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When we got Panda, almost a decade ago, I wasn't a dog person, in fact, I was really unsure about the whole prospect. Leo and I had been together for less than a year, had quit our jobs to move to another state 3000 miles away with no jobs lined up and very little money. We moved into an apartment sight unseen in a state Leo had never even visited and now we were adding a little being to the mix. If a friend told me they were going to do the same thing, I'd think they were a few clowns short of a circus and I'd be absolutely right.

Snuggly Panda04

But of all the impulsive perhaps ill-advised decisions we made, getting Panda was my favorite of the bunch. She was unrecognizable from the girl I know now. She was a dog who hated, with every fiber of her body, going for walks. She would scramble like a fish at the end of a line, on her leash, panicked and running for cover anywhere she could. She'd jump into bushes, under cars, anywhere she thought might hide her from children, bikes, skateboards, and other dogs. When we would stop and ask Panda to sit, she'd shake and drool in fear, completely incapacitated. There was no way to exercise her enough to quell her fear, she was only at ease when she was home with her humans or somewhere quiet and away from the city.

As odd as it sounds, as a non-dog person, this was the dog I needed at that time. I remember being scared to tears every 4th of July as a child, so overwhelmed by the noise, so desperate to be brave enough to handle it all and so disappointed at myself at failing. Something about Panda's debilitating fear just resonated with me and it was gratifying to be able to begin to slowly help her through her fears. At 10 years old, she is still a soft dog who struggles with loud noises and boisterous children, but she is also loving, brilliant, and so eager to please. She was pretty much potty trained over night, has never destroyed people stuff and is the easiest dog in the world to train. All in all, an awesome pup.

Beautiful Thea07

When we rescued Thea, we wanted a dog for Panda, someone playful and confident and focused on being a friend to the old girl who really can't be bothered with other dogs. We got what we wished for and then some with Thea. While she was food motivated, she couldn't care less about how happy or stern we sounded. She cared nothing about staying near us when there were other dogs or people around. The idea of walking her on a loose leash was (ok, fine, still is) a pipe dream because there is no treat more rewarding than playing with someone or something new. But the payoff has been a dog who has completely brought Panda out of her shell, entertains her during the day and she's a dog who has come to really bond with her people too. I can't fathom a cold winter night without my sweet Thea curled up next to me on the bed.


And now there is Darwin. In two weeks he's managed to win over even his curmudgeonly big sis.

Play Time07

He's a zippy quick learner who'll do almost anything for a cookie.

Darwin Socializing at Puppy Play Time01

He's learning the protocols and manners required to live with the rest of us.


But (and doesn't everyone have their issues?) Darwin is more like his big sis than many would suspect. He suffers from some fear agression with strange dogs, and to a lesser degree, strange humans. In many ways, this is the same sort of fear that Panda had, all those years back, only manifested in a vastly different way. So our big project, more so than the potty training (thank goodness for rug cleaners) is to work on little D's socializing and we lucked out with our great local dog school. Socializing a dog with fear aggression means making for a safe and positive environment for all parties involved. The only way to convince a dog that other dogs are safe is to have him around other dogs but you can't just let him loose at a dog park and expect things to work out fine.

Darwin Socializing at Puppy Play Time03

So with some expert help, Darwin is learning that great things can happen when strange dogs are around and that strange people sometimes come bearing cookies. It's not going to be an instant change but even after an hour of working with him at school, he was letting loose with dogs he'd been saying unspeakable things to at the start of the night.

One of his classmates, a purebred malamute, had the same issue a few short weeks ago and was a testament to what a little good socializing can do. I'm feeling confident that we can lick this issue so that even strangers get to see him as the same great boy we know him to be.

Play Time05

More on the wee beastie


Pack Portrait 2

There's nothing like a new puppy to revive my blog. I promise to have some fibery content soon, but for now, I must indulge my puppy love just a little bit more. Someday I'll be able to look back on this post and smile, like I do with my first post about Thea.

Darwin on a walkies07

Leo's been talking about getting a third dog for about a year now and I've been hesitant. We have only one salary right now, there are only two of us, puppies are exhausting and I always want to have the money to properly care for anyone in our home. But Leo had some solid arguments: Our house is big enough, Panda is starting to slow down and Thea hasn't had a pal who could match her level of energy. We also want to introduce a third before Panda is so old that she'd be overly stressed by a puppy and, with both of us home every day (I work from home and Leo is looking for work) we can share the workload, ensuring a puppy isn't stuck in a crate all day.

I wasn't exactly sold but I wasn't exactly throwing a temper tantrum over it either.

And then Leo asked me a casual question the other day; "Marnie, what rescue is Thea from? Can you send me the link?" And I looked it up and saw Buddy.

I called Leo up to my office and said, "LOOK!" Within minutes I was writing his foster home. Another family was seeing Buddy that day and if they were a great match and wanted him, then we would not even get to see him. As luck would have it, this family felt that 4-5 months was just too old for them and they continued their search.

Darwin on a walkies02

Buddy's foster home was great; a lovely family with two full grown BCs of their own, who clearly loved dogs and wanted the best home possible for the little guy. They had given him the name Buddy, after deciding his original name, Akon, just didn't suit him. Buddy played joyfully with his puppy pals and people alike and was a fierce protector of his foster home.

