Happy Blogiversary To Me!

Today is the first anniversary of The Knitting Doctor. Unfortunately I won’t be doing any knitting to celebrate. It’s been a fun year. I started this as a way to document what I’m knitting, but it has turned into a wonderful way to “meet” a lot of other knitters. I’ve learned a few things about computers, and a lot of things about knitting. I like to look at anniversaries as opportunities for reflection; a time to set new goals, perhaps drop old ones that are no longer useful.

Julia from Moth Heaven wrote an interesting post last week about what she chooses to knit and why. I think one of the few disadvantages of blogging, and reading other blogs, is that I get very distracted from my knitting. “Oooohhh, I want to knit THAT!” “No no, THAT needs to be next.” Once my fingers get working again, I want to finish up some old projects that have been languishing, then work on some of the projects buried in those eight tubs of yarn lurking behind me. (OK, ten.) So much yarn, so little time.

I promised a list of the positive benefits of my hand injury. I have combined this with a list of things I can and can’t do with one hand, as well as just a few random things I’ve discovered. In no particular order, here goes. Some of these might qualify as “too much information” for some of you. Consider yourself warned.

I’ve learned that “they” make dental floss thingies that can be used with one hand.

I am able to wash my right armpit with ease.

I need assistance with the left armpit.

I’ve mastered one-handed makeup.

I can take my bra off with one hand.

I can’t get it back on.

Let me just say that “feminine hygiene products” can indeed be managed with one hand when one has to do so.

I’ve learned to butter toast with one hand. (If you are thinking “Ha, I can do that”, just try it.)

I can still drink a glass of wine with one hand. I can’t get the bottle open alone, but once it’s open, I’m set.

I have a lot of free time to read books. I’ve even gotten caught up on some medical reading.

Paperbacks are harder to read with one hand. Hardback books stay open better by themselves. Fortunately there is no shortage of books in this house.

I have lots of time to play on the computer.

My husband and I have had lots of time together. As long as he remembers that he has to help me wash my left armpit and then hook my bra before he goes anyplace, we’ll get along fine.

Life is much easier when people leave my bathroom counter the way I have it. Especially people who seem to think it’s funny to go in and put the caps and lids back on everything.

I finally will have time to read through June Hiatt’s Principles of Knitting. Of course, it’s a big enough book that I might not be able to balance it one-handed.

I’m able to go to the park with John to walk the dog a lot more than I ever was before.

You learn the value of little milestones. My stitches came out this week.

I’m learning the value of patience when you are a patient. I’ve only lobbed a couple of things across the room in frustration this week because I couldn’t get them open.

My splint has a rubber band that hooks one part to another part. Cats appear to find this endlessly fascinating. I’ve discovered that it’s just better if I don’t fall asleep with my splint exposed while Willie is pretending to sleep on my chest.

I can pet the cat with one hand. I can just as easily knock him four feet across the room one-handed.

That’s enough for one day. I’m sure I’ll think of more later, with all the free time on my hands. Well, hand, I guess.

I Deserve Only The Best

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I received this little doctored-up photo from our good friends with whom we are supposed to be on vacation in Spain. If you don’t get the significance, read the last few posts. Yes, they both have a sick sense of humor, which is probably why we love them.

And yes, it was one of our Riedel wine glasses, just to add insult to injury. To answer another question from the comments, the wine was a nice sauvignon blanc from South Africa.

My next post will be a discussion of the positive implications of my hand injury. It’s taking me a while to come up with the list…

Hand Update

I had my first hand therapy session yesterday. Let me just say that occupational therapists are way under-appreciated. I knew that they were going to put me in a different splint; I had this vision of the OT picking one off a shelf and strapping it on my hand. Not so. She built it from scratch based on my hand measurements and my specific injury.  It ended up being made out of a moldable plastic material, velcro, fishing line, Barge cement, and a rubber band. Here’s a photo. Click on it to get an appreciation for the fishing line part.

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I also have to start exercises hourly while I’m not asleep. I’m sure it’s the exercises and not just the splint, but the pain in my hand has gotten kicked up a notch.

