Happy Halloween

When the kids were younger Halloween was a major event. We carved pumpkins, played spooky music and decorated the front porch. A lot of thought went into deciding what customs to create. Halloween shows played on TV the week building up to the big day. We loved to watch "Home Improvement" with Tim the Toolman Taylor and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". Don and I took turns touring the neighbourhood Trick or Treating and staying home to hand out candy.

Now that the kids are teens it's scaled down. This year Nicole is babysitting and taking those kids out Trick or Treating. Ryan hands out the candy. I decorate with sugar pumpkins so we can use them for baking instead of carving. Halloween shows have been playing on our tv all week - that hasn't changed.

How precious were they?! That was one of the years we made costumes from boxes. Ryan was a robot and Nicole wanted to be a present. A bigger present then a robot. She couldn't get herself up stairs with the box down past her knees so we'd scooped her up and deposit her on everyone's porches.

This year I'll be knitting, surfing Ravelry and visiting my favourite blogs. I've had a busy few weeks around here and I'm looking forward to spending more time at home and knitting. I might even get caught up some on the laundry and chores. Happy Halloween from our house to yours.


Life is about learning

Seeing my family happy is my richest reward. 10 years ago my brother married the wrong person. He did very little smiling after that day. That's Nicole he's holding up, she was the cutest flower girl ever and Ryan was a very dapper ring bearer. I'm the blonde bridesmaid(matron?).

His divorce was official this past Friday. He smiles again. Life is about living, learning and having the strength to make changes when things aren't right. It's about maturity and aquiring wisdom. I am proud of my brother.

To give you an idea example of the type of humour he's exhibiting... he's been singing the song, "Ding Dong! The Witch is Gone." Maybe sometimes you don't just have to grow up, but regain some of the immaturity of being a kid to lighten the load and celebrate being happy again. Welcome back, Rick!


Knitting Books

I love books, knitting books especially. I'd like to have a library full of them. There's a list of my growing collection on Ravelry. While reading my emails this morning one popped up from Kim Hargreaves site. A new book release. Oh, be still my heart! Yeah, I ordered it. How could I not? It looks fabulous! I have Kim's book Heartfelt: The Dark House Collection and it's beautiful.

There are several projects that appeal to me. I like the fit of Ginny as well as this colour. I rarely make a project in the colour it's styled for a book in. This would get a lot of wear at work and going out.

Nell would be wonderful for the in between seasons and in the house when we're in the depths of the coldest and blustery winter days here in Canada. I can picture myself wearing it hunkered down for the evening by the wood stove reading or knitting. It looks like a warm hug.

Allure in a soft powder blue Kidsilk Haze (from my stash) over a white layer for New Year's Eve would be lovely. Great with my favourite pair of denim jeans for a little dressed up yet casual look. This one is the pattern that made me decide to order the book.

And finally Trinket is fabulous. I wear a lot of scarves because of an old back/neck injury and this one is classically elegant, yet fun and trendy. I'd like to make this in white or off white. Nicole would borrow this one when she's feeling tres chic.

I love books, but a new one is even better! I'm looking for a great pattern book for lace. Any recommendations? I just can't decide and I'm finally feeling brave enough to attempt lace knitting with my new addi-turbo lace circs. Have a great day and happy knitting!



Definitely my favourite non-fibre related hobby is a dog related one. I compete in a lot of different venues with my dogs. Conformation (beauty pageant that is merited on structure and quality), obedience and rally obedience (brains, biddable nature and attention), agility (speed, obstacles and athletic dexterity), and tracking (nose or scent work). The passion for me is definitely tracking. It's amazing and humbling at the same time. The learning curve is steep and very long. It's great to spend a lot of time outside and enjoy the seasons, we track year round from scorching summer heat to deep snow and ice... and every weather in between. This autumn weather is my favourite. The colours, the cool temperatures, wearing my hand knits and no bugs!!
I often knit just for tracking. Just yesterday in his test I was cheerfully warmed by a Plucky hand dyed 100% merino Luxe Neck Warmer. The "Urban Sweater"??... still on the needles. I chose to spend a bit more time training my dog instead of knitting the sweater for me to wear in the test.

