homeward bound

Posted on 15 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, food and garden, home and family

with the fun and excitement of rhinebeck put to bed til next year, i’ve taken a few days to stop off and spend some time with my mom in upstate new york. the foliage here is turning rapidly now, reminding me of how quickly we are moving toward winter—how can that be already?

it seems like just last week that i was frantically trying to figure out what to do with the five pounds of green beans i was picking each time i went into the garden, hehe.

our summer was almost mind-numbingly busy, with out of town sheep and wool events, teaching events, an incredibly productive garden, and our new family member to teach and share experiences with.

but in between the watering and harvesting, the truck packing and car travel, we squeezed in a wonderful evening walk each day, shared dinners around the table together, made new friends in our community, and at the end of each long day, a bit of cozy knitting time.

you really can’t ask more than that from one short summer, can you?

as for knitting, you would think i’d gotten nothing done, considering how few times i blogged about it, but a lot of stealth knitting was accomplished.

in addition to these shawl/scarf designs for the the bare naked knitspot club, i started and finished a second sample of my new birches cardigan design in lightweight cabécou brillant sport.

omg, it is SO light and fluffy; the depth in this yarn is spectacular in person, too—i used the sel gris shade, which is a warm gray with gold tones added by the unbleached tussah silk; so rich and pretty. ellen wore it this past weekend at a couple of our rhinebeck events and it looked stunning on her—much better than on me!

the early fall was filled with activity around knitspot central; i had a couple of weekend teaching dates that were exciting and invigorating—i love spending time with students who are expanding their skills and exploring new horizons in knitting. we were also part of our regional yarn shop crawl, a three-week event during which we hosted hundreds of knitters at our brick and mortar shop in canton, ohio.

in between knitting events and designing, it was a mad scurry to harvest and put up the abundance of the good things that our garden produced this year.

we had a crazy big tomato season that yielded thousands of cherry tomatoes and hundreds upon hundreds of full-sized heirlooms as well. every surface of our kitchen and dining area featured a red, green, and yellow landscape.

we did a lot of creative shifting around as they ripened for roasting, drying, and freezing. all of our neighbors and acquaintances benefitted from the harvest in our small garden space.

believe me, more than once my eye went to cardigan’s little paws, wondering if i could teach her to peel and chop. somehow, i don’t think she’d appreciate being pressed into kitchen service . . .

she’s more interested in outdoor “work”—good company in garden during those early morning hours, following me from one area to another to snooze nearby while i picked beans or tomatoes.

we had a spectacular garlic harvest in july, netting just under a hundred large heads. we culled out the biggest ones for planting next year’s crop and david put those cloves into the ground earlier this month—our 2018 garden is already underway!

our greens were plentiful and delicious as well, but we didn’t have time to harvest as much for summer eating as i would have liked. we shared a lot as they grew, but the good thing about greens is that they just keep chugging along til i had a window to cut a big batch for freezing. i’m relieved that i did because these are my favorite.

in the middle of the fall flurry, david’s birthday kicked off the month of october and we celebrated by having a make-your-own pizza night for just the three of us. the sauce naturally was made from fresh roasted tomatoes and garlic; toppings included fresh zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, and more.

the pizzas were followed by big slices of chocolate fudge cake, yum-mo. it’s my go-to recipe, adjusted to be gluten free; still the best one yet!

in addition to tomatoes and green beans, we had beautiful eggplant and peppers, which i cooked into big pots of stews and such to freeze for winter. now we are harvesting the root vegetables and were pleasantly surprised at how many beets, potatoes, and rutabagas we have. this is the first year we’ve had really good sweet potatoes and the timing couldn’t be better—they are one of cardigan’s favorite foods, along with green beans.

i picked  a few baby parsnips to thin the row for now; the rest will stay in the ground til after the frost, along with the rutabagas and beets for further flavor development.

there’s nothing like that first pan of freshly dug roast potatoes—yum, YUM!

i have to say though, much as i enjoy it all, i’m glad the garden is winding down and there will be more time for knitting.

although who knows—mother nature may have another plan for my “free time”. a couple of weeks ago when i was picking some of the last tomatoes, through the dying vines i spied this small grove of new plants, growing in our compost pile. apparently, the bad tomatoes i’d been throwing on top had sprouted, self fertilized, and grown there. i have no idea which ones are which, but it’s likely we may see fruit from them if this temperate weather holds out; the compost is warm and will make a friendly environment for an extended growing area . . .

