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)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Sock Update

Opal Smoke socks in Jean Townsends Lilac patternDaughter Heather's birthday socks are done and ready for the party in two weeks.

I'm so happy to have them done in plenty of time to avoid pressure knitting.

Close up of Lilac stitch patternPattern: Lilac Sock Pattern by Jean Townsend.

It's free! All you have to do it ask and she sends it to you in .pdf format. Can't beat that deal for a great pattern.

Yarn: Opal sock yarn, 75% wool, 25% nylon

Color: Smoke 1657, available at Fun Knits.

Needles: Addi Turbo #1

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Opal Rainbow socks in Sock Bug's Lacy ScallopsAnother pair of birthday socks is on the needles.

Mom with a June birthday asked for multicolored socks and a scalloped top. I gave her the choice of several yarns last week, and she picked this one.

Opal calls this color Rainbow, but we all know these are not rainbow colors. They're Skittle colors. I'm calling these the Skittle socks.

I had the skein split to make matching socks. About two inches into the cuff, it was obvious these socks are way too happy and colorful to match, so I changed the plan.

Close up of Lacy Scallops stitch patternPattern: Stitch Pattern on cuff from Lacy Scallops Socks by Sockbug. Variations from pattern: A garter stitch top instead of picot cast on and a purl trough in place of the knit in the twelfth stitch.

Yarn: Opal sock yarn, 75% wool, 25% nylon

Color: Rainbow, available at Fun Knits.

Needles: Addi Turbo #1

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sky and Disappointed Woodpecker

Blue sky and oak tree in budBlue sky, gorgeous day, and not too warm - 63 F/17 C at 2 pm. The sun is slowly chasing off the damp chill from the last couple of days.

Only the small trees and shrubs are showing green in my corner of SW Michigan. The larger trees have buds about ready to pop, but they're being slow about it. Maybe they're worried there is going to be more snow.

The tree top in the picture is an old, tall oak in the hedgerow.

Certainly by next Saturday we should have green leaves in my sky picture.

Downy woodpecker thinking about trying to eat brick "This brick is a little hard on the beak."

I have friends with cedar homes who have to continually repair the holes in their siding created by woodpeckers. Fortunately, I learned from their plight and bought a brick house when we moved to the country.

I love all our woodpeckers. It would break my heart to have to try and chase them off.

And, if my friends are any indication, it isn't really possible to discourage them once they decide a house is tasty.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday's Feast for April 27

It's Friday, so let's have a Feast.

Appetizer - How fast can you type?

Fast enough so I never find myself wishing I could type faster.

Soup - What is your favorite online game?

I don't play any online games, but I do the Jigzone puzzle every morning using the 80 piece classic cut.

Salad - On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 as highest), how intelligent do you think you are?

Oh my, this is a loaded question. For those of us with overly logical thought patterns, the first thing we want is a definition of intelligence as intended in this question.

I'll try to get over it and give a simple answer.

For most of my life I've had the pleasure of working with or going to school with some of the most intelligent people in the world. And then there are my overachieving siblings to consider.

I give myself a 7.5.

Main Course - Name three of your best teachers from your school years.

Mrs. Moore, third grade, Vicksburg Elementary School. She really cared about the kids in her class.

Mrs. Foster, ninth grade home economics. She warned us about boys, but we were young and thought she was nuts.

Ruth Ann Erskine 1963 Marshall High School yearbook pictureMy All Time Favorite Teacher: Ruth Ann Erskine, advanced math, Marshall High School.

She taught the beauty of mathematics and she taught me how to think.

Dessert - What are your plans for this upcoming weekend?

Depends on the weather.

If the rain lets up, there will be yard work. Possibly with a new tractor. I will try to walk the narrow line between getting sore and getting too sore.

If it stays cold and wet, I will be knitting and catching up on Bloglines.

Heather's socks are down to the toes, so before the weekend is over I'll be casting on a new pair. Yarn and pattern yet to be determined.

On Sunday there will be church, brunch, and the Sunday paper to read.

Sometimes life is more interesting than this, but I'm happy for quiet weekends at home, too.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

First Five Things

I've hardly had time to knit all week and a topic for blogging escapes me, so here are the first five printable random thoughts that cross my mind while I sit here wondering what to write:
  1. At the end of March, SW Michigan was about two weeks ahead of schedule with spring buds and blooms. Then winter returned for over a week. Now the trees are about a week behind in leafing out. I'm ready for GREEN.

