Friday, February 15, 2019

Fiber Arts Friday: Fiber Celebration, part 17

The third time is the charm.  Right?

After ripping the top out for the second time, the decreases for my Gunnar Mitten top is ready to be bound off again.


I think this part is interesting.... the reason for spinning opposite for the Twined Technique is so the yarn twist gets tighter during the knitting process and makes a more dense fabric.


The section between the two life lines has been ripped out twice and knit thrice.  This yarn is twisted more tightly than the fabric above and below the lines.  It is also more dense and the stitches slant to the right.

I'm now trying to decide if this is a design feature or a fault.  Either way I'm not planning to rip it out again.  I may try to replicate the slant on the second mitten.  If I'm able to, then I suspect I'll be more willing to call it a design feature.  ;-)

Anyway, I just learned that the Fiber Celebration is being suspended for 2019.  :-(  Today was my expected the submission deadline and I'm way behind schedule.  So I guess its a good thing, even if it is a bummer.

I have plenty of time to finish before the County Fair in July/August... and maybe I'll find another show that's appropriate for hand-spun, hand-knit, chiengora, mittens. 

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Performance Evaluation

I'm not good at evaluating myself.  Especially when it comes to the things I have accomplished and done well.

It's one of the reasons I like having this blog.  Here, I am able to point to objective evidence of accomplishment and I am able to parse these accomplishments into small pieces.  But my personal focus has always been to be better today than I was yesterday... the result though, is often a feeling of inferiority.

This spills into my day job too.  As a Program Manager, I am always looking at what is yet to be done.  I have never felt that a Program or Project Manager was the "star of the show."  The star is the technology or project itself.

My job is to enable it to happen.

My job is to ensure the different players on the project have the information, tools, and parts they need when they need them.... Essentially, I'm the conductor of the orchestra.  I'm keeping tempo and queueing certain sections...  But I'm not the one making the music and I am definitely not the virtuoso soloist.

My job is to ensure the process runs smoothly with as few disruptions as possible and to ensure the players get their recognition.

I bring this up because it's performance evaluation time at my Day Job.

I didn't have much brain space to think about it this last week, so my self-review was... brief.

Fortunately my current lead thinks highly of me.  So he sent a note listing things he thought I should have included and stated that I had a couple of days remaining to make adjustments to my self-review.

So I spent some time on Sunday thinking about the list he sent me, which brought to light several other things I should take credit for.... even though there is still much to do.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Fiber Arts Friday: Gorgeous!

I have been following the ShibaGuyz for almost as long as I've been on Twitter.

Several weeks ago one of the Guyz tweeted a photo of one of their designs.


I just love the yoke.  I took a screenshot so I could look up the pattern at a later time.

I'm more of a knitter than a crocheter, but I could not get this sweater out of my head.

So I bought their book, Designer Crochet!


This may be the sweater that goes with my new, perfect yarn.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Reading, part 3

For my third installment of travel-for-work reading, I've turned my focus from Change Management and Motivation to Agriculture and Dogs.

The New Farm was one of the books I found at an independent, well-curated bookstore while my Bullying book was missing.

It was really nice to have a book that left me wanting more after three that I didn't care for.  So much, that I finished reading it at home.... I could't wait for the next time I was in an airport or on a plane.  :-)

The author is a good story teller... of course it helps that the topic is near to my heart.  I enjoyed his humor, humility, and candor.  The ability for honest self-reflection is important in all we do.  It was refreshing to see it happening in print.

Showing Kunga: From Pet Owner to Dog Show Junkie was written by a friend of mine, and I'm embarrassed to say I had not read it before now.  Alxe Noden is a great story teller and is very good at sharing the humor in embarrassing and frustrating situations.

I especially love the story about a spectator coming back on day 2 of a weekend show with the sole purpose of finding her dog, Kunga, and introducing him to his girlfriend.  This man just loved Kunga... and in an instant Alxe reminds us of what's important.  We all go home with the perfect dog.  :-)

Carrots Love Tomatoes

This is mostly a reference for companion gardening.  There is useful information for solving common gardening challenges.

Holy Shit

Can you believe it?  A whole book about poo!

The author is a farmer and journalist.  Each chapter is best considered as a stand-alone piece.  It's witty and frank.  I enjoyed it quite a lot.


