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April 26, 2007

Break out the cigars!

Congratulations, you are all new aunts or uncles, as the case may be. We just adopted a new pup. Her name, from the foster home is, Pearl. Miss Julia wisely pointed out that this was merely a misspelling of "Purl." She'll technically be Leo's little girl, since Panda is mine, so he will ultimately choose the name, but until he picks one, she is Purl to me.

Purl is a 16 week old Border Collie and Cattle Dog mix (same mix as Panda!) but she's been very well socialized and absolutely loves everyone and everything in this fine world. Panda is a little overwhelmed by puppy's verve and there will probably be some scuffles as they find their place together, but overall, Purl seems sweet and lovely.

I just got Purl her first collar so that's been a bit traumatic for her. We'll also be crate training her which will be new, but shouldn't pose any big problems for the bright little girl.

Having a puppy is going to be a lot of work, but who can complain with a face like this?

Panda is probably not speaking to me right now, but I think in time they will be inseparable.

So hopefully, there aren't too many of you out there who mind doggy pictures, because I now have twice the cuteness in one small house.

April 27, 2007

Much to Panda's chagrin

This phrase pretty much sums up the first 24 hours we've had with Purl.

Purl is a loving and eager little girl and she wants Panda to like her so so so much. It's really quite sweet. However, Panda is not convinced that this interloper deserves anything more than disdain. In fact, she has serious concerns about the fact that we have done nothing about the little girl; for instance, throwing her into a river. Consensus? Panda is a crotchety old woman and we never knew it.

I feel really good about Purl, though. She's exceedingly well socialized, thanks, I'm sure, to a good foster home she was in. She has already responded well to clicker training and can now sit on command. Crate training is going a little slower, but she's so food driven that giving her treats and meals in there has helped a bit. She basically cries for 10 minutes then goes right to sleep. In time, I think she will love her little house, but in the mean time, this is very manageable.

The leash and collar are a little more challenging. They are just beyond her comprehension, but I think she just needs a few days and she'll be all set. Plus, she's so tiny, it doesn't take long to tucker her out, so getting her leash trained will mean plenty of fun walks where she can play and interact with dogs who aren't snobs.

Don't you worry, though, Panda is getting as much love as ever and Purl is being expected to follow house rules. Panda is even helping with the training, albeit, unwittingly. I give Panda a command, praise her, then work it with Purl.

Don't worry, next post will have some knitting content. Lily is coming along beautifully.

April 30, 2007

One knit, Purl too

This entry has also been posted at the Create Along.

Knitting has nearly slowed to a screeching halt now that there's a new pup in the house, but what knitting there has been has been good.

I've worked up to where I'm starting some neckline shaping on Lily

The fit seems fine, though it's always hard to tell before the neckline is done.

I will probably work a simple 2 or 3 stitch i-cord edging for the hem and sleeves. I think that will be the least disruptive treatment and will be OK both on the busy sleeve and the simpler hem.

As for the new member of the family, I think we finally have a name that everyone can agree on. The name is now, Theano Purl, Thea for short.
Theano was believed to be the wife of Pythagoras, (he who brought us the calculation for determining the hypotenuse of a right triangle,) and likely continued his work and ran his school after his death. We wanted a name that gave a nod to the sciences but which was also a cute doggy name. We considered "Evo" short for "Evolution" and "Jane" for the one and only Ms. Goodall. Neither name really stood out as exceptional names for a dog. Theano, though, very cute. I got to keep Purl as her middle name too so she can be little Thea-Purl, if the mood strikes.

See a bunch of pictures of the two girls by clicking the photo above, or clicking here.

May 7, 2007

It took just over a week

I've been bracing myself for a month or two of unrest in the home. It's been manageable, with Thea being more than happy to persist at harassing her sister and Panda being even more than happy to tell her to shove it where the sun don't shine. Panda has occasionally agreed to allow the little one to sit near her and has moments where she forgets herself and plays with Thea for a few minutes, but for the most part, it's been mostly the cold shoulder.

Then I went out of town for a couple days, for some personal business. I came home, and something clicked, suddenly, the girls were playing...together...with each other even. I don't know if it was the excitement of having me come home or if about a week was all they needed. Either way, it's a beautiful thing to see them happy together.

To celebrate, we took the little fur balls to Frog Lake up in the Mt Hood region.


Border Collies + Snow = Good old fashion fun

See all the pictures of the trip to the lake here and see all the pictures of Panda and Thea playing, by clicking here.

May 8, 2007

A trip with Stacy and Mary

Or, a long winded discussion of some swatches

In my post, yesterday, I mentioned having a quick trip out of town. Since the trip was both short and stressful, I didn't take along Lily, which requires a certain amount of concentration. Instead, I decided to take along some swatching. There are times when there is nothing more satisfying than the joys of mindless swatching to keep the fingers and brain occupied. It was just what I needed.

For my swatching pleasure I brought along two items that were new to me. First was a Mary Thomas book of knitting patterns that I picked up at the Blacksheep Knittery sale, at Kat's suggestion. While the Barbara Walker books will always be my most comprehensive collection, they also represent the most ubiquitous stitch pattern selections and it can be refreshing and inspiring to try others.

For yarn, I brought a couple skeins of Tahki Stacy Charles' Dream.

This is a really unusual yarn and I feel like Tahki doesn't quite know what to do with it. Click that ball band to read the label. It recommends a US #8 needle for a yarn that I would classify as a very light sock weight. Of course, if you read the whole label, you'll see that it recommends doubling it.

Continue reading "A trip with Stacy and Mary" »

May 11, 2007

More shameless doggy photos

What can I say? I love my girls. I haven't really been knitting much because of all the puppy distraction so, my distraction is your distraction.

The girls during training time:

Sit. Stay. Good!

Ms. Thea making faces at the camera.

Could those ears be any bigger?

Thea's favorite spot while I'm working.

What could possible go wrong?

May 15, 2007

Konichiwa Crochet

I'm almost always a guest, never a host. Our home is small and lacking in furniture and it's not just anyone I'd subject to a single small (very small) bathroom shared between three adults. But when Julia said she'd be in town for work, I vacuumed up the dog hair and gave the tub an extra scrub. We had us a guest in town!

Recently, Julia has decided to learn crochet in earnest and her enthusiasm is infectious. On a recommendation we found our way to a huge Japanese market replete with...wait for it...a Japanese BOOK STORE. Great googily moogily! Their selection of crochet books was small but packed full of goodness.

There may have also been some shopping at a couple LYSs and the opportunity to meet a really great blogger and designer. Have yarn, will craft, and there was no dearth of that. In the 3 days that Julia and I spent together, not a single solitary picture was taken until the third and final day. Luckily for you, it was the most photogenic day of the lot.

Early that day, we packed the car up for a trip to Horsetail falls. If you read my non-crafty posts, you may remember our last visit, not too long ago.

The day was perfect for hiking. It was a little cool, but not so much as to require substantial outerwear. The sun was out but shaded by some light and poofy clouds. Didn't we agree they were Stradivarius clouds or were they igneous, Julia?

Leo was doggy wrangler for the day. It's no small feat to keep two dogs from intertwining on leash especially when one of them is just a pup. They were each other's yin and yang. Panda would duck every time someone would try to pet her. She wanted nothing more than solitude from everyone she didn't know. Thea, on the other hand, wanted to jump all over every person and dog we passed (and there were many people celebrating Mother's day by hiking on these beautiful trails). Between these two extremes was our handsome hero, dragging one girl ahead and holding another back. Me thinks we have some more training to do.

On the drive home, I crocheted from my new Japanese crochet book. This little wonder is chock full of sweet motifs. While the book is all in Japanese, everything is charted which makes them delightful to use. The yarn? My lovely peachy Merino/viscose handspun, from Chameleon Colorworks. The viscose gives a subtle sheen and the brilliant dyeing gives depth to the simple colorway. When you see the yarn, it's clear the spinning is average, at best, but the fiber was so beautiful to start with that I can't help but be proud of the final product.

Blocked, the finished pieces look like snowflakes.
What am I going to do with them? Perhaps a doggy babushka.

Perhaps not.
I have more — what's the word — sane ideas. I don't have enough yardage to do a whole garment in this yarn (unless I want to go particularly scantily clad) but it could be paired with another handspun or store bought yarn in some creative way. All that is still in deliberation.

After our long hike and short ride home, I took a marathon nap and then arose with ample time to join Julia at Lake Park for a photo shoot. I'll leave those pictures for her to post. Instead, check out the fresh batch of ducky goodness from the same outing.

They can give me avian flu, any old day. I just want to scoop them up and snuggle them.

And now, Julia is back at home with all her fur balls. And all that's left is the now deflated air mattress where she was set up. Thea payed homage to Miss Tuna in Julia's absence. I think that's Thea's way of saying she was glad to meet her.

It was a great weekend and I hope there will be more like it soon. And someday, we'll own a house with more than one bathroom and a proper spare bedroom. I'm dreamin' big, baby.

May 18, 2007

Six times the motify goodness

Well, Lily is on temporary time out. I don't like the look of the raglan decreases. They just come in too far and it looks off. I need to rip back to the base of the armsceye and reconfigure for either a much less angled raglan or a set in sleeve....what to do, what to do.

In the mean time, the motifs have become a mindless delight.

Six lovely motifs, half of which were completed in the last 24 hours.

No dogs were embarrassed in the course of photographing these pictures.

Thea is making herself quite at home. She sat by our feet last night and made cuteness at us.

Wouldn't you pet that little head?


May 20, 2007

Niddy Naughty

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May 25, 2007

Puppy Preschool

Yesterday was Thea's first day at Puppy Preschool and we had so much fun. While I feel confident that, in time, we'd be able to teach Thea everything we'd want her to know, she definitely needs a lot of work in social settings. She's nothing like Panda, she loves everyone and everything and is happy to play all the time, but she has absolutely no focus and can't calm down enough to enjoy the experience. This class seems like just what she needs and it will teach me a lot about training.

When Thea saw this mastiff (who, by the way, is only about a month and a half older than Thea) she didn't know what to do with herself. She first gave a submissive pee and then spent the rest of the hour trying to play with him. I think she has a little crush. Both of us ended up with a lot of slobber on us, but no worse for the wear.

If you really love watching puppies at play or puppies in class, and you have QuickTime, I've loaded a couple of clips from class. There is nothing super incredible about them but they sure do make me smile.
Puppy Free Play 1MB
Practicing Sit HUGE! 47MB

May 31, 2007

There's just been something missing

Since we brought a certain little beast into the home, El Matchador has had to go into hiding. The girls accidentally knocked her over and the injury that could have come to any of the three of them, was simply not worth the risk.

Recently, a friend posted a bowl of deliciousness, and it had my heart aching to do more spinning.

I'm working on a few unbloggable projects now so this is a perfect diversion that doesn't make me feel like I'm ignoring my other responsibilities.

A teeny tiny skein of merino silk worked up on my Spindolyn.

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There are only about 18 yards of yarn here, but it's my best little skeinlette off the Spindolyn, yet. I'm still having some trouble getting a good cop on it. When I start to build up too much, it either doesn't hold its shape and goes all wonky, or the yarn starts tucking in under the cop making it impossible to wind it off later. I think I'll get better with practice.


Up next, some "Fudge Brownie" from Nistock Farms. I was never able to get this stuff to spin well on a drop spindle, but on the Spindolyn, it works up beautifully. This gives me hope that I'll also do better with the luxury fibers I have.

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And finally, some silk/merino blend that I've had forever. I believe it's Ashland Bay. I'm spinning on my 0.6 ounce Golding.

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I haven't been able to use my 0.9 ounce, which was formerly my workhorse, because the hook got a little bent while traveling to and from India, but I'm told I'll be able to get her sorted out at the Fiber Frolic in Maine. It's amazing how much an unbalancedness hook can throw you off. Hopefully, I'll be able to pick up enough information from the fine folks at Golding, to fix it myself in the future.

And now for some proof that I shouldn't be allowed to have dogs, after the jump

Continue reading "There's just been something missing" »

June 3, 2007

All day on the coast

This weekend is the annual celebration of the day a certain someone was born, though he doesn't like it spoken about so shhhhhhhhhhhhh. Certain someone requested we go back to the beach for some good family fun.

We've been to Manzanita Beach, and we have been to Ecola and Cannon Beaches many times but this time, we decided to try Hug Point, located between the two.

We arrived at Hug Point, around 11AM, and the temperature was cool, a nice change from the unseasonably high temperatures we've had in Portland, over the past week. There was a wedding reception at the beach, but we tucked around the corner and found a lovely area to play with the girls.

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The beach is beautiful but explorers beware! One could easily get trapped when the tide comes in. I don't think the girls would have minded, but we sure would have.

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When our tummies started to complain it was lunch time, we packed up to go back to Cannon Beach for a bite to eat. After filling up on diet food (read: fries, burgers, ribs, bacon, and guacamole) we talked about wandering over to the beach for another quick romp before heading home. As merely a whim, we thought it might be fun to head just north a bit and see if we could find another beach.

Continue reading "All day on the coast" »

June 5, 2007

A few little cuties

These are actually now hanging to dry, but while I had some defused sunlight today, I thought I'd snap some photos of my little skeins of handspun.

Firstly, off the Spindolyn, about 24 yards of Fudge Brownie 2-ply. The roving was from Nistock Farms. I'd say this is my most successful and longest skein off the Spindolyn so far. I am going to keep trying to get better with it. I really strive to have at least 50 yards of plied yarn off a single cop. Maybe that's just silliness, but I think it's enough yarn to actually feel like I can start to knit with it.
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The fibers were spun quite fine but there's tons of loft in this stuff so it looks like a worsted weight. I suspect that after washing and drying, it will lose a touch of that loft. I'm estimating it around 18 WPI. My spinning is a little irregular so it definitely won't be mistaken for store bought, but it's really soft and the color is impressively rich.

Off my trusty 0.6 ounce Golding, just under 60 yards of 2 ply. This yarn is fairly consistent with a few "designer" moments throughout. She is about 24 WPIs.
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A little closer, if you like.
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While I was shooting these photos, Ms. Thea was giving me this look.
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Nope, she's not growing into her ears, but I still think she's gorgeous.

June 18, 2007

Good as new, maybe better

The folks over at Golding just rock. At the Fiber Frolic, owner, Diane, offered to take my 0.6 ounce and 0.9 ounce, align the hooks and mail them back to me, complete with instructions for aligning, should I ever with to try myself.
A couple days after the frolic, she wrote me to say that they have updated the design of the smaller spindle, to have a thinner shaft, and would I like them to install that shaft on my 0.6 ounce. Well, that sounded just dandy to me.

A couple days later, my beautiful spindles were back in my hands, all buffed up and looking good or maybe better than new.

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Pre-surgery, the old shaft, on my smaller spindle, was about the same size as the larger spindle. You can really see the difference now. It spins amazingly well.

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The shaft switch also changed the weight. Now it's a petite 0.45 ounces. Just think of the cobwebs I shall spin.


While I was awaiting the return of my spindles, I was putting my new spindle to good use spinning up some beautiful fiber from Nistock Farms. The colorway is called "September Glow" and it's a cotwold and silk blend.

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The color of the fiber goes from a soft cream-of-mahogany color to vivid oranges and pinks. It's like a more neutral version of the Autumn Spice colorway I spun last year. The silk shows up as lovely white flecks. They tend to form little nubs, but I like them. The batts are as light as air so it spins like a dream. I may even bring El Matchador out of hiding.

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Panda, as always, humored my insanity. This has grown all the more exasperating for her since Thea tends to grab whatever I'm photographing and run off with it.

Speaking of Thea, hasn't she gotten big? Her spots are becoming more and more pronounce too. She's really starting to show her cattle dog side.

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The two girls have also gotten really close. They play like puppies, and snuggle up with Leo, any chance they get.

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Admit it, you want in on that pile of cute.

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June 20, 2007

Caption me

Leo told me today about this cute program called Comic Life. It has all the templates, colors and fonts needed to make your own fun little comics.

After taking a particularly silly picture of Miss Thea-Purl, I decided it was perfect for the cover of an imaginary comic book about twisted puppies and their evil thoughts.

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Alas, creativity escapes me, and the inner machinations of her mischievous mind have not been revealed to me. Any thoughts?

June 30, 2007

No more pencils, no more books

Our little Thea graduated from Puppy Preschool, on Thursday. We couldn't be more proud of her. Admittedly, we needed only show up for class in order to graduate, but Thea worked hard these past 6 weeks and she had a great time, to boot. Thea did exceptionally well at the recall, down stay and tricks portion of the last class. Her sit stay is solid too, though she was so tired she schlumped into a down during the sit completion. Her loose leash work is bad enough that I suggest we move on to another topic.

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From here, I just decide if I want to sign up for more obedience (something she definitely needs but not as much fun) or puppy agility (lots of fun, but probably not the the ideal focus for our little bag of energy.) I bet you can guess which way I'm leaning.

July 2, 2007

September Glow

Well, El Matchador has been purring like a kitten and helped me produce another little skein of delicious yarn.

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Specs

  • Fiber: 90% Cotswold / 10% Silk (the white bits)
  • From: Nistock Farms.
  • Color: September Glow: Shades of gingerbread cookies with orange and raspberry sorbet.
  • WPI: About 20. It's a little inconsistent, leaning mostly a bit lighter, though some areas are a little thicker. The silk also tends to form nubs.
  • Length: Over 225 yards.
  • Spun on: Schacht Matchless wheel (El Matchador to you)
  • Plies: 2, plied off of two bobbins until one ran out, then switched to Andean plying to avoid waste.
  • Impressions: I just love spinning this fiber. The batts are well prepared with only the smallest amounts of vegetable matter. The fiber is not too slippery, and has a lovely sheen. It's not really next to the skin soft, but it's not all that rough either. The colors are divine. I'm looking forward to spinning up more.

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For the first time, I have washed but not weighted my yarn. This skein did get a rather good beating against the pole, but otherwise, she is unmanipulated. Apparently, there are two rather strong camps on this topic. Some people are weighers and some are not. I imagine there are good reasons for both. If I had to guess as to why you shouldn't weigh, it would be that weighing might give a false sense of balance that would then be undone the next wash the yarn (probably in knit or crochet form) went through. But that's just a guess. What do you all have to say? Anyway, after soaking in some warm water and Eucalan, and a couple thwacks before it dries, the yarn seems pretty darn balanced.

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Recently June posted about Spinning Spider Jenny. If you haven't found her, and you are a spinner, go find her now. She's a wealth of information. Jenny happened to post about her method of 2-plying. Alas, I didn't read it until mere hours after I had completed my yarn, but next time I'm definitely going to try this method. It seems rather like common sense but it's sheer brilliance to me.

In entirely unrelated news, we found another great hiking site for the girls, and this is only 5 minutes from home!

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There's a lovely place called MacLeay Park (I like to think it's a typo and should actually end in an "n" instead of "y.") in Portland that feels like its 100 miles from the closest city.

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It was a gorgeous day, though perhaps a bit hotter than we are all used to. Thank goodness we've evolved so as not to be covered in hair. How do dogs do it? It's funny, though, both girls showed some unexpected personality changes that day.

Thea, our normally fearless (seriously) hero, decided that wooden bridges were the scariest thing EVER.
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With a little coaxing and encouragement, she got a bit better, a good thing, because we crossed a good many of them, but she definitely wasn't loving them. Each time we'd reach one, she'd pull on the emergency break, I'd run across the bridge and call her and she'd muster up her courage and then bolt across. Silly monkey.


And Ms. Panda, our normally indifferent and withdrawn wallflower, suddenly decided she needed to keep an eye on Thea and defend her against dominant (not aggressive, dominant) dogs.
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She was fine with this little ball of happiness, but Panda tried to get a little b*tchy with some other bigger dogs. That's definitely something we're going to have to work on. We definitely don't want a dog that's going to be picking fights. That's no fun.

But don't let those two issues lead you to believe we didn't have a great time. It was gorgeous. You can see all of the photos from the hike here.

July 5, 2007

Seeing spots and colors

Ahh, independence day, the one day when Leo's interests and Panda's are at complete odds with each other. Leo regales me with stories from his childhood that prove that the fates love drunks and children. When the words, "made our own" and "fireworks" are strung together, I can only shake my head and be glad he has, allegedly, grown out of that phase.

While California and Oregon seem to have similar limitations on fireworks; namely that the general public can't buy things that go flying off tither and yon, Southern California is far more flammable than Portland and I think people are more reluctant to send sparks about the kindling that is their back yard. Additionally, we now live in a quiet little suburb where there is very little nightly traffic. Throughout the neighborhood, one could hear and see the assortment of volcanic light displays and sparklers, individuals were setting off in the street.

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So while this was not Panda's first 4th of July, it was definitely one of her worst. Add to the noise, the relatively warm temperatures (close to 90) and it made for one unhappy dog. Thea, on the other hand, seemed a little put out by the loudest noises but was otherwise indifferent to the whole thing.

And since lots of people will be posting fireworks today, how about some cute dog shots.

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Here's Thea showing off her fresh crop of spots. She used to be almost completely white.

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And my beautiful girls basking in the sun.

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And Thea bringing on the cute, full force.

July 6, 2007

Dogs in repose

It's been hot, and Thea and Panda are shedding hair like they think their comfort depends on it. Wait, I guess it does. Anyway, it's hot, and when it's hot, doggies like to sleep.

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I just didn't realize one would want to do it in my sandals.


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Thea is a very good sleeper


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Panda ponders whether or not I've forgotten how to use the vacuum cleaner.

Yes, I know, it's been a LOT of doggy pictures. Would it help if I told you I'm actually knitting?


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It's a project I'm doing for Stitch Diva. It's coming along swimmingly though I've done a lot of ripping to get it to the point where I'm happy with it. Luckily, my time frame for the project makes it possible to get it juuuuust right. I like that.

In other news, I saw Ms. Kat Coyle's gorgeous Lace Style skirt on Knitty Gritty, yesterday.

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It's so sad that it's styled better on KG than it was in the actual book. Oh how I pine for that skirt.

July 8, 2007

She works hard for the yummies

The heat eased off for the weekend and we put the great weather to good use. On Saturday, Leo lit up the barbecue and cooked us a delicious meal. The girls watched on as we filled our bellies.

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Afterwards, we cut up a few little scraps and did some training with them. Panda shows her well honed skills by balancing a piece of meat on her nose until Leo gave her the OK to eat it.

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Thea didn't have much interest in doing that trick.

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We had her work on some easier things after that.

Then we moved to some chores. I took the kitchen while Leo started the lawn mowing. After a few minutes, Leo said he needed some assistance and I met him outside to see him hosing off his bloodied-OHMYGODWHATHAPPENED-leg. While mowing, the lawnmower kicked up a spring that had been buried in the ground, honed it to a fine point and hurled it at his leg. He was wearing pants, which appear to have more tensile strength than his flesh as the pants are unmarred but he got himself a pretty fine little hole that bled like the dickens. He's fine and will be seeing the doctor tomorrow to be sure. Still, all that blood. Even if you think you want to see how it looked, you probably shouldn't click this. If you did, though, you can see the offending object as well.

But Leo is never one to let an oozing wound stop him from having a good time. Today, we made our way over to Manzanita Beach, but before we hit the ocean, we stopped into our favorite breakfast locale for some Eggs Benedict. Actually, we split one order of Eggs Bennie and one of Crab Cakes Benedict which is just like Benny but with a crab cake swapped out for the ham.

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Oh mama!

The girls did really wonderfully at the beach and are playing together more and more.

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Panda made some great catches and Thea was her normal social and adorable self. You can click any of these pictures to go to my flickr page and see all the other shots.

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Alas, condolences are in order. The poor faithful squirrel was lost at sea today. We all bowed our heads in respect before moving on, since, well, we have 2 more at home. I just hope that some lucky dog ends up getting it when it eventually washes ashore.

Goodbye Squirrel
2006-2007

July 12, 2007

One way to predraft your fibers

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.

July 17, 2007

(Janel + Sachi) x Jenny = New Handspun

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.

July 20, 2007

A lovable pain in the neck

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.

July 24, 2007

In which the car gets towed, the girls get a new bed and I spin up some yarn

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.

July 27, 2007

Craft and Whacking Baby Camels

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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July 31, 2007

It's not all fun and games around here

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.

August 8, 2007

When is three less than one?

It's funny, when we got Panda, she was 9 months old and a very gentle and timid sort. You could give her a stern look and she'd tuck her tail and hide in a corner. Teaching her what is ours and what is hers was a breeze. She quickly learned, "leave it," and anything that was ever dubbed as such was unharmed.

Thea, she is much younger, much more confident and far less concerned with the repercussions of her mischief. She's a good girl, don't get me wrong, but she lives in the moment and runs a little fast and loose with the law of the house. One must be ever diligent to catch her before she slips up, which is why I have only myself to blame for this.

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I closed the girls out of the office, during an important conference call, and when I came out, Thea had her handiwork on display. It's that delicious baby camel down that Thea so beautifully modeled, a little while back.

She tried to look sorry

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But then something interesting passed by the kitchen window

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As you can imagine, it was no small feat to untangle the mess, but the yarn was salvageable.

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Only two breaks, leaving me with two small and one larger ball of yarn. So, while my three little balls might not be quite as good as my one larger skein, it could definitely be worse.

Now, tell me again about how lucky I am to have such well behaved little girls. I think I need a reminder. Oh wait, here's one.


August 10, 2007

Feelin' the love

Do you love mutts?

If so, LuvMutt is having a little contest for the best summer mutt pic. Both Panda and Thea are represented, but honestly, you should vote for whomever you like best of the bunch.

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Head on over to vote now.

And if that isn't love enough, check out Goofy Dogs, a new site devoted to great pictures of dogs. Do you have a dog? Is your dog goofy? Send your pictures in and feel the love. Panda and Thea are there too!

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You know I'm a happy doggy mum.

August 12, 2007

Like we needed an excuse

Our backyard is elevated slightly, and surrounded by a short rock wall. You can see what I mean here. Instead of taking the stairs up and down, to get to the grassy area, Panda likes to simply leap.

Well, yesterday, Panda misjudged the wall a bit and slammed her front paw very hard on one of the protruding rocks. She stopped dead in her tracks.

I called out, "Panda, are you OK?"

She looked at me, limped over to me, sat, and held her paw up. My heart just sank. She looked so so sad. Of course, I showered her with kisses and coos and scratched her head.

After determining that no bones were broken and that the cuts were largely just surface abrasions, I lead her back out, slowly, to do her business and then brought her in to take a closer look at the damage.

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See those red marks? Poor thing. Just breaks my heart.

Leo suggested that this was as good an excuse as any to pack up the girls and take them to the beach. It would take Panda's mind off of any discomfort and they were really getting stir crazy, anyway.

Our first stop was in Manzanita. The wind was intense but that never phases the little ones.

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Panda showed no signs of even remembering she had hurt her foot. She didn't limp, didn't shy away from the water and had a great time, so we decided to keep going.

We headed south, following the ocean, and ended up at Manhattan Beach. There was far less wind and we were able to find a nice spot to play fetch with the pups.

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It was all fun and games until the little stink pot decided she'd rather run off and play with other people, instead of hanging out with us.

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Leo had a talk with her...

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But you know how adolescents can be.

After that, we decided to explore a bit more. We ended up at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company, which also boasted a petting zoo, wine tasting, chocolates and other sundries. We bought some cheese, wine and baguette, and headed back north, towards home.

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But not before another detour to Manzanita...

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As the sun was starting to set, Leo thought it would be fun to put some of our food to good use and suggested a picnic. We headed over to Cannon Beach, picked up a beach blanket, and caught the last few glimmers of daylight, over a couple sips of wine and cheese.

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Since we had a bit of a drive, we didn't really have much wine, but we put a nice dent on the bread and cheese. YUM. And unlike So Cal, where you have to pay to use beaches that allow camp fires and late night picnics, Cannon Beach was alight with fires set by families keen to roast marshmallows and make the most of the gorgeous evening.

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After it got dark, we reluctantly packed up for the trip home and we listened to Harry Potter XII doh! VII the whole way.

I would say that's a most excellent way to coddle a doggy's boo boo. See more pictures over at Flickr. Leo's already declared that we'll be doing many more beach picnics in the future.


August 14, 2007

Hey, how about some knitting and crocheting?

I've been posting a lot of dog photos lately, mostly because I can't post much else, but look. I have crafting!

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Remember those motifs I crocheted? I have been playing around with how to use them. I knew I didn't have enough of the motif yarn to make a whole garment, but I realized that the September Glow Cotswold and Silk yarn I spun, would look nice with the muted peach color of the motifs.

I think I want to make this into a skirt. I have quite a bit more of the Cotswold, that I can spin. I've played around with knitting and crocheting the skirt portion. Right now, the motifs are joined in such a way that they make a natural chevron, which is great for this subtly variegated yarn. I tried crocheting the skirt, but I wanted it to be a little softer and drapier, so I switched to knit instead.

It's actually really hard for me to post a this point, because I'm not totally sure I love it and I might very well rip the whole darn thing out if I'm not satisfied with the results, still, so far, it looks good enough that I feel I can share.

And aren't I doing well, not a doggy in sight.

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Urm, well, yes, Thea did sneak her paw into that shot. You can see her little goth pinkie nail. But we aren't looking at puppies in this post, we're looking at handspun yarn working up into a skirt.

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*Sigh* I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself. I mean, come on, that's funny, people. Even if you hate dogs. Plus, I think the color really brings out the pathetic expression plastered on Panda's face. Don't you agree?

August 23, 2007

Thea's out of class and some cartoons

Well, Thea had her last puppy agility class. The last two classes were the best classes she'd had. Instead of focusing on one obstacle and then getting back in line (waaaaay boring for a Cattle Dog mix) we actually worked a series of obstacles for each turn. Thea loved it. I think that being able to chain the obstacles, keeps her from over thinking it. It's just fun.

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I'm not saying she was perfect, but she did a pretty darn good job for a 6 month old.

We're taking a short hiatus from school so that Thea can get spayed, but it was enough fun for both of us that I plan to sign us up for more.

I'm going to miss her classmates, some of whom you can see below.

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Pictured are Moose, Bella, Saba and Maggie. Not pictured, but much enjoyed, are Julia and Toby. Hopefully I'll see them in future classes!

In unrelated news, I'm thinking about redesigning the ol' website. My last redesign was in 2005 and while I like it fine, I've been thinking about a little change. I've done a couple of very simple sketches.

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I think I want to go back to having a clean white background and simple graphics. I'm playing around now and will see if I can come up with something that makes me happy.

August 30, 2007

Is she a bad dog or am I a slow learner

I'm guessing it's the latter.

Over and over again, I obviously need to be reminded that Thea is not Panda and probably won't ever be. In my nearly 6 years with Panda, I can think of only a couple of items she has destroyed before she learned that she could only have things that had been explicitly given to her, everything else was off limits. Brilliant, I know. We were spoiled.

Thea, she is loving and sweet and cute in so very many ways. But there are times.

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And while her handy work does take your attention away from some of the clutter, I'm not sure it does so in a very aesthetically pleasing sort of way. Luckily, it was nothing important.

