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, January 29, 2011

Chat Back for January 29

Responding to comments left since the last time I did Chat Back.

Judy S. asked . . .
Did you ever figure out what lives in your burrow?

And Kathy asked . . .
What is the critter you left us hanging about the other day????
I don't know. The snow has gathered undisturbed around the entrance and back hole, so whatever dug the burrow is either in there hibernating or has moved on to a new location.

Everytime we go for a walk, Glory (big dog) makes a point of running over to within two or three feet of the entrance hole and peeing to reclaim her territory. It may have worked.

NMjewel asked . . .
When you get to it, I'd like to know how long the (Pointelle) leg is.
The leg from the top of the cuff to the start of the heel flap is about six inches, a little shorter when stretched out on my leg.

Mrs. Susan Wike asked . . .
I bought Cookie A's book too and am dying to make a pair of Monkeys. What yarn do you suggest to make the pattern pop?
I suggest either a 100% wool or (my favorite) a wool nylon blend.

No super soft fibers like alpaca or cashmere blends. The softness will allow the pattern to “plop” instead of "pop" and the socks to expand.

Solid or almost solid colors show the stitch pattern best, but Monkey’s also look OK in variegated yarn, even one that pools. Personal opinion – Monkeys look awful with striped yarn.

Pick out a color you love and have fun.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Simple Socks

Sydney's socks got mailed to Idaho over a week ago.

Pattern: Basic cuff-down sock on 48 stitches. k3p1 ribbing on cuff and instep.

Yarn: JojoLand Melody superwash wool, fingering weight. Selected by Sydney.

Color: MS28, purple

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

After Sydney's socks were gone, I needed something easy to knit when tired and/or braindead so I started a pair of BFF socks with the Knitpicks Stroll I bought to fill out an order.

This is the first time I've used Stroll. I'm testing it out for sock suitability so the socks are for me.

The socks have three tests to pass:
  1. Is the yarn nicely spun and pleasant to knit? Yes.
  2. Does the yarn feel good on my feet and wear well? To be determined.
  3. Do the socks machine wash and dry and still look decent? To be determined.

I've mentioned before how much I like Cookie A's BFF pattern for utility socks. Now that it's winter, I have another kudo for BFF - the cables make the socks thicker and warmer.

Pattern: BFF by Cookie A. 56 stitch size.

Yarn: Knitpicks Stroll, handpainted sock yarn.

Color: Kindling Tonal.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pointelle Cuffs Done

This is the picture (above)of the sock pattern Pointelle in the book Knit.Sock.Love by Cookie A.

I'm showing the book picture because my pair in progress don't look all that pretty yet.

Here are my Pointelle cuffs viewed from the front.

Like most lace, they're going to need a little blocking before they're at their most beautiful. I always try to knit my socks with a little negative ease so blocking involves stretching them out by putting them on my feet.

This is the back. There's a right sock and a left sock, mirror images of each other. The stitch markers designate the left sock.

Pattern: Pointelle from Knit.Sock.Love by by Cookie A. Size small.

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Old Rose.

Needles: Options 2.25mm circulars.

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

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chat Back for January 22

Responding to comments left since the last time I did Chat Back.

Mrs. Susan Wike asked . . .
What is a good feeder for cardinals?

Cardinals like their seed on flat, horizontal surfaces. They do not like vertical feeders like tube feeders. Their favorite seed, at least at my house, is black sunflower.

You can pay lots of money for tray type flat feeders, or you can put out a board like we did. The board is the favorite feeder for most of our birds.

Judy S. asked . . .
How many stitches wide is this one? I've been doing 34 and yours looks narrower than that; is it?

Anne's scarf was knit on 26 stitches and is five inches wide. The scarf is a little over five feet long.

Specs on this scarf are here.

NMjewel asked . . .
When you doubled the yarn, did you try to match up the colors or was it serendipitous the whole way?

I went for a random tweedy look. The colors repeats are very short on this yarn and I let them be serendipitous. Some places the colors match up, mostly they don't.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Wildlife - Who Lives Here?

Walking the dogs in the back field a few days ago, I noticed black dirt on top of the clean new snow. We investigated.

It's a burrow about six feet long with a front hole and a rear hole.

This is the front hole (above). It measures about 14 inches high and 10 inches wide. Whatever dug it threw dirt for about five feet.

This is the back hole, about 9 - 10 inches in diameter.

