Friday, June 15, 2007

We Love Lucy

This past Wednesday, I spent a day knitting with the Mountain View Knitters' Guild and . It was very kind of the guild to open up its last remaining class space to a non-guild member. It was worth burning a vacation day just to be there.

Not that the day didn't get off to a rather difficult start. (Non-dog owners might want to skip the middle of this post and move right to the non-gross-out section below.) Charlie and Seamus had been suffering from a mysterious stomach bug that caused them to take turns splattering the sunroom carpeting with horrendous, stinky, runny poo, which either Greg or I mopped up amid much grumbling (particularly in the wee hours of the morning). (Have you hugged your Hoover SteamVac today?) Anyway, an unnamed male pack member had deposited a particularly large and disgusting pile that morning. We cleaned it up and left, still grumbling.

Greg had planned to take Charlie hiking in the White Mountains while I attended the class. This was a mighty good plan, except for one teensy little hitch: Charlie's little problem. About two-thirds of the way to the church in Fryeburg where the class was to be held, Charlie had an accident in the car. Poor guy couldn't help it, but there was nothing we could do about it. We were out in the middle of absolute nowhere on a road with no shoulders, with nothing we could use to clean inside the car, and I was already running late.

We managed to make it to the church about 5 minutes late. Greg had spotted a mom-and-pop grocery store in town, and said he'd return there for cleaning products before he took Charlie to the forest. Charlie was much embarrassed. I lifted my bags out of the car, wished them a good hike, and entered the building.

Non-Gross-Out Section Thanks for coming back...

Since my blog generally doesn't get read by high-powered celebrities from the knitblogging universe, it's pretty safe to assume that you folks haven't met Lucy -- but if you have, you won't soon forget her. A true lover of color, she sports pink and purple hair and a different color of nail polish on every toenail. Her outfit on that day consisted of an orange T-shirt, green trousers, and two different-colored sandals (bet she has another pair just like these at home). When you see the amazing colorwork in her class samples, you understand why her mission is to wear, and display, and enjoy as many colors as possible.

Being not only late, but also probably the newest knitter in the bunch, I spent the first hour or so trying to catch up, and messing up some simple ribbing in the process. After I'd been there for a while and started to relax, though, I managed to keep pace with the instruction, and to turn out some pretty creditable samples.

Our day was made up of two classes. The morning class was "Brush Up Your Buttonholes" -- a necessary class for me because I'd never even attempted a buttonhole before, and here I was learning a whole library's worth of them. The afternoon class was "Fringes, Folderols, and Furbelows," and I learned a whole bunch of each. Actually, thanks to Lucy, I experienced multiple "Aha!" moments when she explained how things were done (such as bobbles, the cable cast-on, and knitting with beads) that I never could quite wrap my brain around before the class.

We had gorgeous knitted samples to ooh and aah over -- and learn from. We had home-baked scones and cookies, coffee aplenty, and a day to do nothing except knit. Who could ask for more?

No knitting event would be complete without some opportunities to shop, and there were some. I picked up a skein of hand-dyed merino and Lucy' two sock DVDs. Someday my library will include all of them, but I needed to at least start with the ones I couldn't live without.

One of the nice guild members mentioned that I'd be welcome to join, and I'd have jumped at the chance if they didn't meet on Monday nights -- those are agility class nights. If those nice folks ever have another classroom spot open, though, I'd be honored to fill it.

Greg and Charlie eventually returned from the mountains, both grinning. Charlie had dealt with his little intestinal problem and was now blessedly empty, as well as happily tired. Greg took loads of photos of the dramatic clouds over the White Mountains and had a fine time for himself. All in all, I'd say the day turned out much better than it began.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Take a Real Vacation: Stay Home!

Ahh, what luxury. Sleeping till late, sitting around in my old slippers, drinking coffee, updating this old blog, and listening to the relative quiet. Sounds like a vacation? It is -- and I didn't have to pay anything extra for it! I simply didn't sign up to go anywhere or do anything this weekend. What a novel idea!

I haven't been home both days of a weekend since April, or maybe earlier. Now that the dog show and trial season has returned, it seems that I'm always headed out the door to some dog event or other on Friday night or Saturday morning. It's been just plain nice just to kick back and not dash out the door to anyplace.

Dinah Moe Burfitt, HIC, CGC

Dinah and I did pop over to the obedience and rally match yesterday for a little while, though. We got to visit with for the first time in ages, and Dinah earned her title. This means she is now Breaksea November Storm, HIC, CGC. What a good girl!

That's not all that the little princess has been up to, though. We've started an introductory agility class at on Wednesday nights with Cindy Ratner. This class is a wonderfully laid-back way to introduce a young dog to the equipment, strange surfaces, and even the body language of agility and agility handling. This past week we introduced tunnels, chutes, and jumps. Dinah got jumps right away -- jumping a crummy 12" jump is nothing when you can spring six feet straight up in the air from a standstill -- and she managed the chute pretty well. She'll still need some more practice on chutes and tunnels before she'll dash through them, though. There are also other obstacles scattered around the training floor for us to try, including a PVC "ladder" on the floor and several wide planks. Dinah gets those pretty well, too.

Seamus: The Dog. The Myth. The Legend.

Seamus and I are continuing our agility classes with Jim Gregg on Mondays at . Seamus is a terrific little agility dog, aside from his habit of taking off on me to go play kissy-face with his ever-patient Golden friend, Guinness.

