Happy Thanksgiving, all you Americans. Happy random Thursday night, everyone else. While Kansas proclaims WINTER outside my iffily insulated little home, I am thankful for many things. My sweetest Querido, who’d better have his sweater on right now. My family and friends (how about you all put on your sweaters for good measure too). My cats. Health and safety. Being employed in my field, with really awesome coworkers. Good woolly yarn to knit, and of course, all you lovely people out there on the blogosphere.

Much happiness to you and yours.


The Middle Bit

cat looking at knitting spread out on a couch

“I could sit on that for you.”

Yesterday I did a very impressive thing: I went into a nice yarn store, and I didn’t buy any yarn.

Some friends and I were at the Yarn Barn. I don’t know what happened the first time I was there, because it didn’t seem like a particularly exciting store. Yesterday was an entirely different story: glorious chubby hanks of bulky wool and alpaca, gorgeous locally dyed fleece and sock yarn, subtly variegated American wools and a rainbow of every flavor of Brown Sheep. We touched *everything*, perused their incredible book selection, and I only left with the spinning wheel repair kit I needed. And maybe a zippered notion pouch. My friends helped me think of ways reasons it was an essential purchase.

Today I am dutifully at home, knitting away on WIPs with the cats. I realized as I was updating Ravelry photos that I am so desperate to start something new because everything on the needles right now is in the middle bit. Each design is interesting and elegant and well-written, but there is a point in just about every knitting project where you just have to chug along until something happens.

Midtown needs another two inches on the back before I can get to the exciting slip-stitch patterned fronts.

Talamu is 1/3 of the way into a repeat, with the rows getting longer, so holding one’s breath for the next eyelet row would be a poor choice.

Talamu knitted shawl in progress

Jilted is one round past the point where you divide body and armholes, which means I have many inches of fingering-weight stockinette in the round before I get to (brace yourself) *ribbing*.

Oh darn. I’m getting angsty just listing all these out. Grumpiness and avoidance will not get me anywhere. With all these projects, the only way out is through. Wish me luck, knitters!

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One from the Archives

Tabby cat sitting on an orange, red, and green knitted wrap

Malthus makes her best Edward Gorey face.

Continuing the theme of cats sitting on knitwear, we have Malthus sitting on a wrap I knitted ages ago.

It was when I was a new knitter, and Brown Sheep still sold yarn in hanks. The yarn store I shopped at, the only one in the Valley, had a whole wall of these hanks, a wooly spectrum of saturated color. Fall colors were my favorite then too, and I picked out a strong orange, dark red, walnut brown, and forest green.

I can’t remember if I had the idea to make a poncho before or after I bought the yarn, but that’s what I knitted. I had advanced far enough that I could match yarn to the appropriate needles, but not so far that I was using others’ patterns. I had been playing with the Diamond Lace pattern from my 70’s-tastic Arco Guide to Knitting Stitches, and cast on a dozen repeats plus a garter edge. It didn’t even occur to me to worry that the color changes chopped two diamonds in half, and actually, my color changes were incredibly tidy.

When I had a long rectangle, I bound off and crocheted one side together. After ponchos went back out, I undid the crocheting and used it occasionally as a wrap. More often than not, it lived in its moth-proof Ziploc body bag. Today, I took it out of the bag for the first time in years to wear as a scarf. It was snug enough to ward off a sharp morning breeze, and what do you know. It makes an irresistible kitty bed too.

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Everything is a Kitty Bed

Hello, dear readers.  How have you been?

I feel like a very bad blogger, sneaking in after a long absence and hoping all’s forgiven. Will a cat picture appease you?

I finished Querido’s sweater, just barely in time for the cold weather. …If you count having four buttons instead of six as done. My vintage button collection needs some building up in the 1″ size range.

