Monday, April 28, 2014

100% Wool Feel Acrylic


My sister found this at a shop in Seattle.

I hope this isn't the beginning of the fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free fad for natural fibers.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Fiber Arts Friday: 40th Annual Fiber Celebration

One of the things I like about this blog is that it reminds me that my life isn't entirely consumed with work... as it often feels.

When I think back over the last 30-odd years I believe I have spent more time and energy working on things for other people... things I had to do and very little time and energy working on the things I want to do... the things that rest my brain and give me energy.

This feeling has been strong for the last few weeks and especially last Saturday.  I was exhausted.  Just trying to get done what I needed to and feeling like a zombie.

But I decided to take 45 minutes and visit a Textile Exhibit at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins.

They asked that no photographs be taken in the gallery.  It was difficult to comply, knowing that my phone was in my pocket.  ;-)

There were so many beautiful and interesting pieces... a Go Bag inspired by the High Park Fire, a 3-dimensional piece that was made only of zippers, a pair of antique glove-stretchers that had been used in a Dream-Catcher-like crochet piece, and my favorite which turned out to be the Best in Show.

Brochure with the Best in Show piece on the cover

From a distance this pieced looked like a white-on-white weaving with black paint.  But up close you could see that the black was part of the weaving.

I would love to have this piece in my home.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday (two days late)!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Features and Benefits

This photo came across my Facebook Feed today.

Two phrases that I use a lot when managing Product or Process Development Groups came to mind.... "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should" and "Not all Features are Benefits."

I have no idea of the original source,
but it came to me via Knit and Crochet Now

I think we can all agree that this garment features a Breathable Fabric, but most of us may disagree that it is a benefit.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Strange Weekend

Today is April 20th.

It is Easter.  The holiest day of the year if you happen to be a Christian.

It's also 4/20.  Important to people who like pot.  While it's now legal to possess it in Colorado, it is still illegal to consume it in public.

Today is the 15th anniversary of the Columbine Shootings.  Less than 3 miles from my mom's house.

Yesterday was the 19th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombings and the 21st anniversary of the culmination of Waco in 1993.

Tomorrow is the Boston Marathon.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fiber Arts Friday: Terry-All Dog Show

With the show last weekend and the dogs shedding, my Fiber Arts pursuits have been heavily Tibetan Mastiff Undercoat Collection specific lately. lol.

Gunnar visits a professional groomer a few days before each show.  I was hoping that he would hold off on blowing his coat until after the show, which he did, but he IS shedding.  His groomer was kind enough to collect what she could while grooming him.

10 5/8 ounces collected by our Groomer

At the show, I gave him a good raking and brushing before each "show groom" and collected what I could.

3/4 ounce collected by me at the Dog Show

Between the two of us, we collected 11 3/8 ounces (322.5 grams) of undercoat last week.

The Tibetan Mastiff undercoat is very soft and has a nice amount of crimp.  Depending on the dog and where the fur is collected from it can have a reasonably long staple length.

Gunnar's undercoat is averaging about 2 inches.

I have not had time to turn any of my TM fiber into roving yet and have not spun from a cloud on the drop spindle before, so I gave it a try last night...

It's a very fuzzy yarn, but deliciously soft.  :-)

Maybe I'll bring a drop spindle the next time I'm at a show with a shedding dog.  ;-)

Also, just so you know that I'm not only about the dogs... I got a little knitting time with my Palindrome Scarf over the weekend as well.  :-)

Happy Fiber Arts Friday... and Happy Spring!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dog Show: Terry-All, 2014

Gunnar and I had our 5th Show Weekend last weekend.

All of the equipment in one load

The Terry-All Shows are local and they were participating in the AKC National Owner-Handled Series, so I decided to sign up.  I had learned from Gunnar's First Best of Breed win in Denver that we definitely need practice in the Group Ring.

Set up in our Grooming Stall the evening before

Tibetan Mastiff is last in the alphabet for Working Dogs, so there can be a lot of waiting around in the ring.  Denver is a big show with nearly all of the breeds present, so it had been almost an hour by the time it was our turn to be judged and Gunnar was bored.

View from our grooming stall at the height of the activity

I knew Terry-All would be a small show for Tibetan Mastiffs, so I thought there would be a good chance for us to go to the Owner-Handled group competition and get some less-formal Group experience.

Waiting for a ring time

Only one other TM was entered this weekend... a class (non-champion) female who ended up not showing.

Performing well in the Breed Ring

With no points available toward Gunnar's Championship, not knowing if the AKC Judge is obligated to award the Best of Breed, having seen alpaca judges award 2nd place in a class of one, and Gunnar on the verge of blowing his coat, I felt it was important that he performed well.  Which he did.

