Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pretty, Pretty Weeds

Happy Wordless Wednesday... it means we're one step closer to Friday!

I just love this shot I got over the weekend and think I might actually have to have it enlarged and framed...

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A couple more... who knew weeds could be so pretty!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where oh where has my weekend gone?

That's the question I'm still asking! Maybe now it should be "is it Friday yet?"

Autumn sure is falling on in around here! Some pics from the weekend...

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Some shots of the yard...

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Not a lot of color on the side yet, but look at that sky!

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I started Colonnade on Saturday, but haven't touched it since finishing off the first section Sunday afternoon. I will probably start the lace tonight. I'm being very un-original and using the Manos del Uruguay wool... which I am loving. Even with the thick and thin sections (I love handspun, so...)... its just so soft and wonderful to knit with!

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I've also been working on a couple of Christmas knits, as well as various other WIPs... have you started your holiday knitting yet?

Friday, September 25, 2009

PRE-REVIEW: Rescue Ink Premieres TONIGHT!

Don't miss the season premiere of Rescue Ink Unleashed tonight at 10:00 pm ET/PT on National Geographic channel! I am extremely excited about this new show and will soon be bringing you a review of both the show and the book.

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Rescue Ink Unleashed is a new weekly series that documents this unlikely group of animal activists on their crusade to save helpless, abandoned and abused animals. Featured on “Ellen” and in The New York Times, this eclectic band of brothers — composed of club bouncers, security guards and even a retired NYPD detective — is on call 24/7 to take on cases no one else will.

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They’re not cops, animal experts or even animal control. They’re just big guys with even bigger hearts and a desire to save animals from deplorable living conditions and abusive or simply misguided owners. Each one-hour episode of Rescue Ink Unleashed takes viewers on “ride-alongs” as members follow up on leads in the New York metro area. Taking an average of 100 calls a week at their headquarters on Long Island, they jump into their cars — or on their “hogs” — and confront alleged animal abusers, rescue fighting dogs, investigate stolen animals and (firmly) encourage owners to give up their pets if it is in the best interest of the animals.

Filling In...

TGIF!!! The leaves are changing and the air is getting cooler... ahh, fall in New England!

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Its Friday Fill-In time!

1. One week ago I was getting ready for NHMS race weekend.

2. I was always crafting something when I was young.

3. Mama told me to always stand up for yourself and speak your mind.

4. We've been through alot, you and me.

5. Take your time and knit that gauge swatch (yeah, so maybe I don't... but I can tell you that you should, right??).

6. This funk will pass!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to the season premiere of Ghost Whisperer, tomorrow my plans include playing with my new digital SLR camera and Sunday, I want to see some kart racing, although it really sounds like a rain-out!

I hope to get another book review up later today... stay tuned!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tug-o-War Fun

Happy Doggy Day... the last one for September. Wow, can you believe September is nearly over already? (note to self: get your arse moving on that Christmas knitting!)

So, what's better in a dog's world than a new toy, right? The kids got a Tug-o-War braid with tennis ball, custom made by a fellow New Hampshire Etsian. As her etsy shop profile reads, "sick of seeing 'made in China' on your pets toys?," well then check out Woof Purr Creations (she makes both dog and cat toys).

Lola and Teutul having some tuggy fun...

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Sophie coming to claim the toy getting in on the action...

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Zeus investigating the new toy... from the comfort of his couch since he'd rather play tuggy with Mommy than a pesky little sister or brother...

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The verdict? Well, all four kids have been playing with the tug-o-war fleece for a bit over two weeks now and its holding up wonderfully (read: they haven't even chewed the tennis ball off yet)! They really love it, especially Teutul and Sophie. And the Princess thinks all doggies should have one of their very own!

