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, May 29, 2007

Red White Gansey on May 29

Click on pictures for more detail.

Gansey front and back are both knit to the shoulder seam. One shoulder seam is done and the neck gusset inserted.

The neck opening is done like this:

  • The tops of the front and back are straight up - not a bit of shaping - and all stitches are left on the needles.
  • The shoulder seam is made with a three needle bind off on the outside of the sweater.
  • The last stitch of the bind off is the beginning of the gusset.
  • The gusset is knit back and forth picking up a live stitch from the front or back needle on every row.

The neck gusset is the neck shaping. No decreases, no sewing. It's so slick I don't know why more sweaters aren't knit this way.

Next, after doing the second shoulder seam and gusset, I'll pick up stitches and knit the neckband.

The pattern shows a rolled neckband, but I'll be doing a 1x1 ribbing instead. No reason other than personal preference.

Many sweater patterns (but not this one) save the neck ribbing until the sleeves are done, but I never do. In order to judge the final sleeve length, it's important to have the neckline finished so it's tightened up and sitting where it's going to sit when the sweater is done.

Pattern: White Gansey from Beth Brown-Reinsel's Knitting Ganseys

Yarn: Knitpicks Swish, a worsted weight superwash wool

Color: Pepper Red

Needles: Knitpicks Options #3

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 9 rows/inch in stockinette. A very firm gauge for this yarn but great for showing stitch definition.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Royal Rainbow Socks Done

Pattern: Royal Rainbow by Megan Humprey. A seven stitch gansey type zigzag. To my knowledge this sock pattern is not available for distribution.

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

Color: Feeling 1705.

Needles: Addi Turbo #1

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Click on picture for closer look.

In the original pattern the eighth stitch purl dip was a knit stitch. As is my habit, I turned it into a purl stitch so the socks have a wide ribbing and snugger fit.

Also, I used 56 stitches instead of 64 to better fit my narrow feet.

I felt like something easy this weekend, so finished these socks. I think they're the brightest socks I've ever knit. I like them.

If only I wore yellow. There isn't a single yellow garment in my closet except these socks. Are socks considered garments?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Heron in a Pine Tree

This heron is sitting in a pine tree about twenty-five feet up from the ground overlooking the pond.

This post is an experiment in storing my pictures in Blogger instead of Picturetrail so I can provide better definition for less money.

Click on the picture if you want to see it bigger and better.

If this doesn't work for you or weird things happen, please leave a comment. Be sure and mention what operating system you're using.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sky and Questions

I woke up this morning to thunder, lightening, rain, and a big black dog who doesn't like thunderstorms panting in my face.

This is a three day weekend, Memorial Day weekend, billed as the beginning of summer in SW Michigan. So, I feel for all the working people who were looking forward to a beautiful day off outdoors.

We need the rain, though. I'm happy to see it and so are all the plants.

Now for some questions I've recently received.

Sister Carrie who is blogless and doesn't knit but is nice enough to read this blog anyway asked . . .
Don't mourning doves mate for life?

There are banding studies that show Mourning Doves do mate for life, however their life is not very long.

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission - State Wildlife Management Agency:
Life expectancy: 70-80 percent of all newly-hatched doves do not live one year (i.e., for every 100 hatched in a summer, only 20-30 will live to breed the following summer). If a juvenile survives its first year, the attrition slows: adults have a 50 percent mortality rate. Average annual mortality for a stable population is estimated at 60 percent.

Observant Shelly who blogs at Knitting and Praying asked . . .
Hmmm....your left/right brain dominance results only covered 88% of your brain. I wonder what the other 12% is?

I've been wondering the same thing.

Theresa who blogs at Stitches of Grace asked . . .
I did get very excited when I saw your hummingbird moth. Would you mind taking a look at my May 13 post? I think it might be the same thing.

It sure is! Check out the terrific picture Theresa has of a hummingbird moth here.

Sister Doris who is blogless and doesn't knit but is nice enough to read this blog anyway asked . . .
What is a gansey? It looks red to me. What's with the white?

