Wednesday, May 28, 2008

act of kindness

Dan came home from work yesterday with some sad news. Kelsey, a grade 11 student at the school, is very seriously ill with brain cancer. Her mom's friends have started a postcard campaign urging people to send her a picture postcard to brighten her day. The school staff is planning to send her postcards from their summer vacation travels so that she gets postcards from far-off places.

When I heard this I thought, "Shoot, people all over the world read my blog!" Since I won't be traveling anywhere this summer, I thought I could ask you blog readers to take a few minutes and send this sick teenager postcards from where you live or travel in the near future. Here's her address:

1434 Royal Street
Regina, SK, Canada
S4T 5A3

I am sure that she would be so happy to get postcards from you and, together, we can provide a spot of brightness in Kelsey's world at this dark time for her and her family. Imagine how surprised she will be to get postcards from total strangers with notes of support from the world-wide fiber community!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I have been busy getting the dogs groomed for the last few days. All of them were bathed and brushed and Pocus got a haircut too. When I wasn't grooming I was trying desperately to finish the second Cross Hatch Lace sock so I could wear them one of these days. And they are done!
My sister Darcie made me one of her knitting row counters and I put it on my socks to show you how well the amethyst beads match my socks. In fact, it matches so well you can hardly see the counter so I took a close-up to show you how pretty it is and it's still hard to see. You can see better pics of her lovely row counters at her Muddy Paws Knits Etsy shop.

Friday, May 23, 2008

the back yard

We are having new fence installed around the garden in the back yard. It's something that we talked about doing for a few years now. We had the garden barricaded from the dogs with plastic mesh anchored by rebar and it did the job more or less until the Dachshund came to live with us. That fence was no barrier to Bentley. He either scooted under it or just chewed a hole in it to get into the garden whenever he wanted. So we hired a local company to install a vinyl picket fence.

Here are the stalker pictures of the guys in the back yard this morning. I took the pics furtively from the window so I wouldn't have to try to convince them that I was sane, really, and that it's not at all odd that I would take a picture of them. I even briefly considered asking them to pose with my sock but decided that it would just require more explaining that I didn't have the energy for.
It's quite impressive how fast several guys who know what they're doing can install a fence. However, the pickets that were supposed to arrive on a truck didn't so they couldn't finish it today.
I had to put the plastic mesh back up where the gate will be and for several feet nearest the house. It may take a couple of weeks for the pickets to arrive so I guess I'll just go ahead and get the garden planted while we're waiting. I'm planning on getting some balcony flower pots to hang from the fence which will add color to the yard.

While I was outside with the camera I took this picture of the neighbor's crab apple tree in full bloom right next to our yard. I don't know what kind of tree has the pink blooms behind the apple tree but it's sure pretty!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Dog toys, that is, not knitting, spinning, etc. toys.

We have many, many dog toys. We have toys that were virtually like new for years when we had Bichons and Shelties in the house.

That all changed the day Bentley the Dachshund joined our family. You see, Dachshunds don't play with toys, they eviscerate them. Hard to believe that this sweet little dog (wearing a belly band, no less) is a cold-blooded murderer, isn't it?
Well, he is.

On his first day at our house, Bentley was timid and unsure of the change in his life but he still managed to strip the cover off of a tennis ball. I was worried that he would eat it and get sick, which is what would happen if a Bichon or Sheltie ate part of a toy. When I mentioned it to Bentley's breeder Daphne she just shrugged and said it wouldn't bother him. And it didn't.

I guess it's a breed thing. Dachshunds were bred to kill varmints. Bentley hasn't had an opportunity to kill real varmints (although where was he when we had the mice infestation last fall?). His sisters found a garter snake last summer and had a great time killing it though so no doubt he would do the same given half a chance. What with the lack of opportunity available to him to kill real varmints, he concentrates on the dog toys. Our dog toy box hasn't been the same since he arrived.

Case in point, the duck:
The duck is a favorite in spite of his lack of beak and eyes. It still shakes dead really well and quacks in protest. Good times.

When Darcie and I were in Saskatoon at the dog show we went toy shopping because I had neglected to consider B's desire to kill toys and didn't have the forethought to pack any to take along. So he was trying his best to steal and kill Katie's Webkinz.