between club designs and sample knits, i squeezed in a small personal project—a new pair of lacunae fingerless mitts for me, to replace my beloved original pair knit in briar rose fibers fourth of july yarn. i lost one at the end of the spring while i was walking cardigan.

i’d been meaning to knit a new pair anyway so it was probably for the best. i love this design because the stretchy cross-stitch has a nice firm grip that doesn’t lose its shape. the yarn is really hardwearing as well; the original pair never pilled at all and still looked great after years of constant use.

i finished them up during our rhinebeck weekend, weaving in the last ends on our last night in the rental house, yay! they are a bit wrinkled from being squished in my project bag, but they’ll look much better once i have a chance to wash and block them.

and i have so much yarn left over that i think i’ll knit the matching cap—i gave the original one away on a whim and have always missed it, since it fit me very well (it’s not easy finding the perfect hat for my little pea-head).

speaking of rhinebeck, what a whirlwind weekend it was, fun, fabulous, and all too fast. our dear friend kimkimkim was in town to attend the show and spend the weekend with ellen and i. as usual we had a lot of fun catching up, though we also worked hard.

with a booth at the indie untangled event on friday evening and our own popup shop on sunday afternoon, we needed to cram most of our fair-going time into saturday. this was ellen’s first rhinebeck and if you’ve ever been, you know how that is—completely mind boggling, haha. but fun and wonderful, too.

the day started out cool and breezy, turning unseasonably warm and sunny in the afternoon. the crowds were epic, swallowing up our friends within moments. every time i look at this photo i think of “where’s waldo??”—ellen was right in front of me but can you spot kim in the crowd?

we definitely made the most of our show-time hours, beginning with a trip to the animal barns to visit the sheep and goats. this handsome creature was getting a final clip and trim before entering the show ring and being so patient about it, too.

this adorable fella should look familiar—it’s one of the goats from the farm that produces the mohair for our chebris and cabécou brillant yarn lines!

after visiting the animals, it was time for shopping and people watching; everyone’s favorite part of the show. i am on a strict budget this year so i concentrated on the latter mostly, but still stocked up on my favorite shepherd’s friend hand cream from maggie’s farm and treated myself to a mug from stacey stanhope pottery.

i wasn’t going to buy a mug at all and i certainly don’t need another, but i saw the composition on this one and caved—i just love her work too much to walk away. i look at it as a piece of art and i know i’ll spend more time than i’d ever admit just turning it round and round, enchanted by the motifs. (and i hear tell that some day soon, the cake plate i’m patiently awaiting will be a reality, too. no worries—good things take time and i can be VERY patient.) we even talked about working a silhouette of cardigan into a small piece in the near future—sign me up!

after that it really was time for people watching ONLY and of course there is more than enough of that at the show to satisfy a knitter’s appetite for fun, fresh ideas.

i couldn’t believe it when i was walking back from a trip to the car and ran into becky, who had written me several times in the previous week about a special yarn order. she mentioned casually that she had knit a dress from our hempshaugh fingering yarn that had fair isle hem and yoke and i was intrigued. so i was doubly glad that she was wearing it when i saw her! while i couldn’t really envision it as described in writing, it was very pretty in person and the hemshaugh yarn worked well with the wool she used for the stranded sections. i love the millet shade, which is slightly butter colored, with the grays. so creative and the lighter fabric makes the dress much more wearable year-round.

i confess that i don’t always remember to bring out the camera when i run into friends, but i did remember to get a selfie with eric lutz who is lots of fun and has a great podcast on youTube that you should check out.

our own retail events were hectic and fun—so much so that i did not get photos at either (i know, bad ME!). in my defense, my phone serves as our internet connection during these events so it’s not really handy to unhook it to take pictures.

so after a truly busy weekend filled with people and yarn fumes, we all headed out on monday morning in different directions. ellen drove to ohio with the yarn truck and i drove kim to albany to catch her plane, then landed myself at my mom’s for a few days.

i’ve been helping her with some fall cleaning chores and reorganizing; we’ve made real progress in her kitchen where she spends a lot of time. there were too many items out of her reach and too many unnecessary items in her way, so we weeded out her cabinets and placed everything in reach with more space around them; it’s much more workable now. we also got her holiday lights up and now she just has to plug them in to turn them on when the time is right.