Panda and Thea got to meet the little guy and we saw no indication that there would be any major personality conflicts so we tentatively asked if we might be viable candidates. I guess there's no real suspense here. The foster family agreed to entrust us with the health, happiness and well being of this teeny tiny little pup who has gone from who knows what beginning, to living in a car with a wayward couple, to being surrendered to a shelter to being taken in by a rescue to being cared for by a foster family and finally to us. Leo and I don't take that responsibility lightly.

Darwin and piggie_12

So who is this dog we brought home? He's maybe 4 or 5 months old, mostly Border Collie, mixed with something, maybe black lab. His ears go wonky in a most charming way and he wears white socks and has a little white spot on his nose, the back of his neck and the tip of his tail. Within 24 hours of adopting the little boy, he learned that he was no longer Buddy, but now we called him Darwin, and if you threw in a cookie, he might even care about that tidbit.

He's learning that to get dinner, or breakfast or to go out to potty, he's going to have to sit and his sit is lovely.

He sleeps in his crate with very little fuss and is starting to let us know exactly when he'd like to potty. But he'll also climb the coffee table and try to drink Leo's mate or steal his lunch if we aren't obsessively diligent and should we miss the pee cue, we'll be busting out the carpet cleaner once again. He is, without doubt, a puppy.

But Darwin has accepted us as sufficient for his needs and I dare say, after 3 short days, he's already gotten a little attached. You wouldn't believe the sob story he told me while Leo was cleaning the yard of puppy land mines.

Watching Leo_02

And the girls? Well, A puppy is a lot to deal with and sometimes they feel a little needy.

Needing some love

We're doing our best to make sure that they don't feel the puppy is getting the bulk of the attention and with the daily walks, they are slowly starting to accept that this little dude isn't going anywhere.

I'm sure (positive) that Darwin will test us and make us wonder what we got ourselves into, but I think he'll be a great addition to the family and a smart, sweet, and gorgeous boy. Thanks to all of you for welcoming him so warmly. Expect to see plenty more of him and the girls.

Evolving Family


For those of you who follow me on facebook or twitter, this is now day old news but for the rest of you, I'm proud to introduce you to our newest little rescue, Darwin.


We adopted him yesterday through Pacific Northwest Border Collie Rescue, the same rescue from which we got Thea.

He was fostered by a fantastic family who had two BCs of their own, so he comes to us in great spirits and well cared for.

I will definitely be posting more but for now, we're off to Puppy Preschool!

Designing Mata Hari


Mata Hari is my ninth design for Twist Collective and like every pattern I've designed, it was uniquely challenging (and thus, uniquely fun) to produce the final results.

Kate asked me to design a piece for the Designers' Choice story. The idea was to design something just for me; something I'd love to wear and something I'd be happy to model. I began to think about detailing I like such as body shaping, smooth stockinette stitch, vents at the hips to ensure the garment falls flatteringly, and a low v-neck in back that is shallow enough to cover foundation garments but low enough to be dramatic.


Even better it can be turned around so that the v-neck sits in front, showing off a lovely camisole or a simple tee. The end result could be as casual or dressy as the wearer pleases.

My final submission was a vision of what one might wear to an office holiday party; flattering but still appropriate to wear around the folks you'll see the next day by the copy machine.


I think it can be helpful when submitting, to include a flat drawing of the garment, along with the sketch, so I included an approximation of what I intended for both the front and back.


There were two elements about which I had some concerns; the self-faced neckline and the bow, both of which could get quite bulky if I wasn't careful. When I was assigned Catherine Lowe Couture Yarns, Kate put me directly in touch with Ms. Lowe to determine the perfect blend of fibers and weights. The lovely thing about these yarns is that I could have any number of weights and blends of fibers in perfectly matched colors which turned out to be a great boon to the project. The body is worked in a quick-to-knit DK weight yarn (worked at a relatively loose gauge) while the neckline and bow are worked in a finer sport weight, so when folded, there's no unnecessary bulk.


But I also realize that not everyone has access to, or the budget necessary for the project yarn and many people love to stash-dive when possible, so I've included instructions for working the entire garment in a single weight yarn as well.


And, as with most of my patterns, I included plenty of tips along the way for getting a great fit. I hope it'll be a fun knit for anyone who tries it and a flattering piece to wear, no matter your shape or size.

The happiest place on earth


A surprisingly full day starting at Yarn for All Seasons where I may have treated myself to a little something, then a long play session on the beach, ending with a little dinner at Kyllo's.

Oregon Coast - December 3, 2010
1. Oregon Coast 120310_048, 2. Oregon Coast 120310_020, 3. Oregon Coast 120310_029, 4. Oregon Coast 120310_034, 5. Oregon Coast 120310_036, 6. Oregon Coast 120310_051, 7. Oregon Coast 120310_057, 8. Oregon Coast 120310_058, 9. Oregon Coast 120310_063, 10. Oregon Coast 120310_073, 11. Oregon Coast 120310_078, 12. Oregon Coast 120310_083, 13. Oregon Coast 120310_106
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