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

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chat Back for February 27

Answering questions from comments and email.

Susan asked . . .
Ever dream of moving south?
Yes, but not seriously. I'm a Michigander.

Family and friends keep me here, as well as knowing every geographic location has its challenges.

In Michigan all four seasons are beautiful, it's just that winter lasts a little too long. It makes spring all the sweeter.

Vickie said . . .
I ordered this book ( Beautiful Knitting Patterns ) because of all of your sock ideas. You should get a commission!
Actually I do. When someone clicks on an Amazon book link from this blog I get a tiny percent of the purchase.

I hope you like the book. I collect stitch pattern books and this is one of my favorites. It was translated from German and has some stitch patterns I've not seen elsewhere. I especially love the Patterns From the Alpine Region section, sample above. One and two stitch crossings that can be knit without a cable needle and make beautiful designs.

Knitter beware: Charts only in this book. Fine with me, but I know some knitters prefer words.

Diane K. asked . . .
Did you like Happy Feet?
and Jean seconded the question . . .
I am curious too - how was the yarn to knit with?
No complaints, one caveat: There are only 192 yards in a 50 gram skein. If the socks are larger than a ladies medium with a seven inch cuff, a third skein may be required. If the sock has a yarn eating stitch pattern (cables and/or twists), a third skein may be required.

My Happy Feet Socks knit several months ago are machine washing nicely. They still look like new and I enjoy wearing them.

Jean said . . .
Poor deer, they probably wished they were as well fed as the birds and squirrels that visit you.

It is against the law to feed the deer. Michigan Department of Natural Resources believes when the deer gather together in one place it spreads Chronic Wasting Disease.

To my knowledge, there has only been one case of CWD in the state, and that not in this area.

Most of the deer I see around here look well fed. I have suspicions about that.

Diane K. asked . . .
Do you pick or throw?
I don't think of it as "pick", but I don't throw so I assume I pick. I knit German style.

My Swiss maternal grandmother had no patience for throwing. If she saw someone throwing (she would never call it knitting), she would grab it out of their hands and try to straighten them out, sure she was doing a good deed.

Grandma knit so fast she couldn't slow down enough to teach me anything except how to hold the yarn in my left hand for even tension. I learned the actual stitches from a book.

If you have no "ID" and want to leave your name on a comment instead of being called Anonymous:
  • For "Choose an Identity" click "Name/URL".
  • A place to enter your name and (optional) URL appears.
  • Enter the name you want to use in the name box.
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Friday, February 26, 2010

Short Subjects Starting With S

Basketweave ribbing is even more soothing than stockinette for me, so I'm enjoying knitting on Gail's socks. Do admit though, there is no challenge to it.

While redoing some of my blog post labels, it came to my attention I knit 32 pair of socks in 2009. I never would have guessed that many.

At the moment I have one pair on the needles, the next three pair ready to go, and I'm thinking about birthday socks for May and June.

I'm also thinking I want to knit something fun that's not socks. Like a shawl. I wish I liked to wear shawls, but I don't. So who wants one?

Skipping School
Pappy and I skipped doggy school last night. It was nasty cold with wind and I just wanted to stay home and not deal with trying to work with a golden age dog who doesn't want to work.

Pappy was content to snuggle up next to me while I knit on Gail's socks. I like to think he wanted to stay home too.

It's time to get out of denial and admit doggy school evenings are over. I think a few more attempts will convince me that's the right decision. The attempts will happen when the weather is better.


Yesterday AccuWeather Bob Larson's weather word for the five day forecast was "fluffy".

We're getting the tail end of the east coast blizzard. The sky is dark, the wind is blowing, the snow is harsh - not pretty, not fluffy.

As the end of winter approaches (we hope), I sense I'm sharing the wish for no more snow with more of the US than usual.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gail's Birthday Cuffs

Gail asked for socks with some black and/or gray.

The Basketweave Ribbing Socks pattern is perfect for a variegated yarn that might end up splotchy and unattractive without some texture intervention. Also, it's a k3,p1 ribbing base so the fit is flexible and snug. Perfect for gift socks.

