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)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Stitch Patterns Making Me Batty

Alternate Title: What Happens To My Brain When I Knit Stockinette for Too Many Days in A Row

My all time favorite knitting books are the four stitch treasuries by Barbara G. Walker. I can spend hours looking through them. They overstimulate my mind. Everytime I pick one up, I find something new I've never noticed before and/or get an idea for knitting that was never obvious before.

I judge knitwear design by the stitch patterns used. If a design has boring, ordinary stitch patterns, I'm not going to knit it. (There have been exceptions to this rule, but I'm always bored and sorry when I break it - like now, trying to complete the endless Lavold sleeves.)

Sweater full of different stitch patterns Shortly after I started knitting again and before I learned the beauty of wool, I knit this sweater for myself. (It was also before I lost 40 pounds.)

If I recall correctly, the yarn is Paton's Look At Me.

Starting at the bottom, I worked a stitch pattern until I was tired of knitting it. Then, I went to the stitch treasuries and found a new stitch pattern that I though would look good on top of the one I just finished.

Looking back, I have to note that this sweater was more fun to knit than anything else I've ever done. (Notice, I didn't say I wear it often, just that it was fun to knit.)

Barbara Walker SpiderI've always wanted to knit the Spider in Barbara G. Walker's Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns. It's a complex twist stitch pattern 29 stitches wide by 52 rows long. She uses The Spider as a tutorial in twist stitches.

There are right twists, left twists, right side twists, wrong side twists, knit twists, and purl twists. What fun!

The spider is ugly. It looks like a spider, and I think the time has come I do need to master it.

Maybe on a seaman's scarf? For Halloween?

The problem is, I don't want to knit the spider twice. Now what would work on the other flap?

Barbara Walker Bat laceBats!

In the same book Barbara Walker charts out bat lace.

What could be more perfect?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sweet Potato Treats

Two different types of sweet potato dog chewsA few weeks ago Carrie suggested I try some of the sweet potato dog treats available at Sit Stay.

I ordered a small pack of sweet potato rawhides for Glory and a small pack of the much smaller sweet potato fries for Sunny and Pappy.

To Bob's skeptical amazement, Glory thinks the rawhides are yummy. They're big enough so I can cut them in half and she still feels like she's getting a good sized treat. They're tough enough so a half rawhide takes her a while to chew and she enjoys the process.

The two little dogs differed, as usual, in their opinion.

Sunny after enjoying her sweet potato treats and wishing she had moreSunny enjoyed her sweet potato fry.

Hey Mom, if I stick one ear up and look cute will you give me another one of those yummy things?

Pappy looking at me like I'm nuts to think he would like to eat sweet potato treatsPappy rejected the sweet potato fry after one sniff.

Mom, surely that didn't count as a treat! Can I have something else please?

As Meatloaf would say, "Two out of three ain't bad."

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Heat Goes On

Sunny getting a drink out of the creekLooking at the color coded USA Today weather map, Michigan (where I live) is coded the same color as Texas - bright red, temps in the 90s.

It's a little warmer than we Michiganders expect in June, so the weather is a big topic of discussion. Especially the thunderstorms that don't cool things off at all. In fact the last two haven't resulted in enough rain to get the sidewalk wet. There was just enough moisture to make the air hazy and enough lightening to make the power flicker on and off a few times.

Early this morning I completed the small amount of housework that's going to get done today, and I've spent the rest of the day in leisure, sitting in front of the fan and taking short walks with the dogs.

Sunny thinks creek water is much tastier than tap water. Plus, it's a big dog kind of thing to do.

Each of the dogs has their own favorite place to cool off. Glory is under a table in the living room, Pappy is in front of a blowing fan, and Sunny thinks it's best under the bed. I'm with Pappy.

Deer fly biting my kneeWhy would a woman of reasonable intelligence wear a long sleeved turtleneck shirt outside for a dog walk when it's over 90 degrees?

Deer flies.

Or, as the Department of Entomology at Michigan State University calls them, "little sabres of pain."

They dive onto their victim and immediately CHOMP! Ouch!

The result is a red welt resembling a mosquito bite. The welts don't itch and they don't last long, it's just that initial, painful CHOMP that makes deer flies one of the worse bloodsucking insect pests we have here.