I just found out at the POC match that have grown in fame beyond my wildest expectations. Since our rather theatrical showing at that trial, Seamus's antics have been transformed into part of the mythology of the POC. Sue reprinted my blog posting in the club's newsletter. Aside from the eyewitness accounts of my fellow club members, I thought that was the last of it, and that the tale had ended.

But nooooo. It turns out that the Saga of Famous Seamus has increased in fame beyond my retelling, or even that of my fellow POC members. I was chatting with Dale and Cheryn and a couple of other people while waiting for Dinah's turn at the CGC test, and Diane (a Border Collie person who happened to be at the trial) asked whether I'd brought Seamus. The woman standing next to me asked, "Is that Famous Seamus?" Turns out that she not only was there at the trial with her Labs, but had read about Famous Seamus on a Lab email list. Just for fun (and because one can't get enough Famous Seamus stories), I asked her to see if she could forward the Lab-list account to me. Seamus grows ever more famous!

Charlie finally had his summer buzz cut this past Friday. In a normal year, he'd have been trimmed long before now, if only so he wouldn't be naked and shivering in December. With the weird weather this year, it's been alternately so cool and so hot that I haven't known what to do about his hair. I finally just had him trimmed just so he could start the regrowing process in time to have some fuzz by wintertime, and in the hopes that on at least a few days each week, he won't be sweltering under a year's worth of coat. I would trim Seamus too, but I promised his breeder that I wouldn't -- so he is sporting a "stealth trim" on his belly.

Adventures in Yarn

I haven't had the time or the desire to spend a heckuva lot of time knitting lately, though that hasn't really slowed me down in terms of stash acquisition. When I have taken up the needles, it's mostly been in dribs and drabs -- half an hour or an hour here while watching TV, an hour or so there when I couldn't stand being in the office in front of the computer any more.

Even dribs and drabs tend to add up after a (long) while, though. I finally finished the Trekking socks I'd ripped out in despair some months ago. As a pair, they don't look completely mismatched -- they even seem to have sprung from related yarns -- but they sure as heck don't look like they've been knitted from the same ball. I have another skein of Trekking in shades of blue. I wonder if the socks from that ball will turn out similarly. Maybe I'll have to resort to some pain-in-the-ass trick like knitting alternately from both ends of the skein, or something similar, in order to make the blue pair look more consistent. That's just plain too much trouble, especially for summertime knitting. (Some people have "beach reading." My books remain pretty much the same year-round in terms of content, but "beach knitting" shouldn't be painful.) If I bring socks along to Sue's Girls' Day Out, they won't be from Trekking yarn.

I gave my sister the oh-so-girly phone pouch for her cell phone, and she got a major chuckle out of it. (You have to understand that on the Barbie-doll scale of girliness, both of us rank pretty far down there. We just like pink.) I have to dig out one of the several gazillion balls of baby-pink Lion Brand Fun Fur I picked up for practically nothing at Marden's and make her another one sometime. She'd like another pair of socks sometime (maybe out of Tofutsies or a bamboo-based yarn). Will those be pink? We'll all just have to wait and see, won't we?

Because my faithful canvas-bucket sock bag would look desperately forlorn without a sock in progress threatening to fall out of it, I cast on a Yankee Knitter sock in gray Jawoll for Greg. I still have the mate to my blue-and-purple Sockotta socks to start, too -- so if I find myself in the mood to knit some cotton (see "beach knitting" above), that sock will also serve nicely.

This coming Wednesday, I'm taking that Lucy Neatby class in Fryeburg. Pam asked me to find out if Lucy would be back in Nova Scotia for the following week, since we'll be driving up that way. My "homework" swatches have been done for a while, but I need to find some beads someplace for the beaded-knitting portion of the class. The instructions weren't too specific as to size, composition, or anything else. Guess I'll have to use my imagination.

News of The Man

Greg's been fighting off a cold he picked up someplace, but all indications seem to point to his surviving the experience. He still coughs up the occasional hairball and his energy level hasn't quite reached 100%. This doesn't mean he hasn't been able to compose, however.

He has just about finished the Brass Quintet. After a few listens, he's decided to break up some of the solos a bit to make them jive better with the polyphonic nature of the piece, but he's almost ready to print off the score and ship it to the first trumpet/leader of the quintet.

I'm bummed that I won't be able to get to New York with him to hear the premiere of Clayton's Runaround for solo violin (fiddle) at the ACA concert this year. I didn't know the concert date at the time Pam and I set up our trip to Nova Scotia, but she and I will be in Canada when the concert takes place. This will be the first concert of Greg's that I've missed.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Mystery Solved!

A while back, I sent the photo of my new spinning wheel. She had offered to identify it, since it came with no distinctive identifying marks, and I was less then zero help when describing it to her over the phone. Heck, I've only just figured out which side of the wheel you're supposed to sit on!

Anyway, Pam reported back a few days ago that she and the members of her spinning guild had examined the photo and come to the conclusion that my new wheel is a handmade knockoff of an Ashford Country Spinner. She said that the other guild members were asking for measurements and all manner of data, and I'll do my best to answer their questions.

Apparently the Spinner is suitable for spinning bulky yarn, and might not serve well as a good first spinning wheel. Pam recommended a few models I could cast around for and try to pick up used. She's bringing her wheel (Lendrum) out with her when she comes to visit, so I'll have a chance to see how these thingamajigs work before I commit a few hundred bucks to a hobby I'm not too sure about just yet.