July 2007 Archives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Craft and Whacking Baby Camels


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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

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

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

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

Two wheelin'


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

Oh and I went Salsa dancing. That was fun.

What was that other thing?

A lovable pain in the neck


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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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.


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.


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

A few moments on my soap box


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

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

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

The piece I never posted about


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

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

Anyway, I present to you, Juliette.


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


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

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


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

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

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

One way to predraft your fibers


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?


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

Thea, do you feel sorry?


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....


HEY! That just seems unnecessary.
Kids today.

Switching horses mid-stream


While I'm really excited about my current project for Stitch Diva, this particular stretch of the piece has dogged me. I originally calculated and cast on for this section on Saturday, while watching The Queen and enjoying a glass of wine. After more than 25 years of knitting, you'd think I'd know that I needed a little more focus than that, to calculate a pattern. I'm obviously a slow learner. I cast on 250 stitches, using the long tail cast-on, (my personal favorite for it's speed,) only, BAH, not enough tail.

So I ripped, and cast on again and made it. I knit my 250 (give or take) stitches for 20 rows, during the movie, and a bit the following day, before realizing that my calculations were off. Oh, yes, there was ripping.


I focused myself on my calculations. I checked my work, and cast on again. After three tries, to get the cast on tail the right length, I nearly chucked my work out a window. Less stubborn knitters than I might have tried a couple of alternatives, such as:

  • A knitted on or cabled cast on, which requires no tail.
    Vetoed because I find it so dreadfully slow to do, I'd rather rip the long tail out forever and redo, like Sisyphus rolling his boulder up the mountain.

  • Long tail cast on worked from both ends of a center pull ball.
    Vetoed because it means another end to weave in. Also vetoed because of the aforementioned stubbornness.

  • Actually note the length of the tail for the failed cast on and extrapolate the needed additional length from there.
    Vetoed because I'm stupid.

But, all stubbornness and stupidity aside, I nearly did admit defeat and put the item in temporary time-out, until I realized that the cast on will be completely concealed with crochet. There is no way anyone is going to be able to see it. This gave me an option, when I realized I was about 50 stitches short of my goal. When I was left with a sufficient tail to weave in the end, but not enough to complete the cast on, I switched to a knitted on cast on.


This puts a little tail in the middle of the cast on. To the right of the tail, in the image, is the long tail cast on, to the left is the knitted on cast on.

Here she is, really close up


Personally, I would never do this if the cast on would be visible. There's a pretty noticeable difference and it would irk me even if no one else ever noticed. But since this baby will be obscured by crochet, there's no harm, no foul and my sanity is preserved.

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.


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.


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


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.


Oh mama!

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


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.


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

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.


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


Thea is a very good sleeper


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?


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.


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.

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.


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


And my beautiful girls basking in the sun.


And Thea bringing on the cute, full force.

September Glow


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



  • 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.


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.


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!


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.


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.
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.
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.

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