Not for Gg…

Before I launch into my finished object report, please visit the fur-girls’ blog.  They’re stumping for a new friend who is currently second place in a contest…

My weekend was every bit as quiet as I’d planned, in no small part because I’d forgotten I had TWO obligations Sunday afternoon/evening.  Hem.  I did get the Christmas cards ordered, but no peeking! 

DSCN1737I also whipped out a quick sweater for Abby.   Remember her?  She used to be a neighbor, she took basic obedience with Sissy, her dad is the Knight’s assistant…

She’s a chihuahua, but she’s actually a smidge bigger than Gretchen Greer (Gg).  Abby is big for her breed standard, and Gg is rather small for hers.   They’re shaped very differently though, so Gretch was a very reluctant model.

November 2010 005

Abby’s 2010 Sweater

Borrowed from Amazon

Pattern:  Bulky Knit Turtleneck Sweater from Stylish Knits for Dogs.   The subtitle says 36 Projects to Knit in a Weekend and if this project is any reflection of the rest of the content, knit in an afternoon is more accurate.

For Abby’s measurements, I chose the medium size, but then knitted on slightly smaller needles.  It’s a VERY quick, easy knit. 

The only modifications I did was to eliminate half the length in the turtleneck –  Abby doesn’t have much of a neck, and just in case she needs to wear a leash with this, it’ll be easier to negotiate the “mock turtleneck” I used – and to knit one, SSK then knit to the last three stitches of the row, K2tog, knit one rather than the K2tog at the beginning and end of each knit row as the pattern stated on the chest piece.  It gave it that definition you see on Gg’s chest.

November 2010 003

Yarn:  Bernat Softee Chunky Twists, in Tawny Rose.  Thank you Bernat.  I love a pretty colorway name!

November 2010 004Needles:  My zebra wood #9 straights.  That’s a whole 3 sizes smaller than what the pattern suggested, but I went down one size because I knit loosely, and then I didn’t have any #10 straights, so…

Verdict:  It’s very bulky, but Abby has other sweaters, and this one will keep her warm!  Gretchen has asked that I not knit her one from this pattern, because it’s a little… spartan for her tastes.  However, if ever I need to crank out another dog sweater in no time at all, I’ll reach for this pattern again.  (Did I mention that I was supposed to have knitted Abby’s sweater in EARLY 2010?)

So, that’s about it from my low-keyed weekend.  What did you do?

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TGIFO

Another FO report already!?  Haven’t you noticed that my FOs seem to come in clusters? 

But first, Happy Birthday Kathy!

Sissy is modeling Abby’s fall ’08 sweater, because you know that in our house, it’s all about Sissy.  Just like a human kid, when I WANT a photo of her, she won’t cooperate, but when I’m trying to take a photo without her help, no such luck!

Pattern:  Dandy Dog Coats in the mock cable variation.  This is the third time I’ve done this version (always for Abby), and the fourth time I’ve used this pattern.  It’s basic and quick, and easy to adapt to the wearer’s needs.  (And yes folks, I’ve requested a shot of Abby sporting her new coat!)

Yarn:  Simply Caron in a nice “woodland heather” shade.   It’s a great yarn for a dog coat, but the more I knit with wool and wool blends, the more I miss that wool “sproinginess”.  Acrylic stretches, but that’s just not the same. 

Needles:  #6 bamboo straights and #5 bamboo dpns.

Verdict:  I’m tired of this pattern.  It sounds like I might have another LITTLE girl to knit for soon, so all those doggy sweater books I have will get a workout! 