I also found out yesterday just how limited I will be with the use of my hand for the next 3 months. Basically all the exercises are passive stretching, and she said that I won’t be allowed to do any active movements of any of my right hand fingers for that time frame. Obviously that means no knitting, but more significantly, no work for the next three months.  That means there won’t be any yarn deliveries around here for awhile. The UPS man might just forget where I live in three months. He’ll probably think I died or something.

I did buy myself one little self-pitying girlie item yesterday. Nothing cheers you up like springy makeup colors. The eyeliner might be a little optimistic, though. I have been able to get my makeup on with one hand otherwise.

I’ve decided I’ll still be blogging. Obviously it won’t be about new knitting, and I’m not quite sure just what this space will hold for the next few months. I will get back to knitting eventually!

I WANNA KNIT!!

First, I would like to thank everybody who sent good wishes about my hand. I can’t type well enough to respond to each of you individually, so this will have to do for now. Things seem to be going as well as I’d expect, though I’m still relatively drugged up on narcotics for the pain, so who knows.

Damn it. DAMN IT, I said. You just don’t realize all the things that require two hands until you lose the use of one of them. I am fortunate to have a husband who is quite accustomed already to waiting on me, so he hasn’t really had to act much differently. I have learned how to brush my teeth with my left hand, and managed to eat spaghetti last night, after a fashion. Try buttering your toast with one hand, and see how that goes. Getting a bra on turns out to be a two person job, and I have to say that John was quite a good sport about trying to wield the flatiron and tame my hair this morning.

I dreamed about knitting last night. Looking at knitting books and patterns is no help, I just get more frustrated. I have my first physical/occupational therapy appointment on Tuesday, and should have a better idea at that point how long this will all take.

I did get a little package in the mail yesterday:

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Go to Patternworks if you want your very own.

Back to reading. I’m trying very hard not to behave like a spoiled two-year old with a temper tantrum.

Things Could Be Worse…

I guess I won’t be knitting for awhile. I did one of those “wide world of sports” falls two nights ago, and trashed my hand. We were going across the yard to the neighbors after dinner to socialize for a bit. We had part of a bottle of wine left, and I was carrying that and my wine glass. I miscalculated where the rock retaining wall was, and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground with a bloody hand, and the broken off stem of the wine glass sticking out of my palm. I couldn’t flex my index finger so I was pretty sure that I’d either gotten a nerve or a tendon, or both. After a couple of hours in ER, it appeared to be tendon. I had semi-emergency surgery last night, and spent the night in the hospital afterwards. The good news is that the plastic/hand surgeon was able to repair the two severed tendons, and if all goes well I should have a good chance of regaining full function.

I’ll spare you the bloody hand photos…actually we didn’t wait around long enough to take them before racing off to the ER. Here’s what it looks like this morning.

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Yes, it’s my right hand, and yes, I’m very right hand dominant. I’m not much of a one-hand typist, either.

To add insult to injury, our trip to Spain is postponed for the time being. We may try to reschedule for the fall, but the surgeon didn’t think leaving the country for three weeks was a very good idea. It’s a good thing I have lots of audio books on my Ipod.

Oh yes, though I broke the wine glass, I did manage to save the bottle of wine. I have my priorities, after all.

Still More Rogue

I finished the body of the Rogue sweater last night. I have a question for anybody who has made this sweater. What’s with the lone stitch on a holder at the front of the v-neck? I was just going to knit it together with the next stitch on one side, but I figured there must be some reason for this. The directions say to keep it on a holder till you are doing the finishing, then tack it down in the back. Hmmm. I am to the point of picking up all the stitches around the neckline to start the hood. I am also assuming that you need to pick up the wraps that are done on the throat cabling shaping, though it doesn’t specify this in the pattern. There is a lot of cabling on that hood, is all I have to say.

We leave for vacation in a week, and I probably won’t get much knitting done in the meantime, so I’m trying to decide whether to pack this along or not. I doubt that I’ll finish the hood before we go, and it is pretty bulky for travelling purposes. Bummer. I really want to finish this soon. Maybe I’ll just put the hood on a holder and start a sleeve…that won’t weigh so much.

We are going to Spain for about two weeks, and part of the trip involves train travel, so we’re planning (hoping) to travel light. Actually my husband is planning to travel light. Travelling light to me means only one steamer trunk. I start out packing with good intentions, and by the time we’re ready to leave I have everything I own in bags by the door. I’m already negotiating to purchase part of his suitcase space allottment.

