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 . . .

we’re growing

Posted on 8 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, food and garden

those of you who’ve been following this blog for years and years are quite familiar with my ongoing investigations of our yard, as well as our evolution as gardeners.

i’m always touched by how many readers ask about our garden; while i try not to be repetitive in sharing it, gardening is a discipline where regularity—at least of the right things—is required for success. believe me, we’ve tried a more spontaneous method and ended up with, well, spontaneous results, to put it as nicely as possible . . .

this year has been funny in some ways, especially during the spring. our flowers have been mostly spectacular, from the tulips through these gorgeous hydrangeas, though our daffodils were almost nonexistent.

despite the erratic events in the rest of our life throughout the spring, david managed to get the earth turned and the planting mounds ready on time and all the plants went into the ground mostly on time.

seeds went in later than usual, but thankfully, everything germinated very well and continued to thrive week by week.

this was taken the day that i thinned all these greens, transplanting some of the thinnings to another area.

and just the other day, after trimming off bunches of leaves for lillian to take home.

greens are my very favorite fresh garden food, so we planted a big variety of asian greens, chard, and beet greens, among other things. even the parsnips (second row back) germinated very well; we’ve had trouble growing them in previous years, but lucked out for once. i’m looking forward to harvesting parsnips in the late fall; they are hard to find in the stores where we live.

meanwhile, we’ve been eating very well from current offerings, first from the thinned seedlings (super nutritious!) and now from the hardier mature greens. above left are the chard thinnings i took out of the ground about ten days ago and the asian greens on the right. we made a huge salad with these and ate every last bite.

these are rutabaga seedlings that i thinned out and discovered are absolutely delicious both raw and cooked. i mean, REALLY delicious. i had thought they might be a bit “cabbagey” and not digestible, but they are quite the opposite—a little peppery and sweet and more delicate in texture than they appear. we can clip a few leaves at a time from each plant if we want to continue eating them.

when i thinned the scallions, i just couldn’t bear to toss out the sprouts, so i washed them up and added them at the very end of a stir fry and boy oh boy, were they just the right touch! it’s wonderful to savor these once-in-a-season delights when we can.

once the garden takes off it seems like just a moment before the plants are huge and bearing more substantial fruit.

suddenly i need to get out there every single morning to check the squash plants; i pick most of them when they are quite small and most tender because A) i prefer eating them at that stage and B) i use up more of them that way. i only need the larger ones here and there and they are difficult to give away.

it’s the same situation with all the plants—from flower to fruit in just a few days, it seems. this year we are lucky that many of the veggies that go together well are ripening at the same time.

some years, the squash is ready way before the eggplant, but this year they came in at the same time, along with peppers and a few tomatoes.

it’s really due to the circumstances around our planting—we bought our plants and got them in the ground before memorial day, but then the dog ran off and we got our seeds in kind of late. that gave the plants more time to mature. now that i know this timing works well for good eating, maybe we’ll stick to it in the future!

i picked this tomato yesterday and today, david picked a few more that are really ripe—when i look back to previous years on the blog, it looks like we are right on schedule for the first tomatoes. yay. i just wish some of our cherry types were ready.

the plants are scary big but have few flowers or fruits yet. i think they suffered bit when we had some extreme temperature changes in june. maybe the delay bodes well for keeping them healthy a bit longer into the summer.

speaking of timing, our garlic matured REALLY early this year. i wasn’t expecting it to, since we didn’t have scapes until mid june (ours often come in mid to late may). and then it seemed as if i’d just cut the last of the scapes when david said the first bulbs were ready to be pulled. but none of that matters when the results are so grand—we ended up with about ninety heads, most of which measure between three and four inches in diameter.

this is just about double what we harvested for the last two years and i’m thrilled; we always run out before winter ends. we planted a bunch of different types, but they get so jumbled that it’s the luck of the draw which ones we use at any given time. we’ll save out the biggest heads to use for seed garlic in october, as we’ve done for the past few years. i’m glad we’ve got lots this year because i like to gift some when i can.

i can’t resist a still life when i have the chance. a beautiful garden haul deserves a nice photo though, i always think. green squash is decidedly absent so far—those seeds went in last and they’re not ready yet, but they seem to be growing well and i hope we’ll have some nice dark zucchini too. it’s just as well; we have an abundance of yellow ones already.

with the garlic ready and all the other beautiful goodies available at the same time, i was hungry to make a celebration dinner this past weekend. i roasted some farm tomatoes with the garlic and sautéed them with

and we feasted on puttanesca, fresh from the garden. O.M.G., was it good. just thinking about it makes me drool all over again and dream of the leftovers we’ll eat tonight.

now don’t you for a minute think that i forgot to plant, or decided to pass on, green beans this year—i didn’t.  and anyway, barb wouldn’t let me get away with that. they went in slightly late but are catching up quickly; each day they cover the fence further, sending beautiful tendrils up into the air.

