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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday Wings - Front Yard Robin Nest

Close to the front of the house sits Mom Robin on a nest built precariously on a branch about six feet off the ground.

This picture was taken from the road side. The nest is hidden on the house side.

The nest is easily predator accessible so I don't know how much luck she's going to have with it. Also the branch is not sturdy. I was able to pull it down far enough to get a picture of the eggs.

It's by the main door and Mom Robin is nervous about all the activity.

If it gets to the stage where there are hatchlings that look ready to leap out, I'll inconvenience myself for a few days to avoid the area. Sounds like a good excuse to procrastinate mowing the lawn.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Whining for June 28

For the past few weeks we've had rain, thunderstorms, rain, and thunderstorms. There have been power outages all around us, but so far we've been spared. Which is amazing considering this 25 foot oak branch landed directly under the power lines leading to the house.

Thanks to all the moisture, the weeds are taking over the land.

The grass is growing at an early spring rate - fast. And I have to pick up sticks before I can mow. I spent half a day picking up sticks last Monday, and this week there are just as many thanks to the past week storms.

Nesting season has slowed down. The tree swallows have fledged and the only box in use has week old wrens.

This is the first wren nest where I've been able to open the nest box. Normally the sticks go all the way to the top and to open the box would be to destroy the nest and possibly crush the eggs or hatchlings.

I heard that Yellow Headed Blackbirds have been seen in my neighborhood. I've never seen one and will be excited if they stop by to visit. Their usual range is west of Lake Michigan and we're east of Lake Michigan.

Five or six times a day the three dogs and I go for a walk on the back three acres. It is untamed except for the paths that I mow for us to walk on. It is bird and wildlife rich, usually a good thing.

The past few weeks the mosquitoes have been/are frantic for blood. They are so thick I'll inhale them if I breath deep. It's difficult to take pictures outdoors because I'm too busy swatting.

Also, there are at least two does bedded down with their fawns nearby. We can't see them until they pop up to snort and glare at us. When this happens, we turn around and head home.

I'd love to see a fawn up close. I have no desire to mess with an irate doe. Glory and Sunny seem to understand we are unwelcome by something bigger than they are. They pretend they don't see or hear anything and they willingly head back to the house. Pappy thinks he should do something, so he gives a little bark before following us out of the area.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Chat Back for June 26

Answering questions from comments and email.

Nobody asked . . .
why I've been posting less often, but I'm going to answer anyway.

It's pretty difficult to keep a knitting blog going when I haven't been knitting much lately.

When I do knit it's on one of the two sweaters I'm working on and progress isn't very interesting. They are, however, pleasant projects and I'm enjoying working on both of them when I do pick them up and knit a few rows.

Shirley asked . . .
Great job on your very first crochet project! Could an afghan be in the works soon?

Not soon, but maybe someday.

My stitches are still uneven and I've yet to purchase and use a decent hook, so I don't think I'm afghan ready yet.

Sherilan asked . . .
Have you read the Southern Sisters mysteries by Anne George?

No, but thanks to your suggestion I have reserved the first in the series at the library.

I see it has 5 out of 5 stars. I can hardly wait.

Kathy wrote . . .
She must be so proud - to have TWO such talented children!!

Can't let this pass without mentioning Mom has four children, and the two who didn't supply hand made birthday gifts are also very talented.

Middle daughter Doris has a PhD in Business Administration/Accounting. I can't remember the exact subject and I can't begin to understand the area she specialized in. (Doris, if you're reading this please forgive me and leave a comment to make things accurate.)

Youngest daughter Carrie is a pianist. The following brief bio is from the University of North Carolina Music Library website, so I'm confident it's accurate:
  • Carrie supervises all the operations of the Music Library Sunday through Thursday evenings. As acquisitions assistant, she handles the orders for all scores, CDs and DVDs. Carrie earned a B.Mus from Western Michigan University, an M.A. in Musicology from UNC-Chapel Hill and has done extensive work in piano/fortepiano performance at UNC and Duke University.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

A few weeks ago Allison at Dominant Hands blessed Stitches of Violet with a Beautiful Blogger Award.

Thank you Allison.

As part of the award, I'm to rake my brain and come up with "10 things about myself that you might not know about me."

So, here are 10 things about me not included in 100 Things About Me:
  1. I'm mad at Toyota! As a 30 year very satisfied customer with a nearby Toyota dealership and a wonderful Toyota service department, I want to purchase a new Toyota this year and have it be as reliable and high quality as all my previous Toyotas. Instead, I'm afraid to buy a car that has its own mind about when to accelerate.