meanwhile, i had an assignment from friends at home to complete—securing my mom’s christmas cookie recipes in order to share them. luckily, while i was cleaning out cabinets, i came across a whole folder in which she keeps them separated and a treasure trove it was.

i spent several hours the other night, scanning the ones she’s made the most often over the years—which is still over ninety recipes with a  few cakes and breads thrown in. of course she didn’t ever make that many all in one year, but tried new ones and got rid of old ones after a while—sometimes bringing those ones back when enough time passed—adding to her portfolio for over sixty years.  it’ll be fun to organize them into one place and give a copy to each of my siblings and friends. i have to decide on the best way to go about it, so i’m not sure that will happen for THIS christmas, but if not, maybe next.

there hasn’t been a ton of knitting time, but i’ve snuck in a few hours over the last few days on secret projects, as well as this tiny start to a new gift project. you won’t see much of this one, but fingers crossed it’ll be done for christmas. i have just a few other gifts on my knitting list—all small stuff that i think i can get done for the most special people in my life—stay tuned.

tomorrow i head home to my little family and i can’t WAIT to see david and cardigan. i snapped this impromptu photo just a day or two before i left home while she napped near the foot of my desk; isn’t she pretty here? i know david has been taking good care of our girl and bonding nicely in my absence. he’s been posting great photos of their walks on our photo stream so i can stay in touch.

i’ll be thinking of them all the way home and that will make the time fly by i hope! i’m sure i’ll have a bunch of new little stories to share before long; the cuteness never ends when you live with a furry little friend. see you in a few days . . .

gotta get back to nashville

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, home and family, lace/shawls, projects

i’m writing this post on tuesday because by the time you read it, i’ll be on my way to nashville with ellen, where we will exhibit at the super summer knit together market day. i am pretty excited about this trip; i lived in nashville during the early 1990s for a few years, when it was a fairly sleepy small city. now it’s grown and changed so much; i can’t WAIT to see it!

this will be a great opportunity to see our friends from the area; if you plan to come to the market day on saturday, be sure to stop by and say hello. we’ll have knit naked bags, all manner of patterns, and BNWs yarns in old favorites as well as the new colors we’ve been teasing on social media. plus, glamorous samples from ensemble collections and my own design portfolio will be on display.

such as this costa figueira pullover tunic in deco fingering yarn, in the chrome shade—one of a few fresh samples knit in a newer yarn. i just love it and will probably be wearing it on saturday.

it is SO cool. very many thanks to ellen’s friend coletta, who knit it for us. i’m sure she has an awesome ravelry page but i don’t know her rav name!

and then our long-time friend kathy knit this caïssa cardigan in ginny DK, our lusciously soft blend of cotton/alpaca/merino in the mississippi shade. doesn’t ellen look gorgeous wearing it? i had it on too (caïssa is an old favorite) but my photo doesn’t do the sweater justice and i think you’d rather see it on ellen anyway.

colletta and kathy really pushed the pedal to the metal on these and got them done in just a couple of weeks—there’s still time to knit one and wear it for late summer, just when you’ll be looking for a sweater to throw on at the end of the evening . . .

and of course you’ll be able to see and fondle the extravagantly soft oana cardigan designed by elena nodel for the BNWs winter 2017 ensemble collection. the sample is knit in BNWs chebris sport, one of our luxury mohair offerings.

this design would look (and feel!) fantastic in the über-soft soufflé shade, new to the chebris line.

if i could give you a squishing experience with these skeins, i would—i think it’s the softest shade yet, so yummy. it’s a beautiful oatmeal color, threaded with a mix of warm brown, white, and gray fibers. it maintains that silvery sheen that polishes all of the shades in our mohair lines (the secret to that is great quality mohair fiber).

also super-floaty in cabécou brillant sport, if you like that extra hit of luxury with your cardigan. we just got restocked in a shade we haven’t had for ages—check out the new batch of poivre.

by the way, doug tells me that in may and june, sales of the oana pattern raised $2,115 which we are forwarding the go fund me for elena’s cancer treatment. thank you to everyone who purchased a donation pattern or yarn kit during our fundraising period; they are almost at their goal!