  2. GREEN means time to mow the lawn. We have a sixteen year old John Deere lawn tractor that steers so hard I don't like to drive it, so I've been shopping. Nothing decided yet, but there's a good chance of a new bright green and yellow (Deere colors) in my future.

  3. We've been eating organic brown eggs from uncaged chickens lately. They're 25% less saturated fat than chicken factory eggs and are much tastier. Good flavor even without salt. Sometimes there's even a double yolk. Yes, they cost a little more, but they're still cheap food and we've decided they're worth the price.

  4. Congratulations to Toyota on becoming number one in vehicle sales. Many Midwesterners considered it almost an act of treason to not "Buy American" back in 1981 when I bought my first Toyota. (I still drive Toyota.) Did those people really do General Motors a favor by driving inferior American cars instead of making GM face its problems decades ago?

  5. I just joined a new Yahoo Group, Knitting in Japan. Since my approval just arrived, I can't comment yet. I'm off to check it out now.
Feel free to disagree with anything I've said. Just be kind.

Monday, April 23, 2007

More Socks on the Needles

Heather's birthday socks in progress. Opal smoke and Jeanne Townsend's lilac socks patternPattern: Lilac Sock Pattern by Jean Townsend.

It's free! All you have to do it ask and she sends it to you in .pdf format. Can't beat that deal for a great pattern.

Yarn: Opal sock yarn, 75% wool, 25% nylon

Color: Smoke 1657 (the only brown Smoke)

Needles: Addi Turbo #1

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Inspiration: Daughter Heather asked from brown socks for her birthday.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Socks, Sky, and Robin Nest

Finished chevron patterned socks in Opal Elemente 1075Pattern: Basic top down sock on 60 stitches with stitch pattern in cuff.

Close up picture of stitch pattern and knitting instructions for stitch pattern are here.

Yarn: Opal sock yarn, 75% wool, 25% nylon

Color: Elemente 1075

Needles: Addi Turbo #1

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Inspiration: I wanted a horizontal lace pattern because of the stripes in the yarn. After looking through my folder of potential sock cuff stitch patterns, I picked this one. It makes for a tight sock - hard to pull on, but the fit is great after the struggle is over.

Blue Saturday sky for April 21The sky is blue and sunny today. SW Michigan is expecting a high temp in the 70s F/20s C and loving the thought of it.

I'd love it more if I didn't have so much outdoor work to do, but that's the price of having a five acre yard. Even though most of it is "natural", there are still areas around the house where we try to keep nature under control and nature fights back.

By next week all the trees, including these oaks, should have leaves.

Robin sitting on her new nest in leafless treeOne advantage to not having leaves on the trees yet, is being able to see the early nests being built.

This robin worked on this nest all day. No eggs yet. She's just trying it out to see how it fits.

Robin in treeFor those who don't have robins (anybody?), they're a medium size bird. The male and female look alike.

In Michigan, they're common and a much anticipated and talked about sign of spring, arriving around the middle of March.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday's Feast for April 30

It's Friday, so let's have a Feast.

Appetizer - What is your favorite kind of bread?

Asiago bread from McKenzies Bakery in Kalamazoo covered in real butter. I cannot have this bread in the house and maintain my weight, so I don't buy it. I miss it terribly.

Soup - When was the last time you bought a new pillow?

Over a decade ago.

My pillows are still OK, but Bob's pillows are squished disasters. If I were to buy him new pillows, he'd complain. It took a long time to get them shaped the way he likes them.

Salad - Approximately how many hours per week do you spend surfing the ‘net?

Wanting to be precise, I looked up the definition of "surfing the net" on Google:
Cruising the Net, pointing and clicking and browsing between the different links, sometimes at random.
By that definition, I have to count the time spent reading blogs in Bloglines, but I don't have to count the time I spend reading email, blogging, and doing off line activities.

The answer depends on the season, the weather, my mood, and my dialup connection. I'm guessing an average of about 14 hours a week.

Main Course - What’s the highest you remember your temperature being?

102 when I had measles as a child.