Here are pictures of the Rogue progress.

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That throat bit is actually a split v-neck, though the picture doesn’t show it well. The markers are on those wrapped stitches so I don’t forget about them.

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The pattern also called for short row shaping on the shoulders, which I’ve done before. But then she has you bind off the shoulder stitches and seam them later instead of doing a three needle bind off. I did it the way the pattern is written as I thought that there might be some reason for this, but I believe you could do a three needle bind off easily without changing anything.

Last but not least, here is a gratuitous dog picture for your amusement. We all went to the park again yesterday. Daisie’s ears just make me laugh.

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The Book Thing

The Rock Chick tagged me to do this one. Hoo-ray! The only thing I like to collect more than yarn and knitting gadgets is books, books and more books. I can’t pass a bookshop without falling in, then stumbling out hours later with my arms loaded down.  One of these days the ceiling of the dining room is going to collapse from the sheer weight of all the books in the loft above. At least when that happens I won’t have to get up from dinner to get a book to read with my tea.

Last book read: Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, for the Knit One, Read Too group.

Where it came from: Amazon

Books read per year: It’s hard to know.  I usually have multiple books going at any one time, so it’s hard to keep track. I sometimes dip in and out of books; read part, move to something else, especially with non-fiction. I also listen to books on my Ipod. Probably in the 15-25 range, not counting medical reading.

Favorite genre: That’s a little like asking a parent which one is their favorite of their children. In fiction, I like the obvious: memorable characters, difficult situations, great scene descriptions. But I love writers who are able to do this in a fresh way; who write the kind of scenes that make you stop and re-read, and go back even years later to find just that perfect passage that brought a character or place alive. In non-fiction I am a sucker for history books. I’m not much into traditional romance novels or spy stories. Or horror. I can live without Stephen King quite happily.

Five favorite books: This is another difficult one. It shifts with time and life-changes. Only five??

Soldier of the Great War, by Mark Helprin. I keep buying this book and giving it away to people to read; I’m like an evangelist coming to your door pushing religious tracts with this one.

Undaunted Courage; Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, by Stephen Ambrose. This is the story of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition, but told in a way that makes you feel like a part of the adventure, except no bugs and sand in your food.

Young Men and Fire, by Norman Maclean. Though the subject matter is depressing (the Mann Gulch fire in Montana in 1949 that killed thirteen smoke jumpers), this is written in such a riveting fashion that you can’t put it down. It’s even more eerie when you hike up to the site of the fire after reading the book. Maclean also wrote A River Runs Through It.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. I love everything she has written, but this is my favorite.

Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner. Anything of his could be on this list.

The Lymond Chronicles, by Dorothy Dunnett. Now this is really cheating. Not only is this number six, it’s actually a series of six books. If you like historical fiction, pick up the first of these novels and settle in for the winter. Or summer, whatever. These books have adventure, romance, history, great characters, and are whole flights of stairs above what passes for historical romance by most writers. Maddeningly addicting!

Who’s tagged now?
Laurie, Kristen, Kerstin and Margene. Just because I don’t think they’ve been tagged, and I want to see what they’re reading!

Lavender Sweater

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Started: September 04
Finished: January 05
Yarn: Elann Sonata, 100% mercerized cotton
Pattern: cardigan pattern created with Sweater Wizard software
Edging on cuffs and bottom from Knitting on the Edge, by Nicky Epstein

What I learned:
This was the first big thing I designed with Sweater Wizard. This is a nice software package, and the software developer has a Yahoo group with excellent support. I will definitely make other sweaters with this.

This was a relatively easy sweater to knit. The lace on the cuffs rolls a bit, and because it’s cotton it doesn’t hold the shape when blocked very well. With some serious steaming before wearing, it behaves relatively well. Next time I put a lace border on something I’ll experiment a bit first to find a lace pattern that stays flat.

One of the nice things about a blog is that you can keep track of your projects as you go along. One of the bad things about a blog is that everyone else can keep track of your projects as well, and they know full well that it takes you four months to knit a freaking sweater that has little shaping and is mostly stockinette stitch. It’s the process, it’s the process.

