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, July 31, 2012

One Year

Bob Byrne, October 2, 1943 to July 31, 2011.

Until we meet again in a better place.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Start of Vitamin D

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I swatched for a cabled sweater using some red Andean Treasure, Knitpicks 100% baby alpaca sport weight yarn. The swatch turned out beautiful and on gauge, but when I got online to order a sweater's worth of red, they had discontinued the color. I selected a dark gray color as second choice.

Listen up knitters, including ME! When the gray arrived it was different from the red. The gray did not knit to the same gauge and it was too fuzzy and soft to make a cable or any other stitch pattern worthwhile. I threw it into a stash bin and told myself someday I would use it to knit a stockinette sweater. I hate knitting stockinette sweaters.

Now, I'm hoping this story has a happy ending. When I spotted Vitamin D on Ravelry, it struck me as the perfect sweater for this yarn. It's stockinette with some yarn overs. It has wrapped short rows which are going to be hidden by the fuzz. It's knit top down with no sewing, and the soft alpaca should drape perfectly.

The yellow Vitamin D sweater below is the pattern picture, not my knitting:

So, I swatched. After washing, the gauge is perfect.

Late last week I cast on Vitamin D. I love the feel of the alpaca yarn going through my fingers.

Pattern: Vitamin D by Heidi Kirrmaier

Yarn: Knitpicks Andean Treasure. 100% baby alpaca. Sport weight.

Color: Mystery Heather.

Needles: Options #4.

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch in stockinette.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thinking Winter

Lori Moore, the morning host on WKZO Radio, is keeping track of our hottest SW Michigan summer in recorded history.

The tally as of yesterday's 90+ day:

19 Days 85-89
22 Days in the 90's
05 Days 100+

Today will be another 90+ day. The weather radar showed rain passing over, but it never made it to the ground.

It's difficult to remember that there is such a season as winter. Fortunately, I have pictures to jog my memory.

When cooler weather returns, I'll be ready to donate some hats. Three more are done, for a total of four.

Basic hat knit on 90 stitches with three strands of leftover sock yarn and #8 needles.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It Rained

What a wonderful feeling to have raindrops coming down out of the sky after two months without.

Living in a wetland, which is a nice way of saying I live in a swamp, there is still plenty of green. Plants with deep roots were stressed but didn't lose their color.

Some of the deciduous trees dropped leaves so it was starting to look like autumn around here. Except the leaves on the ground aren't autumn hued, they are shriveled up and brown.

This poor shrub used to be a beautiful bluish green color. Obviously, it doesn't have deep roots and/or it couldn't take the heat. The plants in the tier above it are normally four feet tall by now and getting ready to bloom. What shows as green in that tier is mostly weeds.

It looks like it may rain some more this afternoon. Since the dogs are at the groomer this afternoon, that makes sense. It always rains, sleets, or snows on the day they get their bath. A dog bath is a more reliable option for creating mud than washing the car. At least it is at my house.

That's not a complaint. Today the rain can do no wrong.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sunday Morning Sandhill Cranes

Sunday morning was a beautiful drive to church.

First, I met a doe and fawn in the road. Beautiful but not unusual. Then as I approached Mattawan, I noticed a sandhill crane along the side of the road.

When I stopped to admire it, two more cranes pranced across the road in front of the car.

The three met on the cornfield side of the road. Dad, mom, and junior were ready for breakfast.

Notice the drought stunted corn. At least it's still green. Some area farmers have given up on their corn crop and plowed it under.

I was a disappointed that I only had my little purse camera. It would have been nice to have the zoom lens I usually use on birds.

After reminding myself that this was a gift from the Lord for my pleasure and not a photo op, I relaxed and watched them feed until I needed to leave to make it to church on time.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Starry Night Socks And First Hat

These socks were knit in Opal sock yarn dyed to mimic the colors in the Van Gogh painting Starry Night.

I think Opal did a great job with that. The socks were fun to knit and hopefully fun to wear. I have a recipient in mind. Sorry, it's no one who reads this blog.

As always, when done with a pair of socks I had two little balls of yarn left over. Not enough for another pair of socks, but enough to feature in my first charity hat of the season.

I knit these basic, warm, colorful hats by holding three strands of sock yarn together from my little leftover ball collection. When a ball runs out, I search in the bin for a suitable replacement and keep going.