That was hard for me, I really wanted to knit! Now I can finish knitting it stress free and enjoy the rest of the process. Hand warmers are a favourite project to wear for my tracking too. Chase could care less I track in hand knits, he loves to track and it doesn't matter the weather. Gorgeous or storms and high winds, dog doesn't care. Poodles are no sissies... some days I am.
He's successfully passed his TD (Tracking Dog), TDX (Tracking Dog Excellent) and UTD (Urban Tracking Dog) tests. While the initials that will forever be around his registered name don't mean much to laymen, believe me -- they're a big deal!! This dog gets steak and his own deboned roast chicken for doing this for me. lol

The rule books states the purpose of tracking tests is to demonstrate the dog's willingness to work with its handler under a variety of conditions and to follow a defined track, to discriminate scent, to locate and indicate articles (small items that were left intentionally for the dog to find).
There are 4 tests that vary in difficulty in Canada. Dogs start by tracking where a person walked for 400 - 500 metres (1312 - 1476 feet), 30 minutes to 2 hours ahead of time making left and right corners and has specific dropped stuff that the dog has to find. That's the basics. I won't bore you all with the advanced test details except to say the distance doubles, the person walks 3 - 5 hours before we get to go search out their path, they drop a variety of things made of leather, plastic, wood, fabric or metal and drop them in areas can be on hard surfaces like pavement that holds very little scent from the foot steps of ONE SPECIFIC PERSON they need to follow. So all the enticing smells of other people, kids, food, other dogs, cats, squirrels and stuff like cars and whatever else was anywhere on the path the person took before or after their track layer put down the track has to be ignored after it's been analysed by the dogs nose. It's amazing to see a dog do that... just because I asked him to for me, because he's learned to follow just that one person that I told him who by starting at a marked spot the person stood still for 60 seconds and then go tracking them hours later.
This is probably incredibly boring to read about when you've not done the work and don't know the dog... but trust me, this is beautiful and awe inspiring stuff when you're at the end of the lead 10 metres (30 feet) behind your own dog and haven't a clue (well, I know in training -- not in tests) where the person went, what they dropped or where the dog is leading us. We have to learn to read the dogs body language to know when to follow and how to handle the dog by the signals they're telling us. It's a team sport, but the dog is the leader in this working team. If you miss any of the multiple turns, you're done -- you failed. If you go too far off the track, you've flunked. If you miss the dog indicating the specific items that were dropped and smell like the track layer, your toast. If you try to guide the dog in a test, you're not passing that day. If you're dog stops working or is distracted by another scent, a critter, people or anything else and doesn't get right back to work, yeah... failed. The tests are few and far between. Just getting a spot to run in the test to attempt to pass is difficult.
Chase has completed 3 of the 4 tests in tracking and has done so with great accuracy. I'm incredibly proud of his work ethic and wish I could do everything with that much dedication. We'll continue to train to test the last level next spring and upon passing that (which he's done repeatedly in training already) in a test situation under a certified judge he'll be able to have the initials TCh. forever before his name. Tracking Champion. That will look great on his resume, it'll be another a feather in cap. It will also make him a dual Champion.
At this time Chase's officially known as Champion Pannovia's Chasing Hearts CGN HIC(s) TDX RN UTD. All the initials refer to the conformation and performance titles he's already earned. We're just getting started, there'll be many more!
That's me on the right in the picture with Chase for his TDX just before Labour Day weekend this year, the judge is wearing red. That day was HOT. Sweat pouring down us in rivers. I mean... I was "glowing". His track was a km long, lots of obstacles and things to work out and things to find.
Is tracking a practical skill outside of the test situation? Oh yeah. Chase's found my brother's missing keys, dropped items, lost things for us. And hey... even when they don't smell like the track layer out in training he's keen to the hot scent of human hands. He's found numerous cell phones (most on the university campus and we just hand them all in to the lost and found... regularly!), jewelry and cash. That boy has a nose for coins and bills. Oh yeah, baby!!! Money is always interesting to him. I wonder (especially the bracelets and watch he found) what the person who lost the item would think when/if they retrieve it from the lost and found if they find out the item was found by a poodle???

He's very good at finding what he's supposed too, but I think he likes to hear my reaction to the extras he shows me. His indication is different for what's work and what's just interesting stuff to him so he knows the difference when he shows me the "extras". Some things he's found I just won't mention on the blog... but he cracks me up!


Pumpkin latte 'n muffins

With October in full swing, Thanksgiving last weekend and Halloween just around the corner at Chez Koch there's been eating, knitting and enjoying of many things pumpkin. It's cozy to be surrounded by the colour orange during this season, it's supposed to evoke energy and calmness at the same time.

The yarn is 140 yards of 100% Merino Superwash bulky from The Plucky Knitter Sarah. It's called Pumpkin Latte and looks good enough to eat. It's destined to become another Luxe Neck Warmer, the Tudora from Knitty.com (I've been itching to try that pattern) or Cap'n Crunch by Jennifer Adams. I'm leaning towards the Cap'n Crunch, especially if I find the right buttons.