I view them as one of God's annual reminders that we live in a fallen world.

Actual blood was lost and pain suffered to bring you this picture of a deer fly biting my knee. Am I a dedicated blogger, or what?

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Fun With Little Balls of Yarn

Warning to Sharon: This post contains a picture of a wool sock.

CIC sock knit with one strand sport weight wool and on strand Opal Bumblebee sock yarnSeveral months ago a generous online friend from the Opal Chatters List sent me eleven skeins of Brown Sheep Nature Spun for CIC knitting. It's sport weight in various bright colors for the kids.

Knitting for CIC there are two main considerations, warmth and toughness. It's cold in Eastern European orphanages and the kids wear their socks without shoes. In my opinion, lightweight and/or delicate knitted items are a waste of time and energy. I've never used any yarn lighter than worsted weight for CIC socks.

This little sock was a successful experiment to test out knitting the sport weight wool with a strand of leftover sock yarn (Opal Bumblebee) carried along. It was knit on thirty stitches with size 5 (US) needles. The resulting fabric is dense, tough, and equivalent to a worsted weight sock. I'm very pleased with the result.

Using a quick kitchen scale calculation, it appears one skein of Nature Spun will make two pair of socks if the second pair is knit on 28 stitches. If I run a little short, contrasting toes are always acceptable.

I've been saving little, left over balls of sock yarn for more than five years. Once I start hauling them out of the bins I know I'll be amazed at the number.

It doesn't take much sock yarn for a toddler sized sock. The sock yarn ball in this picture is loosely wound and a little less than two inches in diameter. Its twin was enough to make the first sock.

I love knitting up the bright colors and seeing the interesting results. This is going to be fun. Most of the results are going to be more colorful than this first attempt.

Looks like I won't run out of CIC sock yarn for a while.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Dog Days of June

Glory, a big black lab mix, going into the creek for a dipSince we live in a dense, shaded area, we usually don't mind not being air conditioned - except for a few days of the year, and this is one of them. It's 97 F (36 C) and the humidity is high. If we had to get up and actually do something, we'd be very hot.

I took the dogs outdoors one at a time and let them do whatever they wanted.

Glory, our oldest and biggest dog, had no problem deciding to head for the creek and wade around a while.

The two little dogs don't understand why a dog would voluntarily go into the water, but I think Glory was the smart one this afternoon.

Pappy the Papillon with his head in a mole holePappy's favorite pastime is hunting rodents. Since he's not much bigger than a rabbit, he's only had success with the smaller species.

He has caught and killed numerous mice, voles, and moles. We don't encourage him, but mousing is in his genes and there doesn't seem to be any stopping it. We'll be walking along and all of a sudden he will pounce into the weeds and come out with a prize.

This afternoon he was after a mole. He can smell them underground and knows right where to dig. If he doesn't get them on first pounce they're safe and gone, but he thinks he needs to dig a little just to make sure.

Sorry you can't see his cute little Papillon face. It's down the mole hole.

Sunny fetching her rubber turtleAt our house, "turtle" is a verb.

Sunny has a squeaky, rubber turtle, her favorite toy since she was a tiny puppy. (Actually we're on the fifth or sixth one, and there is a spare tucked away for when this one falls apart.) She likes to play fetch and tug with it, and she's not gentle.

When she wants to play, she gets her turtle and whaps it down at someone's feet. We say that person has been "turtled". If you ignore her turtling, she repeats it.

Sunny is very persistent and hard to ignore when she wants to play turtle. Usually the person who didn't get turtled laughs at the person who did get turtled because there is no escape.

Sunny turtled me several times this afternoon and I tried to tell her it was too hot. Evidently it wasn't too hot, because we went outside with the turtle and she fetched, tugged, and had a great time.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Last One Out is a Rotten Egg!

First hatchling out of the second bluebird clutchThe hatching has begun!

The first hatched looks like he's ready to rule the nest. Mom and Dad Eastern Bluebird are working hard to feed him and watch over the rest of the eggs which will be/are hatching soon.

There are five eggs, so we're hoping for another successful family of five to equal the first clutch that fledged in May.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Top Candidates for What to Knit Next

ChelleC left a comment yesterday asking to see the projects on my knitting "to do" list.