Since none of the balls ever run out at the same time, it makes for an interesting mix of blended colors and keeps my interest even though the knitting process itself is boring as can be.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Heather Louise Adoption Anniversary

44 years ago today, two month old Heather Louise officially became my daughter. It was one of the best days of my life.

I seldom think about Heather being adopted except on this special anniversary day when I give thanks to God and her biological mother for blessing me with such a precious gift.

Love you Heath!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I Got Yarn Stormed

Yesterday I pulled into the drive with a trunk of groceries and noticed a Priority Mail Box on the porch. Immediately I started sifting through my brain trying to remember if I was expecting any purchases. I wasn't.

As I carried in the groceries, my mind wandered into thoughts of yarn. I used to knit a lot and I frequently ordered yarn online. What fun it always was when the box arrived and I had new yarn to knit.

Once the groceries were put away, it was time to open the mystery box. And it was yarn!

Not yarn I had ordered. Not yarn I expected. But yarn from a Ravelry group called Yarn Storming.
The mission of this group is to collect unwanted stash yarn and send it anonymously to knitters in need of a little yarn love.
What a wonderful ministry. Love through yarn.

It lifted my spirits and changed the whole tone of the day. Everytime I look at that pile of yarn I smile. Who says online friends aren't real friends?

Who gave them my name? Anyone want to fess up?

Thank you.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Snapshot for July 11

Weather in SW Michigan ...
Typical July hot with daytime temps in the 80s. Supposed to hit 90 today, but even that sounds cool after the three digit temps last week.

We need rain. The cornfields are looking brown. The grass is dead.

Really? ...
When we moved from the city of Battle Creek to rural VanBuren County twenty-one years ago it was like moving to a different world. One of the things that puzzled me was meeting cars being driven down the middle of the country roads.

A few weeks ago I mentioned this to my neighbor. He told me people drive down the middle of the road so that when they encountered a deer they can swerve in either direction.

Do I believe this? Could be. It makes as much sense as any other explanation.

Something from the kitchen ...
It's time for the annual ant invasion.

I am procrastinating ...
Starting a new osteoporosis treatment. Each one I've tried has resulted in unacceptable side effects.

I am reading...
Nothing at the moment. I've been wasting too much time reading. Instead I'm wasting time updating my blog.

I am hearing...
The fan whirling and the news on the radio.

Outdoors ...
The deer fly swarms are thinning out enough so there's a 50-50 chance of brushing one off before it bites. The dogs and I walked out to the bluebird nest boxes and I was surprised to see a female birdblue fly out of one.

This is late in the season to start a new bluebird family so I was even more surprised to find five pretty blue eggs when I peeked in.

Something new for me ...
When I leave home, I've been wearing one of my paternal grandmother's rings. My aunt told me none of the stones are real except maybe the little opal.

'Little Gram' was a small lady who lived on a farm in rural Minnesota. She had eight children born at home. The first was born in 1900. Thinking about what her life was like bloggles my mind.

The rings are a reminder that even on what I might consider a bad day, I am extremely blessed.

A few plans for the next few days
Driving and nursing Mom when she has dental surgery tomorrow. Trip to the grocery store and Goodwill. Where did all this stuff come from?

Giving thanks for ...
All the beautiful birds that use my property for nesting or just stop by to visit.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What's In The Closet?

The quest to sort out and declutter every corner of my house has reached the stage where what I perceived as the last 20% is taking 80% of the time.

Yesterday I worked in the closet in the back room and found "Bluebird's Morning Song", a calendar picture by Adelaide Hiebel.

Adelaide was popular in the 1930s, so I'm assuming one of my paternal aunts cut this picture off the calendar and framed it.

If you're interested, there is more art work by Adelaide Hiebel here.

Of course I couldn't resist taking off the back to see if there were any treasures in the old frame. The only padding was a picture of a young woman. The name scrawled on the back is Brit Mornsore, best I can decipher.

Does anybody else have a stash of jeans that are too small to wear?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blogs, Comments, and Spellchecker

Since getting a new laptop and getting off dialup, I've been working on cleaning up and organizing the blogs in my Google Reader. Many blogs I read in the past hadn't been updated in over a year, so I deleted them.

It was surprising how many knitting bloggers have stopped blogging. Did they also stop knitting?

