“Oh, I don’t go by gauge.”

By which, Teacher Lady means she doesn’t do what I did – which is what the books said – make a swatch, size up from that to make a pattern larger that it was written to be.

Arrggh (my frustration is very pirate-y)!

I used the needles I was going to knit with, I used the yarn I was going to knit with – see where this is going? The dog sweater of Exceedingly Earnest Orangeness is too big.

beginner dog sweater, back, with a stripe

I even put in a stripe.

The lady sitting across from me at class last night suggested I get a bigger dog. GENIUS. That said, I am not getting a bigger dog.

The Teacher Lady asked what kind of dog I had and I ashamedly admitted to owing a part-poodle. He is a lovely, lovely dog but he is small, fluffy and yappy. He also likes wearing clothes, which I find hilarious and so – Dog Sweater A. Anyway, the point of all this is – the sweater is a bit bigger than the dog.

I used this formula to size up the pattern:

  • Using gauge given for pattern (ex: 5) , divide number of stitches called for in pattern (ex: 40) by gauge (so 40/5 = 8″) to find the inches the pattern makes (8″).
  • Using yarn gauge (ex: 5 stitches =1″) multiply that by the number of inches you want (12″) to get new number of stitches to cast on (5 x 12 = 60, cast on 60 stitches).

That sounds right, yeah? I got it from allexperts.com, “How to make a larger size than the pattern provides…” and followed the directions EXACTLY.

Or wait…did I? What the hell? Gauge? Uh, where is the gauge – what is the gauge? I made a swatch and counted how many stitches in an inch of knitting with my little ruler thingy. That’s gauge, right?

AUGH! Uh, pardon me while I step aside for a minute and google “gauge” …no, no “gauge” is just written as “tension” in the pattern I was using, and measuring the stitches in the knitting is the gauge…

I did 18 stitches, measured and got 4 stitches equaling one inch – 4 sts = 1″

In the pattern:

pattern dog has a chest circumference of 15″

for the back                  47 sts = 10.5″
for the under panel    19 sts = 4.5″

My dog, Dashiell, has a chest circumference of -wiggly- wait, no, treat!, uh 17″. So all I need to do is increase the pattern 2″, right?

So, 47 CO, wait, wait, 47 + 19 , err, uh, to make the whole…uh…oh, I only did the back, the 47 sts. Lessee, try this 47 + 19 = 66, gauge was 4 sts = 1″ so should be 66/4 instead of 47/4 so…

66/4 = 16.5

The pattern makes 16.5 inches. Oh, wow, MY MATH WAS WRONG! THAT’S WHAT IT WAS! I HAVE FOUND MY ERROR!

So, the sweater is supposed to be 1.5″ larger than circumference of dog. With Dashiell it should be 18.5″ then.

4 x 18.5 = 74

I left underpanel out of my calculations and came up with 68 sts to cast on for the back!

pattern back is 10.5, uh, make it 12.5 for Dashiell

4 x 12.5 = 50

pattern underpanel is 4.5″, make it 6″ for Dashiell

4 x 6 = 24

So.  Um, yeah. That would explain why the sweater is too big. Luckily I only cast on 58 sts for the back so it is only 2″ too large on the circumference. I think I can save the whole sweater by making the underpanel narrower and it will just be a little big on his wiggly wiggly self.

Which is a good thing because otherwise I would have to go to the park and grab other people’s dogs and stuff them in the very very orange sweater until I found one it fit. Which would be distressing and possibly get me arrested.

Here’s a picture of the ribbing the learned to do just for this dumb sweater:

1 x 1 ribbing on edge of very orange sweater

And here are the samplers I made to get the ribbing and the binding off right:

ribbing and binding off samplers

Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief that the damn dog sweater is possibly save-able, shall we?

Oh, oh! I forgot about the stripe I put in! Everyone was all “no, no stripe! especially not a red one!” so I totally put in a red stripe, and then had to rip it back ’cause I did something weird when I added it in, re-did it and got this:

red stripe in very orange sweater back

and this is how I did it:

knitting setup, including notebook and mustard pretzels

the Vogue Knitting Quick Reference guide and a bowl of honey mustard pretzels. Yeah, baby!

I will now start on the reduced size underpanel. Lets hope this works out!


“What are you doing?”

Firstscarf is stalled due to lack of yarn. It is this long currently:

scarf and measuring tape

I need more yarn and I haven’t made the trip back out to the yarn shop yet; enough to make it  a bit longer and for a  fringe. Even though the original pattern does not call for it. It is not a scarf if it does not have fringe, damnit.

So Firstscarf is stuck like this:

multi-colored scarf laid out flat next to measuring tape

so I did this:

beginning of a basketweave knit dishcloth

Which is the beginning of a basketweave dishcloth using a cotton yarn that is scented. I, uh, didn’t realize it was scented until I read the label. I have allergies, I couldn’t tell the yarn was scented. Now that I know I am both charmed and wierded out. Really, scented yarn? Yep.