Books written by professional writers are always more interesting to read.  Professional/trained/experienced writers know how to tell a story.  They know how to capture the reader's interest and how to keep the reader wanting more.

The New Farm, Showing Kunga, and Holy Shit are all written by professional/trained/experienced writers... definitely a treat for this installment of travel-for-work-reading.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Grooming Tools

It's barely February and several of our dogs are well into blowing their coat.


The blow has been happening earlier and earlier.  It used to be in April/May.  We used to call May "The Merry Month of Molting."  So to be well into blowing now is crazy. 

Anyway, since I was chatting with a LGD friend this morning about grooming, I figure it's a good time to talk about tools.

Tibetan Mastiffs, like other Livestock Guardian breeds have a double-coat.

The harsh outer coat (guard hair) sheds water, therefore keeping the dog dry in rain or snow.  The soft undercoat (down, cashmere, wool) keeps the dog warm.  The outer coat is longer than the under coat.  The length difference is essential to the functionality of the coat and one of the primary reasons for not shaving a double-coated dog.

Once the undercoat has been shed out, the outer coat works to keep the dog cool in the summer.  Think of why people wear robes in the desert.

This double-coat operates the same for other animals like Yak, Bison, Goat, and Musk Ox.  If you've ever had the opportunity to wear cashmere, yak or bison down, or qiviut you know how soft and warm it is.

Cashmere, down, and qiviut are collected by hand to ensure the outer coat is left behind.  The same is true for double-coated dogs (chiengora).

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I collect our Tibetan Mastiffs' undercoat, as well as spin and knit with it.

There are three basic tools I use: de-matting tool, comb, and undercoat rake.


None of these tools are expensive; generally between $5 and $15 US.


I do own several types of rakes.  They have different tine lengths and spacing.  Some have spinning tines or multiple rows of tines.  I use them on different dogs and different parts of the dogs.


The most important thing about the rake is to get one that is long enough.  Ideally the tines should match the length of your dog's coat.  This allows you to pull out the deepest undercoat, which is especially important for preventing matting on dogs with less than a correct coat.


With respect to the de-matting tool, I like the ones with a curved cutting edge and mat-breakers between the tines.  This tool is an efficient remover of ear mats, which we get because we use head collars.


I use the comb for the short fibers on their legs.

We also have a grooming table, arm, and loop.  These are not necessary.  I use them because we have several dogs and show them in conformation events.  Which means I do a lot of grooming.  So the table helps my back go the distance.  ;-)

Then it's just on to brushing.  Which ever side or end they like works for me.  Each dog usually requires at least a few sessions.  So I brush them for as long as they are willing or time allows.


You can see how effective one stroke with a good rake can be.

Nobu's staple is about 2 inches.  So I would love to find a longer version of this rake.


But she looks much better after about 15 minutes of brushing with the above rake.


Even if your dog has a correct coat or don't plan to spin the undercoat, I recommend spending time brushing them.... for as long as they will let you.  It does wonders for building your relationship.... even if they do try their best Jedi Mind Trick... You are done brushing me.... you will let me go back to work so I can bark at whatever is going on out there... :-)


One final thought.  A lot of people talk about the Furminator.  I see they carry a rake now, but the traditional Furminator de-shedding tool is a stripping tool, and not appropriate for a double-coated breed.  This tool will cut the outer coat rendering it useless for shedding water (see my note above about shaving).  However, this was the best tool for our former Shar-pei/Rottweiler.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Fiber Arts Friday: Fiber Celebration, part 16

After frogging my mitten top, I re-started the decreases.


I like this strategy a lot better, but the decreasing is steeper than I anticipated.  So after a fitting on Saturday, the mittens definitely need to be a little longer.


I had a feeling this was the case before I bound off... so I need to un-bind-off before I can rip out the mitten top for a second time.  :-/


I did a 3-needle bind off, alternating the strands and I don't like the finish.  So I will have an opportunity to try something else.  ;-)

At least I had the foresight to not cut the yarn.  :-)

The good news is that the prospectus for the Fiber Celebration has still not been released.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Yes, there is!

A few years ago, my niece gave me a box of inspiration.

The box sits on the corner of my desk.  Every now and then I pull out a random card and open it.

One day while trying to stay focused on day job tasks, all of the farm tasks and goals were rolling in the back of my mind.

I took a deep breath and pulled out a card.


The perfect message.

There is always, always, always a way.  :-)