Here it is - a list of everything I want to be knitting right now:

  • Chutes and Ladders socks for Six Sock Knitalong. If I'm going to participate, these need to be done by the end of July. It will be a hard decision whether to knit this pattern or start working on two original patterns I have ready to knit and write up.

  • New pattern to share, Shetland Snowflake socks. Maybe this could wait a few months before we're ready to start thinking about snow.

  • New Pattern to share, More Fun Than Cables sock. This is a very cool stitch pattern and I'm anxious to knit it and post it.

  • Opal Tutti Fruiti socks. This yarn is gorgeous and I'm looking forward to having a pair of socks knit from it. Unfortunately, the three sock patterns listed above are not appropriate for the colorful Tutti Fruiti stripes, so this needs to be a separate project.

  • Secret Sock pattern. I will be test knitting a sock pattern arriving in the mail the first part of July. Fortunately, there's no deadline on getting it done. If necessary, it can go in the stash to age a while.

  • Four more pair of CIC socks. The sock challenge ends August 31. My goal is two pair in June (almost done), two pair in July, and two pair in August. These are my mindless, take along knitting.

  • Five CIC sweaters out of the brightly colored Lopi I just bought. And I'd like to write up a pattern or two for other knitters to use for CIC knitting. The CIC_Knit List seems to be lacking some easy, bulky weight sweater patterns.

  • Branching Out Scarf in green Knitpicks Andean Treasure. This is my quick project to try out this yarn.

  • Dayflower Lace Scarf in red maple leaf Knitpicks Merino Style. This is my quick project to try out this yarn.

  • Lace scarf (pattern to be determined) out of blue Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud. In fact, I have enough Alpaca Cloud for two scarves.

  • Hanover Jacket from Jean Frost Jackets, yarn to be determined. Knitpicks Elegance is the leading contender. This and the test sock are the only projects on the list that I don't have the yarn for yet.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Knitting Log for June 20

Matthew's Scarf about half done knit in barn red Elegance from Knitpicks After being very lazy for a few weeks, I'm back in the knitting swing of things.

Yesterday when I picked up Matthew's Scarf, I noticed I was getting near the end of the first ball of yarn. Since I only have two balls, I ended up starting the ribbing a few pattern repeats before I was planning to do so.

The pattern tails are going to be about fourteen inches long, an inch shorter than the pattern directs. I've never worn a seaman's style scarf before, so I have no idea if that's going to be too short or not.

Since I don't have a very large neck, I'll probably have to keep this scarf for myself. And since I'm loving the feel of the alpaca and silk Knitpicks Elegance yarn, it will be a pleasure to wear it.

My knitting goals for the rest of the month of June are:

  • Finish first pair Chutes and Ladders socks for CIC
  • Finish Matthew's Scarf
  • Finish second sleeve on Lavold Silky Tweed sweater

If I can get those three projects completed, I will have nothing on the needles to start the month of July. Oh how wonderful that will be, because I have no less than a dozen projects rattling around in my head making me crazy trying to decide what to knit next.

I want to start all of them, but I've learned that three things on the needles is my limit.

There's only one way to quiet my brain and impose order on my project starting urges. I get out paper and pencil, make a list, and plan out my knitting schedule for the next forever.

I never stick with the plan, but writing it out always makes me feel like things are under control.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Mom!

Tomorrow, June 18, is Mom's birthday.

I've hacked her blog to post birthday greetings and let the world know it's her special day.

Click on over and leave her a comment. She'd love to hear from you.


Your Expression Number is 2
A mediator and peacemaker, you get along well with others.
You light up in group situations, but struggle when you're alone.
Modest and understated, you accomplish more than you give yourself credit for.

Cooperative, courteous, and considerate are words people use to describe you.
You know how to handle anyone, no matter how much of a pain they might be.
Tactful and friendly, nearly everyone who knows you admires you.

Sometimes you are overly sensitive and easily hurt.
When you get too sensitive, you can become shy and uncertain.
At your worst, you can be apathetic and withdrawn.

This little online calculator comes up with your expression number (whatever that's supposed to mean) from the name on your birth certificate.

My favorite number has always been 2, so I was enchanted to know that's the number calculated from my original name.

