Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Dog Days of Knitting

According to the weather-meister on the local news, it was 104 degrees Fahrenheit in Baton Rouge today, so this is as much knitting as I have achieved over the weekend:

This is a "Ganomey Hat" from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac. It is one of my all-time favorite hats and it is done in one skein of Noro Kureyon -- a second skein of the same color as the Chapeau in my previous post.

When blocked, it does not look lumpy, like in the photo. It comes down over the ears and has a fetching little peaked top that looks exactly like an elf hat. I actually plan to full it a bit, as it is destined for the kid's clothing program on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Nice, thick, warm wool. How I yearn for the weather for it.

I have been awful, lately, about publishing photos of sloppy, lumpy, un-blocked items. It's rather like blogging photos of a newborn right out of the womb, before she's even been washed up and wrapped in a blankie.

Hideous habit.

So I will blame it on the heat, and promise a group photo of all these items in their proper blocked state at a later time.

It is so hot I can barely knit. It's way too hot to block anything right now -- blocking requires patience, a state of mind not associated with heat -- and even if I did block it, it would take forever to dry out.

If you belong to a gym, go stand in the sauna for a little while. That's how hot it is here.

Which is not just "hot." That is stupid freakin' hot. Sick and twisted hot.

The kind of steam heat, under pressure, that is used to peel old paint off houses.

This is the kind of heat that preachers threaten people with when they are talking about Hell. The kind of heat that brings hurricanes to a boil.

Do you ever wonder why we call this time of year, "the dog days of summer?" I bet this topic is covered somewhere in the vast works of the late, great curator of words, John Chiardi. I sure would like to know.

Based on extensive personal observation of many thousands of dogs at this time of year, in various indoor and outdoor situations, as well as those kenneled in the animal shelters where I have worked, what dogs do during the dog days of summer is exactly this:

Not very much.

They press themselves against the relative coolness of dirt and concrete, hang out their tongues, and just lay there waiting for relief. Sometimes they dig a shallow hole just to wallow in it.

That's what I feel like doing right now. Even though I am sitting in an air-conditioned house, it's so hot you can actually feel the AC engaged in a battle of mythic proportions with the blazing sun out there.

At the moment, every mammal in this house (other than myself) is stretched out to full length, and is sound asleep, except for Dave, who is awake, but stretched out and not moving anything except the finger that controls the remote on the TV.

Mark Twain once said, "there is no more accurate gauge of temperature than the length of a sleeping cat."

According to our household deities, it's broiling.

So, what to knit? This time of year, I can sometimes only stare at yarn.

Et tu?

It's a good time to read new knitting books. A good time to play with sketchpads and colored pencils and come up with design ideas. A good time to sort through stash and plan things. And a good time to knit socks, hats and other small things that absolutely do not come into contact with your lap.

I'm not the only one who hits a knitting slump right about now every year, so I turn to you: the few ... the proud ... the loyal ... my much-appreciated readers. What do the rest of you do to keep motivated until the first hint of a cool breeze comes through?

I await your answers. Meanwhile, I am going to flip through "Mason-Dixon Knitting" and enjoy this lovely book. And, contrary to some rumours I have seen on the Internet, it is NOT exclusively a book of dishcloth patterns, okay? There's a whole lot of other stuff in it. Besides, everybody needs a dishcloth.

Gawd, just because a book includes a bit of Southern-ness, some people just want to think it necessarily must include knitted gun racks, deer stand cozies, and sweaters with professional wrestling motifs.

I'm gonna go read now. Right after I make some grits.

Best regards,



At 8:11 AM, Anonymous Susan said...

Yes, you are right about the heat and its effect on animals and knitting. The neighbor's cat (a persian) spends his nights on our tin roof and his days in the dirt under the house (I know he should be indoors, but that's out of my hands). What's been in my hands is mercerized cotton (of course), nylon, and silk. I liked the nylon, except it was ribbon yarn and too twisty. I'm liking the silk more--a smooth shiny silk, not the slubby raw silk. My dd gave me a hank of beaded rayon, which I think would be cool knitting, too.

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Barbara-Kay said...

Actually, my Siamese are the only ones ENJOYING the heat! I keep the honeycomb blinds down to help with the heat, all except two windows. That is where you'll find the cats - cat trees in the blazing sun. Go figure!

Just ordered Alpaca Cloud in Smoke from Knit Picks for a Print 'O the Wave Stole. I'm 4/5 through a Saxon Braid Scarf from the cover of Knitting On The Edge, knit in Moss colored Panache from Knit Picks. Original was for 100% Cashmere, would have cost $250! Even in Panache, 40% Baby Alpaca, 20% Cashmere, 20% Silk, 20% Extrafine Merino, it's $35. It's WORTH IT, I'm WORTH IT! Yummy yarn!

Are ya inspired yet, my friend?

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Wendy said...

Hey Dez,
Have you tried knitting a gun holster?? My DH decided I needed a handgun to take with me on my travels for my dog sports. I finally agreed. However, I knit and felted a handgun cozy. Is that Southern enough? BTW, I'm in the wild west, New Mexico.

At 2:39 PM, Blogger LornaJay said...