I have no reason to designate front hole and back hole other than the size. It just seems like the larger hole needs to be the front hole. The front hole is on the east, the back hole is on the west.

By the time I thought about looking for identifying tracks in the snow the dogs and I had stompted all over everything. Not that I'm any good a identifying tracks in the snow. I'm not. But it might have told me canine (fox?) or rodent (some kind of groundhog?).

What's your guess? Or maybe you actually know what it is?

For all you dog lovers like myself who are concerned, I've been keeping the little dogs away from that part of the field since the discovery and I've been walking with a stout walking stick.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Anne's Scarf Done

DIL Anne sent this beautiful 100% Merino yarn in the Christmas box for me to knit her birthday socks. Socks knit from fragile yarn that requires hand washing for a busy working mother? I suggested a scarf instead and she liked that idea.

Two skeins wasn't enough for a tall adult woman scarf, so I ordered two more skeins thereby assuring the scarf would be late for her January 10 birthday.

Now it's done. And assuming I can get out of the driveway, it will go in the mail tomorrow. Without going into a long weather whine, we've been having nasty weather. The driveway is a sheet of ice and the car may be frozen into it.

Once again I used the One-Row Scarf from the Yarn Harlot and doubled the fingering weight yarn. It turned out beautiful.

Pattern: One-Row Scarf by the Yarn Harlot. Knit on 26 stitches. About five inches wide.

Yarn: Artyarn Ultramerino, fingering weight. Using two strands held together.

Color: #144

Needles: US #7.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chat Back for January 15

Responding to comments left since the last time I did Chat Back.

Alwen asked . . .
What feeder is that?

It's the No-No Tray Feeder. The food does not drop into the tray. I guess the tray is for perching. This Downy thinks it makes a great sheltered resting place while he feasts.

When I first saw this, I thought the Downy was injured. He isn't. He's just taking it easy.

NMjewel asked . . .
And do you mean there's no such thing as a squirrel-proof feeder?

The way to insanity is to get obsessed with keeping squirrels out of the bird food, although many companies have made money selling feeders and devices claimed to do so.

Some feeders are much better at keeping squirrels out than others. With the No-no feeder, the squirrel can find peanut pieces to eat, but it can't haul away entire peanuts.

Click here to see an amusing picture of a squirrel baffle at work outside my kitchen window.

Kathy asked . . .
I looked at the scarf pattern and yours is much more ribbed than the image she puts on her page with the pattern??????? Would I see her pattern in a closeup??? It looks very different to me...

It's the same pattern. Really.

There's probably a few reasons my scarf looks different to you than the picture in the One-Row Scarf Pattern:
  • My picture was taken in window light which is shining on the raised stitches that are knit through the back of the stitch and shadowing the garter pattern.
  • My yarn is stiffer and the finished scarf is unwashed, unblocked.
  • I knit at a little tighter gauge than the pattern.
  • My scarf is knit holding two strands of fingering together. The pattern scarf is knit from handspun.

This is a scarf I knit last September from a wonderfully soft 100% alpaca. Same pattern, different yarn, different gauge, different look. It looks more like the scarf in the pattern.

Mom asked . . .
Are the bluebirds finding the meal worms in their feeder??
I've moved the bluebird feeder into the back field by the bluebird nest boxes. I don't expect bluebirds to be exploring for food this time of year. They're off in the deep woods trying to survive. But once in a while they flock in to visit their nest boxes and I'm hoping they spot the feeder. Don't know if they'll eat frozen mealworms though.

I may have to wait until spring to attract them to the feeder. Then I can start moving it nearer and nearer to the house so by next winter they'll know where they can find food.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Scarf and Snow

Granddaughter Sydney's scarf is done.

I also finished a pair of socks for her in this yarn and decided they were too ugly to send, so I'm in the process of knitting a different pair. The problem? It's this yarn. I'm having an impossible time getting even stitches for some reason, and the color bands are way too long for socks. One of the socks was all purple, and the other sock turned to blue on the foot. I thought it would be OK, but on second thought I could just imagine a five year old declaring she wasn't going to wear those socks that didn't match.

I dislike this yarn very much. The wide color bands are impossible, it's fuzzy, grabby wool, and there are tiny little knots occurring frequently on just one of the three plies. As I mentioned above, I'm having a problem getting uniform stitches. I'm not sure why this is, but I'm blaming it on the yarn.

The yarn is better suited for a scarf than socks, and I like the way the scarf turned out. It's long enough to handle the long color repeats and it's going to be soft after I rinse it in some hair conditioner.

