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Before I started on the Carbeth sweater I had to finish these:

madelinetosh sock yarn knitted sock 2

They’re for The Skipper. The pattern is called Tracks and Hurdles. In high school he was a track person so I thought the pattern appropriate.

madelinetosh sock yarn knitted sock

The pattern is a multiple of 10, so it would only work with 20, 40, 60, or 80 stitches. Luckily, I was using a superwash merino, MadelineTosh Sock in Nassau Blue colorway, and I could drop down from the usual amount of stitches I’d need to 60 knowing that the stretch in both the pattern and the yarn would give The Skipper enough room to make the socks comfortable. They work perfectly.

Usually I Kitchener stitch the toes together, but this time I did a 3 needle bind off instead. So much easier! No counting. No trying to remember whether the needle goes in purlwise or knitwise or whether I just worked the same stitch twice.

So I am on to my Carbeth and as predicted, the temperature rose from 60 F / 15 C the day before I began the sweater to 90 F / 32 C on the day I cast on the sweater. Life never misses an opportunity to mess with me. Thus, for two days we’ve had 90 F / 32 C weather and I have had the beginnings of a wooly sweater in my lap along with a furry Yarn Rascal draped around my neck so he can slither down my front like a semi-solid bowl of Jell-O, ooze into my lap and land on top of my knitting. Today, surprisingly, we’re back to the 60 F / 15 C. I don’t usually catch breaks like this.

It appears we are, nonetheless, moving toward something called Summer, however hesitatingly. Dilly-Dilly and King George (a pair of robins) have nested again this summer just outside our kitchen window in the Mountain Laurel. Last year I fretted the whole time Dilly-Dilly and KG gave birth to then raised 3 baby robins. By the time the babies fledged I was ready to have a nervous breakdown in celebration. I was so sure she wasn’t feeding them enough, covering them enough, or in other words just worrying over every little thing.

This year I am trying to accept that Dilly-Dilly and KG know what they are doing. We have two antique bird baths in the Serenity Garden and KG has claimed one for himself and his lady. No other birds allowed. So the other day I decided to drive the one and one-half hours to the salvage store where I get my antique bird baths and pick up a third one so the rest of the birds don’t have to crowd into the one bird bath KG allows them. By the time I arrived home the eggs had hatched and we were seeing two bald little heads with large mouths poking up out of the nest to feed. Robins usually have 3 babies but I am working hard not to dwell on this because I will make myself crazy and I have two 88 year old parents to take care of who drive me round the bend on a regular basis. My default mode is anxiety.

New to the zoo this year is Chippy. He’s a chipmunk who does chipmunk yoga stretches in the morning on the pedestal of the sundial in the garden. Chippy had captured my heart which means I buy him organic almonds and feed him an handful or so daily. The Skipper says Chippy and his friends have dug tunnels around the house and one of these days the house is just going to sink from sight. He would like me to stop feeding Chippy. I don’t believe that a little chipmunk who does yoga will be the cause of the house sinking into the ground, but heaven knows I’ve been wrong before. Unbeknownst to The Skipper Chippy is going to be fed all summer and autumn. If the house sinks it sinks.

Also new to the zoo are two mallards, male and female who are inhabiting our pond. Hank the heron flew in the other day. When he saw the mallards he became quite indignant and flew off. Haven’t seen him since. So for all those with a heron problem forget the alligators and the 3 foot high string get a pair of mallards.

 

 

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It is a true Monday. Not a good thing to be. How awful can a Monday be? Let me count the ways.

It’s raining.

The little frog we were raising all winter, getting ready to put out into the pond died this morning.

The dishwasher that sounded like it was washing the dishes wasn’t. They all had to be washed by hand this morning. Repair man due Wednesday.

The washing machine decided not to drain. A full load of wash is still in it. I plan to bail water out of it later today. Repair man due Thursday.

The kitchen light, which is hard to change and takes a special bulb blew out this morning. I had just climbed up and changed it last week.

We found a tick on Yarn Rascal. I am totally panicked that he’ll catch something horrible.

The can opener broke.

A rather large bird took a rather large poop on the moon roof of my car. So large in fact that the rain isn’t washing it away. I will have to go out and get the ladder and climb up it to reach the roof of the car and scrub it clean. By the way, just in case you ever need some handy small talk at a fancy dinner party, when an eagle, falcon, hawk or other large bird of prey goes potty it is called muting. Big birds mute. If your companion at the fancy dinner party is a hawking fanatic he / she will love that you know this intimate piece of knowledge.

I spent the weekend straining my eyes looking for a particular knit stitch. Today I find that stitch does not exist. Instead it is a combination of knitting and sewing with embroidery thread. I go to print this information to study it and my printer doesn’t work.

I do all the technical things I know how to do to a printer. Try to print again. No go.

I take my laptop downstairs to The Skipper’s printer. I try to print again. No go. The computer for some reason won’t recognize a printer it has always recognized before. I spend an hour trying to get computer and printer to say hello. No go.