Pumpkin Chip Muffins are pure pumpkin bliss. Ryan likes them with cream cheese icing. This is the Grand Prize winner from the May/June 1995 Country Woman Magazine pumpkin recipe contest. I usually mess with ingredient amounts after I try a new recipe -- replacing oil with applesauce, lowering the amount of sugar -- but I haven't changed this one except for using fewer chocolate chips. The original amount calls for 2 whole cups. If you're a fan of pumpkin these are a winner.

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 can pure pumpkin (16 ounces)
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until smooth. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill sprayed or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 400F for 16 - 20 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Yield: about 24 standard sized muffins.
***For an interesting change in flavour switch out the chocolate chips for pecans, yum!


Some of my favourite tools

For every hobby I have favourite tools. Many tools for many hobbies, some delight me more than others. Using the right tool for a specific job can have a huge affect on the result of a finished product or just be easier to do. For knitting my favourite gadget is my ball winder. Skein to yarn cake, what could be more fun? Even before swatching there's winding. I don't own a swift, but my kids make great swifts when I need extra hands, makes them grumble sometimes about this being the year 2008 not a Little House on the Prairie episode. You'd think they'd prefer to do the winding?? I do.

The choice quilting toy definitely has to be my Brother sewing machine. I love to listen to the quiet hum of the motor, especially after so many frustrating years with my first machine. It was a basic Singer that made erratic clattering and revving sounds. It never held the thread tension for long and I ended up spending more money on repairs for it then I paid to buy it in the first place.

A special birthday gift from my husband is my KitchenAid mixer. Heavy duty and dependable, it stands up to almost daily use no problem. I've had it for about 14 years.

If I have to pick just one favourite dog grooming tool I don't think I can. I really enjoy grooming my dogs, it's relaxing and the dogs and I enjoy the bonding time. My Edemco dryer is invaluable, but there's nothing more wonderful than a smooth, quality grooming shear. Scissors are a must with standard poodles, nice ones make the work of grooming 3 big dogs myself a lot more enjoyable. I have a thing for cutting tools. I have multiple ones for the dogs, clipper blades, ones to cut paper, rotary cutters, garden secateurs and tiny sharp needle nose ones for stitch ripping and fiddly projects.
For as much as I love yarn and fabrics, I sure like my toys to work with them too. What's your favourite tool?



I always have multiple projects on the go. I admire the dedication of other people who start one project and see it to fruition without even a thought of what they'll do next. I don't understand it -- I'm not capable of applying myself like that -- but I can see the value of getting one project done. I usually plan a 1/2 dozen to a dozen projects ahead. Well, honestly more. I've stashed up mounds of project's worth of yarn. I love the anticipation of starting something new.
My queue list on Ravelry is growing faster then I can knit. When my favourite bloggers post new FO's I have serious cases of, "Oh, that's so beautiful - I gotta make that!!" I've re purposed yarn that was planned for different project at the drop of a hat because I saw something that speaks to me. I've also shoved a project that's been lingering in queue to the top of the list because someone else has done a stunning project. For me that's part of the fun and I enjoy the anticipation of new projects.
I love Jessica's Old Penny Cardigan. Dawn gave me a copy of Vogue Fall 2008 so I have the pattern to make this cardigan. When I saw Jessica's version right after I bought my new green bag that cinched it -- Must Make! And must make in the same perfect green yarn. I love everything about it. And as I justified to Dawn: I already have the bag and own that stick broach from Perl Grey. Was meant to be. The green colour of the bag and yarn aren't near as dark as they look in these pictures. Jessica inspires me all the time and thanks to her beautiful new home and colour sense my daughter is going to get a beautiful blue bedroom.

My other Must Make is the Drop Collar Cabled Jacket from the new Debbie Bliss magazine. I bought gray wool at the Knitters Fair at a thieves price of $3 a skein. I knew it'd make a great cardigan or swing coat. I just couldn't walk away from $3 wool.

I'd been going over a lot of patterns to use with that $3 wool but the ones I liked I was short on yardage. Then on a visit to Philigry I saw it. The perfect pattern. Exactly what I had pictured. It looks smashing on Katie.

The blue and taupe wool in my bag? Canadian Collection from Camilla Valley Farms. Right now it's looking like it'll be Cassidy for the blue and Basic Chic Hoodie for the taupe, both patterns are from Chic Knits. I'm always cold and like to dress in layers so cardis are what I need in my closet the most.
My dilemma?? Which to make first? Knowing me they're will be more then one on the go at the same time. How do people stay loyal to only one project at a time? I'll never be a monogamous knitter. Right now I'm going to enjoy the anticipation of these new projects while I try to get my Urban Sweater done before Chase's test. Oh yeah -- and work on the sock I have in progress, more neck warmers and I've had Rowan Cocoon to make Kim Hargreaves Haven since her book Heartfelt came out.
I'm hesitant to actually account for all my stash because I know it'll mean a serious yarn diet until I get to stash busting. Right now I'm just thankful I have stash. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving everyone!


