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)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Talking Turkey

Wild turkeys eating dropped sunflower seedsAfter declaring the roads too icy to drive to church Sunday morning, I was just starting to relax when Bob called out from the kitchen, "Bring the camera!"

Between twenty and thirty wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) were in the yard. The camera and I had a great time.

The little birds, chickadees and tufted titmice, take sunflowers seeds from the feeders into this nearby evergreen to crack them and eat them. The turkeys feasted on dropped seeds.

With their normal food (acorns, seeds) buried under a foot of frozen slush (read about it here), we were delighted to give them a Sunday breakfast.

Tom turkey looking handsome showing pretty feathersThe male gobblers are four feet from head to tip of tail feathers. A very impressive bird.

The females are a foot shorter, but still have plenty of meat.

See the "beard" growing out of his center chest? That's the easy way to tell this is a male. The females have a shorter beard.

Both genders are pretty birds in an ugly sort of way with their metallic iridescent feathers changing color with the angle and the light.

Turkey staring into the cameraThis guy must have noticed the lady in the window aiming something at him.

No way to explain it was only a camera and he was welcome to stay as long as he wanted.

We kept the dogs in the house until the last turkey was out of the yard and out of sight in the woods across the street.

Turkey dancing across the top of the snowWild turkeys can fly, but prefer to run when alarmed.

A few of them had a problem getting out of the yard. They would approach the driveway at a right angle and run into the open gate. Instead of walking a few feet around the gate, they assumed it was an endless fence, and retreated back to the corner of the yard where they started. They repeated this over and over again, giving us the impression that Wild Turkeys are not the smartest of birds.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Crunchy Winter Walk

We've had approximately 40 inches of February snow in SW Michigan. Because it came gradually, the snow on the ground had time to compact as new snow was added.

We've had some days where temps got above freezing with the melting snow freezing into ice when the temperature dropped at night.

Yesterday we had some freezing rain, making a slippery layer of ice on top of everything.

Pappy standing on top of the snowToday it's lightly snowing. There's about a half inch of new snow on the ice layer, making it less slippery.

The complete layer of snow, which is now mostly frozen slush, is about a foot deep. Depth varies depending on how the snow drifted while it was still light enough to be blown around.

Pappy and Glory finally get to walk out in the fieldFor the first time in several weeks, I walked to the back of the property with Glory and Pappy.

Glory, the big dog, broke through the top crust.

Pappy, the 14 pound dog, quickly learned that if he stayed out of Glory's tracks and my tracks, he was able to walk on top of all the accumulated snow except what fell today.

red Bretton socks with Opal rose hipsSince I posted the first picture when these socks were almost done, it's a bit redundant to post a finished picture. But I like to be consistent, so a finished picture it is.

All sock details are here.

Worsted weight socks have been my comfort this winter. I finished these Saturday evening and immediately put them on my feet.

The freezing "winter mix" arrived before I went to bed Saturday, and I enjoyed waking up in my bright socks to inspect the damage. Thankfully there was not enough ice to bring down tree limbs and take out power lines, but there was enough ice so I didn't think it wise to walk around outside or drive to church.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Saturday Sky, More Red Socks, and a Goldfinch

Dark Saturday sky before the predicted winter mix hitsThis week I waited until later in the day to take the Saturday Sky picture to see if the sky would lighten up a bit. You can see how well that plan worked.

This picture was taken about 1 pm as SW Michiganders wait for the next weather installment. All the weather forecasters are predicting a "winter mix" (freezing rain, sleet, snow) to start about 1 am. The National Weather Service says not more than a half inch of ice. Accuweather says not more than an inch of ice.

It's easy to mispredict ice. Just a degree or two in temperature can make a big difference in how it all works out.

I predict no ice because we've had our quota for this winter and do not need anymore.

Bretton and Opal Rose hips red socks for me almost doneThis weather just invites bright, warm sock knitting. These are for me and I plan to have them on my feet before the 1 am storm begins.