Gansey sweaters were standard wear for 19th century British fishermen. They are wool with intricate knit-purl patterns, dropped shoulders, and easy fit in a tight gauge. Traditionally they were knit with dense, dark yarn.

The book I'm knitting from is called "Knitting Ganseys" by Beth Brown-Reinsel. It details all the traditional ways and techniques of making the various gansey parts.

One of the patterns at the end of the book is unimaginatively named "White Gansey" because it's knit in white yarn. I'm (mostly) following that pattern in red and so have unimaginatively named my sweater the Red White Gansey.

For those readers who haven't been here recently, the Red White Gansey project is here.

Alicia sent an email and asked . . .
Amazed at how you whip out socks. Would you consider sharing on your blog (surely I am not the only one who needs help with speed) some tips and how you do it? What length of circulars do you use? My inquiring mind also wonders if you knit English or Continental, do you work in large blocks of time or in snippets of times during the day, etc

I knit Continental at a moderate speed.

What appears to be knit with speed has taken me just as long as an average knitter.

My kids are grown, I'm retired from a full time job, and have time to knit everyday.

I like to relax with my knitting for large blocks of time. Instead of watching TV in the evening, I listen to audio books from the library and knit away, often for hours.

When knitting in public or knitting in snippets of time, I have to knit simple things or I frequently end up frogging.

As for the circulars, 24 inches work best for me. My knitting style doesn't work well with the shorter metal part of the 16 inch needles, and 32 inches takes too much work to shift the sock from one end to the other.

I can knit socks just as quick, maybe even quicker, with double points. I use the circulars because they're less likely to stab a little dog who unexpectedly jumps into my lap.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday's Feast for May 25

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

Appetizer - Name a sound you like to hear.

This time of year the loudest, longest sound I like to hear is the frog croaking in the pond. It goes on all night. I tried to get a frog picture, but evidently they're sleeping the day away after a night of partying.

Another seasonal sound I like to hear is the call of the Eastern Phoebes (Sayornis phoebe) that nest on the underside of the back balcony.

This is the male. (above)

The Phoebe is a small (about 7 inches) member of the Flycatcher family. They sit on a perch, wag their tails up and down, and then fly out to catch an insect in the air to feed themselves or their young.

Mom Phoebe is doing her share of bringing home the bugs.

Soup - What is your favorite kind of cheese?

Swiss cheese is my favorite kind of cheese for cooking. I love the way it strings and tastes with eggs.

Sharp cheddar cheese is my favorite kind of cheese for macaroni and cheese.

Parmesan is another favorite. It's impossible to have too much of it on a plate of spaghetti.

Salad - Do you sleep late on Saturday mornings? Why or why not?


Now that I'm retired, I don't need to catch up on my sleep over the weekend.

Also, I get up for early church on Sunday morning, which is difficult to do if I sleep in on Saturday and go to bed late on Saturday night.

Main Course - When was the last time you forgot something? What was it, and how long did it take to remember it?

Just last night I went to doggy school and left my cell phone home on the charger. About three miles into the eight mile drive, I remembered and had to remind myself that I drove for decades without a cell phone and managed to live through it just fine.

Still, I like to have my cell phone with me. It's comforting to know that if I have a problem, Bob is just a call away. Especially when I have two little dogs in the car.

Dessert - Fill in the blank: I notice ____________ when _____________.

I notice the beauty of where I live when out with my camera. Much of it is natural, but some of it was intentionally planted, like this azalea.

I don't remember its name. Its a human created hybrid. As beautiful as it is, the hummingbirds, hummingbird moths, and butterflies don't go to it like they do to the native azalea planted a short distance away.

That makes it less beautiful in my eyes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mourning Dove Nest

Mourning Doves, (Zenaida macroura) are plentiful in all the continental 48 states.

They're named for their sad call, coah, coooo, coooo, coooo.

We have a small population on our property. They're pretty in their own unflashy way and I enjoy their singing.

This tree is toward the rear of our property. The dog walking path goes around the back of it.