Pattern: Basketweave Ribbing Socks

Yarn: Opal.

Color: Rainforest Oskar (a black and white butterfly).

Needles: Options #1, 2.5mm

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

When is it going to stop snowing and how soon will the hostas be big enough to eat?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

John's Birthday Socks Finished

Yesterday between bouts of dealing with the nasty weather, I finished John's birthday socks.

The cuffs are seven inches long from top to heel. Three skeins of Happy Feet were needed. One skein per sock took me to the start of each toe for John's size 11 foot knitting 70 stitches around.

Pattern: 70 stitch basic socks. The stitch pattern is from one of my stitch pattern books, Beautiful Knitting Patterns by Gisela Klopper. It's a simple 7 stitch knit purl pattern with a knit 5 purl 2 ribbing base.

Yarn: Happy Feet. 90% Superwash Merino, 10% Nylon.

Color: Dark blue.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

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

February Reminds Us It's Still Winter

Sunday morning at church everyone was talking about the big snowfall expected that evening. Always optimistic about these predictions (why?), I hoped it wouldn't be more than a few inches since I had an early Monday morning appointment for a tooth extraction twenty miles away.

Sunday evening I checked National Weather Service. They said three inches overnight. No problem. Three inches doesn't even require any shoveling to get out.

Monday morning I was up before the sun. In the dark it was easy to imagine there was only three inches. Maybe four. I got ready to go.

Then, the sun came up and it was time to take the dogs out for a walk. Except the dogs didn't want to walk far. It was eight inches of the heaviest snow possible. Some of it downright slushy. If this snow had been fluffier, it would have been three feet deep. At least.

Time to face reality. The road wasn't plowed, not that I thought I could get out of the driveway. The wet snow was still splatting down thick and heavy. I turned on the radio for AccuWeather to hear it was going to keep snowing all morning. The morning host didn't have to worry about what to talk about, she was kept busy reading school closings.

As soon as the dentist's office opened, I called and rescheduled my appointment. Jeniffer, the desk woman, told me I wouldn't be charged for the late cancellation. I thought that was especially nice of her since she obviously got up early, did some shoveling, and got to work on time.

Late in the morning the snowplow cleared the road. About noon, the snowplow fairy plowed the driveway. Snowplows can't get right up next to buildings and cars. There was still shoveling that needed to be done before we'd be able to get out.

3:40 each afternoon WKZO, a Kalamazoo radio station, has a live interview with Bob Larson from AccuWeather. Bob starts by summing up the five day forecast with the "weather word of the day". Yesterday the word was "clean up". He explained that we needed to dig out while the snow was heavy and slushy because the wet snow was going to turn into hard ice as temperatures dropped for the rest of the week.

That explains why I was unable to stay inside and fantasize the snow melting. I knew I needed to shovel us out for Bob's medical appointment on Wednesday before the deep freeze.

The minimum shoveling required to get us out of the driveway is done. I'm stiff but not in pain thanks to extra strength Tylenol. Let it freeze. Next week is March, the woodpeckers are drumming for mates, there may even be short daffodil shoots under the snow. Winter is almost over. Bring on the mud.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chat Back for February 20

Answering comments and email.

Jean asked . . .
The photo of the horse in the snow was picturesque. Hope it has some shelter to seek.

The neighbor's horses live in an old but well maintained barn and are very well cared for.

On days that aren't bitter cold I see them playing in the snow. They even like to roll around in it.

Kathy B asked . . .
First picture of squirrel ....stunning. Did you take it???? I love it!

Thanks Kathy. Yes, this is one of our many well fed and photogenic squirrels.

Diane asked . . .
Do you edit your pictures before you post them?

This is the squirrel picture before cropping.

I almost always crop my pictures. Occasionally I lighten or darken if needed for better color.

Beadknitter asked . . .
Do you have spam problems with your blog?

Last week I had five spam comments to delete. It's not difficult to delete them, but by the fifth I was finding them very annoying. I've turned on word verification for the comments.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday Wings - Marsh Wren

The Marsh Wren is a little larger and much shyer than the common House Wren.