This question reminds me of one of my scariest childhood experiences.

Several of my siblings, my mother and I all had chickenpox at the same time. In the middle of the night mom came into my bedroom to check on me. Her face was covered with Calamine Lotion and she had on a long, flowing nightgown. I thought she was a ghost.

Dessert - Fill in the blanks: When I ____________, I _____________.

Male Bluebird in a treeWhen I go for a dog walk, I often take my camera.

This male bluebird was in a tree by one of the bluebird houses. Nest building hasn't started yet, but they've got their boxes staked out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Three Dog Sunny Day

Earlier this week we had some blue sky. The dogs were happy to be outside in the sunshine and I snapped some pictures.

Gloy laying in the spring sunGlory, a 62 pound lab mix and Queen of Violet Acres, turns eleven years old this year.

She ran out into the back three acres and then decided a nice sun bath was in order.

Sunny standing in the spring sun with her tail blowing in the windSunshine (Sunny), a sixteen pound second generation (at least) designer dog, is Princess of Violet Acres.

Most days Glory the Queen is content to let the Princess reign. As you can see by the look on Sunny's face, she takes her royal responsibility very serious.

Pappy standing in the spring sun with his tail blowing in the windPappy, a fourteen pound Papillon, is Prince of Violet Acres.

He tries to stay out of the way of the Princess because he has important work to do catching rodents.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Oops Times Three

Opal Elemente stitch pattern close upOops One - the socks I'm knitting may have an interesting stitch pattern, but the cuffs have very little stretch and I can hardly wiggle them on over my ankles.

If these were gift socks, I'd be frogging.

I'm going to finish them and enjoy wearing them (after wiggling them on), but I don't recommend this stitch pattern for socks.

Cover of Spring Summer no Kagibariami 9Oops Two - This Japanese "knitting" book is 100% beautiful crochet patterns.

Of the maybe twenty English words in this book, five of them are "knit", none of them are "crochet". On the cover it says, "Let's knit".

Inside, the contents lists four sections in English: "Colorful Knit, Simple Knit, Elegance Knit, and Fancy Knit.

Why list contents in English when there isn't any other English in the book? Do Japanese always use knit for crochet? Or is this a one time mis-translation?

I waited three weeks for this book. It arrived just before I left for Idaho. I can still feel the disappointment.

Book Title : Spring / Summer no Kagibariami 9
Language : Japanese
Publisher / ISBN : 4529043509
Release Date : February 19, 2007
YesAsia Catalog No. : 1004643039
Price : $12.99
Link to buy book : here

Japanese 500Oops Three - this Japanese stitch pattern book is not as wonderful as the other two Japanese stitch pattern books I bought.

Some of the yarn used is fuzzy so that you can't see the stitch pattern in the pictured swatch. Some of the swatch pictures are blurry. Many of the stitches or very similar stitches are available in Barbara Walker or other English stitch dictionaries.

The book is mediocre, not awful. Still, I would not have spent money on it if I had been able to browse it first.

Book Title : moyouhen 500 boubariami moyoubetsu ketteiban
Language : Japanese
Publisher / ISBN : 4529015882
Release Date : December 6, 1989
YesAsia Catalog No. : 1004189884
Price : $25.49
Link to buy book : here

Monday, April 16, 2007

Socks and Gems Merino Order

Opal Elemente stitch pattern close upPattern: Basic top down sock on 60 stitches with stitch pattern in cuff.

Yarn: Opal sock yarn, 75% wool, 25% nylon

Color: Elemente 1075

Needles: Addi Turbo #1

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Inspiration: A good, practical friend gave me this yarn for my birthday. I wanted to knit something a little more interesting than plain ribbing, but still simple.

Stitch pattern in cuff, multiple of 10 stitches, 2 rows:
  • Row 1: k,yo,k3,sl1-k2tog-psso,k3,yo
  • Row 2: knit

Opal Elemente 1075 socks in progressIt's time for the heads down sock knitting. When these are done, I have less than a month to knit daughter Heather's birthday socks. When those are done, it's time to work on Mom's birthday socks.

I've been collecting some pretty sock patterns. Decision time coming up soon.

Louet Gems Merino yarn to try outIt arrived! Louet Gems Merino, machine washable and dryable, in three weights for my swatching pleasure.

