Friday, September 30, 2005

It's show time. I've been from one end of the state to the other with specialties and all breed shows and even a trip to the Big E (Eastern States Exposition) to share a booth with the Sheep Breeders Assoc. of Connecticut. It's such a great time to show everyone my sweaters and talk dogs.

Last Thursday it was off to the Labrador Retriever Specialty in North Stonington. It was a very hot day and it was interesting watching a breed where they can jump into the water between trips into the ring. It would take a Sam hours to dry but these dogs are wash and wear.

I met a wonderful 11 week old Labrador puppy named Whinnie. She is in training to be a service dog working with special needs children. Nancy Bard, her breeder and trainer, is developing a program in Eastern Connecticut. Whinnie is not only a special dog for what she will be doing but she's also a beautiful example of the breed.
Whinnie will be one of the dogs featured in the upcoming The Crafty Labrador Retriever - Knits and she has been an inspiration for at least one of the designs. I also got to spend time with her and Nancy when I worked the Big E (the Eastern States Exposition) in the Connecticut Building on Wednesday night.

This was my first trip to the Big E and I was overwhelmed by the amount of humanity that passes through this park every day. I'm use to it being almost empty when we use the facility for dog shows. It was quite an experience talking with the visitors and the people in the CT Sheep Breeders Assoc. whose booth I shared. I loved the portable spinning wheel that was used for demonstrating the spinning technique. This was much easier to use than the wheel I used when I learned to spin. -- Sorry folks, I don't spin dog hair for my sweaters. I barely have time to keep my dogs combed out with six Sams. That's why I included a section in the books where dog owners can send the hair to have it spun to be knit into their sweaters.

At the weekend shows I got to see old friends, though we all froze on Sunday when the rain clouds came in and the temperature dropped. I regretted having finished the afghan I was making on Saturday. I did see old friends who were walking around showing off my sweater creations that I had made them showing off their dogs.

Now I design and try to contact all the people whose names were given me to help with information on the books. I am on a search to find people with stories about the activities in which their dogs participate to add to my books. Never a dull minute.

Friday, September 23, 2005

This will be short. I’m playing hookie from the second day of the Lab specialty today just to catch up on sweater orders and get ready for two more shows this weekend in Goshen, CT. I did a Labrador Retriever Specialty yesterday in No. Stonington, CT and it was fun meeting people in another breed. It was especially good because I was able to let people know that I am writing The Crafty Labrador Retriever – Knits book. I took some candids for the book and connected with people who will contribute some stories.

But, I’m tired and since I came home to more orders yesterday, decided I needed to get some designing done, yarn ordered, and all the little things accomplished that keeps the sweaters going.

Tomorrow and Sunday, I’ll be off to Goshen which is a site I enjoy and the weather should be perfect – sunny and in the low 70’s. It will be the first all breed show since The Crafty Samoyed – Knits came out so this will be the first chance that many of the exhibitors will get to see it.

I really enjoyed the salute to the Samoyed that was in the Congressional Record. We aren’t the only ones that think what Sheila and Walter did was terrific.
“SAMOYEDS STRUT STUFF IN OWENSBORO -- (Senate - September 22, 2005)
[Page: S10370] GPO's PDF
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, it was President Harry Truman who observed, half a century ago, that ``if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.'' That is perhaps a little harsh. Nevertheless, I note that many of my colleagues in the Congress are dog fanciers, and the Senate is a strikingly dog-friendly workplace. So it is fitting that we pay tribute to a renowned people-friendly breed of dog: the Samoyed. Legendary for their beauty, friendly spirit and heroic and historic treks to the North and South Poles, Samoyeds pulled the adventurers of yesteryear to new frontiers.
Several hundred Samoyeds and their humans will be pulling into Owensboro, KY, in October for the Samoyed Club of America's ``Simply Southern'' National Specialty. While I am pleased that these noble dogs and their guardians will be visiting the Commonwealth, it is, sadly, because of Hurricane Katrina's devastation in Biloxi, MS, where the event was originally scheduled to be held. So the SCA Specialty this year is a hurricane evacuee, but in addition to contributing over $10,000 from show proceeds to animal rescue in the devastated region, the organizers look forward to going back to a rebuilt and newly vibrant gulf coast in the future. ……”

I think they are going to like us being there.

Monday, September 19, 2005

We now have a new site for the SCA National Specialty in Owensboro, KY and it looks as though everything will work out beautifully thanks to an incredible effort on the part of this year's committee. They've been helped by volunteers in that area and it should come off smoothly.

I still have a lot of shows to do before leaving for the National. This week I have a new Labrador Retriever Specialty in North Stonington, Connecticut, their first independent show, on Thursday and Friday and then two all-breed shows at the other end of the state in Goshen, CT on Saturday and Sunday. Since the Lab book is the next to be published, this should work out well. I hope to find people who will tell me what it's like working their Labs in all the activities that are in the book. I've roughed out the stories, but they are so much better when there is the first hand experience of someone truly involved.