We never see them in the summer, but in the winter they come around to eat suet.

I love their auburn brown coloring.

Unusual to see two at a time. I wasn't sure there was more than one until they both appeared together.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Opal, Panda Cotton, and Panda Soy

I'm still knitting away on John's Birthday Socks. Both socks are past the gusset decreases. Maybe they'll be done by the end of the week.

Next up for socks? More birthday socks.

Dog trainer Gail's birthday is March 18, the same as John. She requested Opal with some gray and/or black, so I ordered the two skeins above from Simply Socks Yarn Company.

Both are from the Rainforest Collection, colorways based on creatures in the rainforest. On the left, Oskar, a black and white butterfly. On the right, Emil, a furry monkey.

I may ask Gail to pick her favorite, or I may knit both skeins for her. The dogs and I have had eight pleasurable years at doggy school and I'm sad to say they're coming to an end soon. Sunny had to stop going because of her back, and Pappy is getting too old.

April is Sister Carrie's birthday. She loves her Panda Cotton socks (59% Bamboo, 25% Cotton, 16% Elastic Nylon) from last year and requested a pair in tan or beige for this year. Bottom left is Trail Mix, the closest color I could find without some other color introduced to make the socks non-neutral. It's a little darker than requested, but I'm hoping she'll like it.

The Panda Soy Hazelnut(49% Bamboo, 33% Soy, 18% Elastic Nylon) on the right is closer to the requested colors. It will be my first time knitting Panda Soy and I'm looking forward to giving it a try and then hearing back from Carrie on how it wears.

With all these neutral colors in the queue, I think I need an interesting colorful project for contrast. Time to haul out that red gansey I started months ago.

Pointing the camera over to the neighbor's pasture.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Musings for February 15

It's lightly snowing.

I have to admit by the middle of February each and every snowflake is unwelcome and my attitude toward winter stinks it's rather pretty.

Might you guess that this comic, Speedbump, is created by someone from Michigan?

Last week I wore my newly knit Hedonist Cardinal Socks for the first time. The 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon was just as soft as cozy as imagined. I enjoyed having them on my feet.

The yarn is so soft that I wasn't surprised when it pilled on the feet and heels.

I so wish I had knit something besides socks with this wonderful yarn. It's just too soft and nice to wear inside shoes.

To Diane who wrote in the comments:
I meant no offense by not signing the comment - I plead ignorance for not knowing blog etiquette.

You are not ignorant of anything! Blog etiquette allows for anonymous comments as long as they're not rude.

It's me who wonders who is leaving the comment. And it's Blogger who is lacking in not capturing an email address so I can identify who is who.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chat Back for February 13

Answering questions from comments and email.

Susan asked . . .
I'm wondering when you'll tackle a pair of toe up socks from Wendy Johnson's book. I've started a pair myself.......

When I do, it will be my first pair of toe-up socks.

Someday I'm going to pick up that book and give it a try, but there is no set date. Could be next week, next year, or next decade.

Jan asked . . .
Will you be participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count?

I think these counts are more to get people interested in their birds than to gather valid scientific information. My mind has been trained to be accurate and logical. Just the thought of trying to count our birds makes me dizzy.

For example, I have 5 Cardinals at the feeder, 15 visible in their favorite staging bush. While I'm trying to count, birds are flying back and forth between the bush and the feeder. Then there are the dozens of finches hopping around while the Titmouses (Titmice?) and Chickadees dart in, grab a seed, and take it to a tree to crack and eat it.

And what about the feeders on the other side of the house? And the birds that are present, like the Pileated Woodpecker, that don't come to the feeder?

So no, I'm not attempting a count.

Kathy B asked . . .
Do you call them Flickers? We call the big one a Flicker. Are we off here?

Flicker above, Red-bellied Woodpecker below. (The Flicker picture is from Birdsource.)

They're about the same size, the Flicker is just an inch or so longer.

The Flicker has a tanish gray and black back, the Red-bellied has a bright black and white back.

