Freia and the Knitwhit

A Blog about a Dog with some Knitting thrown in here and there

Crying through the night October 30, 2006

Filed under: Chesapeake Bay Retriever,Walking the Dog — knitwhits @ 9:51 am

On the stairsFreia cried half the night last night. She’s been a bit whiny for a few days and I’m not really sure what it’s about. Yesterday she started in the evening as I was baking choc chip cookies. I figured she probably needed to go out and wanted attention. So I took her out and that took her mind off things. Then she started up again. So I was thinking it might be the hot spot on her elbow as everynow and then she would try to lick it, so I knew that it was bothering her. Then I thought maybe she’s just super tired as she’s like a little kid, just before she goes to sleep at night, she always has a little cry like she’s fighting going to sleep, and we did go on a fairly long walk yesterday.

Finally she slept, but started to cry and moan again at 2 am. This is really not good. I started to get freaked out that maybe she’s eaten something sharp. I get up and take her outside (as she will also cry when she needs to go out but is not near the bell on the door to let me know). So, we go out, and she did need to go, so that was good. Her system is working, and all appears normal there. Go back to bed, I spray more hot spot stuff on her elbow and we all sleep. This morning, she starts up again, but not as badly.. Not good. I think maybe it could also be her back foot that’s been bothering her a bit for a while.

So.. it could be:

  1. The hot spot
  2. Her back foot
  3. Something she’s eaten
  4. General tiredness
  5. A puppy stage (pups go through all sorts of stages, one of them is whiny)
  6. Some other unknown

So, this morning I fed her and she ate up her food no problem, plus no problem when we went outside, all normal. I think that rules out any potential digestive disaster. I’ve sprayed her hot spot and that’s not bugging her. Lastly I’ve given her a really small dose of NSAIDs to see if that will reduce her discomfort in her back foot.
And now the crying has stopped, she’s playful enough to slather Sam with kisses, and she’s been contentedly chewing on a toy, she’s curled up half-sleeping at my feet and is back to her normal self growling at outside sounds. I will be watching her closely all day to see how she progresses and decide if the vet is once again on the cards.

It would be so much easier if they could say “It’s my foot” or “it’s my tummy” or “I just need a hug” – this not knowing is really heartbreaking as all I want to do is make her feel better.


How to lose a customer… October 29, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — knitwhits @ 5:22 pm

Warning.. here comes a rant. I decided to get a new camera as the one I have, Canon Powershot something or another – about 5 years old – is cumbersome and not super convenient, though it’s been a great camera all these years with great bang for the buck. But I’ve had my eye on the Canon Digital Elphs for ever (even before I got the previous camera) and until now they’ve always been out of my price range.

I go online and first stop is the Circuit City website, they have the one I settle on (the SD600) on sale for $225. Best Buy also has the same deal, but they are further away from me, so good enough, Circuit City it is. I read their policies, they will match their web price if it’s cheaper than what’s in the store, and vice versa. Leaving Freia at home, I drive the two blocks to CC to see what else they may have and get the camera. I look around a bit, and the person “helping” is kicking around a little ball on the floor – meantime there’s a decent number of customers looking at the cameras, but she obviously has more important things to do than to actually maybe work.. but whatever. I manage to get her attention and ask her about the price match as the store price is $25 more that what they show on the web. She says they won’t match it, that the web and the store are two separate entities, but I can check with customer service “over there” and points to a line of people. Yeah, right. “But what about your Price Match Guarantee?Are you telling me that I have to go home, order it online and come back to pick it up to get the price you are quoting me online?”

As a benefit of selecting our In-Store Pickup option you will automatically receive the lower of our website price on your day of purchase or the in-store price (at your selected store) on the day of pickup. The difference will automatically be refunded based on your original payment method. You also receive our 30-day Price Guarantee after receiving your purchase.

“(blank look) I can’t help you, you have to go to customer service” and then she rolls her eyes at me!

Well, I did not go to customer service, what I did do was go to Best Buy – this is why I drove the 2 blocks to CC, as I kind of figured that it’s never that easy, and in case I had to go to Best Buy, well that would be a drive. . I find the camera section, a nice lady asks me if I have any questions, and well yes, do you match your web price? She tells me that she doesn’t know as she actually works for Panasonic, but that the man over there (pointing) can. So I ask him. And yes, they do match, so I’m directed to yet another person who actually does the selling. Phew.. not out the door yet though.. So I get everything I need (he talks me into a protective case for the camera, but not into the service plan) and then I have to go to another line to pay. Now I’m done, I have my new camera, fancy case, extra memory disk and I get in my car. I’m about half way home when I think.. hmm.. did I actually get the web price? I check the receipt and sadly no. I did not. I find a spot to turn around and head back to Best Buy.. I’m now thinking I’m cursed. I get to the store and they point me to the dreaded customer service line to get the price corrected.. I sigh and walk over to the line. A line of about 10 people, and one open register. By the time I get to the front of the line (which actually moved remarkably fast) there are 3 registers open and I luck out as it appears I’ve gotten the customer service manager. She was nice, apologised for the wait, and took care of me as rapidly as she could, very professional.