I have dozens of project possibilities rattling around in my head, but first I'm going to knit swatches until my thoughts settle on the next project.

From left to right:
  • Worsted weight, color baby poop brown Ginger. I thought Ginger sounded like a pretty color, but it isn't. The other shades of brown on the color card are lovely.

    Guess that's why I purchased a color card before investing in enough yarn to make a garment.

  • Sport weight, color Shamrock. 100 gram skein.

  • Sport weight, color Violet. 2-50 gram skeins.

  • Fingering weight, color Bright Red. Still thinking about that 8 stitch/inch Japanese gansey.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sky and Sandhill Cranes

Gray Saturday sky for April 14, 2007The picture about says it all. Yuk.

It feels cold outside. Not like spring.

The snow is almost all melted, but there's snow in the forecast for tomorrow. We patiently wait for spring to return.

Three sandhill cranes in the neighbor's horse pastureOur next door neighbor has been know to occasionally acquire unknown species of chickens that make strange noises.

Yesterday when we heard loud bird noises from the neighbor's horse pasture, we assumed it was something domestic. They looked too big to be chickens, so I ran in to get my camera with the zoom lens to check them out.

Sandhill Cranes! They have an unusual windpipe allowing them to be heard up to a mile away.

Male and female sandhill craneIn the past we've unsuccessfully tried to see cranes in the wild. What a treat to have them land next door for a few minutes.

More info on Sandhill Cranes including a sound recording of their call is here.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday's Feast for April 13

It's Friday, so let's have a Feast.

Appetizer - When you were a child, which crayon color was your favorite?


I monitored my use of it so I wouldn't use it up before the other colors.

Soup - On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest), how likely would you be to change jobs if it required you to move?

I'm happily retired and no longer need to worry about this possibility.

Salad - Take all the numbers in your birthday and your phone number and add them up, one by one. What’s the total?

73. Why do I care about this?

Main Course - Have you ever “re-gifted” anything? If so, what was it and who did you pass it on to?

Not unless giving away knitted garments from gift yarn counts as re-gifting. I got the pleasure of the knitting, so I don't think it counts.

Dessert - Name something you need from the store.

I need my GEMS Merino order from handknitting.com. It's been three weeks since I ordered and their website shows it hasn't shipped yet. Not good.

Daffodils and Sydney

Daffodils on April 2April 2, a week before normal, the daffodils were blooming on an old compost pile on the back three acres.

These are surprise, unplanned daffodils. A few bulbs mixed in with the garden waste got dumped on the compose heap. The bulbs were very happy in their new home - bloomed, and multiplied like crazy.

No daffodils I ever planted on purpose have thrived like these. Compost is magic.

Daffodils in the snow on April 12As I was leaving for Idaho the morning of April 4 it was cold, dark, and lightly snowing. For a brief moment, I regretted that I was going to miss taking pictures of daffodils in the snow.

When I arrived back in Kalamazoo the evening of April 11 (20 hours after my original itinerary. You don’t want to know the details and I’m not sure I can remember all the cancelled flights and late flights and dashes through airports) it was raining/sleeting/snowing.

This picture of the same daffodils was taken yesterday, April 12, after eight days of freezing temperatures and snow. Daffodils are extremely hardy flowers.

This afternoon it's 43 F/6 C and thawing. There is no snow in the five day forecast for the first time in over a week. Maybe spring will come for real this time.

Sydney with her birthday balloonsNow for some happy pictures.

Granddaughter Sydney in Idaho received 2 year birthday balloons from Great-grandma in Kalamazoo. They were a big hit.

Sydney with many hair clipsSydney and I had great fun with hair clips one morning.

She would hand me a clip to put in her hair and I, of course, would put it in her hair. She then ran to the mirror, admired it, ran back to the hairclip bag and found the next one.

The result is - ah - well you can see it. There are no clips on the back of her head because she can't see the back of her head in the mirror. Grandma knows how to make a little girl happy.

For those of you who want to see and read more about Sydney, her balloons, her birthday party, and her Easter, son John has many pictures on his latest blog post here.