The Flicker has a black mustache not present on the Red-bellied.

The most noticeable difference when they're in motion is the yellow wing shaft on the Flicker. Red-bellies don't have any yellow.

Flickers like to insect feed on the ground. Their favorite food is ants. They even bring ants to their hatchlings. That can't be easy.

Red-bellies stay for the Mid-west winter, Flickers normally migrate to warmer climates in the Southwest.

So which do you have?

Thoughts on the blog redesign.
  • I was pleased to find Blogger has gotten much easier to use since the original Stitches of Violet formatting in 2004. It all went smooth. It was even fun.
  • Now that I've upgraded to the newest, easy to use, Blogger layout software, I'll be making changes more often.
  • I especially had fun with the colors.
  • After noticing the profile picture with the red sweater didn't match the blog color scheme, I found a picture with a green background and a purple sweater. It's more important to have the right colors than to show my face. (I think I'm just kidding.)
  • Long time and/or serious readers know the Violet in Stitches of Violet refers to an online name I've used in the past. It was chosen because I love the wild blue violets that bloom in the spring and has nothing to do with purple yarn.

    So even though it's not spring yet, I made the violets my blog theme for now. Tentative plans are to change the header and footer to reflect the season, but no promises. I love the violets.
  • The only complaint I have about the new format is losing my Haloscan comments.

    With Blogger comments there is no easy access to a reply email. In many cases there is no email information at all.

    Also, there is no instant way get the blog URL of the person leaving the comment. In many cases there is no URL information at all. You may have noticed I left blog URLS out of the Chat Back questions this week. And probably will going forward.
  • Blogger gives us the opportunity to stop comment spam in several different ways, all of which I hope to avoid. I want to do everything possible to encourage comments because I love getting them.

    Typing in the letters in the box is the first line of defense. I dislike doing it on other blogs, so it's not turned on for this blog. Yet.

    Mandatory comment review by me before posting is the second line of defense. I hate it when I leave a comment on someones blog and don't get to see it immediately. I hope spam never gets so bad I have to do this.
  • Another safeguard is to not allow anonymous comments. There was a nice anonymous comment this morning from someone who bought the Beautiful Knitting Patterns book and is going to knit a pair of black socks for her husband using the same stitch pattern as John's socks. Is this someone I cyber know? Do I read her blog? If I didn't allow anonymous comments, would she have identified herself? Or not left a comment at all?

    Note to anonymous commenters: Even if you don't want to give Blogger your id, you could be friendly and type your name at the end of the text. Please.
  • Some of my archived posts have text running down the right side of the picture where there isn't room for text running down the side of the picture. As I notice these, I may go into the html and fix them. If I link to an archived post, it will be reformatted so all the text falls under the pictures.
  • Did anybody actually read all this babble?

Friday, February 12, 2010

John's Cuffs and A Snow Picture

I'm trying to think of something interesting to write about these socks and coming up short.

I do like the way they're turning out. The stitch pattern is just busy enough not to be boring. And I enjoy knitting with the Happy Feet yarn. That all adds up to a nice, gentle, soothing project for someone I love.

Pattern: 70 stitch basic socks. The stitch pattern is from one of my stitch pattern books, Beautiful Knitting Patterns by Gisela Klopper. It's a simple 7 stitch knit purl pattern with a knit 5 purl 2 ribbing base.

Yarn: Happy Feet. 90% Superwash Merino, 10% Nylon.

Color: Dark blue.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

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

We had about ten inches of snow this week. Nothing unusual for Michigan in February.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday Wings - Woodpecker 101

I was so excited to get this picture - a Downy Woodpecker male on the left, a Hairy Woodpecker male on the right. It clearly shows the most noticeable difference between the two species, their size.

The little six inch long Downy is the smallest and most numerous woodpecker species living and nesting in our area.

The larger nine inch Hairy has the same markings except for lacking some black spots on his white tail feathers.

The females of both species match the males minus the red spot on the back of the head.

A close up of the Hairy male so you can admire his formidable beak.