Here in Scotland - wait, at most, a week. Then it cools off and you can knit again. Generally, though, at this time of year I sew. It's far more pleasant trying things on when you don't have to remove a minimum of three layers to do so!

At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Ellen-Mary said...

I'll delurk to be a bit of nerd here. The dog days are named after the dog star, Sirius. It's one of the brightest stars in the night sky and the ancient Romans thought it heated the earth to a lesser degree than the sun. During the end of July, Sirius rises and sets with the sun and so the Romans believed that the added heat from Sirius was responsible for the yucky, sticky portion of summer. The dog days are from early July to mid August. I'll crawl off and knit quietly until there is some other nerdy thing you want to know.

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous oneken said...

count me among the nerds. a reference librarian by trade, i share with the previous poster an impulse to impart information-- with footnotes ;-)

and while not a knitter, i recognize a cool headpiece when i see one, and that one rocks-- the bands of color are not unlike hues imparted to certain mexican blankets.

and yes, louisiana is hot as hell-- our three canine rescues are more interested in the water bowl than afternoon frolics.

At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Marietta said...

We have bird-dogs & they are all down in the dirt, flat & long! Of course - we live in central Ga. where it's almost as bad as your area. I'm only knitting cotton - a pretty lacy tee's Endless Summer Collection-Lara. Can't even think of wool right now.

At 8:50 PM, Blogger DianeS said...

Hey, Dez! I mostly knit socks -- I live in Central Texas, so most winter weather knitting is just silly -- so I can do those year round. But my much beloved only child is moving to his own apartment for the first time in about a week and a half, so right now I'm knitting dishcloths and hand towels. I bought a whole bunch of Sugar 'N Cream and am playing with it. Good hot weather knitting, I think, when it's hotternhades here, too. A bit less humid than NOLA, but still pretty bad.

And as for Mason-Dixon Knitting? I bought it right after the Sugar 'N Cream, specifically for the dishcloths. The kid will need dishcloths and washrags and hand towels and such, right? There are some cute ones in there. And I'll probably read the rest of the book after the flurry of activity getting him all settled.

At 7:15 AM, Blogger erin said...

I'm new to your blog - and I'm loving it!

Here in sticky East Tennessee I'm prone to tat and do thread-crochet during the summer months. Cotton thread is much more user friendly in the heat and humidity, but one has to wash one's hands fairly frequently to prevent staining the thread.

And I dream of when I can knit again.

At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Lori said...

It's been too hot, plus both arms have tennis elbow from power knitting for the fair, sigh. So I'm spinning lots of really pretty yarn. And experimenting with kool aid dying in the microwave. Minimal heat, and the yarn dries fairly quickly on the clotheline.

I've also been reading a lot of design and knitting books. And doodling sweater ideas for my niece's new sweater.

6 kids and only one of them likes sweaters enough to ask for a new one when she out grows the previous one.

At 11:55 PM, Blogger Jo said...

Hi, Mambocat, dropped by from Ireland for a visit and love your weblog. Fortunately, like Scotland, we're into the cooler days now and I'm grateful for it. That summer was way too hot. My three small dogs spent the entire hot season lying on their backs, exposing as much of their hot tummies to the air as they could. It seemed to be a fairly effective method of losing excess heat. If they were lucky enough to find a stone floor on our ramblings, they would stretch out, tummy down, front and hind legs extended fully, to grab every inch of coolness.

Love the p'tit chapeau. Let's see it blocked when you have time and energy, je vous en prie. I want to enjoy that elf-like point you describe.

Je reviens!


At 11:35 AM, Blogger Dez Crawford said...

Barbara, we all know that Meezers are a bit daft, but we love 'em anyway!

Wendy, I love the idea of the felted gun holster. I'm seeing it in green-and-white Mexican motif to match Clint Eastwood's poncho....

Anf from Ellen-Mary I have Learned Something! So indeed. Please stay around and lurk, as I always need to know nerdy things and I am deeply impressed when I am out-nerded. And that is a compliment, BTW! :)

As for Dianes, I cannot convey how impressed I am that you are knitting dishcloths and towels and such for a boy-child. You must have instilled good laundry habits and made sure that he passed "Caring For One's Things 101" before embarking on such a venture.

My husband is 52 and still hasn't passed "Not Wearing Good Clothes or Using Dish Towels To Work on the Car," so I'm truly impressed.

Sugar-n-Cremeis great for that kind of stuff, it's also my favorite for making baby blankies for wee Southern wanes -- it can go through a whole family of siblings and still serve grandkids, as could the good ole superwash woll Red Heart.

Thanks to everyone for comments!

At 6:42 AM, Anonymous Elizabeth D said...

Dez, I, too, was going to impart dog star wisdom. . . nice to find myself among other nerdy knitters. I've made many ganomy hats -- great for using up scraps, because it looks particularly fetching in stripes. My favorite, though, was the bright green infant-sized one -- my sister's youngest son had to have surgery on his head at age 3 months (all went well, and he is a wild 11-year-old now), and it was February, so she asked me to knit him a hat that wouldn't hurt to put on and off but would stay on. It was the perfect design, and the green pointy hat on the little redhead was really, really sweet.


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