That was 3 weeks ago. Except for an odd incident when I found her giving a hex wrench a taste, she's been as close to angelic as she's capable of being. Then, on Monday, Leo and I came home from dinner to this...


Brace yourself.

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Since I last posted about this skirt, I've probably put another 6 hours into it and all that work has been handily undone.

The Inox needle and clover stitch markers are destroyed. She seemed to mainly be interested in those and not the skirt itself. There are only one or two breaks in the yarn and areas where she has pulled out short sections of rows, repeatedly, down several inches, but not across the whole round. It salvageable but it'll be some time before I'm back to where I was.

I think the hardest thing is that my momentum for this piece has been (hopefully temporarily) quashed. A few hundred stitches, worked in stockinette chevron does not for exciting knitting make.

But just when I think I might actually be able to hold a grudge, she goes and makes cute at me again.

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I'm such a sucker.

August 31, 2007

It's ALIVE

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The yarn was broken in two places and all the knitting had to be ripped, but the skirt has been revived and I've even knit a few rows.

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And lest you all think I hold any sort of grudge towards Thea, fear not. I could never be mad at her for my own poor planning. I do, however, love to give you all a good laugh, and I suspect that you all find Panda's guilty conscience even more humorous than Thea's mischievousness. If we could harvest just their best traits, we'd have one perfectly balanced pup and enough left over parts for one entirely neurotic dog.

September 3, 2007

Lovely long weekend

Leo and I have put this labor day weekend to good use, if I do say so myself. Since we are renting a house, it's always a struggle to decide how much time and money we should invest in beautification of our humble abode. It's a great little place, but after years of being rented, there's a lot that has gone neglected. This is not the loving little first home, it was originally built to be, but a way point in the lives of folks like Leo and me. Still, never one to shy away from a little hard work, Leo has decided we should get things tidied up, so on Saturday and Monday, we shoveled, we weeded, we hauled masses of toppled brick and we planted a little flower garden that we hope we'll stick around long enough to see bloom once, and only once, before buying our own home. But Sunday, we put aside our shovels and spades and seeds and bulbs and packed up our car for a trip to Manzanita Beach.

On the way, we listened to Harry Potter and I got in a little knitting.

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This skirt remains my one mindless piece of knitting, that I can plug away on when I don't want to have to worry about row counters and lace patterns and other distractions.

We were expecting some serious crowds at the beach, and places like Cannon Beach and Hug Point, were, indeed, crowded, but Manzanita proved to be an ideal spot. While there were many people, we never felt crowded or cramped.

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The girls had a wonderful time and Thea is really starting to come into her own. Slowly, Thea is building her recall and we are able to keep her off leash for longer without incident. She's still so filled with social excitement that I wouldn't trust her implicitly, the way I do Panda, but she's proving to be a wonderful little girl.

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After a quick stop over at Blue Heron to pick up some provisions, we went back to Manzanita and set up camp. We are currently conducting reconnaissance in preparation for a bigger excursion with our friends; Erica and Larry and Jackie and her pup Tulip.

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Leo is in charge of setting up the fire.

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I am in charge of proving that pups will do almost anything for salami.

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Thea was a little scared of the fire at first. Can you see her hiding behind the log?

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But she came around after a little while.

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We attempted to take a family portrait, by way of self timer.

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Twas not so successful.

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And as the sun set and the air got a little cooler, my ample tush proved excellent insulation for the not-so-little one.

See more pictures over at Flickr.

September 6, 2007

Breaking the girl

Leo won't call it, "getting her fixed," he calls it "breaking her." I call it, "getting her guts ripped out." You all probably just think of it as spaying.

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Yes, we just dropped out sweet little Stinky McFartToots off at the vet and we are feeling the emptiness of the house and the little nagging anxiety that something could go wrong. It seems far too quiet and even Panda might admit she misses the little scamp.

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Since Thea is a high energy girl who'll be laid out for a couple of days, we thought that it was an absolute necessity to give her a little fun on her last night before the surgery, so we took her to Puppy Agility.

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We weren't able to go last week and the class dynamic has changed a bit, focusing less on individual obstacles and more on linking obstacles and handling tactics. Thea's feeling her adolescences and was a touch obstinate about the more boring bits and more focused on playing and running off and ignoring me.

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Personally, that makes me feel the classes are all the more important for both of us, since it gives us a controlled environment to work through those issues.

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And even though she wasn't perfect, we did have a great time.

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed for a complication free surgery and quick recovery. Keeping that little cattle dog contained enough not to pop her stitches may be an exercise in futility but luckily, I have tomorrow off and the weekend to do my best.

Thea update

As you all knew would be the case, Thea is absolutely fine and shaking off the anesthesia as I type. We will be able to pick her up in a couple of hours and bring her home to convalesce.

Thanks for all the well wishes.

September 7, 2007

No belly rubs and lots of rest

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Panda and I both missed Thea something awful. She was sad and mopey, so I gave her lots and lots of kisses. She likes kisses.

Of course, Leo and I expressed our concern by calling the vet every hour for an update. Kudos to them for remaining pleasant each time. I like our vet.

Sitting in traffic and waiting for Thea to be brought out from the recovery area, was nerve wracking but just seeing her eyes, as bleary and unfocused as they were, was sunshine.

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Leo carried the little one in from the car. Her pink bandage covers the spot where they put in her IV. It also matches her pink stitches. Nice touch.

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Panda looked so happy to see Thea but realized right away that Thea wasn't herself and gave her space. We all went out for a wobbly potty break and Thea spent a little time trying to find a nice place to relax. She finally decided on the bed (with a little assistance up, of course.)

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She stayed pretty quiet and calm through the night, though she's been a little rowdier this morning. The doctor prescribed her some sedatives, in case she needs them, but I'm still holding out hope she'll remain relatively calm. I'm a shameless optimist.

So thanks again for everyone's warm wishes and concerns. I'm still really new to having my dogs go under the knife and it's good to be reminded how commonplace it is.

September 9, 2007

Stitches and a weird little leaf

Well, the same night we brought Thea home, she shook off the anesthesia and was ready to play. This was at about 4AM in the morning. We were only very slightly amused. Since then, it's been pretty futile trying to keep her calm. Even giving her a half dose of a sedative in the day and a full dose at night, she's pretty active. It seems to get her kind of high. That is, she walks a little goofy and seems pretty content just sleeping or obsessing over a raw hide bone, but it doesn't totally squelch her energy level altogether. She still will play at the drop of a hat. It looks like she's stretching the skin near her stitches a bit. I'm really really hoping she doesn't pop her stitches.

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On the plus side, she hasn't been licking them. Small consolation, really.

It just kills me to have to sedate her, but since she'll hurt herself if she doesn't keep still, it appears to be the only recourse. Anyone have any good suggestions for putting a pup in suspended animation, while she heals?

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One thing that does seem to calm her down is the sound of El Matchador. I've done a lot of spinning this weekend (more on that in a future post) and it usually lulls her to sleep.

She was particularly goofy after the first dose, I gave her. She was a touch wobbly, and then hopped up on the couch and reclined in this position for a good hour.

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I figured that the dose was a touch too strong, so I cut her back to a half, for any daytime hours. The vet said that we might have to play with the dosage to get it just right.


In entirely unrelated news, we have a little mystery.

Leo found this leaf, with a rock and a q-tip on top of it, perched on the corner of our house. There's a little brick facade running along the bottom 3 feet of the house, that juts out a couple inches. Someone had placed the items there.

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We are thinking that it was something the neighbor's kid made for us, but we haven't seen her around to ask. If so, it's a cute gesture, however, if it wasn't from a kid, the q-tip really creaps it up a notch, you know?

Here are the q-tip and back of leaf and rock. We placed them all in a bag, just in case.

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We have no idea what the writing says, it's a little hard to read, but it sort of looks like the biggest words are, "The King."

Anyway, does anyone have any idea what could have been used, in conjunction with a q-tip (ie, a liquid) to produce the blue writing on the leaf? Hopefully, it's something totally benign.

September 11, 2007

Hola, El Matchador

You know how I said that spinning puts Thea to sleep? Well, that seemed as good an excuse as any to spend some quality time with El Matchador.

At first, I thought I'd just spin up enough of my Cotswold to have a skein ready when I run out on my skirt.

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But once I plied the yarn and skeined it, I had, what appeared to be, a relatively small amount of fiber remaining, so I figured, what the heck, I'll spin up the rest.

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The result is a skein that is 297 yards long and a second skein that is 217 yards long. Added to the 225 yards I already have, I have a total of [insert calculator here] 739 yards. That should be plenty to finish the piece.

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Thea helped me with the photoshoot. It's nice that we can have both an out of focus AND poorly lit image. She's really an artiste.

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I'm not going to do another whole round up of the yarn, since I've already done one here and it's the same, only different, or whatever. I will say that I continue to really enjoy spinning this yarn. It is well prepared, with only a little bit of vegetable matter and the colors are gorgeous.

In my next post, I start doing the spinning equivalent to making a gauge swatch. Good girl, Marnie, here's a cookie.


Quick question, would anyone out there be interested in some very basic tips for using Photoshop to adjust color and exposure in an image? I'm no expert and I sort of wonder if anyone who can afford Photoshop, already knows it well enough, not to need any help, but if folks are interested, I'd be happy to do a tutorial. Just leave a comment with your thoughts.

September 12, 2007

Going boldly where many spinners have gone before

For the most part, when I spin, I grab my fiber, pick a whorl and go for it. I think this has worked out for me, largely because I tend to spin small quantities (generally around 2-4 ounces) and I have a pretty limited skill set and comfort zone with spinning. Even my last batch of fiber, which was closer to 7 ounces, came out pretty consistent despite my making little effort to check consistency along the way.

But, like the person who has reasonable success knitting patterns without making a gauge swatch, past successes do not mean future success. I've been holding onto a pound of fiber my parents got me, for over a year, awaiting a time when I felt I had the skill and patience to spin up the whole lot into enough yarn to make something substantial. I'm not sure that I've actually met either of those qualification but dammit, the fiber is gorgeous and I want to spin it.

Spurred on by Amy's great article in Knitty, I decided to try to approach this project with a semblance of a plan and, perhaps, some organization.

A while back, I ordered these Spinning Project Cards (I refuse to spell the last word with a "k" unless someone can give me a good reason for it being spelled that way) by mistake, thinking they were something else.

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They are basically index cards with preprinted areas for information you might wish to include about your yarn. I don't think I'll be ordering them again. For the same price, one could buy a pack of 100 index cards and only include the info relevant for the project. I am not saying these are poorly designed. If you like the look of clean, unlined cards, and spin enough that you don't want to have to write out all the labels, this might be totally worth it for you, just not for me.

Even so, I had no normal index cards lying around and no need to waste these. Surprisingly, despite the myriad of fields preprinted, there didn't seem to be a spot to indicate the whorl used so I just slapped that info in wherever.

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If all goes according to plan, I should be producing a 3ply yarn (off of three bobbins, not Navajo plying) that works up to, oh, 14-15 WPI. The fiber is corriedale in a beautiful deep olive shade.

So far, it's spinning up quite nicely. The fiber is well prepared and needs only minimal predrafting. We'll see how long I can spin a plain green fiber before I get bored. Luckily, I always have my spindles.


In doggy news, Thea seems to be healing up well enough. She's still a bundle of energy and I think I'll be as excited to be able to let her play as she will.

Our vet is quite awesome. Check out what we got in the mail yesterday:

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They took a picture of the little girl, before her surgery and printed out this lovely award. If you click the image, you can go to flickr and find a higher resolution version. Check out the text below the Vet's signature.

We pulled the crate out of the bedroom for use when the two of us have to leave the girls unattended. Theoretically, the crate should be for Thea, when she needs some quiet time.

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Panda, however, seems to think it's all hers. Could you say no to that face?


As for the Photoshop tutorial, it sounds like there's enough interest that it's definitely worth my doing it. Getting stuff together, I'm thinking I may have to break it out into a couple smaller, more digestible pieces. Hopefully, the first tutorial will be posted by the end of the week.

September 16, 2007

Stewie is home!

Our car, Stewie, is back home after being in the body shop for over a month. It's good to have him back, and the shop did a really fabulous job, both dealing with the insurance company and repairing the damage.

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Thea has been healing up beautifully

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When we give her meds, we wrap them in peanut butter. She finds it both delicious and infuriating, with its tenancy to stick to the roof of her mouth. I find this amusing. I might, possibly, maybe, tend to squish the peanut butter up on the roof of her mouth, maybe, just to make it last a little longer. I might also be a horrible horrible person.

Actually, we've taken her off the sedatives, but we do still give her a little peanut butter just because she loves it so.

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Both girls got some extra special treats from Leo.

Both approve...heartily.

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However, not to be indelicate, but we have been experiencing a steady flow of eye watering, paint peeling, make a grown person cry level of excess "air" from the little one. I really can't express just how bad it's been. I'm declaring an embargo on all future purchases of this treat. While the rawhide/pork combo appealed to the girls more than almost any treat we've gotten, the consequences have been too brutal to re-live.

Your mileage may vary.

September 22, 2007

Assessing the skirt progress

It seemed about time to move the skirt to some waste yarn and see how it's coming along. I have mixed feelings

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Things I like:
  • The crochet: I think the motifs are cute and hang nicely.
  • The colors: While I don't usually buy these colors for myself, I think they are lovely and the colors compliment each other nicely.
  • The chevrons: Who doesn't like chevron? It breaks up the horizontal nature of the subtly variegated yarn.


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Things I don't like:


  • Yarn choice: I feel like the main yarn should be a little drapier. I don't feel there's enough weight to the piece to pull off the effect I'm envisioning

  • Skirts: I don't wear skirts. What the hell am I thinking?

  • Shape: Would a-line instead of straight have been better?

I'll probably finish the piece, just to see how it comes out, but I'm starting to think there may have been a better project for these yarns.

On the plus side, I should have 300 or more yards of the main yarn leftover when I'm done. What will I do with it? I dunno. I'll have it nonetheless.


I've been spinning bits of the Corriedale, here and there. It's been quite relaxing and mindless.

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I'm annoyed, though, with my Woolee Winder. It's great, don't get me wrong, but it really upsets my sense of balance that it doesn't load the yarn evenly. Some of it appears to be that the whorls from Schacht aren't perfectly machined. There's an ever so slight gap, but I'm realizing that it's not enough to account for the severity of the imbalance.

Has anyone else who has a Woolee Winder seen this and if so, is there a way to fix it?

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Oh and Thea had her stitches taken out and has been taking full advantage of the ensuing belly rubs.

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She's such a little floozy.

September 24, 2007

Back to our old selves

It's so nice to be back to normal. We went for our first hike since Thea's surgery and it was beautiful.

The air in Portland has gotten a nice coolness that makes exercising and hiking, a real pleasure. The leaves are just starting to turn and the skies have been partly cloudy, which suits my light sensitive eyes, just fine.

We decided to keep our adventure local and hit MacLeay park again. On our last hike there, we hit the lower trail. It's a relatively easy hike down and then a mostly flat hike to the end which is paved and handicapped accessible.

On this trip, we hit the Upper MacLeay trail which intersects a myriad of other trails. I have a feeling we could do a month of weekend hikes and never take the same route twice. The trail proved to be a nice little workout for the lot of us.

The girls were antsy to get started.

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And Leo needed to get the GPS set and grab the bear grade pepper spray

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But once we got started, we all admired the sights.

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There was one moment when Leo thought he was going to have to actually use his pepper spray.

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These two dogs came barreling at us, full speed, and growling, while we were walking around the neighborhood. Neither was on leash and both were giving our girls the hairy eyeball. The owner made a futile attempt to call them back.

I'm not sure if their intention had ever been to do more than make a little scene, but it all could have ended pretty unpleasantly if we hadn't diffused the situation. Leo and I both got between her dogs and ours and Thea eventually won everyone over with her cuteness.

The owner never did bother to come over and get her dogs, she just stood a block away and called them. I find that rather disconcerting, but perhaps I'm a touch over protective.

In the end, it all ended up fine and Thea was more worn out than we've seen her in weeks.

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If that isn't the happiest site you know, you don't have a high energy dog.

See the rest of the pictures, over in my flickr set.

September 28, 2007

Purdy stuff from the garden

When we moved into this house, just over a year ago, the garden was in pretty bad shape. Take a look.

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Ugly, huh? I think the landlord may have simple removed all the dying flowers before we moved in, which is why it look so barren.

Since then, we've done some serious work. We removed the flower bed wall that had fallen down, leveled the dirt, and put in a little black fence.

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This variety of grass is always yellow, this time of year, but it'll be lush again when spring rolls around.

We also planted tons of bulbs and wildflower seeds. Unfortunately, a lot of what we planted over the past couple of months, appear to be annuals so we're not sure how many flowers we'll see before they're all gone. There are some perennials too, which should hopefully flourish after winter.

After much hand wringing our first buds have appeared.

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We now have A flower.

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Yup, one big pink flower. Just another couple dozen and it'll actually kinda pretty around these parts.

The plants obscure a little of the view out the front window, but that didn't stop Panda from seeing a trespasser. Can you see him?

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Ooh, Panda's nemisis.

The rosebush in front has produced a second round of blooms for us. And you know what looks great with pink? A little black and white.

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Now, THAT'S purdy.

October 2, 2007

Fine tuning

A little while back, I posted this picture and lamented that my WooLee Winder wasn't filling evenly.

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Well, June came through with a most excellent suggestion. If I twist the traveling loop so that it is angled towards the smaller end, it will shift everything in that direction, resulting in a more even feed.

It's going to take some fine tuning, but I'm definitely seeing improvement.

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The skirt is progressing. After taking this photo, I threw in a lifeline and am now deciding how I want to work the chevrons into flat stitches. The key is not only making smooth transition from the zigzag to flat, but also adjusting the gauge which changes from 8 stitches per inch in chevron to 6 stitches per inch flat.

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And look, my garden gave me another bloom. I am pleased.

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Quite a few more buds have popped up and several look ready to burst open in the next day or two.

I don't know how obvious it is to you, but I think we have two different varieties of Cosmos here. The smaller flower actually has slightly different shaped petals than the bigger one. I may be totally wrong but since we dumped several different mixes of seeds here, I think it's possible.


And finally, I'll be posting an interview with Donna Druchanus at the end of the month. I'm day 23 of her blog tour. I'm about halfway through the book now and gathering my questions.

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I've worked with Donna before and am really looking forward to the interview. Expect lots of questions about the book and her travels and maybe some little tangents into her other interests. I just hope that I'm able to come up with questions she hasn't already answered a million times.


October 4, 2007

Getting there

Boy do I love life lines. I've used this one a couple times, but by Jove, I think I've got it. Some of the mishaps may have been caused by watching an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Man, that show is funny, and distracting.

Here's a closeup of the lifeline, subsequent filler stitches and Thea's paw.

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The vertical row of locking stitch markers indicated decrease rows. I really don't want a huge amount of cinching required to hold this skirt up. When you have a 10 inch difference between hips and waist, that can be a substantial amount of extra fabric.

Here's a view of the whole skirt so far. There's only one spot in the house that gets much natural light and it's where Thea and Panda's bed resides. They seem to find it curious that the spot also becomes my photo studio, some days.

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It's really easy to tell how far I've knit since I blocked the piece.

Tomorrow, I fly down to the greater San Fransisco area for a quick meet up with the owner of Stitch Diva Studios. We're finishing up another project together. That's all I can tell you for now, but I hope there'll be a sneak preview up in the near future.

October 10, 2007

Shoes that hurt with a brand new skirt

It was rainy most of this morning so I thought I'd only have crappy indoor shots to show you.

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Or pictures of the piece being blocked

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A closeup of the waistband facing might be interesting

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But we got a bit of sun and I was able to take some better shots.

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With a little help from my friends

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October 22, 2007

Distraction

Thank you all for your very kind words, sympathies, stories and thoughts. I've read every comment twice and they make me remember how lucky I am to have family that loves me and whom I love in return.

It's the wet season, here in Portland and the weekend was mostly rainy and overcast, interspersed with beautiful sunny moments. It suited my contemplative mood.

On Saturday, we took the girls for a walk around our neighborhood and enjoyed the fall foliage. I think the cost of having dogs should be covered by medical insurance. Panda and Thea never cease to make me laugh, no matter the circumstances.

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On Sunday, we headed to Cannon Beach, for a breakfast of Crabcakes Benedict and a long run on the beach. It was a bit cold and rainy, which didn't make for great photos, but the girls couldn't have been happier and the evening of quiet and calm snuggling on the couch meant that everyone was feeling peaceful.

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I guess for me, losing someone ultimately makes me more resolved to value those who are still with me and I think this weekend suited that goal.

I have lots of less depressing stuff to blog soon, including a new knit in progress, and interview with Donna Druchunas, and some more photos of Giselle.

October 24, 2007

Various and sundry topics

Lots more pictures of Giselle, including the cropped version, over here.

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See some beautifully retouched photos here.


Leo has been making jack-o-lanterns and I have been toasting the seeds.

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The pirate is getting a little long in the tooth, after a week outside. The orange one is new. It weighed almost 40lbs before being gutted. That's how much each of the pups weigh.


If the weather stays relatively mild, we'll be getting a lot more cosmos.

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The bees like em

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Is there anything sweeter?

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October 25, 2007

Epona

It is probably obvious that over the last year I have worked on some rather time consuming projects. I have several as yet unveiled ones as well as the Poet Coat and Giselle.

Something hit me this weekend and I just needed to knit a sock. As a general rule, I'm not much for knitting socks, though there are obviously some exceptions, but this weekend, it just felt like the right project and it is more portable than my larger secret project has become.

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Stats

Yarn: Socks that Rock Medium Weight Superwash Merino
Color: Rose Quarts
Yardage: About 130 yards per sock so a 380 yard skein is more than ample for a pair
Constructions: Toe up, short row toe, gusset, decorative heel flap, tubular bind off
Needles: Toe worked on 2.75MM, remainder of sock worked on 3.25 MM

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I did a few things that might not be totally standard. I worked the toe in a smaller needle than the rest of the sock because the gauge of the stockinette toe is so much wider than the twisted stitch pattern. The smaller needles weren't to match the gauge, just to make it a little more even.

And I decided to forgo the reinforced heel flap that most people like. I realize it's more functional to do a standard slipped stitch heel flap, but I just never liked how it interrupted the flow of the stitch pattern on a sock.

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Both motifs, on the sock, can be found in Barbara Walker's stitch dictionaries but I made some modifications to both. The main motif required a substantial overhaul while the side motif was just changed so that it would have the same number of rows in each repeat as the main motif.

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I think my only concern with this design is that anyone with even slightly shapelier legs than my own, will need some shaping at the calf. Luckily, I've thought about how to handle that and will be putting shaping instructions in the pattern.

Oh, did I not mention that I plan to write a pattern for this? Yah, I do.

November 9, 2007

Starting the weekend off on a cute note

I haven't posted any doggy pictures in a while. Shame on me.

Ms. Panda looking gorgeous.

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Thea bringing the puppy eyes.

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Both girls playing in the backyard on a foggy morning.

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Thea in her Total Recall class. Lots more pictures here.

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And on an unrelated note, check out this spider web I spied waaaaay up in a tree in my front yard.

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November 11, 2007

Snow

We drove to Mt. Hood today.

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It's hard to take a bad picture of such a beautiful mountain, but with the bright blue sky, it was all the more gorgeous.


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The girls were anxious to get to our destination.


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We went to Timberline and hiked up one of the trails. There wasn't that much snow so the skiing was sparse, but there were quite a few people hiking and sledding near the base of the trail.


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Panda mostly wanted to roll in the snow. The deeper the snow, the happier she was.


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Thea wanted to run around like a maniac and eat snow.

A truly fabulous outing.

See all the pictures here.

November 20, 2007

Hey everybody, you're invited to a grafting party.

With puppy chaser at the end.

I recently posted the shameful state of a piece I was working on, for a book. When last we saw this project, I had detached the sleeve, from below the cap, held it on a spare needle and ripped back the sleeve cap, so that I could remove the extra rows from one of the front sections of the garment.

After fixing the front, I picked up and reknit the sleeve cap.

09-Sleeve Cap Reknit


I moved the live stitches to circulars so I wouldn't have to deal with so many needles. This picture was taken en route to the ocean. The picture quality goes WAAAAY downhill from here. I apologize, but frankly, as much as I love you all, I'm not going to wait for a sunny day to get this issue fixed up.


I cut a tail long enough to go around the sleeve about 4 times. Aligning the sleeve with sleeve cap, I started grafting.

10-Begin grafting


There's a great tutorial here, if you've never tried grafting before.


Every few inches, I took a look at the row of grafting to assess the tension.

11-Check tension as you go


It can be ugly, no?


To fix, I just use my tapestry needle to ease the yarn out towards the unworked stitches.

11-Adjust tension


Sometimes I'd go back and adjust a couple times in the same spot, but I never lost my mind over it. The wool content of the yarn should allow me to ease out minor inconsistencies in the blocking stage.


The work went pretty quickly. Here, I'm nearly done.

12- nearly done


What can I say, I rather like grafting.


Once all was done, the work looked pretty much good as new.

13-Fin


Let's close this out with that puppy chaser I promised.

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See all the pics from our trip to the beach on Sunday, here.

November 23, 2007

A totally traditional Thanksgiving

The other day, we went to the grocery store to get t-day supplies. The thing is, the meat section smelled liked an outhouse. We decided not to get a turkey there. We meant to get one elsewhere, but that didn't happen.

That's OK, because we didn't really think we'd be cooking on the holiday. Instead, we made plans to meet up with some of our friends for some fun on the beach with the pups.

The day was perfect. The sun was shining, the air was crisp and cool and without any wind. Lovely day. The only problem is that Panda was getting over a cold and Leo decided that we couldn't risk her getting worse.

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I can't believe I'm writing this, but Panda had to -- *sob* -- stay home. I still feel guilty.

Larry, Erica, Leo, Thea, and I, made our way to the Oregon coast. We started our day with breakfast. I, of course, had the Crabcakes Benny.

Then, we headed over to Seaside for a bit of fetch.

Larry threw the squirrel.

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Leo threw the squirrel.

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Erica threw the squirrel.

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Thea is a very happy pup. And heck, we're just happy that our friends want to entertain the little beast a bit.

Thea started to slow down some, until she met this beautiful dog, Cocoa.

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Much chasing ensued.


We headed up to Ecola State Park and saw an Elk along the way.

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She was just hanging out in someone's yard. Erica said the rest of the herd were on the other side of the road, but we didn't notice.


At Ecola, we enjoyed the scenery.

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I don't think it gets much more beautiful than this.

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I really do wish that Panda had been in this picture. I guess we'll just have to drag Larry and Erica out again for another romp on the beach.

Before we called it quits, we dropped by Manzanita, to ensure a thoroughly pooped pup.

We met the first dog ever who didn't fall madly in love with Thea.

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This little Italian Greyhound puppy sought the security of humans to save him from Thea. Don't you just want to scoop him up kiss his little cheek?

There are tons more pictures over here, if you want to see them.



After a little more play, we all headed home, with a quick stop for coffee and pie on the way. Once home, I cooked up some mashed potatoes and stuffing, to round out the day. Hey, I told you it was a totally traditional Thanksgiving.

Hope that wherever you are, you had as lovely a day as I did. Next time, though, I want Panda there too.

November 29, 2007

Trouble, thy name is Thea

There really are days when I want to trade her in for a guinea pig or maybe a German Shepherd, heck, there are days when I'd probably trade her for a nice piece of chocolate. For instance, you could have gotten a very nice deal on a slightly used, definitely broken, Cattle Dog mix, last week.

The scene:
Green cream filling everywhere. One might assume it's another eviscerated toy.

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One would be wrong

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Upon closer inspection, it appears that some little stinker has taken it upon herself to do surgery to her own bed. The dirty little...*ahem*

Nothing to do but break out the sewing kit.

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Poor franken-bed.

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I guess I'd never appreciate just how good Miss Panda is, if it weren't for her devilish little sister.

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Of course, it's always the bad girls who get all the love. You can see some of Thea's other handiwork over at Goofy Dogs.

And lest you think I'm boxing her up and shipping her back to the factory for a refund, fear not. She'll always be my sweet little demon.

December 3, 2007

My dogs are weird

One might be a basket case

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I wanted to sit next to Panda but there was no room on the bed.


The other is channeling her inner long haul trucker.

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Breaker Breaker 1-niner. Just passed a brown paper bag by the chew 'n choke in Cow Town. Don't feed the bears. Catch ya on the flip flop. Over and out.

December 13, 2007

Clicky clicky

And feel the love.

December 17, 2007

A weekend of goodily goodness

Panda is today's Grown-Up Daily Pup.


*Sigh* I had so much fun this weekend that I'm all the more sad it's Monday. On Friday, Leo and I watched bad movies while I spun up my batt of sparkly BFL that I got from Amy back at the Fiber Frolic, in Maine.

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Photos never do sparkly things justice, so take my word for it, when I say it looks lovely without being garish, almost like it was lightly sprinkled with silver dust. I spun the singles up and then plied it into a 3-ply using the Navajo plying method. The photos are pre-wash and thwack. I have about 98 yards of approximately DK weight yarn. I will definitely work this into something, but what, I'm not sure.


On Saturday night, we celebrated a friend's birthday by going out for dinner and playing pool...very very poorly. If any of you watch the American version of The Office, it's like when Kelly and Pam played ping-pong. That certainly didn't take away from the fun.
Actually, it probably made it more fun. The best part is, I got to flip off a hummer.

Awesome.


If that weren't all good enough, on Sunday, we packed up the girls (who were feeling plenty stir crazy with all the rain we've gotten) and headed to Mt. Hood for a good hike in the snow.

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See all the pictures here.

December 20, 2007

Astoria

I finished Astoria.

Astoria front alone Astoria front layered

If I hadn't flubbed the sleeves, the first go around, I probably could have finished this baby in a week.

Most setbacks slow my momentum substantially, and this was no exception, but since this piece is one of those ubiquitous top-down raglans, there was no reason not to finish it up. Almost all the work was already done, and having tried it on, I was sure it was a design I'd enjoy wearing.

Astoria front full length Astoria with helpers Astoria back full length

The finished piece looks just like I hoped. The body darts allowed me to get a good custom fit and I think the wave motif pops nicely against the deep gray and purple.

And for all of you voyeurs, here's a look at the garments naughty bits.

Astoria floats

I ended up with plenty of leftover yarn, after the piece was done. I could have made the sleeves much longer but I didn't think it would look right with the length of the garment. Like Goldilocks would say, this seemed "juuuuuust right."

For those who might ask, and several of you have already, I'm not sure if I'll offer a pattern. Right now, I'm just happy to have a deadline associated with this. We'll see. It's simple enough that it might be worth it to write something up.

On an, arguably, unrelated note, you see those jeans up there? I like them. They fit me well. You see how, in that top left shot, they sit on my hips, near the hem of Astoria? Those are considered a high waisted cut. Can you believe that? When did our waistlines get so low that 3 inches below my belly button is high waisted? Or is my torso so freakishly long that there isn't a mom-pant alive that can pass my hip bone? Let me tell you though, it's nice to wear a pair of pants that doesn't threaten to show the world my knees from a bird's eye view. You know?