behind the scenes here, the office has been abuzz with the activities of packing and prepping for SSK. ellen has been preparing and packing samples and kits for the booth, doug pulled many skeins of our most luscious yarns to fill our cubbies, and Cardigan supervised; nothing gets by her.

at the house, i washed and freshened up a selection of other favorite samples to display front and center, along with the new samples i showed you at the top of the post. we are ready to greet you, nashville knitters—come visit our booth!

in designing news, i’ve been diligently (and pretty monogamously) knitting my way up the back piece of my aspergillum tunic, which i’m enjoying immensely. with no shaping to keep track of, this stitch pattern becomes totally engrossing and addictive to work. mean, really—i can hardly tear myself away, and not just because i have a deadline.

addiction leads to great progress and i can often finish off a 24-row repeat in couple of hours of morning knitting. i will confess, i don’t keep track of my knitting time too carefully (and why? that would totally defeat the purpose).

even the wrong side texture of this fabric is amazing i think; i just love it to bits.

anyway, i’m almost done with the back now—that pink marker is the underarm point and i am a repeat or so past it today; two repeats for the armhole depth and less to start the back neck shaping. this top has shaping for both the front and back neck because the neck band is wide. also, beause i like summery tops to be a bit more open at the neck.

i do think, however, that i might have fashioned the front neck to be a little too deep for the width. i’ve ben changing my mind every day about whether to go back in and remove a bit from the shoulder height. for fitting me personally, i think i should do it, but i’m more “shallow” at the neck and armholes than most people. i know i can add it back into the pattern before tech editing if it seems too high later on—that would be a minor change.

i just love this photo that i took yesterday, of the unfinished back and the blocked front, side by side. i’m so excited to be in the home stretch on this design; i’ve been patient til now but i want to see how it all pulls together. keep your fingers crossed for me!

ok, gotta go now and finish up my packing. i’m bringing my tunic project to finish, along with some secret design swatching and a travel project i started in may—my see the sea shawl design in our smoothie gradient (i’ll show you that next time).

i’m pretty sure that Someone doesn’t know i’ll be gone for a few days; it’s hard to convey to her what’s happening without making her nervous. she’s learning to be secure, but not sure yet. i feel bad that for her, i will just disappear without any explanation. un fortunately, she doesn’t FaceTime yet.

at least i know she’ll be in good hands while i’m gone . . .


Posted on 38 CommentsPosted in home and family

THERE is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

—Rudyard Kipling,
excerpt from “The Power of the Dog

many of you have asked repeatedly about our rescue doggie, Cardigan—how she’s doing, what is she up to, is she happy living indoors, etc.—and realizing that while i take lots of pictures and think about her constantly, i haven’t blogged about her at all since she first came home to us! so i’ve put together an update for today. this took me longer than i thought to write because it was hard to edit down and still say everything. please excuse my running on and on . . .

our adoption was finalized on april 6; this is a photo from easter sunday, when we checked out an old cemetery during our walk and after her first bath. cardigan continues to love taking long, long walks, even on some of the hottest days.

for such a little girl, she can walk remarkable number of miles, especially when it’s a bit cooler. This provided a great vehicle for learning each other’s signals and bonding over the delights that our neighborhood has to offer.

at first, her fears were triggered by the presence of any people or disturbances within a couple of blocks; we’d have to turn and walk in another direction, even for ones i strained to see. each day however, with lots of encouragement and reassurance, she managed to walk closer to people without fear. one day, we walked right by a group of women without a pause and then a few days later a couple of workmen, and soon we were passing by running vehicles as well.

soon we were able to walk a whole route without turning away from anything. and after that, she began to be curious and observant of people and happenings. now she stops to watch any activity with interest—kids playing, roofing, landscaping, movers, you name it—i like to explain that she lovees to watch people work. she also enjoys volleyball, tennis and bikes or anything with wheels.

you just never know what you’ll find around the corner! Cardigan is famous in our ‘hood and nearby; i can’t get over how many people have read posts about her rescue on Facebook and NextDoor. people i’d never even met came outside to say hello when we walked by and continue to do so—it has been a great way to meet more neighbors and make friends.

while Cardigan does not care for cats (they send her into a frenzy of grunts and even bark or two, making it clear we are in the presence of an enemy), our neighbor’s cat patio is a frequent stop; she can visit the cats safely because they are contained inside.

