July 13, 2010

Knits from the WIP pile (!) and why dogs are so cool (not related)

I'm on a mission this summer to get control of my WIPs. A long time ago, I knit several pairs of this Easy Mittern pattern (by Sue Dial and available in Judith Durant's One-Skein Wonders). At the time, I had just discovered the wonderfulness that is Kraemer's Alpaca Yarn, and I was looking for reasons to knit with it. So I tried knitting the smaller size on US 9s. With a few pattern mods, I ended up with a mitten that was only slightly too big, and rather than frog, I decided to set it aside, knit a second slightly bigger mitten later, and either add a lining or felt them. "Later" turned out to be, like, three years later but fortunately I'd kept good notes, and I was able to complete the second mitten. Okay, well maybe not perfect notes, because mitten two was just a teensy bit bigger than mitten one--which confirmed for me that felting (lightly) was the way to downsize. (It also underscored the wisdom of GK's advice to always knit two mittens or socks at once.) I now have two, same-sized mittens for my Christmas 2010 gift stash. I confess that I did have a pang of regret when I tossed these into the washing machine. This yarn (on US 9s at least) knits up into such a lovely, drapey fabric,and it's kind of a shame to felt. But considering that the alternative was frogging both mittens, in the end I think felting was the best option.

Okay, I don't have a good segue here to my next topic, so here's a gratuitous Katie pic. Friends will recognize her are-you-gonna-give-me-that-biscuit face.

So, speaking of dogs, here's a cool thing that happened last week with clients whose dog, let's call him Rex, wasn't responding to "sit" but who, I noticed, was offering me a lovely sit as we were all standing there chatting. I decided to see what would happen if I tossed a treat far enough for him to have to get up to eat it. Would he come back to me and offer another sit? So I tossed a piece of lunch meat and waited. He looked a little surprised, but went for the treat. Then he looked at me again, thought about things for a minute, and went back to his spot in front of me and offered a down. Okay, so not a sit, BUT since Rex needed to learn the down command as well, I reinforced with another treat and then repeated the sequence again. Toss a treat so he has to move, wait to see what he does next. Again, he offered a down. And after a few more repeats, he offered a sit. The point here is that he was offering stuff, and what gets me every time I see this kind of thing is that moment when the dog stops to think about what's going on. Who knows what goes on in their doggie brains, but something clicks and they understand how the game works. And, because Rex's people are smart, they noticed this moment as well and were really impressed with their dog. After a few more reps, they took over, and we started saying "sit" or "down" as he did one or the other and following with a tasty treat. What I also appreciate is that Rex didn't just figure out the game, he also changed up the rules a bit and we ended up playing on his terms. I expected him to offer me a sit after the first toss because (1) that's what most dogs do and (2) that's what he had just been doing. But alternating downs and sits turned out to be more his style. And really, when you think about it, isn't that a more interesting game? Rex learns that offering sits and downs makes good things come his way. And the owners end up having to observe Rex very closely in order to correctly name the behavior as he offers it.

1 comment:

Yarny Days said...

I think those felted mitts are perfect for cold weather. No air gushing in!