December 24, 2007

Reader's choice

All that merry and happy stuff for whatever it is you want to be merry and happy about.

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The girls, Leo and I will be enjoying a Merry Christmas of no obligation and, perhaps, a little hiking. Who could ask for a better present?

December 26, 2007

Beautiful Christmas Day

Christmas day, we slept in late, then donned our winter wear for another trip to Mt Hood National Forest.

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Thea spent the whole ride there, looking out the back window. Whenever we'd stop, both girls would cry with excitement, hoping we'd be getting out and into the snow.

But our first stop wasn't for hiking, it was to put chains on the tires.

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Leo insisted he needed no help, so we stayed snuggly warm in the car while he worked his butt off.

We found a trail we hadn't been to before and began our hike. Leo and the girls went bounding off the trail for a little run and all found themselves hip deep in snow.

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Panda didn't seem to mind.

But Thea and Leo had a bit more struggle with it.

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Nope, he's not kneeling, he's nearly standing upright.

I don't think these other pictures need captions, except to say we had a most wonderful time.

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See lots more pictures here. Hope your Christmas was just as lovely.

December 27, 2007

Bigger, longer and unchomped

Some of you might remember a certain little beast doing quite a job on my old niddy noddy. The poor thing was cut down savagely in the prime of its life. I probably could have sanded it down, refinished it and put it back to use, and, who knows, maybe I will someday, but it certainly hasn't happened yet and I don't see myself doing it anytime soon, so I've been using my leg as a niddy noddy since then, or just winding right off the bobbin, onto the ball winder.

But between you, me and the lamppost, I'd been wanting a longer niddy noddy. The short one is fine for what I can spin off a spindle, but off the wheel, I knew I wasn't getting an accurate yardage count because I'd have to wrap the yarn around the noddy so very many times, that it would bulge out substantially.
Plus, these Kromski niddy noddies are really a pretty good price.


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And what's that pretty skein up there, you ask?
Why, it's some more of the fiber from my Almost Solid Sampler pack. I grabbed three shades in two fibers,
BFL in Hosta
Corriedale in Delphinium
and
Corriedale in Juniper Berry


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The camera doesn't show the blues very accurately. The middle bobbin is like a dusty indigo color while the outer bobbins are a little less saturated but similar in hue to what you see.

I got about 130 yards of all three colors combined and then another 20 or so yards of just the two outer bobbins combined and maybe 3-4 yards of just the green yarn. You can see the streak of very green color in the finished skein.

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Embiggening the photo should allow you to see the individual colors of the skein a little better.

Also

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That is all.

January 2, 2008

Hello 2008

Have you all missed me? Well, you probably haven't quite noticed I was gone, but I have been. Last Friday, in the wee hours of the morning, we packed up the car, the dogs and plenty of provisions, and headed out for a road trip.

ROAD TRIP!

I decided it would be a bad idea to announce, for all the world to see, that our house would be vacated for 5 whole days. I would have loved to have blogged along the way, but wiser heads prevailed.

When I have the energy, I'll upload our photos and regale you with some stories. But, for now, I'm too tired to put it all together into something coherent. Until then, I'm sending warm new year's wishes to all of you. Here's hoping yours was even half as spectacular as ours.

January 4, 2008

New Year's Eve Road Trip - Part I

IMG_0006.JPGIn the oh-so-wee hours of Friday morning, long before the sun was even thinking of rising, we packed our last few items into the car and headed towards the Oregon Coast. This would be Thea's first and Panda's longest road trip and we wondered how the two girls would fare. Both had been known to suffer from motion sickness and Thea still struggles with her house breaking. This could turn out to be a messy trip, indeed.

For the month preceding the trip, Leo and I plotted and schemed. We knew we wanted to spend New Year's Eve in San Francisco, and Leo had the week of Christmas, and the following Monday and Tuesday off. How best to use that time without breaking the bank? We decided to do a two day, scenic drive to San Francisco, 3 nights in the city and then the fastest drive home on Tuesday. For accommodations, while on the road, we'd rely on our ample supply of camping gear and our boxy little car, Stewie.

We arrived at the Oregon Dunes, just as the sun was rising, exactly as we had hoped.

 

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Of course, we let the girls out for a run.

The weather would be the best we'd see that day, overcast and a bit chilly, but not more than a mist of precipitation.

As we continued to work our way down the coast of Oregon, we found many lovely little spots to stop and take in the scenery.

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And whenever we could, we stopped to let the girls run around.

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As we crossed the border to California, we entered the first of several Redwood forests. Redwoods, if you aren't aware, are rather large trees, overall. This sign seemed redundant to us

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But who could ignore it?

Guess what we found at the end of the short trail?

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A big tree! No kidding.

As the sun set, we found ourselves in Eureka, California, which, incidentally, doesn't look anything like it does on that TV show. Much like my last road trip with Julia, we were between several redwood forests and we had to carefully weigh the benefits of making more time versus the disappointment of missing the beautiful sights. With Julia, though, our problem was that there were no open motels when we were ready to quit. With Leo, it's that none of the stops were just right.

Finally, after much poo-pooing we found a place that was just right. A sweet little RV campground with several festively decorated cabins.

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We rented an RV spot, and I took the girls for a walk while Leo struggled through torrential rain and pitch blackness to get the car set up for the evening. Thea has never pottied on a leash before and despite much coaxing and encouraging, she wasn't in a mind to start that night. For Leo's part, he was doing his best to avoid getting everything we owned soaked while attempting to set up the car for the night. Normally, in an Element, you can lay each front and back seat flat to produce two long single beds. We had an air mattress to lay over it and a doggy bed to put on the side. However, having over packed and with too much rain to leave much outside, only the back seats could lie flat, which meant Leo had to place the air mattress over much of our stuff. A little unlevel, but better than sleeping sitting up.

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With a passable sleeping arrangement in order, we threw in two wet dogs and a few blankets, and were in business. Yah, try to contain your envy. As we dug out some snacks and put a DVD into the laptop, something happened and we heard a hiss.

I think you know what's coming. We popped a hole in the air mattress. Thea's crate, in it's broken down mode, had some sharp little points, which, having done their business with the mattress, were now digging into our legs. This was an unexpected turn of events. We figured we would simply have to face the long night ahead, until we remembered that Leo is always prepared. Queue the MacGyver theme music.

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A few snips to a vinyl glove, some super glue and a minute's wait and we had a perfect fix.

As long as Thea managed to hold her bladder for the night, we just might get a half decent sleep.

Find out if we did, in the next installment.

New Year's Eve Road Trip - Part 2

IMG_0038.JPGAfter making a very painful attempt to watch I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, we tucked everything away, and curled in for bed.

The rain was relentless, drumming on the roof without pause. And it was cold. Not frostbite cold, but definitely cold enough that we all huddled together. And who was the star of the huddle? Thea. Seriously, that girl should come in every camping survival kit. She didn't care how much I tossed and turned, all she wanted was to sleep curled up, like a cat, in the crook of my stomach and she was like my own little furnace. At one point, I woke up to her shivering and I tucked her in under the blankets with me.Cute little monkey.

We all woke up a little achy but totally rested and no one had an accident. Awesome. Heck, I'll take smelling a little of wet dog over the possible alternatives.

The sun was just peeking through the heavy cloud cover, as we arose. It was pretty spectacular watching the scenery unfold through Stewie's sunroof. I took the girls for a walk and, we even got an on-leash pottie. Will wonders never cease?

With the car packed, the sun up and the family rested, it was time for more scenic driving. According to our map, we were quite a bit more than halfway to our destination. Our goal that day was to continue following the ocean until we reached San Francisco, and then head straight to the hotel, unpack and get us some of the crab that Leo has been pining for.

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The rain had lightened a bit and left behind a thick shroud of fog. Dreamy.

We were peckish, but decided to hold off on lunch when we reach this sign.

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Ooh, a drive through tree. I've heard of this. Relieved of five of our dollars we made our way to the tree.

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Hmm

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Yah, we don't fit. This sign appears to have employed some artistic license.

Still cool tree.

Off we go to find the girls a place to run off some of their pent up energy.

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The great thing about bad weather is that we get the beaches nearly to ourselves. The girls, they were happy.

Slowly, the lack of blood sugar started to sink in, and I began to become, let's say, a bit touchy. I was ready to find some food. We were hoping for a nice sit down meal, nothing that comes from a drive-through. We passed several perfectly acceptable little cities and I grew increasingly, er, touchy, but Leo assured me that those exits simply wouldn't do. When I had nearly reached the point where I was considering lobbing his arm off and consuming that, we saw a sign for a "business district" for a town we had not heard of before. It seemed as good a place to turn as any, and so we wound our way into the quaint little city of Mendocino.

This place was perfect. Exactly what we wanted.

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We sat down at a cute hotel restaurant, ordered some soup and sandwiches, and a touch of coffee, and felt renewed. On the way to the restaurant, I had even seen a little LYS. Everything was 20% off so Leo and the girls went for a walk while I went for a little spend. I was surprisingly restrained, all things considered.

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Still, we assumed, very much on scheduled, we headed off for the last leg of our trip.As we cruised down the 101, we looked forward to the point when we'd meet up with Route 1 and get to the really beautiful sights.

Now, Leo and I have driven every inch of the 101 and 1 from Mexico to San Francisco. We are well aware of the fact that much of 1 winds snakelike through canyons, yet we had still convinced ourselves that the 800 miles down the 101 were a good means of estimating our last 200 miles on Route 1. We had visions of arriving in San Francisco, even before our 3PM check-in time. Awesome.

We soon found ourselves creeping carefully around the hairpin turns and soggy roads. The car seemed to sway, just tempting the girls to expel their full tummies. The sights? Oh, gorgeous.

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But the sun soon began its decent, and those foggy and twisty roads proved quite the white knuckle slalom towards what I simply KNEW was certain death. With 100 miles left to go, minimal visibility and top speeds of 30 mph, it began to feel like we'd never get our crab before the restaurant closed shop for the evening.

The girls never made a peep, never had an accident and remained absolutely angelic the whole time.

We did stop to give them a break

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But they seemed as ready to get to the hotel as we.

Finally, at nearly 8PM, we rolled into the hotel parking lot and began unloading and setting up. The girls just seemed happy to be on terra firma again and Leo and I were happy to get a shower and change of clothes.

We even made it in time to get some dinner. Fried artichoke hearts for me, and Leo, well, he got crabs, no cream required for this affliction.

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YUM. And did you notice a certain hat making a cameo?

A little live music at Joe's and then we went back to walk the girls and go to bed. Ahhhh, what a day.

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Can you stand some more? Another installment soon.

January 6, 2008

New Year's Eve Road Trip - Part 3

Ahh, San Francisco. If we could pick any city in the US, in which to live, it'd probably be here. This is not to say that we don't love Portland, because we do, but there is just something about San Francisco.

We arrose relatively early on Sunday morning and decided to reward our good little girls with a walk in the park.

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We spent a couple hours frolicing in the park and the girls had a fantastic time. Even Panda let loose a little in her own reserved way. The folks in the park were just delightful too.

Once we'd exhausted the girls throuroughly, we dropped them off at the hotel, and went out for lunch. Guess what Leo wanted.

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There's only so much butter and garlic soaked, and fried food I can handle, so I opted for a salad instead.

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Mmm

Oh, and look who joined us for lunch

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It's good ol' COF. San Francisco is a great place for knitwear.

Being Sunday, we didn't have grand expectations for nightlife options, but it turned out that riiight down the street from where we were staying was a cute little bar called the Voodoo Lounge. We ordered a couple filthy martinis, and, to Leo's delight, we got to play some poker.

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We both lost. The big winner was the bartender.

After losing we headed back to the hotel, all of 100 feet away, and tucked into bed. The girls seemed glad to see us.

The next day, New Year's Eve, we decided to devote solely to relaxation and spending time with the pups.

It looked a lot like this, plus some walks and a quick breakfast at a neighboring cafe. There might also have been some knitting. More on that in a future post.

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When evening rolled around, we showered and got purdy. There was a moment of panic when I realized the shoes I brought to go with my dress were busted, and that we forgot to pack my wrap, and the nylons I had gotten came with a hole. Oy! Luckily, I'd brought a more casual, but still appropriate alternative outfit. Rolling with the punches, baby.

We made a reservation at a restaurant we had passed a bazillion times but never entered, called Bobo's. Turns out it's owned by the same folks who make his favorite crab AND they specialize in Leo's other favorite food, steak. I appologize to all my vegitarian friends out there, this may make you queezy, but for us, this meal was extrodinary.

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We started with iron skillet roasted muscles and some lobster soup, and followed it with a petite filet for me and a bone in filet for Leo and a crab. Great googily moogily, so good and so much food. We finished the meal with a cup of espresso and then popped back over to the hotel room to brush our teeth and give the girls a little taste.

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Happy New Year to THEM.

For the celebration, we headed over to Leo's favorite Cigar Bar for some live music, mojitos and, of course, a cigar. When midnight rolled in, we had a big smooch and a glass of bubbly. Perfect.

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But the night wasn't over. We made a quick walk to the waterfront to catch a few fireworks, caught a cable car, and then walked back to the hotel.

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And the walk back? Only the better part of about 4 miles...in heels.

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We were good, and kept the alcohol consumption minimal and ended the evening relatively early, so we could check out and start our drive back home the next morning. We took the 101, up to wine country, crossed over through Napa Valley to catch the 5 in Scramento, and made it home in 12 short (ha!) hours. I think we were all glad to be back home, even if we were pining for more crab.

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I can't wait to do it again.

January 21, 2008

It's about time

I'm embarrassed to admit that we have not done a doggy outing since our New Year's Eve road trip. And weather has been quite rainy here which means we really haven't done much of anything outside. The girls? They were pretty stir crazy.

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We were long overdue for a run on Cannon Beach, but not before stopping at our favorite breakfast locale for some crabcakes benny. Mmmmm, tastes like heart disease. Some folks can't turn down sweets, I can't turn down hollandaise sauce.

Next to our booth was placed an interesting little item. What do you think?

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For the low low price of $195, American, you too can own this ceramic center piece. We decided to pass on it.

Once we were sated, Leo brought a little bit of bacon and eggs out to the girls while I settled the bill. We were off to haystack rock.

Because it was such a beautiful day, the beach was just teeming with happy people and lots of pups. The waves were churning and the squirrel was a-flying.

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Thea fell in love with Cocoa, a cutie with a penchant for, um, let's call it "asserting himself" upon her. This was her first time dealing with such a pushy pup, and we were pleased to see that she handled herself well; setting boundaries without holding any grudges.

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Cocoa and Thea played for a long time, and Panda begrudgingly allowed him to join in with fetch, though when he attempted to get too friendly with Panda, she didn't hesitate to put him in his place. He didn't try that again. I'm pretty sure he said something about a "party poopers."

Eventually, Cocoa's parents had to leave, but we continued to enjoy the gorgeous day.

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If you aren't going to be able to get to the beach every weekend, you gotta make the visits count.

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It was wonderful having sun after so many rainy weekends.

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When the girls were finally showing the merest hint of slowing down, Leo decided we should walk over to Haystack Rock and do a little tide-pooling

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The anemones were all vivid pinks and shocking greens, and if you looked really carefully, you could find a few starfish hiding under rocks.

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But all good things must come to an end, and as the clouds darkened the sky a bit and the temperature started to drop, we knew we'd have head home.

Our last sight, before leaving the coast was a few elk grazing lazily along the side of the highway.

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The girls slept the whole way.

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There was some knitting too. I'll post about that soon.

January 25, 2008

Spinning for Speed and Softness

Lookie what one of Santa's elves delivered the other day.

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Belated has never been so fantastic. Great googily moogily, I've been pining after this book for a while. It's no small feat to track this little gem down and to get a signed copy to boot, just makes me all the more lucky.

In the simplest terms, the method described has you configure your wheel and position your hand and fiber in a certain way so that the tension and twist coming from the wheel, simply pulls the fiber from your hand. The resulting yarn has just enough twist to hold together. This offers the most softness and works best done very quickly. Speed and Softness!

Of course, reading about it and executing it are two entirely different things. To start with, you are encouraged to find a good, medium length fiber with impeccable preparation. After learning the fundamental one can respond to other types and preparations of fiber with additional techniques, but first, I needed to unlearn what I've been doing.

I started by predrafting some Cotswold. I bought my fiber from Nistock Farms, who send lovely lofty batts of beautifully dyed fiber. After about 20 minutes, I had this.

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Soft? Yes. Speedy? Si. Well spun? Non.
But not too bad for a first attempt. This is about 30 yards of two ply thick and thin yarn. I really had to ply this yarn because parts of the singles are so under spun, they couldn't possibly hold up on their own, to any sort of knitting or crocheting.

For attempt number two, I decided to try a bit of my Almost Solid Sampler. I used some wool blend, in colorway, Merigold.

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This time, things didn't go so well. The singles were so underspun, they wouldn't even hold up to being worked into an Andean plying bracelet. It was fast and very soft, but definitely not successful.

After talking with the elf a bit, she mentioned my hand carders. At her suggestion, I carded up some rolags with another wool blend from my sampler.

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The colorway is Azalea, and it's a pretty purpily mauve shade. Working with carded fiber made the process loads easier.

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The resulting 68 yard skein is more even, a bit finer and just as soft.

I still have a long way to go with this technique, but I'm happily drinking the kool-aid, here. I can see how this would be a great method to master.

In other news, two pups can fit in one wee little bed, if they put their mind to it.

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January 28, 2008

Snow shoes

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Leo got us snow shoes in hopes they'd help us keep up with the girls. You know what that means, right? It's time for another hike.

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We couldn't have picked a more challenging day to try out those snow shoes. The temperatures were just around the freezing mark, maybe a little bit warmer, so the snow was sticky, wet and great for such activities as snowball fights, snow men building and fort construction. Still, it produced the most unusual snow formations atop the trees. Check this out.

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Could that look any more like a bird's head?
For some reason, we found it exceedingly entertaining when Leo would risk his own safety and shake some of the smaller trees.

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And when I didn't properly catch the first dense block of compacted snow, hitting him on the head, he thought we should do it again.

And check this out.

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Panda and Thea walking right OVER Leo as he sticks his torso through a hole in this snow formation. Yes yes yes, we know that's not the most brilliant of plans, but it does make for a good picture.

We may have found it hard to hike this wet snow.

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However, the girls, as always, were in heaven.

It wasn't all laughs and good times. We've been up to the trails of Mt Hood a few times, and we've found that Oregonians are pretty welcoming of happy dogs. It's not unusual for playful pups to come careening around corners to play with our girls and vice versa. Unfortunately, this Saturday, we met the first person who did not share that puppy goodwill. Apparently, her dog was a little aggressive, so she had her dog on leash and when Thea went over to say hi, it caused the woman much consternation.

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An angry woman in red, mutters as she walks by Leo and Thea.

Leo grabbed Thea, to restrain her and as the woman walked by Leo, she let off with a string of colorful language, leaving no doubt about how she felt about me and my puppy parenting skills. I'm not saying I fault her, I can understand that she wants everyone to be in full control of their dogs at all times, it's just that we are used to people being a bit more lax with their pups. We decided to keep Thea on leash for a while, for good measure. That is, until this sweet lab came over to play.

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We let our little troublemaker off leash and she had herself a proper playful tussle. That's more like it.

We hiked a bit more and arrived at Twin Lakes, which is completely frozen over and covered in snow.

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It looks like such a barren wasteland, after hiking through the thick forest. I bet it's just gorgeous in the spring and summer.

We had ourselves a little lunch and played fetch with the girls' water bowl.

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Hiking back to the car was as much fun as hiking to the lake. It's hard work, slogging through the heavy snow, but we aren't the type to let that get the better of us. We just break out our thermos of hot chai and sit for a spell, when the mood suits us.

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Or lean back and watch the snow fall on our faces.

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In the end, the whole lot of us made it home exhausted, but happy.

While I'm still feeling the hike today, I can't wait to go back. Next time, I hope the snow's a little more powdery, but even if it isn't, this sort of workout beats the gym, any old day of the week.

See all the pictures here.

And since someone almost always asks, the harnesses that Panda and Thea are wearing, can be found here.

January 30, 2008

3000 miles away, Thea's soul mate is trying to pass a glove

If what doesn't kill her, makes her stronger, Thea should indestructible by now.

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If you don't know Chappy and his mum, you might want to take a moment to go over and read this post.

Whenever I post about Thea getting into something she shouldn't (@#!%@$@), I can count on Deb to regale me with a Chappy tale, sure to give me some perspective. Go ahead, ask her about Chappy's taste in drywall.

So when she posted that Chappy and coiffing had collided, I thought for sure that Thea and he must be long lost cousins.

See, Sunday night, Leo got it in his head that he was going to give himself a buzz cut. He had about an inch of curls that he quickly zipped off with his electric trimmer.

As Leo checked his work in the mirror and made minor adjustments, he heard a sound, like lips smacking. He turned around to find Thea looking up at him, licking her lips.

There was a moments pause. There's nothing edible in the bathroom. What had she gotten into?

And then he saw it, or more accurately, didn't see it. The hair. Every last hair was gone. GONE! She had hoovered up the clumps of locks that had been so carefully caught in a towel, on the floor. I heard only, "What did you do?" and came running.

On the one hand, come on, that's just funny. I mean, we know she'll put just about anything in her mouth, but hair? HAIR? At the same time, dread engulfed us both. Is she going to end up with a giant felted mass in her stomach?

We called the vet, first thing, the next day, and after bemused surprise, the receptions conferred with the vet and suggested we wait and see.

A few days later and Thea still seems fine, so we are tentatively optimistic that this is a humorous situation. Do feel free to laugh in our general direction.

If only she were good like her sister.

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*sigh*

February 3, 2008

On second thought

Well, after claiming that I would need to use the pink or orange yarn and after an overwhelming majority suggested the pink, as the best option, I went with...

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...mint green.

Once I completed the brown portion of the garment, with most of the 4th ball left, I realized that the two balls of mint green should be just enough. I really like the pink yarn, but I'm going to use it for something different.

I knit and reknit the green portion, a few times to get just the right effect.

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When I was finally happy with the results, I debated doing the straps in brown, but decided green, with brown trim would be better. After three days of obsessing over the piece, the knitting and crochet are done.

The sun poked her little head out today, so I decided to get some shots while the shooting's good. The piece is just lousy with unwoven ends, right now, but the nice thing about having a mannequin is that I can easily tuck them away, and she won't move around and set those ends loose.

Finished top - front

So here it is, all done, but for the weaving.

I don't think I'll keep that particular ribbon at the bust, I'll swap it out for something simpler, but I wanted something there to complete the look.

Finished top - back Top with jacket

Here's a back view and a view of how I'll most likely wear it; layered under a jacket. If I had more yardage, I think I would have done short little flutter sleeves, terminating in the same lace as the hem, but a tank is nice too.


Continue reading "On second thought" »

February 8, 2008

Better than getting a pony

My birthday is right around the corner (the 18th if you're curious) and, true to form, Leo presents me with a gift, the moment he decides what it is.There's no wrapping and waiting around these parts. Who cares though because I got an iTOUCH! Squeeeeeeeeee!


Image copyright Apple Computers

I leave for a business trip, tomorrow, so I'm filling her up with music, podcasts, videos and photos. Yay for toys.



Thea just had her first agility course since November. I thought, for sure, she'd have forgotten everything, but she did great.

Well, when she wasn't on the course, she was still a big ol' floozy...

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This is her new BFF, Rio. I think they would have run off and gotten married, given half a chance. More than a few people felt they should go get a room.

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So, yah, Thea had fun, but check her out on the course. She was doing great considering she hadn't been in a class for months. That was a pretty easy course, but I was happy to see her doing so well. Go Thea!

February 18, 2008

Fantastic Birthday Weekend

What a great weekend. It was really wonderful of the US government to make my birthday a national holiday, this year.

My birthday, itself, isn't much to talk about, unless you think it's fascinating that our washing machine is oozing some sort of oil and we went to Home Depot and bought a replacement. Also, there was some grocery shopping. But Friday and Saturday were many shades of good times.

It started with my dear friends throwing me a birthday party. There was homemade chili and guacamole....oooooh guacamole. I could write poetry about that treat, but it couldn't compare to the delight itself. Why more food isn't accompanied by guacamole, is beyond me.

What was I talking about?

Oh and there was a giant chocolate cake. Oh boy. Yah, it was a good party.

As the fete was coming to a close, my friends mentioned that they were going to the beach the next day and invited us to join.

After conferring with Panda, it was unanimous

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We'd jump at the chance to go.

We arrived at the coast, a while before the rest of the crew, so we hiked and played a bit, in hopes the girls might be a bit more manageable, when the rest of the folks arrived.

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Panda is a super star!

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When our friends arrived, they were looking no worse for the wear, despite the fact that half of them were subjected to my amateur salsa lessons, the night before.

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Thea greeted the group, as she does best, cooter displayed for all to see.

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Larry and Thea had a little game of "catch me if you can."

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And then it was back to the business of walking around the beach.

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And walk we did. For hours, we explored tide pools and rocky outcropping, and, at one point, a local bakery.

We walked so much, we did this...

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We wore out a herding dog. Someone please alert the media.

Those Canadians are good.

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Also, apropos nothing, I decided to learn how to tat

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It was a little tough for me to get the technique to start, but now I'm finding it really enjoyable, and delightfully portable.

Anyway, see all the pictures of the beach trip here.

February 29, 2008

Sun damage

About a year ago, I bought a sweater's worth of Elsbeth Lavold Cotton Patine. It was on sale at an LYS and it was so soft and squishy, I just couldn't pass it up.

Well, despite the fact that I've had it tucked away in a dark corner, in a bag, the yarn is showing definite signs of fading from exposure to sun. It's subtle enough, that I can't seem to capture it in photos, but when I try the garment on, I see obvious bands of fading at the start of each new ball of yarn I add. The effect is one of belly cellulite. I'm quite sure that this is not a look I want to go for.

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But, even though I noticed this a while ago, I didn't stop knitting it. In fact, I'm plowing along. Why? Because I have a really sweet mum. She's going to over dye my piece, when I'm done, to even out the coloring. She's been dying natural fibers, at home, and graciously agreed to throw turn my brown eyes garment, blue.

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I'm sort of giddy about it. I think that the end result will look even better than if my yarn had been perfect to start with.


I didn't have a chance in my earlier post, to put up a picture of my Inspir(al)ed hat, but now that I'm back home I can show you this picture of Inspir(al)ed, having a moment with Thea and me.

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It's good to have an assistant.


And finally, more tatting

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I'm back to using the size 8 pearl cotton (the finer stuff). I just love how delicate it looks, next to the size 5 cotton. I'm a painfully slow tatter. That image above shows several hours worth of work. But I have these visions of trimming projects in tatted lace and I get so excited, I just can't put the project down. By the way, thanks to each of you who sent me resources and suggestions. I've been trying to take it all in and I know I'll be coming back, again and again, to revisit your comments and links.

I may have ordered myself some more tatting goodies from an online resource. I've used this site for purse handles, and now it's becoming my go-to place for tatting supplies.

March 10, 2008

Paging Nurses Panda and Theano

Leo has been sick...icky sick, since Wednesday night. It seems like it may finally be passing, but for a while, he was in rough shape.

Luckily, I didn't have to tend to him alone.

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Panda monitored his vital signs.

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And Thea...

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She made sure Leo got plenty of sleep.

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If you haven't already, I suggest you get one of each for yourself, in case you get sick.

When they weren't tending to the sick, they helped me get a few shots of the cowl in progress.

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I actually knit about a skein's worth of cowl and hated what I did. I got a little too creative with it and it wasn't pretty. We are ripped back to this point.

March 18, 2008

Caught in a ray of sunshine

Two pups napping.

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A little more progress on the cowl.

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March 24, 2008

Easter weekend

With the patine cowl finished, I am now fully immersed in an unbloggable project (or two). But I think I can still find some useful blog fodder. I have some plans to do some more Excel for pattern writing posts, if that's something you guys like. And if I make good progress on the piece, I'll probably be doing some serious swatching for another personal (that is, blogable) design.

In the mean time, I leave you with some beachy cuteness from this weekend. See all the pictures, over on Flickr

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Panda: "Do I want a cookie? What sort of question is that?"
Thea: "Happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happy."


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A refreshing dip on a gorgeous day.


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Pogo dog.


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Thea looks uncharacteristically serious.


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The girls at a down-stay, waiting for Leo to throw the squirrel.


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Exhausted puppies snuggle up for the ride home.

April 2, 2008

Spin Off

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A couple of my online friends have already sent me congrats on my shawl write up in Spin Off. In fact, Deb saw it before I even got my copy.

When Interweave contacted me about including my shawl in a "gallery of shawls," I imagined a couple of page of a dozen or more baseball card sized boxes with a photo and a short description. Even after filling out the questionnaire, I simply assumed they wanted enough material to be able to cherry pick what they printed. When I saw that I got a whole 2-page spread I was floored...and pleased.

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One thing I discovered, while filling in the details, is that I am still a real neophyte at this spinning thing. How many twists per inch in the singles? I dunno. What drafting method do I use while spindling? Anything that keep the spindle from going plummeting to the floor, I'd say.

But still, it was fun to revisit this piece and I'm still proud, of the fact that I produced so much yardage on a little hand spindle.

April 14, 2008

Day trip to Washington State

Sunday, we decided to head north on I-5, up to Washington state and pop over to the coast and see what we could find.

There was a bit of driving before we found a beach but our patience paid off.

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It had no name, but this was a beach you just drove onto. The dogs (and let's be honest, Leo) were drooling at the sight. We parked, and ran the girls to the shoreline for some fetch.

Thea nearly twists her own head off, playing tug.

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The girls lay on the cute, to get Leo to throw the squirrel.

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Then Leo chased Thea around while Panda played with her toy.

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Can you see our car in the distance?


We got back in the car and headed to Long Beach, WA, where we hoped to find some dinner. Dinner we found and it had it all; high prices, slow service, and abysmal food. After all was said and done, we'd spent more on two appetizers, two entrees and some iced tea, than we normally spend on a fancy dinner and a bottle of wine, and it was so bad we left hungry. But I'm not bitter.

After that we had to wash down the shame and disappointment with another romp on the beach. What do you know? You can drive onto this beach too. Is this a Washington thing?

The girls didn't care, they were just glad to be able to run around some more.

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And Panda had a proper shake-n-bake, leaving with her with a thick crispy crust. Don't worry, she managed to shed most of it before we got home and shook off the rest on the way into the house.

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For the rest of the way home, we listened to an audio book, and watched as the sun set and a the light sprinkle formed a most lovely rainbow.

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Not even a horrible and overpriced meal could ruin such a great day.

April 21, 2008

Brightening an overcast day

It's one of those Mondays that feel like it needs brightening up. I'm a bit tired, the sky is overcast, work is crazy and I'm trying to sort out an issue with my taxes (don't ask.) So what's my remedy?