I keep sniffing my knitting.

Anyway, the pattern came from a Chicks with Sticks book which is in the background of the picture. I tried to take a closer shot of the basketweave but my camera was just “hey, yeah, no – not doing it” so here’s my notebook and the book page instead.

My mother and I traded yarn ’cause I admired the devout orangeness of hers (my yarn was an indifferent  hunter green. I have often mistaken orange for green, and continue to do so. I am sure there is an interesting trauma in my past that accounts for this, but I don’t have a clue what it is. I just think it’s funny I get orange and green mixed up all the time.) I immediately began a dog sweater I don’t know if I can finish:

A* holding beginnings of dog sweater A

Which is mostly due to me not knowing how to decrease at all. I have a couple  books and my knitting class is in two days, so…

That is my nephew,  A*, holding the knitting. Being unfamiliar with my camera, the shots he took of me holding it were all blurred.

The color is, according to G*, “highway worker orange.”  G*, also known as my mother, has a long and sordid history with orange. She and Aunt M* once painted a whole wall orange and had to repaint it when my father came home and saw it. I understand there was a great deal of yelling. I feel I should paint my kitchen orange. Huh.

I learned to do ribbing (1×1) and a stockinette stitch just for this dog sweater.

ribbing on beginning of a very orange dog sweater

This is my third try at ribbing. The sweater is this far along:

very orange dog sweater, beginning

I sized the pattern up a couple of inches, hopefully I did it right and it will not envelop the small dog like devouring sea life. If it turns out too big I may cry.

Although the dog would probably be relieved.

Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk

My mother likes the Three Stooges, always has, since she was a kid. She finds this a little embarrassing, liking slapstick so much. As her loving daughter I feel it is my duty to tell as many people as possible.

Which is why this occurred:

closeup of bottom pocket of knitting needle roll

It’s the bottom inside pocket of a knitting needle roll I made for my mom. I was lucky enough to score some cool Three Stooges fabric for it.

I could’ve gone with Star Trek fabric as my mom was a huge fan back in the 70’s, but James T. Kirk’s ripped shirts  just couldn’t stand up to Larry, Moe and Curly.

An earlier post has a shot of the materials, so here is the finished product:

outside of Three Stooges knitting needle roll, with tie

Three Stooges knitting needle roll, the inside

I used a yellow for the main pocket and a harlequin print for the lining. Again I had to bind the edges, and again I had a lot of trouble with it. The corners all came out nice and mitered, though.

I also went back and fixed my knitting needle roll:

pinned up bias tape edging

And this is what it looks like now:

roll all tied up

roll open and with needles and notions inside

This is mine with all the job lot eBay needles inside. So far I like metal needles best. My knitting is already tight and when I used the wooden needles it was really hard to work. When I get a better handle on the correct tension I’ma try ’em again.

Firstscarf update

a wonky piece of knitting

I have gotten this far in my scarf.

Which means the introduction of this little fella:

ball of Bazinga! yarn

The second skein! Gasp! But wait, do not fear! I have a book! It is a pretty good book, lots of pictures.

So this happened:

knot tied at side of knitting

And I was all worried and fretful. No, no worries – knot was tied, new skein introduced, more knitting occurred.


Bread is okay with you, dude

sliced loaf of potato bread on wooden cutting board

There is something I want to explain about bread: bread likes you. It wants to sit down and chat, maybe share a nice, hot beverage. It is a dietary staple that wants to hang out.

I have not found this to be true of certain sauces and that one cooked icing I made back when I was about 14 and I still shudder in remembrance of. I am put off by most cookbooks, finding them fussy and elitist, (the elite being people who cook a lot more than I do) the pretentious hipsters of cooking.

I was, at first, daunted by the idea of making bread. I’ve been around others who were making bread, one who never needed a recipe and the other who wept with frustration over the yeast. So, complicated and obscure and it made you desperate. Who needs it?

Yeah, that would be me. I had some time and the desire for a good baguette. I am originally from Louisiana and I can sure eat the hell out of some good Cajun food. I dream of these two restaurants near the Atchafalaya Basin, Robin’s and Pat’s,  and a bakery in Lafayette called Pouparts. Really, if you are ever near Henderson, La. go to Robin’s, it’ll make you happy.

Thus began my two years of making bread. My first loaves were as bricks.  The dough would rise, then fall. I couldn’t get the slash right (still can’t) and my loaf would always deflate in the oven.

This is where you know that bread genuinely likes you. You could still eat what I had made. It wasn’t great but it was edible. Some made excellent toast. (Some still makes excellent toast, because while I do have some successes, every other loaf is still flat as a board. At least now there is a good chance I can figure out why.)