Pattern: Winging Worsted Weight Socks with a 40 stitch cuff and 38 stitch foot. k3, p1 ribbing on cuff and instep.

Yarn: Red Patternworks Bretton (70% superwash wool, 25% nylon, and 5% alpaca) with leftover Opal Rose Hips fingering weight yarn from this project.

The heels are knit with Bretton and red Opal UNI-solid.

Needles: Pony Pearl #5 double points

Gauge: 5 stitches/inch (approximate, I didn't measure)

Close up picture of bright socksInspiration: Desire to alleviate the winter blahs.

I wanted a pair of red Bretton socks for my cold feet. Then I dug into the left-over ball stash and picked out the brightest yarn I could find to string along with with it.

The result looks like it might glow in the dark, but it doesn't.

Female goldfinch in winter colors eating seed on the windowsillThe goldfinches are small birds, smaller than a sparrow. They turn olive green in the winter and return to gold in the spring.

Some milder climate blogs are starting to show pictures of crocus and daffodils in bloom. We're still about six weeks away from that, but I do detect a little yellow on this female goldfinch.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday's Feast for February 23

It's Friday and time for the Feast.

Appetizer - Where on your body do you have a scar, and what caused it?

Chickenpox scarThere is a chickenpox scar on the bridge of my nose that looks like a bottomless hole.

When granddaughter Kimmy was younger, she would question me about the possibility of it going right to my brain.

The rest of the scars I have are not anything you want to hear about.

Soup - What is something that has happened to you that you would consider a miracle?

My career in Information Technology.

When I was first hired to be a computer programmer, I didn't know what a computer was. I had a degree in Microbiology/Chemistry and was amazed the first day of work when I got shown to a desk instead of a lab bench.

The miracle was that I had a talent for the work and ended up having a very successful twenty-three year computer career.

The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Salad - Name a television personality who really gets on your nerves.

Lucy in I Love Lucy.

Main Course - What was a funny word you said as a child (such as "pasketti" for "spaghetti")?

Little Didi sixy years agoNone that I've ever been told about.

I'm guessing funny words weren't funny in my family and mispronounced words got corrected ASAP.

Even in this toddler glamor shot, they have me reading a book.

Dessert - Fill in the blank: I have always thought ______ was ______.

I have always thought the theory of evolution was the modern day equivalent of the earth is flat theory.

Yes, species evolve. But they don't evolve into different genera.

Your opinion may differ. This is a friendly knitting blog. Let's not discuss.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Red Scoks for CIC

These socks were knit for the CIC_Knit List big kids challenge ending March 31. This is pair four of my five pair personal goal for the challenge.

Red socks for CIC knit from Susan's unnamed pattern Pattern: Susan's Mystery Socks, official sock name not yet revealed.

Yarn: Red Patternworks Bretton (70% superwash wool, 25% nylon, and 5% alpaca) with leftover red and gray Austermann Step 18 carried along.

Needles: Pony Pearl #5 double points

Gauge: 5 stitches/inch (approximate, I didn't measure)

Inspiration: Seeing Pat's red socks.

Red Bretton yarn from PatternworksIt was Monday evening and I was settled into my knitting spot wondering what to pick up. My mood was tired from shoveling and I wanted to knit something mindless but interesting.

Looking around at my knitting mess, I spotted the red Bretton from Patternworks and two balls of Austermann Step leftover from my birthday socks.

At that point, I remembered admiring Pat's red socks knit from Susan's Mystery Pattern. I quickly printed off the pattern, sat down and cast on.

I used the smallest ball of Step for the first sock, knit until it was gone, and finished up the foot with some gray Opal UNI-Solid. Then I knit the second sock to match.

For once I followed a pattern exactly - almost. When I got to the toe, I realized I hadn't printed that part of the pattern so I finished with the same toe I always use. It turned out to be the same as Susan's toe except for having one extra row of knit without decreases.

