Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Third Annual Dog Sitting Fiber Retreat

Dick and Jill are in Guatemala. Jill will be returning in 2 ½ weeks. Meanwhile, I am house sitting, dog sitting, and cat sitting for them. This is the third year that I’ve stayed at their place while they vacation due south.

I love their place. It’s out in the country, very quiet. And this year very snowy. See?

I’ve been taking advantage of the snow by strapping on my snow shoes and heading out into the fields and forest, with Mari the dog following (sometimes leading). Daily snow shoe trips. What could be more wonderful?

I walk Mari three times a day, including the snow shoeing. We usually walk north along Hulbert Road and cross Stanley Creek. It is a very small creek, but delightfully northern and mysterious.

Dick and Jill do not have TV service so I am missing the Olympics (bummer), but they do have a DVD player so I am able to watch movies. I watched an interesting German film last night, The Lives of Others, set in East Berlin before the wall fell. It involves the Stasi’s spying on East German citizens. I recommend it.

A couple nights ago, I watched Prisoners, a recent DVD release with Hugh Jackman. It started out rather formulaic, but did not end that way. Jake Gyllenhaal was also in it. He was very good.

What else to do with my time? What to do….I know! I’ll work on some fiber projects! Yeah! That’s the ticket! Of course I made a list of fibery activities for this three week get-away:

Knit a pair of socks. I’ve already picked out the yarn and swatched for gauge. I’m thinking of modifying a Nancy Bush pattern, but haven’t committed to it yet.

Finish the Curvy Corner Shawl. Just a tiny bit of grafting left to do and weaving in ends. Then I can block it.

Weave a watch band on my little inkle loom. I selected 3 colors of linen yarn. I may only use 2 of them. And I’ll stick to a plain weave pattern for this. I’d like to warp the loom tomorrow.

Finish unraveling my qiviut tunic. Done! I discovered a weird thing about the tunic’s construction. The first panel I unraveled was knitted from bottom to top, so I started the unraveling at the top and worked my way down. When I tried the same strategy on the second panel, it didn’t work! So I examined the piece rather more carefully and discovered that this second panel had been knitted in the opposite direction. So I had to unravel from the bottom up! I’m having trouble understanding the rationale for the two different directions of knitting; it wouldn’t make them symmetrical. I wish I’d examined the piece closely before I started the deconstruction. Anyway, I wound the yarn into balls as I unraveled. Then I wound each ball into a skein. Today, I soaked the yarns in warm water with a bit of Eucalan. They are now hanging to dry. I’ve got a lot of fabulous qiviut knitting in my future! Here’s a picture of the skeined yarn, before washing.

Repair a sweater. I was asked by another township library volunteer to mend a hole in a classic Irish-made aran style sweater that he’d found in a second hand store. I agreed to take on the challenge. I’ve got a booklet about knit repair that I’ll use as a guide. And I bought a skein of yarn that is a reasonable – but not perfect – match to the sweater’s tweed style yarn. My plan is to practice first by knitting a swatch then cutting a hole in it then following the directions for a seamless repair. Tonight I plan to graph out the cable pattern that is part of the damage.

Spin some dog hair. A friend of my housemate asked if I’d be interested in spinning some of her dog’s hair and then knitting a scarf. I was leery. After we discussed all the costs involved and possible multiple steps, I tentatively agreed. She brought over 4 paper grocery bags filled with the undercoat of her Malamute, “Maxie”. I gently washed one bag of the fur with warm water and Eucalan. A very gentle wash. Susie, the dog’s owner, is sensitive to fragrances, but she approved of the eucalyptus smell (which I personally love). I’m going to try to spin some of it as is, and I’m going to try to blend some with merino wool on my drum carder. We’ll see…..

That’s it. Snow, snow shoeing, dog walking, movies, spinning, knitting, weaving. A perfect February.


  1. Sounds like you've got a lot planned, good luck! The hiking/walking looks fun ;)

    1. I'm having a wonderful time. And! I am making progress on my projects.