How about knitting a little handspun into a vivid scarf.

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I'm about halfway through the scarf, and thought I'd give it a little bit of blocking to see how I like it.

BFL scarf progress 1


Simple but effective.

I used the Spinning for Speed and Softness method on this yarn. My technique is still a little rough so the finished two ply has a lot of personality. I wanted a stitch pattern that had a bit of an organic feel to it to highlight those thick and thin areas and I think this one fit the bill.

From the looks of it, this stitch pattern is a half sibling to one used in a really gorgeous piece you may have noticed in my knitting neighborhood. The version I'm using is in one of my Japanese stitch dictionaries under the leaf heading, but blocked out it's really pretty abstracted.

The yarn is some of Amy's BFL in the colorway Poppies. I have enough yardage that I'll be able to knit an entire scarf and a hat to match with plenty leftover.

This is just a brief little break from the knitting deadlines I have and after I crank this little project out, I'll be back to the grind, but I do think I'll work you up a quick freebie pattern for this, as a thanks for all the support for both Astoria and Crime of Fashion.

Out of curiosity, could you guys let me know your preference. What do you like; PDF downloads of patterns or HTML pages that are printable?

I have my opinion, but I'd like to see what other think.

And for those of you who wonder what a dog does on a day when it's too cloudy to go out and play, I have your answer right here.

Sleep

Thea takes a nap.

And enjoy treats

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It's real torture.

April 28, 2008

The leprechaun and the pot of gold at the end of the weekend

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?

May 5, 2008

Mmm Cormo

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.

May 8, 2008

Favorite Subject Matter -- Edited

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.

May 16, 2008

If a little is good a lot is better

After all your sweet encouragement and suggestions, I decided to order pretty much every photo you guys recommended to me.

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And, actually, I also got this shot printed, but when I laid these out to take the shot, I was being so gentle handling the prints that I didn't notice it was sitting right behind one of the other shots.

So that's 18 pictures printed and I think I'll enter them all and just round the donation up to $20, since it all goes to support the Humane Society. Yay.

I'm definitely not expecting to win first prize, but I think I have a shot at one of the 2nd or 3rd prizes, which would be nice.


Meanwhile, we're having some seriously summery weather up here in Portland right now. Yesterday, I decided to play hooky from work (is it hooky if you ask your boss if you can take a vacation day, last minute?) and spend some time knitting and playing with the pups.

We went on over to Lost Park and played a little fetch in the sun.

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That's right girls, you run, run like the dickens.

Oh at first, Thea was all kinds of frisky, running around, playing keep away, and tug-o-war. But it wasn't long before the hot hot weather had her tuckered out.

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Sooo tired, must put head on ground

They had themselves a nice long drink of water after that. Of course, as soon as I picked up the squirrel again, they were sure they wanted to run some more, but I thought it'd be good to give them a little rest.

On our way out of the park, we got a nice surprise. Leo had stopped by to give the girls a kiss. He was out to put some gas in Leela (the bike) and took a little detour to see us.

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Sexy! A great way to end a nice run in the park.

May 23, 2008

More dogs, less knitting.

This, from my non-knitting friends.

I know, madness.

Still, I'm nothing if not accommodating.

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I ran these by a focus group (Leo) and apparently they went over a like a lead balloon. Since customer satisfaction is key here at Marnie, Speak! I thought I'd made a special LOLdog just for him.

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June 17, 2008

More gratuitous dog shots

I know, big surprise.

A few of you have asked if Thea ever gets to catch the squirrel. Well, if Panda's playing along, generally not, but if it's just Thea, heck ya!

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Here she is having a little bit of fun while we take a break from mowing the back yard. She doesn't have the muzzle-eye coordination her sister has, but she has tenacity to spare. Even in the blaring heat she would have gladly played all afternoon. She's happiest when she's playing.

Panda, on the other hand, is my patient and reserved girl.

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Here she shows off some of my fresh picked flowers from the garden. It's nice having a pup who'll stay still and not chew the scenery (literally).

June 24, 2008

In which I show you some fiber and embarass my dog.

A super quick lunchtime post to show you some handspun yarn.

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Spunky Eclectic 100% merino in Sage.

There are about 272 yd/248 m of two ply, slightly thick and thin yarn. I used mostly a supported long draw method combined with the spinning for speed and softness technique I've been practicing.

This is thick and thin partly because I did a little experiment with this fiber. For the first bobbin, I predrafted and spun, as usual, producing a softly variegated and relatively even yarn. For the second bobbin, I didn't do any predrafting at all, I just spun directly from the wad (technical term) of fiber. The roving is pretty wide, so I carefully directed the drafting zone back and forth across the expanse of unspun fiber, to ensure that each color change was worked completely before going to the next color.

The result is that bobbin number two has more intense colors and less gradual color shifts. I found it harder to spin an even yarn, but my technique got better as I practiced. From the picture above, I think it's easy to tell which ply came off of which bobbin.

There's something to be said for the instant gratification of just sitting down and spinning without any prep or much agonizing over a perfect yarn. Still, I think my technique could do with some serious fine tuning and my goal is to produce yarns that, if I saw it in a store, I'd want to buy it. I like this yarn, but it's a little thicker than I normally like to knit with, so it doesn't quite meet that expectation.

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The singles were spun fairly lightly to keep their softness and were plied together with a little extra twist to help control pilling (I hope.) After that, I just gave the whole thing a wash and thwack and hung it to dry with no weight.

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If Panda kills me in my sleep, I doubt anyone would fault her.

July 4, 2008

For some of us, it's a better day than it is for others

It's Independence Day, here in the states which Panda would probably call, "the worst freakin' day of the entire year, which sucks donkey balls and makes me want to pee myself." Or something along that line. With the holiday falling on a Friday, we can expect a weekend of fireworks and a truly miserable dog who is completely inconsolable. Well, the panchetta offered a brief (very brief,) distraction, but she was entirely uninterested in the peanut butter, which should tell you something. That whole "try to make something scary positive" tactic just doesn't work in this case.

Thea is fine, thanks for asking.

Leo, is on a weekend motor-pickle ride up near Fork, Washington, where he is doing reconnaissance for future camping trips with the rest of us. This left me to catching up on loads of knitting, pattern writing and some cleaning that are all sorely in need of my attention. In case you are wondering, it was my idea that he go solo, since I just wouldn't have the time to join him.

But, my friends Larry and Erica offered to make me homemade waffles for breakfast today, which is about as fantabulous an offer as I could envision. So, bright and early, after my first full night's sleep in, probably, 2 weeks, I took the train to the Pearl district to see them.

When they opened the door, they were wearing...

PANDA!
They are way too cute for their own good. And, no, they don't walk around town in matchy matchy get-ups, they donned them in unison for my benefit. **squee!**

Then Erica gave me gifts for the girls, from Canada, which Chewie (short for Chewbacca) promptly bonded with.


Chewie's just too cute to deny.

After that, Larry got down to BIZ-NIZ!


We're talking fresh farmer's market berries, waffle batter from scratch, crisp pepper bacon and a festive apron. YUM!

While enjoying warm fluffy waffles (is anyone else feeling hungry right now?) Erica mentioned a glass spinning wheel at the local craft museum, and I knew exactly what she was talking about.

So, of course, even though the museum was closed, we had to go walk by and get my classy mug in front of it, because I had no idea it was hanging out right in my little city.

Then I started hamming it up.

There's a far far less flattering picture (ok, maybe a few pictures) as well, and my friends are likely to chime in about the obvious omission here, but that is one of the great benefits to having full editorial control over the content of my site.

Anyway, it was a lovely little break from what is likely to be a pretty busy weekend for me, so yay for that.

July 13, 2008

It's hot, let's hit the beach.

It's been in the 90s which was toasty when we were acclimated to life in LA, but is downright miserable now that we've become accustomed to Portland weather. The beach seemed a perfect way to cool off a bit.

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Thea found her alternate universe self.

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The water was just filled with these little krill. They are hard to photograph but they were everywhere.


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Do I really need to say that it was a great day? We played for hours and went home exhausted but happy.


August 12, 2008

Your weekly dose of doggy goodness

Another weekend day trip to our beautiful Oregon coast.

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Someone gets a little excited when she smells the ocean

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Fetch + tug-o-war = doggy happiness

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We almost lost the squirrel to the briny deep.

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But Thea rescued it, she even stuck her entire face underwater.

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But Panda has her own bag of tricks. She always impresses.

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The birds were rustled.

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The views were delightful.

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And a good time was had by all.

See all the pictures here.

August 18, 2008

Better than AC

Our little rental house doesn't have AC, which, for the most part, is fine and dandy with me. I really don't care for the feel of AC and it's expensive to run, especially in this house. We have a window mounted unit that we've installed, as needed, but it tends to drip water into the house and ends up being more work than it's worth, so this year we've vowed to keep the thing in the garage if possible.

The past week, though, has been stupid hot. I mean, it's been so hot that my brain has just shut down by mid-day, which makes working from home laborious. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather roast in my own house than commute to downtown LA, any day of the week, and I like being able to keep an eye on the girls in this hot weather, but I can't say it was fun.

When Saturday's weather report said triple digit temps again (around 40 degrees C for the rest of the world), Leo didn't really have to twist our arms when he asked if we wanted to hit the beach.

So, while it might be poor blog form to do this two posts in ar ow, I've got you some more dog photos today. I promise, I'll have something crafty to show you, very soon.

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A first roll in the sand, after a first dip in the ocean. This is what happiness looks like.


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Leo and I switched off taking the girls to the water line. We brought all the amenities necessary to stay the day, which means one person had to hold down the fort, while the other wore the girls out.


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Leo mans home base. I'm returning from a brief errand.

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I didn't get that many action shots because I had to both throw the squirrel and take the pictures, but I got several of the girls just looking lovely against the shimmering water.


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It's all fun and games until your dog tries to french you.

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As you can plainly see, Leo is very popular with the girls.

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The girls basking in the glow of the setting sun.


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Leo has the pups work for a little treat.


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The sun sets a bit more.


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Family photo!


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A roaring fire kept us toasty after the sun had set.


See all the pictures here.

August 19, 2008

One Wild Night

Last year, my friend, Mary-Kay gave me some gorgeous fiber and yarns. I'm just now getting around to spinning the roving and I love it.

The roving started out like this:

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Once spun up and plied using a chain (Navajo) plying method to maintain the stripes, the finished yarn looks like this.

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Extreme close up

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I think the yarn is plenty pretty enough on its own, but throw in some pathetic doggy faces and it just gets better.

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I love the finished yarn. I had some worries that the colors wouldn't blend well, especially where opposite colors abutted, like where cyan sits next to orange. But I didn't get muddy colors, probably because there's so much negative (white) space in the colorway, instead I got really rich tones in some areas and soft almost iridescent transitions that just glow from the silk content. I can't wait to see how it knits up.

The Stats

Half my supply of Red Rock Fiber Works roving

Colorway: One Wild Night.
Fiber: 50% Merino / 50% Silk
Weight: Approx 4 ounces
Yardage: Approx 260 yards
Plies: 3-ply via chain plying method to produce clean stripes
Weight: Light to heavy worsted
Finishing: Wash and thwack

August 26, 2008

Reading and Spinning

I just finished reading The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning and by "reading" I mean "felt my brain ooze slowly out my ears." Don't get me wrong, there is much that is useful and splendid about this book, but I wasn't expecting to need a slide rule and protractor to learn how to spin yarn well. I wouldn't recommend this as a learn-to-spin book, and I feel, perhaps, his opinions lacked nuance, but I did learn a lot and have found myself joined at the treadle to El Matchador.

Along with the One Wild Night fiber I spun up recently, I have two new skeins of yarn to share with you.

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The blue and white is 100% cotton from A Verb For Keeping Warm

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The colorway is called Kyoto, and it was far less scary to spin than I thought it would be. I used a long draw method and plied it from both ends of a center-pull ball. I just made sure to add in loads of twist to the singles and the finished yarn.

Weight: 1 ounce. I have another ounce to spin.
Yards: 154
WPI: Approx 24
Plies: 2

The other yarn is a Pygora/Silk blend from Rainbow Yarns NW

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This colorway is called, First Love, and it's a luscious, deep, rich red. I made this a two ply from two bobbins, since this fiber is sold as two floofy little batts. Of course, I didn't spin both bobbins perfectly evenly so I andean plied the last little bit from the bobbin with more singles.

Weight: 2 ounces
Yards: 224
WPI: Approx 22
Plies: 2

I bought both fibers at the Black Sheep festival this year and am very pleased with both purchases. Kristine Vejar of A Verb For Keeping Warm was so gracious when I wrote to ask her if I had to boil the cotton after spinning it. In case you are wondering, no. Before dying the fiber she had to remove the wax that boiling is needed to remove. If you are not a spinner, her yarns look lovely too.

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And if you have been waiting for an excuse to try Pygora you won't find a nicer example of it than the stuff from Terry and Susan, over at Rainbow Yarns NW. When Leo first touched these batts, I thought he was going to dive into the bag and make a nest. This stuff is luscious and these women really stand by their product. I've loved pygora since I first spun it but I've never spun any quite as nice as this.

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I'm hoping to spin up the Blue Moon roving next.

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I'm sure it'll look great on the girls' heads knit up.

September 1, 2008

Beaches and Bikes

Who doesn't love a long weekend?

Saturday was all about relaxing and spending a bit of time with friends.

Sunday, we hit the beach.

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And Monday we rode our bikes around our neighborhood. I have a Springer on my bike, but we've never tried it with Thea. Isn't that absurd? Leo wanted to make sure that she wouldn't pull too hard, so he rode my bike a bit and I rode his.

leo and thea on bike

Frankly, I think it takes a very manly man to ride a Hello Kitty bike.

Though, admittedly, he feels more at home on his own bike.

leo with finger


He's clearly very mature.

Still, who can hold a grudge with such views.

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blackberries parkview1


Just a lovely way to end a great weekend.

September 15, 2008

I'm on vacation

I refuse to call it a "stay-cation" or, as John Oliver put it, "holi-stay." But what I will say is that I have nothing planned (other than the improv class I'm taking with my friend, Erica, on Mondays) and I'm happy to keep it that way. Oh and there may be more pictures like the ones below, that I took on Saturday.

It was a perfect day; not too cool, not too warm, and absolutely sunshiny beautiful.

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The car went home a little heavier than it left. Panda brought the sand and Leo found the tire iron we'd lost a month before. I kid you not! We used it for leverage to screw the girls' leash stake into the ground, and we lost it when we were packing up in the dark. There it sat, a few feet from where we had been, just waiting for our return. I love Oregon.

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Kites.

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Lots of running and being generally cute.

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I tried to take a nice shot of the girls in front of the ocean.
First Thea won't look at the camera...

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Then Panda won't look at the camera...

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Then some women stop to take pictures, right behind the girls. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

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All the pictures here.

September 21, 2008

Nehalem Bay

Recently, I picked up Evelyn A. Clark's Knitting Lace Triangles. It's a lovely little book that gives you lots of tips for knitting, well, lace triangles. She gives four lace patterns and combines them in a myriad of ways, working them either in stockinette or garter, alone or in combination, with or without transitions.

Everything is so clear and simple, I just had to cast on. With some beautiful Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock that a dear friend sent me, recently, I quickly worked up a few repeats of the ripple lace motif. But after that, I knew I wanted to go my own direction. Heaven forfend I actually follow a pattern, huh?

On our way to the beach, I knit away on my little shawl.


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The colors of the yarn made me think of the autumn leaves just starting to show, on our route to the ocean. The ripples make me think of the sea lapping at the shore. As we passed by lovely little Nehalem Bay, I knew I had my shawl's name.

This morning, I moved my stitches onto longer cords and did a little steam block to see how it's looking.

nehalem-bay-progress

I just started my second of two skeins, after nearly finishing 2 repeats of the feathery leaf pattern. The piece blocks out to about 48" wide right now. After I add another repeat of the feathery leaf, and then the border, I think I'll have a shawl that's another 6 to 8" wide, which I feel will be a good size to work as either a scarf or a small wrap for date night with Leo.

As for the beach trip, you know that went great.

Mozaic of September 20th trip to Manzanita, Oregon

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See entire set here

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

We tried riding our bikes on the beach, but the sand was either too dry (thus too soft) or too wet (thus too soft) to ride on. We'll try again at lower tide, though, because bikes + beach = a darn good run for the girls.

September 24, 2008

Scenic view of the Bay

I finished the Nehalem Bay shawl a couple days ago but it took me a little while to get it all blocked out and modeled. The lighting was pretty poor, so the shots aren't great, but you get the idea.

Nehalem Bay Shawl Mozaic

1. Nehalem Bay Shawl - Back (worn), 2. Nehalem Bay Shawl - As scarf, 3. Nehalem Bay Shawl - Back, 4. Nehalem Bay Shawl - Front (worn)

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

Stats

Name: Nehalem Bay
Pattern: The first lace panel area is from Evelyn Clark's Knitting Lace Triangles the remainder is my own design based on a stitch I found in a Japanese stitch dictionary.
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Gold Hill (Superwash Merino/Nylon)
Needles: US#4
Size: Approx 58" across and 26" deep, after blocking
Yardage: 96 grams/365 yards
General thoughts: This was a fun project, plain and simple. The yarn is absolutely delightful to work with and a perfect choice for lace because of it's harmonious shades and short color repeats. I just love that there's no noticeable flashing or pooling. The lace was interesting enough to keep me going on the long stretches yet simple enough that I could converse or watch a show without getting confused.

The size is also a good one for my intended use. I like the idea of a shawl, but I get a lot more mileage out of scarves and I expect to use this that way, a lot, this winter. The best part is that even when I get to my destination, the scarf converts back to its shawl role if it gets too chilly in the building. This makes it all the more appropriate to use a good sock yarn, since it's likely to get lots of real world wear and tear. I have to thank Julia for gifting me such fantastic yarn.


On a totally unrelated note, my dad's colleague is going to be traveling to Vancouver, BC with her SO. She'll have a lot of time to wander around the city while her guy is at a convention. Does anyone have any recommendations for her for things she might do while she's there? You can leave a comment or click that Contact button up in the navigation bar and let me know.

September 29, 2008

Woohoo

Who knew people wanted to knit hot pants? You guys are awesome. In the 4 days the pattern has been up, it's been downloaded over 300 times, which I think is pretty fabby. A few folks have also made donation, which is generous and wonderful. Thank you so much.

This is part of my download stats page from Ravelry. If you are wondering why there are two Assets of Evo files it's because the first version had a missing hyperlink in the resource section. It wasn't important enough to make an announcement but I thought I'd update it nonetheless.


In doggy news, Leo found us a new little stretch of the Oregon Coast. As always, we hit Manzanita, which is great because it's beautiful, plenty of room to play and Thea gets to socialize. But after, Leo wound his way through some back roads and landed us at a secluded little stretch of where only one other person and her dog were playing. All in all, a great day out.

Beach trip

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Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

See all the pictures here:

October 19, 2008

Happiness is a run on the beach

It's been a tough couple weeks around these parts, with Leo having to rush off to Uruguay to be with his family. The whole routine is out of whack and the girls end up spending a lot more time alone. Unfortunately, Leo's dad passed away, after Leo returned home, and a bit of melancholy seems to permeate daily life, but it also makes us more conscious of all the good things we have.

After two weeks of obligations and stress, the perfect antidote was a trip to the beach.


The drive there revealed the first hints of autumn colors. I bet, in a week or two, the drive will be spectacular.

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This shot makes me laugh. Thea was being a wee bit over zealous, trying to grab the frisbee from Leo. He requested that she talk to the hand.

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Though, honestly, they really are good girls. Look at how focused they are.

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And Thea does a very cute hand shake.

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Panda isn't too shabby either.

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Leo, though, is incorrigible. As I tried to get a particular shot of Panda and Thea, Leo noticed a rather large wave coming at me. In the first shot, you can see him leaping up to avoid it. I, of course, was too focused on the girls to notice.

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The second shot is Leo laughing so hard he can't stand up, and the third shot is my now soaked tush. Hilarious.


Despite Leo's fit of laughter and my sloshy shoes, I managed to get a pretty cute shot of the three of them.

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After a lovely day, we wound our way home, stopping at a local farm for a stroll through the pumpkin patch. We'll be making jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin seeds today.

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How cute is this sweet old dog?

For all the pictures from the trip, click here.

October 30, 2008

Blog, I miss you. Here are more dogs at the beach.

If you knew how badly my housework were suffering, you wouldn't think this blog seemed nearly so neglected.

Luckily, what's keeping me busy is all interesting stuff. I'm doing some work for Twist Collective including a little behind the scenes stuff, which is challenging but satisfying. I'm, of course, designing some knits. I'm taking some improv classes with my friend, Erica. I'm even taking a few (non-improv) courses over at a local university. So, with all that going on, blogging has necessarily taken a back seat, to ensure those cutie patooties I live with, get a little time with me too.

I hope, for now, you'll be satisfied with a few more doggy pictures. They certainly make me smile.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

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Entire set found here.

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

November 1, 2008

A happy Halloween

Some years, we put a lot of thought into dressing up for Halloween and some years, we just wing it. This year was mostly the latter.

Leo went a little Clockwork Orange, thought without the fencing outfit.

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I went standard issue goth.

It was a little deja vu, taking me back to my very late teens and early twenties, when I'd get all dressed for dancing at Man Ray in Boston.

For Leo, we did the eyelashes, around one eye.

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Then I rimmed both eyes with lots of black eyeliner and shadow. By the end, he and Thea were looking pretty matchy matchy

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The end result:

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Yah, he's pretty darn cute.

From there, we had some wine and coffee at Gilt.

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Then some dancing and general people watching at Embers.

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We tried to check out a few other clubs but the lines were so long that we settled on filling our tummies with a few munchies at the Living Room Theater, instead.

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A seriously fun night.

See all the pictures here.

Hope your Halloween was filled with lots of fun too.

November 8, 2008

The Ministry of Silly Walks

It's the rainy season here in Portland. Like all other weather, the girls consider it perfect for a trip to the ocean. Who are we to disagree? It was chilly, overcast, but with unexpected patches of blue clear sky.

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With such unpredictable weather we had almost the entire beach to ourselves.

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The tide was really high but shallow

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A little slice of heaven.

How does the most graceful and demure puppy respond? With grace of course. She appears wise:

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Holds her head high

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And she keeps all four feet planted firmly on the ground

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But Thea wasn't the only one expressing herself.

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Today topped out at about 54 F/12 C, not exactly bikini weather.

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Yah, that about covers it.

See all the pictures here.

November 30, 2008

Rainy, muddy and fantastic

This weekend, we made a long overdue trip to the beach. It was a little cold (thought not too cold) a little rainy (no one here minds the rain) and foggy like you wouldn't believe.

Check out these shots.

Manzanita Oregon
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That's the same stretch of beach we almost always go to. We would have spent all day there, but the rip current was pretty strong and Thea is not the most buoyant dog around. Visions of her being pulled into the briny deep made us uneasy.

We thought the day might be shot, after about a half hour, but we decided to do a little hiking to make the long drive worth the while.

Off we went to Ecola State Park, where we had nearly the whole trail to ourselves. The fog made the view look like a fantasy.

Trail to Indian Beach in Ecola State Park

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By comparison, this is how it looked the first time we went.

But I think there's a pretty good reason why we had the whole trail to ourselves. By the end of the hike, the four of us were coated in mud.

Getting muddy on the trail
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We learned that Panda would make every effort to go around giant puddles of mud, while Thea would aim for them. Either way, there was no keeping clean, but we definitely appreciated Panda's efforts to stay clean.

We had to put the girls in the car, however we decided that a dip in the ocean before we leave would be much preferred to a bath, when we got home. So we headed back to Seaside and played a wee bit of fetch.

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It was good to see their beautiful white coats again.

As we were clipping on everyone's leash, someone nearby said, "Did you see the elk?" and pointed to the hill ahead. I looked up and saw three little heads, just showing above the ledge. Leo had the the good sense to go put the dogs in the car, and I walked over to where a small crowd had formed, a safe distance from the herd.

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We've seen our share of elk at the coast, but never this many at once. Such a great way to end a fantastic ocean trip.

Our day wasn't over with the ocean, though. My sweet guy treated me to a delicious meal to celebrate our 8 year anniversary.

It was a great meal, beautiful view and, of course, perfect company. And for the toast, he said "Here's to 8 years, 8 years more and nothing more."
Of course, I refused to toast to that nonsense, so he said, ok, well, what if we lay the second 8 on its side?"

Cute.

There's a reason I keep him around.

It's a shame to have this lovely long weekend end, but it was great while it lasted.

December 5, 2008

It's a hard knock life, for us

Three sleepy girls

December 10, 2008

Taking my own advice

You know, sometimes I talk all knowingly about how there isn't one right needle and you should swatch and blah blah blah, but you know what? I love metal needles. I use them almost exclusively. I like that they are smooth and fast and many have sharp little points. It's all about efficiency to me. Wood needles seem slow and plodding to me, like swimming in molasses. Plastic needles range, but are often just too grippy for my taste and certain brands are all wobbly bendy.

But you know what? I've been hating this sleeve I'm working on for a particular pattern. It's lace, worked in the round, on a small circumference. The lace requires working 3 stitches together, and every other row, those three stitches shift, which means that stitches have to be moved between needles. Worse, it's laceweight black yarn worked on big ol' needles.

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I tried two circulars, but the problem with this method is that it's nearly impossible to move stitches back and forth between needles at such a tight circumference. One, essentially, has to use a cable needle or spare DPN. Talk about inefficient.

So then I moved to some metal DPNs. I'm sure there'll be gasps of disgust but I have absolutely no issues knitting with Susan Bates DPNs. The really small ones are a bit bendy, but anything above a US#1 seems to work fine and they come in pretty colors. Who could complain? Unfortunately, working with laceweight yarn and these heavy needles was almost as bad as the 2-circs. The weight of the needles was so great that I couldn't maintain a comfortable tension on the yarn. This got even worse between needles, forcing me to maintain a constant death grip on the yarn while also fearing that the needles would make a run for it. I finally had to admit it, I was using the wrong needle. I'm a stubborn woman.

I went over to the local craft store, picked up some cheapo bamboo needles, and it's been smooth sailing since. The wood's grippiness keeps all the needles in place and the weight is light enough that the thread isn't pulled from my fingers as I work. I'm not a convert, I'm just reminded that sometimes I have to step out of my perceived comfort zone.


And since my 1970s ripple afghan has received so much attention, here she is again, albeit a bit rumpled. Oh, there are also a couple of dogs next to her.

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Thea seems to think she's a cat.

December 15, 2008

It's not New Hampshire, and it's definitely not Los Angeles

This is my third winter in Portland. From what I can tell, winter is a lot of rain. We get an occasional bout of hail that leaves the yard looking like you just murdered a bean bag chair, and there might be a little flurry of flakes, but it rarely lasts long and almost never accumulates.

Well, this weekend, we got a little taste of some of the winter I remember from my childhood in New Hampshire. Of course, if I still lived there, I'd be holed up in a hotel until my power returned. This is way more my speed, for winter.

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Can you see the couple in the background, trying to build a snowman?

The girls get seven kinds of frisky when their paws touch snow. Panda loves to roll in it and Thea wants to eat it.

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These shots are from early in the day, so you can still see the grass peeking through, at the park. By nightfall, the roads were compressed into solid ice and there was about 5" of snow everywhere else. Anyone without chains on their tires were finding themselves struggling to stay on the roads.

I guess it's a testament to how rarely it snows here. I don't ever recall having chains on my car, in New Hampshire or Massachusetts. Roads are plowed and sand or salt are applied as needed. It took most of the night for that to happen around here.

Man alive, I love working from home.

Luckily, Leo's a real boyscout, and had his chains on before the sun set, yesterday, which means he just had to do a quick preflight check before leaving for work, and he was good to go.


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Thea oversaw the process.

December 21, 2008

Flaky

Wintery
1. Red berries covered in snow, 2. Bush in our back yard, 3. The last of our bachelor's buttons, 4. Pine needles

Ice makes everything look pretty, even our sad little bachelor's buttons.


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Leo, Thea and Panda all chase each other around the yard.


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Where there's dog, there's fetch.


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The roads aren't great for driving, but they are fine for walking.

As you can see, it's a winter wonderland here in Portland. It's great knitting weather but I have a feeling I'll start to be a little stir crazy by Christmas. You should hear the local news, we're all doooooooooooomed.

The girls couldn't be happier, though.

December 23, 2008

The sweet spot

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I get up for 5 minutes and I lose my spot on the couch. Sheesh.

Still working on unbloggable items. Don't think I'll have anything crafty to post for a little while. You'll have to make due with dog photos until then.

Till next time, a Happy Festivus to all of you. May your grievances be aired and your feats of strength be impressive.

December 26, 2008

Let's not make this a Christmas tradition

On Christmas eve, we noticed a bit of swelling on the right side of Panda's face. It wasn't too bad, and she was in great spirits, so we didn't worry, but we kept an eye on it.

By Christmas day, she was very lopsided

Christmas 2008

Still, her mood was great, she was eating, playing, and generally feeling fine. We called off our plans to go hiking, just to be sure, and decided to closely monitor her for any signs that might suggest an emergency. We'd gladly eat the cost for an emergency vet visit on Christmas, but if we could avoid it and go to her normal vet, that was definitely preferable.

I consulted with a friend who works with dogs, and she assured me that it was something that could wait and an emergency visit wasn't necessary. It was a little nerve wracking but we kept a close eye on her all day.

Panda seemed happy enough that we walked to the neighboring park for a little play in the snow.

Christmas 2008 Mosaic
1. Leo and the girls, in front of his snowman, 2. Happy girls, running in the snow, 3. Thea goes all Exorcist with her head, 4. Rolling a big snow ball, 5. Tug-o-war, 6. Rolling the second snow ball, 7. Just added snow ball II, 8. Rubbing a sore face in the cool snow, 9. Refining his artwork, 10. Adding the final snow ball, 11. shaping the head, 12. Almost done, 13. Romp in the snow

Throughout the day, her swelling increased, until that evening when her cheek started draining. The pressure was off but by morning, Panda was a little less bright eyed and bushy tailed. The vet was able to see her first thing, so we packed up the girls and headed to the doctor.

Panda goes to the doctor
Little miss squishied face

After checking her out, the doctor decided that it was probably her cracked molar and that it had abscessed. He gave her some meds for the swelling, infection and pain, and we are scheduled for an extraction next week.

Panda goes to the doctor
Thea helps her big sis stay brave at the vet.

But we didn't let Thea off the hook, on this trip, while we were there, we had them expel some of her, *ahem* glands. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I will spare you. If you know what I'm talking about, you KNOW what I'm talking about. Apparently, she let out quite a little squeal of displeasure when the procedure was being performed. This is a new thing for us. Panda is far too proper and clean to ever have stinky gland problems. Somehow, it just seems appropriate that the little stinker would.

December 30, 2008

Fit as a fiddle

We took Panda to the vet today, to get her abscessed tooth extracted.

