The Adventure of the Transparent Excuse to Show You More Pictures of My Adorable Dog, Part One
For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.
We’ve yet to see snow (he whispered, nervously) but winter has arrived in Chicago. This means that my friend Rosamund, shown here
has taken to sleeping at night wrapped in both the duvet and the electric blanket with her cold nose buried in my warm armpit.*
I can’t blame her. I have more fur on my chest than she does, poor darling.
Her first sweater, which I wrote about in this adventure, has been in service almost every day for the past two weeks.
This sweater was intended as a pilot project. First, to see if I could custom fit a garment to a four-footed model. Then, to observe how said garment would perform in the real world. So, how did it go?
I’m very impressed with the performance of Hikoo® Simpliworsted when subjected to heavy use by my cannonball of a dog.
Sauntering, trotting, running, jumping, twisting, bounding, rolling, and frenetic repeat performances of the “I See a Rabbit Polka” have done nothing to harm the yarn; it hasn’t faded, stretched or even pilled. Solid stuff, this.
It went through the washer and dryer after Little Miss Mudpie flopped in a puddle near the construction site on the next block. The sweater came out looking no worse for wear. Rosamund, being Hand Wash Only, was somewhat tougher to clean.
The Final Cut
I knew the “finished” sweater was going to require one more alteration.
When Rosamund goes for a walk she wears the purple harness we jovially refer to as her sports bra.
Now, I could have adjusted the harness to fit over the sweater, but that would have spoiled the look and been less comfortable. I wanted her to wear the harness underneath, which means the sweater needed an opening in the center back for the leash to pass through.
I could have planned for this during the knitting; but remember that I was unsure of exactly how the fit was going to work out. I didn’t know if the sweater would sag or ride up, stretch or twist. I couldn’t have known with certainty where to put the opening.
So I let her run around in both for a while, on several different days, to see how the two pieces interacted. When I felt confident about where the leash loop and the sweater needed to align, I marked the top and bottom of that spot with a pair of locking-ring stitch markers.
You know what’s coming next, don’t you? Don’t you?
Don’t be so melodramatic.
Steeks were quite the feature of the original adventure, and I wrote about them at length here–reassuring you that they don’t just happen, you usually plan for them.
That doesn’t mean you can’t decide after the fact to put one in, which is what I did.
After counting the stitches across the back to make sure I was exactly in the center, I moved my markers to indicate the top and bottom of the center (cutting) column of my intended steek.
Then I used some more of the knitting yarn and a hook from my addi® Colors Crochet Hook Set to secure the pairs of stitch columns to the immediate right and left of the cutting column with chain crochet. (Again, for a full discussion of the technique, see The Adventure of the Warm Puppy.)
Then I cut the opening.
A crocheted steek gives such nice, neat edges that frankly I could have left that hole as it was. But my late grandmother’s voice echoed in my head, saying, “This opening is a stress point, and therefore subject to extra wear. Furthermore, those edges are raw and unfinished.”
My grandmother would have no more permitted me to send my dog out into the world with unfinished cut selvages showing than she would have attended a meeting of the Ladies Altar Rosary Society in her nightgown.
“Raw edges must be finished,” continued the ghostly voice, “and stress points must be reinforced, unless you want your poor grandmother to cry in heaven. Did I raise you right or did I not? OOOOoooOOOOOooooOOOOO.”
Fine, fine. Easy enough. I picked up and knit stitches (making sure I had a number divisible by four) around the opening…
…on a set of double-pointed needles, then worked k2p2 ribbing to match the ribs at the legs and collar. I made the ribbing long enough to be turned over and sewn down on the wrong side, completely encasing the cut edges.
It looks odd all by itself, yes. But now the sweater and harness work perfectly in tandem, and my grandmother’s ghost can go chill out with a beer.
In the evening we went for another walk around the neighborhood. I took a packet of stitch markers, and as we trotted along I noted where on the finished sweater the top of her front leg really sits (Point A), and put a marker there.
And I also noted with a marker how deep the too-large leg opening on the original sweater needed to be snugger fit (Point B).
With the alteration points marked, I could now revise my measurements and prepare for the project that will be the heart of this new adventure.
Another Rosamund sweater in Hikoo® Simpliworsted, but this time, in…
stranded color work.
Meet me back here in two weeks and I’ll tell you all about it.
*Does this make her…an armpit bull? Hahahahaha. Ha.
Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue
Simpliworsted by Hikoo® (55% Merino Superwash, 28% Acrylic, 17% Nylon; 140 yds per 100g skein). Colors: 611, Earth and Sky (sweater); 033, Red Hat Purple and 013, Violette (swatch).
addi® Steel double-pointed needles, 8 inch length
3.5 mm hook from addi® Colors Crochet Hook Set
Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His new book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book has was brought out by Soho Publishing in May, 2016 and is in its second printing.
He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, Squam Arts Workshops, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.
Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News,Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.
He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.
Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, three looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.