at home in the house, things were a bit harder as we began to interact one on one—Cardigan doesn’t bark or whine for her needs (common for the shar pei breed, i’ve read) and her signals are very subtle. to complicate things further, the feral dog’s terror of humans made her fearful of direct interaction, especially touch. while she followed me around everywhere to watch, she did NOT want to be touched. we tried making a crate for her as a safe spot, but she avoided that like the plague; probably too much like the trap she’d experienced. far under the table was her favorite spot and in those first days i often got right in there to sit alongside, sometimes knitting on deadline projects so as not to get more behind on work (later i would measure her progress by how much of her body length she allowed out from under the table).

it seemed she just wanted me to “know” what she needed and sort of throw it to her, so there was a lot of trial and error. one thing was clear—we were going to take things very slowly. our first couple of weeks we mostly observed each other and tried to communicate from across the divide. she was house trained in a couple of days (also common for shar peis), for which we could give her lavish praise and build from there.

i read that i was supposed to use treats to train her; i knew of just a couple of things she liked to eat—hotdogs and peanut butter—and the hot dogs she would not touch any more (and still won’t—who can blame her, really?).

so while she watched from under the table (her safe spot during those first weeks) i gathered peanut butter, sweet potatoes, oats, and flour to bake them. i used GF flour so i could taste them—i love PB cookies and i was curious, haha.

1 cup chunky PB
1/2 cup puréed sweet potato or pumpkin
1 cup whole grain flour (GF works fine)
1/2 cup oats
1 egg
1 tsp honey
process oats to break down a bit and add all other ingredients; process to combine, adjust as desired to form a soft dough. knead a bit til smooth and roll to a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. sprinkle oats on top and press in with a rolling pin. cut into bite-sized shapes and bake at 325 degrees to just a bit less than desired crispness (about 8 mins in my oven). if i had a tiny bone-shaped cutter i’d use it but i don’t. and the taste was pretty good; a little more bland than a human cooky but plenty peanut buttery.

i  didn’t realize it then, but Cardigan isn’t very food motivated. i mean, almost not at all, haha. she does like a cooky now and then and knows that ellen and lillian keep them at the office, but she wasn’t going to magically come when called or accept touch/affection because a treat was offered. that would be a long time coming and we’d have to earn it the hard way! and by the way, we still have a few of these treats in our jar—they last forever.

she also had (and continues to have) no concept of toys or playing with humans and at first did not engage with other dogs.

in fact, she has a concerted aversion to most toys. the chicken that i thought was hilarious is not a hit. that monkey she resting on in the first photo? it lived in her bed at the shop for a while, but got a vigorous boot out each time she’d settle in. ellen finds this hilarious; we have since replaced it.

we can roll a ball or throw a squeaky toy her way and she’ll look at it as if to say “OH, so that’s where you wanted that to be put” and lie back down, satisfied. the kong toys that everyone suggested are not of interest—we bought one, filled it with her favorite tasty bits and it sat untouched on the floor for days. when i picked it up to show it to her, she acted like i was about to hit her with it. i felt so bad, i just wanted to get rid of it, fast.

so using toys was also not going to work as a training reward, though she did finally accept this soft fleece bunny for a sleeping companion. what actually works best with this little girl is verbal praise—she just loves getting a good girl! and responds almost instantly with more of the same behavior or even some new trick that goes a little further. this works for me—i vastly prefer a strategy that i can take anywhere and produce instantly; no fumbling with baggies of treats or ending up without one when i need it. and it’s probably healthier to save treats for special occasions.

while we kept her strictly at home for the first few weeks to get adjusted to us and our routines, i also wanted her to consider the office an extension of our home, since we spend a decent amount of time there every week. so during our second week i started bringing her to “work” to acquaint with with our small team.

the first day was rough—she paced and shook herself constantly and i took her back to the house after a short while. but the second time she settled in right away and observed quietly. since then, it’s become on of her regular “places”—localities she needs to check on every other day or so and she heads to the shop door enthusiastically whenever we go out the front door (back door is for most other walks). lillian, ellen, doug, and hannah are so kind to her; they are all rooting for cardigan to be a success story and each is hoping to be the next one allowed to pet her.

