Monday, March 30, 2009

The Perils of Princess, or, "Well, THAT didn't work..."

Remember how I adopted a dog? Remember how she seemed awfully smart? Remember how she was sick and I took her to the vet?

Well, the vet gave her some nice antibiotics. And she started feeling a lot better. And her energy level spiked.

From the day she started to feel well, Princess got to be too much for me. It didn't bother me that she suddenly owned all the chew toys, but it did bother me a little when Buster turned into one of them: she chewed Buster's neck ruff till it was soggy. She, um, imposed upon his goodwill until he crammed his entire body into a nook behind some furniture to get away from her. She wouldn't let him on the bed. She filched things off tabletops to chew. I started crating her in the daytime, which worked fine but left her with energy undimmed when I came home.

None of this is to say Princess is a bad dog - she isn't. She just has a lot of bounce, and needs more exercise and running room than I can offer in a condo. We did take a lot of very long walks together. I succeeded in tiring her out - she'd nap after a walk. The only problem is, by then I needed a nap too! Actually Princess's sleeping behaviors were my favorite parts - she happily snuggled with me from the first night, and was a good girl all night long.

I tried, but in the end I decided she wasn't a good fit for my household, so she's back with the good people of Paws and Prayers. Princess needs a Timmy!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Finished Objects from Last Year: The ASJ

Dear Readers:

I actually had someone REQUEST a blog post from me! I feel like quite the rock star... I posted about this jacket on one of my groups, and a gal who read the post went looking for more info, and was saddened not to find any. Well, here it is, by popular demand:

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Last Fall I knitted myself an Adult Surprise Jacket, the Grownup Version of Elizabeth Zimmermann's famous Baby Surprise Jacket that I blogged about awhile ago. Here are the specs:

Yarn: TLC Essentials in the Falling Leaves colorway. I think it took 7 skeins. 100% acrylic, bought before I developed my wool fixation, but actually a really nice acrylic yarn. Gorgeous autumn colors, and the sweater is nice and squooshy. I also used a small amount of Caron One Pound in Espresso (a dark brown) for the trim.

Needles: Knitpicks Options, size 8 (5 mm) with the 60" cable.

Pattern: I got it here; it's also available in The Opinionated Knitter.

Cast on 8/19/09; bound off 11/02/08.

I greatly enjoyed knitting this sweater. I made an Excel spreadsheet to do all the calculations - EZ has you knit a gauge swatch then make a series of calculations to determine how many stitches to cast on, and where to place your decrease/increase points. For a bust circumference of 49" and 5" of ease, I cast on 334 stitches and placed markers 74 stitches from either end.

Mods: I wanted some fullness in the back so I added 20 stitches across the back after completing the sleeve decreases. This turned out to be a little more than I needed, and at first there was a slight ruffling on that row. After a bit of wearing, it seems to have eased in, though.
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When I had increased back to the original number of stitches, it seemed like there wasn't quite enough room in front, so I kept going for 12 extra ridges (24 rows).
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I striped my button band: 2 ridges Espresso, three ridges in the variegated, and two more Espresso, then I bound off with an applied i-cord bindoff as described here and here. I picked up stitches and knitted about 5 more inches on the arms, then repeated the stripe pattern from the button band.
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Instead of blind-seaming the top seam, I did applied I-cord there too. This turned out to be a really good thing because the strong, stable band of stockinette along the sleeves did a lot to combat Garter Stitch Stretch - the sleeves haven't grown down to my ankles as garter stitch is wont to do!
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Altogether I am really happy with how this sweater has turned out. The things I love about it: gorgeous color, nice and warm, miles of lovely, meditative, TV-compatible garter stitch, NO RIBBING AT THE BOTTOM, so no butt-cup. I still need to add some afterthought pockets, but as the name implies, they're afterthoughts. Maybe next fall?

The Horrible Truth

Ever since Princess came to live with me, I've been puzzled. The rescue folks said she was a Sheltie mix. I didn't see it, and so I kept wondering what the other half was. Some kind of terrier? Dachshund? No, it can't be that - her proportions are normal. Definitely not a hound...What could it be?

Then I started noticing how scary-smart she is. Buster, bless him, is apparently not the sharpest knife in the drawer. In an attempt to interest him in eating right after Stormy died I dug out Stormy's old food cube - you put kibble in it and the dog has to roll it around to get the kibble out again. Even with me showing him how about 100 times, he never connected the dots - he'd happily eat the kibble if I kicked the cube over, but never never never tipped it over himself with paw or nose. Well, it took Princess approximately 37 seconds to decode that thing.

Then I had to take them to the vet this morning (her flea dermatitis is slightly infected even though the fleas are gone, plus both she and Buster were a little under the weather - it seems she brought home Bordatella. Even though she got a vaccine, it was only a few days before she came home, and she was probably already contagious before she got the vaccine. So now she gave it to her new best buddy, Buster.) I grabbed her paperwork so I could tell the vets when she got her vaccines and show them her rabies tag. I noticed that the cover of her folder said "Collie" on it. I looked at her and said to myself, "She looks even less like a collie mix than she does like a Sheltie mix. What the heck were those fools thinking?"

I just realized the awful truth. She's a BORDER COLLIE MIX. Just look at her - I can totally see that.
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(Not her best angle, but you get the idea.)

This is a disaster! They are so smart they get bored and destructive when they are alone, and I work full time! And I didn't figure it out till now - it's too late - we've bonded! Buster had just better devote his life to keeping her out of trouble, that's all I can say. Or it seems that I am the one in trouble! Aaagh!

Friday, March 20, 2009

My New Baby

Diana Wishes to Announce the Adoption of
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variously known as Princess Principessa, Miss Priss, Hey You, Good Girl, Bad Girl, and (when she's REALLY bad), Sheila [my ex's dog's name].

Ever since my beloved Stormy died, I have planned to get another dog, if only to keep Buster company. I combed assiduously in search of the perfect dog: small (25-30 pounds), male, housebroken if possible, not a puppy. I set my sights on several, only to have them adopted out from under me (not that I mind them going to good homes, of course!) Every weekend I had a free day, I would be down at the Petsmart across from Chapel Hill Mall looking at the rescue dogs organizations like Paws and Prayers and Heaven Can Wait.

So last Saturday I brought Princess home. They describe her as a Sheltie mix, but I don't see it.
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Note how she completely fails to match any of my criteria - she's a girl, just a year old, so practically a puppy, and although she weighed 30 pounds the day I adopted her, as of today she's up to 36.6 pounds and she's still sucking down the Dad's Trail Mix like she thinks it's her last bowl.

Oh wait - she does meet one criterion: she is housebroken. The house she's broken is mine.

No, that's a calumny (I just couldn't resist the joke). She's actually very well behaved and I couldn't be more pleased with that. She's had a couple of accidents in the house, but they were clearly the result of us not understanding each other's signals - Princess is definitely a lady and she doesn't want to do her business in the house.

According to Paws and Prayers, her previous owners surrendered her to the pound because she had the effrontery to get fleas. And you know, once a dog has fleas there's nothing you can do about that. You just have to throw the dog back and fish for another one.

I was a bit concerned about how Buster would react to having another dog sharing his house and his human. At first this seemed justified; for the first day he did nothing but try to fornicate with her. Thankfully, this behavior gradually tapered off, and they are doing very well together:
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The only problem is she shows signs of being too darn smart for me!