Knitters, Support Our Troops: Operation Helmetliner

What does “Support Our Troops” mean?  It doesn’t mean having a certain political viewpoint or supporting a certain political candidate, or even having a certain opinion about war.

If you really want to support the troops, do something in your own way to directly help them.

Operation Helmetliner is one of these ways to directly help the troops.  There is a need: Soldiers need to stay warm.  It is a well-known fact that one loses a great deal of heat through one’s head.  Wool is an excellent insulator.  A helmet is not.  To stay warm, a wool liner under a helmet seems like an excellent idea.  So–you guessed it–a bunch of knitters have gotten together, written up a pattern, and have been knitting helmetliners for the soldiers.

Go to this URL: and click on operation helmetliner to find out more.

Unfortunately, due to regulations, you can’t put decorations on these, or use funky colors, stripes, etc, just regulation colors, black preferably.  If you do something wrong–make it out of synthetic instead of wool, for instance–they won’t give it to the troops, they will donate it to charity.  It’s very interesting how it all works.

Here is a photograph of a soldier wearing a helmetliner, under his helmet:

I am wondering if the helmetliner would also be useful under a bicycle helmet.  However, it may not be, as a bicycle helmet must be firmly seated on one’s head, and not able to slide at all.  I will have to ask a cyclist about this.  Maybe my brother would know.

Go, knitters!

Second sweater fitting

Here I have backtracked, and made the opening larger, and it is to my satisfaction now.  I am about to begin the 4-strand braid cable panel.  I have made no changes to the pattern today.

In case you have just tuned in, the pattern I’m referring to can be found by clicking on this link:

New knitted dog sweater pattern — free!

Note: Check back frequently, as this is a pattern in progress; that is, I am developing the pattern as I knit along, and making changes to it as I see necessary.  Thankfully, there haven’t been too many changes from the original pattern.  I’ll keep you posted!

First “fitting” of Lamb’s Pride dog sweater

I have made some important changes to the pattern, including enlarging the chest panel opening, and changing the chest panel stitch to ribbing.

Here’s the photo of Puzzle “trying on” what I have so far of the sweater:

Once I finish enlarging the chest panel opening, the sweater won’t bunch behind the collar, the way you see it in the photo.

Thoughts on Size Zero Needles and Other Musings on Knitting


Thoughts on Size Zero Needles and Other Musings on Knitting

As you may recall, I always knit something when I travel by airplane.  Well, I just traveled to Washington State to my school reunion.  I had an adventure with knitting needles right before I left on my trip, which was as follows:

Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, use size zero needles.  You will age faster.  Your hair will turn very gray.  Your kids will start taking drugs.  Your cats will run away from home.  Your husbands will have ejaculations so premature that you will both be very, very sorry you ever even looked at size zero needles.  Now, aren’t you glad there are no negative one needles?

Size one needles are a joy by comparison.  They actually have tips that don’t happen to slice you up every time you look at them.  I dig size one.  Ditto size two.  I actually bought some “spare” size zero needles in case my other size zero needles got lost on the plane.  Then I had lotsa toothpicks for my trip.  I changed my mind and switched needle size after I knitted about two inches, disgusted with the toothpicks.  It actually made no difference cuz my stitching was tighter on the size ones, at least twice as fast, and neater, too.  Plus, I could SEE.

Now, it took approximately 2-1/2 minutes to do a row, and there were four rows to a round.  But if there was a difficult or stubborn stitch, the row took 2:45.  This included moving the hair elastic from one needle to the other.  I used those to keep the stitches on the needles and not somewhere else.  Then I found some wonderful Clover brand caps for the needles.  You will need eight for a double-pointed needle project.  These are silicone and they do stay on.

Six rounds will make a half inch of sock.  That means it takes ten+ minutes  to do a round, 120+ minutes to do an inch, which is two to four hours, not including breaks.  Including breaks, it takes at maybe eight hours to do an inch of sock.  I have done four and a half inches or so now.  On four plane rides, I did only about an inch to an inch and a half.  The pattern recommends six inches of sock before turning the heel.  Arrgghh!!!  And this is only sock #1!

Do you know just how hard it is to knit socks with tiny needles on a plane?  First of all, you have to keep your overhead light turned on.  Undoubtedly, you’ll be stuck sitting next to some arsehole who wants to sleep for the entire ride and is gravely offended by the light, and bothered by your periodic elbow jabbings (from dealing with runaway yarn) and swearing at stitches you nearly drop.  Secondly, the light does no good, because your head forms a shadow over your knitting.  This is remedied by leaning the seat back, but not without offending the person behind you and knocking over his coffee, spilling it all over his business suit.  Then there is the well-meaning looker-on, who wants to tell you you are knitting all wrong, that you are too slow, too sloppy, that you don’t know what you are doing, and really, you don’t, do you?  YOU’RE KNITTING SOCKS, AFTER ALL!  THIS ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!

