Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The English Setter Close Up

Friends: English Setter and Golden Retriever

Meeting Dash on our evening walkies on our way through the local park...there was a time when he and Nobu would go round and round the garden chasing each other, but lately they're both all grown up and prefer to just vibe. 
Historically the English Setter and Golden Retriever would work together to hunt game: the setter finding the game, and the retriever fetching the prey once it's down...No wonder my three setters show absolutely no interest in retrieving, but are very friendly and collaborative with Dash. 
Sherlock loves these relaxed local walkies so much, this morning from about five am he was grumbling and muttering about nobody showing any signs of getting up...What was going to be a short and late after eight walkies due to heat got pleasantly extended: as the shade over the asphalt is longer, and with a bit of an early autumn breeze, it was still not too hot to go further afield. No pics though, just me enjoying quiet time with the dogs with the odd local cat spicing things up.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Yo quiero darte la gloria

North Korean missiles fly over Japan...what a waste of a life, to never see the beauty around you, to focus on spreading pollution and destruction, when natural bliss surrounds us and every day is a miracle of creation. 
Feeling grateful for the time to wash three dogs, lathering them up and loving the feel of their soapy muscles, fingers tangled in the tail feathers...and a windy day to wash the blankets and towels to create a clean, welcoming home.
And when the heart trembles, I take a moment to listen to Kany Garcia's joyful song, Yo quiero darte la much beautiful music and joyous vibrations around us, take the time to tune in! Sending you all love and peace and blessings. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

English Setter Scarf Berries

Having just completed Rustic, I wanted to relax a bit, so I grabbed a skein of Noro Silk Garden and just knitted short rows without thinking, just the way the yarn came out of the ball. No weaving in of ends or deliberating color coordinates. A gentle knit, a doggie scarf named Berries. 
Still, a very luxurious scarf for a doggie: 45% silk, 45% kid mohair and 10% lamb's wool in the gorgeous color shades of Japanese designer Noro Eisaku. I actually have a cardigan I knitted with the same yarn, and love wearing it. The free pattern is Sybil R's 2012 Yet Another Short Row Scarf. Using Clover bamboo size 9 needles and short rows like this, it's the first time I've seen the yarn really knit up just the way it looks when you fall in love with it, absolutely gorgeous with all those nuances of berry shades.
It's not just Claire finding this summer heat trying, being stuck in the air-conditioned environment all day (ideally the doggies need 24 degrees to feel comfortable) is playing havoc with my sinuses. I have been cleaning the filter on the air conditioner to brush out soot and dust, fiddly task. I've added marjoram and frankincense essential oil drops and had a wee soak in the tub to calm and soothe...Now to wrap the two scarves (Rustic and Berries) and send them off for auction! I heard that my three previous donated scarves arrived safely in the snail mail yesterday. Woo hoo! 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

English Setter Scarf Rustic

 Rustic is a chunky doggie scarf, knitted on size 9 Clover bamboo needles with all kinds of luxurious Noro Crayon and Silk Garden yarns- I don't recommend a doggie mama wearing this one unless it's to top up a coat though, it's kind of scratchy. And of course a bit of my friend Rowena's hand spun yarn which really pops in the berries and cream colors. 
 The interesting diagonal garter stitch texture comes from my first attempt at short row techniques, thanks to a free knitting pattern, Yet another short row scarf by Sybil R. I'd used the technique for sloping the shoulders of sweaters, but it is my first foray into the world of short row colorwork. Very pleased with it, thanks Sybil! 
Of course since it's a doggie scarf I reduced 3 stitches either side to narrow the scarf for the knot, increasing again for the collar. It's kind of stretchy, so should fit 36~42 like all my other scarves. Basketweave Roses, Forget-me-nots and Solar Eclipse were in the post first thing Monday morning, but hadn't arrived yesterday evening, so I'm hoping they'll arrive safely at the Gundog Rescue CACI auction organizer and dog trainer's house today. CACI rescue English setters and pointers abandoned in the mountains from death in the pound and rehabilitate them for home life as pets, and these scarves will be auctioned for funds to support the rescue. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

English Setter Scarf Solar Eclipse

Normally I don't go in for dark colors but this stash busting scarf in garter stitch with crochet triangles (pyramids!) is in honor of the solar eclipse today crossing the US. Not happening here in Japan, which is fine by me. 
The last time I watched an eclipse was in a stubbly field in Germany and remembering wanting to sit down but not being able to with the mud and stubble. Everyone had these hard to come by temporary protective sunglasses which I then kept for years thinking they would be reusable but have now probably got rid of. I fondly remember my dad being so proud of getting hold of enough for the family thanks to the local optician. 
I remember the oohs and ahhhhs of everyone around waiting in the same field, but not being particularly interested myself: the sun and the cosmos, I feel, are beyond my mortal ken, I wanted to get home quickly to focus on real things I can do or make...
The great thing about knitting is the love in there: every stitch is a prayer for loved ones and the motivating factor for me personally in making a garment. When you're using various bits and bobs of yarn left over from larger projects, fond memories well up too. The dark blue merino in Solar Eclipse is from the classic high school jumper my son wanted custom knit in school colors, the black Rowan Felted Tweed colorway Ancient, a gift from epic Sasha Kagan herself. The blues are forget-me-not from the previous scarf, again reminding me of Chiaro di Luna. As you knit up each yarn into the new creation, it carries the weight of love put into each one that came before, exponential. And even thus each life is intertwined with those that came before, not just today's experiences and acquaintances: knitted up in the fabric of time. Blessings be on this day of solar eclipse, to the good people in the US, and all across the globe.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Belly Up

