Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On becoming published

This year I started designing knitting patterns and I'm now classified as an "Independent Designer" on Knit Picks website. It sounds cool and it is cool, and whats more - anyone can do this through developing their skills and then taking the plunge. I'm not talking about knitting patterns, I'm talking about whatever your niche is. As Edison said "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration"

I never thought of myself as a person who could write up patterns in a professional manner. Sure I could knit. But come up with pattern ideas? then write out patterns? *shudders* Nope. Not me. And it would have stayed that way if a couple of friends (Christine and Sincero) hadn't encouraged me to give it a try. So I did. And my very first pattern idea? Turned down! I was a bit bummed, but oh well I really couldn't write out patterns anyway so it was back to knitting just for me, just for fun. But my friends kept encouraging me to try again - both through their words and their success. This time around I kept it simple, photographing and writing up a proposal for a pattern idea that I had knit up 6 months before. I sent it in not hoping for much and low and behold THEY LIKED IT!!!

Over the next few months more proposal submitted, accepted and patterns written up. I am really grateful for the opportunity that has been made available to people like me and for the encouragement of my friends to go for it!

And any person can create a talent through hard work, spend time honing their skill, then find a niche market for those skills. It's not rocket science, it's just work. Got something you enjoy doing? Then spend time learning to do it well! You'll develop a skill, master it, then share it - and have a blast doing so!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Border Collies and Prey Drive

I was amazed/amused recently when heard of someone saying that a Border Collie's prey drive was a con to the breed. Umm, isn't that what the breed is all about? Herding ability is refined/carefully bred prey drive in action. When you get a Border Collie prey drive is part of the package deal. If you're not prepared to handler it, you should consider a different breed.

Border Collies are first and foremost high energy working dogs. They were bred to work day in and day out in rough hill country as the shepherds right hand in managing the flock covering many miles a day in the process. While they can make wonderful companions for active individuals they need structure, they need training, they need an outlet for their physical and mental energy and they need an owner who will realize that prey drive is part of the package and will manage and train accordingly.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thinking like a dog person

I got to my college campus last week and realized they had begun a construction project - with big heavy equipment that makes weird noises. I imagine that the average person sees something like this, goes "oh" and continues on their way. But the average person doesn't have 3 dogs in the back of their car. I saw it and thought "great! new distractions to train around!" and preceded to get Kenzi out to do a short, upbeat obedience session with her.

But it isn't just construction equipment that catches my eye, I'm also on the lookout for anything weird that I can get her to climb on. She loves climbing and one of the training requirements for my SAR team is that the dog can confidently maneuver SAR style agility equipment. So she gets to climb over bulk boxes, stacks of pallets, wood piles, saw horses and other random objects. She loves it.

Switching gears to kniting - after I sent my latest samples off to Knit Picks 2 weeks ago, I was kind of at a loss as t what to knit next. So I worked on more pattern proposals. Three of them. And sent them all in to Knit Picks. They accepted all three - hooray!!! I should get the yarn in the mail by the end of next week then I'll start knitting away on these new sock samples. I can't wait - this is so much fun!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Border Collies and Bikjoring

I was going to try out Skijoring with Kenzi during the winter. She loves to pull and we get plenty of snow. But I ordered her a harness in the beginning of January and didn’t get it until the third week of February - on the first day we had no snow left on the ground. Sigh. So much for Skijoring. But I still have the harness and I still have the dog and that dog could still use some more exercise. Enter Bikjoring. The same principle as Skijoring except that the human end of the equation use a bike instead of a pair of skis. I have a sneaking suspicion that the reasoning behind this might be that the two modes of transportation can be equally as dangerous for the human when attached to high energy dog.

Tonight I took Kenzi out for her first jog along side the bike. She did well and we practiced slowing down a few time and keeping her focus on running instead of all the other things along the way. The mile long jog/sprint was just a nice stretch of the legs for her so I think we may have a winner. I am very sure that how ever it ends up it will probably be a crazy adventure because, well, Kenzi is involved!

On the knitting front, since I finished up both patterns and samples I was work on and sent them away to Knit Picks, I’ve been a bit bored with no pattern knitting to do. So in the past week I’ve submitted three new pattern proposals to them. So now the waiting game begins anew - will they like any of them? Which ones? Any chance that they’ll like all of them? Stay tuned…

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May I pet your dog?

I think these might be the hardest words in the English language when it comes to dogs. I'm always amazed at the number of people who just assume that it is fine to come up and pet my dogs when I have them out and about.

I went to a local store this morning to take advantage of some great deals. I took Missy in with me because she likes that sort of thing and I like to make her happy. At 12 years old she has become pretty solid when it comes to people. This was a process about 6 years in the making, but I digress. At least three people just started petting her as we walked by them. No asking, no introductions, just stared petting my dog.

For a nation of dog lovers we are woefully inadequate when it come to dog manners and etiquette. I don't allow my dogs to go up to random strangers and jump on them, I teach them to ignore people in public unless they have permission to "say hi". In my opinion it's just common courtesy for the human factor in the equation to do the same

Hmm, I wonder if marker training would be as effective with people as it would be with dogs. Perhaps I should start saying "thank you" when people come within three feet of my dogs. As they looked at me with a puzzled look I could explain that I was thanking them for asking permission before they came close to my dog. It might get my point across....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fiber Fiesta

Had a great day at the Michigan Fiber Fiesta yesterday. Saw friends from last year and met some wonderful new people. It was so nice and cheery with all the bright yarn, fluffy fiber and smiling faces inside the Klackle Orchards pavilion! A whole different world from the gray, rainy one outside. I forgot to take a picture of my booth so I don't have on to post :-( I worked on my Woof! socks in between visiting with customers and they should be finished and ready to send to Knit Picks by Tuesday!!

The dogs were chomping at the bit to do something after I got home last night. My dear brother had taken them out for a couple walks during the day, but they were ready for some quality exercise by evening. Some days it would be nice if they got tired because I did... :D A good game of chuck-it ball took the edge off their energy. This afternoon I'll take them out for some training time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New toys and focus work

Those are a couple things that we have been up to lately. I’m working on developing a new dog toy - from felted wool! The idea was born last year when a batch of roving I was dyeing felted just a bit in the dye pots. Felted roving is pretty much worthless for spinning but I wanted to do something with it! So I braided it up, threw the braid in the washing machine and presto! A dog tug!

This spring I started working on refining the idea and sent out toys to testers. I have my first batch for sale made up and will have them in an Etsy store soon!!

And on to focus. Some Border Collies come with natural solid focus. Some Border Collies need it shaped. And shaping it is work - real work that takes real planning! Actually all training does, but it’s easy to fall into the complacency trap especially with school finals to prep for… So the past couple I’ve been working with Kenzi close to all the natural distractions around here (cats, chickens, field with interesting smells) and it’s paying off - like all training does! Even the cackling chickens only momentarily grabbed her attention last night as we walked right past the open chicken door. It’s good to see progress like that!