My Ball of Fluff

I’ve been distracted lately by a ball of fluff. No, it isn’t a new skein of angora or merino yarn or fiber for spinning – it’s Tiger, our new puppy!

Tiger - In Backyard

It has been many years since I had a dog. After my last dog died, I simply couldn’t go through that heartbreak again. Also, my son had mild episodes of asthma and I didn’t want to complicate things for him. So the years went by until we became empty-nesters. Then the obsession for a dog intensified.

At first, I causally perused pictures of puppies online. Then I started “liking” all those I ❤️ Dogs posts and heart-wrenching dog survival stories on Facebook. I started dropping in at our local SPCA. Then I started earnestly searching for dogs on Pet Finder and online rescue organizations and on Craigslist. That’s how I found Tiger. One day after work, I took a detour and visited a litter of four male Maltishipoos (part Maltese, Shih Tzu and Poodle). And there was Tiger.

We call him Tiger because he pounces on everything. He pounces on his squeaky toys, my slippers and the light bugs when he’s outside at night. But mostly, he likes to sit at my feet while I’m on the computer. If I shift over a few inches, eventually he does too. And he loves tummy rubs.

Now, I venture into pet shops looking for knit and crochet puppy toys like these:Crochet Seahorse

Crochet Donuts

Of course, I had to knit something for him. I went through my stash and gathered enough leftover yarn for a small blanket.

Tiger's Blanket - Blocking

It’s a simple stockinette stitch pattern using doubled up yarn for thickness and a seed stitch border.

Tiger & Blanket

I think he likes it.

My Blanket

Now to start on knit doggie sweaters and crochet toys. Any pattern suggestions?

Crazy for Knitted Socks

Shortly after the holidays, I bound off a couple of pairs of knitted socks. Who thought making socks would be so exciting? For the first set, I used the popular Monkey Sock pattern by Cookie A. I understand why so many knitters use this sock pattern. It is easy and produces a sock with interesting undulations.

Monkey Socks - After Blocking

For the yarn, I used the skein I bought at Seaport Yarn in New York City. I really loved the purples and blues mingled together. When I was done, they badly needed some blocking.

Monkey Socks w. Aussie Sock by Oasis Yarn

I looked all over the web for a pair of sock blockers and found several good candidates, but frankly, didn’t want to spend the money. So I made my own! After perusing several “how-to” articles, I settled on How to Make Your Own Sock Blockers. The instructions were clearly laid out and the materials easy to find – placemats from the dollar store!

Sock Blocker Template

After cutting them to size, I used a hole puncher and some leftover yarn to tie a loop so I could hang them up to air dry. The tops of the blockers are a bit topsy-turvy but they did the trick.

Monkey Socks - Blocking

The pattern is more visible after blocking.

Monkey Socks - Folded

For the next pair, I wanted to use a self-striping yarn. This bright red, yellow and black yarn is from the Yarn Barn, which I posted about recently.

Heritage Prints by Cascade Yarns from Yarn Barn

Heritage Prints - Ball of Yarn

I wanted a simple stockinette stitch pattern to showcase the self-striping yarn and found Susan B. Anderson’s sock pattern.

Stockinette Socks in Progress

They are a perfect fit!

image

 

There’s a third pair of socks that I need to finish and another pair on the needles. I have gone sock raving mad!

Sock Therapy (or How I Made It through the Holiday Blues)

I’ve been furiously knitting socks lately. As soon as I weave in the ends of one, I immediately cast on another.

Simple Skyp Sock #1 in progress

I have always found knitting to be soothing. As I knit, I can feel worries and angst slowly evaporate. Mostly, focusing on knitting helps me drown everything else out. For those moments, I am in a state of calm.

Turning the Heel

Lately, a sadness has enveloped me. Nothing has happened. On the contrary, I am living a blessed life surrounded by people whom I love and who love me. I want for little. I am very fortunate. But I am sad. Often.

Monkey Sock #1 in progress

It comes and goes. At this moment, all is joyous and warm. But some days, just getting out of bed and dressing seems like an insurmountable challenge. Maybe it was a case of the holiday blues. Maybe it’s hormones. Maybe it’s just life.

Monkey Sock #2 in progress

The one activity that helped me through the holidays was knitting. Knits, purls, yarn overs and slipped stitches forced me to focus. The rhythmic motions of my hands on the needles soothed me. I was creating something and in that process of creation I found peace.

Knit Coffee Mug

I have read articles (like this one and this one) where experts share results of research studies on the positive effects that crafts like knitting have. They serve to reinforce what I already knew – knitting is like “chicken soup for the soul.” Knitting to me is comforting. And it snaps me out of my doldrums. A simple pair of socks is a victory to celebrate.

Self-Striping Yarn Sock #1 in progress

There is something incredibly special and satisfying about making something with my own hands. I am reminded of a few lines from one of my favorite poems:

And in time, I plant geraniums

I tie up my hair into loose braids,

And trust only what I have built

with my own hands.

From Beneath the Shadow of the Freeway by Lorna Dee Cervantes

The last sock that I knit fit perfectly. Now to cast on the second. A warmth fills my heart and a smile lights up my face as I reach for the yarn and needles.