Sure, my dogs live a good life. We don't bat an eyelash at driving and hour and a half to spend the day at the beach, just for them. And sure, we buy them high quality food and shower them with love and live with ungodly amounts of hair so that they might join us on the couch and bed, at their whim. Yes, it seems like the world is their oyster, but don't be fooled, these are some hard working girls.

Both Thea and Panda, showed their style, grace and excellent sit stays, in today's photoshoot.

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That, my friends, is the unbelievably soft baby camel down of whacking fame.

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Final Product
Content: Baby Camel Down
Color: Natural
From: Chameleon Colorworks
Quantity: 2 ounces/167 Yards
Singles: Spun using a long draw method, after gently fluffing the fibers.
Plies: 3-ply using the Navajo plying method.
WPI: Oh, 12-14. This is some lofty fiber, indeed. Fresh off the bobbins, the plied yarn was closer to 18 WPI, but everything just bloomed after the beating.
Results: I can't get over how soft this yarn is. Every time I touch it, iI want to drop everything and make something of it. The navajo plying didn't really go as well as I hoped. I don't think I put quite enough twist in the singles to carry it off successfully and I'm darn horrible at reattaching fiber when I've broken it. Something about controlling the loop, aligning the fibers and not losing all the twist in the singles, just eludes me. Does anyone have any handy dandy tips?

I don't think the yarn's a loss though. There are lots of good solid area and the little bits of ugly will be well concealed once knit up. I love this yarn.

If you aren't burned out on black and white doggies, you can see the pictures from our weekend adventures, over here.
Stewie (the car) is till out of commission, but we'd never let a little thing like that get in our way.

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Today, I handed off the first draft of my super secret Stitch Diva project, which is a huge relief. Two projects down, 3 to go.

Craft and Whacking Baby Camels

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So a friend of mine from many moons ago (hi Doug!), comment the other day that I should go look at the upcoming cover for Craft magazine, as I'd find something rather familiar there.

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So wow, yah, it looks a lot like my Crime of Fashion scarf. Similar, but definitely different (the font, for sure, is different and the finishing as well.) I scratched my head a bit and went to their site, but couldn't determine if the pattern was inspired by mine or not and whether I should say something. Of course, only one thing to do, bug my friend Julia and ask her what she thinks, since Julia is always my sounding board, especially for all things knitterly. At the time, she found that there was already a link to MagKnits on their about page for the scarf, which suggested that they had seen my version, but no link to me. It's another week before the magazine is released so I wrote them.

Turns out that right before publication, they did, indeed, find my version and that I get a little shout out in the end AND, as you may now have noticed, they've added a link to me on that same about page.

How
Cool
Is
That?


I'm sorta kinda in Craft!

I've also been spinning some more, while I work on my deadline projects. Remember that rather pathetic attempt at spinning Yak fiber? It was so soft and oh-so-ugly. While I was glad I was actually able to spin the fiber at all, I was hesitant to spin up any more of my Luxury Fiber of the Month goodies, for fear I'd just end up with 6 skeins of nearly useless novelty yarn. Well, I broke down and had my hand at baby camel down.

I spun 167 yards of of 3 ply, from the 2 ounces I have and am much happier with the results. I did slightly under spin it, so the yarn broke a lot as I was working the navajo ply. Pretty crazy, since I was using the super high speed whorl on El Matchador, but I guess those short, downy fibers, need a LOT of twist.

Even so, I'm happy and the camel down got itself a rinse and a royal whacking.

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Final yarn pictures to come.

That's all for now, check out some pics of Thea's second agility class, here.

Thea sends a puppy kiss (or at least a cold nose in your ear) to each of you, Panda first.

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Thank you all for the concern and well wishes. We are all, thankfully, doing fine. We believe we've found a reliable mechanic (based on a couple testimonials from Leo's colleagues) and Stewie (the Element) is off to get fixed up.

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It's weird sending your car off with a stranger. I am sure he thought I was insane but I decided to get shots of him and his vehicle and his plates, juuuuuuust in case he was a craze Element steeling maniac. You never know.

Between writing up my super secret Stitch Diva project and working on a couple other projects for a book, I've been putting El Matchador to work. Oooh baby.

While at the Fiber Frolic, I picked up 2 ounces of a cashmere and tussah silk blend from Fox Fire Fibers. This stuff is yum-ME (as in mememememememe give me more.) However, it is also a real challenge to spin. The silk fibers are substantially longer than the cashmere and, when spun from the end, all the silk gets drafted out first leaving a poof of cashmere.

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I decided to try a 90 degree turn and see if that helped at all. Once again, spinning from the fold seems to have helped me coerce the fibers into submission. Instead of fibers flowing freely from the end, the folding seems to lightly link the fibers together, like those pop-up boxes of facial tissues. As fibers get drafted out, they bring more fibers with them. While the silk and cashmere may not have been perfectly distributed, with this method, they were far more so than when spinning from the end. That's as close to success as I can ask for.

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The final yarn is luxurious and the color makes me positively hungry, it's so decadent.

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Final Product
Content: Cashmere and Tussah Silk (quantities not specified)
Color: Summer Berries
From: Fox Fire Fibers
Quantity: 2 ounces/109 Yards
Singles: From the fold using a long draw technique
Plies: 3-ply using the Navajo plying method
WPI: Approximately 16
Results: The yarn is not perfect but I absolutely love it. The colors are rich and the feel is soft, silky and full of drape. I think this would make for a really fabulous hat, though if I had more, I'd gladly make a sweater from it. I'm curious to see how much the fabric pills and if the silk helps control that at all. The yarn bled substantially, when I washed the skein. I added just a touch of vinegar to the water, in hopes it might set the color a little more, but I can tell you, I won't be mixing this with any other yarn, in my finished knit piece, for fear of color contamination.

And in doggy news, guess what Leo got for the girls?

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This will replace the small bed we keep in the Element (whenever he is back) to allow room for both girls to snuggle up. The old bed was fine for one dog or one adult and one baby puppy dog, but it's gotten quite cramped in there. We've been on the lookout for a replacement, since adopting Thea and finally found this one, here.

And hey, if we are ever homeless, this bed will be big enough for all 4 of us to sleep on.

Two wheelin'

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Well, what did we do this weekend?
Let's see, we went to see Harry Potter. They left a lot of important stuff out. It was good, though and if you've read the book, you should be able to follow along fine. I thought that Umbridge bore a striking resemblance to the first lady. I'll leave it at that.

Oh and I went Salsa dancing. That was fun.

What was that other thing?
...

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.

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