Don We Now Our Dog Apparel

Max is a lucky dog. I felt like a psychic as I found myself finishing up his sweater just as the blizzard started to hit. In addition to making him a little happier about going out in the snow (which he basically hates to do now that he’s a grumpy old man), it meant that I could get totally adorable pictures for this post. Are you ready for some dog butt?

I’ve written up the pattern for this and am very happy with how it came out — it’s by far my most polished and professional-looking pattern, as well as the most complicated item I’ve ever attempted to write a pattern for. It has colorwork charts and everything, guys! Go here to download it. I encourage you to do this even if you’re one of my friends who reads this blog but doesn’t knit, just so you can be impressed with my skills.

One thing I learned during the past few days is that knitwear designing is way hard. Without a pattern in front of me, I transform into a knitting moron who forgets basic concepts like “do the ribbing with the smaller needles” and “once you have finished the ribbing, switch to the larger needles.” I eventually just had to write down the pattern for myself ahead of time, including all the subsidiary instructions like that, just to prevent myself from relapsing into moronhood.

I made the charts with the Knitting Chart Maker by Jacqui, a free program that I found by googling around and ended up liking well enough. You use it right in your browser so there’s nothing to download, and the interface is pretty intuitive. The only problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to save my charts as jpeg files, so I ended up just taking screen shots of them.

Here’s a shot of the underside of the sweater, so you can understand the construction a little better. Basically it’s knit as a rectangle on the top, and a slightly longer trapezoid on the bottom, so that the armholes can have a little ease. All this is explained in much more detail in the pattern itself:

In fact, most of the rest of what you’ll probably want to know is in the pattern, so go forth and download it! There’s still time to make your dog a sweater for Christmas!

Here’s Max inside with the Christmas tree. Look how dapper he is with his bow tie! Clothes on dogs are the best.

‘Tis the Season to Dress Your Dog Embarassingly

Last time we met, I showed you a picture of my family’s dog and lamented that they did not want me to knit him any dog sweaters — but it turns out that the mistake I made was talking only to my male family members. I came back to New Jersey for the holidays a few days ago, and the day after I arrived, Max came home from the groomer’s with a little Christmas bowtie on. “Wouldn’t that look great with a Christmas sweater?” I asked my mother. “Yes!” she exclaimed. “Can you knit him a sweater?!” Of course I can. Why didn’t I think to ask Mom before? So with my dad and my brother shaking their heads sadly, my mom and I gleefully set off for Michael’s to buy some suitably cheap yarn (Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice, woo woo) and some needles, and I was off to the races. I’m basically making this up as I go along, and I’ll release it as a free pattern here on this blog when I’m done — provided I can figure out a way to make the chart come out non-crappily. (Anybody have any free knitting chart software recommendations?)

So that’s it above, of course — I opted for a more general “winter” theme rather than an explicitly Christmas one so that Max can continue to wear his sweater when the holidays are over. I don’t have a lot of experience with stranded colorwork; the only other thing I’ve ever made with this technique are the really basic wristwarmers from the first Stitch-N-Bitch book. I did, however, write my own chart for those — I made them for everyone in my band for the last concert of our original lineup, with the name of our band on them. Since I decided to knit this dog sweater in two pieces, it involved doing colorwork back-and-forth (whereas I’d previously only done it in the round), which was minorly scary until I realized that it’s completely easy and works exactly the way you’d expect it to. So hopefully I’ll get this done in the next couple of days, and then you can all share the Christmas joy with your own dogs if you are so inclined.

In other knitting news, the yarn for my Big Frigging Red Blanket arrived just as I was packing to leave California, so I don’t have a picture of it to show you nor was I able to cast on in time to bring any part of it with me, but I am very happy with the color and more or less okay with my decision to special-order the yarn from frigging Nebraska even though it took three weeks to arrive. I estimate I’ll have this blanket done just in time for spring. Sigh!

What I did bring with me on vacation was the purple Tudor Grace scarf, which is coming along swimmingly:

Look how much bigger it is! I’d say it’s about 2/3 done. I also cast on for yet another Anne Hanson scarf right before I left, because I figured I was likely to finish this one. It’s her Fernfrost scarf, which I’ve been meaning to knit ever since she released the pattern nearly a year ago. I’ve even had this ball of yarn earmarked for it all that time:

It’s KnitPicks Shimmer, a 70% baby alpaca / 30% silk blend, in the Sherry colorway. I threw it into an order from KnitPicks awhile ago when I realized that the extra $7 would mean free shipping on the relatively heavy yarn-scale & needles that I was buying. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of KnitPicks yarns, but this one pleasantly surprised me; it’s shinier than this picture lets on, and the dye job is pretty good — there are nice fluctuations between different shades of cranberry & raspberry. At $7  for 440 yards I’d say it’s a steal, and would recommend it to anyone — especially beginning lace knitters wary of dropping $30+ dollars on other hand-dyed lace yarns for a scarf or shawl they’re worried they might screw up.

The pattern is brilliant as usual; I can’t sing Anne’s praises enough. It’s a little on the complicated side, with lace on both sides and no rest-rows, but the pattern is pretty logical and breaks up into memorizable units. It’s got enough to keep an experienced lace-knitter interested, let’s say, but it’s not so complicated that I can’t do it in front of the TV with a glass of wine. Of course, I’m kind of a wine-and-TV-and-lace ninja, so your mileage may vary. 🙂