Since the socks are for CIC, I didn't need to worry about fit. Lengthwise they fit me (shoe size 6), but they are a bit too wide for my narrow feet.

As part of writing the pattern, Susan wrote an excellent tutorial on how to Kitchener . Using her 3 basic rules and 2 easy steps, anyone can master the Kitchener stitch.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Blogiversary Questions - Knitting Inspiration

Isabelle who blogs at Tricotine asked . . .
Where do you get your inspiration for your patterns?!!

Sherry asked . . .
What inspiration do you use to create your patterns?

Edna who blogs at KY Bluegrass Knitter asked . . .
I would love to know what inspires your patterns?

Tammy who blogs at Tammy's Knitting Space asked . . .
I'm curious where the ideas for your patterns come from?

Branda who blogs at Close To My Heart asked . . .
What would you say is your greatest inspiration when you are designing?

You guys made me think! This is not an easy question.

From now on when I do a project, I'll try to state the main reasons I picked the pattern and yarn. If I'm designing the project as I go along, I'll talk about how I'm making knitting decisions.

There are many factors that go into something I knit without a pattern. They're pretty much the same things I look for when I use a pattern.

Answering Brenda's question first because it explains a lot, my greatest inspirations are my stitch treasuries. Barbara Walker 1 and 2 are my favorites that I come back to over and over.

Stitch patterns are eye candy for me. I enjoy browsing and day dreaming about what might be fun to knit with the stitches I find visually pleasant. Usually, if there is going to be inspiration, it comes from my subconscious mind when I'm doing something totally different later. Sometimes very much later, like years even.

Currently my new Japanese stitch pattern book is brewing away in my subconscious. I have no idea what to do with the beautiful stitch patterns inside, so for now they're just pretty to view.

The best idea I can come up with at the moment is to knit 100 different lace scarves out of fingering weight yarn using the intricate Japanese stitch patterns. So not practical!

But as time goes on, eventually the ideas will come.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Knitting Log for February 19

John's Birthday socks donePattern: 66 stitch basic sock. Stitch pattern here along with closeup view.

Yarn: Special Blauband fingering weight, 80% wool, 20% nylon

Color: Washington Redskin Maroon, as requested by son John for his birthday socks.

Needles: Addi Turbo #1.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Son John's birthday socks are done a month early. I'll probably wait a few weeks before mailing them.

Front and back of a blue Cozy in CablesPattern: Cosy in Cables Big Kid Sweater with the front and back seed stitch center panel replaced by a cable pattern from Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting.

Knitting size 40 inches for the CIC big kids challenge.

Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky in Brite Blue

Needles: Addi Turbo and Options 10.5

Gauge: 12 stitches/4 inches in SS

When this is washed, the purl troughs will open up making it wider and in the right proportion of length to width.

My hands need a rest from the big needles. Next weekend I'll knit the sleeves.

Part of a Japanese book lace patternI've figured out enough of the Japanese Knitting Pattern Book 250 (details on book here ) to start a swatch of the stitch pattern on the cover.

This is only the first 16 rows of a 32 row lace pattern.

The swatching has no purpose other than to prove to myself I can figure out the chart. I can, so I'm not sure if I'll take time to finish it or not.

The swatch is fingering weight left-over Opal UNI-solid knit with a US #2 needle.

I'll write a post with links to helpful aids in figuring out Japanese knitting soon. There doesn't seem to be as many of them as I imagined there might be.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday Sky and Chickadees

Saturday sky in the middle of a snow dump on February 17, 2007The sky is solid with snow clouds. The hazy look of the picture is how the camera recorded the snow dumping down out of the Saturday sky.

The good news - it's warmer. 22 F/-6 C at noon.

The bad news - the snowplow decided to take our dirt road down to the surface yesterday and we have a heavy, ugly, icy pile of winter at the end of the driveway.

The resolution - shoveling.

How about some Chickadee pictures to cheer me up?