More Rogue

I’m back from the land of bluegrass. Wintergrass this year was wonderful, as usual. It was capped off by a truly marvelous performance by the Bluebirds as the closing act. The Bluebirds are Linda Ronstadt, Laurie Lewis, and Maria Muldaur, in their first and perhaps only performance. They packed the Pavilion at the Sheraton, and for good reason. I only hope that somebody thought to record it for a future CD.

The top name acts were wonderful as usual. There are always one or two bands that I haven’t heard of that turn out to be fantastic. This year it was the Grascals, and the Wilders. You can see the Wilders live over the internet…click on the “listen” link, and then the video link. They really do have that much energy in person. Both were dynamite groups, and I will look for them again. I’m already ready to get my tickets for next year!

The hours spent at the festival made for some good knitting time. I worked a little bit on John’s sock, but mostly on Rogue. Other than the cable bits, this made for good concert knitting. I finished the back last night, and am ready to work on the front.

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Here is a photo of the cable detail up the side.

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I’m a bit nervous about doing the front with the throat cabling extending into the hood, but will forge ahead. So far this pattern has had very explicit instructions, so I have no reason to believe that this won’t be the case for the next section.

In my blog travels this morning, I found two links that amused me. Of course it doesn’t take much to amuse me. They are both from Smatterings, a relatively new knitting blog. Check it out!

The first is the Numa Numa video. (Click on the “watch this movie” link on the right side of the screen.) I’m probably the last person in Internet-land to have seen this.

The second link is a medical one. Don’t try these things at home.

Wintergrass!

Tacoma has an annual bluegrass festival that I haven’t missed since moving here. Much to my spouse’s chagrin, I buy festival passes for every last day of it as soon as they go on sale. His musical taste, though somewhat eclectic, runs more to what I would call “music to drool by”. (Sorry dear, it’s true.) Wintergrass starts tonight, goes tomorrow night, Saturday from about noon to midnight or whenever, then Sunday all day. I get totally bluegrassed out, even for me. I have the pocket schedule printed out from their website, and have my game plan in place. I have my bluegrass knitting picked out. I have a sock in progress, but also that King Cole Mohair stole, which I’m doing in just plain garter stitch. The last time I tried knitting a sock at Wintergrass my gauge changed a bunch. Must have been the exciting music.

Here are my favorite artists from past Wintergrass festivals:

Country Current; the Navy Bluegrass Band. The Navy only hires the best, and these guys are no exception. I will travel long distances to see these guys. Keith Arneson is the best banjo player around.
Reeltime Travelers; back again this year.
Robin and Linda Williams; folk/bluegrass, great vocal harmonies.
Doyle Lawson and his band. Pretty much straight ahead bluegrass, but a lot of fun in person.
Rhonda Vincent; supposed to be back again this year, but cancelled due to illness.
Old & In the Way, minus Jerry, of course.
Blue Highway; their dobro player Rob Ickes is one of the best
Darol Anger, one of the world’s more innovative fiddlers.
Dry Branch Fire Squad; traditional Appalachain style bluegrass, the lead singer is a hoot.
Misty River, a local Portland based girl group. With an accordion, no less. Back this year.
Seldom Scene, back again this year.
Tim O’Brien; one of the best all around musicians I’ve seen.
Waybacks; play jamgrass that is definitely NOT traditional.

Besides the folks on that list that are  back this year, I’m looking forward to David Grisman, Tony Rice, and the Bluebirds (Linda Ronstadt, Maria Muldaur, and Laurie Lewis). But it frequently turns out to be the groups I’ve never heard of that I love the best. If you haven’t already got your tickets, you are out of luck. Weekend passes, and Saturday and Sunday are sold out. Come next year, and buy early!!

I’ll be back later, if I don’t run off with the banjo player.

Grandpa Tony

I’ve gotten several comments on my chair photo from yesterday. I never had the opportunity to meet my grandfather, as he died a few years before I was born. He was from all accounts quite a character, however. My mother gave me that chair one time when I was home visiting after I had gotten out of school and finally had a home of my own. We had an old Subaru station wagon at the time, and the thing barely wedged into the back end, but we drove across a couple of states with it to get it home. I have a framed photo of my Grandpa Tony; this was when he was quite young, probably early 20’s, if that.

