Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Orange

In anticipation of the Sock Innovation KAL, (a Ravelry link) selecting Sunshine as the June KAL pattern, I ordered this yarn from Slackford Studio.

It arrived yesterday, way prettier than the picture. I'm looking forward to knitting these socks as soon as Mom's birthday socks are done.

I was hoping they'd pick Hedera by Cookie A. for the second June KAL pattern and was already visualizing Mom's sky blue socks in the Hedera pattern. Instead, they picked Nebula by Cookie A., a beautiful pattern reported to have approximately 1,600 cable crossings.

Sock knitting decisions need to be made! I don't think I can manage 1,600 cable crossings before Mom's birthday without giving up other things I want and need to do, so I'll likely stick with the Hedera plan and groan when it's the KAL pattern chosen for July. (No inside information. Just knowledge that Hedera got a lot of votes for June and is likely to get picked soon.)

Meanwhile, I'm ready to start the heels on Pomatomus. And, there's 3/4s of a gansey sleeve waiting for me to finish.

For about two weeks each spring, between the time they arrive and the time they start egg laying, the Orioles will stop by the feeding station and eat oranges.

It's a special time and we love seeing them.

Once they start nest building, they're up in the high tree tops and all we get are occasional flashes of orange in the leaves. By August, they've left to migrate back south for the winter.

Why do you suppose they fly all the way to SW Michigan to nest?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pomatomus - Still Loved But Taking Forever

There isn't much of a knitting update. I've been enjoying spring, working out in the yard, taking care of ailing dogs (details at end of post for those who are interested), and doing some family things.

I was working on the second sleeve of the Lighthouse Gansey when I got the urge to try and finish Pomatomus by the end of the month. That's the deadline for it to qualify in the Sock Innovation KAL, (a Ravelry link).

I'm finding Pomatomus an enjoyable knit, but not a speedy knit. One cuff is done, the second cuff has only the top ribbing. They are not going to be done in time for the end of the KAL, but I'm going to relax, forget about making a deadline, and enjoy knitting them anyway.

Then it will be time to knit Mom's birthday socks for the middle of June. She's picked out some pretty blue Opal UNI-Solid and I'm hoping one of the two Sock Innovation KAL, (a Ravelry link) selections for June will be perfect for her yarn.

Pattern: Pomatomus by Cookie A.

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Origanum

Needles: Options 2.5mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch.

Doggy Woes
Sunny's back is acting up and she's in pain and finding it difficult to move. Pain pills are helping, but not enough. If she isn't starting to get better soon, she'll need to go on steroids. It's breaking my heart to watch her.

Pappy had his anal glands infused yesterday morning for a persistent infection. He spent yesterday being woozy from the anesthetic, but today he's feeling much better than he's been in several months. It's been a stubborn infection and we're hoping this will be the last treatment needed. Kind vet says it's 90% likely this will take care of it, otherwise we will need to repeat the infusion with a different antibiotic.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday Wings - Adolescent Bluebirds

The swallows hatched Monday. Mother Swallow didn't want to leave the nest box. I honored her decision (Mother usually knows best) and didn't insist, so no naked baby pictures were taken.

Today it's raining, so once again I'm not opening the box. Nor am I chasing Mother Robin off her nest in order to check if her eggs have hatched.

The last five days the Bluebird Kids were in the nest box, they were jumping around, strengthening their wings, and checking out the world through the opening.

These pictures were taken Monday when the hatchlings were sixteen days old. Tuesday morning they were gone.

Their parents take them into the nearby woods to keep them hidden while they complete their education, increase their wing strength, learn to find their own food, and learn to fly. For graduation, they get to sit on the power line that crosses the field.

Friday, May 22, 2009

All Is Happy in Sock Knitting Land

One of my long time blog reads, Susan in OK, sells beautiful fiber at Slackford Studio. Recently she added a 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn to her mix. I picked my favorite color out of her first batch and was so excited when it arrived just as pretty as the picture.

