words and photos by Vicki Robinson
In 2016, my husband and I adopted a bonded pair of senior dogs from the SPCA: a short-haired dachshund and a 3-pound long-haired chihuahua. I’d spun dog hair (chiengora) before, so with the tiniest of slicker brushes, I groomed my sweet Daisy daily. She loved it and would jump on my foot when she wanted up for her brush. Of course, with such beautifully soft fiber, I wasn’t about to throw it away. Our district already has the brightest and softest nests from my fiber and yarn discards.
Almost nightly, I would sit in my chair and spin long draw from the cloud, straight off the brush, on my John Galen Daisy bead supported spindle. Maybe I’d get an arm’s length, more or less. Surprisingly, it was very easy to spin, even and soft.
Fast forward to our annual RV trip to Oregon, loaded with wheel, spindles, fiber, husband, and dogs, destination: Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival (OFFF). Perusing the OFFF brochure, I saw applications to enter various fiber show categories. Why not? I’d never done anything like that before and I had a couple spindles full of Daisy, so I sent off my application.
I plied my singles into a 2-ply yarn and counted my yardage. Success! I had 58 yards and the minimum was 50. I filled out my yarn description of this yarn that had taken me a year to collect and spin but paused at the question regarding possible intended use. I thought an open lace shawl would be beautiful – in about 10 years! Instead, it would be just a very special keepsake as our Daisy passed very unexpectedly on my husband’s birthday whilst undergoing dentalwork to remove all her teeth.
I submitted my yarn, much to the delight of the wonderful staff signing in entries. They had read “Chihuahua yarn” but were boggled as to what to expect.
Fast forward to judging day, when we headed up to the gallery. I could hardly believe my eyes as we approached and saw ribbons near my yarn. A blue 1st, a big green Judges’ Choice, and a big blue and pink Grand Reserve Champion were actually attached to my skein! I don’t remember much of that weekend after that. I think I was bouncing around too much and it addled my memory. My skein had scored 99/100. Perhaps I lost a point for not including a swatch, but I had still been urged to submit my yarn after explaining a swatch would likely take me another year. I had also almost overlooked the fiber sample, but fortunately Daisy had yet to be brushed on submission day, so we managed to squeak in on that.
Oh, I almost forgot (this event still gets me so excited), when we went to pick up my yarn and ribbons, it wasn’t displayed where it was previously. As my heart came up to my throat, the attendant saw it on a long wall. Little Daisy had also garnered herself the Barb Quinn memorial award from Vancouver Handspinners. It was fancy dinner for all that night.
We still miss our Daisy terribly and think we see and hear her. I feel blessed to have this skein of her, with or without the fabulous adventure.
Originally from Australia, Vicki Robinson lives in British Columbia, Canada, where she dreams of owning her own fiber flock in their condo. Ever-enabling husband Joe laughs and jokes that 6 long-haired chihuahas should suffice. They currently share their home with 3 rescue dogs, only one of which has longer hair, albeit like wire, perhaps hair for potscrubbers in his future! Vicki is on Ravelry as Vickistickis and is the originator of Sisterhood of Fun Ideas…and Other Great Stuff on Facebook and Etsy.