(And yes, that’s all I’m saying.  I’ve spoken with the owner of a young lady we’re going to see tomorrow, so stay tuned…)

I also owe you a Wednesday afternoon update.  Bec (blogless) found me in Pins ‘n Needles, the new LYS, *MY* new LYS.  I should have asked if I could take photos for you.  It’s bright and cheerful, and when you walk in, there’s a big, comfy sofa just begging to be flopped in for some leisurely knitting and chatting, but I bet it would also host a patient knitter’s knight with his own book or PDA or…

In the back, there’s a nice table for a small class or just for those who like to knit at a table.  In between is a nice selection of yarn, some of which are new to me.   The owner and sole employee right now is just the personality I desire in a yarn shop.  Kathy greets you pleasantly, offers help, and then leaves you alone until you do ask for help.  It’s also a great sign when the other customers are friendly, I’ve learned, and you’ll see one of my purchases that was motivated by a sweet lady who shared her mitts in progress in said yarn with me…

She also carries just about all the Bryspun needles.  Now, if you think Bryspun is nothing but resin, think again.  The new lace needle love of my life is also by Bryspun, in a rosewood that has a sharp point, a pretty blunt end, and sticky, grippy prettiness in between.

The yarns I couldn’t leave behind?  This incredible red actually does some subtle stripes.  It’s what the mitts were being done in, and it’s soft as puppy fluff-fur.  It’s Berroco Jasper, and see THIS Ravelry photo for the most accurate color.  (It’s a bit richer, deeper…)  Any non-mitt ideas?  I just got two skeins.  I was thinking hat for me at the store, but??

This and the matching siblings will become my Cables & Spice vest, or maybe the Back to School U-neck vest…??  It’s Tahki Yarn’s Sedona, which speaks to me on so many levels.  Sissy and the Knight made me love purple (or maybe it was Anita, Jessi and Mary?), the Knight and I honeymooned in Sedona, AZ, and this stuff is soft…

She’s going to offer fixed, alwaysthesameday, beginner classes, but she has some specialty classes planned too.  There’s an entrelac on November 22nd, as I recall.  She’s also having a great Grand Opening Sale, but that ends today.

I hope each of you has a friend like my Bec.  We stood up for each other at our weddings, we buried each of our fathers too soon, we did countless band trips together from seventh grade on…  I’ve seen her Walk Like an Egyptian, and we have a special You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling memory shared with another dear friend too.  There are countless road trip songs and laughs from the 1990s…  Sometimes, I think she knows me better than I know myself.  Time and distance don’t really impact our bond; we always pick back up as though we still live one street apart and spend 8-10 hours each day together.  I’ll leave you with a self-portrait of the two of us.  

Tell me what your weekend holds too.  Any new dogs or yarn coming your way?

Obedience 101.2

Welcome to Dogs on Thursday and the report on Sissy’s second night of school.  Yesterday’s class added “Wait”,”Leave it” and “Down” to the list.  “Wait” was something Sissy had heard before, but that hand in her face really gets her attention.  I was SHOCKED at how well and how quickly she took to “Leave it” since the process included treats, but bless her heart, she’d just turn her head and wait for the “Yes!  Good girl!” and then the treat.  Karen (instructor) said she uses “Leave it” as a multi-purpose, don’t do what you’re thinking about doing command with her dogs, and the Knight likes that idea, and had some success with Sissy and the trashcan beside his recliner last night. 

Oh – but you want pictures, right?  Abby had a GREAT night last night, and her shyness/fearfulness was markedly improved, so it’s only fitting that the only photo I snapped was of her, ready to go home.  Isn’t she a doll?  But don’t reach for her head… she hates that.  Karen said all dogs hate to be patted on the head because it’s a really aggressive gesture for stupid humans to make.  Of course, she caught me bopping Sissy on the head twice…  I need this class far more than Sissy does!

Now, “Down”, performed here so casually by Shadow, is another story.   Karen told Best Thing and me before she even began describing the training process for this command that Abby might NEVER really learn it, and that Sissy would be a challenge, just because of her long neck, head and body.  Karen even worked with us some, but we never got Sissy to do more than put her nose to the floor and scoot one front paw forward. 