Finished Grooming.   You can see a big area
of fluffy puppy fur still hanging on tight over his hip.

He won Winner's Dog (WD), Best of Winners (BOW), Owner-Handler Best of Breed (OH) and Best of Breed (BOB) both days.  The OH wins sent us to the informal working group and the BOB wins sent us to the formal Working Group.  So we were able to have four group experiences this weekend.  :-)

A good shot of his mane, post grooming

Along with the Group Ring experience, this weekend was about waiting patiently, hanging out in his crate when I was there and not there, and timing potty breaks to maximize his grooming and ring performance.... probably even more of a learning experience for me than for him.  ;-)

Resting between ring times

Saturday our Breed Ring Time was 8:30am.  Since the venue was an hour's drive I went down the night before to set up our grooming space.  It's a good thing I did.  It took me a little bit to find the building and with the venue being a Fair Grounds, there were lots of interesting smells for the Giant Fluffy Puppy in the morning.

Watching the Non-Sporting Group

On Saturday, I was up at 4:30am so we could leave at 6am in order to be at the venue with enough time to sniff and pee on everything and groom him.  The nice part is that the ring was just one aisle over from our grooming space so I could see what was going on and better time our arrival.

View from our Grooming Stall after most have gone home

The Working Group Competition didn't start until nearly 4pm which means we both had an incredibly long day.

Since the weather was terrible, we were allowed
to bring the truck inside for loading

It rained Saturday night and snowed all day Sunday, so while our Breed Ring Time was a much more reasonable 12:30pm, I had the challenge of keeping a light-colored-dog mud-free and dry on dirt floors.  I saw a lot of people carrying their dogs, even the bigger ones.  Of course, I'm not strong enough to pick up, let alone, carry The Giant Fluffy Puppy anymore.  ;-)  So on the short walk to the Group Ring building his feet, feathers and underside were soaked and muddy.  It was a good thing I brought all of our rags.... I used every last one of them this weekend.

My improvised way to keep the equipment dry for the ride home

We practiced hanging out in the crate. He napped and enjoyed the fan. It was nice that the grooming area was rather quiet even tho there was a lot of grooming and 2 rings in the room.

Working on getting muddy

And as always, he's happy to be back on his farm and playing in the mud.  I'm incredibly proud of our progress and looking forward to our next show at the end of May.

Coming over for a big smooch

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fiber Arts Friday: Collecting Tibetan Mastiff Fur

I know this is a bit of a stretch for Fiber Arts Friday...  But, I finally got my own Grooming Table last week.  :-)

I've been borrowing a friend's table for when Gunnar and I go to shows... either she would let me take her table or would let me use it at the shows where we were both exhibiting.

My friend has been very gracious and supportive of our start into the Dog Show World, so I don't want to take advantage of her.

Most of the grooming tables I've found are 30 inches or taller... but with the Giant Fluffy Puppy, who's pushing 30 inches tall himself, the shorter the table the better.

Gunnar 29.5 inches, 127 pounds and 14 months

After much searching, I found these Champagne Tables.  Made in the USA by a small, family-owned business... my favorite sort of supplier.  :-)

This table is only 24 inches tall which means that I can comfortably reach the top-side of Gunnar when he's standing on the table and the arm slides up and down so I can accommodate different grooming positions and dog sizes.  :-)

However the arm is not long enough to accommodate the Grooming Loop I bought and the Giant Fluffy Puppy in the standing position.

The Grooming Loop (or Noose as I tend to call it) was acquired from another vendor online and is way too big.  We use a 24-inch show collar, that just fits over his big head, so I figured the 24-inch Loop would be the same, but apparently Loops and Collars are measured differently.  :-/

24' Grooming Loop (top), 24" Show Collar (bottom)

So I tied two knots in it for now and will continue looking for another one as I'm not crazy about the slide-lock either.

So on to the Fiber Arts part of this post... I've been collecting Tibetan Mastiff Fur for a while.  I spun some a while back for one of the breeders we work with.  One of our other breeders gave us a bunch of his fur last year and I've been collecting our own fur for the last three years.

This year we seem to be having a more normal blow and I think using the table will help me collect more of the fiber.  The table will hold the head and bag for me, freeing both of my hands for brushing, collecting and encouraging the dog to keep their rear up while I'm working on their haunches.  lol.

So far, Noodle is just about finished blowing her coat.  Wasabi is in progress.  Gunnar and Wonton are just getting started.