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Doesn’t he look like he owns the world?

He emigrated from Poland just before the turn of the century (the last one, not this one!), when he was barely 13. His older sister, Agnes, had been the first to arrive in the US, two years  before my grandfather. She came over at age 22 to be a housekeeper in North Dakota for someone that somebody in the family knew. She worked and saved money, and eventually brought the rest of the family over (and married the man!). Grandpa settled first in South Dakota for a short time, which is where this photo was taken. He was a bachelor at the time, and eventually married my grandmother and homesteaded land in North Dakota, where he farmed and raised 8 children. My parents moved back to the farm when my grandfather was dying so my mom could help take care of him, and just stayed on.

Here is a photo of Great-Aunt Agnes in her heyday.

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I covet that hat more than I can say. Apparently she had quite a collection of hats, but unfortunately nobody thought to save them when she died.

One of my favorite songs is Emigrant Eyes, by Dolores Keane. It never fails to make me cry. In it, she sings about her “father’s own father” emigrating to the US from Ireland at the turn of the century, arriving at Ellis Island in a swarm of other Europeans, “decked out in the colors of Europe…turn of the century pilgrims… bound by the dream that they shared”.

“Through this sprawling tower of Babel, came a young man confused and alone. Determined and bound for America; carrying everything that he owned. Sometimes when I look in my grandfather’s emigrant eyes, I see that day reflected; I can’t hold my feelings inside. I see starting with nothing, and working hard all of his life. So don’t take it for granted, say Grandfather’s emigrant eyes.”

This is on her Solid Ground album. Give it a listen if you’ve never heard of her. I keep Grandpa Tony’s photo on my wall to remind me where I came from, and not to take any of it for granted.

91,955

That is just the most embarrassing number. I wrote a few posts back about my stash inventory system. This week I got the bright idea to add up all the yardage to see how much yarn I actually have. According to my database, I have 91,955 yards of yarn in my stash. That’s 84,094 meters for all of you from the rest of the world. Of course this doesn’t include the latest purchase.

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This lovely pile of yarn is a Colinette AbFab Throw Kit, in Amethyst. I have just been coveting this (which commandment was that??) for a long time, but had not bought the kit. I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with “the look” that I get when yet another shipment of yarn arrives at the house.

My covetousness began in earnest when Kerstin posted this.  Then Crayonbrain had to go and suggest that they were taking these kits off the market. I took this as a sign and whipped out my credit card. I have no idea when I will ever get to this, but I just thank God that I didn’t miss the AbFab bandwagon.

Here are a couple of rare Willie sightings. (That doesn’t sound quite right does it??) I mean Willie the cat…get your minds out of the gutter, boys and girls. The boy cat howls like a maniac till we let him out in the morning, then about mid-morning he howls like a maniac to get back in, and occasionally climbs the patio door screen to let us know that he is serious. He likes his comfortable warm morning nap.

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The rocking chair is one of my few prized possessions. Most of the furniture in our house is of the “I like it but wouldn’t be tormented forever if it disappeared one day” variety. My grandfather built this chair in the early 1900’s for the farmhouse in North Dakota where they lived. It is definitely not fashionable, though it is as solid a piece of furniture that you will ever find. One of the pieces of wood on the bottom of the chair looks like it was salvaged from a box used to ship farm equipment. I had it reupholstered a few years ago, and when I sit in it, I think of my grandfather sitting in the same chair after a long day’s work, playing his fiddle and perhaps sipping on a jug of whiskey if my grandmother wasn’t looking. I’ve mastered the whiskey sipping; someday I will learn to play the fiddle as well. Here’s a better picture of the chair.

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Here are a couple of Rogue pictures. I haven’t done more than a few rows all week, due to work interference, but have made a bit of progress. I’ve attached the pocket to the body and am to the underarm section where the cables start to widen out again.

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And a better shot of the pocket.

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Knitting that pocket back on was just a barrel of fun. I took some pictures but they didn’t come out particularly well, so if you want to see what it looks like, you’ll have to knit it yourself. It is an ingenious pattern, and I could really see doing this again. (Have I mentioned that before??)

Rogue, Real Life.

