Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Woolie Dog giveaway!

I haven't done this in a while!

If you'd like a chance to win an awesome Woolie Dog tug for your favorite dog just leave comment on this post telling me what size tug your dog would like (I've got extra small to large, you can check out the sizing by going through the above link). Please include a way for me to get in touch with you if you are the lucky winner!

I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner on January 2nd and will send that commenter tug toy!

Have fun!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Christmas Day was spent at my folks - four generations of people, Christmas carols, games, little kids, and presents! It was a lovely day

I've lots of fun playing with the camera with all the ornaments - great close ups with varying lighting. So much fun!

The one thing lacking here has been the snow. It's almost the end of December and we've only had one measurable snowfall - two weeks ago. Normally I wouldn't care, but I kinda wanted to have some for Christmas... We did get a light dusting on Christmas Eve - it didn't stick around, but the dogs liked it. Snow seems to energize them!

I finished all my knitting projects before Christmas - a sweater for my mom, hat for dad, socks for little sister, muffler for younger brother and a scarf for my aunt. Amazing how I try to start the stuff with plenty of time but then finish with no time to spare...

I'm off school for a couple more weeks (YAY!!) so I'm going to clean, organize, finish a Knit Picks pattern that has been in the works for, umm, far too long and hopefully get another proposal or two sent in, spend some extra timing working/training the dogs and get a little sleep in on the side!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

'Tis the week before Christmas.... Need I say more?

I'm almost ready, but I still have 4 knitted gifts to finish. I thought I started in plenty of time but I guess maybe I didn't. Oh well, they'll all get done but I sure would like another day between now and Christmas!

In other news, my dogs have been putting up with me nicely between finals prep (all finished last week - woo-hoo!!!), Christmas prep and other Christmas activities. They're getting exercised and worked, but not as much as they'd like I'm afraid. I'll have to make it up to them in the 2.5 weeks after Christmas before classes start again.

I have been able to work Kipp on sheep several times a week and my little whirlwind is making progress! I can now stop him. I know, it doesn't sound like much but Kipp is fast and doesn't like to stop so this is progress! He is a lot of dog to handle, but it's a fun challenge.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pattern giveaway!

Need a gift idea for a dog lover on list? I might be able to help you! Today I'm doing a pattern giveaway

Details -
- leave a comment telling me which one of my patterns that you'd like (and it can be any of them, not just the dog themed ones!) and some sort of contact info

- I will email a copy of the pattern requested to the first 6 people that leave comments with the above info

Please note - no info and I can't get a pattern to you so I'll move on to the next person on the list.

Complete pattern list can be found here

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Woof! hats will be available to purchase

Over the next few weeks I'm going to be knitting up a couple of Woof! Hats to put up for sale in my Woolie Dog Etsy shop

I'll be using a light worsted weight superwash merino yarn that I've hand-dyed. While the yarn isn't from my sheep, it is warm, incredibly soft and easy to care for.

If you're interested in a hat in one of the above colors (with paw prints in black or natural ivory) let me know - marajessup AT yahoo DOT com. The price will be $28/each + shipping. The pattern is a one size fits all adult, but if you have a special size request I'd be happy to modify the size a bit when possible.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In the last 11 days

It seems my blogging is starting to become a bit more sporadic...

In the last 11 days besides showing up for classes and work I've prepped for and taken two tests, written two papers, took a 3 day trip to WI for some sheepdog lessons (yay!) had two more patterns go up on Knit Picks (the Woof! Hat and Cobblestone Socks) and my Mini Stocking Ornament was featured on Knit Picks blog for Freebie Friday.

I'd write more but I've got to catch up on the rest of my homework from when I was away doin' the sheepdog thing!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mini Stocking Ornament - free pattern!

I love these little stockings - they're fun and quick to knit, they make a great gift or gift tag and they can be made with yarn that is leftover from other projects.

The smaller stocking uses just 6 grams of fingering weight yarn and the larger one just 12 grams of worsted weight. The pattern can be used with whatever weight of yarn you have on hand.

It takes me about an hour to complete one.

The pattern can be found here Mini Stocking Ornament

Thursday, November 3, 2011

All new TMT questions!

1. What are you thankful for this week?
I am thankful that I've got a job that is accommodating with my crazy school schedule. And that I get to work with my little brother on Thursday and Friday each week. He is smart. He is funny. And he's a really hard worker. We swap school/classmate stories on Thursdays - it can be a hoot!

2. How do you deal with a squeaker/shrieker/noisy dog?
It depends on why they're being noisy and what frame of mind I'm in... I usually redirect and tell them to knock it off. And they are usually really good about being quiet in the first place. Usually.

But then there was this one time a couple years ago with Kenzi... I had stayed up 'til the wee hours of the morning finishing a paper and I had to get up early in the morning to deliver said paper to school. I had probably been asleep about two and half hours when the barking started. My sleep hazed mind wasn't working that well but I eventually figured out that the coon hunters were out and about. With dogs. And Kenzi was going to tell the world. The other two dogs were curled up sleeping and ignoring them like good dogs who understand that you don't wake the person up unless it's an emergency. I tried the normal things a half asleep person usually tries to get her to be quiet. She'd settle down for a minute then go back at it. So I finally grabbed a pillow and threw it in the direction of the barking. After the second or third pillow I think she got the hint. Or maybe I was too tired to care and fell back asleep. I do know that I probably did her a favor because if I hadn't gotten her to be quite Missy and Kipp would have pushed her down the stairs or something for breaking rule of the bedroom - you do not wake each other up in the middle of the night unless it's an emergency!!

3. Barbara wants to know: what would you say is ONE skill or attribute needed to be successful?

Hard work. Talent is good, but it won't get you very far by itself.

4. Pippin wants to know: what are your favorite games?

For the dogs? outdoors it's B-A-L-L. Indoors it's gnaw on each other's legs. Weird, but it works for them so who am I to question it?

For me? I love the card game Dutch Blitz. It's fast, kind crazy and really keeps you on your toes.