Pattern: One-Row Scarf by the Yarn Harlot.

Yarn: JojoLand Melody superwash wool, fingering weight. Using two strands held together.

Color: MS28, purple

Needles: US #7.

According to the weather forecast I listened to, there was not supposed to be snow yesterday until evening. When I woke up to two inches on my car (there was already six inches on the ground), I didn't think much about it, cleaned the car off, and took Pappy to his doggy dental appointment.

Dogs get drugged for teeth cleaning, and he needed an extraction so he got drugged even deeper. They told me I could pick him up about four, but the snow kept coming down all day, sometimes heavy, and I was concerned about not being able to get out of the driveway if the snowplow went by and piled road snow at the end of it.

How awful would that be? To have my dog stranded all night at the vet's instead of in my tender loving care?

About two pm I finally panicked and called to ask if I could pick him up early. Sure, they said, as long as I didn't care if he was groggy. He's only fifteen pounds and easy to carry, so off I went hardly able to see out the car window.

Pappy and I got home about an hour later and it stopped snowing almost immediately.

It didn't matter if he was still semi-drugged. Pappy was more comfortable sleeping it off at home and I was more comfortable having all the family back together again.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday Wings - Turkey in a Tree

So far this winter I haven't seen any turkeys in our yard, but a few days ago I noticed a flock of them crossing the road to the neighbors bird feeders.

The neighbors dogs must have barked, because the turkeys came flying back across the road, into the woods, and perched high up in the trees.

After the rush to leave, this is the only one that was still visible from my window. It always amazes me to see these big heavy birds fly.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook for January 11

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 January 11, 2011...

Outside my window...

A Fox Squirrel is figuring out how to get some peanuts out of the peanut feeder.

I am thinking...
That eventually New York City is going to have to realize they need a better plan for dealing with the snow. Because it is going to snow there.

I am thankful for...
My cozy, warm house and that there is no critical reason I need to leave home if the snow keeps coming down.

From the kitchen...
Enjoying Buttermilk Oven-fried Chicken, easy to make and very tasty.

I am wearing...
Jeans, a lilac fleece long-sleeved tee, hand-knit socks, and slippers.

I am creating...

Last night I started on DIL Anne's scarf. This lovely Merino wool yarn is pleasant knitting. I'm enjoying the process.

I am going...
To participate in one of those yarn swaps where a box of yarn arrives, you take out what you want, replace it with equivalent yarn that you want to get rid of, and send the box on to the next person. Since I'm tenth on the list. I don't expect to see the box for a while.

I am reading...
North of Havana, the fifth in the Doc Ford series by Randy Wayne White.

Very well written books that build on each other as the series progresses. Need to be read or listened to in order for the maximum enjoyment and understanding of what is going on.

This is my second time through the series, something I hardly ever do.

I am hoping...
My project to clean out and reorganize the file cabinet is closer to done than it looks like it is with papers spread all over. My goal is to have it completed in January so I can concentrate on the taxes in February.

I am hearing...
My little dog Sunny snoring quietly by my side. Pappy, my other little dog, is on my other side kicking me as he dreams about something that requires moving his legs.

Around the house...
The radiators are quietly circulating hot water to keep us warm and cozy while it's cold and snowing outside.

One of my favorite things...

Garden catalogs on a frigid, snowy day in January.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Tomorrow is grocery day, but we have enough food so I don't need to go if the roads are too slippery.

Thursday morning Pappy goes in to have his teeth cleaned and checked. He's an old dog, so it's possible there will be an extraction.

Friday is Aqua Arthritis, gentle exercise in the warm therapy pool to relax and prepare for the weekend.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

A Christmas tree for Charlie Brown.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Chat Back for January 8

Responding to comments left since the last time I did Chat Back.

Dorothy asked . . .
So how do they distinguish gourmet meal worms from regular meal worms??
I think it's the price. Gourmet mealworms come in a pull tab can and cost more than regular mealworms.

The gourmet mealworms were a Christmas gift. Once they're gone, the Bluebirds will have to settle for regular mealworms bought bulk at the pet store.

Can you hear me laughing as I write this?

Kathy asked . . .
My machine wash sock yarn from KnitPicks felted and I have not bought from them again. It has been a few years. Are they better now? Have yours felted???
The only Knitpicks sock yarn I've knit in the past few years has been two pair of Felici for Mom. They're still looking great and I know she machine washes them. Very colorful and fun to knit. You can see them here.