So what did I do?  When I got home, I decided to quit cursing, and put the project aside in favor of yet another hat, this one from Merino wool, bulky.  I dig size 9 needles.  Besides, when I bought the spare size zero and spare size 1 and 2 needles, I purchased more wool bulky yarn (couldn’t resist) for a new dog sweater, this from the Windsor Button Shop in Boston.

If you haven’t been to the Windsor Button Shop, I’d suggest going there.  It is magnificent.  What a gold mine.  You are guaranteed to go home with something you love, but with a few dollars missing from your wallet.  It’s worth the sweater you’ll make.  Go there.

If you love knitting as much as I do, you will put up with the eyestrain, the dropped stitches, the frustration, the expense, the tangled yarn, the lost needles, the yarn that runs out at the last minute.  You will put up with the fact that you’ve got three or four projects going at once.  You know something?  Knitting makes sense.  And eventually, our projects–dog sweaters, hats, socks, mittens, scarves–do indeed get finished.

Another change made to dog sweater pattern–please read

NOTE: the shoulder increase panel should be six inches long, not three!!!!  So when you increase, do it only on the K rows, not the K and P rows both.  We want Puzzle’s front leg area to fit into this sweater!  Otherwise, she won’t be able to go for walks very easily!  I fixed the pattern post (see post) to reflect this change.

I have a bit of ripping out to do now.  No harm done.

I have had to make adjustments, because my gauge is slightly off.  I have not changed the pattern as I have written it, but when I make it, I’ll use 62 stitches around, not 56, to make a 17-inch chest, which was what was planned in the first place, but for some reason that wasn’t what I was getting.

Puzzle has grown a tiny bit in the past year  (she’s 3) and now weighs 17.4 pounds.

Note on dog sweater pattern posted this morning, and photo!

I just made a couple of changes.  See post.

The main change is right after completing the collar.  I found that in order to increase by 30 stitches in 3 inches, I had to increase by 2 stitches just about every row.  This meant increasing in both K rows and P rows.

Here is a photo of what I have so far:

As you can see, the ribbing scrunched up quite a bit.  It stretches, and does fit over Puzzle’s little head.  I tried it.  If necessary, I will block the collar section, and I will probably revise the pattern to make the collar 36 stitches around the whole way.  I was quite surprised that the ribbing came out so tight.  Maybe it’s the way I knit?  I did the cast-on very loose, though, thankfully.

New knitted dog sweater pattern — free!

I have just designed and created this dog sweater.  I am currently knitting it.  I will keep you informed of my progress, and post photos, in future posts.  Keep checking back for updates and changes to the pattern.  I have made a few changes since first posting it.


This sweater is for a female dog!  Male version coming soon!

Lamb’s Pride Braided Dog Sweater for Female Dog designed by Julie Greene

Fits  my Schnoodle dog, *Puzzle.*  Size M.  Adjust to fit your own dog.

Brown Sheep Company Lamb’s Pride Bulky

You will need three skeins.

Gauge: 11 stitches = 3 inches on size 9 needles in stockinette stitch

Materials: Size 9 dpn’s, set of 5; Size 9, 16-inch circular needle (I used two of these circular needles for the rear band); cable stitch holder; stitch markers; tapestry needle; size 9 straight needles for chest piece, if desired, set of 2; small safety pin, two stitch holders.

Dimensions: Neck: 9 inches (will stretch considerably to go over head).  Chest: 17 inches.  Belly: somewhat smaller.  Length: roughly 12 inches from shoulder to back of sweater.  Sleeve width: 1-1/2 inch (will stretch).  3 inches between neck and shoulder.  2 inches between legs (will stretch).

Regarding color:  I would suggest using a matching dark color for the collar, sleeves, and band.  Use lighter colors for the chest panel, braid panel, shoulder, body, and end back.

Colors shown: Brown heather (collar), Oatmeal, Bronze (pinstripes), Sandy Heather

Pinstripes are not written into the pattern.  If you want to make the pinstripes shown, separate them by 3/4-inch segments (four rows) of a lighter color.


Begin neck.  Loosely cast on 36 stitches and knit K2 P1 for three inches.  Put 10 stitches on a stitch holder, placing a marker in the center of the 10 stitches, and work with the other 26.

In stockinette stitch, work the 26 stitches, adding 36 stitches in 7 inches.  Do this by adding 2 stitches every other row, by K both front and back of the stitch, every K row, or M1, in the each side of the row, near the edge.  Do this for 36 rows and you will add the required 36 stitches.  Keep going to make it seven inches.  62 stitches = 17 inches around.

Place a marker and join.  You now have a marker on the top and bottom of the sweater.