5. What are some of your strategies for dealing with winter?

Good outerwear. Good boots. Wool socks. Sonoma long underwear from Kohls. Blankies, hot chocolate and knitting in the evenings when I can get away with it. Pray that I don't have to get out and go anywhere when it's nasty. Snow can be nice because running in it wears the dogs out twice as fast (or keeps them snoozing twice as long afterward!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Late this afternoon I was thinking of the the things I should be getting done today. Then I stopped and though of all the things I had already accomplished for the day. That made me feel a bit better.

Two classes this morning - turned in a final paper at one and final test prep at another. Unloaded and stacked a trailer full of wood this afternoon. Put supper in the crock pot. Spent 1.5 hours training/exercising the dogs. Cleaned the kitchen. Worked on patterns. Answered a forum question for my hybrid class.

I guess I was pretty productive today.

And then I dyed up some Woolie Dog tugs :-) I was dyeing the wool then making and felting the tugs. But un-felted wool is very lofty and takes up A LOT more room in the dye pan. So I now I'm felting them first, then dyeing. It kind of gives the tugs a tie-dye effect. I like it!

Tug toys in the dye pot freshly dyed -

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Half way through...

Last week marked the halfway point of the school semester! It's going by FAST. Which is good very good for the most part :-) Sign up for next semester start on Monday :O

In other news, yesterday I wrote out a pattern for a knitted mini stocking ornament. I submitted it to Knit Picks as a free pattern for the IDP program. Now waiting to see if they'll accept it... I was going to post it here tonight but it's on my other computer at home and I'm babysitting granola that is baking in the oven at work. So I'll get to it in the next day or two.

I'm also thinking about putting together a couple Woof! Hat kits with my pattern and hand-dyed yarn. So many ideas, so little time right now...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A cold, rainy TMT

Brr. It is rainy, WINDY and cold here. Like the middle of November. Just downright nasty weather to be out in. And I was semi out in it for half the afternoon. As soon as I'm done answering Laura's question of the week I'm gonna curl up with some hot tea and my knitting!

So without further ado -

What obstacles have you overcome this week, and what did you learn from them?

Probably would be that I'm now half done with this semester of school!!! I've been plugging away at this degree for the past 3 years. I've done 3-10 hours a semester depending on work so it isn't going to quickly, but it's getting there. I'll have nearly 50 hours complete come December and this makes me very happy!!

The biggest challenge this semester has been math. I'll be honest - math scares me. I tried a math class when I first started school and it stressed me out so bad that I dropped it after three weeks. And I've put it off until this year. But now that I'm getting close to having enough hours for my AA, the time has come. And it's going well!!! Really well. It's work, and it still makes me nervous at times, but I'm getting it done and it makes me very happy and relieved!

I could come up with some statement about conquering my fears, or never saying can't. But for tonight I'll just say that I'm finally really learning all those terms, operations, etc, etc, etc. And I an very relieved to be halfway through the semester and doing alright with it! Givs me hope for next semester...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday randomness

I missed TMT yesterday. I was busy with work and school. And I was tired so I'm not even sure that my answers would have been coherent.

I was awoken this morning by a great gray beast yowling in my window. Apparently no one was available to let Pepper into the house when he was ready and in typical cat fashion he got tired of waiting. So he climbed up the outside of the breezeway, onto the roof and into my open window. But the screen was in his way so he yowled. I let him in hoping that Kipp would annoy him. Kipp has an incessant predatory stare that the cats find a bit unnerving. A few years ago the mere mention of "cat" and he'd have only one thing in mind - find and stalk the cat. But no such luck this moring. Kipp has learned the "leave cats alone" lesson well and only stared at Pepper for a minute before heading back to curl up on his bed. Sigh.

I should get off my computer and get back to work packing apples. Because when I'm done I get to head home, work with the dogs, and knit - just started another Knit Picks sample last night!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Woof! Hat Photo shoot

I love the Knit Picks Tonal colorway "Gypsy". Love, love, love it. I did my Woof! Socks with the same colorway only with the Stroll Tonal yarn.

But it's hard to get a good picture of the true red colors in the yarn.

Yesterday I did a third photo shoot trying to get the perfect picture of the hat (so I can finally finish the pattern and get the whole thing sent off to KP)

Here's one that finally seem to have the color right

Love the way the hat turned out - and love the fact that my sister is such a willing model!

Now to get that pattern finished...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It's another perfect fall day - we've had a week of perfect days now and are supposed to get a few more. Blue skies, changing leaves, gorgeous temperature - what more could you ask for?!?

*Big happy sigh*

Poor sheep aren't really happy even with the great weather. They're stuck in the barnyard for a few days because their pasture was mowed for hay. Oh well. They'll be happy when they have something to eat this winter...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's Thursday again!

Time for -

1. If you won the lottery (a big one... I'm talking stupid muchos cash) what would you do with the money?

Buy land - a big piece of land. Like 500+ acres. Then set part of it up as a farm (sheep with a few cows and horses thrown it), part of it as wooded with hiking trails. Have an area for outdoor canine activities. And hold summer camps for inner city kids.

2. After winning the lottery would you work a day job? If so, what would you do?

Manage my place!

3. Do you have any auxiliary dogs? Auxiliary dogs are dogs that are not essential to your main purpose (usually tiny, but not always). If you don't have an auxiliary dog what might you choose?

No dogs but there is Toni, the resident Border Cat

And Pepper, who thinks he's a dog
If I did get a small dog it would probably be a Papillon or a perhaps a Border Terrier

4. Do you have a favorite crock pot recipe (or other recipe) you can share?

Easy Crock Pot Chili -

1-2# beef stew meat
1 large onion
3-4 15 oz cans of chili beans
2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes

Cut up onion, place in crock pot along the stew meat. Cook overnight on low or 4 hours on high. Add in the canned beans and tomatoes, cook on low for 1-2 hours. Serve with cheese!

I love the texture of beef chunks instead of ground beef in my chili. This is super simple to throw together and I freeze the leftovers in ziploc bags in serving size portions

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ah! Fall

I love fall! At least when the weather is anything the the weather we're having this week! Today is clear, calm with temps in the high 60s to low 70s. Perfect.