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The kids also just got brand new name tags, but we'll save those for another day... enjoy your little Friday!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

REVIEW: The Joy of Sox

The Joy of Sox
by Linda Kopp
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Lark Books (October 6, 2009)

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If you're totally obsessed with knitting socks and think that SOX ROCK, then The Joy of Sox: 30+ Must-Knit Designs is for you! Linda Kopp has brought together 28 amazing designers who put their best foot forward with beyond-the-basic sock patterns that include some wonderful examples of cable, lace and colorwork.

The Joy of Sox combines patterns with fun stories, trivia and useful tips straight from the designers themselves - all in a very flirtatiously, fresh package. Crazy Aunt Purl even shares her first time sock knitting experience.

Aimed at the experienced sock knitter, The Joy of Sox delivers on its name. With their tantalizing cables, intricate lacework, and intriguing color work, the patterns represent the very best in sock design. Some patterns of note include:

~ Snow Bunny, a pair of heart motif knee-highs in hot pink and black
~ Last of the Red Hot Lovers, with a heart cable running up the front
~ Breakfast in Bed, a gorgeous example of colorwork, complete with lovebirds
~ Chick Flick, a delicate lily stitch is paired with a saucy scallop for a pair of stunning lace socks

The Joy of Sox is a hardcover book with spiral binding, making it easy to follow along on a page while knitting. The photography throughout is beautiful and really plays up the flirty innuendo theme. If you are a sock-knitta, you will definitely want to add this book to your shelf!

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the designers from The Joy of Sox, Gina House. Gina, whom I'm also proud to call a friend, has 2 beautiful designs featured in the book; A Roll in the Hay and Rock-a-Bye.

Lapdog Creations: First off, let me start by saying congratulations for having not one, but two of your patterns included in The Joy of Sox! You've published several patterns in the past, but these were the first to be included in a book - how does that feel? What has the experience been like for you?

Gina: The experience was wonderful! It was a lot more work than I thought it would be (lots of editing and adding/subtracting details) and it required a lot of patience, which is (sadly) not my strong suit. LOL! I wrote the patterns almost 2 years ago and had to wait a year and a half for the book to come out, so it has been a long journey. It's truly been worth it, though. I mean, seeing The Joy of Sox on the shelves and flipping through the book to see my patterns is amazing! And, it's not even MY book - it's just filled with so many very talented designers that I'm extremely proud and honored to be part of it all.

Lapdog Creations: When did you first start knitting socks and what was your first sock experience like? Did you become a sock addict right away?

Gina: I first started knitting socks about 5 1/2 years ago. I've been knitting for 7 years (mostly scarves and little, easy knits) and then found the Barnes & Noble knitting group on Meetup.com. They were very welcoming and also really inspiring! They were "veteran knitters" and I was a beginner knitter at the time. They told me about "real yarn stores" (not just craft stores where you could get yarn) and gave me the confidence to start knitting socks.

I'm not sure you could say that I became a sock addict right away. I started with toe-up socks and that probably wasn't the best idea. I had NO idea how to do short rows at the time and was just learning how to knit in the round on DPNs. So, it was a terribly frustrating experience at the time. Once I got it, I was so excited that I'd knit something practical and, more importantly, the sock fit my foot! Since then, I've knit many, many socks and I think I enjoy designing them more than knitting them. If it were up to me, I think I might just design socks and have a drawer full of singles! But, luckily, I'm a bit obsessive and that makes me feel like I ought to finish the pair. So, I do.

Lapdog Creations: What is your preferred sock method - DPNs; Circs; Magic Loop; One or Two at a time - and why?

Gina: I started off knitting in the round with DPNs, progressed onto 2 Circs (love that Cat Bordhi!) and now I'm using the Magic Loop method. I don't think I'm really set on any particular method, though I must say that the Magic Loop is pretty convenient -especially since you truly only need 1 needle to make socks, hats, mittens, sweaters, etc. But, I like to switch things up now and then. DPNs are better in some situations and 2 Circs also have their place. So... I'm flexible!