My newest rescued setter Sherlock has been dominance subjugated (I hate to say trained) by his previous owners…and he's a classic case of appeasement belly up and freeze with a nervous tip of the tail wag. He's totally ticklish and hates being touched or stroked below the waist, front or back. I can empathize, I'm totally ticklish too, all depends on the timing and the calm strength of the touch. I'm working on desensitizing Sherlock to enjoy gentle but firm butt rub massages. So far this is only possible when he's totally relaxed on the sofa or waiting for treats from a trusted friend, and more receptive to or else totally distracted from complaining about massage style new experience around his lower back (clearly he only expects pain there). I can only touch his rear hindquarters or belly and genital area when he's in the shower being lathered up.
A recent post at Reisner Veterinary Behavior Services talks about people who are not aware of this and think belly up is asking for a belly rub, ending up being shocked when they get bitten. 
Like kissing, the belly-up position is one of the most misunderstood interactions in the human-dog social lexicon.... It’s not uncommon for dogs to lie still while their belly is being rubbed, then quickly snap or bite at the hand as it’s withdrawn. (While the hand is doing its rubbing, they are likely in “freeze” mode, quickly “thawing” to a defensive bite when it’s done.)...Is rolling on the back ever an invitation to pet and rub, then? ...Unless you know your dog very well, it is safest to assume they’re uncomfortable. A good test is to sit nearby or walk away, clapping your hands and talking in a silly, happy voice. Most dogs will flip upright and join you happily, unstressed.
Dogs don't bite out of the blue. We just need to have the right phrasebook.
You can see by Nobunaga's wide smile that he's ready for dog-human interaction of any kind from belly rubs and pats to playful tug-of-war sessions...he's ever the first to relax, lie down and eventually roll over to invite play if there's no interaction coming. If there's still nothing happening after a greeting interlude, he'll play dead as we try to walk on, and I have to drop the leash, walk up the street and do a mini recall session to make him feel noticed and loved.
Photos by Yakob Miyajima

Saturday, August 19, 2017

English Setter Thunderstorm

 With an almighty thunvderstorm coming through it's been a wild ride on the's an incredible photo from my photographer friend Vincent van den Storme to give you an idea of the unleashed fury!
Fortunately my setters are not the least bit thunder sensitive, although Claire came by to let me know she wanted a chewy. Nothing like a good chew to keep calm and forget the weather is wild out there.
 In spite of knitting for charity, my babies still have their own fantastic doggie scarves knitted up over the years...I washed and aired them today, and rather than starting on a new knitting project (although I have a couple in my mind, some new short row techniques to be attempted and plain purl combination patterns to be explored) I took these pics. 
 Sherlock is sporting Chiaro di Luna's wee scarf, and Nobu even has two scarves to choose from, a red Puppy yarn tweedy one and an orange Italian fluffy one.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Setter Scarf Basketweave with Forget-me-nots

Basketweave with Forget-me-knots took a while to make as I was busy finding the yarn for the embroidery, and clearing the backlog of laundry after the incessant days of rain. It's totally inspired by Chiaro di Luna, so made to go well with creamy fur: when I made the embroidered roses scarf, it jumped into my mind and would not let go, so it was a kind of high to go with the flow and make it happen.
While I was knitting I was glancing over Facebook, and a Japanese doggie acquaintance was talking about Ted Andrews book, Animal Speak. I didn't want to go clogging my bookshelf with another tome, so I got on the net and found a digest explaining various animal meanings, in particular, dogs: 
It takes a lot to break a dog’s spirit. Its ability to love, even when abused, is tremendous. Its spirit and willingness to love and to be a companion is great. Study your dog. ...If dog has come into your life as a totem, ask yourself some questions. What is this saying about your need for or lack of companionship? ...Do you need to be more protective of your territory? Do you need to play a little more? Are you being faithful to yourself? Does you spirit need bolstering? How about those around you? Examine your territories. Dog knows its home ground, and if it has shown up, its energies and lessons will touch you personally.
All very deep and interesting, and as I read and pondered and knitted, I felt something in my hair, and reached up to brush off what turned out to be a white flower spider. I'd never seen a white spider before, so after realizing what it was, I eased it onto a handy piece of paper and blew it away outside. At which point I realized this was a very encouraging and lucky omen, Chiaro di Luna was a cream setter too, and so the knitting of Forget-me-not is doubly blessed. May it bring great happiness to its future owner, and lots of funds for Gundog Rescue CACI.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Setter Scarf Basketweave with Roses

One good thing about the rain is I have oodles of time to knit as the washing piles up and the dogs snooze. Today finally cloudy but no rain, so after a decent long walkies and three loads of washing, I shampooed Claire in the knowledge that today at least the towels will dry. She's happily snoozing all pristine clean for the photo of my latest doggie scarf creation, Basketweave with Roses.
 It goes without saying the knitting stitch is basket weave, alternating four plain and four purl stitches over five rows on my Clover size 7 bamboo needles to get the weave pattern. It's the real deal UK Rowan lightweight dk yarn, both for the scarf and the bullion rose stitch embroidery. Since the scarf will be auctioned for funds to support a volunteer organization, Gundog Rescue CACI, which save and rehabilitate  abandoned English pointers and setters from death in the pound, the English yarn has special significance. Basketweave with Roses fits 36-42cm necks, roughly the neck size of my three setters.
 My sweet Chiaro di Luna popped up on my Facebook feed, reminding me it's the Japanese Bon season where the souls of the dead come home. She's inspiring me to make another and probably final scarf, Basketweave with Forgetmenot. I'll keep you posted. To work!