdc in next st. 1 hdc in next 16 sts. Join in top of ch 2. (36 hdc)

10. Repeat step 7.

11. Repeat step 4. (36 hdc)

12. Rsc in each stitch around. Slip under a loop inside and down a bit from top edge to hide the join.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

(Updated 12-20-2009.)

Hello world

So knitting led me Ravelry, Ravelry led to to creating a pattern, and the desire to share that pattern led to creating a blog. No doubt plenty of dancing will creep into this space, along with the occasional political rant. For now, on to the crochet pattern.