I really need this information printed out, but I am wrapping my head around that it might not get done today.

My printer needs to be fixed. That means I have to jockey it up to Best Buy and see if they can fix it. I am sure it is something with the printing head or ink thing. But first I have to wait until it stops raining so I can clean of the bird mute from the roof of my car.

And it’s not even noon yet. Will this day never end?

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Rites of Spring

It’s a balmy 17 F / -8 C degrees out today. It snowed overnight, but today is all sunshine and blue skies. I ran into a neighbor this morning who told me of his experience with his frozen shut garage door. He went into heady details of the angles and lengths he needed to achieve to keep the blow torch melting the icy seal but not singe or set fire to the entire structure. He was very pleased with his accomplishment. I’m sure, however, when his wife finds out it will be the last time he ever sees or touches a blow torch.

No, I am not a blow torch kind of person. The barn door remains immovable and frankly it can stay that way until it thaws. I trudged right past it and into the woods this morning for a walk and some down time. Seventeen degrees with the sun out is quite nice. On my walk, I fell over found a rock, cleaned snow from it’s top and sat down to assess my injury contemplate the view. The river is such a beautiful icy blue color where it is not frozen and while the woods may on first glance appear silently buried in snow, animal tracks tell a different story of life going on.

While I sat there, I was able to watch two bald eagles in the sky doing their aerial mating dance. It’s a phenomenal sight. The way they soar, the speed at which they fly at and around each other, then grab the other’s foot and spiral down in unison in a kind of free fall that I am always sure will end in death, but instead at the last minute they let go and rise up and around again. This dance is a harbinger of Spring.

In fact while I sat there many of the birds are preparing to mate. Bird songs were all around.

I am a few rows short of sanitycompleting the back of a new baby sweater I am knitting. This particular knit has been a hard birth. Finding the right stitch pattern to compliment the yarn and make a unified whole was more difficult than I have ever encountered. I seriously considered giving up designing, I had hit a brick wall. The problem may have been made bigger by the fact that I had a very specific pattern stitch and look in mind when I bought the yarn. But swatching showed this yarn was not going to work with the pattern stitch I’d chosen. So I had to put the entire sweater design I had in mind on hold and come up with something that would compliment the yarn I had in front of me. In truth, I was starting all over from the very conception of the idea. I had to figure out the feeling, use, style, type of fabric, in short I had to dream again when what I really wanted was to knit.

My dilemma with the Postal Service continues. I can’t seem to make them understand that the problem of me not getting my mail doesn’t reside in this post office but somewhere else along the service line. Wherever the mail is amassed before it gets sent to my post office needs to be checked. It’s precisely where the problem was last time, only I had a tracking number. Thankfully, there was no postal delivery yesterday. But today? It will be the same thing all over again. At the moment, my delivery person resents me. I think I’ll go for another walk in the woods when it’s time for the mail to arrive.

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A Taste of Summer

The height of my weekend was seeing my first Cedar Waxwing Bird up close.

Cedar Waxwing4

As beautiful as the bird is in this picture from the Cornell University bird site, it is even more beautiful in real life. The brown leans towards a purple in certain light and perfectly blends into the yellow on its chest. I would love to spend time with this bird this season sketching and making color notes. From the Cleopatra eyeliner around the eyes to the way the color blends on the body it is a bird begging to be painted against the backdrop of the light we get in the Hudson River Valley.

I haven’t really spent time looking at him artistically, because every glimpse I get just makes my jaw drop and I get caught up in the bird’s awesomeness.

I am so blessed to live where I do, so I can enjoy the animal life around. Nature has its non-Disney World side, but I’m not going down that path today.

My plan for the Cedar Waxwing is some sketches, then some photography, make a palette of the colors, mixing until I get it right and perhaps by the end of Autumn have something worthy to show.

Yarn Rascal has been very good lately. Though he has been off his feed. When an dog goes off its feed I get nervous. I always research a pet food company meticulously, where it sources it food, where its made, how much testing of the materials goes on, how many recalls. I also check them on the US Pet Food Recall lists published regularly. This week I gathered enough information to make a switch from Halo to Organix by Castor and Pollux. Rascal loves his new food. I am happy when he is healthy and happy.

The Skipper, however, hasn’t fared as well. Between the knitting problems, Yarn Rascal’s lack of eating problem, and my round the clock hot flashes which make already hot days even hotter and sap any decent energy I have, The Skipper has had to eat catch as catch can. With the lettuces and spinach in the garden coming in strong I’ll get my dinners from now until September from the garden. Along with a fresh fruit smoothie made from fresh strawberries, pineapples, banana, and coconut that satisfies me all summer long. But The Skipper needs more that just lettuces to thrive. And smoothies are not him. He likes nothing better than grilling meat along with potatoes and vegetables followed by home baked blueberry muffins. Last year I found a great blueberry muffin recipe that has yogurt, wheat germ, whole wheat flour and coconut oil. So now it is tradition to keep him in fresh blueberry muffins during the summer and home-made iced green tea to go along with it.