Plucky Christmas

I'm trying to get my Christmas knitting done early. I've been making Luxe Neck Warmers from the book Knit 2 Together in bulky merino from the extremely talented dyer Sarah aka The Plucky Knitter. It's a super quick project and I love her wool. Sarah's yarns are scrumptious. She has an amazing eye for colour. The skeins are so soft I just want to pet and squeeze them.

I've recently subscribed to The Plucky Classics yarn club so more Plucky goodness is headed my way. There's going to be some darned happy feet in this house when I get to knitting Plucky socks. If you haven't seen or tried Sarah's yarns yet they are worth the effort to keep them in your cart through her etsy shop. It's fierce and fun trying to score on an update. Her hand dyed yarns have taken my stash to a whole new level. Treat yourself to some Plucky, you'll be glad you did.


Vibrant Reds for Autumn

My favourite colour is green. Most of my projects are green, blue, brown or neutrals but when autumn arrives I feel the need to use vibrant reds. Knitting with dark red Tahki Donegal Tweed this time of year just feels right. This sweater and the throw-sized quilt are satisfying works in progress.

My Scottish Isles pullover has a front, back and a started first sleeve. I still need to blind stitch the binding on the back of the Bear Paws quilt. I'm going to use it as a dog crate cover. When I have a crate set up in the house or at a show I like to drape something nice to look at over it while it offers my dog privacy.
Most of my sewing is intended for gifts, but this autumn red quilt is a keeper.
I'd like to say a sincere Thank You to the people who have left such wonderful comments on this new blog. It's a thrill for me to realize that maybe I won't be the only person who ever reads it!
I can't wait to finish my sweater and quilt binding so I can post Finished Object pictures...


In the Heart of Waterloo County

We live in beautiful Kitchener, Ontario which is in the heart of Waterloo County. Our city is best known for the Waterloo Farmers Market, Oktoberfest, The Knitters Fair and maple syrup. We enjoy the Farmers Market year round, but it's best now during the harvest.

I bake a lot and plan to post some of my family's favourite recipes on this blog. Easy Apple Cake is a simple, 6 ingredient recipe. Try substituting the apples with other fruits. It's great with blueberries or plums.

2 cups flour
1-1/4 cups white sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup melted butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 or 3 apples, thickly sliced or chopped
In a large bowl with a wooden spoon mix together all ingredients (except apples) until it crumbles. Reserve 1 cup of the crumb mixture. Place crumbs in an 8" sprayed baking pan or pie plate, don't press the crumbs down. Cover with apples. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the fruit. Dust the top of cake with cinnamon. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes.


Knitting Too!

I love to stash yarn, knit, wear hand knits and read blogs about other people doing it too. The whole process! Finding a yarn or pattern, then searching for that just right pattern or yarn to compliment it... perusing pattern books and magazines or gaining inspiration on Ravelry. I get thrills from the anticipation of a new project to swatching, knitting, blocking and wearing it. My blogging enabler Dawn says I suffer from SABLE: Stash Amassed Beyond Life Expectancy.
Currently on the needles is the Scottish Isles Pullover from Tweed. I've dubbed it my "Urban Sweater" since I'm unrealistically planning to have it completed to wear during an Urban Tracking Test with Chase. If I'd spend less time blogging I might have a chance of getting it done!

The back panel is completed, the front panel was. I decided to change the neckline and frogged back. Simultaneously I'm knitting many Luxe Neck Warmers for Christmas giving.
My stash grew considerably after a fabulous day at the Knitters' Fair here in Kitchener. Dawn and I had the most wonderful time shopping our way through 2 ballrooms of vendors. My favourite purchase is a green Namaste bag. I'm told that means I'm now considered a "serious" knitter because I've got the right bag. We picked up my daughter Nicole for a lovely lunch, then headed off to my parents farm (in the rain!) to play with our 5 dogs. It was the perfect knitters day, thanx Dawn! We're off to Camilla Valley Farms in November for a Sock Class using the Magic Loop method. I adore my DPN's, but I did buy some spiffy Addi-Turbos at the Knitter's Fair....

The Men in My Life

My husband is wonderful. He's supportive, loving, talented and a hard worker. He's been in my life longer than not. Many years of dating and 20 years of marriage he is my heart and soul. Handsome too! I'll post a picture of Don in future posts.

