Category Archives: dogs

Knitting With Pets (aka Making the Cropped Thumbhole Sweater)

For some reason, a lot of people in my family (including me) like sleeves with thumbholes. When Sadie was a puppy, her razor-sharp puppy teeth ripped holes into the sleeves of a couple of my tops, but instead of turning them into dust rags or quilt fodder I stretched the tiny holes into thumbholes.

But no one loves thumbhole sleeves as much as my sister does. When she found this pattern for Camexia Design’s Cropped Thumbhole Sweater, she asked if I could make it for her. The pattern looked fairly simple, and I love working dropped stitches, so she ordered the same King Cole Big Value Chunky yarn mentioned in the pattern and had it sent to me. She chose the color “Caramel”—ostensibly to match her dog, Stanley.

My furry nephew (and frequent guest dog), Stanley.

The yarn happened to arrive on the first day of Stanley’s latest doggie vacation here with Sadie. I wanted to read through the pattern before casting on, so I put the yarn into a project bag and set it beside my knitting chair. The next morning I found this spread across the living room floor:

Someone had a party with two skeins of yarn. Luckily my sister bought five skeins, just in case I needed to make a different size.

While I didn’t witness the mayhem, Sadie is used to yarn and knitting projects—finished and in progress—so she’s pretty blasé about it all. When I get new yarn, Sadie takes one look and is like, “More yarn? Boring!” Stanley, on the other hand, happily sniffed the yarn after it arrived, and an hour or so later I caught him on the chair curled up with an intact skein of yarn. In the middle of the night he ran into the living room to bark at things several times. Given the evidence and Sadie’s total disinterest in yarn, I think it’s clear who the culprit was.

The good news is I only needed three skeins to make my sister’s cropped thumbhole sweater, so I didn’t have to detangle the massive pile of yarn to finish the project. (That said, when I finally did untangle it, it took a couple hours.)

This sweater is designed to have the bumpier purl side of the stockinette stitches showing, but my sister preferred  it with the smoother knit side showing. Either way, it was a fun knit and looks really cute on her. In fact, she loved it so much she asked me to make a second one in a heathery charcoal grey.

The first finished sweater

I only came across two stumbling blocks when making the first sweater. One I didn’t notice until I’d finished it:

  • I think there should be yarn overs BEFORE purling the first stitch of the yarn over rounds or you won’t have loops to drop on the first stitch of what I call the “purl drop” rounds; knitted as written, there’s a vertical column of tighter-looking stitches running down the middle of the back (or front, since it works either way; see photo above) of the sweater. My sister has long hair, so if her hair is down she can put that side in the back, but if she wears her hair up she can throw on a couple of longer necklaces to divert attention.
  • Try as I might I couldn’t figure out the special cast-off method described in the pattern. I contacted the creator via Instagram and Ravelry, and she gave me a link to a video that shows a similar technique. She said it was included with the pattern, but I didn’t see a URL for it on the printout I was using. Once I saw a few seconds of the video it made perfect sense. You’ve got to love a responsive designer who answers your questions!

Now that the second sweater is on the needles (isn’t the heather gray gorgeous?), here are a couple photos of those super fun double purl drop rows.

With a double yarn over before each stitch, you effectively triple the number of stitches on your working needle

Ignore the needle in back—I was holding it up to show that the yarn overs are slightly slanted; purling into the front of the first stitch and letting the two yarn overs drop is what forms the open dropped stitches

Like magic, those dropped yarn overs become long, airy stitches

If you have a big gap under the arms when you finish, just thread a little leftover yarn through a wide-eye darning needle and close it with a few quick stitches. Simple.

I hope my sister likes the charcoal version as much as the caramel one!

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Best Excuse for A Project Slump

It’s been too long since I’ve posted anything here. There are two reasons (or excuses, depending on your point of view).

  1. Work has been keeping me busy, so busy that I only made a few gifts this Christmas – and forgot to get photos of most of them.
  2. I recently adopted this little critter, and it’s kind of hard to knit or crochet when she’s in her puppy play phase, which always coincides with prime crafting time.

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Meet Sadie, shown here with one of her three toy lambs. (Every knitter’s puppy needs toy lambs!) Don’t worry, she has plenty of other toys, too.