Be sure and buy superwash wool with nylon sock yarn. Once I bought some Knitpicks Gloss, fingering weight 70% Merino Wool, 30% Silk for socks. It was not machine washable at all and didn't wear well on my feet.

Judy S. asked . . .
That's one pretty sock! Looks hard though...... Is it toe up?

All Cookies patterns are cuff down.

With all the hundreds of pairs of socks I’ve knit, I’ve never knit a toe up. Keep thinking I’m going to do it and I even bought Wendy Johnson’s Toe-up book. It just hasn’t happened yet. I’ve got the fit of cuff down refined for myself and all the people I knit for, so I’m reluctant to try something new.

As for hard? Cookie’s patterns are very detailed and easy to follow, at least for me. She never tries to save print space by shortening her instructions. She does use charts, though. I know some knitters don’t think they can follow charts. Some of the socks like Pointelle have a left and right with different charts for each sock.

Kathy asked . . .
I am going to get out and buy a bird feeder tomorrow. I want one that is mostly squirrel proof.......are you laughing???


NMjewel asked . . .
Please post a picture of your photography set up. I'd like to see what you use and where it is in the relation to the feeders.

Usually I'm sitting on a loveseat about twelve feet from this window with my laptop on my lap. Like right now. When I see something interesting at the feeders, I pick up my camera, turn it on, and take pictures.

I have a Canon Powershot S3 IS, 6.0 megapixels, 12 x 15 zoom lens, and image stabilizer - all standard with the camera.

Mine is four years old. It wasn't an expensive camera - about $300. I'm sure newer models and better models are available now, probably cheaper too.

I take lots of pictures, select the best and delete the rest.

I admit to not knowing how to use many of the camera options because I get such good results with the point and click. I do use the zoom, of course.

This picture was taken from the loveseat without using the zoom. Most of the bird pictures I post are taken with the zoom and cropped using Zoombrowser, the software that came with the camera.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Sydney's Semi-Purple Yarn

For the past few years there has been an extra gift bag in the Christmas box from Idaho labeled "Mom birthday". Son John, DIL Anne, and granddaughter Sydney go to a yarn store and all pick out some yarn for a pair of socks for themselves and Sydney picks out yarn for a pair for me. (This year my yarn is Clifford Red.)

Anne's birthday is January 10, and some years I actually get her socks knit and in the mail by then. This year there were complications. The yarn she selected wasn't suitable for socks, she decided she would like a scarf instead, and I needed to find and order two more skeins in order to make the scarf long enough.

Figuring the dye lots were going to be different (they are), I didn't want to start the scarf without all four skeins. So, I decided to start Sydney's socks.

Sydney picked out her favorite color, purple. A very pretty skein indeed. Someone told them one skein would be enough for a five year old, but Sydney is four feet tall, needs her socks 48 stitches around, and wears a size 1 shoe. I didn't think one skein was going to make it.

So, I ordered more yarn. Four skeins of more yarn figuring there might be a dye lot problem with the Idaho skein and I may want to knit the socks from two of the new dye lot skeins. Then I planned to knit Sydney a matching scarf with the Idaho yarn plus a two more skeins of new yarn managing dye lot challenges by knitting double stranded.

Surprise! The new four skeins arrived and there was pink and blue showing!

For a second I thought they sent the wrong color. But no, the label color was the same as the Idaho yarn. Then I dug down into the Idaho skein and found pink and blue under the visible purple.

The color bands are very long. I'm knitting Sydney's scarf first to get a feel for how they go.

I want to get everything done and in the mail ASAP so socks and scarves can be worn before Idaho winter is over, so Idaho knitting is top priority.

I'm going to go do some of it now.

Pattern: One-Row Scarf by the Yarn Harlot.

Yarn: JojoLand Melody superwash wool, fingering weight. Using two strands held together.

Color: MS28, purple

Needles: US #7.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Busy Bird Feeders

It's our turn to get some snow. It started in earnest about 10am today and seems to be coming in bands, occasionally giving the impression it's letting up when it's just catching it's breath.

Fortunately I went grocery shopping yesterday and picked up 80 pounds of sunflower seed. And, we have plenty of dog food. There are places I'd like to go, but no place I have to go if the roads are bad.

The weather brought the birds to the feeders. It was too dark and cloudy to get good pictures, but I managed a few mediocre shots.

I was pleased to see a Marsh Wren after not seeing one since last winter.

