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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.

Monster crocheted with DK weigh merino, with knit socks and scarf worked in sock yarn

Rosa Rugossa Singles


It's a funny thing, I love to knit with solid or semi-solid yarns and large swathes of stockinette don't bore me a bit. From the comments I've seen in many people's ravelry projects, my taste for knitting is a veritable snoozefest for many. It's peculiar, then, that I can't say the same about spinning. As much as I love to knit solid yarns, spinning solid yarns takes me forever. Of course, I am more likely to then knit that final yarn but I drag my feet the whole way. Those crazy handpainted yarns in all their vivid colors are just so much more fun for me to spin (at least the singles are, I don't care what the fiber color, plying makes me yearn for the excitement of watching grass grow.)

But there's a compromise; solids that gently fade into other solids producing a gradual transition from one color to the next and one of my favorite dyers is serving up a beautiful assortment right now.

Rosa Rugossa
1. Rosa Rugossa Singles, 2. Rosa Rugossa Combed Top, 3. Rosa Rugossa Singles, 4. Rosa Rugossa Singles

The colorway is Rosa Rugossa and it's a soft blend of superwash merino, bamboo and nylon. The 4 ounces gave me about 792 yards of singles at about 24 wpi. I think it'll make a really lovely shawl one of these days.

I bought another 4 ounces in her Blueberry Campout colorway as well.

Blueberry Campout Combed Top

There's something about that shade of orange that just makes my heart go pitter-pat.

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.

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.

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



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.


Look closer and you can see Mt Hood rising up through the clouds.


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

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