Chickadee and Nuthatch at the sunflower feederThe Black-capped Chickadees (Parus atricapillus) are cute, tiny little birds about five inches long from head to tail tip.

The Chickadee is the top bird. That's a White-breasted Nuthatch on the bottom.

At doggy school when this happens, we say, "No sniff!" But I don't think birds do that. The camera just caught them in an interesting position.

Chickadee sitting in an evergreenThe Chickadees sit in the nearby trees, pop into the feeder, grab a sunflower seed, and take it back to the tree to crack it and eat it.

They're friendly, demanding little birds, always eager to let us know when they're out of seed.

Chickadee taking seed from the outdoor window ledgeBob likes to put seed out on the brick sills. Most of the little birds, including the Chickadees, will fly in to grab one.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday's Feast for February 16

It's Friday and time for the Feast.

Appetizer - What sound, other than the normal ringing, would you like your telephone to make?

Silence is fine. Leave me a message. Or, better, yet, send me an email.

Soup - Describe your usual disposition in meteorological terms (partly cloudy, sunny, stormy, etc.).

Sky from a mild and partially cloudy day last August
Clear and mild with occasional cloud cover.

Salad - What specific subject do you feel you know better than any other subjects?

COBOL programming, an obsolete skill now that Y2K is past.

Main Course - Imagine you were given the ability to remember everything you read for one entire day. Which books/magazines/newspapers would you choose to read?

Pile of books representing my current interestsMy favorite books of the Bible: Genesis, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Joel, Jonah, Matthew, John, Philippians, Revelation.

Japanese knitting terms. Since this is magic, I'm assuming I will be able to read Japanese.

Birds of North America.

HTML for the World Wide Web.

Dessert - If a popular candy maker contacted you to create their next confection, what would it be like and what would you name it?

Granny's Goopy Galoption: Caramel, milk chocolate, and a few pecans. Something like turtles, but much stickier.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Broken Record Rant

It snowed AGAIN yesterday!

Do I sound like a broken record? Does anyone use the term "broken record" anymore? It originated back in the olden days when vinyl records were played on a record player. When the record was scratched, the needle stuck in the groove and the same notes/words played over and over again.

I read a lot of knitting blogs.

When a knitting blogger posts a picture with beautiful yarn and/or a great pattern, I like to know what that yarn is and what pattern was used. When the blogger just throws up a picture of a gorgeous project and doesn't give me a clue, I scowl and create unattractive wrinkles on my face.

I know they think I can remember their post from a week ago (or a day ago) when they told me all the specs for what they're knitting. I don't. I'm old. I come from the days when "broken record" was understood by teenagers.

Since I'm reading blogs in Bloglines, I'm probably not going to endure my slow dialup connection to go searching back through old posts for the information.

My point? I wish bloggers would do "broken record" blogging and mention the important facts about their project each time they post a picture. Even a link to the post with the information would be welcome. Then I could click instead of frown.

On a related topic, when posting a seasonal picture (or a Saturday Sky picture), a blogger should not assume the reader is able to identify where it was taken. It's only a few extra keystrokes to include the vital geographic fact that makes the picture meaningful. Like this . . .

The sun peeking through the treesToday the sun is peeking through the trees in SW Michigan, but it's frigid cold outside (14 F/-10 C at lunch time) so we're enjoying the rays from indoors.

I define frigid cold as any temperature under 16 F where the road salt doesn't work and the dogs have trouble with their feet freezing.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sunny Does Snow

It's snowing again. The wind is blowing and it's very cold.

The two little dogs aren't able to get through the snow on the back three acres where we usually walk. A few days ago Bob drove the jeep over the bridge and made some tire tracks for them to use.

This is what happened when 16 pound Sunny, the winter weather wimp dog, went out there with me.

Sunny at the end of the tire tracksThese tracks are nice, but they end here. What am I supposed to do now?

I'm not going out in that deep snow. In fact, my feet are cold and I don't want to be out here at all.