  2. Everyday I enjoy doing the Jumble (word puzzle in the comics) and even have a book of Jumbles for when I feel like doing a few extra.

  3. I have provided for my yarn stash, knitting books, and knitting needles in my will. They are going to a good friend who knits. She can keep what she wants and give the rest to charity.

  4. We have four blood sucking pests thriving on our property: Mosquitoes, black flies, deer flies, and ticks. Of the four, I hate the black flies most. The deer flies are a close second.

  5. Everyday I work the daily puzzle at Jigzone using the 80 piece classic cut.

  6. Pappy, my little Papillon, sleeps on my pillow above my head. He whines and tries to lead me into the bedroom if I stay up too late.

  7. One of my favorite C. S. Lewis quotes: "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body."

  8. My favorite frozen dinner? Kahiki General Tso's Chicken. The Kahiki Sweet and Sour Chicken is also yum for frozen fare.

  9. I love the long summer daylight hours. The sun is up by 6:30 and Sunny is thinking I should get up and go for a walk so the dogs can have their morning treat. And there still some, but barely, daylight when the dogs do their last potty call at 10 pm.

  10. My favorite summer food is ice cream. I think I'll have some right now.

As another part of this award I'm to pass it on to ten other deserving Bloggers. Since most of the blogs I read and enjoy have done this or something very similar in the past, I'm going to skip this part of the assignment. Every Blogger who reads Stitches of Violet is a Beautiful Blogger. I couldn't choose ten without concern of leaving someone out or annoying someone because I can't remember they've already done this.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

First Usable Piece of Crochet

Here it is. My very first usable crochet project.

I went searching on Crochet Pattern Central for a free, easy potholder pattern and found this. It's two squares crocheted together.

The Simply Cotton Worsted was something I had in the stash. A while ago I bought a trial skein to see if I might like it for a summer sweater but found it to be more suitable for kitchen items.

Pattern: Square HDC Potholder.

Yarn: Knitpicks 100% Organic Cotton, Worsted Weight.

Color: Carnelian Heather.

Hook: H.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mom's Birthday

Yesterday was Mom's birthday. When I picked her up to celebrate with a lovely lunch at Bravo, she showed off her new Opal necklace made by Brother Dave who does gorgeous lapidary work in addition to making the world's best trumpets.

Now that I'm home and blogging I'm sorry I didn't try to get a better picture of the colors in the opal although I'm not sure I could capture their beauty. They are amazing.

Mom also got some hand knit socks.

Sock details here.

It's notable now that her children are in their senior years, we're back to giving Mom handmade gifts.

I also gave her a five book set of Honey Driver mysteries by J.G. Goodhind.

Sock details here.

These socks will make eyes pop out at Mom's exercise class.

Sock details here.

Lunch was completed with a birthday baked Alaska. It was flaming when presented.

We shared. It was yummy.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Musings for June 14

Money Down the Drain
Last week we got the septic system fixed. It took almost the whole day and the dogs got very tired.

Glory is old and grumpy. She doesn't think anybody should be in her yard and if they are she thinks she should bite them. Pappy was totally upset that I was outside with strange men and Sunny thought the septic tank pumper trunk was an evil monster out to destroy us all unless she could bark loud enough to keep it under control.

By the time the men left in the late afternoon I was very tired. But we could flush. And I could wash dishes. And do laundry.

Crochet 101
I'm making progress on learning how to crochet. So far I've learned that cheap plastic hooks from the discount store snag the yarn and that row after row of the same crochet stitch is just as boring as knitting stockinette.

Any crocheters reading who would like to recommend their favorite hook?

Anticipating Isaiah
Bible Study Fellowship is doing a study of Isaiah starting next fall, and I'm strongly considering signing up. BSF is an in-depth, non-denominational Bible study meeting two hours a week and requiring daily homework. It's an excellent way to learn more about the Bible.

I did some BSF classes in the late 90's and hope the current teachers are as good as the leaders we had back then.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Chat Back for June 12

Answering questions from comments and email.

fiftympg said . . .
I for one would be interested in seeing some in-progress photos of the top down sleeves you plan to knit.

I'll try. I use the guidelines for top down set in sleeves in Knitting from the Top by Barbara G. Walker.

For me it's an art, not a science and I often frog the first attempt. But when the pattern permits top down, I like the looks of it better than sewn in sleeves.

