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What a running start we have on winter, where I am! And as I write this, the big pre-Christmas storm has paralyzed the Eastern Seaboard, as well. It began snowing here early in October, and we’ve had one week in which, following a heavy snowfall, the temperature didn’t rise above freezing, and went below zero on several nights. Not fun, when Sasha needs three walks a day, one just before bedtime! What will January and February be like?

Which brings me to suggest that, now that we’re just about past the knitting for Christmas (or Hanukah, or Kwanzaa or Solstice), it is probably time to settle in on a big project or two that will take us through the cold weather. Sweaters are great.

Department of Winter Projects:

blanket1blanket2But if you don’t have any knit blankets at your house, I would definitely suggest that one or more for the big project. They are best done in a bulky—I like Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride for these—and they can be plain colors or multicolors. Here are a couple that I’ve made, the Crayola-colors one in a crib size, and the Scandinavian one in a twin size. I’ve got one on my own bed adapted from the famous Hudson’s Bay blankets.

I like my blankets with generous overhangs, so I add about eight inches of width to the standard sizes, which are: Crib: 45 by 60 inches, Twin: 66 by 90 inches, Double: 80 by 90 inches, Queen: 90 by 90 to 100 inches, King: 108 by 90 to 100 inches.

Select your yarn (and lots of it!), preferably at a post-Christmas yarn sale. Get gauge. Figure out your pattern on graph paper. And go. When you’ve bound off, soak the blanket in the bathtub with a mild detergent for about 20 minutes, squeeze gently, rinse until the water is clear, squeeze out as much water as you can, and then pin it out on something like the ancient bedspread that I use for such things to get thelines straight and at right angles, and let it dry. Knit blankets are so much better than even the finest woven ones, because they drape gently over you, without leaving channels by which the cold air can get to the small of your back. This is a great opportunity to work out your own patterns with pattern software or just a big pad of graph paper and a good stitch dictionary. And there are bazillions of patterns. Below is a chart for the Norwegian snowflake pattern.

snowflake

From HCK's Readers:

I always love to see your completed projects and this month I have two to share!

filet crochetI have Catherine O's completed filet crochet music shawl, done for her son's piano teacher, it is worked in #10 black cotton thread and triple crochet. Isn't it stunning?

These old patterns have a wonderfully rich heritage, and it's good to see them in use. Have you ever seen anything this lovely in a store? Made on a machine? As advanced as technology is, I don't think you could ever find something like this. The hours spent making this, the hard work and skill are a gift of the one thing no amount of money can buy more of or replace - the gift of one's time.

samoyedBack in September, Nancy Y contacted me to ask permission to alter the Polar Bear pattern. She wanted to use it as a base from which to make a Samoyed dog scarf to be used in a fundraiser for her local Samoyed rescue organization. What a wonderful cuddly wrap she made!

Samoyeds are dogs with built-in smiles, thick white coats, and a high degree of intelligence. Friendly and excellent companion dogs, they are working/herding dogs, and need a lot of exercise and play in order to be happy and healthy. If you would like to know more about adopting one of these beautiful dogs, please check out some of the links below.

http://www.samoyedrescue.org

http://www.samoyed.org/samrescue.html

http://www.samoyedrescue.com/main.htm

Canine Department:

Thank you for your many expressions of sympathy on the death of Chewbacca, and your letters of encouragement about adopting Sasha. So many of you told me about animals you’ve loved, and your own sense of mingled responsibility and loss when you had to have them put down—unfortunately, one of the hardest tasks that are part of having animals and being responsible for giving them both good lives and good deaths. So many of you, too, have adopted animals who needed homes. Your experience has buoyed me up.

With the bitter weather, I bought Sasha a fine dog coat, and then I made a first (and somewhat laughable) attempt at a sweater, another of which I’m working on. She needs them because, though she has a very nice coat, she was much too thin when she came from the shelter. You could count her vertebrae, and every rib, and her shoulder blades and pelvic bones were prominent. Until she has some insulation of her own, she needs a coat or sweater when it drops much below freezing.

It is taking time, and a good diet, to put some weight on her. She weighed about 31 pounds when she came home, and is now up to almost 35, with a light layer of flesh along her spine and ribs. Our target weight is between 37 and 42. She’s also getting Rescue Remedy, an herbal preparation, to reduce her level of anxiety, and that seems to be working. So is a temporary prescription, meant only to ease the transition period, from Dr. Lisa, her vet, for Prozac (comic moment at the pharmacist, who said, in the finest bureaucratic tradition, “We haven’t got Sasha in our database,” as she requested her address and phone number). Sasha is now able to settle down, not to freak out completely every time the furnace goes on, and mostly to sleep through the night—a definite improvement for both of us. She is less hand shy, and not as anxious and alert around people who are new to her. She is getting accustomed to being ruffled and petted, and quite likes it.

We all have wishes for the New Year, I know—for peace, for the winding down of this grinding recession, for the people we love, for the communities and the countries and the world we live in. May they come to pass.


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