Surgery Day

Thea came along to see Panda off, mostly because if you leave the house with Panda while Thea is home, she bangs on the door of her crate and screams like she's being tortured and it breaks my heart. I'm such a softie.

On the way home, Thea seemed really sad not to have her big sister there.

Surgery Day

I know the feeling

I spent the next 6 hours fearing that the doctor would call me and tell me something went horribly wrong and he was so sorry.

But my fears were unwarranted.

Surgery Day

Panda did great, her teeth look lovely, and she couldn't have been more happy to come home. She even seemed happy to see her bratty little sister.

Thanks for all the well wishes.

February 2, 2009

The little beast turns two

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Above is the Health Record I received when we adopted Thea. They estimated her birth date to be January 30, 2007, which means that the little stinker is now 2 years old.

Like a really rank camembert, she just keeps getting better with age. I'm glad she picked us.

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Her big sis turned 8 in December. I can't believe it's been 7 years since we adopted her.

And hey, it's my lame little brother's birthday too. Happy Birthday, Matt!

You may be my dorky younger brother, but I love you.


February 8, 2009

Super pooper dogs

It'd been three weeks since our last ocean visit and the four of us were jonesing for some fresh salt air, sand and fetch.

Manzanita Oregon 02/07/09
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See all the pictures from this day here.
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

I don't think we could have asked for a nicer day. The sun was bright, the weather was mild and there were plenty of friendly dogs for Thea to play with.

February 9, 2009

Now I want to knit it

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El Matchador and I are spending a lot of quality time together lately. I think watching the videos on the new edition of Spindlicity played no small part in my recent spinning binge.

I was able to finish off all 7 ounces of Blue Moon Fiber Arts roving, and I'm already a bobbin and a half through some more of the creamy white Cormo I got a little while back.

Specs

  • Roving From: Blue Moon Fiber Arts
  • Colorway: Eggplanted
  • Fiber: Merino/Bamboo
  • Total Yards: 690
  • Skeins: 2 and a baby skein
  • Ply: 2
  • WPI: 12-ish
  • Weight: 7 ounces

I think I could make a little something fitted with this or get a little more mileage by using another yarn and working stripes. Or maybe I'll make a vest. Hmm. Whatever I do I want to make it something special. I just love the colors.

Also, I'm just wondering, is it just me or is this cute?

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February 22, 2009

So, one of us isn't shedding these days

And that one of us is Mr. Baldy McShavedhishead. The rest of us are still pretty hairy. Just thought I'd cover that before you see our pictures.

Manzanita Oregon 02/22/09

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Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

This was my birthday hike, and it was fantastic. I know, it's the same song every few weeks. What can I say, I'm a lucky girl.

Check out this bit of shell that Leo found.

IMG_0276


If you click it and choose "All Sizes" you can embiggen it. Doesn't it look knit?

March 7, 2009

What a Pitty

I have to admit, I have a real soft spot for pit bulls. It's unfortunate that people have bred and raised some to be violent. There are a lot of sweet ones that just turn me into a pile of goo.

Still, I'm not one to push my luck. We've had an un-neutered male running around the neighborhood doing his best to make himself a nuisance. The "fertilizing' and "law reorganization" efforts are not necessarily endearing, but as someone with a pup who has been known to make a dash for a neighbor's place, on occasion, I certainly wouldn't pass judgment. It was just when he attempted to go for a bit of rump o'neighbor with a baby carriage, that I decided it might be time to call animal control.

A loose dog

The girls were quite displeased when he stopped by our lawn. There was much ado and some language that cannot be repeated in polite company.

Basking in sunlight and hair

It exhausting guarding the house.

March 10, 2009

Warped

WEBS is evil. You think you'll buy yourself a little bit of inexpensive warp and then you realize that if you just buy a wee bit more of this and a little of that, and heck, you could use another shuttle, you'll get that discount, and well, then, you are cleaning out the ol' paypal account. Curses!

So I have a a few projects in mind. First up, a burgundy scarf worked in a strand of cotton warp and a strand of shimmery tencel. The colors are just different enough to give a lovely depth to the fabric.

Burgundy Scarf Warp

Unfortunately, I didn't plan my project well and used up three quarters of my supply of cotton on the warp.

Burgundy Scarf Warp

That wee little bit is all I have left of the cotton, plus some on the shuttle. The white is just there so you can see how much I used. I have oodles of the tencel, so no worries there. It should be an easy enough fix. Just order more, but (*sob*) it's on backorder. I'll just have to nurse what I have, until it arrives.

On an entirely unrelated note, we got hail here, the other day.

Hail Hail

The pups think it's fantastic, and I love listening to it ping off the corrugated roof of the overhang outside my office window.

March 17, 2009

Keeping it simple

As much as I love wearing scarves I really don't enjoy knitting them, but throw me in front of a loom and I can't stop myself.

My third scarf is a simple pattern: just a strand each of tencel and cotton in similar colors.

Simple Purple Scarf
1. Simple Purple Scarf, 2. Simple Purple Scarf detail, 3. Simple Purple Scarf, 4. Simple Purple Scarf
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

The colors both catch the light slightly differently giving it just a little bit of depth and texture. And since there's no wool, it's a great all seasons wrap or scarf. I can see keeping this in my beach bag and throwing it over my shoulders once the sun sets.

Project Specs

Simple Purple Scarf and pup

As always, my quality control inspector was never far.

March 19, 2009

I'm just dyeing to show you this

These aren't the best photos ever taken, but I wanted to record my first ever dyeing experiment. If you can believe it, I started with some handspun cashmere. I know, loco.

But, lest you think I'm completely irrational, part of the reason I went with cashmere is that I knew it would just languish in a big pile of undyed lovely handspun I have sitting around and also, it doesn't felt, so it'd be harder to ruin. So there, method + madness = marnie.

Dyeing Cashmere
1. Undyed Cashmere, 2. Cashmere in Black Cherry Kool-Aid, 3. Cashmere dyed with Kool-Aid, 4. Overdyeing Cashmere, 5. Kool-Aid used for overdyeing, 6. Exhausted dye bath, 7. First go at dyeing, 8. First go at dyeing
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

Specs

  • Fiber: Mongolian Cashmere
  • Yards: 168
  • Source: Chameleon Colorworks
  • Plies: 2 (using the Andean Plying method. Can you say, "hand cramp"?)
  • WPI: 12
  • First Dye: 2 packets of Black Cherry Kool-Aid
  • Second Dye: 1 packet of Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and 1 packet of Grape Kool-Aid

I found out the hard way that you need to tie your figure eight even looser than you think you need to. My first dye session didn't quite get around some of the knots and left a few white patches. I knew I was going to overdye the yarn so I figured it'd just add more interest, but it still wasn't my intention, you know? To make sure the second pass dyed properly over those spots, I reskeined the yarn to distribute the light patches, and tied really loose figure eights all around. Way more beuno.

The second go, I used two flavors and, what surprised me is that the yarn drank the grape way faster than it drank the blue raspberry lemonade. The water started out a deep dark, nearly black purple, but was pure cyan about ten minutes after dropping the yarn in. It took almost a full hour for all the cyan to be absorbed. So there you go, cashmere likes grape. Take note.

So dyeing went fine. I'm not sure it's my "thing" but I'm glad I gave it a go. Kool-Aid is a great safe bet for the uninitiated who has some wool lying around. If you want to learn more, yourself, you can check out this knitty article.

March 30, 2009

And for the gentleman

I got Leo's scarf all warped up. I haven't spent as much time weaving as I'd like to, but when I do, it's completely entrancing.

So far, I've been kinda winging it with my weaving projects, but since this is for someone else, I wanted to carefully plan what I did. I had two possible accent colors; red and blue. The blue was fine but both Leo and I liked the red better. So I went through three stages of plotting the pattern, shown below. I did this all in Illustrator. The first shows a very small scale plaid, which would be fine but I have found that stripes that are less than 4 rows long don't look as nice because you have to weave in the ends and they take up as much extra space as the rows themselves. So the second version shows the same plaid but with all the rows doubled. The last version has the plaid slightly modified and offset so the center stripe is the accent color. You can click each of the swatches to embiggen.

As much as I like the plaid, I might make a version for me that's thinner and has just the vertical stripes. I think that'd look pretty nifty, and I'll have plenty of the yarn left over.

The dynamics of working a weaving project is pretty different than knitting. With knitting, if I get a little bored with a project, it can go into a black hole of solitude, never to be seen again (or at least until the yarn or needles are required for something else.) But with weaving, I can't start my next project until I finish the one on the loom, which means that my constant startitis is handily defeated. It's not that weaving isn't fun it's that I have a dozen different ideas I want to execute and I can't do them all at once so I have to do crazy things like prioritize and time manage. Whoda thunkit?

Brown and red plaid scarf

I'm awaiting yarn for a publication piece so in the interim, my knitting time has been spent on some brown lace

Prett brown lacy something

I don't yet know if this will be submitted somewhere or self published so I'm just showing this little teaser for now. Notice the lifeline running through. Lifelines are like car insurance, damn inconvenient when everything is going fine and totally worth it when you actually need it. Ask me how I know.

Also, I think this blog needs some dog

IMG_0011.JPG

For some reason, they'd much much rather lie on our bed than on their own.

April 21, 2009

Stuff that is making me happy.

I've got my nose buried in my latest project. The yarn was a little delayed so it's going to be tight, but so far, I'm really happy with how it's going.

So since that project is pretty much all I'm doing, all I can blog about are the other distractions in my life, like, say:

A delicious dinner at Albert Oysters with my guy. It was so good he ordered Oysters for dessert, and then, he ordered some proper dessert.

Alberta Oysters
1. Leo makes a face in front of the day's fresh oysters, 2. Two each of six types of fresh oysters, 3. The remnants of the dozen oysters, 4. Entrees, 5. A second round of oysters, 6. Closeup of the shells
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

And my brand new Twist Collective bag, which is made of pure awesome.

Twist Bag

Oh and my dogs, who are also made of awesome.

chillinonthebed.jpg
bellyrubs.jpg

Guess who wants a belly rub.

May 7, 2009

Paw Pile

Thanks to Ravelry's own Frecklgirl for the name of this post.

This is pretty much what our weekends look like when we aren't out doing stuff.

theaonmarnie02.jpg
theaonmarnie05.jpg


Personal space, schmersonal space.

Taken with Leo's laptop camera.

May 9, 2009

Loved by the sun

It was a nice dry weekend, after many months of wet weather which means we could no longer put off domesticating our somewhat feral back yard. See here's the thing, in most climates, your lawn requires a delicate touch. You cut the grass long enough to hold in the water it seems to eternally thirst for, and you gently tread across it, being careful not uproot it's slender blades.

Portland grass grows like Homer Simpson's scruff. Seconds after a you've cut it down to the dirt, it's already shaggy again. Leave it for a few *cough-months-couch* and you've got yourself a jungle.

Mowin' the Lawn
1. Overgrown Yard, 2. Dorkus maximus, 3. New Mower, 4. Crazy Thea, 5. Rude little scamp, 6. Thea in front of flowers, 7. What did you say?, 8. Can we come out NOW?, 9. Fetch on a freshly mowed lawn
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

But everyone deserves a break from manual labor and we took ours on our front steps, basking in the warm midday sun. I assure you, in those shots with Panda on the floor, she was getting belly rubs just before. She wasn't being left out.

Lovefest on the front steps
1. Sweeties in the sun, 2. Sweeties in the sun, 3. Sweeties in the sun, 4. Sweeties in the sun, 5. Sweeties in the sun, 6. Sweeties in the sun, 7. Sweeties in the sun, 8. Sweeties in the sun, 9. Sweeties in the sun
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

May 17, 2009

Goaaaaaaaaaaal

All day at the Oregon coast. It couldn't have been more beautiful, mild and lovely.

May 16, 2009
1. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 2. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 3. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 4. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 5. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 6. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 7. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 8. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 9. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 10. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 11. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 12. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009, 13. Oregon Coast Day Trip -- May 16, 2009
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

We played soccer and fetch with the pups then pulled out our bikes and ran them until they seemed to be almost something resembling tired.

The soccer ball is now Thea's passion. It irks her to no end that she can't get her mouth around it and still she can't stop chasing it. Panda can't be bothered, it's the squirrel all the way.


June 16, 2009

Dogs and flowers

St. Johns in Portland Oregon

St. Johns in Portland Oregon

IMG_0004.JPG IMG_0013.JPG

July 5, 2009

4th of July

I remember being a small child, my younger brother just an infant, and going to some large rolling field with our blanket to watch the fireworks. Every year I'd cry but this year, I was going to be brave. We'd sit down and get comfortable and my parents would coo a little bit, reminding me that it'd be loud and asking if I was sure I'd be ok. I thought I was.

And then the fireworks would start.

I felt like maybe it'd never end and I'd hear the fireworks forever. They seemed so loud, so piercing, so inescapable. I would cry. I'd feel horrible about it, my parents would try to console me but I also knew I was letting them down. I really wanted to be brave.

I don't really believe in karma, though I think that genetics tends to give you back in children, what you gave your parents. I thought I bucked the system by opting never to have kids, but Panda gave me what my mother faced every 4th of July, for much of my younger childhood. She's absolutely inconsolable around fireworks. We hoped that a full day of running on the beach would quell the fear a bit, and the cool ocean air would calm her fragile nerves but the close proximity of those boisterous noisemakers were more than she could manage.

Still, the day was wonderful and the bad parts were brief. We headed out just before the show really started, giving our campsite up to an incredibly thankful wedding after-party, and drove home during the best (or worst, as the case may be) portion of the show.

4th of July, 2009 -- Manzanita, Oregon
1. Fireworks, 2. Setting up the tent, 3. Spinning on the beach, 4. Panda goes for a roll, 5. Can we come in?, 6. Miss Bear looking sweet, 7. Thea zonks out, 8. Silly dog hug, 9. Panda finds a safe spot to hide from the firecrackers, 10. Making a fire while the sun sets, 11. Carrying a bad little dog, 12. Leo in front of sunset, 13. A very sleepy Thea on my lapCreated with fd's Flickr Toys.

Panda is no worse for the wear having had a largely great day at a beautiful beach in weather much cooler than the 90+ degrees back home. All in all, a great day.

See all the pictures from our trip here.

And a little video from right before we left.

July 8, 2009

Making the rockin' whorl go round

The Tour de Fleece is going well. The first three days of it, I didn't have to work, so I got in a fair amount of spinning.

Spinning on the beach didn't amount to too much yardage, but who can focus on spinning when there is so much to look at and enjoy around you? Still, I was able to spin a bit of the Black Cherry merino/tencel I got from Amy's booth at the Fiber Frolic, and I confirmed my initial suspicion that the Spindolyn may not be the best match for me. It's a fine and well made tool but it just doesn't fit my spinning style.

For the two days after that I worked on a decadent batt of superwash wool, recycled sari silk and sparkle, that I got from the Enchanted Knoll Farms booth at the Frolic. Here I am spinning the singles.

I spun one bobbin on one day then the other bobbin and the plying the next to get about 422 yards of two ply at around 12 WPI.

My creation
1. Panda in sparkly skein, 2. Rolags make festive dreads, 3. Singles with sparkle, 4. Sparkly singles, 5. One full bobbin of plied yarn, 6. Bobbin and spindle, 7. 2ply on niddy noddy, 8. Smoochin my good dog, 9. Your head smells weird, 10. Girls with skein, 11. Girls with skein, 12. Girls with skein, 13. Finished red sparkly skein
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

The finished yarn was soft and got even softer when washed. I think it'd make a fantastic shawl or wrap of some sort. The red is intense and the sparkle makes it a little special.

Now that I'm back at work, I don't have as much time to spin so I've been fitting in little spurts of spinning on my spindles. On my smallest spindles, I'm working the Black Cherry merino/tencel I mentioned before and on my biggest spindle, some soft tan merino/tencel I got from Carolina Homespun on my trip to Oregon with Julia.

Two different Merino/Tencel blends spun on Golding spindles
1. Merino Tencel blends on spindles, 2. Black Cherry Merino/Tencel, 3. Black Cherry Merino/Tencel, 4. Pretty spindles and a pretty face, 5. Look what I spun, 6. The fiber appreciation society, 7. Can I eat it?, 8. Merino Tencel blends on spindles, 9. Merino Tencel blends on spindles, 10. Merino Tencel blends on spindles, 11. Merino Tencel blends on spindles, 12. Merino Tencel blends on spindles, 13. Cafe Merino/Tencel
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

We're only 5 days in but I can already tell that pushing myself to spin every day is also pushing me to try new things to keep it interesting. Also, it makes me think I might make a little dent in the ol' fiber stash. Of course, that means greatly increasing my yarn stash so it's probably a wash on that count.

July 16, 2009

Skein as fashion

I'm frantically prepping for the Twist fashion show tonight at the Tigard Knitting Guild. I'm pretty sure I'll make a complete ass of myself at some point. I hope I do so in a way that's funny. Funny asses are way better than offensive asses. There's a life lesson for you.

In the mean time, here are a few more shots from the Tour de Fleece.

Faux-hawk

Dyeabolical singles in progress
1. Dyabolical bobbin, 2. Dyabolical bobbin, 3. Dyabolical bobbin, 4. Yah, spinning is great. Where's breakfast
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

Dyeabolocal 3ply and Black Cherry 2ply
1. More Black Cherry 2ply on plying spindle, 2. Red heads, 3. Red heads, 4. Dyeabolical 3ply
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

July 27, 2009

23 days of spinning

The Tour de Fleece is over and I managed to spin every single day. No one is more shocked than I am. I admit, I may have splurged on a few hits of fiber, along the way, but the result is thousands (!!!) of yards of finished yarn. If I were to add all the individual plies, I'd have quite a few miles, but even when I count only the yardage of the finished yarns, I have something like 2 miles worth of yarn of my very own making. I'm feeling pretty good about that.

My stint in the tour is marked by some truly wonderful memories. Not only did I take my spindle to the Tigard Knitting Guild

Spinning while I wait

But we also had a visit to Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Oregon Zoo (thanks Erica!)

Oregon Zoo -- Ladysmith Black Mambazo

And we saw Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Bagdad Theater. If you are wondering, which you shouldn't be, he is awesome.

Spinning at the Bagdad Theater
Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Bagdad

At home, the girls donned some works in progress.

IMG_0063.JPG Prism as hat

After 22 days, I had all this.

End of the Tour de Fleece 09

On the 23rd day, I added some lace weight singles to the pile

Finished prism singles

And in an effort to pose a mile in my pup's shoes, I wrapped almost all my new skeins around my own neck (in 95 degree weather, no less) and snapped a few more shots.

End of the Tour de Fleece 09

Even after 23 days of spinning, I was still enjoying myself and I'm surprised to report that I don't feel burned out on spinning at all. Perhaps it's the fact that I worked with such beautiful fibers or that I produced yarns I'm excited to knit, or maybe it's just that I didn't feel pressured to produce a certain amount or a particular type of yarn. Regardless of the reasons, I feel it was a good exercise and the girls got mighty used to all the treats they'd get after the various photo shoots, so they don't seem to be complaining either.


And as a side note, you can see some beach pictures from the weekend, here.

Beach fun in the fog

August 13, 2009

Making ourselves at home

The move into the new house took 4 days of solid, dirty, heavy, achy, seemingly endless work, but, compared to years where the weather has been in the triple digits and we've had flights of stairs to scale, this move was relatively easy. I'm not saying I want to have to lug a washer and dryer again, but it could definitely have been worse.

And really, when you are moving into your first home, everything is rosy colored and splendid.

I've taken this week off and am making slow progress getting things up from the garage and into their respective rooms, and when Leo gets home, he gets decidedly handy. There has been sawing and drilling and some hammering as needed.

Now that we are officially house-poor, it seemed only appropriate to make a big hearty batch of beef-lentil stew to keep our energy up and our food costs in order.

Stew Stew


This is the same recipe I blogged about a few months back, only I beefed (ha!) it up with some english short ribs and chuck, which I seared and then slow cooked for 4 hours. A great way to christen my huge new kitchen and a yummy versatile meal. Each day, we garnish it differently so we don't get bored.

And when we aren't eating, we're taking in the lovely views from our various decks.

Sunset

But my favorite view, today, is my new craft room. What a luxury!

My Craft Room
1. Enter the room, 2. The big stuff, 3. Yarn closet, 4. Shelves, 5. Closeup of pictures, 6. Buckets and books, 7. Dogs for scale, 8. Crochet corset
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Ok, that last picture isn't in my craft room, but it is a closeup of a piece I just finished crocheting.

Click on any of the text links to embiggen the little thumbnails.

To all of you who sent me congrats, thank you so much. Life is a little crazy right now, but I read and love each and every comment. Please don't take it personally if I haven't had a chance to reply.

August 19, 2009

Sunrise

I've never been a morning person, but this new house might just change that about me.

From the bed, the other morning, this is what I saw.

Sunrise

Look closer and you can see Mt Hood rising up through the clouds.

Sunrise

We may not have much furniture, but things are pretty smiley all around.

Thea during sunrise View from the

Also, I finally broke El Matchador out this weekend for a spin on the deck.

Lazy Sunday on the deck

August 24, 2009

Total slouch

Sometimes being a slouch is just fine. Normally, I love knitting fitted, figure hugging designs that appreciate all the fantastic curves we women have to offer but occasionally, all I want is something comfy and slouchy and relaxed while still being appropriate for human interaction. (I've heard it's frowned upon to go out in public in your robe. Go figure.)

Remember Freudian Stitch? Long since ripped, it's now become this.

Slouchy Silky Wool Pullover w/Fireplace Slouchy Silky Wool Pullover w/Fireplace

It's a simple design with plenty of ease and a huge scoop neck that can be worn on or off the shoulders. The cowl is gently flared to allow it to drape loosely at the neck or be worn across the shoulders, as desired.

The simple cable running up the front and back has been scaled down to run along the sleeves as well.

As I've noted in the past, I just love working with Silky Wool. The tweedy color, subtle texture and crisp hand, make for a lovely fabric and the light weight doesn't add bulk and is suitable for most seasons.

I'm not sure if I'll offer a pattern or not, that'll depend on time and customer interest. It's not a complicated piece but I would be offering several different cable charts to ensure that the scale of the cables fits the larger sizes so the cost in time and tech editing would be a little higher than usual.

But hey, this is my first official knitting photoshoot in the new home. It's silly but it feels a little momentous to me. Even the girls got in on the fun.

Slouchy Silky Wool Pullover in Yard

September 13, 2009

Memories of Mumbai

The Tour de Fleece pushed me to do a lot of spinning and now I feel compelled to knit my new skeins.

The thing, though, with knitting your own handspun is that the quantity you have is it, especially if you buy handpainted fibers produced in small quantities. Mostly, my skeins run 2-4 ounces which may vary in yardage depending on fiber type, ply and weight. Ideally, I want to avoid projects where I'll come up short on yardage, but I still want to use as much of the yarn up as possible so as not to waste any of my hard work spinning it. A challenge!

My very last skein from the tour was a merino/bamboo blend from Freckle Face Fibers that I spun up into a little more than 600 yards of fingering weight singles. It seemed like plenty of yardage for a rectangular wrap, so I got to looking through some stitch dictionaries to find something that was lacy but simple enough to stand up to the highly variegated rainbow colorway.

Making use of my kitchen scale and a center pull ball, I managed to achieve my goal of using the entire skein, with no waste.

last-of-the-handspun
I call this, "burning the skein at both ends."

I trimmed the shawl with a little Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud in a light beige shade, blocked and voila.

Handspun and Alpaca shawl


The colors make me think of the lovely silk saris I admired on my brief trips to India and the simple scarf shape and ruffle remind me of one of my favorite shawls that I bought there.

Handspun and Alpaca shawl
Do you see anyone peeking around the corner.

The main motif is out of one of the Barbara Walker treasuries, and then I scaled it down near each end and finished it off with a simple ruffle.

Handspun and Alpaca shawl

The cast on edge is actually the center back and to use up as much yarn as possible I used the tail from the cast on and felted it to the start of the yarn that I used to pickup and knit down from the other end. So the only ends were at each end.


And lastly, my dogs are cute.

Manzanita 09/06/09

September 24, 2009

Reunion

In this day and age of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and FriendFace reconnecting with people from your past is about as novel as a fax machines, which is just as well since I'm a complete hermit and never leave the house.

No, for me, the reunion was all about finding this.

Class book

This happens to be required reading for my class this term and it was a book I read, probably, 6-7 years ago just because. The problem? It was in one of 14 boxes that had been sitting in our garage for the past 3 years.

Digging for the book was unearthing years of my life. It's odd how just seeing a book can bring me right back to the time when I read it, good or bad.

Sundry Books

It's funny to find a long ago book on astrology in the box I opened after the box full of tomes on skepticism. If I laid everything out chronologically, it might well function as a sort of auto biography.

But what's even more telling are the arts and crafts books

Too many craft books


Sorted in piles I've tagged here, here and here, they are a cornucopia of good and ill conceived ventures in creativity. But even the country cross stitch and 80s teddy bear sweater books have a special place in my heart, not so much because I will ever (EVER) use them but because they take me back to another time in my life that I can hardly remember, some days.

Oh books, how I love you so. Now all we need are some book cases.

October 3, 2009

Another good night's sleep for two border collie crosses

Anyone with herding dogs appreciates the value of a sleepy dog, of which I now have two. Today, the weather report said thunder showers for the coast. I was somewhat concerned about the idea of sky-electricity and large bodies of water, but it's been a while since the girls got their paws wet and it didn't take much persuading to convince me to at least give it a shot.

There was hail, and rain, and a wee bit of wind, but mostly, it was a downright beautiful day.

Manzanita Beach -- October 3, 2009
Click to embiggen 1. Fetch in front of cloud, 2. Leaping Bear, 3. My sweet man, 4. Hail, 5. Run run run, 6. The calm after the storm, 7. Ominous clouds, 8. Throw it, already, 9. Silly monkey, 10. Return with the squirrel, 11. The hail cloud in the distance, 12. Run in the water, 13. Blue skies break through
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

The girls are content, indeed. See the entire set here.

October 25, 2009

Salt water therapy

It's been rainy. I love the rain, but Saturday was sunny and beautiful. You know what? I love sunshine too. Lucky me.

We packed a little picnic and headed for the coast.

Oct 24, 2009
Thea carried the water like a trooper.


Oct 24, 2009
Which freed us up to take in the view.


Oct 24, 2009
Don't mind the precipitous drop to likely doom, just look at the pretty.


Oct 24, 2009
Because at the end of the trail is joy.


Oct 24, 2009
And of course, a little lunch.


Oct 24, 2009
And a whole lot of fetch.


Oct 24, 2009
Smiles abound.


Oct 24, 2009
The view was just as nice on the hike back.


Oct 24, 2009
And a last game of fetch before going home.


Tub
And the cherry on top, a little soak in one of my favorite features of the house.


What can I say? Life is good. Hope your weekend was even better.

October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

Yes, I know that this makes me a terrible terrible person.

November 4, 2009

A few things that are making me happy

Leo and I managed to throw together passable Halloween costumes without any planning, thanks to some inventive closet diving.

IMG_0005
A demon and Maryann from Gilligan's Island, or possibly Dorothy pre-ruby slipper

Ravelry is featuring Jamison Square on their pattern page


I squeed when I saw this.

While we didn't win a cover spot, you can see see Thea at about 1:12 in this video.

And the whole darn video is full of smiley goodness.

And lastly, artichokes.

Artichokes with Pesto Dip
I love artichokes. Click image for recipe

November 27, 2009

Little things make me thankful

After weeks of mostly rain, we have a gorgeous sunshiney day, two antsy dogs and a tank full of gas. We're off to the ocean (can't say "beach" or the dogs will go crazy pants.) Before I go, I wanted to give you a sneak peek of my most recent finished object. I'll have better pictures in the near future, over in ravelry.

SimpleThingswithPups

This project is Mary-Heather Cogar's Simple Things Shawlette. It was exactly what I needed to work on while I wait for yarn to arrive for my next deadline project. I followed the pattern, almost to the letter, except that I omitted one repeat of the garter ridge. I used this bind off to get a good loose edge and it worked a charm.

As a side note, for no real reason whatsoever, except that I have a slightly geeky side, I created a little spreadsheet that can be used to plan out yardage for any triangular shawl that increases 4 sts every other row. You would have to expand the number of rows for longer shawls (like my La Cumparsita) or delete rows for shorter shawls.

Why would you use this? Well, let's say the pattern called for 400 yards of yarn and you have 350. You could use this to determine approximately how many rows you could actually work, without running out of yarn mid-row. Alternately, you might simply like to know when you are actually at the halfway point, or how far through the project you've gotten. Anyway, if you want to play around with it, you can download the file here.

Note: this does not have any information about the shawlette or any other pattern in it, it's simply a tool for calculating stitch counts and yardage in triangular shawl pattern. I am offering this for free for your own use, personal or commercial, but I cannot offer you technical support for this file. It is yours to play with but you will need to understand excel or open office to edit it and I cannot train you to use those programs. If you wish to modify it to be more functional, I would love it if you'd share it with others, and pass along your expertise.

December 1, 2009

Coast, Kool-Aid and Kale

I don't ever recall Thanksgiving being particularly stressful, as a kid, but really, what's there to be stressed about other than the inevitable battle for that first slice of turkey breast with the big piece of crispy skin.* I'm sure it was much harder for the adults with all the cooking, cleaning and kid/drunk in-law wrangling, but as a kid, it always just seemed like lots of good food and playing with the cousins. As adults, I think Leo and I have kept a lot of the same relaxed attitude. We don't tend to make a production of the holiday, thought we do like some good lumpy mashed potatoes and crispy bird skin on a plate. Since we have yet to really put our new kitchen through the paces, we did (and by we, I mean me) a whole chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, dressing and cranberry sauce and dug in at our leisure. I'm still working through the last of the starchiest bits.

And being the long weekend that Thanksgiving is, we had plenty of time to fit in a trip to the ocean on Saturday. It was brisk but dry and that's pretty much good enough for us. I don't think the dogs have ever been put out by a little cold weather.

Manzanita Oregon -- November 27, 2009 Mosaic
1. Leo got frenched by a puppy, 2. Thea takes a victory lap, 3. Birds, 4. Throw it again, 5. Lift off, 6. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 7. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 8. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 9. More birds, 10. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 11. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 12. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 13. Where'd it go?
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

I also finished spinning about 200 yards of some angora, alpaca and soy silk I hand carded together. Using a bit of Kool-Aid, I dyed it in three successive dye baths to get a rich orange shade.

Bath 1: 1 orange + 1 lemon aid packet

Kool Aid dyeing

Bath 2: 2 orange + 1 lemon aid packet

Kool-Aid dyed Handspun Yarn

Bath 3: 1 tropical punch packet

Kool-Aid dyed Handspun Yarn

I love the color and it smells so sweet. I find dyeing really stressful, because you can't really undo it if you blow it, but this time seem to work out great.

To finish off the long weekend, I made a big batch of lemon garlic crispy kale.

Crispy Kale Chips Crispy Kale Chips

Click either image for the recipe, inasmuch as it is one.