I have been knitting on Rogue. I even took pictures of my progress. Unfortunately they all turned out to be crap, and I am not posting crappy photos today, even though I have done so in the past with impunity. It’s one of those famously gray western Washington days, and not very photo friendly. I suppose I could have fixed it, but I’m way too lazy. So you’ll have to take my word on it. I’m not making speedy progress due to the intervention of work this past week, but have gotten into the spirally cables up the side. This is really a hypnotic project to knit, as many others have found. Ei and Dorothy are making much better progress than I am. Go look at their pictures. Mine looks like that, only not as far along, and mine is pink. They also evidently know how to take good pictures.

I do have a picture of the pets doing what they do best. Daisie the Corgi was here visiting again, and I guess somebody must have tired them out at the park:

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Note that Willie is on the dog bed too. My husband took that photo, which explains why it is not blurry.

I was going through my site stats and found a couple of things that amused me (it doesn’t take much to amuse me, really). I always look at the search strings in Google that got people to my blog. My favorite for the week is “graph paper knitting alien”. Right up there is “flannel sheets at Costco”. I was the fifth hit on that one. My flannel sheets are from Costco, actually, though I don’t remember ever mentioning it in my blog.

Work this week just plain over-ran me. I didn’t get much done except work, eat, and sleep, and not that much of the latter. I have a work schedule that most people would find nuts. I work 7 days in a row, then get a week off, which sounds great. The 7 days on basically put two and a half weeks worth of work in one week, and I sleep for the first 2 days I have off. Then about 4 days into my week off, I’m pretty excited about my work schedule again, and by Monday (my last vacation day), I’m all pumped up to get back at it again.  It sounds crazy, but it has its moments.  Anyway, I’m still in my jammies at 10:30 this morning, and would have no intention of changing that if I didn’t have a couple of meetings this afternoon. It probably wouldn’t do to go in my bathrobe. Though I might just take my knitting with me.

What Kind Of Girl Am I??

That really fits, is all I have to say. A fine Rhone wine, a stinky cheese, a fireplace, and a good 800 page book on the medieval history of Europe, and I’m happy. How the hell did I get this way after being born and raised by farm parents in North Dakota?
Thanks to ladybean for the link to this one!

The Cat’s In The Bag

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No, Lucy is not trying to kill herself. I pulled Rogue out of the bag to knit yesterday morning, and within about 2 seconds Lucy was playing in the bag. Yes, I’ll be more careful to put it away from now on.

Though now that I think about it, maybe she was considering suicide. We have the neighbor’s dog here for a day or two while they have a family thing going on. Daisy is a Corgi, and just the cutest thing, though Lucy really is not impressed.

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Daisy is barely a year old, so still acts like a puppy. She and Willie, the other cat, get along just fine, and she and Riley are great friends from their many trips to the park together on walks. John takes Riley to the park daily, and generally stops at the neighbors’ house and picks up Daisy as well. It’s the next best thing to having a Corgi of our own (maybe better!).

Rogue is just the most fun thing I’ve ever knit. I am done with the pocket and have resumed knitting in the round. The cables up the side are just a blast to knit. Here’s where I am:

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Purty, huh?

I had a bit of a glitch (actually two) when I started to pick up the stitches after doing the pocket. The pattern calls for knitting the body in the round, then knitting the pocket back and forth on part of the front body stitches. When you’re done with the pocket, you go back and pick up a line of stitches at the inside base of the pocket, and start knitting in the round on the body again. It was a little hard to see where I was, and I kept getting off a line up or down. So out came the trusty dental floss.

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I threaded it through the row of stitches I wanted to pick up, then found it very easy to keep on track. The second glitch was a slipped stitch where there shouldn’t have been one. It was at the very beginning of the pocket, and I didn’t find it till I was picking up the stitches to resume the body. In this heavy yarn I could barely tell from the front, but I knew this would bug me. I did the unravel and crochet back up trick again, which worked like a charm.

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And here’s how I’m keeping track of everything:

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It’s an old music stand, with a magnet board to keep everything where I can see it.

My only complaint with this pattern is that it is almost too much fun. It’s one of the few things that I’ve knit that I would consider making twice. The next one I could see in a woodsy, earthy, Druidy green. I’m a sick woman.