Yesterday while walking the dogs with my camera, I looked into the branches just above eye level and spotted this . . .

The mourning dove nest is a small platform of twigs. How they ever keep the eggs in it, is beyond me.

How can they possibly keep wiggly hatchlings from falling out or through?

They must be able to do it. There are so many Mourning Doves around that last fall hunters tried to make them legal game birds. Fortunately they failed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Red White Gansey on May 22

Pattern: White Gansey from Beth Brown-Reinsel's Knitting Ganseys

Yarn: Knitpicks Swish, a worsted weight superwash wool

Color: Pepper Red

Needles: Knitpicks Options #3

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 9 rows/inch in stockinette. A very firm gauge for this yarn but great for showing stitch definition.

The circular knitting ended after the third pattern up and the sweater is now split into front and back. This is the back. The front is on a holder with the split part unknit.

The underarm gussets are half knit and being saved on yarn. The gusset stitches will be picked up along with the sleeve stitches. The sleeves will be knit from the pickup down to the cuff. No seams at all.

Here's a side view.

A six stitch stockinette faux seam goes up the side and splits at the gusset - two to the left, two to the right, and two up the center of the gusset.

Close up of the half gusset.

This pattern is a pleasant knit. I'm enjoying the process.

Monday, May 21, 2007

8 Things Meme

I've been tagged by Kathy and Shirley for this meme.

I'm even going to try and think of eight things to say that I haven't blogged about before.

1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged write a blog post about their own 8 random things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog you need to tag 8 people and post their names.

  1. I drink a cup of coffee when I first wake up in the morning and a second cup at lunch. Any coffee later than lunch and I can't get to sleep at night.

  2. I've booked a flight to Idaho on June 26 to visit my two year old granddaughter Sydney Anne.

    I miss her so much it hurts to think about it.

  3. I fondly remember my days as a computer analyst in corporate America, but wouldn't want to repeat them. Retirement is wonderful.

  4. I take Boniva for osteoporosis and it's working to increase my bone density. I consider that a miracle.

  5. Just this week I was tempted to drive to Nashville and get another rescue Papillon. Fortunately, DH an I have an agreement that three dogs is all we can handle. As long as one of us stays sane when the other is tempted, we'll be OK.

    If you're interested in a one year old Papillon rescue, check out Ace.

  6. One of my patterns, Shetland Lace Rib Socks, is featured on a Japanese web site here. Since the website is mostly in Japanese I can't figure out why or what kind of website it is.

  7. I like an occasional peanut butter and bacon sandwich.

  8. I am predominately left brain, sometimes too much so.

    Brain Lateralization Test Results
    Right Brain (12%) The right hemisphere is the visual, figurative, artistic, and intuitive side of the brain.
    Left Brain (76%) The left hemisphere is the logical, articulate, assertive, and practical side of the brain
    Are You Right or Left Brained?
    personality tests by similarminds.com
I tag anyone who wants to do it who hasn't done it yet - or wants to do it a second time if they have done it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday Sky and Tiger Swallowtail

The day started out like this, cloudy and chilly.

See that little spot of blue sky in the middle of the picture? Before the day was over, the entire sky was blue. I was able to work outside long enough to get good and tired.

This beautiful Tiger Swallowtail is enjoying the Azalea bush.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Real Hummers and Faux Hummer

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is the only hummingbird species in SW Michigan. Here at Violet Acres, we have many nesting pairs each summer.

The females just arrived this past week, the males the week before. The males have red throats, the females white throats.

If you think this little three inch bird is timid, you're wrong. They entertain us with their aerial acrobatics while conducting hummingbird wars around the feeder.

Before moving to this house, I never saw a hummingbird sitting still. They sit on the wires just like a big bird.

This female is guarding the feeder from her perch on the wire. When another hummingbird comes to drink, she will swoop down and the chase is on.

Remember the picture of the Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris diffinis) I published here? It was a good picture but it didn't show the wings. I've managed to do better this time.

