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Spotted Dog Farm Blog

Double Knitting and The Norwegian Knitting Thimble.

My son plays baseball for the local high school, and because we live in the mountains, and baseball season starts at the same time for everyone in North Carolina, that means baseball season for us is not for The Boys of Summer.  No, it's for The Boys Who Don't Mind Freezing Their Asses Off.  Last year he played in snow, he played in 35 degree wind, he played a lot of games in 40 degree rain.  Seriously, baseball in Western North Carolina rewards tenacity.  For, it must be said, both the players and the spectators.  Because he might have been freezing his ass off on the field, but I (and my husband and mom) were freezing ours off on the sidelines.  So all of those t-shirts for fans to show their school spirit?  Awesome, but not too helpful in this case.  The boosters would make a fortune if they instead sold Asheville High School parkas.   

I'm not quite ready to knit a parka (yet), but a cowl seemed like a good idea. 

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The Olympics Mean Knitting. And Steeks.

I love the Olympics.  Like, LOVE the Olympics.  Granted, it's not quite the same now that I can't stop my whole life and sit glued to the television like I did when I was a kid, but still, there's exponentially more television viewing every two years when the Olympics come to town.  But I'm also not very good at sitting still.  Enter, the perfect solution - a knitting marathon. 

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Crochet Cowl Pattern

I’ve been working on making the perfect cowl pattern for the past few months.  According to my acupuncturist friend, keeping one’s neck warm in the winter is the key to happiness and fulfillment (or something like that), and so I started wearing cowls in the winter a few years ago and got in the habit.  Also I cut off all of my hair (like *all* of my hair), so my neck is cold without a scarf or cowl.

But, so far my cowl attempts have been not quite right.  The first crochet version  wasn’t substantial enough - pretty, but not so functional.  The enormous knit one was cool but kind of weird - the different stitches I chose (fluffy brioche, rib and giant cable) weren’t the same length so it kind of pulled - but it has promise and I’m going to revisit it.  The plain fluffy brioche knit in the round was kind of floppy and curled.  But like Goldilocks I kept on trying, and I’ve now I’ve got the one I was looking for all along.

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Weekly Roundup

Lots of things rolling along as we get closer to spring.  Not water in our pond - nope, that's still empty, but we have hope for the repairs to happen in the next week or two, and then we'll be back in action.  That's the thing about good dirt guys - ("dirt guys" being my nickname for guys who move dirt.  For obvious reasons.) - anyway, the thing about good dirt guys is that they're in high demand and completely at the mercy of the weather.  Which means you can never tell exactly when they're going to get to you.  Like many things with a farm, having earth moving work done is a real test of your equanimity.  Mine's still hanging in there for the time being.

Other things that require equanimity - farm trucks.  The brakes on ours completely went out this week (which sounds like a problem you'd have in 1965 rather than 2017), and so Clifford had to take a ride to the mechanic.  Bummer.

I did make some good progress on my knitted dress this week - kitting and baseball go together like peanut butter and jelly. 

Steve's first birthday party was a hit.  Sam made him a combination of his favorite foods - an apple stuffed with peanut butter and bacon, served with a side of dog biscuits.  Steve knows how to party.

Afterwards Steve had to sleep it off.  And just like lots of little kids, he was full of energy right until he fell asleep for his nap.  In this case, while chewing on his bone.

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The Knitter Returns (that's me)

So I've documented how I used to knit and crochet - a lot - and how I recently dipped my toe back in with a cowl, and of course that should lead you to be sure I'd sign up to test a full size dress pattern that needs to be finished in the next three weeks.  Oh wait - that wasn't your first thought?

To be perfectly honest I'm not entirely sure why it was my first thought either, but when I saw this post from Chantal (@knitatude on IG), I immediately thought "oh that sounds fun, I should totally do it."  And so I sent her an email, and she replied, and now I'm knitting a dress - for the first time in about 10 years.  And the strange thing is that while I maybe should be freaking out, I'm actually totally not.  Sure I still have more things to do than I have time in the day, but I also have been really wanting to get back to the yarn, and this gives me a great concrete reason to do it. ("But I committed that I'd have this dress finished, so it's kind of like work!")  Plus it's baseball season for the boy child, so that's always good knitting time.

I found a yarn I'm quite taken with - not 100% cotton, in that my previous experience with 100% cotton yarn is that it can sometimes get a little saggy in the posterior after being worn a few times, but close, since I like the feel of cotton.  It's Berroco Remix, which is a 100% recycled yarn - with cotton, acrylic, nylon, silk and linen - so that's fun.  Plus it feels like it has enough rebound to not give my dress a droopy ass, which would be preferred.

So, like a good pattern tester, I was very diligent with my gauge swatch (not always my strong suit), and now I am ACTUALLY KNITTING.  Pretty exciting.  Or pretty relaxing, whichever way you want to look at it.  I'll keep you posted on the progress.


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A Side of Merino with My Resin

Lots of jewelry going on in my studio these days - we're prepping for the new spring collection, lots of new flowers and designs.  And in the middle of all of the new flowers an idea kept floating around in the back of my head.

You might recall that at times in my life I have knit - a lot.  So I'm a fiber geek, and particularly enjoy playing with natural fibers, and I found myself in a local shop that sells all manner of supplies.  Which is how I ended up with a bag of beautiful merino wool.  Merino is like the platinum version of wool - soft and smooth, and it's the ingredient in those fancy Smartwool and Patagonia base layers.  Or, in this case, my latest bracelet.

As with most experiments, some of these were awesome and some were awful, but overall I'm highly entertained by putting merino in the resin.


The people that've seen these wanted to know if I'd make them one - and while that wasn't my original plan I'm more than happy to keep playing with the merino.  So, for a limited time, here's a listing for special order merino bangles.  


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Back to the Yarn

You know it's cold out when I start pining for yarn.  Have I told you that I used to knit and crochet a lot?  Like, a LOT.   I made some pieces for sale, but hand knitting things to sell is like living in your own personal sweat shop.  It's impossible to sell hand knits for enough money to actually support yourself.  Except for some very clever people who knit small things with giant yarn, but that wasn't what I loved about playing with yarn.  

I was more like very intricate things with very tiny yarn.  

Or very colorful things with lots of different yarn.

I like the puzzle of it.  But sometimes you don't really have a lot of space in your life to spend hours figuring out puzzles, so I haven't been in the yarn nearly as much as I'd like in recent years.  (In fact that picture of the girl in the hat?  Yeah she's my niece, she's 19 now, and she's one of my studio assistants.  So it's been a while.)  

But the bug bit again around Thanksgiving, and I went digging through the yarn stash and came up with a project that seems doable.  A crochet cowl.  Cowl, because my pilates teacher/acupuncturist is insistent that keeping one's neck warm in the winter is next to godliness... or something like that... and also I like them.  And also I found a pattern that was pretty but kind of mindless.  Perfect for the amount of bandwidth I have right now.

And so, I'm back to a yarn project.  And I love it.  There's something meditative and satisfying, and also something that feels like a tie to the generations of people who have done this craft before me.  A grounding, and an understanding of other people.  It works for me.

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