So let the sauce break and the cream curdle since you forgot to temper it in, go stir up some dough, push-pull-turn, let it rise and enjoy.

rich white bread, nicely risen, top view

rich white bread, nicely risen, side view

(Just be very careful of how much salt you put in or you will get this, beautiful but deadly.)

a lovely little loaf of way-too-salty-to-eat bread

She mailed the sewing machine to me

I sent my good friend J* an email recently that began “Hi! Guess what I’ve been doing with your sewing machine.” Because I have her sewing machine, in my possession, in my house, due to her mailing the thing to me. She is a deeply cool person.

old Kenmore sewing machine with potholder being sewn

Mater Dolorosa

I was, and still am, very excited about getting to use the thing.

“It needs a name.” I said.

“Mater Dolorosa” says my mother without a moment of hesitation.

She looked like there might be some lingering past sewing issues but I did not ask right then. My mother is a wily opponent and must be snuck up upon to get any information out of her. I will ply her with tea and little biscuits, later, and hopefully learn why mother of sorrows was so damn appropriate for the sewing machine.

So, there you are – it has a name that only time can show how fitting it is. I bought a case for it at the sewing machine repair place (it needed to be oiled and may have been dropped during shipping). The case is large and white, quite plain. I’m going to paint a tattoo version of the mother of sorrows on it. It’s a very cool sewing machine, you see.

That is a potholder I made as homework for bias tape attachment. What do you call putting on bias tape? Binding up? Dunno. I am not very good at it, so I am making little things to practice. I found a good set of instructions, with very clear photos on the web. Oh internet, I love you so.

These are the various things I have made on the Mater Dolorosa:

potholder in a 60's floral print with pink edging

a quilted potholder

dia de los muertos print oven mitt with yellow edging

a quilted oven mitt

action shot of quilting on the oven mitt

inside lining and quilting being done

unfinished knitting needle roll in 60's floral print

unfinished knitting needle roll

This knitting needle roll is the reason for the potholders. I messed up the bias tape on this and it really bugs me. I have a brand new packet of Extra Wide Double Fold and I plan to use it.

The pattern for the roll came off the internet, just like the oven mitt. Nice clear instructions and the oven mitt one offered a printable pattern.

pattern and both halves of oven mitt

oven mitt pieces and pattern

I discovered several things making this mitt:

  1. I needed real sewing scissors; pinking shears weren’t much help due to the thickness of the project. There is a layer of utility fabric, Insul-Brite, between the fabric layers and cutting all this out with pinking shears really threw things off.
  2. You should really check which way the fabric is laying before sewing it up. I was quite surprised at the end when I took that photo and the skeletons were on their sides.
  3. Bias tape is evil, very bad no good stuff.
  4. I will poke myself a million billion times while pining things up. And yes, I really do need to pin, it will not be “okay” if I just “hold it right” as I am sewing.
  5. Basting is a very important step.
  6. Machine quilting is cool.
  7. I still don’t get why everyone who has ever used my kitchen hates my silicon potholders so very much but I do like my new oven mitt and potholder a lot.

I am going to make my mother a knitting needle roll. I got special fabric from one of the many online quilting stores.

fabrics and notion for G*'s knitting needle roll

Yeah baby, the Three Stooges in black with yellow back ground reprints and red type. My mother rocks and so will her knitting things.

My Dog


a small, very shaggy, wheaten colored dog


a small, shorn dog


In a Sweater:

small dog wearing a teal sweater

Learning to Knit

Well, yes, I am learning to knit. So far I haven’t stabbed myself repeatedly with the needle (embroidery), burned myself on the pan, rack or eye-of-the-stove (general cookery) or made the engine grind and whine in disturbing ways (machine sewing).

So I like knitting, the yarn is lovely, the needles are blunt and you can so easily undo what you have done if you mess it up. Granted you will lose whatever progress you have made but there is no frightening whine of a borrowed sewing machine motor (no, no, your sewing machine is fine, no worries!) and, happily, no blood.


ball of yarn in a bowl

This is some lovely lovely Italian yarn called Bazinga Pomegrante.


pair of blue metal cable needles and some cast on yarn

The start of a beginner’s scarf


The cable connected needles came from the learn-to-knit class I am taking at the local library. The teacher brought a bunch of donated needles and yarn for us to use. I chose these because they are shiny and blue. Excellent.

This is a bulky yarn that goes thick then thin. It looks pretty cool knitted up. I am pretty pleased with my first effort but this is mainly due to the awesomenss of the yarn and the fact all I have done is repeat the first stitch I have learned. We will see what happens when I try to add more yarn in and get to that whole “binding off” thing.



hands knitting

Knitting in front of the TV.


scarf on needles being held up for picture

After the movie was over I had this much. The color is off, though.


better color picture of scarf beginnings

Here the color is more like the actual thing.


Since I don’t really know what I am doing I am just going to knit a lot and take what I have in to show the teacher next week. My practice work on donated yarn had some weirdness in the beginning with the stitches being really tight then way loose and all sorts of odd gaps and funny stretches. I’m still going to use it in a future scarf though.

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