Divide and Conquer

I assumed the responsibility of principle dog walker even before Mr. Knitting Sarah and I were dating, way back beyond recorded history when we were just friends and it was his dog, not mine. I didn’t grow up with animals until I was a teenager and then it was cats. I didn’t know the first thing about dogs and because of this I had little trust for them and was pretty all-around wary of them. This all changed when at 21 years old I moved in as a roommate with two friends, one being the man who we now know as Mr. Knitting Sarah (it’s a long, winding story — I’ll leave it at that for now) who had a beautiful dog named Becket. Becket was an Akita/Shepherd mix who was as sweet as could be with family and friends, but notoriously did not like many people outside his inner circle and, well, let’s just say he was an excellent guard dog.

I will never forget the first day I got back to my new apartment when no one else was home and Becket greeted me at the front door. We stood for a moment watching each other, trying to decide what move the other would make. I figured it was even odds that he’d let me in or make sure I exited quickly. After a moment, I said, “Do you want to go for a walk?” and I reached for his leash. In that moment, he leaped in the air with joy and from that moment on we were always friends. He and I shared a walk or two daily for the rest of his life.

It’s something I really love, whether it’s on a trail out in a natural area or around the neighborhood, I love taking those walks with my canine friends. The fresh air, the bonding with the inimitable spirit of a dog, and just the sheer joy of that daily walk helps me to appreciate all those subtle changes that happen in the world around us every single day. I’ve carried on the daily walk routine with Moose throughout his entire life and now with Bear as well.

This week was marked a turning point at our house, though. With Bear hurtling toward giant status, I had to finally admit that walking both dogs at once (now weighing close to 150lbs between the two) was no longer good for anyone. Even with a kid along willing to help, it was just too much chaos with a lab who has so much love for everyone and a puppy who is still learning his manners. So this week I started adjusting the boys to a new schedule where each dog gets their own walk with me.

At first it was a little sad to leave one dog behind as the one not leashed up  stares at me heartbroken (I don’t know why, but if you ask them, I am an amazing walking companion), but all it took was one day to see the huge difference it made for all of us. My walks with Moose are dreamy.

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Oh wait, that’s just Moose dreaming!

In any case, he used to be a horrible tow truck of a dog just pulling like his life depended on it on walks, but now because of how much I had to revisit my training skills with Bear and maybe because Moose is happy to bond and get the 1-on-1 time, he is the picture of perfection when he walks. He listens, he rarely pulls, and we just really enjoy our time together outside so much. A couple days ago, we stopped to watch Bald Eagles courting over a nearby field. Yesterday we stopped to listen to the flock of a couple hundred robins a few streets over from our house.

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I wake up excited for my walk with Moose every single day. It is a breath of fresh air, a joy that I feel privileged to experience each day.

Bear’s walks, of course, are more work right now than play.

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This guy hasn’t quite figured out how to appropriately express how excited he is to meet new people and dogs. Unfortunately, it tends to come out in excited growls and barking which can be off-putting to potential new friends when you’re 50+lbs, with shaggy black fur, and puppy levels of energy. He’s figuring it out, but it’s a process and it just takes time and lots of practice. And while it’s a very different experience than walking Moose, I can’t help but feel lucky that I get to help guide this sweet pup as he learns about the world around him. Every time I practice recall on our walk and call him back to me I’m reminded of this as his giant paddles/paws, floppy ears, and toothy grin full of love and joy eventually flollop  back to me.

What I’m think about every day as I walk these boys is to be mindful that every person and every project and every task has a different starting point and different requirements and that it’s important to factor those points into my expectations, to meet each person, project, and task from its own unique starting point. It can be very easy to be frustrated when a spinning project takes a little longer than I expect, just like it can be hard to remember not to hold Bear up to the same standard we are used to with our 7-year-old been-there-done-that-mastered-my-manners Moose.

It can be frustrating, if you leave out the dog training and homeschooling and life living, to know that these two bobbins have been sitting for a few days, waiting to be skeined instead of drying and finished.