(Cardigan listens to the dog warden speak to our neighborhood association meeting after an intense play session with roderick, a pitfall puppy.)

i soon figured out that our most urgent task was to work on socialization—Cardigan was in robust health when we got her, with no parasites or other issues; she also had excellent eating habits, slept well, and shows no aggression to people or other dogs. in fact, she was very polite and considerate from day one. but being a loner, cringing from all touch, or not coming when called were problematic—we needed to be able to put a leash on, check for ticks, and keep her safe from danger. during our walks she was constantly approached by kids and neighbors wanting to pet—and while not aggressive at all, she needed to gain some tolerance for people.

we also knew that within a month of her adoption, david and i had to leave town for maryland and that she wouldn’t be able to go. she was going to have to be kenneled, so we had to get her as ready as possible.

i really didn’t know where to begin, but i got some guidance from our friend ramona and from barb and i read as much as i could about feral dogs and positive training. every day i did a few sessions of touching with Cardigan, starting with hand feeding, then a bit of rubbing around the head and ears, etc. we made a ritual of bedtime by putting on lavender oil and calming her with our hands and after a couple of weeks, i noticed that she was submitting willingly and even jumping into bed on her own to receive a cuddle. for the next week, i worked my way along her back, noticing at what point she became tense, so i could stop—a little bit more every day, not too much at once. then one day she turned over and showed me her belly—i nearly cried, i was so happy, haha. it still took many weeks to be able to pick her up or handle her whole body, legs, and feet; in fact feet are still mostly off limits for grooming (luckily, her city walking habit keeps her nails at just the right length).

since she was now also ready to have access to the whole house, i think that freedom felt like a big reward for her taking a big risk. she allowed me next to begin brushing and combing, which was a completely foreign experience, judging from her reaction. i was anxious to introduce this as a way for us to spend time close together. the walking was fantastic for becoming friends, but allowed her to keep an impersonal  distance and she still cringed when we reached for her, preferring to be the one to choose touch (which is never). i wanted her to come close for comforting and affection and trust us to handle her safely. i believe that’s important to fully enjoy life . . .

this was exhausting work—but there were many moments that kept us enthused about her progress. one day while standing at the sink, she ran lightly over and touched my hand quickly with her nose, then backed off and sat down expectantly—she was asking for something! i had no idea what, but i made a big deal out of it anyway and over the next few days i got more pokes on the back of my leg and little grunts too. i’m still not sure what these mean exactly, but she produces them only at certain times and it’s definitely some kind of communication.

as Cardigan made progress in our interactions, she also began to open up more on our walks. this is her friend liberty, who lives on our street and adores Cardigan. she’s been diligently working on approaching the dog and is slowly gaining her trust. as you can imagine, children can be the most frightening of humans for a dog and Cardigan is not a fan of every kid on the block. but liberty is special and they are now friends.

after about four weeks, when cardigan had settled into a some routines and made good progress, i could tell that people meeting was still a huge hurdle for her. she was having trouble getting started, even with us in some areas; her walks were serious affairs, more obsessive than fun and playful. so i mixed up some bach flower remedies—as recommended by a few readers and started adding the drops to her food. i started with one to address cowering in fear and disassociation; this seemed to support the other efforts i was making so i added one for socialization and enjoyment of life.

in a couple of weeks i noticed some changes; she was coming out of her shell more, relaxing more around the house and making tentative advances to other dogs during our walks.

soon she was showing actual excitement when another dog was sighted and even crossed the street to meet them. these were big breakthroughs and my heart swelled to watch them unfold, especially when she began approaching people as well. not to be touched yet, but to investigate; we are still working daily on allowing others to pet.

the kennel experience over maryland weekend—including her first ride in the car—went as well as could be expected. while not ideal, it did not seem to cause a setback and on the positive side, she was beyond ecstatic to see us afterward and is now very comfortable taking car rides. we all felt better about it after it was over, though i hope we don’t have to do it often; she loves being home with us!

she progressed nicely through may, opening up more and more to people and beginning to initiate games with other doggies; she was particularly inventive coming up with games she could play on a leash. i began to think about taking her to a dog park so she could socialize freely.