In this picture you can see it holding the blossom open with its front feet and the proboscis drinking the nectar. A proboscis is a siphoning mouthpart similar to a straw.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Red White Gansey Progress

The past few days have provided some unexpected extra knitting time.

First, it's cold and wet so yard work has come to a temporary halt. Frost warning for tonight, but then it's supposed to warm up for the weekend.

Second, doggy school is closed for the week because of a kennel cough outbreak. So far all the coughing has been limited to Monday night dogs and one Tuesday night dog who lives with a Monday night dog. Sunny is a Tuesday night dog. Pappy is a Thursday night dog. They are healthy.

Unless something changes, Sunny and Pappy will have class next week. The Monday night dogs won't meet again until after Memorial Day. Meanwhile, doggy school cancellation adds about six hours to my week and I've spent it/will spend it knitting on the Red White Gansey.

Pattern: White Gansey from Beth Brown-Reinsel's Knitting Ganseys

Yarn: Knitpicks Swish, a worsted weight superwash wool

Color: Pepper Red

Needles: Knitpicks Options #3

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 9 rows/inch in stockinette. A very firm gauge for this yarn but great for showing stitch definition.

This is Pattern A of the six pattern bands in the body. A, B, and C are knit in the round. The front and back split for Patterns D, E, and F.

A six stitch stockinette side seam turns into an underarm gusset at the start of Pattern C.

It looks like the gauge and fit are going to be perfect and the knitting is going faster than I guessed. It's nice change to zip along the row in a pleasant rhythm of knits and purls. No cables, no lace.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The List Meme

I've been seeing this meme all over knitting blogland and, truthfully, I haven't made it through a list yet without my eyes glazing over in boredom - until reading Debi's today.

She put her own spin on it, added comments to make it fun, and rewarded readers by finishing up with the cutest Pumpkin cat picture ever.

The official rules that go with the list meme are:

Bold for stuff you've done
Italics for stuff you plan to do eventually
normal for stuff you don't intend to do

To satisfy my picky self who sees two categories under "stuff you don't intend to do", I'm change the rules a little:

Bold for stuff I've done
Italics for stuff I plan to do eventually
Normal for stuff I have no plans to do
Red for stuff I see no reason to ever consider doing (But I reserve the right to change my mind.)
End meme with a cute pet picture with pet tongue showing.

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with bananafiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with Bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/Doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffitti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)
Continental Knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Teaching a child to knit (Not sure I succeeded.)
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Knitting with Alpaca
Fair Isle Knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies...)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items)on two circulars
Olympic knitting
Knitting with someone else's handspun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male to knit
Bobbles (I avoid bobbles. Don't like the way they look, don't like to make them.)
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton (Hate it! But occasionally I forget that and do it anyway.)
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Knitting art
Knitting two socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Textured Knitting
Kitchener Bind Off
Knitting with beads (No plans to repeat this in future.)
Long Tail CO
Knitting and Purling Backwards
Machine knitting (Also on my list of things not to repeat.)
Knitting with selfpatterning/selfstriping/variegating yarn
Stuffed Toys
Baby items - Rarely.
Knitting with Cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Knitting with Linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mits/armwarmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair (I'm assuming they mean on purpose.)
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Start of Red White Gansey

Pattern: White Gansey from Beth Brown-Reinsel's Knitting Ganseys

Yarn: Knitpicks Swish, a worsted weight superwash wool

Color: Pepper Red

Needles: Knitpicks Options #3

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 9 rows/inch in stockinette. A very firm gauge for this yarn but great for showing stitch definition.

I want a practical red sweater for myself and I have a hard time resisting sweater patterns where the stitch pattern changes every few rows.

There's no sewing in this pattern. Starting at the bottom hem, I'm knitting 252 stitches in the round.

With a little over four inches completed, I have two inches of ribbing and am now working on 4.5 inches of stockinette, except for my initials.

In traditional gansey form and construction, "The initials of the intended wearer were often worked in a garter stitch or purl pattern into the lower part of the plain area near one of the seam stitches."