As I was walking past a rack of college newspapers today a "Bike the Trails" blip caught my eye. I grabbed a paper and found that the Student Activity Center had bikes available! The college also has some great wooded trails. So after lunch I grabbed Kenzi and her harness and headed back to school. I signed a bike out and we were off! The trails were well groomed and the weather was perfect for riding. Kenzi ran nicely keeping the line taught and running along the trails. She got caught up in seeing squirrels and chipmunks on occasion, but did really well overall for the first outing. We've never gone biking in the woods before, only roads.

Looking at a map, I'm guessing we did three - four miles. A really nice distance, especially for the hilly, uneven terrain. I want to try it again tomorrow if I'm not too stiff... :D

Thursday, September 29, 2011

TMT Again!

Woot! Laura has more fun questions this week!

so here goes

1. What movie do you love but are too embarrassed to admit you love it?

I don't think I've got one... (boring I know, but it's true!)

2. Ann wants to know: How far do you drive/travel to attend trials, clinics, lessons? How far is
too far?

I drive 30-65 miles (one way) each week to go to SAR training. I'd have no issues traveling several hours for good training. But I'm currently operating on a college student budget/time schedule with really puts a crimp in any sort of training.

3. What is your theme song (circa Ally McBeal)?

Recently it's been "Stand" by Rascal Flatts

4. Laura S wants to know: If you had to choose a new dog activity, one that you had never done before, what would you choose?

Sheepdog trials or USAR.

5. What would your dog choose (or scribe, if you're Pippin)?

Kipp would love to be a full time stockdog. He'd probably also like footstep tracking - lots of food involved!

Kenzi would probably choose agility - she's got serious footwork skills -

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A building search

Kipp was bored this afternoon. And it was raining outside. It's hard to convince a volunteer "victim" that hiding out in the woods in the rain is a great way to spend their time on a Saturday - just not their idea of a good time for some strange and odd reason.

So I asked my little sister to hide in the addition instead.

The addition is about 24x32, with a second floor. It is enclosed, but still under construction. There are some piles of insulation rolls that create a decent hiding spots on both floors as well as a stairway to hide under.

Working indoors is a whole different ballgame for the dog. The air currents work differently and there are lots of places for the scent to pool. A search dog works through using it's nose primarily, not it's eyes. So they may alert in an odd spot if the human scent is pooling there. Today the victim was under the stairs that wrap around the chimney. It's still open with just stud walls so the scent is pretty free to travel around. Kipp went up and down the stairs a few times he kept checking out the top of the stairs and where the chimney came through the second floor. He finally barked in front of the fireplace. I gave him the search command again. And he started checking around the fireplace which led him underneath the step to his victim.

I going to start doing some more building work with him. I've got a couple barns and a hay barn that would work really well and come complete with distractions!

In knitting news, I got another package from Knit Picks today. This box contained yarn for two sample pairs of socks. Gonna sign off now, pop in a DVD and start in on a pair!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tell me Thursday

Wow - it's been two weeks since I did this. Last Thursday I was caught up in the combined craziness of work and school...

But I'm back for this week!

Going Forward what are your goals for the next 6 months?

Good question! I like setting goals - it gives me something to aim for!

For me

-Have a total of 16 patterns up on Knit Picks (shameless plug alert - Puppy Love Socks went up today - squee!!)

-Further develop and market Woolie Dogs Tugs

- Start writing a book - right now I'm leaning toward doing one with with my knitting patterns and the stories behind them.

(I would dearly love to be self employed by the time I'm done with school, or at least have a good part time income)

- Finish 11 more hours of college and be well into the next 11-14 hours

For the dogs

- Get Kipp to where he can help me with barnyard chores

- Get Kenzi certified as a wilderness SAR dog

- Perfect the recall and the "leave it" command -They've both got one, but I want a nice, sharp, head spinning recall and leave it from both of them.

Those are the goals - It'll be fun to look back 6 months from now to see how I did!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

National Sheepdog Finals

If you love watching real working dogs in action, check out the National Sheepdog Finals going on through this weekend. The Best of the Best Border Collie in North America are competing there. The dogs are simply amazing and the handlers are top notch. Even better there is a live webcast so you can watch these incredible dogs in action this weekend. To learn how check out this short instructional video.

One of these years I'm going to make it there in person.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The bell collar and other successes

A few weeks ago I decided that it was time for Kenzi to start wearing a bell collar when practicing searches. I probably should have done it a while ago, but anyways...

I brought it out and was reminded of why I'd put it off. She didn't like the loud clanking bell next to her ear and was like "whoa - what's happening to me?!?!" I did take the bell to the collar to muffle it just a bit but after that I ignored her response, did some upbeat training and took it off her. The next day I put it on her before playing ball. Just as I suspected, the desire to play ball trumped the uncertainty of the clanking bell. We repeated a few more times.

This past week at SAR training, I put the bell on her and she worked beautifully - no issues with the noise. It reminded me about what I loved in her from the get go - her adaptability. She'd had limited human interaction for her first 6-7 months, yet she is adaptable. Give her a little bit of time to figure out a new situation and she is fine with it. I love that about her! As an added bonus that night, she worked within the search area (no turning a four acre search into a forty acre one...), recalled beautifully while searching and ignored the dead deer at the edge of her section. I was quite happy with all of this.

The other success had to do with the cat. Ferdinand to be exact. I took Kenzi out in the yard to work her and Ferdy was sitting there. Joy. I expected brain freeze from Kenzi. Didn't happen. She was very aware of him and glanced a couple times in his direction but that was it. We did healing, recalls and send outs with really nice focus - I even sent her out where she had to run past him and she stayed on task. This to made me very, very happy. I was sure to convey that pleasure to her!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dogs and college part 2

And a follow-up of yeaterday's post. Today the college is throwing their biannual campus bash - ie, a controlled party for college kids. They have music, food, huge inflatables, some sort of airsoft range set up by the Army, a firetruck, etc.