Two House Finches on the top, two Goldfinches on the bottom.

Now I'm off to knit so there will be something to post about tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Here We Go Again

It's a new Cookie A. sock pattern book and a new selection of sock patterns I just have to knit. Practical or not (mostly not) they're challenging, they're fun to knit, and they're a treat for the eyes.

Yesterday my Knitpicks order arrived and I've been drooling over Knit.Sock.Love ever since.

Why pay shipping when you can buy a little more and get free shipping? So I filled out my needle collection a bit and bought an interesting looking skein of Stroll handpainted sock yarn.

The color name is Kindling Tonal, a beautiful mix of warm browns.

Knit.Sock.Love is artistically photographed with multiple pictures per pattern. Each pattern has one picture that's nothing but the sock, large enough so all the detail can be seen. I really appreciate that.

The pattern above is Pointelle. It's going to be my first sock knit from the book in some lovely Old Rose Slackford Studio Stalwart Sock yarn.

But first I have some Idaho knitting to do. More about that next time I post.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Calling All Hungry Buebirds

What does a loving husband of 35 years give his wife for Christmas?

Doesn't every woman want Fluker's gourmet meal worms?

The meal worms go in this lovely gift from my mother, a Bird's Choice Recycled Bluebird Feeder - Blue Roof.

I've had the feeder out since the day after Christmas. So far no takers.

The bluebirds are off wintering in the woods, but they do make occasional forays back to their nest boxes in the back field. I may end up moving the feeder to the back of the property to see if I can attract their attention and then gradually move it closer to the house so I can watch them out the window.

It could be I won't get them eating out of the feeder until spring. Normally I would prefer they eat our overabundance of live insects, but I want to have them used to the feeder by next winter.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Chat Back for January 1

Responding to comments left since the last time I did Chat Back.

Kellie asked . . .
Have you ever thought of writing up your patterns and offering them for sale on Ravelry?
I have noticed a lack of gansey patterns available and wondered why there aren't more. Maybe I'm just out of sync with current fashions and trends. The patterns I see in current knitting magazines would support that theory.

When I knit a gansey, I pick a background stitch, cast on, and pick the next level of stitch patterns as I go up the sweater. Few notes are taken except on scrap paper to do gauge/measurement math. For me, this is fun.

Writing everything down, test knitting, calculating different sizes, etc is very time intensive work. I don't want to ruin my hobby by turning it into work.

Judy S. asked . . .
What is your source for the designs, or are they original? Have you seen the Advent Calendar scarf pattern? I thought of you when I saw it.
I have a collection of stitch pattern books and a big part of the pleasure of knitting a gansey is searching through those books. When looking for a gansey stitch pattern I know how many stitches and/or rows are needed and what shapes might go with what I've already knit.

The Advent Calendar scarf is gorgeous. My knitting plans book is full right now, but the scarf is in the back of my mind as something I would love knitting. It would be a super fun knit with all the different stitch patterns.

Did you see the one knit by Kathy in Iowa? So lovely!

NMjewel asked . . .
Hmmm, and the gansey, and PJ's... Aries??? AND your profile photo. If I was a bettin' gal... You aren't Aries by any chance?
I was born under the sign of Capricorn and fit the Capricorn profile pretty well: Practical and prudent, ambitious and disciplined, patient and careful, humorous and reserved.

Your question had me Googling "Capricorn colors", which turn out to be dark green, gray, black, and brown. Nothing about Clifford red, which just validates my low opinion of zodiacal types and horoscopes.

Dorothy and Beadknitter asked . . .
Have you tried looking for the yarn on Ravelry?
Yes, looked there first. I didn't see any stash with enough Hot Rod Heather for a sweater.

Judy asked . . .
And I'm wondering, could you feel the earth quake?
A magnitude 3.8 earthquake centered in Indiana had Kalamazoo residents and others in southern Michigan feeling the shake Thursday morning, but I didn't notice. It happened around eight am, which is a busy time around here with the first dog walk of the day and doggy breakfast being served. It's very possible the earth shook a little and I though it was just an excited canine.

Mom in Kalamazoo, who has quiet mornings, did feel it.

Kathy asked . . .
Did you design the hat pattern? It is very pretty.

Thanks. It was a design of convenience.

I didn't set out to knit a hat. The goal was to knit a round swatch Elizabeth Zimmerman style. I wanted to include some stockinette and some cables and some ribbing to see how the yarn knit up. And, it knit up into a hat with cabled ribbing.