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Just like if you don’t take into account his breed and personality, it can be hard to accept that Bear is much more stubborn and is taking his own sweet time learning to really listen.

It can be hard to admit that even though the bobbins for this project are just under 1.5oz each I’m only getting one finished each night.

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Just like it can be hard to admit that I really can’t walk two giant dogs at once.

Sometimes it’s important to divide and conquer, to split things up and carve manageable pieces out of larger scale projects. In a world where multi-tasking is revered as king, there is still something important to be said for taking more time in order to give things the attention they deserve. To do a job well,  sometimes that means you will progress more slowly. If you want to be joyful in what you do, you have to allow your expectations to honestly jive with realty.

Maybe that means that with spring here, you busy tidying the yard and house and are just plugging away with a round of two of that latest sock WIP each day instead of logging inches upon inches each day…

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Maybe that means that instead of spinning, you’re taking this mutt on your second dog walk of the day…

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Maybe that means instead having all these letters circled and thus all these singles done for this project…

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You are just starting bobbin 3 out of 6 tonight.

Whatever the realty of the requirements of your next task, the place from which your next student needs to begin learning from, or how much of an uphill battle your upcoming round of puppy courses may be…

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May you be unafraid to divide and conquer where necessary and may you be inspired to allow your expectations to play nicely with reality.

FO FriYAY!

It’s Friday and I’ve decided to share not one, but TWO Finished Objects today. I think that means this Fri-day levels-up to Fri-YAY, don’t you?!

My first finished project I’d like to share is my Lesley Sweater!

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I’m the first to admit that I may have been a little overzealous with the length.

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I was trying to avoid the hits-at-waist-look, but it seems instead of going a smidge longer, I’ve created a tunic — at least that’s how it looks on the mannequin! In reality, on my person, it’s not quite so insanely long, just nearly covering my backside and the fit is actually quite good.  I do reserve the right to rip some back, but I think I’m far more likely to just wear it and enjoy a draft-free sweater. I mean, if I leave the length, than I can probably get away wearing it with stretchy pants out on the trail… that’s something to think about!

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The design is just a super simple raglan.

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And I adore the pretty blue color, Quince & Co’s Osprey in River. While I’m undecided on whether I’ll leave the length as-is or take some off, I’m positive that I love the fit and feel of this sweater and I’m very happy I finally got around to knitting it!

My other FO today is a pair of socks!

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After the whole darning affair of a week or so ago, I dug in and got these done for Mr. Knitting Sarah. As you can see, once again, I got a little overzealous in the length of the cuff — must have been something I was doing in February when I overshot on my Lesley Tunic, I mean Lesley Sweater, as well!

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I mean, yikes! Usually I have quite a bit of yarn leftover from these big Regia skeins I use for him, but NOT THIS TIME. It was yarn chicken all the way and I just escaped by the skin of my teeth! I maybe had 5 yards leftover!

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In any case, I finished them last night and had to share them today as they need to go right into the sock rotation for Mr. KS. I’ll be casting-on another pair asap as well, to help bolster the reserves, but I am glad to have one new pair heading for his sock drawer. Hopefully one more in the rotation will help the longevity of the newly darned socks. Everyone cross your fingers with me!

This weekend I hope to ply up three spins that are waiting to be finished and maybe get working on the next step of my French Braid Cardigan. Oh, and cast-on that pair of socks, too! What’s on your knitting and spinning agenda for this weekend?

Knit From Your Knitting, Part 2

About this time last year I was knitting my first ever socks from a sock blank. As I clicked away, Mr. Knitting Sarah looked across the room at me and then stared at my knitting.

“Are you knitting… from your knitting?”

Knitting from the sock blank, of course, that’s exactly what I was doing. I cam to realize that knitting from sock blanks definitely agrees with me. There’s something about being able to look at the upcoming color changes and say, “Oh, I will keep going until I get to the next bit of red,” or “I can’t wait to see how that dot of green knits into this fabric.” They are really great fun and a welcome change from my usual center-pull balls of yarn.