I heaed out to see if I'd like it. Umm, not really my thing (though I did take advatage of the free food and got a free t-shirt). But it did look like another awesome training opportunity!

After I wandered around for 15 minutes I headed back to the car and grabbed Kenzi. I stayed at the edge of the mayhem, away from the bulk of the people, but there was still plenty for her to take in. She did really well. She had great focus in short increments and was interested but not at all worried or too distracted about the nosie and commotion in the distance. After about 15 mintues I could tell that her brain was starting to fry so we left. I was happy with how things went!

I'm thinking that by the time the spring bash rolls around, that I'd like to have her to the point where she can walk in amongst the crowds with me. We'll see!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The dogs go to college, too

I've decided that my college campus is the perfect place for dog training. It's a good size campus (for a community college) with lots of large grassy areas. I can work the dogs near buildings and people if I want to work the dogs under distractions or go to the edge of the parking lot and have the area all to myself.

I'm already there three days a week and since the dogs are almost always crated in the back of the car anyway I don't have drive anywhere to get to a new training area.

Today I worked at the far edge of the parking lot away from the distractions. I opened up the crates in the back and alternated calling the dogs and sending them back to their crate - I'd call Kipp and Kenzi had to stay put. Then I'd send Kipp back to his crate and call Kenzi while Kipp waited (in the open crate) I had never done this exact game before with the dogs and I was impressed at how well they did. I only had to remind Kipp once and Kenzi twice that they were supposed to stay in the crate when the other dog popped out. As I was working them one of the college maintenance guys drove past on a golf cart. He paused to watch for a minute and when I looked up he smiled and called out "I've got a German Shepherd at home you can train!" :D

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tell me Thursday

Yup it's time once again for Crooks and Crazies

1. What is the biggest thing that grossed you out over the past week?

The sight of the cooked cat food. Yup, it's gross. My uncle cooks food for his barn cats because, well, they've always cooked food for the cats on that farm. The tradition dates back to my great grandmother at least. But these days the food is truly gross. He pretty much cleans out the fridge, adds some rice, oats or cornmeal and cooks it up. ewwwww. Don't ask me why because cat food is both cheap and easy these days. But he's always done it and always will. And the cats all hang around and none of them has dropped dead at the food pan yet. I keep telling myself that it's probably better than some commercial foods, but still...

2. What do you feed your dogs?

These days it's a mix of raw and The Honest Kitchen. They love it and do great on it so I'll keep them on it as long as I can afford to. It's about the same price as a premium kibble (Canidae, etc) and I like the idea of "real food" when I'm able to feed it. When I'm pinching pennies I feed Diamond Naturals - great price and good ingredients.

3. If you could move anywhere where would you live?

A big ranch in the middle of Colorado or Wyoming...

4. What is the funniest thought that occurred to you (or thing that happened to you) this week?

Swapping college stories with my SIL and brother. First week of classes gives one some doozies. The best one was of the individual who stated in introductions that they hope to finally pass the English class (third try), but then spent half of their writing time watching pokemon videos on the computer where they was supposed to writing a paper. Yeah. go figure.

5. If you couldn't have your breed of choice what would be next on your list?

Malinios or Papillon - depends on if I wanted a big dog or small one!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

And summer is over far too soon.... Well, summer freedom that is. I head back to classes tomorrow – sigh...

I am really glad that the summer weather is coming to a close. I just don't do 90+ degree days really well and we've had plenty of them this season. I was rejoicing at the deliciously cool high of 63 today!

In knitting news, I finished the Puppy Paws Blanket sample last night! I ended up knitting the paws twice because the first time around I miscalculated on the yarn and ran out – oops! Fair isle takes me forever to do – especially the second time around. But I decided it was soo worth it as I looked at the finished product today. The blanket turned out incredibly adorable! After classes tomorrow I'll start writing up the pattern so I can get everything sent off the Knit Picks.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Starting back in with the whole stockdog thing...

I took the dogs for a lesson in stockwork today. Kipp is a whirlwind and Kenzi in a bit of a spaz and these combinations are not conducive to beginning work in my set up. But I need a chore dog. I haven't thought about it for the past several years because Missy was just there. Ready to help when I needed it. The sheep respected her and it made routine chores go smoothly. She knew the sheep, knew their quirks, knew what I needed and was delighted to handle the job.

Once you're used to that, it's really hard to make do without. I don't expect the other two to become her, but I still need a chore dog. Trying to deworm a dozen sheep on my own drove that point home. I was crying at the end out the combination of frustration of trying to do it myself and the hurt of missing my girl like crazy.

Watching Kipp today reminded just why I love that little dog. He has stretched me, frustrated me, blown me off, scared me half to death. But he tries everything I ask him to try. He figures it out, he doesn't quit. He has drive and work ethic. While he can make the journey pretty, umm, interesting, he can deliver in the end.

I've seen and appreciated it in SAR training. But the place where all of those qualities mesh the best is on stock. He hasn't been on stock in 11 months. Today he went into the round pen and started out tight in and in overdrive. By the end of the session he was giving the sheep a nice amount of space and becoming a team player as opposed to a one track "must control sheep" mind. He'd take a correction, learn from it and keep right on working. I have a really nice working dog in that little package. Now to mold it and shape it.

Kenzi wasn't quite as stellar, but I was pleased with the way her lesson went. She had good, sustained interest (much better than last fall) and was starting to get in the grove of wearing the sheep to the handler by the time she was done. Time will tell with her, but at least today was a good start.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tell me Thursday

Five new questions from Crooks and Crazies this week!

1. What five things can't you live without?

Laptop Computer
Water bottle
Cell Phone

2. How do you transport your dogs?

The back of a 2003 Saturn Vue. I love this car - basic, no frills with really decent gas mileage! It's a good thing that Kipp is a compact Border Collie and fits in a small crate! I know it's a bit cluttered, but it's all dog related stuff crammed in around the crates...

3. What role does obedience play in your training or running of your dog(s)?

It's there, but I don't stress it too much. They need to have manners, they need to come when called, they need to pay attention, but other than that they need to think for themselves and work independently too. My end goal in training is a partnership with my dog

4. At what point do you start putting commands on your dogs?

Once they start getting the idea of what they're supposed to be doing. I try not to name the behavior until I can get predictable results. In reality this doesn't always happen, but that's what I aim for...