I hope all of you had a lovely weekend too.

*Most of my teen and college years, I did thanksgiving at friends houses and I watched in horror, one year as my friend's mother whipped her mashed potatoes (no lumps!) and removed the skin from the turkey after cooking. I've never fully recovered from the memory.

December 4, 2009

Why I'm rarely grumpy

snugglypups

That is all.

Ok, there's also this

Focaccia Bread from start to belly


But I'd choose the former over the latter, if pressed.

December 16, 2009

Staying warm

Winter doesn't really get all that brutal where we live, which is fine by me. I don't miss the winters of New Hampshire. Nope, not even a little. Our proximity to Mt. Hood means that epic quantities of snow are never more than an hour away, come winter, should we care to find it. But, the past few weeks have been pretty darn chilly, at least by my standards. You know that's a great time for bread baking.

Because people have asked, this focaccia (revisited) now comes complete with recipe. Just click the gooey, warm cheese topping to get the recipe for yourself.

Focaccia Bread w/recipe
I believe the word I'm looking for is, "omnomnomnom"

Since last I posted around these parts, I completed my first physics class since junior high and managed to maintain my 4.0 (woohoo). Even though it was physics-light (and yes, we did actually cover the physics of light, amongst many other topics) it was, without a doubt, the hardest course I've taken in college. There was much hand wringing as I logged in to check my grade.


Look at all my largely useless transfer credits

It's sometimes a challenge to juggle work, school and knitting, but honestly, I just look out the window and I can't help but smile.

Foggy sunrise
I love this view.

And then there's (come on, you knew it was coming) the puppy contingent. They are really just far too cute for their own good.

Breakfast nook
Keeping me company while I work.


Lazy Sunday
Trying to sleep despite the camera in her face.

I guess that's about all from the house of hair, for now. Till next time, here's hoping your days are filled with carbs and puppies too.

December 19, 2009

9 or 63

It's approximately, more or less, to the best of our knowledge, somewhere around the date of Panda's birth. She 9 now-ish. Leo called off all birthdays a couple of years ago, because they simply mark the passage of time after a certain age, but she's my little girl, I can't help it. Panda is, for all intents and purposes, my first dog, a ray of sunshine and the reason I'm a dog person. I think every year with her is my good fortune.

So, mostly because it's been a few week but partially because it's her birthday, we went to the beach. It's foggy, a little rainy, horrible photography weather and all around perfect, nonetheless.

Manzanita -- December 19, 2009 Manzanita -- December 19, 2009
Pretty much the definition of doggy joy.

See all the pictures here.

And as a side note, to those who inquired about my going back to school, I'm just going to finish the degree I wasn't able to complete the first go around. I'm majoring in...nothing, they call it "general arts and letters." Given time and money I think I'd like to, some day, figure out what I want to be when I grow up and pick a course of study for a masters. At the rate I'm going, I'll finish that in my 60s.

Double side note, um, even with a calculator, I can't figure out what 7x9 is equal to. I think I've got it now.

December 29, 2009

Last little bit of 2009

Christmas was blissfully mellow here in the new home; no obligations, no worries, plenty of quality time with each other. It was chilly, as evidenced by these gorgeous spider webs, encrusted in ice, on our porch.

Icy morning Icy morning

I love the way the drops of water froze like little glass beads. You should have seen how they glistened in the sunlight. If you go to flickr, you can embiggen them and see more of the detail.

I tried my hand at sushi making, which turned out to be way easier than I expected.

Sushi

That's my "hot and sour tuna" roll. Recipe, inasmuch as anyone would need one, can be had if you click the pic.

I manage to get all my deadline knitting done, thanks to some morale support from the pooches

Panda and Thea Snuggling


I mailed off both garments today and emailed the digital files as well. It feels so good to have those off the plate. Now, do I start something new or finish something already started? Yes, I know which is the RIGHT answer, that doesn't mean I'll do it.

As I was falling asleep I had inspiration of another kind resulting in this, my first venn diagram.

Red___ulousVenn


I'm sure this will improve your lives exponentially.

And, in a last bit of late breaking news, we have us some snow. SNOW!

More snow


It's not slated to last very long but the girls sure do love it while it's here.

January 22, 2010

Hair Apparent and giving even more

I've finished the pattern for Hair Apparent and added it to the collection of Help For Haiti patterns. Like all my more recent patterns, 50% of the price will be donated to Doctors Without Borders for any sales from January 15-January 31, 2010. 75% of any sales of my older self-published patterns, retroactive to January 15th, will also be included in the donation.

Not to get sappy, but I've been following a few Ravelry threads and the amount of money knitters have been able to donate is awe inspiring. If you are interested, check out the tally Yarn Harlot is keeping or browse the other patterns in Ravelry that are marked for donations to Haiti. The good godless folks of LSG alone have raised $40,000. It's a great reminder that many people making small gestures can add up to a lot.

I hope that any of you who have been on the line about sending a donation, will consider finding a charity you respect and sending an amount that you can spare. And for the loads of you who have clearly already reached deep into your pockets, despite the poor economy, I just want to say how moved I am by your generosity. Ok, sappiness over. Thanks for humoring me.

Hair Apparent

This ultra easy pattern can be worked up in a productive weekend or gradually completed over a week. There's a fun little braided brim and I've included a full photo tutorial at the end of the document for those who feel it may be beyond their skill level. I've also included both stripe instructions and both snap and button options. The hat is available in 5 sizes from premie to adult. The pattern is 4 pages plus a cover and is laid out so that secondary info (tutorials, gauge, schematics, etc) are on separate pages from the actual pattern instructions, so you can print out only the info you actually need and save paper and ink.

The price is $3.
Find out more about the pattern here.

IMG_0059

The pups were a great "help" during the photo shoots.

February 1, 2010

Donating and a bunch of other stuff

I used to blog the most inane little bits of my life, at times, and now there is facebook and twitter to handle that task. But when it comes time to post, there are always such a varied assortment of things I want to tell you about that, for the life of me, I can't think of a decent title. Sorry about that.

Anyway, first and foremost, thank you all who purchased patterns from January 15th-31st, of this year. Your donations allowed me to make a total of $736 in donations to Doctors Without Borders. And lest you think that an impressive number, I've seen other knitters reporting several thousand dollars in donations from their own sales. It's amazing to see how a multitude of small gestures can add up to so much. Really, it's a metaphor for life and it reminds me that no bit of good is too small and every effort is meaningful. So thanks to all of you who donated personally or bought patterns from a participating designer. It's enough to make my crotchety little heart soften a bit.


In doggy news, the pups still love the beach with the white hot passion of a thousand suns

January 23, 2010
See all the pictures here.

The beef crunchies I made have upped the excitement for training time.

They work hard and they play hard. Awww

Toy nom
Thea's got a toy


And lastly for your moment of pure comic relief at the expense of what little shame I may have had left, I got an honorable mention (as did the beautiful Stitch Diva,) in the Regretsy Skants contest.

Help Me Pick a Skant Picture

Yup, this get-up doesn't even touch the wackiness the winners hit. Mine looks downright tame by comparison.

March 9, 2010

Helicopter

Thea loves this thing

It's exhausting being a dog.

Sacked out dog

March 18, 2010

Getting your greens

A fat squirrel on our patchy but quite green lawn. The girls are not fans.

Dastardly Squirrel


Yummy green olives, capers and artichoke hearts combined to make a delicious spread. Check click the image for a link to the recipe.

Artichoke Olive Crostini


Not green, but a recipe recommended by the same site, is a buttery tomato sauce I've garnished with bacon. Mmmm, bacon.

Tomato sauce


And lastly a quick little spiral striped (jog free, baby!) hat in soft superwash merino left over from another design.

Spiral Stripe Hat


I'm thinking I may rip the ribbing and rework it a little tighter (but not too much so) just to make sure it holds up to some wind. I wanted something loose and slouchy and not inclined to give me terrible hat head. I could sleep in this thing, it's so comfortable.

April 26, 2010

Wedding Weekend

WeAreMarried

I can't thank you all enough for the kind words and congratulations. We really kept this whole thing entirely secret and I still have close friends and family to contact and let them know we got hitched. We wanted to make sure that no one felt obligated to travel or buy gifts or put themselves out. The relationship is for love but the wedding was, in many ways, just a formality for legal and insurance purposes.

Wedding Weekend at Cannon Beach
1. Fetch by Haystack Rock, 2. Delicious Wine, 3. Panda and Thea assess the view, 4. Dad's tie, 5. Groom and Witness's shoes, 6. Feeding the bird, 7. The start of a muddy hike, 8. Post hike shoe cleaning, 9. Rainbow, 10. Sunset play time, 11. Spoiled dogs are spoiled, 12. Thea is a crazy monkey, 13. My sweet old lady
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Despite our general resistance to the idea of getting married on principal alone, we figured that if we were going to do it, we might as well keep it fun and stress free. My mom officiated and gifted me the beautiful dress I wore, which I got at a local store who makes all their dresses by hand from imported Thai silk.

We bought our beautiful rings from Fabuluster. They send impression kits to you and make the rings from your actual finger prints. Leo wears my print and I wear his. We had a bit of fun with it and did impressions of our middle fingers; a little inside joke about our general reluctance to marry and our tendency to take nothing too seriously, if possible.

WithMyDad

My dad, who gave me away, also gifted us professional photography for the ceremony (pictures to come in a month or so). I also wore the first gift he ever gave my mom, a lovely pair of heart-shaped earrings.

My brother and his girlfriend witnessed and offered general morale support. It was sheer coincidence that my brother and the groom wore the same shoes.

Our biggest splurge, though, was our stay at a lovely, dog friendly beachside hotel. Since we normally stay in cheap motels or camp in our car, when we travel with the pups, this was a real extravagance for the four of us. Being able to go for our walks on the beach, at the drop of a hat, was such a delight and the dogs couldn't have been happier. They've been downright mellow since we've returned.

I can't wait to see how the photos come out. I think there'll be a few lovely mementos to mark the day. But even if I am making dork-face in every shot, I'll still look back on the weekend as a lovely time spent with my very closest family and a wonderful memory amongst the many that Leo and I already share.

Oh and since a few have asked, the pups were in attendance but no, I did not dress them up. We're crazy dog people but we aren't THAT crazy.

May 30, 2010

One last post about the wedding

Short and sweet, like the ceremony itself, a few more pictures of the lovely day.

The Wedding
1. Being given away, 2. Groom and Best Man's shoes, 3. Last chance to bail out, 4. Do you agree to the terms and conditions?, 5. My mom, officiating, 6. I may kiss the groom, 7. Kiss in front of haystack rock, 8. Looking wistful in front of haystack rock, 9. The happy couple, 10. The kids are legitimate now, 11. The whole wedding party, 12. Mom and dad, 13. Very serious footwear, 14. Dad of the bride, 15. Groom with his new Father In-Law, 16. It's official now, 17. Warm hug, 18. Lucky bride, 19. Black and White is fancy, 20. Fancy pants shot of the bride
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

June 20, 2010

Contest

You know what I think is really useless? Blogging that you haven't blogged for a while and then apologizing. But you know what I think is cute? Posting a picture that captures that same sentiment.

Manzanita June 18, 2010
Contrite dog is contrite*

But how'z about I make it up to at least two of you out there.

Picture%201.png
Successful Lace Knitting


A little while ago, I posted about Donna Druchunas' new book, Successful Lace Knitting, to which I contributed the cover project. Well I recently received my copy and one extra copy, both of which are signed by the author. That means I have one more copy than I rightfully need.

To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment below answering the following question.

What is the most embarrassing thing your parents/guardians ever did in front of your friends?

Here's my answer:
My biological father used to crochet his own banana hammocks and wear them in public to swim at the local country club. I'm from a small town, and people I grew up with still talk about it. It's memories like that, that make me all the more thankful for the upgrade I got a few years back. (Speaking of which, a very happy father's day, dad2.0!)

Here are the logistics of the drawing. Get your comment in by the end of day Friday June, 25, and I will pick one comment at random to receive the signed copy of Successful Lace Knitting. I will also award one gift certificate for a Twist Collective pattern (you will be able to pick from any that they offer) to the person who makes me laugh and/or cringe the hardest with their comment.





*Note, no dogs were actually made to feel contrite to produce this blog post.

July 19, 2010

Cowl Swap

This post is so late I might as well be reporting about those new fangled talkies and the steam engine, but what the heck, it comes with a puppy fix AND a beautifully knit finished object so it can't be all bad.

Back when I lived in LA, there was a small group of us who met somewhat regularly for general crafty goodness. Many of us have moved away and a few have had children and other big life changing events, but we still stay in contact, at least by email. About a year ago, someone suggested a cowl swap and Mary-Heather was assigned to knit my cowl.

Well, she couldn't have produced a more perfect piece. In a luscious deep purply wool with a delicate blend of lace and cables this slim little cowl adds that bit of extra warmth one want on those particularly blustery days.

I've had this lovely in my possession for a while now but it wasn't until Mary-Heather mentioned she could use a shot for her project page, that things got serious(ly silly).

A  beautiful cowl from a beautiful person on two beautiful dogs
1. Modeling is very serious business, 2. What are you photographing? Why is it not us?, 3. Panda is sweet and chic, 4. Cowl from Mary-Heather
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

I never realized it but it appears that dogs and cowls go together like dogs and shawls. Or maybe I'm just a crazy dog lady. Are the two mutually exclusive?

Anyway, it was a great gift, received in time for winter and packaged with some extra goodies to warm the new house. Lucky lucky me.

August 27, 2010

Things I'm doing when I'm not blogging.

Well, mostly I'm working and often I'm also knitting more super secret stuff.

Secret Project Yarn


Beautiful yarn, though, don't you think?

I also canned for the first time.

Blueberry jam


Some of the 10 jars of blueberry jam I made from berries we picked locally. We've already gone through three jars in, um, an embarrassingly short period of time and berry season is pretty much over. Next year, we get serious.

And of course, the dogs are making sure we don't forget to go to the beach.

Manzanita, Oregon, August 27, 2010

Pacific City, Oregon August 21, 2010

Next post will be a little behind the scenes on Tolovana.

November 16, 2010

Mata Hari

The Winter 2010 edition of Twist Collective is live and it features 31 patterns, along with some fantastic articles.

I'm pleased and flattered to have been asked to contributed to the Designer's Choice section. We were asked to come up with a design we would love to wear and model it for the section. My design is called, Mata Hari and features a plunging v-neck in back and a wide scoop neck in front. The garment looks just as good worn backwards and an optional bow adds just a touch of fun to the piece.

Mata Hari Mosaic
1. Mata_Hari0716, 2. Mata_Hari2011, 3. Mata_Hari1762, 4. Mata_Hari1421

I plan to write more about this piece later. For now, I hope you'll take a few moments to check out this beautiful edition.

December 4, 2010

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
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

December 22, 2010

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.


January 1, 2011

Fixer-uppers

Breakfast02

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.

Darwin05

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.

Breakfast05

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

January 14, 2011

Perspective

Yesterday was one of those days; those days that ensure I won't be a dog horder in the near future. Rainy weather and long working hours have left me making excuses not to walk Darwin as much as I should. When you have a young herding dog and you decide to skimp on walks and training you might as well batten down the hatches and prepare for the storm because you are about to see what 25 lbs of super smart and endlessly energetic has in store for you.

Darwin Socializing_03
Being cute is a survival mechanism

It was a rough day but today is already better, we've left our minor setbacks behind us and braved the downpours for a a nice long and positive walk. A little perspective (and a good nap) is usually all I need to get past a particularly bad day. I mean really, look at this lot.

Darwin's First Trip to Mt. Hood_29
Cute, non? Cute, oui!

In the same way, our other stresses in life can seem overwhelming. With one of us out of work for nearly a year now and the economy showing few signs of life, it's easy to get caught up in the uncertainty and doubt and fear. We could let the setbacks and rejections cripple us but we try to keep perspective. We have our bad days and sleepless nights but we try to remember that we have so much even if it feels like we are teetering on the edge. When I heard a friend and her son had lost their partner and father, respectively, my heart just broke. It's one of those moments where the only thing I can think to do is hug everyone in the house and tell them how important they are to me. The dogs mostly just wag and hope for a cookie. That's good enough for me.

I know that nothing can ever bring back this wonderful man my friend and her son lost and no small gesture can change that pain left behind, but perhaps it was as therapeutic for me as anything, to make them each a small gift with empathy for their terrible situation. I guess, on some level, I feel like the time I spent on each was time I was reminded to value the people I do have in my life; forget my petty concerns and endeavor to be as honest and caring as I can while time still allows me to do so.

Handspun Shrug_10
Handspun Grafton Batt crocheted side to side. Trimmed in knitted handspun optim

And maybe, if you'll indulge me a bit longer, you can find someone you love, human, dog, cat or other, and let them know you love them for no reason at all except that you do, even if they drive you up the walls sometimes or always leave a mess. Chances are, they overlook a few of your shortcomings as well and love you equally.

Lil_Monster07
Monster crocheted with DK weigh merino, with knit socks and scarf worked in sock yarn

January 20, 2011

Comic relief

One of the nice things about dogs (versus, say, children or other humans) is that they don't get indignant when you make jokes at their expense for all the internet to see.

One of the nice things about being easily amused is that one can find herself entertained for hours with an inexpensive piece of software and a few well chosen photos. Click to go to the full sized image.

Balls


Baggage


Puppy_Le_Pew

February 20, 2011

Let's continue the birthday celebration

Friday was my birthday and I put it to good use. I released a pattern:

Dweezil_In_Space

And I went to the beach with the three beasts and one human I like best of all.

My birthday at the coast
1. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_171, 2. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_046, 3. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_053, 4. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_065, 5. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_118, 6. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_126, 7. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_130, 8. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_148, 9. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_150, 10. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_157, 11. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_169, 12. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_176, 13. February 18, 2011_Oregon Coast_182
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

And as an added bonus, I did an interview a little while ago and now it's live. Check it out here.

Hope you all had a happy my-birthday as well.

March 6, 2011

Do you suffer from CDP?

Do you suffer from Crazy Dog Personitis [CDP]? Symptoms may include:

A compulsion to relegate half your vehicle for the comfort and safety of your dogs.

CarRide_02

An uncontrolled desire to snuggle, which sometimes interferes with other tasks you should be doing.

Man_and_his_dogs_14 Man_and_his_dogs_04

Attraction to sun beams.

Man_and_his_dogs_02

Inability to consider weather reports before deciding to drive 2 hours so your dogs can play.

Susceptibility to furrowed brows.

OregonCoast_March_4_2011_044

And, in the case of extreme CDP, a tendency towards ordering a burger for yourself....

OregonCoast_March_4_2011_073

...And then some mini burgers, minus all the fixin's for your pooches awaiting you in the car.

If you have these symptoms, or any other symptoms of CDP, there's no hope for you, no cure, and no treatment, but you are in good company. I prescribe two belly rubs per dog, and call me in the morning.

Bunches of additional pictures here.

March 19, 2011

New camera, new beach, same old pups

Leo surprised me with a belated birthday present, a few days ago. I'm working on a pattern (to be released soon) and decided it just had to be shot at the coast and since we're going, we might as well bring the pups along.

Our usual spot was a little crowded, and since shooting the pattern required that I completely change, in 45º weather, and don a wee little dress, I figured it might be better if we go somewhere a little less populated. It didn't make it any warmer but at least I wasn't putting on a burlesque show in the process.

We ended up stumbling on the most amazing secluded spot. I don't even know what town we were in, nor what street we turned onto. It's in our GPS, though and we'll be finding our way back.

There were rocky outcroppings that made for impressive tidepools

Tidepools
1. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_036, 2. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_035, 3. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_034, 4. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_049
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Darwin had plenty of room to bounce

Boingy Boy
1. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_003, 2. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_005, 3. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_029, 4. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_082
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Panda mostly did her own thing, as she is wont to do.

My Sweet Panda Girl
1. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_014, 2. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_077, 3. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_079, 4. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_058
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

And Thea chased her brother around whenever he wasn't chasing her.

Thea, silly monkey
1. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_091, 2. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_004, 3. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_019, 4. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_041
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

The view wasn't anything to scoff at either.

What a view
1. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_007, 2. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_010, 3. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_016, 4. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_043
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Once the puppies were tuckered out, the humans decided to stop for a burger and some blues before the long drive home.

Fun for the humans
1. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_113, 2. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_116, 3. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_115, 4. Oregon Coast_March 18, 2011_118
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Just another wonderful day at the Oregon coast. See all our pictures here.

March 22, 2011

Tidewater

I am very pleased to present my newest patterns, a set called Tidewater featuring:

A cowl:

Tidewater Cowl modeled by all of us
1. Tidewater_Cowl_19, 2. Tidewater_Cowl_27, 3. Tidewater_Cowl_24, 4. Tidewater_Cowl_08
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

And a shawl

Tidewater_Shawl_25 Tidewater_Shawl_45

The patterns are both charted. The cowl also includes written out instructions for the lace, for those who are not comfortable working from charts. Each pattern is available individually and both are available together, as an ebook, for a reduced price.

Click to see all the details for the cowl and the shawl.

April 4, 2011

Two tired buzzwords in one great week.

I think we can all agree that the words, "staycation" and "funemployment" can be retired at any time with no adverse repercussions for the English language, but regardless, that's what Leo and I had last week when I took some time off from my day job.*

We didn't waste the time, getting a bit done around the house and managing to hit the beach three times. The pups were over the moon, around Jupiter and back around the moon once more.

March 25

Oregon_Coast_March_25_2011_058


A beautiful start to vacation, with perfect mild weather and plenty of fetch.

Then a drizzly follow up on March 28

Oregon Coast -- March 28, 2011_053
Darwin's still a little unsure about this whole fetch thing.

And then a last trip on Saturday, April 2, when we were able to play fetch while the sun set behind us. How's that for a great way to end a vacation?

Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011 - Montage
1. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_111, 2. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_052, 3. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_064, 4. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_075, 5. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_080, 6. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_091, 7. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_093, 8. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_096, 9. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_099, 10. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_106, 11. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_127, 12. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_140, 13. Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_148
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

I won't say that I was excited to wake up at 5:30AM on Monday, to get back to work, but I can say I had a really great week off. If I had to guess, I'd say the pups have very few complaints, as well.

Oregon Coast — April 2, 2011_027




* Though with the Spring/Summer edition going live, I still had responsibilities for my my alter-ego-super-hero-night-job.

April 11, 2011

Rekindling

Do kids still take home economics and shop in school? I remember learning to sew and solder, sauté and saw in middle school (5th to 8th grade). I loved all of it and often cranked through projects so quickly that I would have to start a second or third in the time that most students were still working on their first.

In college, a boyfriend, gave me a sturdy Kenmore sewing machine for Christmas and I was ecstatic. The relationship didn't last but the machine served honorably as I honed my sewing skills and broke a fair number of needles in the process. During a long-ish stretch between relationships, I sewed so often a neighbor in an adjacent apartment complained that the sound kept them up at night.* When we moved to Oregon, we just didn't have room to move the machine and I offered it to my friend, Julia, who has since put it to good use.

It's been about 5 years since I had a machine of my own and probably 10 since I've sewn regularly. The past decade has been the era of knitting for me and the past couple of years, I've really started to miss making clothing for myself and toys for my pups.

Cue the tax return. After paying an extra mortgage, making sure that everything else was up to date and combing the internet for reviews and ratings, home came this bad boy.

Sewing Machine

It's a Brother Innov-ís 80 (details here). Consumer reports gave it, and the 40 model glowing reviews and other sources online seemed to feel the same.

The local Sew and Vac shop had it in stock for $100 less than the price Consumer Reports listed and that pretty much cinched it.

I immediately hit the local fabric shop where, lucky me, all Simplicity patterns were on sale for $1.99. The result?**

Simplicity 2655_13

Black and white, a good combo in this household.

And when I was done with that, I immediately busted into another skirt pattern.

Vogue 7301_01

I'm just dreaming about what I'll do next, though it may be a few weeks before I can really indulge. I have to complete some deadline work. But when my work for pay is off to its intended destination, I have some freshly laundered fabric ready to be cut and stitched into something bright and summery.

Cotton

I have to admit, there's something really appealing about cranking out a project in a day or two instead of a month or more. Of course, nothing will usurp my love for knitting but for all those things that knits do poorly (I'm looking at you pants) sewing sure has its charm.

I'm not sure how many of you are tailors/seamstresses/sewists/whatever we are calling it these days, but if there's interest, I'd be happy to do a review of the features of the machine and included accessories. Just leave a comment and let me know.



*I worked the swing shift at a newspaper and I spent time not sewing, either playing Final Fantasy or watching cartoons. I lived a very glamorous single life.


**There may have been an incident, with a zipper and a needle and almost a week while the machine recouped at it's store of origin. Let us never speak of this again, or not until I decide to tell you about my track record with busting things I'm really excited about having just bought.

April 17, 2011

I now want pockets on everything

This pattern was so quick, so easy and the results so cute that I kind of want to sew up a dozen more and live in them. Come summer, a mid-length machine washable skirt (or two) is a great alternative to the jeans I normally live in for all occasions outside the house.

McCall's 5431_06 McCall's 5431_15
Modeling assistance courtesy of the pack

It looks a little like an apron when worked in cotton but I think it'd be really versatile in light denim, linen, or chino fabric.

But what I love, love love love, are the pockets.

McCall's 5431_07
The pockets are good at holding the stuff

They are ridiculously roomy. The pattern doesn't indicate a shorter version with the two toned pockets, but it's easy enough to make the modification, just buy an extra quarter yard or so of the main fabric and work version A, but do the pockets for version B.

Despite not having any darts and only a few seams, the fit on this skirt is great, and is so far the best of the three I've sewn since getting my new machine. It was a fun project to slip in while working on more substantial projects with the bulk of my time.

secret_02
You didn't see this, it's a secret

May 1, 2011

Multitasking

What do you do when it's a hot day, you've gone for a long walk with the dogs, your pups need cooling off and your lawn could use a little water?

Yah, that hit the spot

IMG_5434

July 4, 2011

More sewing

Yes, I still knit. I do! Yarn will be arriving shortly for another super secret project, and at the start of next month, I'll have a new pattern out that I can't wait to share with you.

For now, though I'll have to entertain you with ridiculous sewing FO shots.

I sewed a pretty little bag.

Ava Bag_10
Panda is not amused
pattern info here

Then I sewed another one.

Ava Bag_take two_23
Thea is not amused

And then I made a nutballs crazy skirt out of double cloth cotton gauze (gingham on one side, plaid on the other). It's a twirly joy to wear and so light and breezy. I might live in this, during the summer.

McCall's 5056_94

If you are a member of Pattern Review, you can see all my detailed pattern reviews here. Kind of crazy that I've sewn 22 projects in 3 months. Actually, there are a couple that didn't make it to the site at all. Sometimes I get a little obsessed with my (re)new(ed) hobbies.

July 15, 2011

Crunch time

It's been Crazypants City, population, Marnie, lately. We rolled out a redesign of our self service site, at work. Wait, is that Thea you see? Why yes it is. Oh and hey, did you just see Panda over here too? I think you might have. We cranked out that new site in an absurdly short period of time, with two trips to the mothership, for me, and a lot of extra hours. We're still cleaning things up, improving, adding, subtracting, but it's good to have the bulk of it live.

And for you knitters, you may know that Twist Collective has a new edition going live in a couple weeks so it's crunch time there as well. Being completely entrenched in the process, I become both incredible attached to the edition and also, oddly numb to it too, so that I am never quite sure how it will be received. It's like saying the same word over and over until it sounds suddenly foreign.

But there are some things in life that don't care about schedules and work and traveling. Things like delicious local strawberries that must (MUST) be made into jams and jellies.

Strawberry Jam and Strawberry Wine Jelly_05

I made a batch of less sugar strawberry jam in big jars and a small batch of strawberry wine jelly (click image for recipe) just because it sounded so interesting. The former has all the sweet and tart flavor of the amazing hood berries that grow here and the latter tastes almost like honey, with just a hint of wine flavor. It's supposed to be great on a cheese plate, but I like it just fine on toast.

I also have managed a little more dog abuse sewing.

SophiaBag_24 SophiaBag_18
SophiaBag_27

This is from an Amy Butler pattern. While I find her fabrics a little over the top for my taste (says she with the new bag that looks like it was made from a Hawaiian shirt) her patterns are worth every penny for their detailed instructions and professional construction. I would happily recommend them.

Next week, one of my oldest and dearest friends comes to visit for the week, and then we launch the new Twist and then, perhaps, I will take a three day nap and eat all the buttered toast with homemade jam I can fit in my mouth.


July 26, 2011

Aloha

My friends, Mel and Steve came to visit from Hawaii for a week and seeing as Leo and I live in a town called Aloha (pronounced "a-low-a" by the locals, here. I guess the "h" went back to Hawaii) and seeing as it seemed like we were saying, goodbye too soon after saying, hello, "Aloha" seemed like the perfect blog title.

It's always fun to see where you live through fresh eyes. We haven't been in Oregon all that long but Mel and Steve wanted to really get to know the place and it meant hitting all our favorite spots in one short week.

We went berry picking at the local farms

Mel and Steve visit Portland_025

And said, aloha, to some alpaca.

Mel and Steve visit Portland_013

We had microbrewed beer at little bars with live bands.

Mel and Steve visit Portland_018

And hiked around the coastline.

Mel and Steve visit Portland_019

We even went salsa dancing.


can't see the video, click here.


Ok, well, I went salsa dancing and everyone else enjoyed the live music and people watching.

Luckily, they are both crazy dog people and spent plenty of time dolling out belly rubs, treats and generally helping to keep the dogs properly spoiled.

Mel and Steve visit Portland_004
What? You don't invite your dogs to sit next to you at your breakfast nook?

I didn't come close to documenting all the places we went and things we did, but suffice it to say, it was great fun hosting them and hopefully just as much fun for them to be here. The dogs are a bit displeased at the precipitous drop in ear scritches, since their departure.

August 13, 2011

The Piddle King Turns 1

Actually, of our three rescues, we know the very least about Darwin. When we got him, the foster home thought he could be anywhere from 4 to 6 months old and they seemed sure he was part Border Collie (since the rescue was for BCs) but they were told he was mixed with Dalmatian. Well, if he's half Dalmatian, I'm half giraffe, I would bet money he's got some black lab in him.

Wait. what were we talking about?

Darwin Turns 1 - 1
The beatings will continue until morale improves

Ooooh, right, Darwin and his birthday. So, after we brought the little beasty home, we took him to the vet who checked his teeth and gave us her best guess on his age and I used that to pick a date for Darwin's birthday. For those of you (aka, none of you) who want to mark your calendars, August 12th is the day.

Darwin's been a handful in the past 8 months. To say we get a lot of use out of the carpet cleaner is an understatement, for sure. We're still working on some of the residual emotional problems he has as a result of his living conditions before we got him, but boy does he make up for it in other ways. Little D is sweet, loving, snuggly, smart, a quick learner and eager to make his people happy. We may have a long way to go, to undo his past, but it won't be because he isn't willing.

