My friend, Erica, directed me to a local pet photo contest, and I'd love to enter, despite the fact that I use a relatively cheap point and shoot digital camera. I have a feeling that folks with nice SLRs and lots-o-megapixels will be able to outshine my humble collection but all the entry fees go towards a great cause so I think I'm going to try.

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So I was hoping that, perhaps, a couple of you could help me decide what photos to enter. I think I'd be willing to enter up to 10 pictures (I'll have to spend some money to get good prints done, so I don't want to go crazy) but since I love the subject matter so much, I'm don't trust myself to pick the best shots from the lot. A cute expression is far more appealing to me than a nice composition.

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There's one caveat, all "companion pets" must have visible tags and collars, so I can only use shots from our hikes and beach trips. All of the shots at home, when the girls are collarless, are not allowed. Poo. Panda is floofy enough that you can't always see her collar even when she's wearing it, which may actually exclude some of the shots in this post.

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Anyway, almost all my pup shots can be found here. I've peppered this post with a few of my personal favorites, but by no means would I consider these the only possible entry shots.

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Resolution is also a factor, so some pictures I love are out because I can't print them at the required 8" x 10" dimensions.

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So anyway, if you have any thoughts, leave me a comment here with a link to the picture or pictures you like, or just comment on the picture in Flickr. And thanks so much!


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Edited to add: The contest has lots of categories including ones for people with their pets, and funniest shot. But really, this edit is just an excuse to add a couple more shots.

Mmm Cormo

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Spin-Off-Spring-2008.jpg You know that edition of Spin-Off that has my shawl in it? Well, it's evil, EVILLLL!

Why, you ask? Because it has a writeup about Cormo fiber that will make you drop everything, sell your possessions and buy gobs of it. I'm not necessarily saying this is a bad thing. If you get properly prepared fiber, you'll probably be over the moon with your purchase, but still, evil.

It doesn't help that Aoife left me a comment saying how she had picked up some Cormo herself and was really enjoying it.

So with a nearly nonexistent degree of arm twisting I ordered myself a pound of creamy white roving.

The fiber has a bit of VM in it...maybe a bit more than I'd normally like, but based on what I've read, the more gently the fiber is treated at the prep stage, the better, since aggressive carding lead to a snaggly mess.

With just a quick fluffing of the roving, I was able to produce a pretty decent singles using an unsupported long draw method on El Matchador.

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After spinning the singles, I chain plied them into a soft 3-ply yarn. It's a little thick and thin but I would say it averages about 15 WPI overall.

The yarn was so amazing to spin that it was hard to stop. Even more fantastic is the sproing of the finished product. When you put your hands in the skein and stretch it out, it's got an amazing elasticity to it.

I was having so much fun with this fiber that I decide to take it for a ride on a spindle. My go-to spindle is my 0.9 ounce Golding Tsunami (though, jeeze louise, there are some seriously gorgeous new designs that are making my wallet itch. Must. Resist.) Spinning this fiber on a spindle makes me feel like I'm the greatest spinner ever... BOW TO MY AMAZING POWERS OF YARN PRODUCTION FOR I AM A SPINNING GODDESS! Ahem, sorry about that. Anyway, like I was saying, this fiber seems tailor made for spindles. It has enough crimpy grabbiness, to make it really easy to control the fiber and you don't need oodles of twist to keep it all together. Except for giving me an overinflated sense of my own skill, It's a darn near perfect fiber for spindling, as far as I can tell.

After spinning super fine singles, I used the Andean bracelet method to create a 2ply yarn.

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The finished yarn is about 24 WPI and I have about 46 yards total.

Both batches of finished yarn got a bit poofier after plying, washing and twacking, than the wound singles would have you believe. I would bet this yarn would have great insulating properties when knit up.

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This shot is a little nod to Mary-Heather's adorable photoshoots. This sweet little tea cup was a gift from a friend whose mother collected tea cups before she passed away. I think it's a delightfully graceful way to drink tea and a cute way to show off a delicate handspun yarn.

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A little yarny cheesecake for your viewing pleasure.

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The lighting director and photo stylist weigh in on the shoot.

Most images can be clicked for a larger view.

I get a surprisingly large number of questions about schematics so I thought it was time to cover that topic here.

This tutorial is meant to give you some basic skills for creating schematics in Adobe Illustrator or a similar vector based application. There are countless ways to create schematics, this is just how I like to do it. Hopefully, even if you don't have Illustrator, some of my suggestions will be useful for you if you've struggled with making your own schematics. These instructions are written by a Mac user and I am using Illustrator CS2 and CS3. I will try to provide appropriate alternatives for PC in brackets [], but no promises that they will be 100% accurate. Refer to your Help menu, if need be, for PC or older versions of Illustrator.

The first step, of course, is to open a blank document. (Once you've made a few schematics you like, you can start using the ones you've made as a template, which will save oodles of time.) I like to build the schematic to the approximate scale of the sample I am or will be knitting.

Once you have a blank document, go to the Illustrator Preferences [Options] and choose Guides and Grids.

You can use whatever you like for measurements, but I find it useful to start with a centimeter per inch relationship. I set up grid lines every centimeter with 4 subdivisions each, which allow me to get quarter inch increments in my scaled down schematic.

To make your grid visible, type CMND+' [CTRL+']


On Saturday we mowed the back lawn, and by "we" I mean Leo and by "back lawn" I mean an this...

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Um, yah, we're way overdue. And while the dandelions have a certain sweetness about them, I doubt our neighbors appreciated their contribution to their immaculate landscapes.

Thea loves it when Leo mows the lawn. The sound makes her all frisky and silly. Though she does miss the salad bar, when it's no longer so long and luxurious.

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After hours of backbreaking work, Thea was nowhere to be seen, but a wee little leprechaun had made her way into our yard.


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We thought it best to ply the lass with an appropriate libation.


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Panda is not so much a fan of the mowing. It didn't help that I was vacuuming inside. She was feeling pretty sad for herself.

To make it up to her and to get the green off the demon, we decided to go to the beach on Sunday.


Saturday had been gorgeous and sunshiny, while Sunday was a little more overcast with bits of rain, which was perfect, because the beaches were nearly empty.

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This picture feels like the opening to some sort of action/adventure movie.


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Thea, she's got crazy eyes.


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Panda finds her sister so exasperating, sometimes.


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Happiness is a romp in the water.


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And who can resist a sleepy dog face covered in sand?

Sinuate Pattern Available

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Sinuate in front of weedy lawn

The free pattern download for Sinuate is now available. If you are on Ravelry, you can see all the details here.

The pattern is two full pages of instructions plus a cover.

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The piece uses about 270 yards of fiber that's 15wpi (somewhere between a DK and Worsted) and requires US #6/4mm needles and a size F/3.75mm crochet hook.

If you have any trouble downloading the pattern, please let me know.

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