So now I’m home. And a purchase that could and should have taken me about 10 to 15 minutes in fact took an hour and a half. I tell you one thing, I think I’m done with Circuit City after this latest nicety. Some people may browse, but some may have $300 burning a hole in their pocket, and a retailer needs to understand that. My $300 went to Best Buy. And I was glad to do it. And that is how I got a fancy new camera, my first gift to myself in a long, long time.

Canon SD600


Scaredy Cat

Filed under: Chesapeake Bay Retriever,Walking the Dog — knitwhits @ 10:25 am

For various reasons I ended up in the southernmost part of Alameda County yesterday so I decided to take advantage of this and take Freia to a new park. After studying my great dog walk guide book, I settled on the Sunol Regional Wilderness. Sounds a bit ominous, but figuring it’s near two big towns (Fremont and Pleasanton) with acres of strip malls, how out there can it be?

Dummy that I am, I forgot my camera, so words will have to do. The park entrance fee is $5 for the car and $2 for the dog. I drove to the furthest tip of the parking lot, filled up the water bottle and set off.. in my clogs.. doh.. after a 1/4 mile, I figured this really wasn’t going to work, trekked back to the car and put on my hiking shoes.. much better. Set off again walking along through a cattle fence and across a quaint weight restricted bridge – vehicles over 8 tons have to drive down to the river bed and drive across a pretty, tree shaded shallow stream. (Here now I’m thinking of firefly and her beautiful photos on her blog… should have brought that darn camera – I brought my backpack to put the camera in.. just not the camera)

The trail that I was on, the Camp Ohlone Road, is just that, a fire road. It climbs gently alongside the Alameda Creek which drops out of view the further you go. I kept Freia on leash the whole time as there were horses and families with small kids. The trail was pretty quiet compared to what I’m used to and it was hot and my imagination started to take over. I walked quite a ways without passing anyone or hearing anyone and I was feeling quite alone out there, not lonely, just alone so my mind started wandering and I had creative visions of mountain lions watching me..

I know if there had been anything like that that Freia would have warned about it, but still .. who wants to run into a hungry or sick mountain lion? Not I, thank you very much.. A police officer drove past me eventually on the trail so I talked to him for a bit about the real risk of lions and he said it was pretty rare as far as he knew, but he didn’t really know, and just shrugged. He then said if it was him, he would be more scared of rattlesnakes.. great. But in all honesty, a mountain lion would scare me more, cos if they want you for lunch, you won’t know about it until it’s too late. A snake? A rattler will warn you if you come near it and since neither Freia nor myself presents a good meal for a snake, it would be far more likely to rattle away from us. Plus being on the fire road, I would think I would see a snake on the path..

Then again, the one time Freia and I did come across a snake on a walk a few weeks back, I didn’t realise it until Freia had the darn thing in her mouth. This one was fortunately quite dead, but it did give me a moment’s pause.

Oh, too much heat and thinking.. I decided to keep going a little further to a spot called Little Yosemite, which from what I saw is a pretty tree filled gorge with some boulders and yosemite type rocks, but all on a smaller scale. I’m not really sure to be honest if I was the real Little Yosemite but it seemed like a good enough point to turn around. I figured I could always come back when my mind stopped playing tricks on me..

JaguarTo digress a bit, I found this picture of yours truly taken a few years ago on a trip to the Amazon. The place I’m in is a military training facility where military people from all over the world come to learn about the jungle and I would assume jungle warfare. This particular spot I’m in is a care facility for injured animals. There are blind big cats that would be dead if it was not for this place. There are monkeys running around everywhere in the trees above (one even jumped off a tree, across my shoulders and back onto another tree as I was walking by, I just about had a heart attack, though the people I was with found it extremely amusing) Here I’m holding a jaguar cub.. how cute is this thing?? Its paws were as big as my palms. Now I think it’s because of this experience that I have a (somewhat) healthy fear of big cats. Moments after this picture was taken, the cub’s mother decided she’s had enough (of god knows what) and went on a very vocal and scary rampage. The military guys surrounded her with big boards of wood, but got to a point where they didn’t know what to do with her from there. Our guide, watching this, got annoyed at them and stepped in, he turned to the cat and basically said something at her to the effect of “Sit!” and she completely calmed down. What a crazy place..

