Friday, February 26, 2010

Not a Slave to Fashion

So here is the result of round two.

I had plenty of yarn to just re-knit this, without having to unravel the shreds of the first sweater -- those shreds that didn't end up passing through Pona's digestive system, that is. I think he looks quite proud of it in this picture.

I really veered off the road with the pattern this second time around. Rather than the clever horizontal armholes that Staci originally wrote, I decided to steek a couple of vertical armholes. I crochet them before cutting (I have zero sewing skills) and then added an applied I-cord. The I-cord doesn't really stand out -- it just adds a nice sturdy edging to the armholes that stands out only ever-so-slightly. It doesn't pull on the front of his legs nearly so much as the first version did.

The other major change I made was to move the mono-raglan decreases to the center of the back. Since the armhole steeks were running vertically over 20-something rows only 16 stitches apart, I didn't think there would be room to run the decreases down the center of the chest between the armholes. So I moved the decreases to the center of the back. This did result in a very slight bump where this started, but it worked.

Now, if only he liked it.

We went on a walk this evening after work and not too far into it Pona started hanging back on his leash, which is very unlike him. He kept hunching over. I don't know if the back of the sweater reaching all the way back to the end of his tail bothered him, or if the ribbing where the sweater as switched to working in the round was chafing him. I do know that when we took it off of him, he pranced around like his normal self. That's gratitude for you.

Unlike humans, I don't think dogs should suffer for fashion. I won't make him wear it if he doesn't want to, even if he does look cute in it and it would keep his bony body from shaking during chilly walks. On the upside, I practiced some cool techniques and figured out how to alter a design on my own. And those are good things.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pona's Second Sweater

I suppose if Nina Garcia ever needed a night off on Project Runway, Pona could fill in for this often-blunt critic of fashion. Pona know what he likes, and as far as his new sweater goes, he chewed it up and spit it out. Literally.

It was my own fault. After taking it off of him one evening, I left it on the piano bench and sometime the next morning he plucked it off and gnawed on the collar a bit. Not a big deal at that point -- I had been planning to re-do the chain bindoff with a sewn bindoff anyway since it was a bit difficult getting it over his head. Later in the week, though, it got moved off the relatively safe dining room table and was once again within fang's reach. This time, the damage was a bit worse.

Again, though, I'm going to try and make lemonade. Because of the way Pona's front legs lie, I think rather than doing armholes that run horizontally across the front of the sweater, I'm going to try to steek some vertical armholes. I think this will keep the sweater from pulling down in the front, which was a bit of a problem before. And rather than ribbed "sleeves," I'm thinking of applied I-cord piping. I've discussed this with the designer, and she approves. As you can see, I've made a start on Son of Dog Sweater this afternoon. It should go quickly. And luckily, I've got the yarn to make another one, with only a little cannibalization from the old one.

Today is a gorgeous day for outdoor knitting. In contrast to yesterday's cool fogginess and drizzliness, today dawned clear and warm after some overnight showers. It's 76-degrees out there and I'm determined to enjoy it while I can. It's supposed to be freezing again within a few days. Maybe the second iteration of Pona's sweater will be ready again when the chillier weather returns. And maybe I'll do a better job of keeping it away from his mouth when he's not wearing it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sweater Boy

I finished Pona's sweater last night. I'm quite pleased! Pona is too, after a fashion.

After a couple of false starts, this turned out well. First of all, I cast on too many stitches at the beginning. Staci advised scaling the cast-on number back a bit, and she was right. I did 30 instead of 50. I probably could have gotten away with 25. Instead of increasing to 100 stitches around, I increased to 76. I wanted a snug fit. It's perhaps a bit too snug -- a bit difficult to get on, but luckily, Pona is quite patient with being manhandled. Next time I might go out to 86 or so.

I'm also considering doing piping (applied I-cord?) around the armholes rather than knitting short sleeves. Pona's shoulders "catch" a bit on the edge of the sleeves. This made him walk a bit funny at first, but he soon adjusted. They look really nice, though. I've explained to Pona that sometimes we have to make sacrifices for fashion. I'm not sure he understood.

These pictures were taken this morning when it was quite chilly out. By the time we got our act together to go out on a nice long walk, it had already warmed up to 65 degrees. So the sweater is off for now. I'd like to make a girlier version for Kate (I'm imagining something more low-cut in front!) but this warm weather sure isn't very inspiring.

Not sure where I'm going to go next, knitting-wise. I've got a pair of socks to finish up, and I've always got that piano cushion that's been lingering in the background for a couple of years. Lately, I've had the hankering to try my hand at something Argyle-ish, perhaps a sweater vest, or maybe even a pair of socks. Something with multiple colors. Who knows?

For today I think I'll catch up on weeding (for you librarians out there, I'm talking about the kind that takes place in the garden, not the stacks!) and podcasts -- and watching our dogs stalk whatever it is that's driving them crazy in our bay laurel tree.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Pona's First Sweater

In my last post I mentioned getting a book about knitting for one's dog. But before I delve into that, I'm going to make Pona a sweater using a totally different pattern.

My good friend and knitting designer wiz Staci fostered Pona for five long months after he was brought in to the BRAT breed rescue organization. She saw him through many surgeries and treatments, and he spent a long time bonding with her three dogs. She recently designed and knit a sweater for the eldest and alpha of her pack, Ike. And, wonderful person that she is, she posted this pattern for free at Ravelry. So I'm going to take crack at it. How often do I get to knit a breed-specific pattern by a knitter that I know personally and who has a strong connection to one of the critters living in my house?

Pona is a bit smaller than Ike (and most other adult male basenjis, I would imagine), so I had to do a bit of measuring -- with Jeff's help. While Ike is 22 inches around the chest, Pona packs a much punier 19. So instead of increasing to 100 stitches from the cast-on 50, I only increased to 86. I'm already at the point where I start knitting in the round. If I'd gotten an earlier start, I might have even finished this today.

I'm using leftover Knit Picks Swish Bulky superwash from the Whitfield Jacket I made in the fall. I figure it should be easy to maintain. But I'm knitting it on size 8 needles instead of the size 10-11 that the label calls for, so this should be pretty dense and snug. Lord knows this skinny dog could use the help on chilly walks. As you can see in the photo, Kate's a little more interested than Pona is. I suppose she'll need one too...