The yarn is nice and soft but it looks like it's going to be tough as well. A must for my machine washing gift sock recipients.

Check out the pretty blue stitch markers that came with the yarn. They're so pretty I may make them into a pair of earrings.

Because, as you can see in this picture, I use tacky plastic pin markers that I can hook and unhook. I dislike slipping markers, so I often just slide them into the stitch below instead.

Though I don't enjoy knitting through the back loop, lately I've been tempted to knit Pomatomus by Cookie A. - a pattern with hundreds of knitting through the back loops. Since I couldn't wait to try out the new yarn and the colors looked perfect for this pattern, I decided to give it a trial.

It's perfect! I love the yarn - the colors and how nicely it knits up.

I love the pattern. All those curves are actually k1tbl, p1 ribbing and it's much stretchier than I expected.

The knitting through the back loop turned out to be perfectly pleasant with the sharp pointed Options needles. I no longer have to dislike that technique.

Now I'm going to set this sock aside and finish the Lighthouse Gansey sleeves knowing I have another fun project waiting in the bucket.

Pattern: Pomatomus by Cookie A.

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Origanum

Needles: Options 2.5mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch in stockinette.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Wings - Nesting Update

The nestbox is getting - - what's a nice word for it? A little crusty?

The bluebird chicks are twelve days old, getting old enough to jump out of the nestbox prematurely. Today will be the last time I open this nestbox until after the chicks have fledged.

While hiking out to the bluebird nestbox, I spotted this robin sitting on a nest about six feet up in a small tree.

When I took her picture, she left the nest with loud protests.

I went back to the house to get a stool to stand on and used my little camera to hold over the nest and get a picture of the contents.

While hiking back from the bluebird nestbox, I peeked over and noticed Mother Robin was back on the nest. I pretended I didn't see her and kept on walking.

No changes in the Tree Swallow nestbox. The eggs should be hatching soon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lighthouse Gansey Remodeled

This is the Lighthouse Gansey before I frogged it all the way back to the underarms on the front and back.

The lighthouse on the front was too tall, making the neck too high. The pattern has a turtle neck opening, which I tried to omit by lowering the neckline. There weren't enough rows to lower the neckline to make a decent looking opening.

In fact, this is the ugliest neck I've ever knit including the ones that wouldn't fit over my head. It came up so high on my neck that it rolled forward when I tried on the sweater.

The wide cable was too wide. It created large puckers in the purl rows at its base.

The sleeves were too deep. Ten inches down the front and back plus two more inches across the gusset made for arm holes twenty-two inches in circumference. I would have hated them.

The proportions of the stitch patterns were not attractive to my eyes. The filler stitch on the edges came in too far toward the neck. The cable was too close to the neck.

Frog, frog, frog.

Reknit, reknit, reknit.

I'm happier now.

The lighthouse has been moved to the sweater back. The stitch patterns have been changed and/or moved. The cables are only three stitches wide.

This is the new front with a pretty anchor in the center.

Now, on to the sleeves.

Pattern: Lighthouse Gansey by Anne Bosch with many modifications.

Yarn: Knitpicks Cotlin. 70% Tanguis Cotton, 30% Linen. DK weight.

Color: Glacier.

Needles: Options #3.

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 8.5 rows/inch in pattern.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Flashback Friday - Home

On the second (or sometimes third) Friday of each month I go back five years to pick out one of my favorite blog posts for that month and repost it here on Flashback Friday.

This post was originally written in May, 2004. Some things have changed since then.

Two years ago the county widened and paved our dirt road. They removed the huge oaks in the front yard along with dozens of other trees along the front of our property. The front yard is now grass.

It's actually nice to have some sunny lawn. We still have plenty of other shady areas. The hostas and other shade plants have been moved further back on the property where they can be happy.

Home (Written 5 years ago.)
When I was a child I fell in love with nature. My two favorite books were the Golden Book of Birds and Golden Book of Insects.