Help me out here.  My last dog class prior to this one was in 1980.  We used choke collars and gently manipulated the dogs into position.  Karen uses treats and NO touching.  I wish I had Sissy and a photographer here to show you the method, but instead, you’ll have to hope I paint a good word picture.

  1. Hold your right hand flat, but draw the thumb under the index finger.
  2. Line the space between thumb and index finger with treats.
  3. With dog in the sit position, SLOWLY lower flat hand, so nose follows hand to the floor.  (Give treat and praise here.)
  4. Inch hand backwards as nose follows, until the dog’s butt pops up or a true DOWN happens.  (Give treat and praise if butt doesn’t pop up.)
  5. Repeat, and say “DOWN” when the down happens, followed immediately by “YES!!” (Karen’s answer to a clicker?), and a treat.

Now, with Sissy, she’s licking my fingers/treats the whole way, so it’s a race to see whether the treat(s) slip out before her butt pops up, because down sure as heck isn’t happening.  Karen said only to try with treats for three days, and if that doesn’t work, forget it until our next class.  Of course, I’d rather gleen your knowledge and take Sissy back looking like we do something other than bow before her throne all week…

Thanks for reading through all of this.  As a reward, my new favorite photo of my pups:

Love that Mugsy is winking at me…  Actually, that’s his bad eye and it was still rather sensitive to light that morning, but he will wink at us sometimes, so we’ll just pretend that’s the case. 

Happy Little Friday!

Just a Spoonful of Sugar…

helps the medicine go down

Mary Poppins had the right idea, but it’s not sugar in our house.  Mugsy likes the chewable Rimadyl just fine, but neither dog cares for the ointments in their lives.  You see, Tuesday was the dog day around here.  Both dogs went to the vet.  Mugsy was still not himself, and Sissy had a couple of issues too. 

The short version is, Mugsy is now back to normal. 

THAT kind of normal.  Yes, he’s an old, arthritic dog, so he’s content with just a couple of shorter throws these days, but last week, he didn’t even want to carry a ball around in his mouth, much less play fetch.  We were thinking dire thoughts and hoping at worst, it was an adjustment to going blind in one eye and perhaps a bit of depression.  Wrong!  His active, accident-prone youth has just caught up with him.  This time, the vet ran bloodwork galore, did a glaucoma test and some sort of “stain” test to assure the tear duct in that eye was also working, and performed another thorough physical exam.  All tests came back normal, so he still has some vision in that eye, and after whatever they gave him on Tuesday and 24 hours on the ointment and Rimadyl, he’s perky as can be!

Sissy, on the other hand…

I don’t know that SHE feels like she’s behind bars, but I sure feel like I need to go to a doggie nutritionist school.  SIGH.  Her redneck woman status is in jeopardy, because I don’t think you can be rough and tumble AND high maintenance, and girlfriend is indeed HIGH MAINTENANCE.  (Above, she’s squirrel hunting, her favorite pastime.)

Grab a cold beverage, or skip ahead.  This is a long story. 

Despite Sissy’s farm girl roots, she missed the houndsaren’tfinickyeaters part of her heritage.  Princess has always been a very dainty eater, a very PICKY eater.  We never did find a puppy food that she’d eat with any gusto, and two months into the adult food world, the struggle continues.  Only now, it’s complicated by her HIGH FIBER, mucho-premium brand needs, due to serious anal gland issues.  (It *IS* Dogs on Thursday, so just in case some of you care…)

Sounds straight-forward enough, right?  Well, there are a few problems, starting with the fact that most high-fiber dog foods are low-cal.  Gretchen-Danica-Diana doesn’t need a lower caloric intake, by any means.  So, with the help of my personal canine wiki-woman at Lapdog Creations, the Knight and I have been searching the net and calling our local vendors in an effort to secure a couple of options for Missy Sissy Princess Painintheneck to try.  Ha!  If it has a good review, it can’t be found in hicktown.  We really don’t want to order in bulk until she’s eaten it for a few weeks, because she’ll generally eat a new food  (mixed into the other gradually, of course) with gusto for a few days, and then her real reaction kicks in.