On her second or third day at home, Sadie found a small piece of yarn on the floor. Yarn and puppies are not a good combination. She must have liked the yarn, since she soon turned one of my knitted throw pillows into a would-be chew toy. She pulled a few strands of yarn loose, but thankfully didn’t swallow any yarn. (Don’t tell her this, but because that pillow cover was made with scrap yarn, and I can re-make it once she outgrows her chewy stage.)

Sadie is a mystery mutt. I spotted her on Petfinder.com. She literally was the first puppy—out of hundreds—whose photo made me stop and say: This is my dog. It was around 1:00 a.m. when I sent in the online adoption form and requested a meet and greet. I was awake another hour or more thinking up possible names. I later learned the rescue organization received a record-breaking number of adoption applications for her. But I was the lucky one!

The people at the rescue group admitted they guessed about the puppy’s age and mix. All they knew for certain is she was found December 21 wandering alone in a rural area in Southern Illinois and was taken to the county animal shelter. The vet at that (kill) shelter listed her as a 6 to 9-week old Beagle mix. She weighed 5.25 pounds. On January 2, the rescue group took her in and placed her with a great foster family. Much discussion ensued as to her age and mix. She has large, webbed paws, and they guessed she might be a slightly younger Bernese Mountain Dog mix.

The vet she saw earlier this week estimated Sadie, now just over 15 pounds, to be 12 weeks old, but said once she starts losing her puppy teeth we might be able to narrow it down.  She agreed with the first vet that Sadie could part Beagle—something about her front legs, while most people say her tail screams Beagle—then added that it will be interesting to see what she grows into. I agree.

I don’t really care what mix Sadie is as long as she’s healthy. She’s sweet, happy, and super smart. She learned “sit” in one day. (It didn’t hurt that I had her sit before getting her food!) But I still sent in a doggie DNA test since there were no siblings or parents to offer clues as to her genetic history. They’re not 100% accurate tests, but random guesses aren’t very accurate either. The information could be helpful since larger breed dogs have different dietary needs than smaller dogs, and some breeds are prone to certain health issues she might need to be screened for.

Every day I look at Sadie and see a different blend of dogs. Today she’s looking like a combination of Border Collie and Beagle, but the other day I swear I saw a little Rottweiler in her face. And every so often I think she’s part Panda. You can see why…

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So please forgive me if I set crafty projects aside a while to focus on this gorgeous little fur ball who has taken over my life. I’m sure once she settles in she’ll be a good little helper….and maybe then I can finish my brother-in-law’s already much-belated Christmas socks. (I almost have one sock done, but it’s slow going when you can only sneak in a couple rounds here and there.)

 

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Bake your own doggie treats

Anyone with a dog knows a lot of dog treats have been recalled in recent months. Why risk your pet’s health on pre-made, processed by-products when making treats from scratch isn’t any harder than baking cookies?

That, and I have been looking for an excuse to use these cool doggie bone cookie cutters….

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When a neighbor passed along this recipe her sister’s dogs loved, I asked Doggie Lily’s vet if it sounded like a healthy treat. She said pumpkin is really nutritious, good for digestion (it’s great for cats, too), then asked me to let her know how they turn out.

This weekend Doggie Lily and I broke out the rolling pin and started baking.

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Measure and mix as directed, then use your hands to knead it into shape. Then roll out the dough and start cutting.

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They don’t need much space for baking, so you can pack them fairly closely.

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Bake as directed (flipping the treats half way through), and this is what you get.

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Yield: 20 small, 18 medium and 12 large, crunchy treats.

Lily’s verdict?

Lily didn't stay still, and had most of this treat down before I could get a photo.

Lily didn’t stay still, and had most of this treat down before I could get a photo.

That's my girl. She didn't miss a crumb!

That’s my girl. She doesn’t want to miss a crumb!

She’s already had two medium sized treats and is still sniffing around for more.

With lots of leftover ingredients, we just might bake some more when Doggies Finn and Stella are here for their spring vacation next week.

What are some of the crazier things you’ve done or made for your furry babies?

Snow Dog

It’s been too long between blog posts thanks to a full workload. We’ve also had three “snow events” in the past week, which meant more time spent outside shoveling. Around here, snow also means Doggie Lily will demand some snowy doggie walks.

While I have a project in the works, it’s not quite ready to post. In the meantime, here’s Lily in her element…

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She may be 13, but the second Lily hits the cold air she becomes Crazy Snow Dog. She’s so frisky it took 8-10 attempts before one of her photos was in focus.

Do you enjoy winter as much as Lily? Or do you prefer heat, sand and sun?

Mika Doyle

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