Lapdog Creations (special thanks to Chan for the question): How do you pair yarn and pattern? Do you pick up a skein of yarn and then design a pattern, or start a design first?

Gina: Well, that's tricky. Sometimes, I have a super idea in mind for a stitch pattern and a particular yarn and then it totally doesn't work out. And I'm disappointed. Other times, something that I don't really think will work out comes out AMAZING! There's a lot of trial and error in designing. And it really takes more time than people think. It seems like you can just pick out a stitch pattern, some yarn and grab your needles...and then you magically have a great design. But it, sadly, doesn't work that way. I've had these ideas in my head that still won't translate into workable patterns (at least not yet) and it's a slow process.

Writing out exactly how to knit something is also WAY more tedious than you'd think, too. At times, I've thought my finished pattern was perfect and went over it several times on my own and with my hubby (a non-knitter) and I've had friends find mistake after mistake.... little things, but still something. I might leave something out or add something in or the count may not be right. There's a LOT of ways to mess things up. And, surprisingly, sometimes knitters are brutal when a pattern that you've designed has errors! They're ready to burn you at the stake for writing a "ssk" instead of a "k2tog"! It's a little scary! I've learned to do my best in a pattern, get it edited by a number of people and hope for the best. If I find an error (or someone else does), I try my best to fix the error and report the errata as soon as I can. Designers are only human, too! But, I love designing and I only wish I had more time to do it.

Lapdog Creations: If you had to give advice to someone who has never knit socks before, what would be your key points?

Gina: Advice...hmmm... Well, first I would say to make sure that the pattern you are knitting is something in your skill range. Something a little bit more difficult shouldn't be too bad, but sometimes brand new sock knitters will try a very difficult pattern and become so frustrated that they won't try knitting socks for a LONG time. Which is bad! If there's something you really want to try and it IS out of your experience level, then I'd recommend taking a class where you can get help, but still be able to finish it.

Also, make sure to do a gauge swatch. So many people scoff at this or make fun of it, but then when their finished socks are too tight, too loose or won't stay on their feet, they start yelling at how much they hate the pattern or the yarn. If you take the time to knit up a swatch with the yarn, needles and pattern you want to use, it's SO worth it and you'll be happy you took that extra half hour or so to check. And you'll have socks that will last for a long time - and ones you enjoy!

Lastly, for first time/beginner sock knitters, I recommend a very easy pattern (say 2x2 rib for the cuff, stockinette for the leg and foot and simple toe/heel) and either DK or worsted weight yarn. These won't be socks that you can wear in your shoes (well, clogs maybe), but you will be able to knit the pair up quickly, get a real sense of how the sock is constructed and have a sense of accomplishment and confidence to start on a more advanced pattern next time.

Lapdog Creations: Tell us - does sock yarn count as stash?!?!?

Gina: LOL! Yes, I do count sock yarn as stash. At one time, I bought sock yarn like it was candy (in many colors and fibers) because it was inexpensive, an easy project to carry around and, yes, easy to hide from my hubby if needed ;-)

Now that I've got so much yarn (a walk-in closet full, which I'm trying to reduce!), I'm trying to be more selective in what I buy... and, with my employee discount at the yarn store (Lapdog's sidenote: Gina also works at The Yarn & Fiber, my favorite LYS!), it's even more tempting to just buy everything.

Right now, my favorite sock yarns are: Sereknity, Ivy Brambles, Socks That Rock, Mountain Colors Bearfoot, Katia Mississipppi 3, Regia and Trekking. I have others that I've bought recently, but haven't tried out yet.

Lapdog Creations: Anything you would like to add about the book, your two patterns, the yarn you used or anything else related to sock knitting?

Gina: Let's see... Well, on the SleepyHeads group on Ravelry, we'll be starting a Joy of Sox Knit-A-Long focusing on my two patterns, A Roll in the Hay and Rock-a-Bye. If anyone would like to join in, please join the group and begin with us the first week in October.