Again, cat picture. In the time it took me to thread my needle, Eloise had arranged herself in a perfect kitty-loaf. All the cats are obsessed with this sweater. I’m not sure why: Quince & Co. Yarns are not particularly sheepy. Perhaps after all the time it spent in my bag, it smells like me? Once it smells like Querido the two of us are going to have to hide it from them or he’ll never get to wear it.

Have your pets ever picked a favorite from your crafting projects? Tell me about it while I try to find my blogging mojo!

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Hidden Treasures

When I am trawling Ravelry, searching for just the right pattern, the pattern that will fit all my hopes for a particular yarn, the pattern that everyone loves, I will occasionally come across a pattern that hardly anyone has knitted. I always stop to wonder why–are none of the people who knit this one on Ravelry? Did they knit it and not record it as a project?

Katherine Hepburn Fancy Trouser Sock in brown

One sock.

I have been jonesing on knitting socks for a while, so a few weeks ago, when I was planning knitting for a vacation, the ladies at my LYS’ knit night gave me very sage advice: bring socks. My go-to socks are Nancy Bush’s ribbed socks from Knitting Vintage Socks, but this time I thought I’d branch out and use one of my other patterns. My Rav search turned up the socks from Silver Screen Knits: Katherine Hepburn Fancy Trouser Socks, which lo and behold, had only one project in the project gallery.

I couldn’t resist.

Handknitted sock in progress

The gusset

The socks came with me. I had a moment of squeamishness when I had to choose a size (these are the first sized socks I’ve successfully completed), but size small turned out to be ok for my size 8 1/2 foot. The stitch pattern was easily memorized, and I was able to bring them everywhere.

Finished Katherine Hepburn Fancy Trouser Socks in brown


As an aside, we were vacationing on a cruise (hence the water in the background of my Francis FO pictures). My constitution is so not suited for cruises. There is a lot of waiting, which I’m only good at if I have an endless supply of knitting, and you are bombarded with activities left and right. It takes a fair bit of doing to escape the hubbub and find a nice place to sit and stare at the ocean a la Miss Marple. Also, you are on a boat, floating in water, and not only can I not swim, I have a mental catalog of doomed ships in history and entertainment. Titanic, Lusitania, Juggernaut, MS Estonia, Costa Concordia….

Maybe that’s why it only took me five days to finish these socks.

I’m done complaining now. I have my socks. They’re number two in the Ravelry project gallery for the pattern. Querido’s imminent death by hypothermia is keeping me working on his sweater instead of casting on another five pairs (look concerned, people, we’re going to have a high of 65 on Saturday!), so now it’s your turn. Knit these socks. They’re awesome.

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Well, Querido’s sweater still looks like a blob of navy blue fabric, so let’s look at something else.

Woman wearing a heichi back sweater on a boat

The back is the exciting part.

Francis! (Details on Ravelry)

This top represents the last of my summer of top knitting. First came the Kansas Spring, then a Cap-Sleeve Lattice Top that, with one exception, flew under the radar. Francis was started way back in May but took several months to finish.

This little beastie was a challenging knit. We are already well aware that I am very good at taking relatively straightforward knits and making them harder than they need to be by doing something silly like swapping two incompatible yarns, or by knitting to a different row gauge. But this time, the pattern helped too.

When I first saw this pattern a few years ago, I decided I had to have it. The open back, the simple neckline. It would be mine. I’d never knit a sweater from side to side before, but this was a minor detail. The pattern bills itself as ideal for adventurous beginners, and I was confident in my experience. Besides, I really wanted the finished sweater.

Francis was designed for a yarn that is now discontinued, so even if I wanted to make a summer top in worsted weight silk (which just sounds like a recipe for overheating), I wouldn’t be able to. I had hoped for a linen blend for drape, but those are hard to come by in worsted weight. After many desperate yarn searches on Ravelry, I said to heck with it and bought a nice bright bamboo/cotton blend from my LYS.

Thus began several months of knitting–ripping–and reknitting.