Sunny starting her run toward the houseThe rest of you can stay out here if like, but I'm going home.

Sunny from the rear still running toward the houseAlmost to the creek. Then over the bridge, across the back yard, up the stairs, and into the house.

Hope I get there before my feet freeze.

Sunny taking a napThat was exhausting.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I've Got Options

As I was finishing up Frode, my eyes kept wandering to the opposite page in Lavold's book where there was a very pretty 21 stitch braid between two cables just like the two cables in the Cozy in Cables pattern.

Surely that was a sign that I needed to use some more of my Lamb's Pride Bulky stash and knit a Cozy in Cables with a Viking braid up the front.

The only 10.5 needles I had were 24 inches. In anticipation of starting a 40 inch Cozy in Cables, I stopped at the yarn store to pick up a longer 10.5, and did a double take at the price. $18.95 for an Addi Turbo circular needle. Not extra long, not extra big, not extra anything. Just like the dozens of Addi Turbos I already own.

Since the store didn't carry a length I could use, I didn't have to think twice about not paying that much. I headed toward the door, checking out the price of Lamb's Pride bulky on the way. $8.25 a skein. Almost three times what I paid at the Sheep Shed Studio.

(I will now continue this post without digressing into a discussion on supporting our local yarn stores. It's all very sad. I would have to consider them a charity to willingly pay their prices, but I do understand why they have to charge them.)

My new set of Knitpicks Options needlesAs soon as I got home, I sat down and ordered a set of Knitpicks Options needles. For less than the price of three Addi Turbos at my local yarn store, I could buy sharp pointed needles size 4 through 11, with two 32" cords and two 24" cords.

So far I've only used the 32" 10.5 needle. My initial reaction: That point is sharp!

I have the habit of pushing my knitting around with my index finger on the point of the needle. In less than an hour, my finger was bloody and I'd been retrained by the pain of piercing myself. And that was with a 10.5 needle. I'm imagining the smaller sizes are even sharp enough to get knitting needles banned on airplanes again.

I like them very much. Haven't used them enough to say I love them, but the cords are the best ever. Very flexible. Now when I start a project I have a choice between a sharp pointed needle and the duller Addis.

Start of Cozy in Cables with Viking braidIt was knowing the new Options needles were in the mail that inspired me to get the Frode sleeves done. When the needles arrived, I was ready to cast on my third big kids sweater for the CIC_Knit List.

Pattern: Cozy in Cables with Lavold's Little Framed Lattice from Viking Patterns for Knitting up the center in place of the seed stitch. Size 40 inches.

Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky from the Sheep Shed Studio.

Color: Brite Blue

Needles: Knitpicks Options 10.5

Gauge: 3 stitches/inch, 4.5 rows/inch

John's birthday socks in progressThe other project on the needles is Son John's birthday socks.

Pattern: 66 stitch basic sock. Stitch pattern below.

Yarn: Special Blauband fingering weight, 80% wool, 20% nylon

Color: Washington Redskin Maroon, as requested

Needles: Addi Turbo #1.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Close up of stitch pattern in Johns socksI'm sure this stitch pattern is in a book somewhere, but I just charted out a ribbing pattern I thought would look good for a man's sock.

Pattern repeat 6 stitches, 8 rows

Row 1: p, k, p4
Rows 2,3,4,6,7,8: p, k, p, k3
Row 5: p3, k3

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Frode Finished

Finished Frode frontDone, washed, dry, and ready to pack in the box for the next CIC shipment.

Pattern: Frode (with modifications) by Elsebeth Lavold in Viking Patterns for Knitting
Yarn: Knitpicks Shamrock, 100% Peruvian wool, heavy worsted weight
Color: MacNamara
Needles: Addi Turbo #6
Gauge: 20 stitches/4 inches 28 rows/4 inches
Note: Size XS, 37.75 inches. Knitting for CIC_Knit List big kids sweater challenge.