The personal characteristics that go with my expression number could be me, but mostly they remind me of a generic horoscope blurb.

I am pleased to be told that I "accomplish more than you give yourself credit for." I've been reading a lot lately and I like the idea that something is getting done that I don't know about.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Thinking, Lopi, and Next Trip to Idaho

Wow. Thanks for all the great comments and email on my last post.

I think it's important that everyone take some time once in a while to think about what they're doing, what they're not doing, and ask themselves if changes need to be made. I do have some changes that I need to make, but the changes are minor. The current tone of my newly retired life is going to continue as is for now.

My faith in the Lord provides the assurance that if He has something He wants me to do, He'll make it perfectly clear. Right now, He seems to be mostly pleased to have me doing what I'm doing. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to leave the workforce earlier than planned and start the transition into life after work.

Thank you Lord and thank you Pfizer.

15 skeins of Lopi in bright kid colors for making CIC sweatersNew Lopi Stash
I've hardly been knitting at all this week, but the new yarn arrived anyway.

CIC has requested sweaters in addition to the vests we've been knitting, so this is my new Lopi stash dedicated to making five toddler sized sweaters for CIC.

The yarn was on sale so I stocked up even though the sweaters may not get knit until 2006.

My CIC knitting goal for 2005 is twelve pair of socks and six vests. The vests have been knit and sent. Now it's sock time.

The CIC_Knit List is having a sock challenge to produce 300 pair of wool toddler socks by August 31. My personal goal is six pair.

There's a simple little pattern over on my sidebar. Even one pair of warm little socks will make a big difference in some child's comfort, so please consider knitting up a pair. You don't need to be a member of the CIC_Knit List to participate. I'll be happy to report your sock count to the list when you mail them off to CIC

Idaho, Here We Come
One of the things I've been doing this week instead of knitting has been to book a trip to Idaho for Granddaughter Kimmy and me the first week of August.

Kimmy is going to be flying for the first time and I managed to get her a window seat on all four flights. She also will be visiting Idaho for the first time, seeing mountains for the first time, and, most important, meeting her new cousin Sydney Anne for the first time.

I've already met Sydney Anne, but I won't mind seeing her again.

For this trip I'm getting a rental car. Those who know me, know that I have no sense of direction and can get lost in my own back yard, so this will be a bit of a challenge. I will have maps, written out routes, and I will (can you sense the determination) learn my way around the Spokane, Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene area.

Grandmas are more fun when they're mobile. That's my motivation to master this challenge.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What Do You Want To DO With Your Life?

This week I've been thinking about my future and my inability to get motivated about planning it.

Here I am, 60 years old, in reasonable health, looking to the future without much enthusiasm for anything.

In the past week I've had lunch with three different women about my age, plus or minus ten years. They all stopped working within the last year or a little longer. We all seem to be going through the same mental shutdown.

We're all intelligent, former professional women who have only recently learned the beauty of not being motivated, not excelling in anything, having time to do nothing, and wearing jeans/sweats and comfortable shoes.

None of us want to commit to any new obligations right now. It's enough that we plan lunch out with a friend who will understand if we need to change the date. That's just about as committed as we want to be.

So what's the point of this post? I'm not sure. I thought if I wrote it down maybe some great insight would transpire. It didn't.

I think I'll go knit.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sunny, Pappy, and Paws on the Pier


These are my two little dogs, Sunny on the left and Pappy on the right.

They are both about 14 pounds, have black eye patches, are very intelligent, and very very loved. Other than that, they're as different as can be.

  • Sunny is a female. Pappy is a male.
  • Sunny is mostly black. Pappy is mostly white.
  • Sunny has curly hair. Pappy has straight hair.
  • Sunny always looks ungroomed. Pappy always looks neat and tidy.
  • Sunny is a second generation (at least) mixed breed. Pappy is a Papillon.
  • Sunny has stocky legs and feet. Pappy has delicate legs and feet.
  • Sunny has a tiny head and small teeth. Pappy has a much larger head and teeth.
  • Sunny is persistent and stubborn. Pappy is eager to please.
  • Sunny is playful. Pappy is serious.
  • Sunny joined the family as a tiny puppy. Pappy joined the family as a rescued adult.
  • Sunny has never known harm. Pappy has had terrible things happen to him.
  • Sunny goes to "Advanced Hobby" class on Monday. Pappy goes to "Advanced Hobby" class on Thursday.
  • Sunny loves obedience work. Pappy is ho-hum about obedience work.
  • Sunny is ho-hum about agility. Pappy loves agility.
  • Sunny does not like strange places and crowds of people. Pappy loves them.