There were other blogs that no longer interest me that also got deleted. Now the list is pared down to blogs I actually want to read. Some of the bloggers I kept are people I've actually met either on their way through Kalamazoo or on my visits to Idaho. Others are good online friends that have stuck with me during this past year of not much knitting and not much blogging on my part.

Next on my blogging clean up list is to transfer the posts I want to keep from my previous blog to this one.

When I started blogging in 2003, Blogger was new and didn't have the capability to store pictures yet, so in the early years my pictures were hosted by Picturetrail. Picturetrail charges a ridiculous amount of money to store them when I could be keeping them for free with Blogger. Going back through the old posts and re-sourcing the pictures is going to be a big task. I couldn't do it with dialup.

I find the word verification Blogger is using for comments difficult to read. I'm sure there are readers not leaving me comments (I love comments) because it's such an ordeal. So I've taken the word verfication off Stitches of Violet as a test to see how it goes with the comment spam.

So far there has been one or two spam comments a day. I only know this because I get email notification of the comment. Blogger recognises them as spam and doesn't publish them.

I'm leaving word verification off for now. If you're a Blogger blogger give it a try.

Spell Check
The new version of Blogger doesn't seem to have a spell check. Does anyone know different? Surely they wouldn't leave out an important feature like spellcheck?

Between typos and my mediocre spelling abilities, I need it. Bad.

If you know how to spell check in Blogger, please leave me a comment. You won't have to do the word verification.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Barn Renovation

Once upon a time, twenty-one years ago, DH and I bought a house on five acres in the country. There was also a large cement block barn. We used it to store the lawn mower.

After several decades of neglect, it was time for the barn to be cleaned out and spiffed up.

Matt and Nate were eager to do the job. Matt's grandparents used to live next door and Matt has fond memories of playing in the barn when he was a child.

First they cleaned the junk out of it, some of it so old it was left by the previous owners. Next they removed two crumbling additions on the north and west sides.

Then it was time for a new windows and a new roof. There were holes in the old roof that let the sun shine in, so new sheeting was needed.

I don't remember what they called the layer on top of the sheeting and before the shingles. Something to do with keeping moisture out.

The cement blocks were painted and the east and west peaks were sided.

Doors were replaced and another coat of paint applied.

A friend suggested it was time to get some chickens and a pregnant goat. What I'm hoping will happen is that someone will want to buy the property so they can have some chickens and a pregnant goat.

A few years ago, my neighbor to the west did have a goat. It didn't like to stay home and it caused the only dog fight my dogs have ever experienced. You can read about it here. More about the goat is here.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

It Isn't Pretty

Six weeks of no rain. It's an official drought.

Two weeks of daytime highs around 100 degrees. Yesterday Kalamazoo set a new record for the day, 105 degrees.

The grass is brown.

The dogs and I are not taking our usual walks in the back three acres because 1) it's too hot 2) the deer flies are swarming and hungry for human blood.

There is fruit on the blackberry stems in the back three acres. How do I know if I don't walk out there? The birds leave the evidence on my car.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Smart Dog, Stubborn Dog

When the temperature is in the triple digit range like the last two weeks, one of my concerns is for my two elderly dogs. We're skipping walks and the first thing we do when leaving the house is head for the hose to have a wet down.

Since there have been way too many super hot days, both dogs have this routine down.

Pappy thinks it's a great idea and heads for the hose. He doesn't move while I drench him. Including his underbelly.

When Pappy gets back in the house, he climbs onto his beach towel in front of a fan and enjoys the coolness.

Sunny, on the other hand, thinks anything to do with water is bad, bad, bad.

She must feel better when she's wet, but so far she hasn't thanked me.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Cool Picture For a Hot Day

Blue Heron out my east window.

We're headed to 100 degrees again today and higher tomorrow. Not much getting done around here.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Overheating On The 4th of July

Happy 4th of July to all my US readers.

It's 98 degrees here with a "real feel" of 104. Tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter. I've lost count of how many days in a row have been over 90 degrees, but it's too many.

We haven't had rain in weeks, the grass is brown, and even the weeds have stopped growing.

Since I live in a wetland in the woods, there has never been much use for an air conditioner. The dogs and I are hanging out in the NE bedroom with a fan blowing on us.

When the dogs need to go outside, I wet them down with the hose. Neither dog is fond of water, but they do appreciate the cooler feeling after the shower is over. It's time to do that now. . . .