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Monday, August 22, 2011

Another Day Another Knit, Thank Goodness

So much for sleeping in this morning. To bad I can't even blame it on my own dogs. I was awoken by the neighbors dog barking incessantly from six am on. Their idea of dog ownership is one of those things that has always stumped me. I've seen it over and over again and it's something that always fumbles my sense of logic. I'm sure to them it makes perfect sense. I just don't see why one has a dog if they're just going to leave it in an outdoor kennel at all times. I've asked several acquaintances over the years that I've known to have such a dog and have yet to receive and answer that settles it for me. There's the, "They for protecting the house." How exactly does the dog protect the house when they're locked from it themselves? Will the dog magically be able to leave the kennel and enter the house to ward of thieves or murderers when the time comes? Then there's, "I'm allergic" or the, "I don't like having them in the house because they shed and smell." My thoughts are, why have a dog? I myself have allergies and can understand the wanting to eliminate the allergens but I wouldn't cage an animal over it. And if you don't like the hair or the smell, groom the dog occasionally or why have one if you can't live with the trappings? Of course, that also goes with the frequency that I get called for training ideas and walk into a house with a dog that has never been worked with. People see dogs out there that are well mannered and behaved and think they got that way on their own. Sorry, no they take work just like raising kids. Who likes the neighborhood brats that are allowed to go and do as they please and never taught manners? See the connection? Good kids of either species have to be raised that way. They don't just suddenly become. And the last explanation that I LOVE is "It's the kids dog." or "I don't like having an indoor dog". The kids dog? Who bought it? Who buys the food? Who pays the vet bill (If the dogs lucky enough to get to to go to the vet)? And why have it if you're not going to partake in ownership? Why have any animal that you're not going to partake in? I have seen the same attitude towards larger animals such as horses. Just to my own mind, I find it a bit baffling. I enjoy my dogs even when they have me cussing, worried, or just plain scared of the day I have to say goodbye to them. I do understand when one has a working animal. An animal that is kept for a job. Often dogs that are working livestock, or have other exuberant jobs don't make great house pets, especially in their younger years. But, that's not an animal that's just out in a kennel. To truly have a working dog you are out there working it. It's not bored in a kennel with nothing to do 24/7. I can understand that myself, just as I understand having a horse around, and having a horse or other livestock that is just that, livestock. Not the penned creature. Anyway, back on track, the neighbors dog woke me up this morning and since it decided to keep up the barking I decided to just get up. It may make an interesting night at work since as I type the dog is still barking.

Had a bit of blueberry pie for breakfast.

Unfortunately my tapioca starch was a bit old I think and did little in the way of thickening the filling, but it's downright delicious no matter that you have to eat it with a spoon. I'm not sure what is with the bumpy top crust but it's one of the flakiest best tasting crusts I've made despite the "landscape" of it all. With full bellies and continued barking we went to the river and to watch some other oddities.
I can't figure out why the posting template keeps laying this picture on its side. Sorry.
 For the life of me I don't understand on a hot day floating down the river roasting yourself to bright pink. But hey, as long as they're enjoying themselves and staying out of trouble they should enjoy the weather however they see fit. I'll stick to taking the kayak out for a float myself.

Then we just enjoyed the scenery and goofed about ourselves a bit in the water.

Back home I finished the Damask Shawl. Unfortunately it's a bit more of a Shawlette due to the smaller yarn (Remember I had the self destructing yarn issue?), and the more appropriate needle size for a smaller yarn. I did bump up to the largest size in the pattern and am glad I did. I'm sure she'll appreciate the work just the same. In fact I'm thinking of sending this one to my sister in law instead and re-knitting it in the replacement yarn that the Great Adirondack Yarn Company sent me. I'm going to think on it a bit I do believe.

I've been asked recently about blocking, and blocking lace in particular. Here is how I typically do it, though at the Rocky Mountain Mens Knitting Retreat we were shown a fascinating technique using PVC piping, rubberbands and hooks that I will try in the near future. It looked so much simpler.

First I soak the finished item after all the ends are woven in for several minute in a tepid water bath with a rinseless wash such as "Soak or Eucerin"

Then after draining the water I wrap the item in towels and pull out the extra water which leaves me with a damp wonderfully wet woolen scented mass of stitches.

I gently so as not to over stretch areas (probably over anal) spread the mass out, find the reference lines such as the edge where the border meets the body of the work and start pinning to shape

Using a yardstick for measuring and to provide a straight edge, I continue the pinning process to fill out the shape. I use less pins such as on the lower border to give me the desired points and more to even out the edge and like on the top edge.

I try to even out the knit work as I go with my hands to keep the stitch work showing its best and looking even and precise. 

 Then I take artsy fartsy pictures just to make myself feel smug with my work. Everyone in my opinion should feel smug about finished projects after all.

Here in Wyoming the climate is a bit on the dry side, so to slow the drying process I lay towels across the work (Here are the last of my rags that Bob hasn't stole from the laundry to add to the dog towels. Obviously I need to do some more transferring of supplies again). This helps slow the drying process to really set the blocking in. Other items that I've let dry in their own time have bounced back to the pre-blocking state rather exuberantly. I found that by slowing the process down with towel layering and a real good soaking with a mister before finishing really gets the blocked shape set well.

And that's about it. I'll eave out all the picking out, fussing and worry at trying to get the thing as straightened out as possible... it's all rather embarrassing. Now I let it sit until tomorrow when I check on it to see where we're at. If it's still damp I'll re cover and turn a fan on in the room to get circulation to assist with the last bit. If it's still soaking like some fibers tend to hold onto the fiber, I will take the towels off for the last drying stages.

I've seen all kinds of blocking surfaces. I have found the guest bedroom's spare bed the best surface. I know many who use an emptier rooms floor. My downstairs room has carpet that still smells of the previous owner's dog which is not what I prefer to leave my knitted gifts smelling of. Also with a cat that wanders downstairs to keep cool I don't trust her not to mess with blocking items. The bed also accepts pins well for holding tension. The aforementioned technique that was shown us allowed the blocker to build a relatively cheap frame for the item to be blocked and then was simply stood in a corner to dry. It was very space effective and mobile. My only concern here is that with the dryness I may have to re-wet it several times through the blocking to keep it damp long enough.

Hope it all made sense...

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