the type that i grow—mathilde or matilda—are climbers, but produce a long slender green bean with great flavor and even better, a heady scent—both the flowers and the fruit. when i open a bag of beans from the fridge, it is filled with the most wonderful (but elusive) fragrance.

last week, their deep purple flowers began to appear—green beans in the making! this visual perk is another reason i love this variety—a pretty back border for our garden and a bit of interest for passersby along our back street.

no actual beans just yet, but by the time i get back from my weekend trip to nashville, we might have some beans to pick. this variety is a fabulous producer; if kept well-picked, they will produce heavily and as long into the season as you can stand it—only a killing frost will stop them. from my single row of about twelve feet, we will pick up to twenty pounds per week at the height of production.

and finally i will show you our potato patches, which have spread to an almost unwieldy size, hopefully signaling a good potato harvest. last year we also had super healthy plants, but hardly any potatoes and some of them were not good, lacking the texture and flavor i enjoy. but we had experimented with a different planting strategy and this year we went back to good old dirt. they’ve started flowering as well; we’ll know what we’ve got in a few weeks when we burrow in to gather a few first baby potatoes.

back in april, i started working on sweet potato starts using one of the last roots form last year’s harvest—i saved the biggest one for this purpose. i’d meant to start in march, but got waylaid when cardigan joined our household. despite being late, we certainly gleaned many healthy starts from this one potato.

i’m not sure how many in all—it’s very hard to stop, once they begin springing from their mother root. i think we have at least a couple dozen plants, if not more. in fact, the last few starts are still in a jar on the counter and i need to get them in the ground. the frost usually comes pretty late in our season so we might still have time for them to mature . . .

speaking of wonder dog, i don’t mind having extras this year because we now have a third mouth to feed who happens to love sweet potatoes (which are very good for dogs)!

cardigan is already enjoying a variety of garden goodies, in fact. while initially she was very suspicious of vegetable chunks in her food, she just DEVOURS her veggies now. i cook a few small batches every week and spoon a different combination from the containers into her kibble for each meal; when i run low and they don’t appear in the quantity expected, she definitely notices and does not eat with her usual zest. i’ve created a veggie monster. funny, she does not take to fruits with the same zeal—sometimes i can get a few mashed blueberries past her lips, but that’s about it. blueberries are a start tho . . .

we don’t have our own blueberry bushes, but i’m hoping some day we can put some in. for now, we buy them from a local farm and july is the month! i’ve purchased a couple of large boxes, but because i still have some from last year in the freezer, i’m mostly baking with them

this pie looks a bit homely, but man, was it good eating. i wish you could have tasted it!


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.


Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, lace/shawls

even though i haven’t blogged in forever, i have continued to compile photos and think of subjects to post about, so a LOT has piled up over the last couple of months! to be honest, i don’t really know where the time has gone—it’s just been flying by, what with introducing a new family member to our home life and a new co-worker to our knitspot team. so i’m going to leapfrog over most of what’s passed and focus on what’s happening now and going forward.

except . . . so many people have asked how cardigan is doing that i’m planning a whole post devoted to her for later this week. get your rescue doggie sweatshirts on; it’s going to be fun!

plus, i need to catch you up on our garden, because some of you have told me you missed that too—yet another separate post later this week (after cardigan, haha).

so let’s start with knitting and what’s been on and off my needles for the last couple of months; there has been a LOT of secret knitting that i can share now.

i never got to show off my club designs for the april shipment, but i really like them—between the yarn choice, the fun knitting, getting to write about shetland fiber, and the pretty results, it was one of those completely satisfying deliveries. in fact, i loved working on them so much that i knit all three samples myself (often, i ask for help with the club knitting but not this time).

working on the chapter was sort of like taking my dream research trip to the islands of northern scotland and now, after longingly following the real life shetland travels of friends and fellow designers these last few weeks (some day i will get to go myself!), i figure this is a good time to share photos to let you know that i’ve been working away, even if you couldn’t see it!  (just to clarify though, these patterns won’t in general circulation for a few months yet; you need to be in our BNK club to have access now.)

for this installment, we worked with 100% american shetland fingering yarn from elemental affects in california. we chose four undyed shades from an array of about eight to ten that are available from this producer.

jack tar has a more solid body pattern with a snappy, modern chevron hem. the scale of the chevrons and the arrangement of colors give it a more impact here, but that could be toned down by using a more subtle gradient palette.

eshaness (scarf/stole, above) and muirburn (triangle shawl, below) are knit with matching  openwork stitch patterns throughout, but i used a different arrangement of my colors in each. the rounder, undulating motifs really lend themselves to softly shifting colors, but again, that can be changed up for a different look.

the body pattern from jack tar can also be knit with the hem pattern from muirburn—the nice thing about subscribing to the club is that the eBook includes all the instructions, which makes adaptations more accessible. in each installment i try to point out ways to adapt patterns and encourage clubbies to try their hand at it; it makes for some fun shares in our ravelry clubhouse discussion threads.