Continue in stockinette stitch for two inches in the round.  Then begin the braid, centered, 12 st before  marker.  It is a 24×26 panel:

R1: p2, k3, p4, k6, p4, k3, p2

R2: Repeat Row 1

Row 3: and all subsequent odd rows: k all k st, p all p st

R 4: p2, (SFC,P2, SBC) twice, p2

R6: P3, SFC, SBC, P2, SFC, SBC, P3

R8: P4, FC, P4 , BC, P4

R 10: P3, SBC, SFC, P2, SBC, SFC, P3

R 12: P2 ( SBC, P2 SFC) twice, P2

R 14: P2 K3, P4, BC, P4, K3, P2

R ,16 and 18 repeat rows 4 and 6

R 20 P4, FC, P4, BC, P4

Rows 22 and 24 Repeat 10 and 12.

Row 26: k all the k stitches, p all the p stitches

FC = sl 3 st onto cn, hold in front, k 3, k 3 from cn

BC = sl 3 st onto cn, hold in back, k 3, k 3 from cn

SFC = sl 3 st onto cn, hold in front, p1, k 3 from cn

SBC = sl 1 st onto cn, hold in back, k 3, p 1 from cn

Note: Braid will stretch width-wise when worn by your dog.

Meanwhile, at 5 inches past where you joined and started in the round (measure underneath), put the 6 center bottom stitches on a holder.  Do this after an EVEN braid row, so you can purl back and work the next row by knitting the purl stitches and purling the knit stitches.

Work the remaining stitches as follows:  Sl 1 K 1 psso K to last 2 st K2 tog.  This decreases by 2, one stitch on either side. Do this every K row.  Back will be 36 st, 10 inches wide.  If necessary, adjust decreases so that there are 6 K stitches on either side of the 24-stitch braid panel.

Once you have decreased to 36 stitches, stop decreasing, and continue with the back until you have four more inches from where you stopped knitting in the round.  Put on a stitch holder.  Meanwhile, you have completed the braid panel.

Knit up 21 stitches on side of body, knit up stitches in both stitch holders and knit up 21 stitches on other side of body for rear band, in K2 P1 ribbing, for one inch.  Bind off in ribbing.

Chest Panel:

Start chest with the 10 stitches from the stitch holder at the neck.  Place a pin in the center of the 10 stitches, on the neckline.  Also you have a marker in the center of the ten stitches.  Work in K1 P1 ribbing.  Within the first 3 rows, add 12 stitches.  Now you have 22 stitches and are working in K2 P1 ribbing, starting and ending the front side row with a p stitch.  After 3 inches, make slits for legs.  Make sure the marker is lined up with the pin.   Bind off 2 five-stitch segments on both sides, each 3 stitches from the marker, so there are 6 stitches between the slits, and then when you come back, cast on these 5 stitches, making two slits.  Bind off and cast on very loosely.  After two more inches, bind off.

Add sleeves.  I would suggest 24 stitches around.  Pick up these stitches with the right side facing you.  Knit up in K2 P1 ribbing.  Make the sleeves one inch long, then bind off loosely in ribbing.

Attach main piece to chest piece.  This is tricky as they appear not to fit together.  Stretch the main piece chest opening widthwise, so that the “V” is straight.  Line up the “V” with the center of the long part of the chest piece.  Remember, chest piece stretches.

Weave in ends.  You are done!


I wrote a couple more patterns that you can find if you click on the tag, Dog Sweaters.

Here’s a basic patchwork layout:


My wonderful new book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is now available in e-book form from Chipmunkapublishing.  Click here to download the .pdf file.  To read excerpts at my home site, click here.  The book will be available in paperback form in May 2011.

Eating Disorders Study

Increased Mortality in Bulimia Nervosa and Other Eating Disorders. Objective: Anorexia nervosa has been consistently associated with increased mortality, but whether this is true for other types of eating disorders is unclear. The goal of this study was to determine whether anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and eating disorder not otherwise specified are associated with increased all-cause mortality or suicide mortality. Method: Using computerized record linkage to the National Death Index, the authors conducted a longitudinal assessment of mortality over 8 to 25 years in 1,885 individuals with anorexia nervosa (N=177), bulimia nervosa (N=906), or eating disorder not otherwise specified (N=802) who presented for treatment at a specialized eating disorders clinic in an academic medical center. Results: Crude mortality rates were 4.0% for anorexia nervosa! , 3.9% for bulimia nervosa, and 5.2% for eating disorder not otherwise specified. All-cause standardized mortality ratios were significantly elevated for bulimia nervosa and eating disorder not otherwise specified; suicide standardized mortality ratios were elevated for bulimia nervosa and eating disorder not otherwise specified. Conclusions: Individuals with eating disorder not otherwise specified, which is sometimes viewed as a “less severe” eating disorder, had elevated mortality risks, similar to those found in anorexia nervosa. This study also demonstrated an increased risk of suicide across eating disorder diagnoses. Source: Am J Psychiatry. 2009 Dec;166(12):1342-6. PMID: 19833789.