The book provides two alphabets. I chose the smaller alphabet, ten rows high, for my initials because it seems to fit the proportion of the sweater best. The letters are about an inch high and located on the right front of the sweater.

Here is a shot of the picture in the book.

I'm hoping to have this done by the end of June at which time I plan to start Autumn Song, the Acorn Sweater.

In all my years of knitting, I don't remember dithering as much about yarn selection as I am doing with Autumn Song.

I haven't decided not to splurge for the Louet. After all, this is going to be a long term knitting project. But I haven't convinced myself the Louet is nicer than the Swish. In fact, I haven't even convinced myself I want to knit Autumn Song in a superwash yarn. Maybe what I really want is some Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool.

Over the weekend, I knit a second Autumn Song swatch in Dublin Swish with size 3 needles. I like the color, but the swatch is too small, the stitches too tight.

At the moment I can't remember why I thought #3s were the right size to try and I'm trying to resist thinking of it as a dumb waste of time. That's why we swatch. Right? So it was smart that I got it out of my system.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

12th Annual Louise Lunch

This post is totally family pictures in case you want to bail out now.

Louise lunch started when Kimmy was named Kimberly Louise, the fourth generation of women with the middle name Louise.

On a Saturday in May the four of us meet for lunch to celebrate Mother's Day, Heather's May 13 birthday, and our love for each other.

As Kimmy once told a friend, "If your middle name isn't Louise, you can't come."

This year, as many others, we ate at Clara's in Battle Creek.

Left to right: Daughter - Heather Louise, Mom - Marguerite Louise, and Granddaughter Kimmy - Kimberly Louise.

By the time I handed over the camera to Heather and showed her which button to press, no one was being serious.

Left to right: Granddaughter Kimmy - Kimberly Louise, Mom - Marguerite Louise, and me - Marguerite Louise.

We all received a gift to suit our interests.

Here's Mom giving thumbs up to her new Donald Westlake book.

I'm appreciating all the compartments and pockets in a new knitting bag.

Heather is holding her handknit birthday socks. (Sock details here.)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Socks, Swish, and Sky

Pattern: Royal Rainbow by Megan Humprey. A seven stitch gansey type zigzag. To my knowledge this sock pattern is not available for distribution.

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

Color: Feeling 1705.

Needles: Addi Turbo #1

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

I'd call this color Feeling Springy and Happy. Notice that once again the socks don't match - on purpose.

The plan was to wind off half the skein and then knit the second sock colors in the opposite order as well as not matching. The skein had a knot in the middle where, unbeknownst to me, the colors started going in reverse. So, when I thought the colors were going to go in reverse, they went the same way.

Variations from pattern: The pattern calls for 64 stitches. I'm knitting 56 stitches because I have narrow ankles and feet. A purl dip every eighth stitch replaces a knit stitch to make for a snugger sock that won't sag on my leg.

Knitpicks Swish, a worsted weight superwash wool, arrived in the mail yesterday.

Regular, careful readers may remember I knit a pair of Swish socks to audition the yarn and give it the wear and wash test for durability, softness, stitch definition, and ability to hold its shape. (You can read about it here.)

Knit at 6 stitches/inch Swish passed with flying colors, so I ordered 22 skeins for the White Gansey from Knitting Ganseys by Beth Brown-Reinsel. Obviously, my White Gansey is going to be Pepper Red.

While I was ordering, I threw in a skein of each of the green Swish. I'll be swatching with these to see if they're usable for the Acorn Sweater.

I like the Gems Louet I used for swatching the Acorn Sweater, but the price is making me shudder.

The cheapest I can get the Gems Louet, on a cone, is 7.25 cents a yard, or $166 for the sweater. On the other hand, a Swish Acorn sweater would cost 3 cents a yard or $72 for the sweater. Worth doing a little swatching.

If you have experience with Swish, I'd love to hear it. Please mention the approximate gauge or needle size used. They make a big difference in yarn attributes.

The weather has been beautiful this week. Today is no exception.