We found lots of great dog toys. Here's the screamin' monkey. He makes the most awful computer-generated shrieking noise. B loves him to death. Literally.
I had to prop him up for the picture because if I didn't, this is what happened.
You see, B has destuffed his head and the noisemaker piece has migrated to the empty head so he is a little top heavy. Poor monkey.

Here's another toy that I thought would be great for B and might last a little longer than usual. This cleverly designed hedgehog (or whatever he is) has a pocket in his belly that is filled with "eggs" with squeakers in them.

When the dog disembowels the toy to get the squeakers out, you can put them right back in again for more killing pleasure.
It even came with some replacement eggs to use when the original eggs bite the dust.
B sometimes does pull out the eggs but he prefers to chew on the hedgehog's ears and nose.
I think that he is smart enough to realize that he just wasn't making any progress with those eggs; kind of like the futility of blowing out those trick birthday candles that keep relighting.

Harrison has no desire to kill the hedgehog because it makes a darn fine pillow with all those eggs inside.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

random bits

It's been a busy day.

First, I got an email from Gloria Patre about winning the blog contest. She was so excited! It's her birthday today too. What are the odds? Please wish her a happy birthday on her blog here.

Dan and I celebrated our 30th anniversary by going out to dinner. In some ways it's hard to believe that our wedding was thirty years ago. They've been good years. We were young when we got married but we did good. My husband is my very best friend and always will be. He is kind, respectful, and I love him dearly. We are truly blessed!

I took a picture of last night's full moon because it was so beautiful. The picture didn't do it justice.... I played around with the photo software and got this.
Isn't this a marvelous impressionistic version of a rather blah picture? It would make a great painting or fabric.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Color.... the winner!

The winner of the book "Color" by Sally Melville is.... Gloria Patre! An email has already been sent to her.

Thanks for all of the comments about your favorite colors! I found it very interesting to read through them all. It's quite amazing to see how diverse our favorites are and it drives home the old adage that variety is the spice of life. I have lots of great ideas for dyeing color combinations based on your favorites.

the latest batch

Fresh from the dyepot, these are fingering weight merino/silk. They are in the Etsy shop if you're interested.

I'll be doing the prize draw in less than an hour and will let you know who wins the Sally Melville Color book.

Friday, May 16, 2008

handspun BFL finished

Here's the BFL after washing and setting the twist. The large skein is 3-ply, 383 yds., and 125 g. It will be good for socks, which was the goal. I'm quite ridiculously proud of this yarn.

In spite of the weight of each of the three bobbins being so close, I ran out of one bobbin before the other two so I 2-plied what was left. I have 375 ft. and 22 g of it, not really enough to do much with but it will go into the stash for future reference.

I started spinning some superwash BFL. The fibers are much more slick and I will not be able to spin it as fine as the regular BFL.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Color me stupid=a blog contest

When I was setting up my crafts room recently I realized that I have two copies of Sally Melville's The Knitting Experience, Book 3: Color. I obviously had a little memory loss problem when I bought the second copy. While I love Sally Melville's books with a passion, I don't need two copies of the same book.

So.... I will start another blog contest with one of the copies of the book as its prize. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me your favorite color(s). It would help my dyeing if you also tell me your favorite color combinations and how intense or subtle you like them.

Please make sure that you leave an email link for me to contact you if you win. If you don't, I won't be able to use your entry for the draw.

One entry per person please. Additional entries will eliminate you from the draw.

I'll use a random number generator to determine a winner on Monday, May 19, 2008 at 10:00 p.m. Central Standard Time.

(p.s. the dog paw in the lower left of the picture is not included in the prize package)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Peanut Butter Cookies

The Townsend Socks Yahoo group has been talking about peanut butter cookies lately and it triggered a craving so I had to make a batch. I used my mother's recipe. I haven't found a better one anywhere. These cookies melt in your mouth. I posted the recipe if you're interested.

Gwen's Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

In a separate bowl, cream together the following:
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture.
Roll spoonfuls of cookie dough into small balls and place on cookie pans leaving room for them to spread.
Use the tines of a fork to flatten the balls, making criss-cross marks.

Bake at 350 degree F until lightly browned.

