Friday, August 14, 2009

August already?

Summer has actually felt like summer in the Pacific Northwest this year, although July weather nearly melted us here in the Pacific Northwest. We opted to not add air conditioning when we had a new furnace installed after purchasing our house five years ago, and two weeks ago we were questioning our sanity in making that decision. Before the heat wave even started, I arrived home on Monday to let the dogs out and the temperature inside was 90 degrees. George stayed home with them on Tuesday and Wednesday as the temperatures rose, and I came home early and Thursday and Friday. Our strategy was wetting them down from time to time from a tub of water on the patio, and doing our best to keep them quiet. They came through just fine, although some of our plants were sort of incinerated. Thank heaven for neighbors with air conditioning and friends with a pool and air conditioning for inviting us to visit with our dogs. Here's my friend Cherie in her pool with Poppy on a float. That sort of kindness touches my heart! (Speaking of that, thank you for your comments and e-mails about my pups - there are lots of us dog people around!)

The cooler temperatures are a relief, and the rain has felt like a gift (since we are a little bit afraid of what our water bill will be). I admit that I like being hot during the day, but not being able to cool down at night was like smothering. The feeling of moving slow motion through thick air gave me a real understanding of stifling heat. It didn't stop me from knitting though - it's how I relaxed without moving enough to sweat.

Well, it seems there's something about making a commitment in writing - I have stayed on track with my knitting for a bit. Here are my promised Pure & Simple socks, and the idea of socks in this cooler weather is not so out of the question. I love the colors, and I enjoyed switching to 2.25mm needles from my usual US 0's so that they knit up faster.

The baby hoodie for Kansas cousin Roxie's grandson is finished - he'll be a year old in October, so I'm hoping he'll still be able to wear it by the time the weather there is cold. I only have to choose a pair of toggle buttons from my button stash!

My next pair of socks are on the needles; my first Tofutsies, from Naomi, in pink granite. The yarn sent me back to my US 0's, and tinkering (starting over three times - so far) with the number of stitches was required to get the right fit for the baby cable rib pattern from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Socks. This is my "touchstone" sock book for the basics and for different stitch designs for socks. Although the cabling doesn't really pop out in this yarn, I love this sort of understated detail, like you have to be an insider to know to look for it.

In the sweater category, I read the Veronique pattern in French Girl Knits before casting on the variegated Kid Seta. It's an interesting construction technique, and since thinking about it takes me back to my sewing and flat pattern design classes, it will be fun to see it develop. I'm not a fast knitter in any case, and seem to be even slower with this delicate yarn. It knits up beautifully texturewise, and I'm watching for pooling. Does anyone else think that variegated yarn often looks better in the ball or skein than it does knitted up? The sort of fluorescent coral color wasn't apparent to me in the ball, but it sure shows up in the knitted fabric. Still, I love the blue/purple parts and think it will be a warm and elegant foil for jeans as well as a more formal accessory. I just completed the gathering for the back and have cast on for the next step - and so far it's going well. The directions are clear and giving the desired result, and I'm still excited to see what's next!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dog days

This was our first look at our our newest canine addition, Poppy. She is a 10lb rescue dog from the Seattle Animal Shelter, and we adopted her in April. She proved to be the best match for Maverick after introductions to several dogs. She was a year old in July, and while still exhibiting puppy traits, she is learning from Maverick about how to be a gentle, sweet dog. We were told she is a chihuahua mix - we think with a terrier breed of some kind. She has that sort of terrier energy and fearlessness in place of the quivering timidity and yapping found with some chihuahuas. Don't get me wrong: she barks! As a watchdog and fierce protector, which is not what we expected from this little scamp who likes to sleep in our laps and eat raspberries off the vines.
Maverick wasn't quite sure whether he should be miffed by her arrival in April, but she didn't give up on him, moving onto his bed within the first couple of weeks (he then slept on the small bed we got for her - it was a riot), and trying to cuddle with him. The first time he rested his head on her while waiting for something, we knew she had him.

Pound for pound, Poppy may be faster than 70lb Maverick, and he's FAST. He gets down on the ground to play with her, and she chases him for all she is worth in the back yard, with some success. She hasn't yet learned to be gentle, so he cries out frequently because she's bitten him too hard. Their white markings are similar, then where he is dark and handsome, she is strawberry blonde, light eyed, and pink nosed. She squints in the bright sun and starts to doze when her head and ears are being massaged. He loves to chase the ball, rolls on us if we get down on the floor, leans on us and puts his head in our laps for affection. He still likes to get in my lap when allowed - especially since Poppy gets lap time.

She is learning a little about cuddling, but mostly likes to jump to whatever high summit she can reach to defy her diminuitive size. This includes tabletops and finishing off what's left on plates, so we still have much training to do. I caught her on the table the other night and startled her - she nearly jumped out of her skin and was off the table in a flash, so we know she knows better and just can't yet resist temptation.
Recently, we celebrated "sit" and "stay" - she's not perfect yet, but she's Maverick's little mimic so I have high hopes. I'm talking about my dogs today because of our unusual Northwest heat wave. I'm happy that they are both short-haired since our house is not air-conditioned. They do fairly well, but we still coordinated our schedules to get them some air and wet them down to keep them from overheating. Maverick still wants to go chase the ball and run around - and doesn't understand why it doesn't work very well.

Both dogs get chilled in cold weather - they are fortunate to be mixes, or they would be even less insulated. Maverick has a red & black fleece jacket (he inherited it from Cherie's beloved boxer, Beano) that is perfect for the snow - I expect to sew him another one or two. Poppy, however, is small enough that knitting for her won't be a major project, so I thought I'd give it a try. I was looking at books about knitting for dogs, and ordered three of them.
OK, three books may not have been absolutely necessary, but if I like knitting dog sweaters, I'll be prepared, right? And how often have I been known to pass up a good book? I'm thinking both dogs would look good in an aran knit. I'll let you know how it goes.