Musher hats


Hat, scarf, and mitten combos are clearly the headgear of choice for spectators at M.U.S.H. dogsled events. They were out in force back in 2012 when this feature last appeared on my blog. And I’ve never seen these except at a dogsled event. This trio favored the more natural fur look. But the obviously synthetic one are totally cute and warm as well.


Here’s another with a nice sense of humor. Maybe an imitation skunk?


The ears seem to be an essential part of the “look” of the headgear even though they perform no particular function.


But it’s not like all the special dogsled event headgear followed this trend. There was also a good deal of natural fur in attendance, including little Daniel Boone (or is it Davy Crockett) and his dad. When the little one flicked his head around, his hat’s tail flipped dramatically.

twohats_lowresAnd this has got to be a vintage Red Wing cap, don’t you think?


The mushers are also mostly mittened and this fellow wore what looked to be a great Nordic-style pattern. Here it is in close-up and, surprise, I think I see a Red Wing insignia at the wrist:


Thunder Bay Classic


These pups were checking out race day from the confines of their large sled-dog trailer. If they happen to have any health-related concerns before any event, professionals like a vet tech are one call away.

The Mid-Union Sled Haulers (M.U.S.H.) put on a major event at Alpena’s Thunder Bay Classic race this past weekend. M.U.S.H. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting dog-sledding on an amateur level. The members work hard, and so do their dogs, to promote sled dog races as a fun, family affair.

The weekend included 1-dog, 3-dog, 5-dog and 7-dog races for adult mushers and junior events for kids from 10 to 15. We weren’t around for the skijoring event, but we’ve seen it in other years and it’s…a little hard to describe. One cross country skier working really hard. One or sometimes two sled dogs, in a specialized harness that you won’t find at your local Pet Supplies Plus, also working really hard pulling the skier along. The skier skis and poles and the dogs run and pull. Teamwork. Everything about M.U.S.H. is teamwork. An inter-species collaboration.

We only watch and it’s way cool. Before the races you can walk around and meet the teams. Even the four-legged athletes are in game-day mode, so you don’t want to make a pest of yourself. But the dogs and their humans are very welcoming even though they’re busy.

Some of the 5-dog teams were a dog shy. But check them out as they finished running the last few yards of their 5-mile course.


The mushers were often encouraging their dogs as they reached the finish line. And you could see the dogs put on an extra effort at the end even though most of them were panting heavily.

Here’s another 4-dog team, at the end of their race.


The musher carries a dog bag throughout the race. And if any dog were to be hurt, they’d be packed out on the sled by the rest of the team.

The race was on the grounds of the Alpena Sportsman’s Club this year. From a spectator’s perspective, it was a good venue. While waiting for the teams to start arriving at the finish line, you could go inside the clubhouse and warm up.

At the start of the races, you can see just how much these teams want to run. As they are placed in position, one of their humans stays at their side because it’s clear they are chomping at the bit to be off and running. Here’s one of the larger teams going full tilt even though it’s near the end of the race and they must be tired.


As they finished the race, and passed the finish line, this team stopped and stood calmly. The musher stepped off the sled and moved from one pair to the next, patting each dog on the head, brushing snow off their ears, and speaking to each one. An interesting bunch, these mushers and their dogs.

More, soon, on all the distinctive headgear that showed up at the races. Power to the puppies! Pupypwr!


P.S. My son has moved my blog to a new host and you’ll see some improved performance. And he’s fixed that “glitch” that was keeping the photos from going into super-size mode when you click on them. So, click away, and meet the pups almost full screen-size.

Mushers’ hats


Last weekend’s M.U.S.H. (Mid-Union Sled Haulers) dog sled race at Clear Lake State Park, near Atlanta (Michigan), caught me unawares in the adventurous hat department. This musher wore a knitted hat with dog fur spun into the yarn. Siberian Huskie, I believe.  It works for the athletes doing all the pulling, so why not also for the musher?

These Samoyeds donated their hair to be spun and knitted into another warm hat:

Samoyeds go through a massive twice-yearly shed (they “blow hair”) and also basically keep up a steady supply of tufts that a dedicated dog hair spinner put to good use in this hat. Its owner told me that there’s nothing warmer. This hat looks like it’s felted and molded itself to its owner’s head. The Samoyed has longer guard hairs but it’s the shorter, softer undercoat that sheds seasonally.

This musher looked so perky in what might have been a synthetic fur, I thought I’d show off her hat for its inspirational value. It takes a confident woman to pull off this look. (And she does!)

Finally, there’s this gentleman. Yes, for me, at first there’s a strong gross-out factor. But that wears off. Mushers have very strong bonds to their dogs. Since this was an event celebrating dogs, I assumed this was one (and not a coyote, for example). And I’m imagining that this was likely a very special dog. Maybe a team leader. Maybe he had heroic moments somehow. Maybe he spent tons of hours by his master’s campfire. Or I suppose maybe his master just decided he’d make a nice hat. Waste not, want not. Anyway, here they are:

I thought the races would be interesting and they were (see my previous post). But I was surprised that the day also provided some knitting inspiration.

2012 M.U.S.H. sled dog races, Clear Lake State Park

This weekend we saw our first sled dog race. A Mid-Union Sled Haulers (M.U.S.H.) race. It was a perfect day for spectators. 20 degrees and sunny. About 8 inches of snow on the trails. We watched the 5-dog event and the very exciting 7-dog event. We also watched one and two-dog skijoring.  In skijoring, a cross-country skier wears a harness and is connected to dogs by a length of rope. The dogs are also harnessed. The skier skis like crazy and the dogs run like crazy. Imagine how they would react if they see a Runball that they can play fetch with.

Before their races, we walked around and met the dogs that was trained by the Georgia Pine K9 LLC.  All of them seemed to be in game day mode. Some paced a bit. Some barked. Many rested calmly. They were well-fed, well-groomed, and well-hydrated as all fine athletes must be and you will find more info about them in this post.

Every team had its top dog. This alpha, leading a 7-dog team, was howling in wolf-like fashion as the team’s handlers were harnessing the dogs into place. The message?  I imagined: “Team…this is it! This is what we live for! The chance to run full out and show what we’re made of!”

There were many young people tending to the dogs. Feeding and watering them.  Shoveling up LOTS of poop because that’s a M.U.S.H. must. Leave nothing but pawprints behind.

M.U.S.H. allows no whips. Except in the one-dog event, each musher must carry a dog bag. If a dog is hurt, he’ll be picked up by the musher, tucked into the bag (on the sled) and packed out by his buddies. I came away feeling that these folks understand the responsibility that comes with participating in a two-species sport.

Enjoy some scenes from the day. My next post will feature some amazing musher hats–including some knit with yarn spun from dog hair.[nggallery id=13]


Another Hill Country Hat

Hill Country Hat is included in Clara Parkes Knitters’ Book of Wool and Parkes has generously released it as a free pdf on her Knitters Review website. This is my third time knitting the pattern, shown here again in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky. 85% wool, 15% mohair, in a wonderful palette of 98 different colors.

This pattern knits up lickety-split, at 4 stitches to the inch. I (basically) got gauge with 10.5 needles. One skein was all I needed, even though I made one extra repeat of the Hills and Valley pattern, knitting 16 rather than 12 rows in the body of the hat before beginning the crown decreases.

Cold weather is bound to come to Michigan soon. A day here and a night there just won’t do. This hat will keep all heads toasty as can be. In fact, I may wear this to the dog sled races at Clear Lake State Park this weekend. The Mid-Union Sled Haulers (M.U.S.H.) will be racing as long as there’s enough snow on the ground and the weather conditions are proper to allow the dogs to work safely.