I haven't knit a stitch in ten days, but plan to remedy that situation before this day is over.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Beautiful Easter Day in Idaho

Beautiful warm Easter Sunday in IdahoFor all those "friends" back in Michigan who laughed at my plan to spend spring break in Northern Idaho, here's a snowless picture of our early morning egg hunt.

Notice there is no snow on the ground. Notice Sydney is not wearing a jacket.

Happy shoveling Michiganders!

(Sympathy to DH Bob who did not make fun of my spring break plans and is back in Michigan with eight inches of Lake Effect snow and three dogs to walk.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Leavin' On A Jet Plane

Idaho from the airI'm probably the only person in SW Michigan leaving to spend spring break in Northern Idaho.

Wednesday morning, April 4, I'm headed to the airport before the sun comes up to spend a week with granddaughter Sydney and her parents.

I'm taking a vacation from blogging and knitting while I'm gone. Lord willing, blogging will resume toward the end of next week.

Happy Easter to all my brothers and sisters in Christ.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Birds With Funny Names

Rufous-sided Towhee in bushRufous-sided Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus)

We usually see these pretty birds on the ground doing a little dance as they scratch up insects and seeds like a barnyard chicken. This morning I caught this male outside the window in a snowball bush.

The Towhees are summer birds, choosing to spend the cold months in the southern states and Mexico. They're not going to be happy later on this week when it snows.

Rufous-sided Towhee in bush showing tailTowhees are about eight inches in length, just a little smaller than a robin.

This is the male. The female (not in picture) is just as striking. She has all the same colors in the same pattern but her head, bib, and back are a rich, deep brown instead of black.

Tufted TitmouseTufted Titmouse (Parus bicolor)

These perky little birds come to the sunflower feeder year round.

They're six inches long, about the size of a sparrow. The male and female look alike.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Resolution Compliance Report for March

In 2007 I half-heartedly resolve to have no more than three unfinished knitting projects at one time.

Three months down and nine to go on my New Year's resolution.

Today, April 1, I have no projects on the needles. It feels strange. I'll be casting on a pair of socks before the night is over.

To get into this rare situation, I had to finish up three pairs of socks this weekend.

Opal UNI-Solid socks knit in cable and box patternStitch Pattern: Boxed Cables from Vogue Knitting Stitchionary 2.

Yarn: Opal sock yarn, 75% wool, 25% nylon

Color: UNI-Solid 1264. I'm not sure what Opal calls it, but I call it Blue Spruce. It's a little too green to call Teal.

Needles: Addi Turbo #1

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

Inspiration: A friend gave me this yarn from my birthday. When someone gives me yarn, I like to knit it up as soon as reasonable so they know I liked the gift.

Stitchionary 2 was a much appreciated Christmas gift from daughter Heather. Now I can show her the socks to demonstate her good taste in presents.

Red Swish gansey socks Pattern: Winging Worsted Weight Socks with a 48 stitch cuff, 42 stitch foot. Small scale gansey type patterning on cuff.

Yarn: Knitpicks Swish, a worsted weight superwash wool

Color: Red pepper

Needles: #3 double points

Gauge: About 6 stitches/inch. Haven't washed socks yet for accurate gauge.

Inspriation: I'm auditioning this yarn for a gansey sweater. With this simple pair of socks I can check out the color, the gauge, the stitch definition, and how it feels while being knit. Most important, especially with superwash yarn, how does it look after being worn and washed multiple times?

Knitpicks advertises this yarn as the "superwash of knitter's dreams." So far I can't argue. It's wonderfully soft merino, a pleasure to knit even at a tight gauge, and has acceptable stitch definition. Final opinion must wait until I've worn and washed these socks a few times.

CIC socks knit with gray Swish and leftover Opal PetticoatPattern: Winging Worsted Weight Socks on 36 stitches.

Yarn: Knitpicks Swish, a worsted weight superwash wool. Opal fingering weight sock yarn carried along.

Color: Coast Gray Swish and Opal Petticoat left over from Gail's Birthday Socks

Needles: #5 double points

Gauge: 5 stitches/inch, 7 rows/inch

Inspriation: Cold kids in Eastern Europe. These socks are for CIC.

Are you wondering about the grim sounding title on this post? It's in memory of all the silly, time wasting, non-productive status reports I had to write during my working career. It makes me smile and count my blessings. Retirement is wonderful.