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Monday, April 10, 2006

A Tale of Perception: Dumb Dogs and Happy People

It’s a conversation I’ve had with a local friend several times. I always laugh. Always. Dumb dogs are actually a joy to have around. They just are. My husky is charming – but dumb. I’m not being snarky; she’s just not the brightest bulb in the box. But charm? Oh yes. Very charming!

Another friend found her on the street two summers ago. After a couple of weeks of ads which didn’t produce a viable lead as to her owner, well, He decided to keep her. They were living in my basement with his other dog – a Malamute. When his job change required him to move and give up the second dog, I decided to keep her.

THIS is what you wanted, isn't it?!?

She’s lovely – brown and white with pale blue eyes. She’s capable of learning: I’ve taught her to shake, and we’re working on sitting before being let out.

She’s great with kids and likes to catch one of my cats and escort him across the living room by walking alongside him while holding his head in her mouth. He tolerates this with benign resignation, and even goes looking for her some days. I think the slobber in his fur gets on his nerves, but he bears it well.

My eleven-year-old Dalmatian is finally starting to play with her when she bats him in the head repeatedly with her front paws and then turns belly up under his chin. My VERY smart shepherd/border collie mix has always loved her and tries to mother her – and now the husky has taken up some herding behaviors -- targeting the shepherd! A VERY funny reversal to watch, and the shepherd grins and obeys!

Teaching Kala takes time. What the shepherd gets in six or seven repetitions, and the Dalmatian gets in 10 - 15 repetitions, the husky gets in 35 – 45repetitions. But her utter DELIGHT in figuring out what it is you are asking for makes it all worth it! And today she walked under my afghan-covered legs and netted herself. Tossing her head like a horse, a frequent affectation, she tugged, and turned, and tugged , and tossed, and stompled her feet, and got excited, and finally got her nose out, and then appeared and hopped up to join me on the couch, grinning at her fun and pleased that she’d finally gotten out. [ chuckle].


Sooooo pleased with herself! One afternoon, while spending time with a three-year-old friend, Kala and said friend kept each other busy for more than an hour. G. blew bubbles and Kala ate them – over, and over, and over. As long as the child was willing to blow bubbles, the dog was willing to eat them. The Dalmatian ignored the bubbles, and the Shepherd ate one or two and quit – they tasted bad! But Kala liked the giggles she got from me and the girl, so she ate every bubble that came her way,grinning and content. Her ego is not involved; She is enjoyment wrapped up in fur.

I aspire to be a “dumb-dog” knitter. I really do. I’m working on it. My recently finished purple alpaca – ahemmm. BLOOMED. I don’t know what else to call it. Now I’d forgotten to shorten the sleeves, and I knew it was a bit large – I hadn’t calculated the proper amount of negative ease. But it was soft, and cuddly, and . . . then I washed it.

[Sigh] I swear I made and washed swatches. They didn’t “bloom” at all to this extent. The sweater – um – grew – from a women’s large to a men’s XXL.
I set it aside. The fabric was lovely. The pattern was perfect for it. Easy to memorize. I’m frogging. I will swatch again and start over with the already washed yarn. Maybe it was spring growth pheremones in the air or water? That old “spring is in the air”? Surely it cannot bloom to that extent again! We’ll see. But here is the “blooming sweater” now, as I frog, and frog, and find to my surprise that it doesn’t bother me anymore. I’d much rather frog the whole thing and start over than try to adjust it and live with the inappropriate proportions. I love working with this yarn and was actually sad about being finished. I hope to get it right as I slowly re-work the sweater this summer, but I’m more surprised at how little ego is gnawing at me. Shouldn’t I be more upset? Shouldn’t I be stomping around and pissy because this happened? Cursing myself and the yarn, fate or my lack of experience?

Nope. No inclination at all. The pleasure of having the yarn run through my hands is just as real while frogging it as while working it. The color is still lovely, and I’ll get to do this again without the anxiety of wondering how to interpret instructions. I’ve already figured it all out. Now I can make the sweater without the stress of all the instructions being “new.” It will be both familiar, and much more enjoyable. I like the challenge of new patterns and new skills – but I‘m happy with knowing what I’m doing as well!

With that idea in mind, I’m using the pattern for the top I made last summer to make another of the leaf-edged camisoles -- this time in KnitPicks cotton Shine – in River. It's a pattern called "Soleil" and is comfy to wear and pleasant to knit.
You can find the original and the pattern at:
Spring 05 Knitty "Soleil"

While I've chosen a color far from the original, I think the Dark Blue will show to advantage with summer shorts and cropped pants. I love working this lace pattern, and the shine is wonderfully soft to work with! I’m planning several more tops in this yarn for later this summer -- colors and patterns to be determined!

I also must admit that on a recent visit to my LYS, I gave in to temptation, and I purchased some CottonFleece to make the cover sweater from IK – without the bobbles. I’m just not in need of bobbles on my torso. I have plenty of curves and bumps of my own, thank you very much!. But I love the cables and the neckline in this sweater, and hope to have it done within the month.

As you can see, the first swatch is done and washed. I need to check the guage and then take the next steps – swatch the rib again to get the correct guage, or try a cable pattern swatch. Isn’t the wisteria color gorgeous?!

Other happenings? My purple socks are going well, and I really like the Woldefoote yarn. I’ve picked up a couple of skeins of this wonderful read for my next pair.

The re-worked blue Opal socks are getting much wear, and I’m quite happy with the turnout. I still haven’t achieved the perfect size –But I continue to adjust and dabble. I’ll find my perfect fit in socks eventually.

My meditation / Yoga class is over, and I’m a confirmed meditator now. It’s helping with so many aspects of my life – concentration, stress, personal interactions, etc. I spend so much of my life in my head, thinking about my life rather than living it. Meditation and “dumb-dog” knitting seem to be adding new dimensions to my life and my knitting-life.

‘Tis a gorgeous day, and it’s time to put in some time listening to Moll Flanders while knitting. Oooh. And Knit the Classics will be reading two of my favorites in May and June – Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. I can’t wait!


KnitNana said...

OH, my Soliel in dark blue! I love it...maybe even more than Annie's Silk Corset...hmmm...And your lavender socks are gorgeous, the wisteria yarn...Christy someday we're going to have to meet, as I think we're probably sisters under the skin!
Glad you're back, glad the yoga and meditation are helping...need to go there myself!

Birdsong said...

I just love the dog, and can relate to having a dumb but fun dog around... life just seems more relaxed with all that to laugh at. Sorry about the alpaca, but you are right about the pleasure gained in the knitting. You have inspired me to consider Soliel, and that cover sweater too, loved them both, but there are so many things in line ahead of them!