The Advanced Hobby classes are joining together to put on an obedience, agility demonstration at Paws on the Pier, a Humane Society dog walk in South Haven. Pappy is my demo dog - see last bullet on list - so he will be going to Sunny's class as well as his own for the next two weeks to practice.

That means Sunny will be going to the Intermediate class on Tuesday night, which means I'm going to be in doggy school three nights a week.

For anyone who is not a dog person and has read this far, let me assure you that Sunny is going to know Pappy went to her class. I really do have to take her on Tuesday or she will go into a major doggy depression.

Dog people don't need this explained.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Saturday Snippets for June 11

Scarf Clarification
Sorry I wasn't clear about the scarf picture in the last post. Several readers - maybe more - thought the picture was the Branching Out scarf being knit in Elegance.

The scarf in the picture is being knit from the pattern Matthew's Scarf by Myrna Stahman.

Since this is my first seaman's scarf, I thought it would be interesting to follow a seaman's scarf pattern. So I went looking and found the beautiful Matthew's Scarf which appears to be perfect for Elegance.

I have three different KnitPicks yarns waiting to be turned into a scarf. For the Branching Out scarf, I'm going to use the sport weight Andean Treasure - unless I change my mind before I start knitting it.

Kimmy at her ninth birthday partyCongratulations to Kimberly Louise
Granddaughter Kimmy just completed fourth grade. It's become an annual tradition for this grandma to celebrate the end of a successful school year with a day at Full Blast for Kimmy and the friend of her choice.

Yesterday was Full Blast day, so I gathered up a non-demanding book, sunscreen, towels, and drove to Battle Creek.

My role for the day was easy: chauffeur, sit under a large beach umbrella, read a book, and hand out money as needed. The kids had fun and I had fun watching them have fun.

We ended the day with dinner at the restaurant of Kimmy's choice, Burger King.

Nest Box Update
There are five bluebird eggs now. Approximate hatch date is in two weeks, June 25.

The young swallows are doing well. When I open the nest box, they all hunker down and play dead. All the pictures I've taken look like a nest containing a dark blob. That's why you're not seeing a swallow picture today.

The Weather
It is hot (90s) and humid (blah) here and has been for the past week. There's another thunderstorm blowing in across Lake Michigan from Chicago. I'm going to unplug my laptop, grab one of my freshly fetched library books, and sit in front of the fan and read.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Knitting Log for June 8

Lavold sweater with one partially finished sleeveI'm going to use age as an excuse to limit my knitting on these sleeves to twenty or less rows a day.

When I rashly decided to make myself finish the sleeves before starting another project, I had forgotten that extended knitting on this cotton type yarn hurts my hands, shoulders, and sometimes neck. Those of you who are too young and/or limber to identify with this problem, be thankful and enjoy.

It's not like I need to finish this sweater quick so I can wear it. It's 90+ degrees outside. But I do need to finish it. So my revised promise to myself is that it will stay next to my kitchen knitting chair and I will pick it up and knit a few rows on it often until the sleeves are done.

You won't see another picture of this sweater until it's done and blocked. I've tried it on and the fit is perfect. I'm going to enjoy wearing it when it's finished and the weather is cooler.

First four pattern repeats of Matthew's scarf knit in barn red EleganceOne thing leads to another OR you can't do anything without doing something else first.

I want to knit Susan's Branching Out scarf in a seaman's style so the ends will be symmetrical.

A seaman's scarf is:
A short scarf consisting of a relatively narrow section of ribbing draped over the back of the neck and a more decorative section at either end that can be worn over the upper chest.

Since I've never knit a seaman's scarf, I went in search of a pattern and found Matthew's Scarf by Myrna Stahman, perfect for the barn red Elegance yarn just received from Knitpicks.