Wasabi at 24 inches, 100 pounds and 2 years old

I've already collected nearly 2 bags from Noodle and have started bags for Gunnar, Wasabi and Wonton.

And for those of you who are new to Kathryn's Brain and grossing-out about the idea of using Dog Fur to make yarn... I ask you to go find a raw sheep's fleece and then tell me what you think about using wool for yarn.  I think you'll agree, soap is a magical thing. ;-)

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.  :-)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Boston Marathon is Coming Up

The Boston Marathon is always on Patriot's Day.  This year that falls on Easter Monday.

Hubba was there last year and is going this year.

There was a little coverage yesterday on him and a few other local runners going back this year:

Reporter-Herald Photos

Reporter-Herald Story

FOX31 Denver

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fiber Arts Friday: Alpaca Cape, part 3

My Alpaca Cape is starting to get a bit unruly.  Measuring in at 36 inches by 36 inches and just over half-way there.  It's going to be luxurious when it's finished.  :-)

I'm using US6 needles which I did not realize until reading this Spinster Beth's post that US6 actually comes in two different sizes.... 4.0 mm and 4.25 mm.

So of course, I had the smaller size for all of my circs and the larger size for all of my dpns.  *shakes head*  But I've been to the LYS and have all of the smaller sizes for this project.

The cabling is in progress....

... and going well, but I had one cross in the wrong place.  So this spent about two weeks in time-out while I decided if I was ok with it as a design feature.

I decided I wasn't.  Then I spent some time thinking about ways to fix the cable.

I figured I could drop the stitches, but wasn't sure how to re-make the cross.  So I resigned myself to the worst case scenario of having to rip it back... I didn't want to, but I was ok if I had to.

So I took the project to Knit Night a couple of weeks ago and asked my Comadres for some advice.

We talked about different strategies and the pros and cons of each and decided the best course was to drop the 8 stitches and re-knit using smaller dpns.  One of my lovely friends even found this tutorial by the Yarn Harlot.  I do love my Comadres.  :-)

So here we go.... I have a table, headlamp, reading glasses, crochet hook, smaller-diameter-dpns, a clear head and coffee for courage.  ;-)

I knit up to the cable panel and removed the stitches from the left needle:

Then I dropped the 8-stitch panel 6 rows to the last cable-cross:

I put the loose stitches on my smaller diameter double-pointed needle and clipped the strands of yarn out of the way with a stitch marker:

Separating out each strand as I was ready to work with it, I re-knitted up to the correct location for the cable-cross:

 Completed the cable cross:

 Knit the remaining rows and returned to my needles:

I've fiddled with this some to try and stretch out the new stitches.  So now I just have to decide if the loose stitches on the left side of the cable panel will work out enough during blocking.

This process was much easier than I expected.

I've knit a couple of rows since fixing the cable, and the loose stitches seem less obvious, but I'm not certain if I'm happy yet.

I'm on ball #5 of 10.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pick of the Litter?

The neighbor girl asked me if Mochi was the Pick of the Litter.

When I asked her why she said, "Because her brown eyes are soooo beautiful."  :-)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Garden Preparations: 2014

I (theoretically) could have planted the early-season seeds (beans, peas, lettuces) about 2 weeks ago, but I hadn't had a free weekend day that had nice-enough weather and dry-enough soil, until last weekend to get things ready.

I had been collecting our alpaca manure on the back (first) garden over the last year.

My neighbor helped move it with his Bobcat... I would love to have one of these some day.

I didn't get a "before" before photo...  but nearly the entire back garden was covered with the collected manure.

The front (second) garden which was a parking lot less than two years ago is starting to have some nice soft soil.  One more layer of manure and spent hay will make a big difference.

By the end of Saturday, all of the manure had been moved and most of it spread out.

Hopefully I'll be able to start roto-tilling after work this week so I can plant this coming weekend.

During the moving and spreading, I found a this little guy (or girl? I don't know how to identify a snake's gender). 

It was a bit cold for a Garter Snake, and they are very beneficial, so I put him/her out of the way in the sun.  A few minutes later I remembered that I would like to have a few in our hay barn to keep the mice under control, but s/he had moved on when I went back.

Sunday was spent working on other farm chores... I scrubbed and re-filled all of the water tanks and started clearing out the spent hay.

I had put a lot down during the Big Thompson Flood last fall and we generally leave the spilled hay over the winter so there was more than usual to clean up.  But Big Thompson the Alpaca enjoyed the process.

I've got some more to clean up, but things are looking a little better around the Alpacamundo Farm.

The spent hay will be used to mulch the gardens once they're planted.

I love it when I can spend most of the day outside and see the result of my work.  Happy Spring!