The vet also said to add canned pumpkin to her meals.  Yeah.  The Prince gets a cup or so of green beans with his handful of kibble, and the Princess gets a heaping spoonful of pumpkin.  We look like the school lunch line at doggie dinner time at our house.  Problem is, Princess has turned her nose up at pumpkin, so I think I’m going to have to bake pumpkin treats for her instead, AND try sprinkling Metamucil on her food (also “prescribed” by the vet) until we find a food that works.  The Prince treasures his green beans though, and we highly recommend that “diet” for any dog needing to drop a few pounds.  I think it’s now a lifestyle for the Prince; he can be picky about kibble too, and we’re pretty sure he’d stop eating without his little green happiness atop every bowl.

Last, but not least in this epic update about my pampered pooches, Sissy and her neighbor Abby are going to school together, obedience school.  (New, cute Abby photos are sure to follow!)  The Knight and Neighbor Dude are starting a betting pool as to which dog gets sent to the principal’s office first, and when.  (It’s a four-week class, if you want in?)  Best Thing (as in, best thing that ever happened to Neighbor Dude) and I will be selling tickets to the shows – er, classes  – if you care to actually watch the Girls Gone Wild of dog schools in person.  We figure between the two fundraisers, we’ll have enough money to re-enroll the dog(s?) kicked out at another facility in the area.

You think we’re kidding?  Sissy’s adorable, but has no boundaries, because when we try to enforce them, I end up laughing.  She’s just too darned cute, and despite having successfully shown dogs in obedience trials from my ‘tweens on, I need an intervention.  Abby is just bad.  I’m not talking about her behind backs; her owners know it, and that’s why when Neighbor Dude learned I was taking Sissy to school, he had me email Best Thing the info., and BT immediately signed Abby up within about five minutes of that email leaving my computer.   Abby doesn’t like strangers – humans or other dogs – so the first class is going to be a tremendous struggle for her.  Sissy’s never met a stranger, so for very different reasons, she’s going to have her own reality check.  My goal is to survive this class, and then in a few months, we’ll take an agility class.  I think the inner Danica would really enjoy it.

So, that’s this week’s update.  If you have any doggy pumpkin treat recipes to share, that would rock.  We’ve got a handful of foods we’re trying to find in hicktown, and I’m going to call the local pet food baker and see if she ever does a custom blend and what it would cost…  (She makes great pumpkin treats, so it might be worth the insane price if she could make Sissy a pumpkin kibble…)

Now you know why I’ve been quiet.  I’ve been researching dog foods and probably know more about what the locals have in stock than their own cashiers.  I think at least one store has blocked the main office number, but luckily, we have four lines if you include the fax, so I can call around a lot more before that’s a real problem.  There’s been some multi-tasking retail therapy going on too, but you’ll just have to wait for the reports as the therapy products roll in!

Look Who Came to Visit!

Nothing breaks up a slow day at the office like company.  It was the perfect day for Abby and her mama to stop in for lunch.

  

You can’t tell it, but she’s grown a LOT.  When I made her sweater, she was barely 7 inches long and 9 inches around.  Now, she’s 11×11.  Another sweater is in order. 

It’s not a great shot – camera phone – but maybe that gives you a better idea of how much she’s grown.   Mugsy still isn’t sure she’s really a dog, and had to spend most of the visit in tucked under the Knight’s arm, because he REALLY thought lunging at Abby was the way to get to know her.  Another reason that when the time comes, we won’t be adding a puppy to our household…

Our Little Devil!

DSCN0645 The Knight and I both thought it was the perfect costume. The Prince had other ideas. (Maybe next year, I’ll make a felted crown instead?) Yep, that is Pop’s hand you see on the right, helping Mugsy pose for the ding dang photo.