i’ve also been working on finalizing the pattern for my birches cardigan, shown in some of the shawl photos above, knit up in stone soup DK color marblei know some enthusiasts out there would like to knit that jacket for rhinebeck.

i’m still working on my second sample in cabécou brillant sport, chugging away on it whenever i get a chance; i just love it in this light, frothy yarn!

and we just got a mill shipment last week with more of the popular amandine shade. PLUS, we are finally restocked in the poivre shade (not pictured, darn it), which we didn’t have for ages! the silvery medium gray is sure to be a hit, knowing how much you share my love for grays.

this is a pretty easy knit so there isn’t really a good reason why i’m not working faster, except that there is so much other knitting to do and i don’t have a firm deadline to keep me on course.

a series of unfortunate events put me a bit behind on my ensemble summer lace KAL projects; good thing my switchgrass skirt design knit up quickly in a very short time and according to plan in my favorite hemshaugh fingering yarn. it starts out with a very easy variation on a knit/purl rib.

and with plenty of time to get established in a rhythm, we throw in a few yarnovers to break up the solid fabric, then a few more, and so on, in a swirl of textured eyelets reminiscent of tall summer grasses.

the hem opens up in a mesh pattern with some increases that cause it to riffle just a bit as it moves—not enough to become an actual ruffle, but enough to suggest it. i really like the effect, personally.

as with many just-knit hemp fabrics, this one looks a bit sorry when it’s off the needles, but a good soak in a hot bath helps the stitches lengthen and smooth into shapes that conform beautifully, making the whole thing drape like a dream.

mine is knit in the kasha shade and barb knit hers in the buckwheat shade; i will add a photo later this evening—she’s wearing it to knit night and david will take some photos.

we sure do love a drawstring skirt like this for summer—easy to pull on and wear, whether to the beach or out to dinner. mine is paired on our model raina with the sleeveless violet top in hempshaugh lace, color millet.

in june, we explored suri alpaca using the suri decadence blend from still river mills. this luscious lace yarn could not have been more different in the hand and the contrast has been a great learning experience for all of us. i designed the crescent shawl above and the cowl below to take advantage of its soft, liquid drape and incredible halo.

these coffee-and-cream shades have golden highlights served up by a measure of muga silk that is enfolded into the suri.

now i bet you’re wondering when i’m going to mention those swatches at the top of the post, huh? well, i think the time has come . . . aren’t they intriguing? let me just say, i am SO in love with them.

i carry a few of them around in my project bag because they are so much fun to fondle, haha. they really are as tactile as they look . . . it’s stitch patterns like this that made me want to learn to knit as a toddler—i just love digging my fingers right in to explore every bit of their squidly shapes. that sounds somewhat naughty, yes, but there you go; i’m baring all, haha.

anyway . . .

what i’ve been knitting with this motif is what i hope will be an irresistible drop-shoulder summer tunic, loose and light with a riffle of shifty rib along the hem and a wide band of tighter rib securing the neck and sleeve. can you envision it?

if not, i’ll show you how it’s progressing. i finally got it on the needles a couple of weeks ago and once it was underway it has been knitting up seriously fast.

those cables have a lot of stitches so i was rather dreading the actual knitting, but was pleasantly surprised at how mesmerizing and rhythmic the pattern actually is.

while it looks complex, the stitches are pretty simple and those cables only cross every twenty-four rows; i made some good progress on a daily basis. if you enjoy knitting lace, you’ll probably like this one.

but best of all, there is almost no shaping involved; it’s two big rectangles of straight pattern with a wee bit of neck shaping near the top. normally, i don’t go for this type of sweater at all because it can overwhelm my frame, but in such a light fabric with lovely drape, i’m an enthusiast.

somewhere in there i took some time to knit yet another swatch in our deco lace yarn (right, above) just to see if it would work as i’d hoped. and yeesss, it does. in fact, i like it so much that i think i might knit a shortie version of this tunic in it—just long enough to graze the top of the hip in front and maybe a little longer in back? i think that would be so pretty with a maxi skirt or shorts (i still have plans to knit shorts with hempshaugh fingering at some point).

and all that air-conditiong built right in? it’s a no brainer for me and will be a key drama piece in my ever-expanding hempshaugh summer wardrobe (i told you, i am aiming for 100% at some point!).

now, i know this texture might look bulky in my progress shots, but trust me, it all smooths out beautifully after a wash. here, just take a look at this

i finished up the front yesterday and had to wash it to see what i’ve got (i get nervous about outcomes, too!). it’s perfect—smooth, consistent stitches and no bumps, but offering tons of depth, nevertheless. LOVE.

the neck is w-i-d-e, with a ribbed trim almost equal to the bottom hem. the shoulders drop and will have a deep ribbed hem as well, to create a “sleeve” that falls toward the elbow (not sure how long that will be, yet. i’m so in love; i can’t wait to get the back knit now.

cast on earlier today, so i’d be ready to roll for knit night tonight. two hours of knitting with friends—here i come!