We lived in a small town. There was very little diversity in the urban ecology. I dreamed of seeing the real birds and bugs instead of just pictures.

I remember one childhood evening when a rarely seen hummingbird visited the flowers while we were playing. I wanted the other kids to be still so I could watch, but I was the only one interested and the hummer quickly went elsewhere.

Picture of hummer at the feedMany of my childhood dreams of seeing nature have come true since DH Bob and I moved to a home in rural SW Michigan thirteen years ago.

Now the hummingbirds buzz us at the window if we don't keep their feeder filled.

We have so many hummingbirds in the summer it is hard to remember when they were new and novel. They are part of our life now. We share our home with them.

Picture of canopy over the roadOur home is five acres on a narrow dirt road in a swampy woods. The road has a canopy of trees overhead. The leaves are so thick in the summer that a light rain never gets the road wet.

There are various types of wild violets growing on our land. I encourage them to multiply and I call our property Violet Acres.

There is usually something new and interesting going on at Violet Acres. This spring we have a pair of yellow crested flycatchers. I think they are nesting in the woods across the road. They come over into our front yard to catch insects for their young family. I see flashes of yellow going across the window and occasionally they perch where we can see their beauty.

Picture of front yardIn our neighborhood, no one cares if the lawn is mowed. In fact, no one cares if we even have a lawn. This picture was taken out the front window.

The front of our home is planted very informally in ferns, hostas, lily-of-the-valley, Solomon's seal, and other wild flowers that grow in the shade.

There are cement stepping stones that go around in a large circle. I like to go out, walk around on them, and see everything green and growing.

Picture of pondViolet Acres is narrow and long. The front two acres is mostly wooded except for the spring fed pond and the small brick house where we live.

The pond is for the wildlife. It houses small fish, water snakes, snapping turtles, and muskrats. Kingfishers and herons come to find dinner. Deer come to drink.

This time of year the frogs are so loud at night that sometimes it's hard to get to sleep. I lay there and listen to them calling for a mate and wonder over my good fortune to have a home in such a beautiful and noisy place.

Picture of Glory in the streamThe front two acres and the back three acres are divided by a fast running stream.

Glory the lab mix, Queen of Violet Acres, loves to wade in the stream. This mystifies the two little dogs. They prefer to stay dry at all times and always stare at Glory in amazement as she splashes around and climbs out soaking wet.

The back three acres has some woods, but is mostly open field that we let grow natural, complete with a few large brush piles to shelter the wildlife. This is where the nest box birds raise their babies and Pappy the Papillon, Prince of Violet Acres, meets up with his blue racer snake friends.

On the property next to ours there is an oak forest, so this field is what naturalists call an "edge" area. It's perfect for seeing a variety of birds and wildlife.

Today we learned that our neighbor has seen a mink. I'll be watching for it. Something new to love about my home at Violet Acres.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Glynis Socks Finished

I already did a rant on these socks here if you missed it.

Because I knit them tight, they weren't a pleasant knit for me. They quickly got boring while staying a slow knit. I never got the pattern firmly enough in my mind so I didn't have to look at the chart for every row.

The dark brown was a bit of a strain on my aging eyes. I think I may have been able to memorize the stitch pattern with a lighter color.

Someday I'd like to be able to say I knit every sock in Cookie's book so even after all the complaining, I'm glad I knit these socks.

The fit is perfect. I plan to forget the chore of knitting them and enjoy wearing them. But, I won't be knitting this pattern again.

Pattern: Glynis from Cookie's Sock Innovation book.

Yarn: Shi Bui, 100% Superwash Merino wool.

Color: Bark

Needles: Options 2.25mm circulars.

The pattern is loaded with knit three togethers, next to impossible when knitting so tight. I ended up using an alternative right leaning double decrease: knit two together, return to left needle, pass next stitch over the knit two together and off the needle, slip knit two together stitch back to the right hand needle.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday Wings - Hatchlings and Eggs

(Posted on Thursday. We had thunderstorms on Wednesday and I unplugged before finishing.)