Beginning of a side to side sweater with sleeve

I got my head around the sideways construction pretty quickly, although without knowing how much the bamboo/cotton would grow after blocking, I just cast on the number of stitches called for in the largest body size. As it turned out, the body grew about 4″, resulting in a much longer than I intended.

The short rows were harder. I don’t knit with short rows very often, either, and there is just something about the sheer volume of math involved that shorts my brain right out. I knitted one back, measured the dickens out of it, redid my math, and reknitted. Once I was confident in what I was doing, the knitting went much faster.

Front view of a woman wearing an open-backed sweater on a boat

Half of the front: nothing to see here

Verdict? If you are the sort of adventurous beginner who is willing to jump on board with provisional casting on, grafting, picking up stitches, and short rows, then this can be a pattern for an adventurous beginner. Personally, I think a better understanding of side-to-side garment construction and plant-based yarns would have helped my little adventure come off with a lot less ripping, but I made it through. Moral to the story? We are always beginners at something.

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The Squirrels are Crazed

Querido and I were gone for a week–just barely–and when we returned, the weather had turned. Fall is here. The forecast suggests we may bump back up into the 80s next week, but I’m watching the squirrels. 

After keeping out of sight all summer, they are positively crazed now. Every day at work I see them everywhere: scampering up trees, down trees, across lawns, in front of cars. They are frenetically processing the bounty of our many trees, toting around mouthfuls of acorns and pinecones and assorted seeds whose names I don’t know.  They seem to think that the urgency to forage, eat, and bury their gatherings has suspended the laws of nature, that cars will see them better and stop faster when they pause in the middle of the road to consider where to stash their finds. 

Or maybe they’re just picking up bad pedestrian habits from the students. 

I have not taken to wandering into roads yet, but the weather has flicked on a little switch in my brain too. I am overtaken with a driving need to knit all the things: all the sweaters, all the hats, all the socks. First up: Querido’s sweater, which almost has two fronts.  Then maybe a sweater for me too, and some hats…

What are you knitting to stay warm?

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All the Sweaters

Two sleeves of the Steve McQueen Weekend Cardigan

Two sleeves!

Querido’s Steve McQueen Weekend Cardigan in Quince & Co. Osprey is coming along…

Midtown sweater swatch in natural cream Romney yarn

Yay swatch!

and I have also started swatching for a Midtown cardigan in some yummy Romney from Vermont Grand View Farm.

What’s on your needles this Sunday?

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Fall is Coming

Trees and fields in late summer

Blazing sun but a cool breeze: summer’s last hurrah

Thank you for all your kind words for Melba. I am still terribly sad, but there are many things to keep me busy and distracted.

First there is a little bit of blog tidying. I finally took the time to go ad-free and give this little blog its own domain, The redirect should work for a while, but if you have it listed in a reader, you will want to update.

As I come up on one year of living in Kansas, I have been very aware of my environment. Querido and I went on a long walk this weekend, and it feels like summer may be having its last hurrah. This seems early: in Arizona everyone is hunkering down for the long drag to summer’s bitter end. But in Kansas, the mornings are cool and so are the breezes. Our lawn, which was shooting up almost as fast as we could mow, has slowed down enough for us to skip a week of mowing.

I finished up the last of my summer tops, and they are only waiting for photos. I want to knit socks and hats and sweaters, but there is another large project in the queue…

Blue and white quilt top spread out on a table

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Goodbye Melba

Dear Readers,

Today’s post is a sad one. If you need happy reading, or don’t have a box of tissues handy, I suggest you read elsewhere.

Chiweenie asleep on a lime green blanket

Melba sleeping on her favorite blanket.

On July 28, I said goodbye to Melba forever.

The best, sweetest little dog had been carrying around a tumor for over a year, and at the end of July, it decided it was going to take her over.

Chihuahua mutt with one eye in the back of a car.

Old dog, one eye. Found near 7th Ave and Roosevelt. Go pick him up at the County shelter.