I feel like I've gotten off on a tangent, was there something I needed to do?

Darwin Turns 1 - 3

Oooh, right, the birthday dinner, you guys are still waiting for that. Sorry.

So in honor of the little guy being approximately one earth year old (give or take) and because he's my sweet little doodle butt, we grilled up three small steaks, added a dollop of fresh local berries and had ourselves a birthday celebration. So without further ado...

Happy Birth-ish-day, Darwin!

September 10, 2011

Interview at the Designer's Studio

Exactly 3 years ago today I posted an interview I did with Faina Goberstein and Dawn Leeseman about their book Casual Elegant Knits. Their blog tour was my first chance to get to know Faina, but it hasn't been my last. Since then, she and I have both contributed to the book Knitting in the Sun and Twist Collective.

When Faina first asked me if I'd do an interview for her ongoing Designer's Studio series, I agreed and then promptly got overwhelmed with other things and dropped the ball. Luckily, she gave me a second chance. The interview is now live and you can read it here. Don't forget to check out all the other interviews and if you find any interesting, consider leaving Faina a comment to thank her for all her hard work.


Ooof, there aren't any pictures in this post. Time to remedy that with some non sequitors.

Puppies at play.

Battling the water monster_comic
Click through to get to embiggen

And check out quilt numero dos.

My second quilt_23

September 24, 2011

Lesson learned

Yesterday, I roasted a 5.5 pound chicken.

bird

Leo had a drumstick and I had a little piece of the breast. It was too hot to put in the fridge so I tucked it far back on the counter while we ran a quick errand.

In particular, I picked up some tortillas, salsa, avocado and cheese to make some roasted chicken soft tacos for dinner. Sounds nice, huh?

I can only imagine how this all went down. The little guy must have leaped 4 feet off the ground, snapping as far into the counter as he could, until he got ahold of the dish the chicken was on. The dish was on the floor. The garlic cloves that were in the cavity were everywhere. There was a small piece of breast left and the boy had it in his mouth, a couple discarded ribs littered the floor and pretty much nothing else. D-dog looked pregnant and absolutely as happy with life as an overstuffed dog could be. Panda was hiding in another room and Thea was licking the grease off the floor.

To top it all off, the boy piddled all over the living room, later that evening and Leo had to get up 3 times to let him out, during the night.

Dogs are fricken awesome.

He's feeling fine today.

the culprit 03

The moral of the story? Darwin may look small but there is no spot in the kitchen that he can't reach if the smells are good enough. Also, it's impossible for me to stay mad at a cute dog.

September 25, 2011

You are what you eat

You are what you eat

Alternatively title: Karma's a b**ch.

You are what you eat

My guess is he still thinks it was worth it.

November 4, 2011

So how do the pups get along?


Fine, just fine.

November 26, 2011

Cathedral Windows Hot Pad

Cathedral Windows Tutorial_099

In the short time that I've been quilting I've learned enough to know that I have a lot to learn. I'm still really bad at it but I've been obsessively scouring the internet to bolster my skills.

While I've stuck with simple quilts so far, there's one slightly more advanced quilt that always catches my eye, the Cathedral Windows pattern. The first one I ever saw was here (youtube video). Amazing, right? But jeeze o pete, that's a lot of handwork.

Then I found this tutorial on the Moda Bakeshop site and a whole bunch of the handwork was taken out without losing a lot of what makes the pattern appealing to me. I tried the technique and ended up making this and while I liked it, there were a couple of things about the pattern I didn't love (and I really needed to work on my top stitching).

So based on the techniques I saw online and a few things I wanted to change slightly, I came up with this variation. The one I'm demoing, (shown above) doesn't cut off the edges of the windows around the edge and can be adapted to any size you like. It also has batting behind it, for a little more dimensionality. This could be easily adapted to a table runner, lap quilt or wall hanging. For bags and pillows, you could leave the backing off, if you wanted to.

Supplies

Cathedral Windows Tutorial_001

Fabric

  • 1 - 14" x 14" backing piece (shown in white)
  • 1 - 14" x 14" piece of batting. If you plan to use this as a hot pad, use 100% cotton
  • 1 - 14" x 14" piece of border fabric (shown in Moda Cotton Blossoms 55005)
  • 4 - 9.5" x 9.5" for windows (shown in white)
  • 1 - 5" x 5" or 4 - 2.5" x 2.5" square(s) for window panes (shown in Moda Terrain by Kate Spain in 27092-13)
  • Binding fabric (Shown in...heck if I know)

Other supplies

  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Rotary cutter/ruler/mat
  • Marking tools
  • Pins
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Point turner
  • Iron and ironing surface
  • Hand sewing needle

Optional

  • Basting glue
  • Water spray bottle
  • Spray starch
  • Scotch Guard

All images may be clicked to view them full size.

Continue reading "Cathedral Windows Hot Pad" »

December 4, 2011

On the horizon

I feel like I'm on a designing kick right now. I just released two patterns for Twist, I have yarn for two deadline projects, due to publish next spring and I just sent a new design, Cercis, to my tech editor to be self published.

cercis_outtake_001

I took some pictures of Cercis this weekend, while we were at the coast. I thought I'd share my favorite outtake. It's useless for actually seeing the sweater but it has everything I love; my pack, haystack rock, a bright sunny day, knitting and the ocean.

I hope to have this pattern ready for release in the next couple of weeks. Until then, I have some designing to do.

December 20, 2011

Celebration

panda_darwin
Guests of honor

Over the last 3 weeks we had three milestones to celebrate:

  • Panda turned 11

  • We celebrated our 1 year anniversary with Darwin

  • And Leo and I hit 11 years together (eesh, how did that happen?)

So we celebrated all three, on Friday, with another trip to the coast. It seemed appropriate.

three happy dogs

Here's to many more birthdays and anniversaries to come.

January 12, 2012

All dressed up and no place to go

I've read a good number of books on sewing, over the years, including an 80s era edition of Vogue Sewing and while doing so has certainly been helpful, when it comes time to actually sew a garment, I'm often at a loss to remember which couture tips should be employed and how. I end up sewing garments just as the instructions tell me to, not that there's anything wrong with that.

To be honest, though, I have tended to pass up patterns that require things like linings or boning or other more advanced construction features because I still feel like a real rookie at the whole process. What I needed was a good class but time and money make that a bit tough.

Lucky me, Craftsy offers some online courses and one of them is all about making a well constructed, perfectly fitted, couture style bombshell dress. Yes please, and may I have some more?

Bombshell Dress_13

The class was a lot of fun. I worked on mine over the holidays so I really didn't get the benefit of the direct interaction with the instructor. On the one hand, I was a little disappointed that I couldn't ask questions and get answers but in truth, even without that feature, I learned so much and the class was so comprehensive that I still think it was well worth the money and since I got the class while it was nearly half price (and as if this moment, it is still only $29) I really don't think I have much room to complain.

I hear she's working on another class and I'll definitely check it out when it is available.

For those of you who might want to try the class out as well, the largest size available for the pattern is only 39" at the bust (100 cm), though the instructor does walk you through a draping technique for fitting a fuller bust, it may not work for you if you are substantially larger, all over, than the largest size. She does make recommendations for other patterns, but you'll have to pay for those separately, which will increase the overall cost of the class.

I went through the details of my project, over on Sewing Pattern Central. I talked about some of the construction details covered in the class and the modifications I had to make to the pattern. I don't really think I'll wear this dress much. My life involves a lot more pajamas and jeans than bustiers and boning. But I think I'll be able to take a lot of what I learned and apply it to other projects I sew.

Of course, I had to have my quality assurance team inspect the work. Thea weighed in on the hem.

Bombshell Dress_10


I think she's not impressed.


February 25, 2012

Yah yah yah, cue the double rainbow guy

Last weekend was my birthday; one of those unremarkable, mid-decade, you're-too-old-to-care-about-your-birthday-still kind of birthdays. We're still eking by on a single salary, and unemployment has dried up so there were no big plans. We figured, being our frugal new selves, that we'd lump my birthday, Thea's 5th birthday, and valentine's day all into one "celebration." I think we managed to pull it off on a shoestring budget. Check out the decorations at our fête!

Febrary 18, 2012 -- Depoe Bay, Oregon52


D-dog provided streamers

Febrary 18, 2012 -- Depoe Bay, Oregon29


There was an air show

Febrary 18, 2012 -- Depoe Bay, Oregon16


Panda entertained us with her acrobatics

Febrary 18, 2012 -- Depoe Bay, Oregon46


And the other birthday girl seemed utterly pleased with the whole day.

Febrary 18, 2012 -- Depoe Bay, Oregon47


I guess it works out that the things the birthday girls want to do most, cost us very little. I believe they call us "cheap dates."

If you average out for dog years, Thea and I are about the same age, this year. As a pup, she was such a handful, unfazed by reprimand, destructive, and mischievous. She's matured into one of the most sweet, loving and playful girls you could ever imagine. I love her so much and am glad to have an excuse to share my birthday celebration with her.

Here's to many more years to come.

March 17, 2012

This and that

I've been sitting here for minutes trying to come up with a blog post title so I could start writing this post. I've decided to give you a crappy post title so I can just get on with it.

Last weekend, Kate and I went to Madison to present a Twist Collective fashion show. Kate blogged about it here. It was a heck of a lot of fun. The folks in Wisconsin are friendly and welcoming and clearly appreciate knitting. Go...um...Badgers, I guess. I think that might be one of them there sports teams out yonder.

Speaking of badgers, you might as well watch this:

We are crazy busy with Twist stuff right now, and I have a few other secret knits in the wings, but I've fit in a bit more sewing. I mentioned with my last post on sewing, that I'd taken the Bombshell Dress course at Craftsy. Well, I signed up for Susan Khalje's Couture Dress class and instead of using the included pattern, I went with something a little more my style, if I had a style, and any occasion to wear such a dress.

McCall's 6350_03

If you are into sewing, you can read more about it over here. I'm also signed up for the Starlet Jacket class, which is good because my sleeve setting in skills are pretty lacking. Also, I'm unreasonably excited to try my first bound buttonhole.

And, of course, we try to put aside a little time and money to hit the coast with the beasts.

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Rain or shine, it's always gorgeous there. Also, seriously, look at this face.

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Ridiculous.

April 1, 2012

PLAIDitude

I love bad puns. The title of this post reminds me of one of my favorite puns. I'd like to believe I coined this one. Please don't crush my dreams, if it isn't true.

Colleague: How're you doing Marnie?
Me: Just ducky, thank you.
Colleague: Ducky?
Me: That's my duck-billed platitude.

Your eye roll is compliment enough for me.

Anyway, plaid:

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It's Vogue 8701. I talked about the nuts and bolts here.

It's got a wide ballet neck in front and deeper v-neck in back

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This is my first try matching plaid. It's not for the faint of heart, but I loves me some plaid so it won't be long before I try it again.

I find the best solution to plaid that might not perfectly match, is to show it next to something cute and distracting.

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Admit it, it totally worked. Slip me some skin, Thea.

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Even better, just leave the dress out altogether.

The pooches

TA-DA!

April 13, 2012

Pillows

If you've ever watched videos of people doing free motion quilting, it always looks so easy and fun. It might be the latter but it's most certainly not the former. I am glad I kept to a not-too-ambitious project for my first go at it.

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These should fit in nicely in our breakfast nook which is currently upholstered in blue and white fabric against yellow walls, though we plan to change all of that, someday.

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They are stuffed with polyfil, and backed with medium weight muslin.

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The fabric is Moda Hometown and a single layer cake will make 9 of these 15" pillow tops or 4, 9 square pillows around 23" wide. You can get even more out of the layer cake if you don't insist on making all the accent squares dark red as I did.

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If you want to try making these blocks yourself, here's a schematic (you can click through to get to the option to embiggen it)

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The center row, with the two extra seams, will be an inch narrower than the top and bottom row so you'll have to trim down the block after assembly, to make it square.

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You have been looking at the pillows, right? I mean, there wasn't anything distracting you in those photos, I hope.

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It's important to focus on what matters.

August 11, 2012

Fall 2012 Twist Collective

The new edition of Twist Collective is live. It has been for a few days. I should know, I was there when it happened.

To me, this edition is all about timeless, wearable items, and I'm at a loss to pick a favorite.

My contribution is Treillage.

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It features lots of dense cables and fabric covered buttons made with leftover quilting scraps.

Thea doesn't care for it.

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See the magazine page here
The details page is here
And the ravelry page is here

And don't forget to check out the whole edition, including all the great articles.

September 15, 2012

Om nom nom

Darwin says, make sure to get at least three servings of fruits and veggies every day. And if it's possible, try to get your siblings' servings of fruits and veggies too.

Blueberries


Blackberries


Corn

February 22, 2013

Coming soon

The skies have opened up and we're having a perfectly Oregonian kind of day, so I can't get any proper pattern shots, but here's a little sneak preview of something in the works; a double knit cowl in some Berroco Vintage

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Thea's on the fence but I think the color suits her.

May 6, 2013

Spring

It's here, at least in Oregon and it's lovely so far.

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This rock has a heart on for spring and I have a juvenile sense of humor

Spring means more trips to the beach.


Did you catch that excited whimper out of Darwin?

And more playing in the yard


I think D is aerating the lawn a little too effectively

And renovations.

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New wiring and an end to that pepto pink closet, in the works

And maybe a little something else getting an overhaul, too.


Coming soon, if I ever finish doing all the things

May 11, 2007

More shameless doggy photos

What can I say? I love my girls. I haven't really been knitting much because of all the puppy distraction so, my distraction is your distraction.

The girls during training time:

Sit. Stay. Good!

Ms. Thea making faces at the camera.

Could those ears be any bigger?

Thea's favorite spot while I'm working.

What could possible go wrong?

April 26, 2007

Break out the cigars!

Congratulations, you are all new aunts or uncles, as the case may be. We just adopted a new pup. Her name, from the foster home is, Pearl. Miss Julia wisely pointed out that this was merely a misspelling of "Purl." She'll technically be Leo's little girl, since Panda is mine, so he will ultimately choose the name, but until he picks one, she is Purl to me.

Purl is a 16 week old Border Collie and Cattle Dog mix (same mix as Panda!) but she's been very well socialized and absolutely loves everyone and everything in this fine world. Panda is a little overwhelmed by puppy's verve and there will probably be some scuffles as they find their place together, but overall, Purl seems sweet and lovely.

I just got Purl her first collar so that's been a bit traumatic for her. We'll also be crate training her which will be new, but shouldn't pose any big problems for the bright little girl.

Having a puppy is going to be a lot of work, but who can complain with a face like this?

Panda is probably not speaking to me right now, but I think in time they will be inseparable.

So hopefully, there aren't too many of you out there who mind doggy pictures, because I now have twice the cuteness in one small house.

May 8, 2007

A trip with Stacy and Mary

Or, a long winded discussion of some swatches

In my post, yesterday, I mentioned having a quick trip out of town. Since the trip was both short and stressful, I didn't take along Lily, which requires a certain amount of concentration. Instead, I decided to take along some swatching. There are times when there is nothing more satisfying than the joys of mindless swatching to keep the fingers and brain occupied. It was just what I needed.

For my swatching pleasure I brought along two items that were new to me. First was a Mary Thomas book of knitting patterns that I picked up at the Blacksheep Knittery sale, at Kat's suggestion. While the Barbara Walker books will always be my most comprehensive collection, they also represent the most ubiquitous stitch pattern selections and it can be refreshing and inspiring to try others.

For yarn, I brought a couple skeins of Tahki Stacy Charles' Dream.

This is a really unusual yarn and I feel like Tahki doesn't quite know what to do with it. Click that ball band to read the label. It recommends a US #8 needle for a yarn that I would classify as a very light sock weight. Of course, if you read the whole label, you'll see that it recommends doubling it.

Continue reading "A trip with Stacy and Mary" »

May 7, 2007

It took just over a week

I've been bracing myself for a month or two of unrest in the home. It's been manageable, with Thea being more than happy to persist at harassing her sister and Panda being even more than happy to tell her to shove it where the sun don't shine. Panda has occasionally agreed to allow the little one to sit near her and has moments where she forgets herself and plays with Thea for a few minutes, but for the most part, it's been mostly the cold shoulder.

Then I went out of town for a couple days, for some personal business. I came home, and something clicked, suddenly, the girls were playing...together...with each other even. I don't know if it was the excitement of having me come home or if about a week was all they needed. Either way, it's a beautiful thing to see them happy together.

To celebrate, we took the little fur balls to Frog Lake up in the Mt Hood region.


Border Collies + Snow = Good old fashion fun

See all the pictures of the trip to the lake here and see all the pictures of Panda and Thea playing, by clicking here.

April 30, 2007

One knit, Purl too

This entry has also been posted at the Create Along.

Knitting has nearly slowed to a screeching halt now that there's a new pup in the house, but what knitting there has been has been good.

I've worked up to where I'm starting some neckline shaping on Lily

The fit seems fine, though it's always hard to tell before the neckline is done.

I will probably work a simple 2 or 3 stitch i-cord edging for the hem and sleeves. I think that will be the least disruptive treatment and will be OK both on the busy sleeve and the simpler hem.

As for the new member of the family, I think we finally have a name that everyone can agree on. The name is now, Theano Purl, Thea for short.
Theano was believed to be the wife of Pythagoras, (he who brought us the calculation for determining the hypotenuse of a right triangle,) and likely continued his work and ran his school after his death. We wanted a name that gave a nod to the sciences but which was also a cute doggy name. We considered "Evo" short for "Evolution" and "Jane" for the one and only Ms. Goodall. Neither name really stood out as exceptional names for a dog. Theano, though, very cute. I got to keep Purl as her middle name too so she can be little Thea-Purl, if the mood strikes.

See a bunch of pictures of the two girls by clicking the photo above, or clicking here.

April 27, 2007

Much to Panda's chagrin

This phrase pretty much sums up the first 24 hours we've had with Purl.

Purl is a loving and eager little girl and she wants Panda to like her so so so much. It's really quite sweet. However, Panda is not convinced that this interloper deserves anything more than disdain. In fact, she has serious concerns about the fact that we have done nothing about the little girl; for instance, throwing her into a river. Consensus? Panda is a crotchety old woman and we never knew it.

I feel really good about Purl, though. She's exceedingly well socialized, thanks, I'm sure, to a good foster home she was in. She has already responded well to clicker training and can now sit on command. Crate training is going a little slower, but she's so food driven that giving her treats and meals in there has helped a bit. She basically cries for 10 minutes then goes right to sleep. In time, I think she will love her little house, but in the mean time, this is very manageable.

The leash and collar are a little more challenging. They are just beyond her comprehension, but I think she just needs a few days and she'll be all set. Plus, she's so tiny, it doesn't take long to tucker her out, so getting her leash trained will mean plenty of fun walks where she can play and interact with dogs who aren't snobs.

Don't you worry, though, Panda is getting as much love as ever and Purl is being expected to follow house rules. Panda is even helping with the training, albeit, unwittingly. I give Panda a command, praise her, then work it with Purl.

Don't worry, next post will have some knitting content. Lily is coming along beautifully.

May 20, 2007

Niddy Naughty

+

=

May 18, 2007

Six times the motify goodness

Well, Lily is on temporary time out. I don't like the look of the raglan decreases. They just come in too far and it looks off. I need to rip back to the base of the armsceye and reconfigure for either a much less angled raglan or a set in sleeve....what to do, what to do.

In the mean time, the motifs have become a mindless delight.

Six lovely motifs, half of which were completed in the last 24 hours.

No dogs were embarrassed in the course of photographing these pictures.

Thea is making herself quite at home. She sat by our feet last night and made cuteness at us.

Wouldn't you pet that little head?

May 15, 2007

Konichiwa Crochet

I'm almost always a guest, never a host. Our home is small and lacking in furniture and it's not just anyone I'd subject to a single small (very small) bathroom shared between three adults. But when Julia said she'd be in town for work, I vacuumed up the dog hair and gave the tub an extra scrub. We had us a guest in town!

Recently, Julia has decided to learn crochet in earnest and her enthusiasm is infectious. On a recommendation we found our way to a huge Japanese market replete with...wait for it...a Japanese BOOK STORE. Great googily moogily! Their selection of crochet books was small but packed full of goodness.

There may have also been some shopping at a couple LYSs and the opportunity to meet a really great blogger and designer. Have yarn, will craft, and there was no dearth of that. In the 3 days that Julia and I spent together, not a single solitary picture was taken until the third and final day. Luckily for you, it was the most photogenic day of the lot.

Early that day, we packed the car up for a trip to Horsetail falls. If you read my non-crafty posts, you may remember our last visit, not too long ago.

The day was perfect for hiking. It was a little cool, but not so much as to require substantial outerwear. The sun was out but shaded by some light and poofy clouds. Didn't we agree they were Stradivarius clouds or were they igneous, Julia?

Leo was doggy wrangler for the day. It's no small feat to keep two dogs from intertwining on leash especially when one of them is just a pup. They were each other's yin and yang. Panda would duck every time someone would try to pet her. She wanted nothing more than solitude from everyone she didn't know. Thea, on the other hand, wanted to jump all over every person and dog we passed (and there were many people celebrating Mother's day by hiking on these beautiful trails). Between these two extremes was our handsome hero, dragging one girl ahead and holding another back. Me thinks we have some more training to do.

On the drive home, I crocheted from my new Japanese crochet book. This little wonder is chock full of sweet motifs. While the book is all in Japanese, everything is charted which makes them delightful to use. The yarn? My lovely peachy Merino/viscose handspun, from Chameleon Colorworks. The viscose gives a subtle sheen and the brilliant dyeing gives depth to the simple colorway. When you see the yarn, it's clear the spinning is average, at best, but the fiber was so beautiful to start with that I can't help but be proud of the final product.

Blocked, the finished pieces look like snowflakes.
What am I going to do with them? Perhaps a doggy babushka.

Perhaps not.
I have more — what's the word — sane ideas. I don't have enough yardage to do a whole garment in this yarn (unless I want to go particularly scantily clad) but it could be paired with another handspun or store bought yarn in some creative way. All that is still in deliberation.

After our long hike and short ride home, I took a marathon nap and then arose with ample time to join Julia at Lake Park for a photo shoot. I'll leave those pictures for her to post. Instead, check out the fresh batch of ducky goodness from the same outing.

They can give me avian flu, any old day. I just want to scoop them up and snuggle them.

And now, Julia is back at home with all her fur balls. And all that's left is the now deflated air mattress where she was set up. Thea payed homage to Miss Tuna in Julia's absence. I think that's Thea's way of saying she was glad to meet her.

It was a great weekend and I hope there will be more like it soon. And someday, we'll own a house with more than one bathroom and a proper spare bedroom. I'm dreamin' big, baby.

June 3, 2007

All day on the coast

This weekend is the annual celebration of the day a certain someone was born, though he doesn't like it spoken about so shhhhhhhhhhhhh. Certain someone requested we go back to the beach for some good family fun.

We've been to Manzanita Beach, and we have been to Ecola and Cannon Beaches many times but this time, we decided to try Hug Point, located between the two.

We arrived at Hug Point, around 11AM, and the temperature was cool, a nice change from the unseasonably high temperatures we've had in Portland, over the past week. There was a wedding reception at the beach, but we tucked around the corner and found a lovely area to play with the girls.

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The beach is beautiful but explorers beware! One could easily get trapped when the tide comes in. I don't think the girls would have minded, but we sure would have.

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When our tummies started to complain it was lunch time, we packed up to go back to Cannon Beach for a bite to eat. After filling up on diet food (read: fries, burgers, ribs, bacon, and guacamole) we talked about wandering over to the beach for another quick romp before heading home. As merely a whim, we thought it might be fun to head just north a bit and see if we could find another beach.

Continue reading "All day on the coast" »

May 31, 2007

There's just been something missing

Since we brought a certain little beast into the home, El Matchador has had to go into hiding. The girls accidentally knocked her over and the injury that could have come to any of the three of them, was simply not worth the risk.

Recently, a friend posted a bowl of deliciousness, and it had my heart aching to do more spinning.

I'm working on a few unbloggable projects now so this is a perfect diversion that doesn't make me feel like I'm ignoring my other responsibilities.

A teeny tiny skein of merino silk worked up on my Spindolyn.

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There are only about 18 yards of yarn here, but it's my best little skeinlette off the Spindolyn, yet. I'm still having some trouble getting a good cop on it. When I start to build up too much, it either doesn't hold its shape and goes all wonky, or the yarn starts tucking in under the cop making it impossible to wind it off later. I think I'll get better with practice.


Up next, some "Fudge Brownie" from Nistock Farms. I was never able to get this stuff to spin well on a drop spindle, but on the Spindolyn, it works up beautifully. This gives me hope that I'll also do better with the luxury fibers I have.

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And finally, some silk/merino blend that I've had forever. I believe it's Ashland Bay. I'm spinning on my 0.6 ounce Golding.

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I haven't been able to use my 0.9 ounce, which was formerly my workhorse, because the hook got a little bent while traveling to and from India, but I'm told I'll be able to get her sorted out at the Fiber Frolic in Maine. It's amazing how much an unbalancedness hook can throw you off. Hopefully, I'll be able to pick up enough information from the fine folks at Golding, to fix it myself in the future.

And now for some proof that I shouldn't be allowed to have dogs, after the jump

Continue reading "There's just been something missing" »

May 25, 2007

Puppy Preschool

Yesterday was Thea's first day at Puppy Preschool and we had so much fun. While I feel confident that, in time, we'd be able to teach Thea everything we'd want her to know, she definitely needs a lot of work in social settings. She's nothing like Panda, she loves everyone and everything and is happy to play all the time, but she has absolutely no focus and can't calm down enough to enjoy the experience. This class seems like just what she needs and it will teach me a lot about training.

When Thea saw this mastiff (who, by the way, is only about a month and a half older than Thea) she didn't know what to do with herself. She first gave a submissive pee and then spent the rest of the hour trying to play with him. I think she has a little crush. Both of us ended up with a lot of slobber on us, but no worse for the wear.

If you really love watching puppies at play or puppies in class, and you have QuickTime, I've loaded a couple of clips from class. There is nothing super incredible about them but they sure do make me smile.
Puppy Free Play 1MB
Practicing Sit HUGE! 47MB

June 18, 2007

Good as new, maybe better

The folks over at Golding just rock. At the Fiber Frolic, owner, Diane, offered to take my 0.6 ounce and 0.9 ounce, align the hooks and mail them back to me, complete with instructions for aligning, should I ever with to try myself.
A couple days after the frolic, she wrote me to say that they have updated the design of the smaller spindle, to have a thinner shaft, and would I like them to install that shaft on my 0.6 ounce. Well, that sounded just dandy to me.

A couple days later, my beautiful spindles were back in my hands, all buffed up and looking good or maybe better than new.

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Pre-surgery, the old shaft, on my smaller spindle, was about the same size as the larger spindle. You can really see the difference now. It spins amazingly well.

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The shaft switch also changed the weight. Now it's a petite 0.45 ounces. Just think of the cobwebs I shall spin.


While I was awaiting the return of my spindles, I was putting my new spindle to good use spinning up some beautiful fiber from Nistock Farms. The colorway is called "September Glow" and it's a cotwold and silk blend.

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The color of the fiber goes from a soft cream-of-mahogany color to vivid oranges and pinks. It's like a more neutral version of the Autumn Spice colorway I spun last year. The silk shows up as lovely white flecks. They tend to form little nubs, but I like them. The batts are as light as air so it spins like a dream. I may even bring El Matchador out of hiding.

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Panda, as always, humored my insanity. This has grown all the more exasperating for her since Thea tends to grab whatever I'm photographing and run off with it.

Speaking of Thea, hasn't she gotten big? Her spots are becoming more and more pronounce too. She's really starting to show her cattle dog side.

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The two girls have also gotten really close. They play like puppies, and snuggle up with Leo, any chance they get.

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Admit it, you want in on that pile of cute.

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June 20, 2007

Caption me

Leo told me today about this cute program called Comic Life. It has all the templates, colors and fonts needed to make your own fun little comics.

After taking a particularly silly picture of Miss Thea-Purl, I decided it was perfect for the cover of an imaginary comic book about twisted puppies and their evil thoughts.

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Alas, creativity escapes me, and the inner machinations of her mischievous mind have not been revealed to me. Any thoughts?

June 5, 2007

A few little cuties

These are actually now hanging to dry, but while I had some defused sunlight today, I thought I'd snap some photos of my little skeins of handspun.

Firstly, off the Spindolyn, about 24 yards of Fudge Brownie 2-ply. The roving was from Nistock Farms. I'd say this is my most successful and longest skein off the Spindolyn so far. I am going to keep trying to get better with it. I really strive to have at least 50 yards of plied yarn off a single cop. Maybe that's just silliness, but I think it's enough yarn to actually feel like I can start to knit with it.
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The fibers were spun quite fine but there's tons of loft in this stuff so it looks like a worsted weight. I suspect that after washing and drying, it will lose a touch of that loft. I'm estimating it around 18 WPI. My spinning is a little irregular so it definitely won't be mistaken for store bought, but it's really soft and the color is impressively rich.

Off my trusty 0.6 ounce Golding, just under 60 yards of 2 ply. This yarn is fairly consistent with a few "designer" moments throughout. She is about 24 WPIs.
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A little closer, if you like.
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While I was shooting these photos, Ms. Thea was giving me this look.
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Nope, she's not growing into her ears, but I still think she's gorgeous.

July 5, 2007

Seeing spots and colors

Ahh, independence day, the one day when Leo's interests and Panda's are at complete odds with each other. Leo regales me with stories from his childhood that prove that the fates love drunks and children. When the words, "made our own" and "fireworks" are strung together, I can only shake my head and be glad he has, allegedly, grown out of that phase.

While California and Oregon seem to have similar limitations on fireworks; namely that the general public can't buy things that go flying off tither and yon, Southern California is far more flammable than Portland and I think people are more reluctant to send sparks about the kindling that is their back yard. Additionally, we now live in a quiet little suburb where there is very little nightly traffic. Throughout the neighborhood, one could hear and see the assortment of volcanic light displays and sparklers, individuals were setting off in the street.

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So while this was not Panda's first 4th of July, it was definitely one of her worst. Add to the noise, the relatively warm temperatures (close to 90) and it made for one unhappy dog. Thea, on the other hand, seemed a little put out by the loudest noises but was otherwise indifferent to the whole thing.

And since lots of people will be posting fireworks today, how about some cute dog shots.

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Here's Thea showing off her fresh crop of spots. She used to be almost completely white.

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And my beautiful girls basking in the sun.

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And Thea bringing on the cute, full force.

July 2, 2007

September Glow

Well, El Matchador has been purring like a kitten and helped me produce another little skein of delicious yarn.