If you're curious about the pattern modifications and/or my thoughts on the yarn, I wrote about both here.

I had fun with this sweater. It was my first time to make a stand alone Celtic cable like the happiness signs up the center of Frode. It was easy. I just followed the directions in the book and there they were, looking perky and well formed.

Finished frode backShamrock is four ply yarn. This color, MacNamara, has three plies of solid dark teal. The fourth ply is variegated white and light teal.

The variegation shows up better in this shot of the back.

Final thoughts on the Knitpicks Shamrock wool:
  • Knit at this tight gauge, the cables pop.
  • The variegated tweed effect is subtle enough not to distract much from the cables.
  • The resulting garment feels like wool. It's not as soft as Wool of the Andes. I wear Peruvian Highland Wool next to my skin with no problem. I would not want to wear Shamrock next to my skin.
  • I'm not likely to buy more Shamrock but I'm not sorry I tried it.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Saturday Sky and Snow

Saturday sky full of snow clouds on February 10Mostly cloudy today with moments of blue sky peeking through, but not often and not in this picture.

For the past few days the temperatures have been reaching a balmy 20 F/-7 C. The road salt is working now and the roads are passable.

For now we can bundle up warm, drive on the main roads without skidding, and enjoy wearing our woolies. The country roads where I live are covered with packed snow and require some caution.

Male cardinal sitting by a pile of snowFor most of the day it's been gently snowing.

Now that it's warmer, we're getting the pretty, fluffy flakes again.

Very little accumulation, just enough to freshen up the top layer.

Glory peeking into a thicketGlory is sure there are some rabbits taking shelter in this thicket.

It's possible the worst days of winter are over. But not probable. A Michigander is asking for disappointment when having thoughts of spring in early February.

Update on Japanese Knitting

Thank you!

When I wrote the post on my new Japanese stitch pattern book, it was newly out of the box and I hadn't taken time to Google sites that might help me understand it.

Please note that I DO know how to Google! But thanks to all the helpful comments and emails I've received with links to helpful sites, I still haven't gotten around to searching on my own.

I've spent many pleasant hours this morning looking over Japanese/English knitting sites sent by readers. And, I'm not done yet. It's going to take a while.

When I'm done, I'll write a blog post and share the best sites.

Right now the Japanese stitches are still a big puzzle, but even if I never figure out some of the more complicated stitches in the book, the language and the stitch patterns are both beautiful eye candy.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday's Feast for February 9

Friday's Feast is a weekly meme I've noticed on Kathy's blog, Runs With Needles. The questions usually look like fun, so I'm giving it a try.

Appetizer - Have you been sick yet this winter? If so, what did you come down with?

I think it was the Norovirus, as several days after the attack I read about a Kalamazoo outbreak in the paper.

It hit suddenly as I was driving Sunny to doggy school. I started out feeling fine and by the time I got to the parking lot, I knew trouble was quickly approaching.

Poor Sunny spent the first hour of her class locked in the doggy school bathroom with me. Then we went home.

Soup - What colors dominate your closet?

Casual shirt section of my closetWarm reds, all shades of blue, all shades of purple/violet.

Salad - How would you describe your personal “comfort zone”?

I'm an introvert. Although capable of functioning socially, even giving presentations and teaching classes, my favorite comfort zone is home or out with one or two people I love.

More than three people at a time is exhausting, even if I do love them.

Main Course - On which reality show would you really like to be a contestant?

Introverts don't do reality shows for fun. For money, maybe, but not for fun.

Sunny on the couch looking like queen of the worldAt doggy school we had a running joke about trading some of our strong willed pets for a week and filming the results for a canine reality show.

Sweet little Pappy was never mentioned. Sunny's name came up several times.

I love her and wouldn't trade her for any other dog. Not even to get on a reality show.

Dessert - Which holiday would you consider to be your favorite?

Groundhog day. (See Salad.)