Next largest at eleven inches is the Red-bellied Woodpecker. When a Redbellie lands on the suet feeder, everything else flies away. Even the starlings.

This is a female. The males have continuous red across the tops of their heads.

Two years ago I posted Don't Call Me Red-Headed with more pictures and information on the Redbellies.

Almost two feet long, the awesome Pileated Woodpeckers are year round residents of the woods across the street from our property. They're slowly growing in number in our neighborhood.

One of my bird fantasies is that I would look out the window and see a Pileated at the feeding station. So far that hasn't happened. They hang out high up in the tallest tree tops. I strained the limits of my zoom lens to get this fuzzy picture.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

It's Our Turn For Too Much Snow

Time to stop laughing at the folks out east and get our own shovels to work. Again.

The snow started early this morning. Early enough to make the morning commute into a game of bumper cars. It's been snowing all day and will go on all night.

The dogs had a grooming appointment at noon today, which I called and rescheduled for next week. With some white-knuckle driving I could have delivered them, but I was concerned about being able to pick them up during the evening commute.

That turned out to be good thinking. I-94 was closed down and the interstate traffic, including semis, diverted onto the two lane country road (Red Arrow Highway) I would have needed to take. It was a good day to plea "chicken driver" and just stay home.

All three of the dogs are smart about the weather. It's amazing how long they can go without a trip outdoors when they want to stay in.

We took a walk at ten am and came home covered with snow. All three dogs decided this was a good day to catch up on their napping. Not a single dog asked to go out again until four this afternoon.

Pappy likes to nap cuddled up as close as possible while I sit on the loveseat with my laptop.

This picture explains why I get dog hair in my laptop keys.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Things Are Changing

This blog is under reconstruction.

Things may be missing or be a bit weird for a while.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Chat Back for February 6

Answering questions from comments and email.

Before getting to the questions I have to mention that we have blue sky and sunshine in SW Michigan this morning while many other places are getting way more snow than they want.

Doesn't happen very often. I'm enjoying the weather even though I'm sure we will have plenty of more snow before (and probably after) the first daffodils in April.

Nancy asked . . .
No knitting? How does that happen?
It was a busy week of non-knitting things that needed to be done.

Normally I only show a pair of socks twice - once when both cuffs are done and again when the socks are completely finished. I did have John's cuffs started, but they weren't ready to show yet.

As it turned out, I broke with normal procedure and showed one cuff yesterday.

Dorothy asked . . .
Hope everything there is ok with you!
There are medical appointments for Bob which all take time, but there is no new bad stuff going on.

Joyce wrote . . .
I'm a logical knitter too. I was starting to wonder if that's all there was, so I randomly changed some answers and turned myself into an artistic knitter. LOL
It appears all my readers are logical or contented knitters. Or maybe logical/contented knitters are the only type who will bother to take a Knitting Personality Test? And/or leave a comment with the results?

I'm pretty sure logical knitters are the only personality type who would retake the test giving the opposite answers to see what came up. I did the same thing. LOL

Jan asked . . .
Gorgeous!! How does cashmere wear in a sock?
These are the first part cashmere socks I've ever knit, so I wonder the same thing.

I don't have high wear expectations. I'll be wearing them with slippers, not hiking boots.

Dorothy asked . . .
I'm switching to Google Reader too, but can't find the option to import all of my feeds from Bloglines. How did you do it?

I'm loving Google Reader. It works better than Bloglines, is easier to use, easier to add and maintain feeds, and, most important for my dialup connection, it is much much faster.

Here's how to convert from Bloglines to Google Reader in two minutes or less:
  1. Go to Bloglines and export your feeds to a file on your PC.

    • In Bloglines, the export option is at the bottom of the left column. Save the file.

  2. Go to Google Reader and import the file you just saved.

    • In Google Reader click on Manage Subscriptions at the bottom of the left column.

    • In Manage Subscriptions select the import/export option and use the BROWSE button to select the file you just created.

Mom asked . . .
When are you going to change your blog layout? I've been checking every day and it's still the same.
I've been playing around with some different layouts on a test blog and am almost ready to take the plunge.