Of course Missy broke all the rules when it came to dog training theory so with her I'd just show her what I wanted, name the behavior and she'd do it. Consistently.

5. Do you talk to strangers in elevators?

Not really. I suppose I would if it were a long elevator ride, but other than that I'm kinda quite...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Introducing Woolie Dog tugs - With a giveaway!!

Over the past couple months I've been working on perfecting a felted wool tug toy for dogs. Much like the ever popular poly fleece tugs but made instead with 100% natural, renewable wool. These tugs are easy on your hands and great for dogs that like to really get a grip on their toy. Made from strong, dense felted wool they hold up very well to rigorous Kipp and Kenzi testing (as seen in the above picture!)

This week I'm having a giveaway on the Woolie Dog Facebook page to introduce the Woolie Dog Etsy shop. To enter, like Woolie Dog on Facebook, then post to the Facebook wall telling why your dogs would love a Woolie Dog tug (pictures are great, too!) The entry deadline is Friday Sept 2nd at 11:59 PM. On Saturday Sept 3rd my impartial judge (ie, 18 y/o dog loving brother with a great sense of humor) will choose up to 5 people* to receive a free tug toy!

Basic rules - one entry per person, open to residents of the US and Canada, after the winners are chosen I will contact them through a FB message to get find out what size toy they need and to get a mailing address

*I will give 1 toy per every 10 entries for up to 50 entries.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tell me Thursday

It's once again time for

Brought to us by Crooks and Crazies

1. How do you teach recalls to your dogs?

Start out with a long line and keep them on it for a while... But then I use chase games and treats. And after they are pretty solid they get walked down if they blow me off.

2. What is your favorite Restaurant or type of food? Clearly I have food on the brain much of the time.

Chinese food - or at least the American version of Chinese.

3. What is your favorite interest outside of dogs/livestock/sports?

Knitting - especially socks!! My mom taught me when I was about 5 y/o and I did a few things in the next several years but it kind of stayed on the back burner. After I got sheep and started spinning yarn in my mid teens, I got back into knitting and a few years ago I decided that I love to knit socks. I've probably knit 60+ pairs in the last 8-10 years (8 pairs so far this year...)and started designing sock knitting patterns earlier this year.

4. Describe your path from where you started out to where you are now! (For example, how did you get from Novice to Open? How long did it take? Train dogs? Buy dogs? I'll take answers for any sort of discipline, or even how did you go from wild dog that didn't listen to well behaved dog - interpret this however you like.)

I'll tell you about Kipp :-) I got Kipp with the intention of training him for a farm/trial dog but switched gears a few months after I got him and got into SAR instead.

Kipp was 1.5 y/o, highly driven, and didn't think he needed me when we started out - he was fond of people, but didn't *need* them. And had a serious cat obsession. Like he learned that "Pepper" meant "cat" in about three repeats and for the next 6 month the mention of "cat" or "Pepper" he'd break off from whatever and go into cat hunting mode. VERY annoying. We did lots of NILIF, lots of drive building (schutzhund style), focus work and corrections because, nipping and chasing cats is not allowed.....

I had moments where I thought "what in the world was I thinking getting another dog?!?"

The SAR group I joined had very talented trainers that mentored me through the long process of training a search dog. And for all the frustrations I'd had with Kipp, he was a driven little dog with lots of try. So we kept plugging away and making progress. I knew it was working the day I set up a search at home, a cat followed my "victim" out to the woods and Kipp ignored the cat and alerted like he'd been trained too!

Just over 2 years after I joined the group and started training, Kipp and I passed the final leg of our wilderness SAR certification.

I still refer to him as "brat" sometimes, but we've become partners and buddies and I can't imagine my little dude not being in my life. Now as I train with Kenzi I love getting Kipp out and working him on a mock search because he's just a solid, dependable worker. It's hard to believe that he was so ADD at one point.

5. Is there a dog that you raised that, if you knew then what you know now, you would have raised them differently?

I've had started Kenzi out a bit differently. Because she was pretty well balanced and seemed ready to go I expected too much too quick from her. If I went back I'd go slower and stick with foundation work a bit longer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Current Knitting

I designed a baby blanket for the Knit Picks program and am working on knitting up a sample. The yarn I'm using is Knit Picks Swish Tonal in the Springtime colorway (LOVE this color!) and this project seems to be going FAST! I'm used to fingering yarn on size 2 needles and now I'm using worsted weight yarn on size 8.

Yes, it look a bit like a bag right now, but that's because of the circular needle it's being knit on - when it's flat out it will be square!

I started a project just for me this week using the yarn I just got from the Michigan Fiber Festival. The colors aren't quite true in this picture - the red is a bit more salmon, and the blues are more turquoise, navy and purple. the socks have a braided cable running down the outside edge - similar placement to my Winding Road Socks. It's a fun project to work on - enough detail to keep it interesting, but simple enough to work on while watching movie or having a conversation.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Michigan Fiber Festival

Today was awesome – I spent it at the Michigan Fiber Festival (think wool, angora and mohair fiber, not all bran!) and met up with some great friends!

I've been attending this festival for about 15 years now! I can hardly believe it's been that long – I was a vendor at the first several and had a great time seeing people and forming friendships with other vendors. I quit the vendor side of things a few years ago as I became busier and busier with work each summer, but I still love catching up with those friends every year. And taking in the colorful, soft, luscious fiber goodness.

This year the day was cut a bit short by a huge storm that rolled through (and the fact that I, umm, slept in this morning) but I still got a chance to to check out most of the vendors and find a few goodies for myself. I was very good in the yarn department and got just one skein – it has fun, bright and colors and I'm thinking that I'll turn it into socks (what else?!) Since I've got enough yarn to last me for 4 years, plus all the stuff I dye, I managed to resist the rest of it, even though there was some really awesome stuff there...