The five bluebird eggs have hatched. The little ones are mostly naked/featherless but hungry and doing well.

Since it was a little chilly and rainy yesterday, I didn't want to leave the nest box open for more than a few seconds, so the picture is rather difficult to see what's going on in the nest.

I'm going to cheat and use two pictures from previous years.

This is hatching day in the bluebird nest.

Here are some week old hatchlings from a previous year when it was warm and sunny.

I like to think I'm seeing them fly around as beautiful adults now.

The Tree Swallow nest box has six pretty white eggs.

The female is seriously sitting on them now. Hatchlings expected in two weeks.

In the evening the female comes out to take a break on the power line.

Tree Swallows really like the power line. They use it for the mating activities, as a launching point for food gathering, and to supervise the area once the family is underway.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Granddaughter Kimmy's Poem

One of my Mother's Day gifts was A Celebration of Poets, Michigan and Ohio, Grades 7-9, Fall 2008.

Granddaughter Kimmy's poem is on Page 79 . . .

All I Want

All I want is someone to stop everything
Someone to connect everyone together
All I want is someone to stop everything
Someone to find something in common with us
Someone to stop the difference
All I want is someone to stop everything
Someone to forget the past
Someone not to care what other people think
Someone not to be afraid to say hello
All I want is someone to stop everything
Someone to take a step towards the opposite of them
Someone to find acceptance in everyone
Someone to listen instead of gossip
Someone to stand up for the right reasons
All I want is for everyone to fit in

Kimberly Casarez, Grade 8
Pennfield Middle School, MI

Heather's Birthday Socks Finished

Heather requested chocolate brown birthday socks and I was happy to find this mocha color in Opal UNI-Solid.

The socks were done for our get-together last Saturday. They've been blessed with much admiration and appreciation and thanks. I think she likes them.

Pattern: Double eyelet ribbing with a p,k,p between eyelet columns

Yarn: Opal, 75% Superwash wool, 25% Nylon.

Color: UNI-Solid Medium mocha

Needles: Options 2.5mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fourteenth Annual Louise Lunch

The four generations of women with the middle name Louise met for lunch May 1996 to celebrate Mother's Day and Daughter Heather's birthday. Granddaughter Kimmy was a baby, so it was Heather's first Mother's Day as a mother.

We didn't know we were starting a family tradition, but after a few years we formalized it with the name "Louise Lunch".

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers, especially Mom, Heather, and Anne. Love you!

We were having such a good time talking and laughing together that I almost forgot to haul out the camera for pictures.

This is Margarete Louise (aka Louise One, Mom) and Marguerite Louise (aka Louise Two, Me). Picture taken by Kimberly Louise (aka Louise Four, Granddaughter Kimmy).

Heather Louise (aka Louise Three, Daughter Heather) is always smiling and laughing except when she's trying to look normal in a picture.

It seems strange to see her looking so solemn. She always gets to pick the restaurant because it's her birthday as well as being Mother's Day. This year she picked Texas Roadhouse in Kalamazoo and we all enjoyed her selection.

Heather Louise (aka Louise Three, Daughter Heather) and her daughter, Kimberly Louise (aka Louise Four, Granddaughter Kimmy).

My Mother's Day gift was a book of poems containing a poem written by Kimmy. I'll be sharing the poem in a future post.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Kai-Mei Socks Done

Kai Mei was chosen by the Sock Innovation Ravelry for the May KAL (KnitALong).

If you knit this pattern, make sure you have the Sock Innovation errata. The corrections are substantial and important for Kai-Mei.

Kai-Mei (which I keep wanting to write as Mai-Kei) is not one of my favorite patterns in Cookie's book.