Betty G. asked . . .
I was just wondering .......... I have never knitted a pair of socks that was particularly complicated, like Cookie's, mainly because I wonder if they'd fit. I just like them to be easy to wear. I know you've knitted a lot. Have any stood out as interesting to knit and easy to wear?

In general, the more a sock is interesting to knit the less it is easy
to wear. That's if you define easy to wear as fitting snug and staying
up and not bagging.

So, if you're a practical person wanting to knit socks to wear, simple
is better in my opinion. I knit the more complicated ones for fun. My more fancy Cookie socks are lovely to look at, but I seldom wear them.

Knitting a sock with a ribbing base to the pattern works best. Even if
it's only a purl column every eight stitches.

My favorite Cookie socks to wear are the BFF Pattern.

The BFF pattern instructions are a good example of how to increase for a sock cable after the ribbing is finished and decrease for the heel or toe once the cabling is finished. I confess to never having done that before, but I like it and will try to remember to do it in the future.

Of the dozens of hand knit socks in my closet, these are my favorite. I wear them every time they're clean since they go with jeans and I wear jeans almost everywhere except to church.

The yarn is Slackford Studio Stalwart, color Billie Jean. The socks get machine washed and machine dried and still look like new after six months. No pilling. No holes, No fading.

This is my favorite sock yarn. Smooth to knit, great stitch definition, and gorgeous colors hand dyed by Susan. And I've never encountered a knot in the yarn.

No affiliation, just a happy customer.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wednesday Wings - Tree Swallow Nest

Every year we have at least one nest box of Tree Swallows.

This is a picture from two years ago. It would be difficult to improve on this picture, so I'm re-posting it. The light was just right to show the iridescent blue feathers and the posing was perfect to show off the sleek body lines.

The male and female look the same.

This picture is last week.

The Tree Swallows are feisty little birds. They dive bomb my head if I get too close to their nest. Just walking in the same part of the field as their nest causes Mom Swallow to stick her head out and give me what for.

This picture is also from last week.

The swallows line their nests with feathers arranged to insulate the eggs and newly hatched chicks. Inside there are six small white eggs. In just a few weeks they'll all be sitting on the power line learning how to fly.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Hedonist Redo Sweater in Progress

Shortly after I frogged the Featherweight Fiasco back in April, I cast on 240 stitches with the soft Hedonist yarn for a pullover sweater. When my hands got tired of knitting Cotlin, I'd pick up the Hedonist sweater and knit a few soft cashmere blend stockinette rows before going to bed.

A few days ago the tube was done. Time to consider the arm holes and putting the stitch pattern across the front and back.

I decided on set in sleeves knit top down. For a horizontal stitch pattern I used #177 from The New Knitting Stitch Library by Leslie Stanfield.

The horizontal stitch pattern was necessary because the hand dyed skeins don't match. The darker yarn was used for the sweater body. Where the purls start for the horizontal border I switched to a lighter skein.

In the picture it appears the yarn changes color at the bottom of the arm hole. It's an illusion of light and shadow. That's where the yarn switches from frogged yarn to first-time yarn. It real life there is no color change there. Once the sweater is washed and blocked, that line should disappear and the sweater body will lose its frogging kinks.

This is the back view of the sweater. The front horizontal stitch pattern isn't knit yet.

Now that I'm in the more complicated part of the sweater, I have to keep going so I don't forget what I'm doing. I have a tendency to keep knitting and not do enough note taking when I'm winging a sweater. So I won't be working on any other project until the shoulder seams are sewn together.

Pattern: A basic pullover. The border across the top of the back and front is Pattern #177 from The New Knitting Stitch Library by Leslie Stanfield.

Yarn: Hedonist Sock from Slackford Studio, 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon, 4 Ply Fingering Weight

Color: Cote d'Azur

Needles: US #4, 3.5mm

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 9 rows/inch in stockinette.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Chat Back for June 5

Answering questions from comments and email.

Debbie in WA asked . . .
What is your "basic sock pattern"? I mean the ribbing of the rest of the cuff, besides the special panel. It doesn't look too "basic" and looks like it provides just the right amount of snugness.

For a basic sock I use anything from k3p1 to k7p1. For solid or almost solid colors the k3p1 ribbing works great.

For self-patterning sock yarn I like to start with k1p1 for 16 to 20 rows to hold the sock up and then k7p1 for the rest of the cuff to show off the color pattern but still provide a little more elasticity than plain stockinette.

For Mom's birthday socks the instep and heel side, both 32 stitches, are 4 for half of braid panel, p3, k2, p1, k3, p1, k4, p1, k3, p1, k2, p3, 4 (half of braid panel on opposite side).