then, just as we were getting ready for the wooster show, she slipped out the door as david was packing the truck. she had been nervous for a day or so as the shop was buzzing with preparations and when she saw the booth fittings coming up from the basement, she must have gotten the idea she was going back to the kennel (even tho it wasn’t so). we chased her frantically in the car, but she is fast and she just ran, looking back at us the whole time to make sure she had us in tow. she has a GPS tracker on her collar which connects with our phones, but the day was rainy and dark and the battery wore down quickly. soon, we lost her and she stayed away for EIGHT DAYS. needless to say i was beside myself, our searching on foot for hours every day; our friend ramona of jj’s ruff roads once again stepped in to help us track her and this was a comforting support; i felt SO dumb, ugh.

we stapled up posters, put listings on all the lost pet websites, and asked countless people to keep an eye out for her. thanks to her fame around the neighborhood and having met so many friends over the weeks, she was recognized by many and we had lots of sightings reported—all quite close to home. but she was on a big joyride for the first five days and continued running, even from us when we saw her.

but it seemed she was circling closer to home each day, maybe winding down? by the seventh day she was seen sniffing around our yard at night; we just couldn’t catch her. ramona and i were ready to set a trap and the next day we laid out food bowls along 15th street as bait to our property. as we were doing this, ramona spotted Cardigan trotting along the the tree line across the avenue, heading right to us!

she ran into an entryway at the back of a small office building there and when we rounded the corner, she ran right into my arms. our friend kodah was on hand to welcome her back to the land of the safe and tame. tired, dirty, and a bit thin with hair falling out in handfuls, Cardigan was stuck to me like glue for the next few days.

while this was indeed a setback—i was pretty shaken to think that the firm bond we’d established could be tossed aside so easily—there have been some obvious changes since in our relationship. first, she was not just glad to be home and out of danger (she was visibly very shaken, actually), but has since shown us each day that she is super happy to be living with us. she actually smiles a LOT now. our verbal and nonverbal communication is even more in tune than before and our bond is stronger, if anything. i have a whole new respect for the intensity of feeling one can develop for a dog—i seriously never thought i’d have a pet nor were we looking for one. but i knew would lose it if she didn’t come home, even as everyone around me assured me she would. i was scared while she was away.

Cardigan now readily comes when i call her—HUGE breakthrough!! she also comes around looking for affection and waggles her head to indicate i should rub her face and neck. when we eat dinner, she joins us in the room and afterward, leads me to her bed to be tucked in for the night (still doing the bedtime brushing and lavender, now with toothbrushing added!). when i’ve been out of the house for only an hour or two, she comes galloping toward me full speed, sliding into a doggie dance at my feet, as if we haven’t seen each other in ages; she makes me laugh out loud, hug her tight, and babble in baby talk.

if only you could see me.

and i don’t know how this is related, but she is ten times more friendly with other dogs and people now. she makes a decided effort to approach people as closely as she dares and increasingly allows petting, though randomly. with dogs she is always ready to play and we rarely meet one that doesn’t like her.

and we meet LOTS of dogs in our neighborhood on our walks. we are walking these days for jj’s ruff roads, using the walk for a dog phone app, helping to raise money for another dog’s rescue and rehab. ramona is always working on a new case; pinto is a recent example of rescuing a nearly lost cause. and anyone can participate; you don’t need to actually be walking a dog. you can borrow cardigan if you like or name a doggie friend. just click the app at the start of your walk or bike ride and it willl count. i recommend jj’s ruff roads of course but you can choose from a long list of shelters when you set it up on your phone.

on the fourth of  july, barb and i took our gang to the dog park to try that out. Cardigan was in her element—right away she ran HUGE circles as fast as she could, but always came back to me for a checkin (heart melting, right?). she likes to horse around with bigger dogs that are fast and strong.

barb is trying to get her two puppies to socialize with others and take part in separate activities—important lessons for siblings.

here Cardigan tries to engage gracie in her favorite game—”come sniff me so i can pounce on you” (remarkable how many times she can get a single dog to do it). when gracie doesn’t respond, Cardigan goes over to entice her into a game of keep away.

when i look at the photo and then look back to the post i wrote after her rescue, i see a different dog, one that is happy and confident and full of joy. this is what i’ve dreamed for our dog, that she might have a life with carefree hours and beautiful places to visit. that beyond having the shelter of a reliable home, she would come to enjoy and look forward to us as companions and friends.

even when we make her take a bath, haha,

or put her to work in the garden,

or make her share her bed (unfortunately, not a mohair goat, but a good pal nevertheless).

i think she thinks she’s got a pretty good life now and will stick with us, mistakes and all.