It's a lovely design and an interesting construction, but I'm a very practical person who wears "sensible" shoes. The cuff is all k3, p3 ribbing. Having the pretty detail on the foot would have caused me to skip over this design if I hadn't decided to do the KAL before knowing what the pattern was going to be.

Since I felt luke warm about the pattern, I picked some unloved yarn that's been in my stash for years. It's Opal Prisma, a yarn club selection I never would have bought at the store. One of the most boring Opals ever, but too busy and bright for most stitch patterns. I remember groaning when I opened the package.

Surprise! I actually like these socks. Not LOVE! them, but I do like them.

They're just a little big for me, so they'll be going to Mom. That works out best anyway, because she wears her socks around her apartment without shoes so she'll have plenty of opportunity to gaze down and enjoy the design on the foot.

Pattern: Kai-Mei from Sock Innovation by Cookie A.

Yarn: Opal, 75% Superwash wool, 25% Nylon.

Color: Prisma

Needles: Options 2.5mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch in stockinette.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Wednesday Wings - Nest Box Report

The bluebirds should be hatching any day now. I thought this might be the day, but nothing happened. The eggs still look like they did on Monday.

Nearby in a second nest box, the Tree Swallows are ready to start laying eggs. There are so many feathers in this nest I had to feel around with my finger to check for the first egg. It wasn't there yet, but probably tomorrow. The female has been in the box most of the day.

I love the way the swallows are precise in their nest building. This year they used pine needles instead of the usual grass. The feathers are arranged to curl up over the top of the nest and help keep the eggs and eventually the naked babies cosy and warm.

Tree Swallows are the size of a large sparrow with white undersides and an iridescent blue/green back.

What did they ever do before there were wires to sit on while guarding their nest box?

Some of the male Gold Finches have completely turned gold now. Others still have a drab spot or two remaining.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook for May 4

These writing prompts are available from Simple Woman's Daybook where each Monday we're invited to join in celebrating the beauty of everyday moments around us.

FOR TODAY May 4, 2009...

Outside my window...The deciduous trees are leafing out. Finally. They're at least a week behind average this year.

I am thinking... It's almost time to see the first Oriole. There are oranges waiting in the kitchen for their post-migration snack.

I am thankful for... Springtime.

From the kitchen... The first batch of hummingbird food is cooling in anticipation of the hummers' arrival. Any day now. I need to find the feeder.

Later: First hummer is here! He looked in the window to remind me he needed sugar juice and he got it.

I am wearing... Jeans and an old tee shirt. The bottoms of my jeans are tucked in my socks because we've just had a large black fly hatch. They like to go up pantlegs to bite. I have over a dozen bites on my legs. They hurt and itch, both at the same time.

I am creating... A pair of Cookie's Kai Mei socks for the Sock Innovation Knitalong group on Ravelry. Both cuffs and heels are done and I'm ready for the fun part on the foot. Details in a future post.

I am going... To have to figure out new ways to get to the places I go in Kalamazoo and Portage. Summer road construction has begun and some of my favorite routes are closed or down to one lane.

I am reading... Just finished listening to Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair. Very enjoyable.

I am hoping... For a still day tomorrow so I can burn the thousands of sticks I've picked up and will continue to pick up while I'm tending the fire.

I am hearing... DH Bob singing off key. He has headphones on and can't hear himself or I think he would be embarrassed. Without headphones, he has a great voice and knows how to carry a tune.

Around the house... All the plants are popping out of the ground. As usual, the weeds are growing faster than the flowers.

One of my favorite things... The violets that pop up randomly all over the property this time of year. They are so delicate and pretty. I never weed them out no matter where I find them.

We also have white ones and yellow ones, but the blue are my favorite.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Working in the yard. Next week I'll be buying annuals to plant.

Saturday is Louise Lunch where four generations of women with the middle name Louise get together to celebrate Mother's Day and daughter Heather Louise's birthday.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...There are five beautiful blue eggs in the bluebird nest box that should be hatching mid week.