Judy S. asked . . .
Love your newest creation! How many from that issue have you made now?

From the May issue of Creative Knitting I've completed Sprout and Vines and Leaves is in progress.

There's nothing I want to knit in the July issue, but there's a pretty little lacy shell in the March issue I may or may not try if I have an inspiration on what yarn to use.

I wrote . . .
I am hoping the deer don't eat the hostas down to the nub like they did last summer.

Dream on Marguerite! The fawns are starting to walk around now and Mrs. Doe is bringing them to our yard to show them how to eat hostas.

This doe was in the back field during our late morning dog walk and wouldn't run off. She ran back and forth in front of us snorting and looking totally panicked. Assuming she had a fawn in the grass nearby, the dogs and I turned around and went back to the house.

Old dog Glory is only up to one good deer chase a day. Even then, she only runs far enough to get the deer headed in the right direction - out of the yard.

She was perfectly happy to totally ignore a rampaging, snorting, freaked out doe and head back to the house with the rest of us.

Pappy would have tried to protect us from this wild eyed doe had he been free, which is why he wasn't. The little dogs are always on 26 foot Flexi leashes because they have no sense about wildlife that's bigger or meaner than they are.

Thank you so very much for all the prayers and well wishes for Bob's catheter ablation last week.

It went very well. The cardiologist who did it called the results "clean" and gave it an 85% chance of preventing more fluttering.

We're all home now and still not completely relaxed and rested but we are relieved and recovering.

It looks like it's going to rain this afternoon and I'm hoping it hurries so I have a good excuse not to mow the lawn today.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Wednesday Wings - Fuzzy Pictures

Today I'm going to share fuzzy bird pictures.

Why are they fuzzy? Could be the lighting or the subject is too far away or the window is not so clean or it's raining.

The Yellow Warblers nest in the back field. They normally stay in thick brush so I hear them but seldom see them.

Once in a while they sit in a tree top and sing so I get a view - and a fuzzy picture.

This Great Crested Flycatcher came from the woods across the street to help the Phoebes eat the morning bugs attracted to the porch light.

This is the first time we've seen a Great Crested Flycatcher. I had to look it up in my bird guide. I so wish I could have included a shot of its yellow belly, but it wouldn't cooperate.

Occasionally our pond is visited by a Belted Kingfisher.

They sit high up, 30 - 40 feet, looking down into the water until they see something yummy. Then they dive in and get it.

This picture was taken from far away and in the rain. Sigh. Maybe someday I can get a better shot.

This time of year there are Robins everywhere and every age. Looks like this Robin is collecting grass for a second nest.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook for June 1

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

FOR TODAY June 1, 2010...

Outside my window...

Mr. Rosy (Rose-breasted Grosbeak) is gathering up seeds for his hatchlings while taking the opportunity to scarf down a few for himself.

I am thinking...
I was thinking of taking this week off from blogging until I realized I took most of last week off from blogging.

I am thankful for...
The years I've been able to live in the country enjoying the fauna, flora, and especially the birds.

From the kitchen...
Raspberry sherbet in the freezer. I plan on having some as soon as I'm finished with this.

I am wearing...
Jeans and a kelly green tee because I recently returned home from grocery shopping. It's getting hot outside. It will be shorts and a ratty looking teeshirt soon.

I am creating...

The Vines and Leaves cardigan from the May issue of Creative Knitting. The yarn is Knitpicks Cotlin and I'm getting exact stitch gauge and row gauge with US 5 needles.

I am going...
To learn how to crochet. I've been thinking that for several years now and finally have several books ordered to see if I can teach myself.

Of course I want to start with an intricate lace doily. That may not work.

I am reading...
The Lily Bard Shakespeare mystery series by Charlaine Harris. I listened to the first one, Shakespeare's Landlord (Lily Bard Mysteries, Book 1), as an audiobook. The next two are in my travel bag for hospital waiting room reading.

They're pleasant little books. Interesting but not intense.

I am hoping...
The deer don't eat the hostas down to the nub like they did last summer.

I am hearing...
DH Bob humming totally out of tune and off key. He is listening to music with headphones on. Without the headphones, he has a nice singing voice and is able to carry a tune.

Around the house...
The grass needs mowing again.

One of my favorite things...

When the bird parents bring the fledglings to the feeder to teach them how to eat.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Stay calm, at least outwardly calm, and do what needs to be done to get through Bob's Catheter ablation procedures.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

The nose knows.