The leaves are about half size now on the tall deciduous trees like the oak in the picture. Everything is looking very green.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pappy's Haircut and Lucky Clover Bonanza

Pappy has a "full" coat, which is a polite way of saying he has dog hair up the wazoo.

During winter, we let it grow. By the end of winter he looked like this.

Wednesday he got his first summer haircut.

Yes, we know Papillons aren't supposed to get cut so short. But Pappy's a country dog who likes to chase rodents through the sticker seeds and ticks. It will grow.

We have a talented new groomer, so hopefully he'll never look like that top picture again, even when his hair is winter length.

I was looking forward to taking him to doggy school last night so he could show off his new do to all his doggy friends. Instead, doggy school was cancelled due to a breakout of kennel cough.

Some ignorant dog owner brought her Great Dane to class Monday night with a cough. Kennel cough always spreads rapidly, but imagine the germs a Great Dane can cough into the air.

Tuesday night Pappy and Sunny both attended and trainer Gail's demo dog was home coughing. Since he was vaccinated for kennel cough (kennel cough is a generic term for any viral or bacterial infection that causes a dog to cough), that likely means this strain of kennel cough is not covered in the vaccine he received.

Thursday afternoon Gail called to cancel class and reported more Monday night dogs are coughing. She's disinfecting the doggy school and hopefully things will be back to normal next week.

I'm also hoping she puts up a big sign on the door saying, "If your dog is coughing, take it home NOW!" Some people need to be told.

My dogs are vaccinated for kennel cough. I'm hoping our vaccines work better than Gail's.

It was almost three years ago that I spotted two four leaf clovers staring up at me. The most excellent good luck followed shortly after.

The first clover resulted in a visit from Son John and DIL Anne from Idaho. The second clover resulted in the exciting news that they were going to have a baby the following spring.

Yesterday while walking the dogs I looked down and spotted these two good luck symbols. The one on the right has five leaves. Without knowing the meaning of five leaves, I'm going to assume that is super good luck. Although I can't imagine anything better than Granddaughter Sydney.

On the next dog walk, I looked down in an entire different place to find another four leaf clover of a different, larger species.

Now I'm really getting excited! What do you think this means?

At the very least I'm expecting my dogs to stay kennel cough free.

Postscripts for anyone who is wondering:

I'm skipping Friday Feast this week because I have other things to blog about for the next several posts and this week's questions didn't inspire me.

I'm not superstitious and the clover post was written in fun with a big smile. Good things that could be considered "luck" happen to me all the time, four leaf clover or not.

Still, that certainly was strange to find so many on the same day after all this time of not seeing any . . . .

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Two Birds and a Moth

Last weekend the orioles arrived from South America.

This male Northern Oriole (Icterus galbula) does look a bit tired from his long trip.

When they first arrive, they can be tempted by oranges to come near the house. And, of course, we do just that.

It's such a thrill to see them and know they're going to nest somewhere nearby.

Once they start nesting, they stay in the tall treetops and are rarely seen again until next spring.

The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) doesn't nest on our property, but they do pop in occasionally to catch some dinner.

This one is fishing in our pond, his long legs underwater so you can't tell how tall he really is - about four feet. They also like to wade down the creek where I usually don't see them until they fly up and startle me.

The hunting is good here, and I'm sure we'd have more Great Blue Heron visitors if Glory (dog) didn't delight in chasing them.

A few days ago while I was doing something else, I heard a DH call from the porch to "Bring the camera!"

By the time I got there and got focused, there was only time for one picture before this hummingbird moth flew away. Fortunately, it's not a bad picture, except you can't see its quickly fluttering wings.

There are several species of Hummingbird moths who earn their common name by looking very much like hummingbirds as they dart from bloom to bloom in the daytime. This is a Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris diffinis) thoroughly enjoying the sweetness of my woodland phlox.

There are gorgeous pictures of the entire Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth life cycle here, including a good view of the wings that don't show in my photo.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Skittle Socks Done

Pattern: 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 dip in place of the knit in the twelfth stitch.

Closeup picture of stitch pattern is here.