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Specs

  • Fiber: 90% Cotswold / 10% Silk (the white bits)
  • From: Nistock Farms.
  • Color: September Glow: Shades of gingerbread cookies with orange and raspberry sorbet.
  • WPI: About 20. It's a little inconsistent, leaning mostly a bit lighter, though some areas are a little thicker. The silk also tends to form nubs.
  • Length: Over 225 yards.
  • Spun on: Schacht Matchless wheel (El Matchador to you)
  • Plies: 2, plied off of two bobbins until one ran out, then switched to Andean plying to avoid waste.
  • Impressions: I just love spinning this fiber. The batts are well prepared with only the smallest amounts of vegetable matter. The fiber is not too slippery, and has a lovely sheen. It's not really next to the skin soft, but it's not all that rough either. The colors are divine. I'm looking forward to spinning up more.

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For the first time, I have washed but not weighted my yarn. This skein did get a rather good beating against the pole, but otherwise, she is unmanipulated. Apparently, there are two rather strong camps on this topic. Some people are weighers and some are not. I imagine there are good reasons for both. If I had to guess as to why you shouldn't weigh, it would be that weighing might give a false sense of balance that would then be undone the next wash the yarn (probably in knit or crochet form) went through. But that's just a guess. What do you all have to say? Anyway, after soaking in some warm water and Eucalan, and a couple thwacks before it dries, the yarn seems pretty darn balanced.

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Recently June posted about Spinning Spider Jenny. If you haven't found her, and you are a spinner, go find her now. She's a wealth of information. Jenny happened to post about her method of 2-plying. Alas, I didn't read it until mere hours after I had completed my yarn, but next time I'm definitely going to try this method. It seems rather like common sense but it's sheer brilliance to me.

In entirely unrelated news, we found another great hiking site for the girls, and this is only 5 minutes from home!

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There's a lovely place called MacLeay Park (I like to think it's a typo and should actually end in an "n" instead of "y.") in Portland that feels like its 100 miles from the closest city.

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It was a gorgeous day, though perhaps a bit hotter than we are all used to. Thank goodness we've evolved so as not to be covered in hair. How do dogs do it? It's funny, though, both girls showed some unexpected personality changes that day.

Thea, our normally fearless (seriously) hero, decided that wooden bridges were the scariest thing EVER.
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With a little coaxing and encouragement, she got a bit better, a good thing, because we crossed a good many of them, but she definitely wasn't loving them. Each time we'd reach one, she'd pull on the emergency break, I'd run across the bridge and call her and she'd muster up her courage and then bolt across. Silly monkey.


And Ms. Panda, our normally indifferent and withdrawn wallflower, suddenly decided she needed to keep an eye on Thea and defend her against dominant (not aggressive, dominant) dogs.
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She was fine with this little ball of happiness, but Panda tried to get a little b*tchy with some other bigger dogs. That's definitely something we're going to have to work on. We definitely don't want a dog that's going to be picking fights. That's no fun.

But don't let those two issues lead you to believe we didn't have a great time. It was gorgeous. You can see all of the photos from the hike here.

July 12, 2007

One way to predraft your fibers

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.

June 30, 2007

No more pencils, no more books

Our little Thea graduated from Puppy Preschool, on Thursday. We couldn't be more proud of her. Admittedly, we needed only show up for class in order to graduate, but Thea worked hard these past 6 weeks and she had a great time, to boot. Thea did exceptionally well at the recall, down stay and tricks portion of the last class. Her sit stay is solid too, though she was so tired she schlumped into a down during the sit completion. Her loose leash work is bad enough that I suggest we move on to another topic.

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From here, I just decide if I want to sign up for more obedience (something she definitely needs but not as much fun) or puppy agility (lots of fun, but probably not the the ideal focus for our little bag of energy.) I bet you can guess which way I'm leaning.

July 8, 2007

She works hard for the yummies

The heat eased off for the weekend and we put the great weather to good use. On Saturday, Leo lit up the barbecue and cooked us a delicious meal. The girls watched on as we filled our bellies.

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Afterwards, we cut up a few little scraps and did some training with them. Panda shows her well honed skills by balancing a piece of meat on her nose until Leo gave her the OK to eat it.

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Thea didn't have much interest in doing that trick.

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We had her work on some easier things after that.

Then we moved to some chores. I took the kitchen while Leo started the lawn mowing. After a few minutes, Leo said he needed some assistance and I met him outside to see him hosing off his bloodied-OHMYGODWHATHAPPENED-leg. While mowing, the lawnmower kicked up a spring that had been buried in the ground, honed it to a fine point and hurled it at his leg. He was wearing pants, which appear to have more tensile strength than his flesh as the pants are unmarred but he got himself a pretty fine little hole that bled like the dickens. He's fine and will be seeing the doctor tomorrow to be sure. Still, all that blood. Even if you think you want to see how it looked, you probably shouldn't click this. If you did, though, you can see the offending object as well.

But Leo is never one to let an oozing wound stop him from having a good time. Today, we made our way over to Manzanita Beach, but before we hit the ocean, we stopped into our favorite breakfast locale for some Eggs Benedict. Actually, we split one order of Eggs Bennie and one of Crab Cakes Benedict which is just like Benny but with a crab cake swapped out for the ham.

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Oh mama!

The girls did really wonderfully at the beach and are playing together more and more.

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Panda made some great catches and Thea was her normal social and adorable self. You can click any of these pictures to go to my flickr page and see all the other shots.

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Alas, condolences are in order. The poor faithful squirrel was lost at sea today. We all bowed our heads in respect before moving on, since, well, we have 2 more at home. I just hope that some lucky dog ends up getting it when it eventually washes ashore.

Goodbye Squirrel
2006-2007

July 6, 2007

Dogs in repose

It's been hot, and Thea and Panda are shedding hair like they think their comfort depends on it. Wait, I guess it does. Anyway, it's hot, and when it's hot, doggies like to sleep.

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I just didn't realize one would want to do it in my sandals.


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Thea is a very good sleeper


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Panda ponders whether or not I've forgotten how to use the vacuum cleaner.

Yes, I know, it's been a LOT of doggy pictures. Would it help if I told you I'm actually knitting?


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It's a project I'm doing for Stitch Diva. It's coming along swimmingly though I've done a lot of ripping to get it to the point where I'm happy with it. Luckily, my time frame for the project makes it possible to get it juuuuust right. I like that.

In other news, I saw Ms. Kat Coyle's gorgeous Lace Style skirt on Knitty Gritty, yesterday.

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It's so sad that it's styled better on KG than it was in the actual book. Oh how I pine for that skirt.

July 27, 2007

Craft and Whacking Baby Camels

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.

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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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July 17, 2007

(Janel + Sachi) x Jenny = New Handspun

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.

July 24, 2007

In which the car gets towed, the girls get a new bed and I spin up some yarn

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.

July 20, 2007

A lovable pain in the neck

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.

August 12, 2007

Like we needed an excuse

Our backyard is elevated slightly, and surrounded by a short rock wall. You can see what I mean here. Instead of taking the stairs up and down, to get to the grassy area, Panda likes to simply leap.

Well, yesterday, Panda misjudged the wall a bit and slammed her front paw very hard on one of the protruding rocks. She stopped dead in her tracks.

I called out, "Panda, are you OK?"

She looked at me, limped over to me, sat, and held her paw up. My heart just sank. She looked so so sad. Of course, I showered her with kisses and coos and scratched her head.

After determining that no bones were broken and that the cuts were largely just surface abrasions, I lead her back out, slowly, to do her business and then brought her in to take a closer look at the damage.

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See those red marks? Poor thing. Just breaks my heart.

Leo suggested that this was as good an excuse as any to pack up the girls and take them to the beach. It would take Panda's mind off of any discomfort and they were really getting stir crazy, anyway.

Our first stop was in Manzanita. The wind was intense but that never phases the little ones.

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Panda showed no signs of even remembering she had hurt her foot. She didn't limp, didn't shy away from the water and had a great time, so we decided to keep going.

We headed south, following the ocean, and ended up at Manhattan Beach. There was far less wind and we were able to find a nice spot to play fetch with the pups.

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It was all fun and games until the little stink pot decided she'd rather run off and play with other people, instead of hanging out with us.

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Leo had a talk with her...

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But you know how adolescents can be.

After that, we decided to explore a bit more. We ended up at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company, which also boasted a petting zoo, wine tasting, chocolates and other sundries. We bought some cheese, wine and baguette, and headed back north, towards home.

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But not before another detour to Manzanita...

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As the sun was starting to set, Leo thought it would be fun to put some of our food to good use and suggested a picnic. We headed over to Cannon Beach, picked up a beach blanket, and caught the last few glimmers of daylight, over a couple sips of wine and cheese.

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Since we had a bit of a drive, we didn't really have much wine, but we put a nice dent on the bread and cheese. YUM. And unlike So Cal, where you have to pay to use beaches that allow camp fires and late night picnics, Cannon Beach was alight with fires set by families keen to roast marshmallows and make the most of the gorgeous evening.

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After it got dark, we reluctantly packed up for the trip home and we listened to Harry Potter XII doh! VII the whole way.

I would say that's a most excellent way to coddle a doggy's boo boo. See more pictures over at Flickr. Leo's already declared that we'll be doing many more beach picnics in the future.

July 31, 2007

It's not all fun and games around here

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.

August 10, 2007

Feelin' the love

Do you love mutts?

If so, LuvMutt is having a little contest for the best summer mutt pic. Both Panda and Thea are represented, but honestly, you should vote for whomever you like best of the bunch.

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Head on over to vote now.

And if that isn't love enough, check out Goofy Dogs, a new site devoted to great pictures of dogs. Do you have a dog? Is your dog goofy? Send your pictures in and feel the love. Panda and Thea are there too!

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You know I'm a happy doggy mum.

August 8, 2007

When is three less than one?

It's funny, when we got Panda, she was 9 months old and a very gentle and timid sort. You could give her a stern look and she'd tuck her tail and hide in a corner. Teaching her what is ours and what is hers was a breeze. She quickly learned, "leave it," and anything that was ever dubbed as such was unharmed.

Thea, she is much younger, much more confident and far less concerned with the repercussions of her mischief. She's a good girl, don't get me wrong, but she lives in the moment and runs a little fast and loose with the law of the house. One must be ever diligent to catch her before she slips up, which is why I have only myself to blame for this.

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I closed the girls out of the office, during an important conference call, and when I came out, Thea had her handiwork on display. It's that delicious baby camel down that Thea so beautifully modeled, a little while back.

She tried to look sorry

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But then something interesting passed by the kitchen window

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As you can imagine, it was no small feat to untangle the mess, but the yarn was salvageable.

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Only two breaks, leaving me with two small and one larger ball of yarn. So, while my three little balls might not be quite as good as my one larger skein, it could definitely be worse.

Now, tell me again about how lucky I am to have such well behaved little girls. I think I need a reminder. Oh wait, here's one.

August 23, 2007

Thea's out of class and some cartoons

Well, Thea had her last puppy agility class. The last two classes were the best classes she'd had. Instead of focusing on one obstacle and then getting back in line (waaaaay boring for a Cattle Dog mix) we actually worked a series of obstacles for each turn. Thea loved it. I think that being able to chain the obstacles, keeps her from over thinking it. It's just fun.

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I'm not saying she was perfect, but she did a pretty darn good job for a 6 month old.

We're taking a short hiatus from school so that Thea can get spayed, but it was enough fun for both of us that I plan to sign us up for more.

I'm going to miss her classmates, some of whom you can see below.

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Pictured are Moose, Bella, Saba and Maggie. Not pictured, but much enjoyed, are Julia and Toby. Hopefully I'll see them in future classes!

In unrelated news, I'm thinking about redesigning the ol' website. My last redesign was in 2005 and while I like it fine, I've been thinking about a little change. I've done a couple of very simple sketches.

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I think I want to go back to having a clean white background and simple graphics. I'm playing around now and will see if I can come up with something that makes me happy.

August 30, 2007

Is she a bad dog or am I a slow learner

I'm guessing it's the latter.

Over and over again, I obviously need to be reminded that Thea is not Panda and probably won't ever be. In my nearly 6 years with Panda, I can think of only a couple of items she has destroyed before she learned that she could only have things that had been explicitly given to her, everything else was off limits. Brilliant, I know. We were spoiled.

Thea, she is loving and sweet and cute in so very many ways. But there are times.

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And while her handy work does take your attention away from some of the clutter, I'm not sure it does so in a very aesthetically pleasing sort of way. Luckily, it was nothing important.

That was 3 weeks ago. Except for an odd incident when I found her giving a hex wrench a taste, she's been as close to angelic as she's capable of being. Then, on Monday, Leo and I came home from dinner to this...


Brace yourself.

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Since I last posted about this skirt, I've probably put another 6 hours into it and all that work has been handily undone.

The Inox needle and clover stitch markers are destroyed. She seemed to mainly be interested in those and not the skirt itself. There are only one or two breaks in the yarn and areas where she has pulled out short sections of rows, repeatedly, down several inches, but not across the whole round. It salvageable but it'll be some time before I'm back to where I was.

I think the hardest thing is that my momentum for this piece has been (hopefully temporarily) quashed. A few hundred stitches, worked in stockinette chevron does not for exciting knitting make.

But just when I think I might actually be able to hold a grudge, she goes and makes cute at me again.

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I'm such a sucker.

August 14, 2007

Hey, how about some knitting and crocheting?

I've been posting a lot of dog photos lately, mostly because I can't post much else, but look. I have crafting!

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Remember those motifs I crocheted? I have been playing around with how to use them. I knew I didn't have enough of the motif yarn to make a whole garment, but I realized that the September Glow Cotswold and Silk yarn I spun, would look nice with the muted peach color of the motifs.

I think I want to make this into a skirt. I have quite a bit more of the Cotswold, that I can spin. I've played around with knitting and crocheting the skirt portion. Right now, the motifs are joined in such a way that they make a natural chevron, which is great for this subtly variegated yarn. I tried crocheting the skirt, but I wanted it to be a little softer and drapier, so I switched to knit instead.

It's actually really hard for me to post a this point, because I'm not totally sure I love it and I might very well rip the whole darn thing out if I'm not satisfied with the results, still, so far, it looks good enough that I feel I can share.

And aren't I doing well, not a doggy in sight.

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Urm, well, yes, Thea did sneak her paw into that shot. You can see her little goth pinkie nail. But we aren't looking at puppies in this post, we're looking at handspun yarn working up into a skirt.

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*Sigh* I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself. I mean, come on, that's funny, people. Even if you hate dogs. Plus, I think the color really brings out the pathetic expression plastered on Panda's face. Don't you agree?

September 7, 2007

No belly rubs and lots of rest

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Panda and I both missed Thea something awful. She was sad and mopey, so I gave her lots and lots of kisses. She likes kisses.

Of course, Leo and I expressed our concern by calling the vet every hour for an update. Kudos to them for remaining pleasant each time. I like our vet.

Sitting in traffic and waiting for Thea to be brought out from the recovery area, was nerve wracking but just seeing her eyes, as bleary and unfocused as they were, was sunshine.

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Leo carried the little one in from the car. Her pink bandage covers the spot where they put in her IV. It also matches her pink stitches. Nice touch.

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Panda looked so happy to see Thea but realized right away that Thea wasn't herself and gave her space. We all went out for a wobbly potty break and Thea spent a little time trying to find a nice place to relax. She finally decided on the bed (with a little assistance up, of course.)

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She stayed pretty quiet and calm through the night, though she's been a little rowdier this morning. The doctor prescribed her some sedatives, in case she needs them, but I'm still holding out hope she'll remain relatively calm. I'm a shameless optimist.

So thanks again for everyone's warm wishes and concerns. I'm still really new to having my dogs go under the knife and it's good to be reminded how commonplace it is.

August 31, 2007

It's ALIVE

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The yarn was broken in two places and all the knitting had to be ripped, but the skirt has been revived and I've even knit a few rows.

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And lest you all think I hold any sort of grudge towards Thea, fear not. I could never be mad at her for my own poor planning. I do, however, love to give you all a good laugh, and I suspect that you all find Panda's guilty conscience even more humorous than Thea's mischievousness. If we could harvest just their best traits, we'd have one perfectly balanced pup and enough left over parts for one entirely neurotic dog.

September 12, 2007

Going boldly where many spinners have gone before

For the most part, when I spin, I grab my fiber, pick a whorl and go for it. I think this has worked out for me, largely because I tend to spin small quantities (generally around 2-4 ounces) and I have a pretty limited skill set and comfort zone with spinning. Even my last batch of fiber, which was closer to 7 ounces, came out pretty consistent despite my making little effort to check consistency along the way.

But, like the person who has reasonable success knitting patterns without making a gauge swatch, past successes do not mean future success. I've been holding onto a pound of fiber my parents got me, for over a year, awaiting a time when I felt I had the skill and patience to spin up the whole lot into enough yarn to make something substantial. I'm not sure that I've actually met either of those qualification but dammit, the fiber is gorgeous and I want to spin it.

Spurred on by Amy's great article in Knitty, I decided to try to approach this project with a semblance of a plan and, perhaps, some organization.

A while back, I ordered these Spinning Project Cards (I refuse to spell the last word with a "k" unless someone can give me a good reason for it being spelled that way) by mistake, thinking they were something else.

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They are basically index cards with preprinted areas for information you might wish to include about your yarn. I don't think I'll be ordering them again. For the same price, one could buy a pack of 100 index cards and only include the info relevant for the project. I am not saying these are poorly designed. If you like the look of clean, unlined cards, and spin enough that you don't want to have to write out all the labels, this might be totally worth it for you, just not for me.

Even so, I had no normal index cards lying around and no need to waste these. Surprisingly, despite the myriad of fields preprinted, there didn't seem to be a spot to indicate the whorl used so I just slapped that info in wherever.

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If all goes according to plan, I should be producing a 3ply yarn (off of three bobbins, not Navajo plying) that works up to, oh, 14-15 WPI. The fiber is corriedale in a beautiful deep olive shade.

So far, it's spinning up quite nicely. The fiber is well prepared and needs only minimal predrafting. We'll see how long I can spin a plain green fiber before I get bored. Luckily, I always have my spindles.


In doggy news, Thea seems to be healing up well enough. She's still a bundle of energy and I think I'll be as excited to be able to let her play as she will.

Our vet is quite awesome. Check out what we got in the mail yesterday:

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They took a picture of the little girl, before her surgery and printed out this lovely award. If you click the image, you can go to flickr and find a higher resolution version. Check out the text below the Vet's signature.

We pulled the crate out of the bedroom for use when the two of us have to leave the girls unattended. Theoretically, the crate should be for Thea, when she needs some quiet time.

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Panda, however, seems to think it's all hers. Could you say no to that face?


As for the Photoshop tutorial, it sounds like there's enough interest that it's definitely worth my doing it. Getting stuff together, I'm thinking I may have to break it out into a couple smaller, more digestible pieces. Hopefully, the first tutorial will be posted by the end of the week.

September 6, 2007

Thea update

As you all knew would be the case, Thea is absolutely fine and shaking off the anesthesia as I type. We will be able to pick her up in a couple of hours and bring her home to convalesce.

Thanks for all the well wishes.

Breaking the girl

Leo won't call it, "getting her fixed," he calls it "breaking her." I call it, "getting her guts ripped out." You all probably just think of it as spaying.

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Yes, we just dropped out sweet little Stinky McFartToots off at the vet and we are feeling the emptiness of the house and the little nagging anxiety that something could go wrong. It seems far too quiet and even Panda might admit she misses the little scamp.

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Since Thea is a high energy girl who'll be laid out for a couple of days, we thought that it was an absolute necessity to give her a little fun on her last night before the surgery, so we took her to Puppy Agility.

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We weren't able to go last week and the class dynamic has changed a bit, focusing less on individual obstacles and more on linking obstacles and handling tactics. Thea's feeling her adolescences and was a touch obstinate about the more boring bits and more focused on playing and running off and ignoring me.

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Personally, that makes me feel the classes are all the more important for both of us, since it gives us a controlled environment to work through those issues.

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And even though she wasn't perfect, we did have a great time.

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed for a complication free surgery and quick recovery. Keeping that little cattle dog contained enough not to pop her stitches may be an exercise in futility but luckily, I have tomorrow off and the weekend to do my best.

September 3, 2007

Lovely long weekend

Leo and I have put this labor day weekend to good use, if I do say so myself. Since we are renting a house, it's always a struggle to decide how much time and money we should invest in beautification of our humble abode. It's a great little place, but after years of being rented, there's a lot that has gone neglected. This is not the loving little first home, it was originally built to be, but a way point in the lives of folks like Leo and me. Still, never one to shy away from a little hard work, Leo has decided we should get things tidied up, so on Saturday and Monday, we shoveled, we weeded, we hauled masses of toppled brick and we planted a little flower garden that we hope we'll stick around long enough to see bloom once, and only once, before buying our own home. But Sunday, we put aside our shovels and spades and seeds and bulbs and packed up our car for a trip to Manzanita Beach.

On the way, we listened to Harry Potter and I got in a little knitting.

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This skirt remains my one mindless piece of knitting, that I can plug away on when I don't want to have to worry about row counters and lace patterns and other distractions.

We were expecting some serious crowds at the beach, and places like Cannon Beach and Hug Point, were, indeed, crowded, but Manzanita proved to be an ideal spot. While there were many people, we never felt crowded or cramped.

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The girls had a wonderful time and Thea is really starting to come into her own. Slowly, Thea is building her recall and we are able to keep her off leash for longer without incident. She's still so filled with social excitement that I wouldn't trust her implicitly, the way I do Panda, but she's proving to be a wonderful little girl.

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After a quick stop over at Blue Heron to pick up some provisions, we went back to Manzanita and set up camp. We are currently conducting reconnaissance in preparation for a bigger excursion with our friends; Erica and Larry and Jackie and her pup Tulip.

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Leo is in charge of setting up the fire.

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I am in charge of proving that pups will do almost anything for salami.

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Thea was a little scared of the fire at first. Can you see her hiding behind the log?

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But she came around after a little while.

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We attempted to take a family portrait, by way of self timer.

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Twas not so successful.

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And as the sun set and the air got a little cooler, my ample tush proved excellent insulation for the not-so-little one.

See more pictures over at Flickr.

September 16, 2007

Stewie is home!

Our car, Stewie, is back home after being in the body shop for over a month. It's good to have him back, and the shop did a really fabulous job, both dealing with the insurance company and repairing the damage.

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Thea has been healing up beautifully

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When we give her meds, we wrap them in peanut butter. She finds it both delicious and infuriating, with its tenancy to stick to the roof of her mouth. I find this amusing. I might, possibly, maybe, tend to squish the peanut butter up on the roof of her mouth, maybe, just to make it last a little longer. I might also be a horrible horrible person.

Actually, we've taken her off the sedatives, but we do still give her a little peanut butter just because she loves it so.

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Both girls got some extra special treats from Leo.

Both approve...heartily.

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However, not to be indelicate, but we have been experiencing a steady flow of eye watering, paint peeling, make a grown person cry level of excess "air" from the little one. I really can't express just how bad it's been. I'm declaring an embargo on all future purchases of this treat. While the rawhide/pork combo appealed to the girls more than almost any treat we've gotten, the consequences have been too brutal to re-live.

Your mileage may vary.

September 11, 2007

Hola, El Matchador

You know how I said that spinning puts Thea to sleep? Well, that seemed as good an excuse as any to spend some quality time with El Matchador.

At first, I thought I'd just spin up enough of my Cotswold to have a skein ready when I run out on my skirt.

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But once I plied the yarn and skeined it, I had, what appeared to be, a relatively small amount of fiber remaining, so I figured, what the heck, I'll spin up the rest.

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The result is a skein that is 297 yards long and a second skein that is 217 yards long. Added to the 225 yards I already have, I have a total of [insert calculator here] 739 yards. That should be plenty to finish the piece.

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Thea helped me with the photoshoot. It's nice that we can have both an out of focus AND poorly lit image. She's really an artiste.

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I'm not going to do another whole round up of the yarn, since I've already done one here and it's the same, only different, or whatever. I will say that I continue to really enjoy spinning this yarn. It is well prepared, with only a little bit of vegetable matter and the colors are gorgeous.

In my next post, I start doing the spinning equivalent to making a gauge swatch. Good girl, Marnie, here's a cookie.


Quick question, would anyone out there be interested in some very basic tips for using Photoshop to adjust color and exposure in an image? I'm no expert and I sort of wonder if anyone who can afford Photoshop, already knows it well enough, not to need any help, but if folks are interested, I'd be happy to do a tutorial. Just leave a comment with your thoughts.

September 9, 2007

Stitches and a weird little leaf

Well, the same night we brought Thea home, she shook off the anesthesia and was ready to play. This was at about 4AM in the morning. We were only very slightly amused. Since then, it's been pretty futile trying to keep her calm. Even giving her a half dose of a sedative in the day and a full dose at night, she's pretty active. It seems to get her kind of high. That is, she walks a little goofy and seems pretty content just sleeping or obsessing over a raw hide bone, but it doesn't totally squelch her energy level altogether. She still will play at the drop of a hat. It looks like she's stretching the skin near her stitches a bit. I'm really really hoping she doesn't pop her stitches.

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On the plus side, she hasn't been licking them. Small consolation, really.

It just kills me to have to sedate her, but since she'll hurt herself if she doesn't keep still, it appears to be the only recourse. Anyone have any good suggestions for putting a pup in suspended animation, while she heals?

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One thing that does seem to calm her down is the sound of El Matchador. I've done a lot of spinning this weekend (more on that in a future post) and it usually lulls her to sleep.

She was particularly goofy after the first dose, I gave her. She was a touch wobbly, and then hopped up on the couch and reclined in this position for a good hour.

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I figured that the dose was a touch too strong, so I cut her back to a half, for any daytime hours. The vet said that we might have to play with the dosage to get it just right.


In entirely unrelated news, we have a little mystery.

Leo found this leaf, with a rock and a q-tip on top of it, perched on the corner of our house. There's a little brick facade running along the bottom 3 feet of the house, that juts out a couple inches. Someone had placed the items there.

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We are thinking that it was something the neighbor's kid made for us, but we haven't seen her around to ask. If so, it's a cute gesture, however, if it wasn't from a kid, the q-tip really creaps it up a notch, you know?

Here are the q-tip and back of leaf and rock. We placed them all in a bag, just in case.

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We have no idea what the writing says, it's a little hard to read, but it sort of looks like the biggest words are, "The King."

Anyway, does anyone have any idea what could have been used, in conjunction with a q-tip (ie, a liquid) to produce the blue writing on the leaf? Hopefully, it's something totally benign.

September 22, 2007

Assessing the skirt progress

It seemed about time to move the skirt to some waste yarn and see how it's coming along. I have mixed feelings

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Things I like:
  • The crochet: I think the motifs are cute and hang nicely.
  • The colors: While I don't usually buy these colors for myself, I think they are lovely and the colors compliment each other nicely.
  • The chevrons: Who doesn't like chevron? It breaks up the horizontal nature of the subtly variegated yarn.


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Things I don't like:


  • Yarn choice: I feel like the main yarn should be a little drapier. I don't feel there's enough weight to the piece to pull off the effect I'm envisioning

  • Skirts: I don't wear skirts. What the hell am I thinking?

  • Shape: Would a-line instead of straight have been better?

I'll probably finish the piece, just to see how it comes out, but I'm starting to think there may have been a better project for these yarns.

On the plus side, I should have 300 or more yards of the main yarn leftover when I'm done. What will I do with it? I dunno. I'll have it nonetheless.


I've been spinning bits of the Corriedale, here and there. It's been quite relaxing and mindless.

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I'm annoyed, though, with my Woolee Winder. It's great, don't get me wrong, but it really upsets my sense of balance that it doesn't load the yarn evenly. Some of it appears to be that the whorls from Schacht aren't perfectly machined. There's an ever so slight gap, but I'm realizing that it's not enough to account for the severity of the imbalance.

Has anyone else who has a Woolee Winder seen this and if so, is there a way to fix it?

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Oh and Thea had her stitches taken out and has been taking full advantage of the ensuing belly rubs.

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She's such a little floozy.

October 4, 2007

Getting there

Boy do I love life lines. I've used this one a couple times, but by Jove, I think I've got it. Some of the mishaps may have been caused by watching an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Man, that show is funny, and distracting.

Here's a closeup of the lifeline, subsequent filler stitches and Thea's paw.

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The vertical row of locking stitch markers indicated decrease rows. I really don't want a huge amount of cinching required to hold this skirt up. When you have a 10 inch difference between hips and waist, that can be a substantial amount of extra fabric.

Here's a view of the whole skirt so far. There's only one spot in the house that gets much natural light and it's where Thea and Panda's bed resides. They seem to find it curious that the spot also becomes my photo studio, some days.

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It's really easy to tell how far I've knit since I blocked the piece.

Tomorrow, I fly down to the greater San Fransisco area for a quick meet up with the owner of Stitch Diva Studios. We're finishing up another project together. That's all I can tell you for now, but I hope there'll be a sneak preview up in the near future.

October 2, 2007

Fine tuning

A little while back, I posted this picture and lamented that my WooLee Winder wasn't filling evenly.

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Well, June came through with a most excellent suggestion. If I twist the traveling loop so that it is angled towards the smaller end, it will shift everything in that direction, resulting in a more even feed.

It's going to take some fine tuning, but I'm definitely seeing improvement.

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The skirt is progressing. After taking this photo, I threw in a lifeline and am now deciding how I want to work the chevrons into flat stitches. The key is not only making smooth transition from the zigzag to flat, but also adjusting the gauge which changes from 8 stitches per inch in chevron to 6 stitches per inch flat.

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And look, my garden gave me another bloom. I am pleased.

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Quite a few more buds have popped up and several look ready to burst open in the next day or two.

I don't know how obvious it is to you, but I think we have two different varieties of Cosmos here. The smaller flower actually has slightly different shaped petals than the bigger one. I may be totally wrong but since we dumped several different mixes of seeds here, I think it's possible.


And finally, I'll be posting an interview with Donna Druchanus at the end of the month. I'm day 23 of her blog tour. I'm about halfway through the book now and gathering my questions.

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I've worked with Donna before and am really looking forward to the interview. Expect lots of questions about the book and her travels and maybe some little tangents into her other interests. I just hope that I'm able to come up with questions she hasn't already answered a million times.

September 28, 2007

Purdy stuff from the garden

When we moved into this house, just over a year ago, the garden was in pretty bad shape. Take a look.

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Ugly, huh? I think the landlord may have simple removed all the dying flowers before we moved in, which is why it look so barren.

Since then, we've done some serious work. We removed the flower bed wall that had fallen down, leveled the dirt, and put in a little black fence.

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This variety of grass is always yellow, this time of year, but it'll be lush again when spring rolls around.

We also planted tons of bulbs and wildflower seeds. Unfortunately, a lot of what we planted over the past couple of months, appear to be annuals so we're not sure how many flowers we'll see before they're all gone. There are some perennials too, which should hopefully flourish after winter.

After much hand wringing our first buds have appeared.

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We now have A flower.

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Yup, one big pink flower. Just another couple dozen and it'll actually kinda pretty around these parts.

The plants obscure a little of the view out the front window, but that didn't stop Panda from seeing a trespasser. Can you see him?

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Ooh, Panda's nemisis.

The rosebush in front has produced a second round of blooms for us. And you know what looks great with pink? A little black and white.

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Now, THAT'S purdy.