My son Ryan is 17. He's finishing his last year of high school and is an athletic guy with a brilliant mind. His hobbies are running cross country and triathlons, power fit, martial arts, gaming and he is a history buff and avid reader. He's a huge help around the house and farm, be it mowing acres of grass, helping with the horses, haying, roofing, you name it -- he willingly pitches in. He makes us proud and has a super sense of humour.

The four legged boys are both standard poodles. Chase is a 3 year old show Champion with several performance titles and is training for many more. He's my constant companion, coming to the office with me and is one of those very precious once-in-a-lifetime dogs. He even has his own blog. You can find his Chasing Hearts link on the side bar.

Lastly there's Hunter. Apricot standard poodle, house mascot and general entertainment committee. This dog has more personality than any one creature needs!

So that's the whole family. You'll have an idea whom I'm rambling on about now that you've met them. Be well!


Meet the Girls

I'm a complicated, diverse, creative sort of person. My day job is in the family Tool & Die/Metal Stamping business where I deal with numbers. One very defining thing about me is that I love my family and critters! Today I'd like to introduce all the girls. My favourite girl is my 14 year old daughter. Nicole is beautiful inside and out. She's the youngest, talented, energetic and dared I say -- sometimes moody? She's an avid dancer, martial artist, music fanatic and loyal friend. Clothes hound... did I mention that?? Very particular about her hair, clothes and her daily presentation. She's a great kid and loves dogs, cats and horses. I love my daughter, although some days she'd probably like to trade me in for a different model.

The other girls in residence all have 4 legs. Piper is a beautiful standard poodle who is also a performance dog. She excels in obedience, rally and does some agility with me and now Nicole. She's started to track, which is a passion of mine. I participate in CKC Tracking which is a for sport event where the dogs learn to follow the foot steps of a stranger over a plotted path unknown to the dog and handler to find lost articles. It's the zen of dog sports. Very fascinating and humbling to train and test in. It makes one realize that in some aspects of life, people are definitely not the superior species. I have to add at this point that I am staunchly against crossing poodles with other breeds. It's a thorn in my side and all that talk about hybrid vigor is a crock. Just stepping on my opinionated little pedestal there for a moment, I'll do that from time to time but will try to rein myself in. If you desire a mixed breed there are many dogs in need of homes at local shelters, please save one of them.

Bonnie and Shelby are registered Appaloosa mares. Not heavily marked with typical Appy colour they look and act like American Quarter Horses. I have a long history as a Quarter Horse girl and this Appy thing is not typical for me. I prefer QH geldings for show but these mares are a couple of really sweeties and strictly for pleasure riding. My days of competitive horse showing are over unless we win the lottery... then Nicole and I would be back with a vengeance! "The Girls" as we refer to our horses are kept just 2 km away at my parents farm. Location was the biggest buying feature in our house. 14 years ago this was the closest house we could purchase to the farm and my parents, horses and laying hens. By the way mentioning the farm -- another thing about me -- I'm an egg snob. I despise store bought eggs and get all Martha Stewart-y about having my own hens and fresh eggs. There really is a big difference in farm fresh same day eggs! Below is another picture of Nicole a few years ago with one of our laying hens. Yup, they're girls too! Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

I'm a Blogger?!

Me?! A blogger?! Nah, I'm an avid blog reader, but it appears I'm finally a blogger now too. It's a concept that I've tossed around for over a year. I consider this my online scrap book.
This past July I had the most wonderful, relaxing and inspiring Women's Weekend in Northern Ontario at a cottage with dear friends and some of our dogs. It was with 3 amazing and talented women friends, 6 poodles and a sweet mini schnauzer. My friend Dawn and I were chatting about web sites and blogs and how it'd be fun to start one for ourselves. Dawn had the gumption to get a lovely and fun blog started for her Wooly Wumpus and has been super about encouraging me to do the same. So?! I've gotten off the pot, so to speak. And in fact, with 2 blogs at once. One I've started to promote my standard poodle stud dog Chase. He's a handsome and talented guy. Show Champion, Tracking Champion, training, testing and trialing in multi venues -- he's got a busy social calendar. His blog will have our dog related adventures, health clearances, pedigree, new titles and such. But that's just a part of my busy life. A big part of my life, but my life is coloured with more crayons than just dogs.
I'm blessed with a darling husband, 2 incredible teenagers, have the best friends, 3 standard poodles, 2 horses, and a whack of fibre related hobbies. A day rarely goes by where I don't knit, sew or craft something. I also love to cook, bake, train dogs, garden and work on home renos and decorate. This blog will be a whole lot of the 'everything' that goes on in my life.
Welcome, I'm so glad you stopped in to visit!

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