Since shortly after I found her, she had toughed out a variety of ailments. She spent a lot of time with the wonderful people at the Blue Cross Veterinary clinic, and they were her fan club. She was no stranger to the Cone of Shame.

But then she would come back.

Small brown dog wearing a clear plastic cone.

She helped me move into my apartment.

Chiweenie asleep in a partially assembled bookcase

She modeled in photoshoots.

Chiweenie in a coat begging to be picked up

Girl carrying a smal dog.

When modeling a sweater, bring the dog. If the sweater’s horribly wrong, the dog will salvage the whole thing.

Girl kissing a small, one-eyed dog

Kisses for the best photo prop ever!

Melba was not the dog you took running. She was a lap dog. When we were together, everything was good. When everything was good, she slept.

She slept on so many projects in progress. Clean laundry was also good. And books, and notebooks, and my laptop…

Melba the chiweenie asleep on a knitted shawl

Priceless knitted heirloom or…puppy blankie.

Ginger dog smelling gray cat hair drying on towels.

After a thorough rinsing in hot water, the fuzzies were clean enough to pass inspection.

Crocheted bath mat with a small ginger dog sleeping on it.

Melba approves of the bath mat.

Small brown dog asleep on a book

Melba exhausted herself tromping around the lawn.

When we first found her, we though someone must be frantically looking for her, so we took her to the humane society, who turned her into the pound (at the time, they were only taking surrenders). As we walked into the humane society lobby, I tucked her under my arm like a football, and she settled right into the crook of my arm. I felt like the worst person in the history of the universe when we handed her over. For the next week, I looked frantically for her on the pound’s website.

After I got her home, she chose me as her person. I like to think she remembered me holding her. If Querido watched her while I was at work, lining a comfy armchair with a blanket for her to sleep in, carrying her out and in, she would be the picture of despondence until I came home. My sister sat for her once: Melba was excited to hear her at the door until she realized it wasn’t me. Then she walked away and lay down pitifully in front of the slider. One of my best friends and her usual dogsitter, the one who would snuggle with her on the couch for hours while they watched TV: Melba gave her a mess on one of my shoes for a welcome.

That much love is a powerful thing. Humans love one another, but they don’t forget so easily, carrying around old hurts and unspoken expectations. If a friend or a family member had a really bad day, I would know it would take a lot more than me just showing up to make them feel better. But when Melba heard me walk in the door, she totally forgot that she’d been abandoned with Querido in her blanket-lined chair. She was ecstatic, crying with joy and tail whipping, and everything was right with the world. I don’t know what I did to earn so much love, but I tried very hard to be worthy it.

She wanted to be with me, and I with her, so she came with me to as many places it is possible to bring a particular little dog who doesn’t like other dogs. Everywhere we went, I carried her around like a football. Up until the very end, when nothing was comfortable, that’s how she liked to be carried.

Woman in a green knitted vest holding a chiweenie in a pink sweater

She came with us on car rides and road trips.

Melba the chiweenie in the driver's seat

Melba drives.

She was no stranger to Flagstaff when we lived in Phoenix, and not only did she make it to Kansas, she made it through a Kansas winter.

In July, when she started to decline, the hardest thing was admitting that this tiny little dog–who walked across a six-lane road in morning rush hour, survived two bouts of cancer, and attempted to fight every large dog in my apartment building–that she could be dying.

Her last two days, I stayed home from work. We sat on the couch together the entire time. The first day, I pretended I was just getting her back on her feet. The second day, I pretended it wasn’t the last. She didn’t eat. Finally, I pulled her too-light body onto my chest, and we took a nice long nap.

Melba the chiweenie asleep

Goodbye Melba

Then I said goodbye.

Getting her clay paw print back was horrible. Getting the box back was worse. I want to have her with me and well, with more years in which I can love her, and make up for whatever put her on the street in Phoenix in 2012.

Oh Melba. Wherever you went, I want to end up there too.

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