What could be nicer in the middle of a Michigan winter than a holiday celebrating the fact that eventually it will be spring?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Let The Stitching Fun Begin

Front of Japanese knitting stitch bookIf the beautiful, intricate stitch patterns available in Japanese are any indication, the Japanese are having more fun knitting than the English speaking world.

After seeing this book mentioned on Janet Szabo's website, I just had to try ordering from Amazon Japan.

Today it arrived and I'm so excited! The stitch patterns are unique and beautiful. This book doesn't waste any time with the simple stuff.

I only wish I could understand the words. Fortunately the patterns are charted and there isn't much text. All I need to do is figure out the chart symbols. It's going to be like a huge knitting brain teaser.

Lace sample from Japanese knitting stitch bookMost of the pages in the book are like the page on the right, showing a swatch and its chart.

There are a few beautiful sweaters pictured, but there are no patterns for them. They are just to display an example of the stitch patterns.

Cable ample from Japanese knitting stitch bookInterested?

Go to Amazon Japan and hit the "IN ENGLISH" tab at the top of the page. It isn't going to be as much English as you'd like, but it was enough English so I could complete the purchase.

The best way - maybe the only way - to search for this book is to enter the ISBN number in the search. 4-529-04176-X

All the prices are in yen. I don't think it's possible to order without a credit card.

Before confirming the order, I went to Google and did a yen to dollar conversion just to make sure I wasn't doing something budget breaking. When the charge showed up on the credit card, the total was 3,900 yen/$32.42. Very reasonable.

The book arrived DHL and took less than a week to get here.

If you order this book and are interested in working together to figure out some of the stitch symbols that aren't obvious, please email me.

If you have this book and can read Japanese, I would be ever so grateful to hear from you.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Deep Winter Comment Questions

I've spent some time organizing the remaining blogiversary questions and will be answering them soon.

Meanwhile, here are some questions that have recently appeared in the comments:

Kerin who blogs at The Lion's Paw asked . . .
I just noticed that all three of your featured items are the same color. Are you having a "blue" winter?

Driveway under snow. Actually, snow everywhere.If we're talking yarn, it could be called a "blue winter". It wasn't planned. It just happened.

If we're talking weather, right now it's a "white winter".

A friend who had to go to work this morning said the roads are still slick. With the low temperatures we've been having, the road salt doesn't work.

Those of us who don't have to get out and go somewhere are well advised to stay home. It gives the drivers who have to be on the road less vehicles to slide into.

Bea who blogs at Strikkepinner og andre pinner asked . . .
Which sleeve will are you going to finish first?
The right sleeve of Frode was done first. Then the left. Frode is done! Except for the washing and blocking. Pictures soon.

Debi who blogs at Fluffy Knitter Deb asked . . .
Not being meal worm savvy, so you put all 500 out at once or bit by bit?
I'm not meal worm savvy either, so I'm playing it by ear. I put out about 50. They immediately froze solid.

Will the birds eat frozen meal worms? Danged if I know. I forgot to ask that important question.

Not that it matters. I haven't seen a bluebird since I bought the meal worms over a week ago. When the weather turns frigid and/or blizzardy, bluebirds go into the deep woods for protection. I worry about them daily. Silly birds should have gone south.

Maureen who blogs at Batty for Yarn asked . . .
Could you head some of that lake effect snow (LES) our way? It's not asking too much is it?
I'm working on this.

Jill who blogs at Just Another Creative Thing To Do asked . . .
Do you have squirrels or white tail deer that will come and share in the birdseed?

Fox squirrel in evergreen treeThere are many deer around, but they don't come to the bird feeders. They love the paths that DH mows in the back three acres and I see their footprints daily. Sometimes we surprise them on our first morning walk and it's a beautiful sight to see them run for the woods with their white tails bobbing.

We have fox squirrels (pictured) and the smaller, very cute but destructive hyper red squirrels that come to the feeders all the time.

With all our oak trees, the squirrels have plenty of acorns to eat. We try to discourage them from eating the bird seed, but it's futile.