I also want to add that, even if my sock designs weren't in the book, I'd love this book. I love the hardcover/spiral binding, the amount of photos for each sock (with several different views and positions of the socks), the sexy innuendo, the tips and hints scattered throughout the book to help make knitting the socks more enjoyable and the amazing quality of the designs that are included. If I had to have only one sock book, this is the one I'd keep. Really! ;-)

Thank you Gina for the wonderful interview! Be sure to check out more of Gina's wonderful patterns on Ravelry or via her own blog and don't forget to snag yourself a copy of The Joy of Sox!

*Please note that Gina has posted errata for A Roll in The Hay here.

wordless wednesday

Happy Wordless Wednesday!

Sophie found her sunspot on Saturday morning...

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The leaves are starting to turn (although camera
phone shots don't really show that too well)!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Got Tail?

Happy 1st offical day of Fall! Woo hoo! Since I'm running around like a headless chicken super busy, I thought I'd share some whale watch photos with you today. These are from the amazing trip we took with the parents on September 13. Now I've always had good luck with whale watches, but this one was superb... we saw at least 15 different humpback whales and got to see breaching, fin slapping, lots of great tails and more! Enjoy...

Some cool tail shots...

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Some spraying...
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We saw several groups during the afternoon, but this group of 4 was my favorite...

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People pics! Matt & I and Mom, Dad, Dad C & Sue (note to facebook friends, you'll find more shots over there)...

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This is a mola mola, or ocean sunfish. The girl who narrated the trip said she's been on about 350 and this was only the second time she's seen one...

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Some scenic shots...

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The inevitable "taking a picture of you, taking a picture of me" pics...

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I snapped this scenic shot of my hometown while we were pulling back into dock...

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The cool thing is I managed these pictures with my tiny little point-and-shoot digital camera and now I can't wait to go out next year with my new Digital SLR and get some even better shots!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Goodbye to Summer...

and hello to fall, my most favorite time of year! And no, its not my favorite just because my birthday is coming... Mom's and Teutul's are coming too (Matt's even falls in there at the end)! But seriously, if you know me, you know that I love all things fall... the weather, changing leaves, pumpkins, fairs & festivals, hot apple cider, cider donuts, pies, sweaters, scarves.... there is truly nothing like fall in New England!

Anywho... TGIF! Its time for a little Friday Fill-Ins on this final Friday of Summer 2009...

1. My car is due for registration renewal and an inspection in a couple weeks.

2. Matt's racing banquet is coming up next and this year its a BBQ at the track, which means no dressing up...

3. Lately, things seem like they are in warp-speed... where has 2009 gone?!?!?.

4. Any LYS with a couch is one of my favorite 'hiding' places.

5. What happened on the season premiere of Fringe last night leads me to believe that season 2 is going to be just as good - if not better - as season 1.

6. Getting all of my Christmas knitting done is not impossible... at least I hope not!!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to winding up the yarn I just got for Colonnade, tomorrow (and Sunday!) my plans include heading up to NHMS for the races and Sunday, I want to tailgate with some friends, knit, eat yummy food and see Smoke (or Ryan) win the race!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Smell Pretty...

Happy almost Friday! While you're checking out all the Dogs on Thursday posts today, be sure to also wag on over to Dogs 'n More!

It was B.A.T.H. time in the Lapdog household last week and of course, I got photos for the kids humiliation your viewing pleasure!

Always the Queen, Lola was first. She clearly knows how to strike a pose...

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Tut was up next...

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Sophie's turn... still learning that baths won't kill her!

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"Maybe if I close my eyes real tight, bath time will go away... hey wait, I'm still here and nothing real bad happened!"

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Zeus brought up the rear...

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"Hey, why you all wet... oh wait, I'm wet too... you smell pretty..."

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Waiting for post-bath T.R.E.A.T.S....

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The kids hope you all smell pretty and enjoy the rest of your day!