Note added June 11: The scarf in the picture is Matthew's Scarf being knit in Elegance, not the Branching Out scarf. I'm using the Matthew's Scarf pattern to learn how to knit a seaman's scarf, and then I'm going to knit the Branching Out scarf using green Andean Treasure - unless I change my mind before then.
End of Note.

There's a provisional chain caston on the top which will eventually be the ribbing part of the scarf and the second end. I'm following the pattern exactly for a change, and hoping the finished scarf will signal the graduation of my seaman's scarf education.

The Elegance yarn is easy on my hands, soft with great stitch definition, and is still the number one contender for the Jean Frost Jacket I plan to knit when my hands heal from knitting the Lavold.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Aggressive Ferns

What was formerly a garden in the back of the house now completely filled with giant fernsIn order to have truth in blogging, I need to show some of the spots in the yard that are far from perfect.

When I took the camera out today, I had no problem finding a garden mess for my readers to tut-tut over.

This was formerly an orderly garden full of hostas and other shade loving plants before the cinnamon ferns took over. Evidently fern growing conditions are excellent here.

At first I thought it was pretty how the ferns filled in all the gaps and looked so cool and green. Then, at some point in time that I can't pinpoint, the ferns took over.

That Rose of Sharon bush behind the ferns looks half dead. Did the ferns kill it?

I think the hostas are still alive in there, hoping to be rescued soon. I also think it's going to be a lot of work to dig the ferns out and restore order to this plot. So, I've been ignoring it and working on the front side of the house.

First bluebird egg in the nest for a second nestingThe egg laying has begun!

On our first dog walk of the morning, Daddy bluebird was sitting on top of the nest box and Mom Bluebird was inside starting the second family.

Unlike the dive bombing swallows, the male took off and left the female to fend for herself. She peeked out the hole at us, then ducked down out of sight. We quickly walked off and didn't go back that way until much later in the day

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Drooling Over KnitPicks Yarn

Yarn arrived in latest KnitPicks orderOh the colors! Better than advertised! Brighter than in my photo!

Last weekend I ordered some sample quantities of yarn from Knitpicks, figuring I'd play around with the different possibilities before selecting a yarn to knit the Hanover Jacket from Jean Frost Jackets.

The plan is to have some fun knitting these into scarves, maybe even have another scarf contest.

As previously blogged, I am not going to cast on any of this luscious stuff until the sleeves are done on the Lavold sweater. Sigh. That isn't going to be an easy resolution to keep. The sleeves are at the endless, boring stage and I'm drooling over this yarn and some scarf patterns I've collected.

So I'm not allowed to knit my new skeins, but I am allowed to blog about them. Get ready. I'm going to sound like an ad.

In the bottom right is Elegance, a DK weight 70% baby alpaca, 30% silk blend in Barn Red. It's soft, it's beautiful, and it really is barn red - a deep rich red exactly the color of fresh barn paint. If I had to guess which yarn I'm going to select for the jacket, it would be this yarn in this color.

Up at the top of the picture is Merino Style, a DK weight 100% Merino Wool in Maple Leaf. I live where the red maples turn this color red in the fall. Knitpicks has pegged the color right on.

Merino Style is a little stiffer than Elegance. For that reason it may turn out to be the better choice for the jacket. It's also almost half the price of Elegance, but both yarns are so reasonable I'm not going to let that be a selection concern.

On the left is Andean Treasure, a sport weight 100% heathered baby alpaca. The color is Lagoon. My skeins are a little lighter in color than the picture in the Knitpicks catalog and a little darker than my photo looks on my monitor. Lagoon is a cool green with obvious heathery flakes of turquoise and yellow. I'm a sucker for rich, heathery yarns and this stuff is beautiful.

Knitpicks lists the Andean Treasure gauge at 6 stitches per inch and lists the Hanover Jacket as one of the recommended projects for this yarn. As lovely as this yarn is, I doubt it's suitable for a jacket intended to be knit with DK weight. Maybe I'll change my mind after knitting a swatch, but I don't think so.

On the right is one skein of Shine, a sport weight 60% pima cotton, 40% modal in Blush. Once again, the color is outstanding. It's a pastel salmon pink with a yellow base and very little blue tones.