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

Color: Rainbow, available at Fun Knits.

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.

These are the first socks I've ever knit to not match. On purpose. Don't they look happy to be different but still an obvious pair?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Herbstlied - Swatching the Acorn Sweater

This is Herbstlied (translated from German means Autumn Song), the cover sweater from New Style of Heirloom Knitting, the wonderful Japanese knitting pattern book with only a few non-essential words written in English.

It's going to be my summer knitting challenge.

For the past several evenings, I've been working on a swatch.

It's been slow going. I'm guessing this 14 X 6 swatch took about 8 hours. Now I know what I need to do to get gauge so the sweater will fit. Even more important, I have figured out all the Japanese symbols in the stitch pattern charts plus the mystery of the how to knit the eight stitches at the end of the oak leaf lobes. (See end of post for detailed oak lobe instructions.)

The swatch yarn is Louet Topaz worsted weight Merino yarn knit with a #4 Knitpicks Options needle. Final yarn choice is still undecided. I do know it will not be this color (ginger) which makes me look three days dead.

The unwashed, unblocked swatch measures 10.25 inches from the stem (the center of the sweater) to the side seam. That will make 41 inch sweater, a good size for me. I'm hoping there are no surprises when I wash the swatch.

If you are thinking of knitting this sweater and want the fun of figuring out the eight stitches of the oak leaf lobe yourself, stop reading now.

Even knowing how it's done, I can't look at the stitch chart and see how it indicates a cable. Being able to read Japanese probably would have been helpful.

Instead I studied the stitches in the picture at the top of page 69 and figured out one way to do it. It may or may not exactly match the Japanese instructions in the pattern book.

This isn't going to make any sense unless you have the book, page 69.

The Eight Stitches of A
  • Put the 3 shaded stitches on a cable needle and hold in back.
  • Turn the next five stitches into one stitch as follows:
    • slip-knit-psso, knit, k2tog
    • turn work and purl three stitches you just made
    • turn work
    • slip, slip, knit, pass two slipped stitches over knit stitch
  • Purl three stitches from cable needle.
The Eight Stitches of B
  • Put five stitches on a cable needle and hold in front.
  • Purl three stitches from left needle (the shaded stitches in the chart).
  • Turn the five stitches on the cable needle into one stitch as follows:
    • slip-knit-psso, knit, k2tog
    • turn work and purl three stitches you just made
    • turn work
    • slip, slip, knit, pass two slipped stitches over knit stitch

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sky, Swallow, and Special Patch

The sky looks like it's going to rain, we need rain, so why doesn't it rain?

The picture was taken at eight this morning. Now it's after lunch, the sky looks about the same but it hasn't rained a drop.

According to the National Weather Service, there is only a 30% chance of rain today. Seems a strange forecast with a sky full of rain clouds, but they stubbornly refuse to produce.

There is a power line crossing the back three acres. You can see it in the sky picture above.

Some of the birds love to use the wire as a launch site for their insect collecting and to sit and monitor the activity around their nesting sites.

After fledge day, the Tree Swallows and Bluebirds line their young up on the wire for lessons in how to live outside the nest.

The handsome fellow in the picture is a Tree Swallow.

Our apple trees are in bloom this week.

The earth under the trees isn't suitable for growing grass, just violets and other assorted little weeds wildflowers.

We don't mess with the ecology of that area because in the spring it's a . . .

. . . bed of Morel mushrooms.

In this part of the country people go crazy in the spring hunt for the elusive Morel mushroom.

Morel patches are jealously guarded and kept secret year after year. There are websites with Morel lore, Morel recipes, Morel pictures, Morel spotting updates (not with exact locations) and Morel jokes.

We were handed our Morel patch along with our mortgage. After a late April - early May rain the Morels magically appear underneath three very old apple trees on the north side of the house.

We have never been part of the Morel mania but we acknowledge our patch as something special. We celebrate that specialness by eating them.

So far this year the mushroom crop has been super sparse. It may not be too late, though. Please let the rains begin.