Earlier this year, a friend of mine gave me an awesome Andre Sue Knits sock blank (I’d give you the link, but I believe she’s ended her sock blank painting business). I cannot believe it, but I did not take a before picture! That’s not true… I took the picture, I just can’t find the picture. And I’ve searched everywhere it should be. [Insert huge eyeroll here.] In any case, if you tilt your head and use your imagination a little, the fabric in the back of this photo with the sheep — that’s the blank.

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I believe I received them in June and started knitting on them shortly after that. They’ve been my on-again-off-again knitting project ever since… until a couple of weeks ago when — after finishing my Tecumseh sweater — I found myself gloriously in-between big projects.

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Ta-da!

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Obviously, these are fraternal twins, not identical. I never mind that at all, but my apologies to those whose skin I just made crawl. Just take a deep breath or stop reading because there’s one more photo to go here.

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I really love the colors and the fit is superb. I didn’t take too many photos of these because I’ve actually worn and washed them a couple times!

It’s funny. I was recently considering switching to Fish Lips Kiss heels as my go-to heel. I’ve been using the Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Basic Sock pattern with its heel flap & gusset method for about a decade now and I really like it. And I know it really well. But I have a couple pair of Fish Lips Kiss heeled socks that have a pretty phenomenal fit. This pair of socks sends that plan into total limbo because the fit is just fantastic. I will have to do some pondering before I get to the heel on my next pair of socks!

All The WIPs and One FO

After finishing my sweater, I’ve found myself shying away from the thought of finishing… anything.  As someone who is usually very methodical in my craft — first you start, then you work through the project, then you finish, and finally start a new project — it’s been a weird mindset in which to find myself. Thankfully, it’s not ledto a wild foray into startitis, but it has resulted into a few new WIPs.

I’m tantalizingly close to finishing this pair of socks…

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Just a little ways to go on the foot and then the toe and this pair will be done. I’ve been plinking away at it since mid-summer, so it’s time to mosey toward the end of this project one of these days.

Shortly after finishing my sweater, I started this shawl project…

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It’s a new-to-me construction (who knew there was such a thing — lol!) as I am knitting in a circle! As so many new techniques are, it was a bumpy start, but I seem to be cruising now. I have no idea how far I’ve left to go before I hit some cool lacework, but I’m kind of slowly working my way into this project. I’m still debating another knitting project as I have yarn wound for hats and really could use some extra hats, especially with holiday company coming in a couple weeks. I think I’ll attempt to finish up the socks and then move on to hats. I don’t want to get too crazy with this multiple projects at once thing!

In spinning news, I’ve been very driven to work on singles. I’m definitely in a “fill the bobbins and worry about plying another day mode.” And so that’s exactly what I’ve been doing with the exception of my latest Top of the Month Club

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Mary Ann from Three Waters Farm and I found ourselves curious how it would look as a traditional 3-ply and really there’s only one way to find out. Spin it!

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It just turned out beautiful! Add it to the list pile of yarn I want to knit into hats!

In the great game of “fill the bobbins” though, I’ve got singles for Nest‘s Damaged Goods…

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Three Waters Farm’s Multifarious Ruse…

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These are all set to ply.

On the wheels — because I’ve been splitting time between my Jensen Tina 2 & Schacht Reeves — I’ve got an Inglenook batt in a braid (I think) in the Hazelnut colorway happening. I’m probably 1/3 of the way through the fiber I have…

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And Three Waters Farm’s Maple Leaf Rag is almost finished.

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Seriously, 5 minutes and I’ll be done with this. I’ve not yet decided what spin will come next on this wheel, but you probably won’t be surprised to know I have some ideas.

It’s really quite weird to not be focused in on finishing anything in particular, especially right before the holidays when most are feverishly knitting on holiday gifts. I have to say though, I’m finding it very refreshing! I’m not sure how long it’ll last — it may end when I hit “publish” on this post! — but I’m going to enjoy it while it does!