I did get an awesome print done by Joan Arnold. I've admired her work for the past couple years and decided to treat myself to something this year. The picture I got has a Border Collie and sheep and is titled - Turn Around Ewe.

I also sampled some sheep's milk cheese made at Tirrell Centennial Farm - it was very good! I love to see the way local farms diversify and find a niche for themselves.

Then the storm clouds rolled in so I headed out to eat with friends that I met up with there - a really great way to continue the fun a bit longer when the rain cut our festival time short!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's Thursday again!

Time for Crooks and Crazies "Tell me Thursday" I love reading what other people write and have fun answering the questions so here goes

1. Who is your newest dog? Where is he/she from, and why did you choose this particular dog/breeding? This question posted by Jodi

That would be Kenzi - though I've had her for almost two years so she isn't exactly new. She came through Border Collie rescue after being abandoned at 4 m/o so I have no clue as to her breeding.

I had just certified with Kipp for wilderness SAR work and I wanted another training project/SAR prospect. So my criteria was a dog with a stable temperament and good toy drive and she had both. I'll admit that the fact that she was a long coated female didn't hurt either.

2. What traits drew you to this dog or breeding? (also by Jodi)

The Face. I saw her pictures (below) on Petfinder and I fell in love.

Of course she had to pass my other criteria before I actually got her, but that bright, happy, eager face definitely was the reason I started the application process.

In actually she doesn't have some of the traits that I most appreciate such as a serious no nonsense attitude when it comes to anything that might possibly work and calm focus. But hopefully the calm focus will improve with age and if it doesn't, well, she's just so happy that I guess it doesn't matter THAT much!

3. What's on your feet right now?

Eastland leather sandals

4. What are you reading right now?

Umm, err, nothing.... I do love to read, but I'm in the middle of a three week break between summer and fall classes so I'm taking a break from reading right too.

5. What upcoming trials are you looking forward to? If you don't trial dogs I'll take whatever activity that you're looking forward to.

Getting the dogs started on sheep - hopefully next month I'm going to take a long weekend and go somewhere where I can get some help getting a good foundation on both of them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Knitting Away

I realized the other day that most all of my knitting this year has been for pattern samples. Not a bad thing by any means, but one of these days I'm going to start a sweater or something just for fun.

In the mean time, I just finished up the first pair of Puppy Love socks - Yay!! Now to get the perfect picture and finish writing the pattern so I can send everything off to Knit Picks. I've taken about 50 pictures and am sorting through them to see what will work. Always amazed at how hard it can be to get a perfect sock shot.

In other dog loving knitter news - My other dog themed pattern - Woof! Socks - is in the latest Knit Picks catalog. I got a heads up email from KP a couple weeks ago and have been impatiently waiting for the catalog ever since :D

And stay tuned -I've got two more dog themed patterns in the works. It's fun combining dogs and knitting!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Simple things

Yup, those made my happy today!

First off, Kenzi grasped the whole concept of "tunnel" today. A bit of back story - Part of the SAR eval has the dog go through a tunnel to show that the dog takes directional cue and can confidently work in tight spaces/enter them on command.

But the problem with Border Collies is that they're smart and so sometimes I tend to skip over the teaching phase. Because, hey, tunnel is easy you point at it and the dog goes through, right? Except you don't take into account that everything else you've pointed at you've expected the dog to "hup" up onto. This is called handler error and as a result I had never really taught her what I meant by "tunnel".

So I finally borrowed a couple of collapsible kiddie tunnels from a friend and took time to show Kenzi what I really meant when I said "tunnel". Amazingly enough it worked!! Tonight I had a dog that was begging to run through the tunnel. Then she'd get her frisbee reward and run back through it - frisbee in her mouth. Silly dog.

Number two on my "simple things that made me happy today" list - My Knit Picks Options Knitting Needles arrived today. Yup, really. Knitting needles make me happy :-) I could finally justify ordering this set as I'm working on a new pattern (dog themed again :D) that requires at least 3 different sets of circular needles. I'm happy with it! I received the yarn for the above mentioned project last week and I LOVE the color! Can hardly wait until this current sock socks is finished so I can get going on the next idea!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Just for fun - Tell me Thursday

I've been reading the past couple of posts on Crooks and Crazies and decided that I want to play along this week - because it's fun being random and reading about other people (and realizing that there are people just like you that have like 3 crates for each dog).

So here goes -

1. In sheepdog training (or lets call it *any* type of training), how do you keep from taking yourself, your dog, your lack of progress too seriously?

I like serious when it comes to my dogs, I really do. Love the "let's go get the job done" mentality. Thank you Kipp!

But then I also ended up with a dog like Kenzi - Seriously, could you stay serious with a face like that looking at you?!?

And just for kicks, train some weird random behaviors every once and a while - like how to walk up stairs, backwards. Hey - as long as I have a happy go lucky dog, I might as well do something crazy with her.

These sort of thing really help you not kick yourself too hard when your dog forgets a couple things during SAR evals...

2. How many crates do you have? For reals.
I have six - you never know when and where you might need to stash a dog. And look at the bright side - when I get a new dog, I won't need to buy a crate so I'll save money then...

3. How do you keep your dogs in shape?
I usually like to run then in the field, but that is overgrown with corn and soybeans right now. So I bike with Kenzi and play ball with Kipp (who doesn't seem to understand the purpose of biking)

4. Who is your favorite movie/tv star eye candy at the moment?

eye candy, sheesh. I'm in school, I have sheep, two Border Collies (I know - hardly any) and work on the side and design knitting patterns for fun. I haven't thought about eye candy for a while. But I've been catching up on the White Collar series and that Matt Bomer guy is kinda cute...

5. What is your livestock situation? Have your own? Borrow? Herd the cats? (You can subsitute other equipment for livestock if you don't work stock with your dogs)

I have Sheep! That's why you get Border Collies, right? :D I'm currently down to 7 ewes, a ram and 5 lambs. And yet I don't work either dog on them right now. That was Missy's job and she did really well for me so I stuck to SAR for K&K. I'll be working on remedying that in the near future... Stay tuned.