Anyway, back to my walk, I chose to face these demons and went off the fire road down to the trail running alongside the Alameda Creek. Freia and I took a couple of false starts, climbing down a pretty steep ledge on a trail that looked like it was heading somewhere, but wasn’t. Turn around, back up the hill, try the next one. Eventually we got to a little spot that reached the creek itself and Freia lay in the water to cool off (I learned later that there is no swimming or wading in the water, oh well). Finally we found a single track trail that headed back along the creek to the little bridge and the car.

It was still early and I could have probably found other trails to explore, but it was the weekend, lots of families with kids, meaning Freia would have to stay on leash, and her back foot has been bothering her a bit, so it seemed as good a time as any to head home.

AmberThe drive back to Emeryville from there takes me past the Walnut Creek area, where Freia’s mom (Amber) and brother (Buck) still live with their owner. So I gave him a call to see if he wanted to see Freia and have a visit with the other dogs. Freia remembers her brother and mom, and really remembers Bil, the friend of mine that raised her. She was so excited to see him, it was really cute! Amber and Buck don’t remember Freia so well, though there is a connnection, it seems more distant to them. Amber is a big tough 95lb gal that I’ve known since she was no more than 15 lbs and 9 weeks old. The picture here is her from about that time. She still knows me, though I see her rarely these days, she’s very sweet and affectionate to me, and that familiarity is really nice. I showed Bil some of Freia’s obedience skills and he was duly impressed.

By now both the dog and I were fairly exhausted so we got home, I fed her dinner and we both passed out on the sofa..


Knit Till You Bleed October 26, 2006

Filed under: Knitting — knitwhits @ 4:29 pm

Because of the nature of what I do and who my main customers are (retail stores), my design schedule tends to be very cyclical. Around this time of year I’ve caught up from previous trade shows and I’m now filling re-orders which tend to be smaller than show orders. This gives me time to work on some new ideas. Knit Till You BleedThe next show is not until January, but prior to that I have to look at my marketing and come up with various ads, including one for the january issue of YMN (due in November). My preference is to use these ads as a taste of what’s to come and promote what’s new and exciting before the show. This means it’s about now that I should have my samples done, photography done and ads put together. But of course that’s not the way it works. Though I have ideas that I toy with year round, I tend to not really get cracking on them (mainly through lack of time) until I have no choice and the next show is looming (no pun intended).

So the clock it ticking and I’m knitting, and knitting, and ripping and knitting, my fingers are literally bleeding from the wool taking all the moisture out of my skin and it’s not very comfortable.. The good thing is I think I really have a clear idea now of what I will be presenting, and I’m loving it, the bad thing is, it’s a really big idea, which means a lot of knitting! But I think it’s a great idea, so it’s not really a bad thing either, it’s just knitting on a seesaw. Here’s a hint…

m1m3 m2m6m4m5


Evolution October 22, 2006

Filed under: Crochet,Knitting — knitwhits @ 9:37 am

Houndstooth to StripesFor me, knit design is an amorphous process. Here I started with houndstooth (or a complicated variation of) and it ended up being a Fair Isle zigzag stripe.. How does this happen? There is no connection between houndstooth and zigzag.. But I probably would not have gotten to the zigzag had I not started with the houndstooth.

I will start with an idea of which yarn (weight/fiber) I want to use, from there I will sort through color possibilities, laying skeins or cones of yarn on a table and juggling them around until I hit something that feels “right”. At this point I will have a less vague idea of what I’m going to actually do with the yarn, whether it be a hat, socks, scarf, purse or something else. While juggling the colors I will also be thinking about stitch patterns or colorwork shapes, figuring how the stitches and colors might all work together.

From there, I take scraps of the yarn (if I have it, if not, then I wind down the skeins or cones) upstairs and settle in for some knitting. I will knit for a while till I get something decent on the needles, and decide if I really am enjoying the knitting or not. If the idea is too complex or simple for my current mood, I will probably end up undoing it a few times. It’s that magic combination of color, yarn, shape and enjoyment that have to come together to make the project a good one. It has to be interesting and exciting.

Once I have something that works, really works, then I will probably start over with new yarn, working from precise quantities and filling in my scribbles and notes to help with the pattern writing.