Okay, it’s too small. We were pretty sure our boy needed a large, but there were none to be found in the costumes we liked. The extra large looked huge. (Note to self: Mugsy ain’t skin ‘n bones.) So, it wasn’t comfortable, and the head piece fit not at all, really. That didn’t stop my mother inlaw (let’s call her MJ since everyone else has some sort of name) and Pop from TRYING to cram Mugsy’s thick neck and swelled head into the bit o’ fabric. DSCN0644

DSCN0647 It COULD have been a cute costume. See the potential?!

We did have one “treater.” It’s hard to even threaten a trick or treat when you’re about a pound and move from one human’s hands to another. DSCN0649_edited-1 Abby’s sweater fits perfectly! I’m tickled pink, as I had to really fudge the pattern to attempt to make it small enough for the bitty gal. The fact that she moves comfortably in this sweater makes me happier than you can imagine. There’s room for a bit of growth, but a slightly larger wool version in self-striping sock yarn is in my queue.

Facts:

Pattern – Dandy Dog Sweaters, Mocked Cable by Fiber Trends
Needles – size 6 straights, size 5 dpns
Yarn – TLC Baby in White Sparkle
Modifications – Too many to list. Everything was shorter.

An exceptionally quick knit, and truly, probably the most gratifying yet. Abby is content, her owners are stupid-happy, enough so that they brought her up to our house (gee, a whopping 1/2 mile away!) for me to see. DSCN0648_edited-1

Now, back to packing. The laptops are going, as is the never-ending Tofutsie sock (I love this yarn and pattern, and I hate that it keeps getting shuffled aside!), Fred’s Yarn for the Knight’s sock, and a certain blue alpaca lace. MJ’s birthday socks might go too, because I plan on lots of down time, which means lots of knitting. Transit to and from alone will afford me 8 hours of knitting!

PS – If I settle on a yarn for the cabled headband, that’s going too.

Howdy, Neighbor!

We now return to Dogs on Thursday, already in progress.

Blogland, meet Abby. Abby, meet blogland.

No, no, read the title folks. Calm down. You’ll likely get advance notice if/when we make an addition to our family. This is our dog sitter’s new baby. She’s a bitty, wee, one pound chihuahua, and her human parents couldn’t be more excited. She will come visit our household tomorrow evening. The Knight has seen her, as Neighbor Boy had to pick her up from his girlfriend’s work on Monday (Neighbor Boy also works with us, in addition to his dog sitting duties and our shared volunteer work at the firehouse), so Abby got to ride in the Knight’s work truck across town.

I’d actually planned this post several weeks ago, when I learned the arrival date of the little pup, and as we work through our grief, it’s time to celebrate the living. Mugsy is settling in at work better than expected, so my evil plot to make it a permanent “visit” won’t be met with an resistance by the inlaws. In fact, my father inlaw has been able to use Mugsy’s cute little “groundhog” begging pose to teach Shadow (the Knight’s grandfather’s sheltie) to sit up too. Evidently, like people, dogs have different learning styles. After nearly two years of trying to teach Shadow said trick, he pulled it off successfully after mimicking Mugsy yesterday. (This photo documents one of the earliest attempts. Note the “cheat” with Shadow’s paw bracing against my father inlaw’s arm!)

Shadow thoroughly enjoys having Mugsy here too, and wanted to make sure EVERYONE got that. This morning, he refused his biscuit until Mugsy arrived, so that they could eat together. Seriously. How sweet is that?! There are two darling photos trapped in my phone of Mugsy in Pop’s lap (TRUE job security, when he has the man whose name is on the front of the building wrapped around his little nubby tail), and of Mugsy and Shadow napping together. The Knight says the quality is too poor to share, but we’ll see about that.
This seems like a good time to mention that progress continues on Fred’s Garden. Perhaps after this weekend, it will be ready for a photo shoot. I don’t know that we’ll get any flowers planted this fall, but the Knight has mulch plans for Saturday. It has been a great source of grief therapy for the Knight, and will be a lovely memorial for all of us.