Notice how plump and healthy this squirrel looks? We don't have any squirrels going hungry.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Cold Weather Inspires Warm Socks

Bretton/Cool Ocean socks because it's COLD outsidePattern: Winging Worsted Weight Socks. 40 stitches around. k3, p1 ribbing in cuff and down instep.

Yarn: Patternworks Bretton in navy and Opal Cool Ocean 226

Needles: Pony Pearl dps #5

Gauge: 5 stitches/inch, 7 rows/inch

Last autumn while searching for the perfect worsted weight washable sock yarn (I found it - It's Jarbo Garn Raggi), I ordered a few skeins of Patternworks Bretton to try. The blend, 70% superwash wool, 5% alpaca, 25% nylon sounded perfect for making tough, warm, winter socks.

When the yarn arrived, it was nothing like I imagined.

It's a delicate feeling yarn, not tough. And it's a silky feeling yarn, not fuzzy warm. It was listed in their catalog as worsted weight, but if someone handed me an unmarked ball I would call it sport weight and I think they should too. The socks shown in the Patternworks catalog knit with Bretton are knit on #3 needles. I don't think I could knit worsted weight yarn on #3 needles.

Fast forward to Saturday. I finished Frode and it has two sleeves! There will be pictures sometime this week after it is washed and blocked.

The Saturday weather was cold and almost frightening and I decided to knit myself another pair of worsted weight socks before picking up the Peerie Brocade sleeves.

Close up of Bretton/Cool Ocean socksI grabbed the Bretton and a leftover wad of Opal Cool Ocean 226, and used them together to get a worsted weight gauge and a very pretty dark blue tweedy looking pair of snuggly warm socks. For me.

They're so nice, I might even use this yarn combination again for heavy socks. It could be a fun way to use up my leftover balls of Sock yarn.

Cardinals in the bushThe official temperature at the Kalamazoo airport last night - not the windchill, but the actual temperature - was 15 below zero (F).

The little dogs can only stand to have their feet on the ground for a few minutes at a time. We've been taking them out one by one on a leash.

The leash keeps them in the shoveled area, which helps keep the snow out of their paws and maybe gives them an extra minute or two before their feet freeze.

Going out individually, they don't waste their outdoor minutes trying to play with each other instead of doing their business before they can't stand up anymore.

It's supposed to warm up to 20 degrees (F) by Friday. It's going to feel like a heat wave.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Sky is Missing

Taken out the east window during a blizzard whiteoutNo, this is not a bad picture.

This is the view out our east window during a whiteout this afternoon.

If you squint hard, you can see vague outlines of the trees.

I always imagine the National Weather Service still using antique teletype machines for their all caps weather warnings:

1210 PM EST SAT FEB 3 2007



And, for those who are completely clueless, the National Weather Service reminds them, urgently in all caps, to wear their hat and gloves:

Saturday sky for February 3, 2007, before the blizzardThis is my Saturday Sky picture taken at 10:30 am this morning on a very abbreviated dog walk.

16 pound Sunny decided to stay indoors and use a Training Pad.

14 pound Pappy tried to take a walk, but after about 30 yards his feet were frozen and he didn't want them on the ground anymore.

Glory made it just across the bridge into the field. By the time I snapped this picture, she was racing me back to the house. She won.

Glory lounging on a rug looking glumGlory has lived through eleven winters and she knows eventually they go away.

Meanwhile, she is happy to stay indoors except for the few necessary minutes a day she needs to be outdoors.

Question: How many other Blogger users have learned to save their posts to draft often while writing them? As extra insurance I highlight and copy my post text before hitting save.

It's growing pains and I forgive them their outages - for now.

I can't forgive Blogger their comments, though. Since the new Blogger, it's been frustrating trying to comment on other blogs that use Blogger comments. Whoever designed the transition should be quickly promoted into management before they're assigned to design something else.

I've never been sorry I stuck with Haloscan comments.