Although I have no specific day and hour in mind, there is a deadline, February 11. It will be before then.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Start of John's Birthday Socks

Son John's birthday socks are underway. It's another stitch pattern from Beautiful Knitting Patterns by Gisela Klopper.

The base of the pattern is a k5, p2 rib. Perfect for socks to fit well.

The yarn, selected and supplied by John as a birthday gift for me, is Happy Feet. He thoughtfully bought three skeins, so I don't have to worry about running out while knitting man size socks.

The stitch marker? It's hooked in the first row of the ten row stitch pattern.

All I need to do is count stitches up from the marker and I know which pattern row to knit next. According to this picture, there are four rows done and I need to start back on row 5.

Everytime I knit row 1, I move the marker.

Pattern: 70 stitch basic socks. The stitch pattern is from one of my stitch pattern books, Beautiful Knitting Patterns by Gisela Klopper. It's a simple 7 stitch knit purl pattern with a knit 5 purl 2 ribbing base.

Yarn: Happy Feet. 90% Superwash Merino, 10% Nylon.

Color: Dark blue.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

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

Thursday, February 04, 2010

When There's No Knitting . . .

There isn't much knitting getting done, but I want to keep blogging even with nothing to say. So, here are a few things that might be of interest.

Super Cute Puppy Pictures
Susan Z. posted heart warming, adorable pictures of her new puppy Cooper learning about snow. The pictures are on her blog, Dog Lover's Yarn.

Knitting Personality Test
According to the Knitting Personality Test (of which I can reproduce no part without permission - what fun is a quiz if you can't share the results?), I am a "Logical Knitter".

Since my logical thought patterns have been hard wired by several decades of computer programming, this result was no surprise, but does indicate the quiz might give somewhat accurate results.

It's short if you want to click over and give it a try. I'd love to hear your results and if you think they're accurate.

Baby moose born in downtown Naubinway, Michigan. September 13, 2007.
Reader Sue L. sent me these incredible baby moose pictures in an email and I wanted to share. With a Goggle search, I found them here.

The moose was born in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We don't have moose in SW Michigan where I live.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Hedonist Cardinal Socks Finished

These socks are soft and cuddly. I'm looking forward to wearing them.

Pattern: 56 stitch basic socks. The stitch pattern is from one of my stitch pattern books, Beautiful Knitting Patterns by Gisela Klopper. It's a simple 8 stitch knit purl pattern with a knit 7 purl 1 ribbing base.

Yarn: Slackford Studio Hedonist Sock yarn, 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon.

Color: Cardinal.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

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

Monday, February 01, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook for February 1

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

FOR TODAY February 1, 2009 ...

Outside my window... Bob has spread sunflower seeds on the sill and the little birds are stopping by for a snack.

This is a Tufted Titmouse.

I am thinking... that it's time to start working on getting things together for income tax. Yuck.

I am thankful for... my 10 year old Toyota Camry. Still going strong and not subject to the current recall fracas.

From the kitchen... there will be pork chops with applesauce this evening.

I am wearing... jeans, a pink sweatshirt, and some bright handknit socks that clash with the pink. Usually I'm more coordinated, but I changed clothes after lunch out with a friend and didn't change my socks.

I am creating... a new blog layout soon.

I am going... to start looking at stitch pattern books and lay out the top part of the red gansey that's been on hold for several months.

I am reading... (actually listening) Rules of Vengeance by Christopher Reich. This is one of those books I checked out of the library because it looked like it might be a good knitting listen. It's a convoluted spy story difficult to follow in audio. Lots of technical descriptions. Probably better to read it hardcover.

I am hoping... the starlings don't take over the bird feeders. We've never had very many and I'm hoping that continues.

I am hearing... the dogs bark as the mail is delivered.

Around the house... it's looking a little dog hairy. Need to vacuum soon.

One of my favorite things... flowers.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Going to get the haircut I had to cancel last week because of the snowstorm.
Lunch with Mom on Thursday.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...