Monday, May 12, 2008

3-ply BFL

I finally got a chance to sit down and ply the BFL last night on the new Woolee Winder. I really, really like the tweedy denim result! The Woolee Winder worked so well for plying. I could just get into the rhythm and spin non-stop. It holds much more yarn than the Ashford bobbins. Here is what is left on the lazy kate after filling the WW bobbin.
I did a rough estimate of wraps per inch and got about 50 wpi on each ply and about 20 wpi on the plied yarn. I expect that the yarn will bloom a bit when washed so it should be good for socks, as planned.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I'm seeing spots

We were visiting our friends JoAnn and Harry and their girls last night. JoAnn is our vet and is also a breeder. Their Dalmatian Kelly has a litter of nine puppies that are six weeks old. You would not believe how cute they are!

Their daughter Dana has a Whippet puppy who thinks the Dal babies are way cool fun to play with.

Mama Kelly who needs to put her foot (uh, paw) down about this whole nursing business. The puppies treat her like she's the ice cream truck rolling through the neighborhood.
In a couple of weeks the puppies will start going to their new homes. Some will be traveling to far-off show homes.

On a more fiber-related note, I finished up the third bobbin of the BFL and got the Woolee Winder on the Elizabeth ready to ply.

Just as an experiment I put each of the bobbins on my kitchen scale.
97, 99, and 97 grams respectively. Not bad! I guess that teaching math for so many years has positively affected my estimation skills.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 09, 2008

more Friday Fiber

Here they are, fresh from the dyepot!

The first two are superwash merino and the last two are superwash BFL. The top three will go into the Etsy shop and I'm keeping the last one.

Fiber Friday, sort of...

Some updates today.

I finished the first Crosshatch Lace sock in Saskatoon. I know that I am a real Sock Knitter now because I grafted the toe closed without any written instructions!
I made the Comfy Sole. Now I need to finish up the second one so I can wear them. I dyed this merino/silk yarn to match an outfit that I have. I wore said outfit at the Saskatoon show last weekend and would have liked to have finished this pair before then. Obviously that didn't happen.
My Woolee Winder for the Elizabeth finally came this week.
I've been spinning like mad trying to finish up this bobbin so I can use the Woolee Winder to ply this yarn. I'm almost done!
The other two bobbins are waiting patiently.

The mailman brought these from Astrid's Dutch Obsessions today. I need more sock yarn like I need a hole in my head but ordered them anyway because I'm weak.

Left to right: Trekking XXL 106, Trekking XXL 189, and Opal SockenZirkus 2003.

I dyed some fiber last night and it is drying as we speak. I'll post pics when they're ready.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Little A&W on the Prairie

Couldn't resist taking this picture of the A&W standing all alone on the vast prairie. On the other side of the highway is the town of Davidson which is about halfway between Regina and Saskatoon. This A&W has a drive-thru and everything.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

ho hum

Just a quick post from Saskatoon using Darcie's laptop.
Well, this is pretty much all Bentley wants to do at the dog show this weekend. Sister Chloe is a much more outgoing dog and struts her stuff in the ring. Bentley co-operates happily but he doesn't have that "it" factor that says "I'm a winner! Look at me!" Chloe has it in spades. And, you know, that's okay with me. Bentley is my little, entertaining cuddle bug whose goal in life is to touch some part of my body 24/7. So B and I will happily cheer Chloe on while she tries to make #1 Mini Long Dachsie in Canada this year!
Unfortunately Darcie and Kai haven't done any better than me and Bentley. Kai has got good looks from the judges but he has some pretty stiff competition too. Katie will go into Junior Handling tomorrow and Bentley and Kai have one more show then too. Then we will head home.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

the swatch and keep an eye on those little critters

I think that I have settled on this cabled ribbing for finishing the machine knit cardi. I'm going to knit this on the bottom and sleeve cuffs and just knit a simple rib for the front and neck bands.

On a totally different topic, a local Boxer breeder was playing with her 3 month old Boxer babies outside last weekend when a bird of prey swooped down and took one of the puppies! The puppy weighed over 19 lbs. so the breeder never expected that a bird would be interested in a puppy that heavy. As the bird flew up the breeder started screaming and running at it. The bird, for whatever reason, dropped the puppy and somehow the breeder caught it before it hit the ground. Unbelievable! Thankfully all ended well and the puppy is not hurt. You can read about this on Bill Stovin's blog. The moral of the story is to keep an eye on those little, and not so little, pets. I've heard of small puppies being scooped up by hawks and owls even in the city but that boxer puppy weighs about as much as Pocus the Bichon!

I'll be heading to Saskatoon later today so won't be blogging until next week. I'll have pictures of all of the fun at the dog show for you then.