I have no idea (yet) what I'm going to do with the Shine other than try knitting with it and see if it hurts my hands like other cotton yarns I've tried. It feels soft, so I'm hoping for a good cotton knitting experience.

If any of my readers have experience knitting with these yarns, I'd love to hear your advice in the comments.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Living in a Swamp

Frog in the pondFrogs in the Pond
This Northern Leopard Frog sitting at the edge of the pond and was nice enough not to jump away until he had his picture taken.

We've been having very noisy evenings thanks to these fellows.

We have a spring fed pond in the East yard. A wonderful draw for all types of wildlife including at least one very large snapping turtle. You couldn't pay me to go wading in that pond.

Water Cress blooming along the creek Water Cress in the Creek
There's a creek that runs through the property separating the front two acres with the house from the back three acre field where we walk the dogs and have the nest boxes.

Other than the mowed walking paths, we leave the back three acres natural for the birds and wildlife. We also leave the creek natural.

The creek water is so clear it never shows in a picture. You can see the sandy creek bed and the beautiful water cress that blooms this time of year.

Second bluebird nest built after nest box was cleaned out Second Bluebird Nest
A few weeks ago the bluebirds fledged five young from this nest box. Last weekend I removed the used and very crusted (we won't talk about what it was crusted with) nest box.

After removing the cruddy nest, I used the hose, a scraper, and a stiff toothbrush to clean out the box. Then I re-mounted it and waited.

Yesterday I could see the male and female entering the house with dry grass. Today the new, clean nest is ready for their second family of the season.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Short Row Sleeve Cap

Knit in shaped sleeve cap done with short rows from the topKnitting time when I could concentrate was at a premium today, but I managed to finish up the short rows that make up the sleeve cap.

Barbara Walker recommends leaving the short row wraps to hug the armhole edge making "a neater looking join between sleeve and body than any kind of sewn seam could make." Since I've never gone wrong following the advice of Barbara Walker (Elizabeth Zimmerman called Barbara Walker a genius), I did exactly as she suggested and like the result.

The instructions work the sleeve on a 16 inch circular, but I don't have one in the right size so I'm using two longer circulars.

There is only one row knit on the underarm part of the sleeve, so I still can't be sure that the sleeve is going to fit well. But I can't tell that it isn't going to fit, either. That's a good sign. I'm hoping that even if the fit turns out a little loose, it will be acceptable.

I have a KnitPicks order on the way, and I'd love to have this sweater done by the time the new yarn gets here. I've promised myself there will be no casting on of any other project - not even a test swatch - until this sweater is complete.

Hope to have much more sleeve to show by tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Sleeves and Birds

After sewing up the side seams, weaving in ends, and doing some research and calculations, I was able to start the short row sleeve cap on the Lavold sweater. It's looking great. I'm sure I'm going to like this method of setting in sleeves top down without a seam, but I'm not sure that the first try is going to be the final try.

Since the rest of the sweater wasn't knit with Walker's top down method, I had to guess a bit on the numbers. About one more inch and I think I'll be able to tell if the first try is going to be a good fit. At that point I'll take a picture to post, even if I'm going to rip it out and try again.

Meanwhile, here are two pictures of things going on in the yard.

Six day old tree swallows in the feathered nestYesterday six tree swallow eggs hatched in one of the east nest boxes. They're tiny, naked, and well sheltered in their feather nest.

Fortunately it was a beautiful, warm day in West Michigan, so there was no problem opening the nest box and getting a picture. Well, actually there were a few little problems.

It was a challenge to hold the feathers out of the way to see the hatchlings without destroying the cosy structure loving made by mom and dad tree swallow. And mom and dad tree swallow were very irate about the home invasion. They circled and dive bombed until I left.

Jack in the PulpitYesterday I was walking out in the west side yard. It's heavily shaded with pine and oak trees and pretty much left to grow natural, except for groups of hostas I've planted for color.

It was a surprise to find this lovely Jack-in-the-Pulpit growing big and healthy under a pine tree. We've lived here fourteen years and this is the first time I've seen one on our property or anywhere nearby.

They make berries/seeds in the fall, so I suspect this plant arrived via bird poop. It looks happy here. I hope it spreads and multiples.

Thanks little bird, wherever you are.