Kipp would dearly, dearly love the opportunity to herd cats but he was over the top obsessed with it when I got him so I don't let him go there anymore...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why I'll always have more than one dog

I though about this a bit 6 years ago. In the space of 2 months I lost a childhood cat, dog and my favorite sheep. It was pretty depressing. But I had Missy, in her prime, exuding joy for life. It made me smile, it made me happy to get out and do things.

The past few weeks I've had Kipp and Kenzi. At 6 and 2 they are very much full of life and ready to go. It's good to have a dog to get out and do things with. To hook Kenzi up to the bike and watch her lean forward in excitement to GO! To make me smile and laugh. They certainly can't replace Missy, but they are themselves, full of life, looking at me with eagerness and excitement begging to get out and do something. And it's good to get out with them.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Yeah. Those. It's been a week of adjustments. Mourning what is gone but also very grateful that it changed my life so much for the better. I haven't really cried too much in the past couple days but now the tears are coming as I write this.

I've stayed out and about a lot this week and that has helped. But I still half expect to hear the bark when one of the guys walk into the house. Still look for that nose to nudge my elbow at the table, still expect a my girl to follow me upstairs or come lay beside me whatever room I may be in.

I find myself talking to Kipp the same way I talked to Missy. He doesn't understand the way she did, but he tries. He cocks his head looking at me taking in the words, trying to figure it out.

I started riding my bike to the other barn at chore time. It's not that far and the back seat of the car was just too empty. I take Kenzi along. She's a bit wild and crazy but the run does her good. I'll tie her to the fence while I do chores. I want her to learn how to settle down and act sensible around the sheep so she's in a better frame of mind when I'm able to start training her to help with chores.

It's good to get out and do something with those two. Even though it's so different I'd be totally lost without a dog to do something with.

My locket came in the mail today. I'm not really a jewelry person, but last week I decided I wanted a locket to keep a lock of Missy's hair in. I have a bit that I trimmed from around her ear. Soft, silky and I loved to feel it as I'd rub behind her ears. The locket I got is silver with a black onyx heart on the front. I found it on ebay and it just seemed fitting for my black dog - simple, yet beautiful.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I said good bye to Missy on Tuesday. I had watched her slow decline become much sharper over the past week and a half and prayed that she would go peacefully in her sleep so that I wouldn't have to make the final decision. But on Tuesday it was painfully obvious that her body was close to wearing out on her. Her heart was still willing to try, but she just couldn't anymore. I made the appointment.

I gave her extra pain meds and we spent a couple of quite hours at home. Made a slow trip to the barn where Katie cat caught Missy's attention, then we sat in the front yard with her head in my lap and I told her what a good girl she was. She always lived to please and she always quivered in happiness when I crooned to her that she was a good girl. She couldn't do much, but her tail wagged a few times at the sound of those words and she'd open her eyes if I quit petting her.

Those couple hours with her were a gift. A little while later she slipped away in the back of my car as I again stroked her head and told her she was a good girl. She was free from pain.

I knew it would be hard, but I didn't know just how deep down my heart would ache. I'd been mourning since the diagnosis over eight weeks ago, but now it was final and it cut my to the core.

She was such a part of the family, a part of my life, a part of me. It hurts like crazy right now that she isn't here to share in life anymore. I drove over to the other barn tonight to shut the sheep in and found myself sobbing because Missy wasn't in the back seat. She loved going to the barn and helping with chores right up to the end. It was our evening routine. On Monday night when I let her outside she slowly walked over to the car with a look that said "are we going?". We went. Got to the barnyard and I told her to "go bring". Her ears perked up and I helped her push the sheep (who were very used to her and knew the routine) out of the barn. It was her job and of all the things that she wasn't able to do anymore, I was glad she was able to do that right up to the end.

But those little routines are painfully empty now. No nose coming over to beg at the table for food (she was always so polite about it that no one really minded), No barking when my brother walked in the house tonight. No nose nudging open my bedroom door. No black and white face watching intently as I grab my keys with body language plainly saying "can I come, too?"

Is the pain worth it? Without a doubt. Missy was the most amazing four legged partner a person could ask for and she taught me so very much and she was my best friend. But right now the emptiness is hard. So very hard.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My dogs ate better than I did today...

That was the thought running through my head this morning when I gave Missy a raw rib eye steak to eat – and it was organic to boot. Earlier I had grabbed a fast food breakfast sandwich on my way to class and here she was happily chewing down a nice cut of premium meat! But raw meat and along with a few soft raw bones is what she'll eat these days so that's what she gets. I'm just glad that she's still around and happily eating!

Now to the question you're definitely asking if you've notice the price of a steak these days- Did I actually go out and buy a rib eye steak for my dog? the answer is yes and no. A local farm sells “seconds” meat for pets at a greatly reduced price – it ends up being cheaper buying their pet meat than grocery store hamburger, and much cheaper than any premium canned dog food. I'm strongly tempted to cook some of it for myself. I have a sneaking suspicion that their seconds are better than grocery store meats....

In case you're wondering about the other two, Kenzi had to settle for raw chicken and turkey today and Kipp had to suffer with premium kibble and canned food that Missy had turned her nose up at. They live a very tough life.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What are those masked creatures?

Canadian geese of course! And Missy found them fascinating...

She kept circling the pond to head them off

I think she could have made a good goose dog


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cats and Dogs

They're an interesting combination around here.

When Missy sees a cat she goes into stealth mode and starts stalking. But she is very easy and quiet about it so the cats here have learned that while she might be annoying, she is very harmless. All the cats but Pepper - he grew up around Missy and decided that they needed to be friends. He runs into the house and right over to Miss and starts rubbing up against her like she was his long lost buddy.

Then there is Toni. Toni is black and white and we've joked about Toni and Missy being twins separated at birth. Toni hid upstairs for a year after Missy came into the house, but finally figured out that the intimidating creature wasn't going to eat her. And they've had a love/hate relationship going on ever since. Missy would stalk Toni and Toni would hiss at her. Then Toni would be bored and she'd go bat at Missy to get something going. Or my favorite - Missy would be wandering around with nothing to do and jump on Toni who had been sleeping soundly in a chair - annoyed cat moves and dog now has a cat to follow around.

