Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rachel, the Shih Tzu

A while ago a friend sent me an email that reads:

If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you  can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and  boring people with your troubles,
If you can understand when your loved  ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and  blame without resentment,
If you can conquer tension  without  medical help,
If you can relax without alcohol, 
If  you can sleep without the aid of  drugs,  
......  Then You Are Probably ......
a family dog.

It has been 2 1/2 years since Cody was gone, but I still think about him every single day.

The time of watching him get sick was too painful for me to want to get a dog too soon. The memory was still too raw, and the medical bill was so huge that we're hesitant to take in another life and be completely responsible for it.  The one thing I can do is to make little donations every now and then to rescue groups. Shih Tzus always had such a special place in my heart that I declared if I ever win lottery (if I actually would buy lottery tickets) I'd donate a nice chunk to Shih Tzu rescue and to no kill shelters for pets.  Alas, I was not destined  to be a lottery winner.

I came across Animal Savers rescue group recently.  And there is Rachel on its website, the adorable Shih Tzu, that needs medical help.

The site says:

Rachel, the Shih Tzu, Needs Bloodwork ($420.00) to Make Her Diabetes Manageable
Rachel, around 6 years of age, was rescued as a stray from the Modesto Shelter. She is diabetic and had apparently developed blindess secondary to this condition. We need approximately $220.00 for blood work to make her diabetes manageable plus insulin and syringes (another $200.00.)

I so wish I can win lottery to really help Rachel more than just a tiny amount from the few pattern sales that sat in my PayPal balance, or that I don't have to wait 'till October for my first paycheck of the semester.

The Animal Savers so far raised 1/3 of the money needed for her insulin.  I was hesitant to solicit anything trhough my blog.  But I figured since I had actually from time to time solicited my own patterns here, or recommended yarns or companies that sell yarns, why not for a far better cause? If you care to spare a few dollars (any small amount will add up to help her,) you can go to Animal Savers' Website: and scroll down to the bottom for PayPal donation link, and make note in your donation that it goes to Rachel.

Under Who We Are of the Animal Savers' website it reads:

AnimalSavers rescues animals from the streets of Sacramento and high kill shelters throughout California. We target the Bay Area for homes because Sacramento, where most of the animals are fostered, has an unspeakable 90% kill rate at their shelters, killing an estimated 50 animals daily. Secondly, by local ordinance the county shelters sells up to 7% for medical research and experimentation to U.C. Davis and Sutter Medical Center.......
......Additionally, the Sacramento County shelter was sued by In Defense of Animals, the Animal Protection Institute and AVAR for illegally killing healthy animals before placing them up for adoption to the public or recovery by their families, in clear violation of California law. As if this wasn't dismal enough, the average lifespan for a dog or cat in Sacramento county is reportedly a mere 1 1/2 years, due to improper fencing, failure to immunize, low spay/neuter rates, lack of microchipping and i.d. tagging pets, and general indifference to their health care. In contrast, two cities in the Bay Area, Oakland and San Francisco, were ranked in the top 5 throughout the nation for pet care and life expectancy. 

The statistics it listed is beyond appalling. It makes my heart ache that people don't take care of their pets that give them love so unconditionally.  It also makes my heart ache in today's economy so many pets are being surrendered at the shelters.  When you take in animals, it's for life, because they give you their whole heart  They're part of you yet you're everything to them.

Please, be kind to animals. If you can, please help out Rachel, the Shih Tzu that is suffering from blindness and diabetes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two Shawls in Two Weeks

I was in no mood to tackle bigger project or coming up with a design when fall semester was about to start.  I thought I'd make shawls.  I wanted simple shawls with enough details to hold interest but not too complicated to execute.

I realized long ago that of all the projects I knitted, I wore shawls the most.  

I wore my shawls like scarves, even with the prettiest ones with intricate lace pattern I just wrapped them around my neck.. I didn't even own a shawl pin.  Being a total cheapskate I never could bring myself to buy a shawl pin,  Although I'd spend $20 on necklaces or a dinner, somehow, $20 for a shawl pin just seemed too extravagant to me.  Crazy, I know. Maybe it really just had to do with how I wear shawls.  Anyhow.... I rarely got to wear my sweaters even though I love making them the most. My job did not really allow me to wear anything nice.  Well, I could if I so desperately want to get charcoal and paint all over it.  And socks, no knitted socks most of the time for this gal with the widest feet and the highest instep - seriously the most unattractive feet in the 100 mile radius. 

So it was definitely time to make more shawls.  

The first one was Sugared Violet, a lovely design by Rose Beck.  I was attracted to the simple yet elegant design.  I wanted to try a semi circle / crescent shape shawl, something I'd never done, and without any of the reverse scallop points.  This fitted the bill nicely.  Even though I did not like the yarn color as a sweater I still had one skein left of the Tosh Merino Light  in Trodden, so I went ahead and used that up for this shawl.  Just as I believed, the handdye yarn sure suited well with accessories, especially shawls.  I love how it turned out.  

One annoying thing happened was when I was binding off I dropped a stitch and did not realize it until I was blocking it with pins. Grrrrrr. And the stitch dropped was at the beginning of the row. Next day I spent an hour fixing it and. .

Pattern: Sugared Violet by Rose Beck
Yarn: Tosh Merino Light
Needles: US 6

Since I was still in the mood for knitting shawls I decided on Simply Hilary, designed by Tracey Withanee.  The design called for aran weight yarn but I knitted in worsted weight.  I loved the texture stitches of this design.  The stitches were so simple to make yet very effective.   I loved the idea of making a heavier weight shawl with texture stitches.  I could wear it more like a wrap with a closure on the front. No, not pins, I used a button I have and single crochedt a loop and attached to it to make it a self- button loop.  You know, the one nice thing about being poor, we're forced to come up with creative solutions.  You should see how Paul fixed our dryer was pretty hilarious and no, not with duck tape.  I'll post a picture some day.  

The yarn was Plymouth Royal Silk Merino.  I hated it when I was making a skirt with it last year.  It looked so raggedy in St st.  But with the texture stitches of this shawl, the yarn ended much newer looking when knitted up.  
I'd found another way of wearing shawls, due to its thickness, I felt as if I was wearing a semi-poncho and I loved that.  This totally made want to make more non-lacy heavier shawls for the coming seasons.

Pattern: Simply Hilary by Tracey Withanee
Yarn: Plymouth Royal Silk Merion
Needles: US 7 for the main section and US 9 for the border

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bad Yarn Choice

This one really came out disappointing.  Nothing wrong with the pattern or construction, it's the choice of yarn.  First off, being fingering weight, the gauge was off, so it turned out very snug. That was OK though.  My experience with merino was that blocking can amend it quite nicely.  And it did.  Blocking is the magic touch in knitting. I ended up liking the fit quite nicely. But the color was so wrong for me.  It's basically skin tone.  While I was knitting, Paul even asked "what is that color?"  I said, "It's called Trodden."  His reply was, "hmmm..... it looks liked marbled meat."  Thanks for putting that image in my head of wearing a slab of meat.  Pretty gross image for a vegetarian like me.

Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light
Needles: US #3

I'll use the yarn again for something else because it is nice to knit with and it does make lovely fabric, but I shall think twice for a sweater, at least think harder about color choice, something with less varigation and more contrast to skin color.

The pattern is being test knitted.  I still have to draw schematic for it.  I'm just not in the most motivated mood knowing the semester begins in 2 weeks.  I'm a bit depressed that I have to return to teaching so soon.