This year’s Rescue Quilt is up on for all to see. It’s one of the quilts that will be in my book The Crafty Samoyed – Quilts that will be out next year.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Well we got lucky yesterday in that the rain came before and after the Cornfest. The fair was fun and I got to know Bonnie, my fellow member of Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association better sharing a booth. She had her poetry and I had my knitting book and my sweaters.
There were no other Samoyed lovers there so the book didn’t sell, however, luckily for me there were those with other breeds, who admired the sweaters and placed orders to have them custom knit for them. Since it is not too late in the year, they’ll have them to wear for the Holidays.

The rain on the way home was spectacular. Big black clouds and jagged bolts of lightning lighting up the sky. The rain pounded down and I had to wait till it let up a bit to make a dash for the door when I got home.

The dogs were glad to see me, though I had to put up with the once over since I had been petting other dogs at the show. I told them that they wouldn’t have liked it because it was very hot and humid all day, but of course, they would have loved all the attention. Young Brigid is becoming an attention junkie with all the therapy visits we’ve been doing.

I haven’t told you about the therapy visits. This year I had fun developing a square dance group with dogs as part of Cheshire Dog Training Club. I took traditional square dance steps and worked out patterns that incorporated all the obedience commands. Then it was set to music and everyone had a ball. The routine we do takes less than ten minutes and we’ve been using it as an opening and closing for our visits to nursing homes and hospitals. After the opening dance we introduce each dog and tell about the breed, demonstrate some obedience exercises and then visit everyone. This is Brigid’s favorite part. She is a monumental people lover. She is also an obedience comic. I started training her about a month and a half ago and she took to it beautifully. The only problem being the stays. As part of the dance routine, we line up, put the dogs on a down and then march around, weaving through the group of dogs, snakelike. They’re good on staying down, till we finish and start back to stand in front of the dogs for the finish. Inevitably, Brigid sees me coming up the row and breaks to come see me. She gets a laugh from the crowd and now thinks it’s funny. I’ve got my work cut out for me getting her to do it right before we try for her CD. Unfortunately, she’s so cute doing this, it is impossible to get mad.
The group has a wide variety of dogs so it really looks interesting when they are all dancing together. Above is a photo of the group that one of the nurses took at our visit.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Off to the Cornfest

Well as my son was quick to point out to you, I told you all about Kanine Knits yesterday but never gave you the link. It’s It works so much better when I remember to give directions.

Today is pack up day, loading the van to go to a show, though, for a change, this will not be a dog show. Tomorrow, rain or shine and it looks like we’ll get both, I’ll be part of the booth sponsored by CAPA, the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association at the Cornfest, a country fair and craft show on the green in historic Wethersfield, CT. So if anyone in the area wants to come by our booth, I be one of several authors plus I will have samples of my sweaters for people to see.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


My name is Peggy Gaffney and I am an author and knitting designer. Perhaps that should be reversed, since the knitting designing came first but the books that I am creating are a very large part of what I do and therefore the joy of being an author is uppermost at the moment.

What I write about and what I design all revolve about my love of dogs, pure bred dogs and specifically Samoyed dogs which I have bred, shown, and loved for over 37 years. It was the dogs that led to the designing that led to becoming an author so as you can see, it is a natural progression. I live with six Samoyeds at the moment, two cats and a son.

About 10 years ago, I started thinking about what I'd do when I retired from teaching school and at the time, I was working part time for a friend who owned a knitting shop and was an author of a wonderful knitting book which I'll tell you about later. She was the one who suggested that I make a business out of two things I loved, dogs and knitting. And so it was that I started designing sweaters with intarsia patterns of pure bred dogs. My goal in the designs was to make the dogs look as much like the breed as possible. These would be custom designs with each sweater created for the individual to his tastes and specifications. It started with Samoyeds and then Newfoundlands (my friend Kathy has search and rescue Newfs) and then Goldens, and Dobes, and Brittanys, and so on until I have created designs for more than 100 breeds. I call it Kanine Knits: Sweaters for the Dog Fancy. And it has been something that Fanciers really like.

Now over the years, people asked if I'd sell my patterns. I didn't want to do that because these were my bread and butter, but I got thinking that it might be fun to write a book with a collection of patterns for each breed. I wanted the books to be special. Then came the idea of writing a book about what the breed did for fun in modern times and create intarsia designs to illustrate these activities and of course, sweater, hat, scarf, etc. instructions to go with them. So the concept of the book grew and I started writing the first of what would be The Crafty Dog series.

The first book had, of course, to be about Samoyeds. It was called The Crafty Samoyed - Knits. I was lucky to have friends who had expertise in many of the activities that I hadn't tried with my Samoyed and they contributed stories and pictures to add to my stories and photo collection. The book turned out to be very hard work and at the same time a lot of fun.

Now The Crafty Samoyed - Knits is out and selling and I'm working on the next breeds: Labs, Goldens, Newfoundlands, Shelties, German Shepherds, Boxers, Corgis and more. Each will be the combination of stories, sweaters and stunning designs for knitters to work. And I'm hoping to find fanciers in these breeds to share their stories with me as well.