All highly entertaining!

The dynamic duo is a little different in the way they react around cats. Kipp was obsessed with cats when I got him. Say the word "cat" and his one goal in life was to find the cat. Nothing else existed. I found it rather exasperating. But after years of redirection, training, correction, etc. We finally have the obsession semi conquered. He will ignore the cats as long as he has something else to do. But if he's just laying there and one walks past it's all "CAT".

And Kenzi. Dear, sweet, loving Kenzi. Dear sweet loving Kenzi that loves to chase cats. It's wouldn't be bad if they just didn't run. She would check them out and move on to the next thing. But the barn cats run and hide from her. So she really, really, really wants to go find them. Once again it wouldn't be bad if it stopped at that. I don't let her run loose looking for cats to chase and when she is out and about I'm with her. But there is more to the story.

K & K are kenneled outdoors during the day when I cant supervise. Right outside the backdoor, away from the barn and the animals. Shady in the summer, sheltered in the winter, a dog house to chill in if they don't want to be outside. It's great set up. Except for the barn cats. They have learned that kennels are kryptonite to the dogs. The fearsome beasts with eyes that can look right through you who can chase at lightening speeds? Harmless when behind the kennel fence.

Ferdinand the barn cat takes advantage of that. He will come and saunter around the house, sit on the step and generally annoy K & K. Last night he was sitting outside the kitchen window meowing loudly. Kipp has learned that you just ignore the pesky creature, but Kenzi is not quite there yet - she was barking excitedly at him. Annoying cat. I keep threatening to get him his own kennel next to the dogs. So far he has just looked at me with a "did you say something?" look on his face...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Since my blog is K-9 Knitter, perhaps I should say something about knitting....

I was figuring out what I've knit so far this year and I was rather impressed by the list - 6 (or maybe 7) pairs of socks, 2 scarves, 2 hats and a pair of fingerless mitts. I've also worked on a sweater and a shawl, but those are hibernating at the moment. I've also done a bit of pattern planning knitting - where I take my yarn and just start knitting until it looks like the idea in my head!

Most of these have been knit up as pattern samples (or in pattern development) for Knit Picks. It really is an efficient way to knit - figure out the pattern, send in the proposal, they send you the yarn and you knit away. The only downside is that at this rate, I'll never use up my stash - or even make a dent in it. Of course the upside is that this is great for my yarn budget!

And here is a picture of my latest pattern sample - Picket Fence Lace Anklets. They are a really fun, quick knit with a lace pattern that is easy to memorize! The sample is knit in Knit Picks Stroll Tonal - colorway "Blue Yonder". A link to the pattern is coming soon!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

On Living

It’s been four weeks now since I found out that Missy had cancer. I honestly never thought she’d make it this long. I was hoping for a couple of good weeks. And now it been nearly a month and she is still doing well. Today she tagged along to take care of Logan and went over to the barn with me twice. Tonight she tried to work a lamb in the barnyard. And she would have succeeded except that lambs don’t play by the rules….

I am enjoying to opportunity to really live with her some more. The first couple weeks I was constantly on edge thinking that any little thing could be a sign that I was losing her. I didn’t sleep well, I kept thinking “what if this is it?” I wasn’t sure I’d use up the first 10 pain pills for her, but now I’ve refilled the prescription twice.

So things have shifted just a bit. I’m still very aware that it’s all day by day, but life is kind of back to normal, or at least as normal as it can be considering. We have our modified routine. My dog is happy, living her life and enjoying it. I’m trying to do the same. The other day I was once again thinking “what if this is it?” and I caught myself. I keep thinking that and Missy just keeps plodding right along. I have a dog that is still very much living and I’m preoccupied with her dying. Why? It was kind of like God was saying - “you still have your gift - enjoy it!“ I’ve had time to grieve and come to terms with things. I don’t need to do any more of that right now. There will be plenty of time later. Now is the time to focus on the life that is still very much there and just enjoy it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

They make me laugh

Took K & K out for the evening jog along side of the bike - it really is an awesome way to exercise them! When we got back I told them to "stay" on the driveway while I put the bike in the barn. They each held their stay very nicely - and each in a way that was uniquely them....

Kipp was standing when I said stay, and he stood in that position the entire time. Kenzi stayed in the spot I left her, but tried out a dozen different positions. after I got back to them I pulled out my cell phone and started taking pictures... The pictures are low quality but hilarious (IMO at least!) so I'm posting them -

Kipp - just stands there because he was told to "stay"

Kenzi - "you're back!! Yay! Please, please, please can I get up now?!?!?"

Kipp - continues to stand there because "stay" means "stay"

Kenzi - "I'm still right where you left me, but can I pleeeeeease have a belly rub?? Pretty, pretty pleeeeeeease???"

Kipp - still standing there (because "stay" still means "stay") but now thinking "What in the world is that crazy dog doing?!?"

Kenzi - Still has her butt in the right spot, but has figured that since the appeals to the person haven't worked, she'd try to check out the surroundings - no big deal if Kipp was in the way, she'd fit underneath and try to get a better whiff of what was in the woodpile over there...

Goofy dogs!!

Switching gears a bit. My Missy girl is still doing okay. She is slowing down and tires easily, but still has her BC spark and trots out to the car and can jump in at the mention of "sheep".

When we got to the barn tonight I saw that one new mom and baby were missing. Of course right away I'm thinking "oh no, what happened??" But it turned out that the ewe had just decided to stay out in the pasture with her baby.

Not her brightest idea and I wasn't coming back later to put her in when she felt like it. So Miss and I trekked up to where the ewe was. But she wasn't budging. Kind of weird because usually the one lone sheep will high tail it to the barn. But she had her baby and still wanted to grab something to eat. I finally grabbed the lamb (who protested greatly) and took him back to the barn so mom would follow - which she did. Miss followed her from behind and seemed quite happy about having a job to do. At least the silly sheep made my dog happy tonight!!