Lilley Crochet Aviator CapThe odd thing is that I sometimes have an inkling if something will be popular down the line, and I have to absolutely be true to myself. If I start changing things to suit the market (or what I think the market will be), then it inevitably is less of a success. Now as time has gone on, some things that I designed a while ago, that I thought would be really popular have in fact become sleepers or late bloomers, such as the Lilley hat. I think this is one of the cutest things I’ve done, and it is just now “coming into its own”. Maybe the crochet revival has helped too, it’s a bit like the tortoise and the hare, some ideas just need a little extra time in the public eye.

And the complex houndstooth I started with? Well.. that is next on the needles, but I do have this one other little idea that I think I need to play with first….


Off the Sofa!

Filed under: Chesapeake Bay Retriever,Dog Training — knitwhits @ 9:01 am

Full Freia FlopRules for the Dog: The furniture is off limits, and no jumping on people when you are soaking wet from swimming.. well.. no jumping on people at all, and no chasing small children at the beach, no matter how fun you or the child’s parents think it is.. (no, they really aren’t little dogs for you to lick), and you really don’t need to protect me from the cats, and if you stop trying to lick them, then they might want to play with you.

Freia has now completed Intermediate Obedience and we are into Rally Obedience. She’s was the youngest one in the Intermediate class and has done a pretty good job. It was a lot of fun, though slightly stressful and chaotic. There were a couple of high maintenance dogs that are aggressive to others and (over)react quickly if they are stared down by another dog. Fortunately Freia doesn’t play that game and it’s easy to bring her attention back to me rather than focusing on another wound up dog. Even if other dogs get to growling at each other, she usually looks up to me for direction, so I would tell her to sit or lie down (or something) until the dust settles in the room.

However, Freia does get all caught up in the prospect of treats for work. She gets insanely amped up and excited and it’s all I can do to keep her in a down/stay while the instructor is talking. Once we are actually doing the training and moving about, she is fine and fairly well focused.

Freia really responds to the teacher, she’s a great lady, good energy and very good at what she does. It’s interesting how dogs can really tell a “doggy” person. Now it’s Rally Obedience.. all to keep her little mind occupied so that she feels less obligated (and too tired) to defend me from imaginary threats.

Training a dog, especially a Chesapeake that has such strong protective and possessive instincts, is challenging, frustrating, rewarding and fun. It takes commitment and practice. The commitment I have, but the practicing sometimes gets lost. These days I train her during every outing as she has been acting up again and it’s just not acceptable.

Outside of the house, she’s fine. She’s submissive to other dogs, even when they pick a fight with her. She’s friendly to pretty much everyone, and if she has a worry, she looks to me for guidance. She’s fine around joggers, bicyclists and passers-by. Roller bladers are less frightening to her, skateboarders are still not her favorite, she’s as equally curious as intimidated, but not aggressive.

Inside the house (or whichever new space she has defined as “ours”).. not so good. She becomes territorial, protective of me and even a bit scary. She’s nothing but a gentle lamb with me, I can take her food away or walk in and out of the house and she has no reaction other than being pleased to see me. She’s better with the cats and is less worried that they plan to steal all her toys and drink all her water. The trouble starts if someone steps beyond the threshhold into the house. She jumps up, barks, and when I grab her collar to pull her back, she has the fiercest growl you’d never want to hear in a dark alley. After her most recent bouts of bad behaviour, in addition to her nicknames of “poopy”, “little monkey” and “waggle-butt” she got christened with a fourth nickname.. “Cujo”.

UnimpressedThe biggest problem is really a lack of in-house socialization, she’s just not used to having other people in “her” space. My next door neighbor has very kindly volunteered herself to help out, but quite frankly, I’m a bit nervous; though I realize it has to be done. The second hard part is to get other humans to take me seriously when I say, “don’t come in until I say it’s OK” or “hang on until I get the dog away”. Freia is so darn cute that people just don’t see her as possibly being aggressive. I’ve heard numerous times from complete strangers, “oh, she’s too cute to be a mean dog” as I walk past them. I’m just glad these same people don’t have reason to come to my door.

I feel that having a protective dog is not always a bad thing. But it has to be something that can be turned off just as quickly as it’s turned on. Granted she’s only 7 months old, and her brain is not developed enough to really be able to make the wisest decisions, but dog aggression is not something to take lightly, at any age.

And so the training goes on.

Freia’s Goals: passing the Canine Good Citizen Test, no separation anxiety, a good solid down/stay for 3 minutes at 40 feet, “Heel” when called, and of course, no lunging/growling/barking at friends or friendly strangers, ever.


I bow my head with admiration October 20, 2006

Filed under: Knitting — knitwhits @ 8:17 pm

This woman is a knitting fiend genius. Her blog is so awesome, and her knitting is some of the best I’ve seen. I am in awe of her.