A lovable pain in the neck

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Thea had her first puppy agility class on Wednesday night. She is, at once, a keen learner and an unbridled maniac. The first class moved pretty slowly, with all the obedience refreshing and intro, but we did get to try the tunnel and the ladder on the floor.

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I ask Thea to practice her beg up. She's getting better and better.

Thea did great, but wrangling her into submission between exercises has left me with quite the sore neck and shoulders. It's funny, because she's never such a bundle of excitement at home, but get her into a small space with lots of dogs and no chance to play and at nearly her adult size, she's a handful. I'm feeling it today.

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Both of us listen intently to our instructor.

Our homework is to teach our pups to hit a target. This is in preparation for the obstacles like the teeter totter and a-frame, which require the dog to get at least one paw on a painted portion of the equipment. This ensures the dog doesn't leap off of the equipment from a dangerous height.

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Queuing up for tunnel. I spent much of my time trying to contain her while we waited our turn.

I started training Thea, for about 10 minutes yesterday, followed up with training both girls today and they have it down, beautifully. I can throw the makeshift target on the floor, ask one of them to "mark" and that girl will touch the target with her paw. I love my smarty girls.

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Thea had no trouble and gets a big cookie and lots of praise.

I'll be honing that new skill with them until Wednesday, when Thea will have to try to remember it in class. She hasn't had trouble generalizing training, yet. If I work something at home, she appears to understand that it applies everywhere, but we'll see. Sometimes the smartest dogs are the ones that throw the biggest surprises your way.

So my last two posts have collected more comments, each, than I usually get in a week. WOW! I have tried to reply to each and every one of you but I'm a little behind. All I can say is that I really really appreciate every single comment.

To all of you who commented on the sweater, I'm now seriously considering revisiting it when I have my deadline work completed. I will likely use one of the heather Aurora 8 shades, perhaps green again, maybe in an oatmeal shade.

To all of you who have weighed in about parenthood, thank you. I am realizing that I need to not let crazy people get under my skin and that most normal people think you should do what feels right for you. I just hope that you guys out there represent a fair sampling of the public at large because there was a lot of very thoughtful feedback. It's especially nice to hear some of the personal stories. I may not want babies for me, but I love that other people are raising wonderful children, since, I hear, they are our future.*

Ok, back to normal posting, just as promised.
So, today's post is about the beautiful optim roving I got from Janel, some luscious carbonized bamboo, that Sachi sent me, and some great instruction from Spinning Spider Jenny, which I have employed rather poorly but enthusiastically.

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The girls, of course, help me model my new yarn.

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Everything came together for me, when Jenny posted about spinning from the fold. I've spun from the fold before and didn't have a problem with it, but I didn't really see why I would choose this method, over my normal method of spinning from the end of roving. It was when Jenny mentioned that spinning from the fold was a good option for very slippery fibers that I became excited. I had spun a bit of the bamboo before that, and had some trouble, but this changed everything. All of a sudden, my hard to control fiber was just gliding into place. I was smitten. Jenny, if I ever meet you in person, I may have to hug you. You've been warned.

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After spinning up a bobbin of the carbonized bamboo, it occurred to me that I had a bobbin and a half of optim just waiting to be put to good use. I plied the two together, using Jenny's instructions for Plain Vanilla Two-Ply et voila, yarn.

I have about 238 yards of worsted weight two-ply yarn that should work up into a pretty, every so slightly variegated, tweedy gray fabric. The yarn is unbelievably soft to the touch and I'm pretty excited to knit it up into something special.

Tomorrow, Thea has her first Puppy Agility class. You can bet there will be pictures, if I can drag Leo along.

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* Yes, I know that was corny, go tell it to Whitney Houston.

A few moments on my soap box

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I was recently driving to the Post Office, listening to the local NPR station which was running the show BBC World Have Your Say. Today's topic was about whether or not it's selfish to forgo having children if you are able to have them.

Stop now if you don't want to hear any strong opinions on this topic or if you can't play nice on the interwebs. Feel free to leave your 2ยข, though if you have some thoughtful feedback.

To spare those of you who prefer puppy pics and yarn, I'll finish this entry, after the bump.

The piece I never posted about

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You'll probably all think I'm weird, but there was a piece I knit in December of 2005, that I never posted about.

I guess that while I was happy with the concept, and reasonably pleased with the end result, I wasn't 100% content with the final product. On some level, I really wanted to reknit it and get it right, but it's hard to find the time to redo a piece when I have a backlog of new ideas in my head.

Anyway, I present to you, Juliette.

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Pattern: My own
Yarn: Cascade 220 in a pretty heathered green color

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The piece, like Deciduous, has no body shaping, it all happens by way of ribbing. The sleeves, however, do have shaping. Instead of doing the shaping at the seam, like most sleeves, the shaping is done in the center textured panel. I used kfb or knit and purl in the same stitch, in a manner that would maintain the k/p pattern.

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The neckline was just finished with a little bit of single crochet. The cables are from one of the Barbara Walker books

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I think, conceptually, it's successful, but I find Cascade 220, just a touch too prickly to wear against the skin. I also wish I hadn't made it with so much ease. It's looser than I normally like.

As a first aran-like design, I don't think it's too bad, but I'm a bit tepid about it overall.

So why the heck am I posting it now? I guess with Ravelry and the Create Along, I'm doing a lot of exploring of the work I've done over the past couple of years. When I saw this in my catalog of photographs, it just seemed right to post about it.

One way to predraft your fibers

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Sachi sent me some absolutely beautiful fibers, recently, including some Carbonized Bamboo. I spun a little bit of it during lunch today and draped the remainder of the wad I was working on, over the top of El Matchador.

As many of you know, Thea is a great fan of the fiber arts and has shown much interest in my tools, before.

Today, she showed me an alternative method for predrafting. What do you think?

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Thank goodness, Sachi sent me a bunch and I only had a small amount out on the wheel.

Thea, do you feel sorry?

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Ok, no hard feelings. I can't be mad at you.
Anyway, look at your face, you are so cute and sweet and such a good little girl, I just love you to pieces and....


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HEY! That just seems unnecessary.
Kids today.

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