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This Spring is a little out of sorts for me. My beloved house wrens have arrived late and found all the wren houses I’ve made and bought for them taken, including the prime real estate one by the kitchen door. The black capped chickadees have raised a family in that one and they only fledged yesterday. I do so love watching and hearing the little house wrens, they are such wound up, comical little birds. When they found the house they love taken, the male protested loudly and persistently for two days at the kitchen door. I think he wanted me to eject the tenants. But I couldn’t do that. I have since made and hung a little “For Rent” sign from the tiny perch outside the house’s entry, but no wrens…yet.

The purple finch who usually nests in the wreath on our porch sang his little heart out for two weeks. Alas, he didn’t find a mate. I haven’t seen many purple finches around. I fear the winter was no friend to them and so the wreath sits unoccupied. For 15 years I have watched the purple finches raise their young in that wreath. It feels so lonely not to have them there.

My much loved mourning doves, however, have decided to nest in the lilac bush / tree. They are a sweet young couple who are hard at work building a nest. I love to hear their soft cooing at dusk.

The bluebirds have occupied all the bluebird houses. They are so beautiful to watch. We even have a pair of Baltimore Oriels nesting in the crab apple tree. At present, the bright orange feathers and the dark pinks of the blooming tree slightly clash, but in a modern sear the eyes out of your head kind of way.

On the knitting front, the more I work the more I fall behind. The winter hat for The Skipper (yes, even a train stops) is nearing the end. I have maybe two more nights’ work on it. Yarn Rascal has been occupying my evenings. He sleeps all day and is a little devil all night. I’ve taken to calling him Vampire Dog. Try as I might to tire him out, I am the one who is exhausted first.

I have to finish a pair of socks now three years in the making! It’s not the socks, it’s me. They are part of a set. I have knitted the other items in the set three times now so the knitting mojo for that particular pattern has lost its edge.

I have two hooded sweaters I must get off the design boards and onto needles. I have one vintage baby girl sweater and hat set that I need to test knit and puzzle out as to how the original was meant to look. Yes, vintage patterns are not always whole. It’s a Scottish design. I used the picture below as my inspiration for the color scheme. The picture was photographed by Ian Cameron. It is of Glenlivet, Moray Scotland. The yarn I am going to use is DROPS Lima. I’ve never worked with it before so I am excited about trying a new yarn. It is winging its way here from England as I write this.

ian cameron glenlivet  moray scotland

Isn’t it beautiful picture? I love Scotland. When I move, I am going to Scotland.

In addition to all the above, I need to begin mending a shirt for the start of my own Visual Mending Project. I just need to find the time to research the best mending stitches for where the holes are. It’s a dark teal, long sleeved tee and I’ve decided to keep with a watery theme, so the mending thread will be in the colors of water. I’d like to find a kind of netting type of mending stitch. My inspiration is the picture below for both color and texture of the stitches.

colorful fishing nets

The photo credit for the picture above goes to Lucy of Attic24. It was taken in Dorset, England.

I don’t plan to get all this done this weekend, not even close. If I finish the hat and start swatching the hooded sweater for a boy, I will consider the weekend successful. The weekend could be a huge success if I get Vampire Dog to turn his internal clock around.

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Friday and things are hopping here. The Yarn Rascal who was MIA for the last 15 minutes just jumped into my lap all happy with himself. He’s done something dastardly, I just know it, and it has to do with yarn. It’s wet and rainy so it is not his kind of day. He hates being wet on any part of his body, including his feet. From the weather, it looks like today he won’t get his requisite number of walks to help lessen his puppy energy, which means yarn disasters, shredding, and gnawing on cables and electrical wires. When he is tired, he doesn’t have the energy to do these things, although you can see it in his eyes that he wants to.

The Skipper shot these three pictures of a yellow warbler who is frequenting our Serenity Garden. I think it has such a cute face.

yellow warbler c1

yellow warbler c2

yellow warbler c3

We specifically designed the Serenity Garden with birds and butterflies in mind. Year after year, it doesn’t disappoint.

The Cape Ann Afghan is 75% complete. I am crocheting the border and plan to block it Sunday. I’ve settled on a large plywood board over two saw horses as the blocking table in the garage. The garage is a complete out of bounds area for the Yarn Rascal so the afghan will be safe there. I’m going to cover the plywood with towels. It will probably take a few days to dry. I was worried that I might not have enough yarn to finish but the fear was unfounded. Yeah, something finally worked out right!

I’ll spend the rest of my day tech editing the Victorian Baby Coat pattern. I completed the schematics yesterday. The plan is to finish editing the fronts today and then edit the sleeves tomorrow, all the while being aware of the saying about how plans of mice and men go astray.

Have a great weekend!

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Resist much, obey little;
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved;…

Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

Our adult purple finch actually had 5 babies in this brood. The last little one fledged yesterday. It’s a little sad to see the nest so quiet and empty after all the activity there this summer. Yet there is a good feeling too, 8 babies in one season, a wonderful addition to the purple finch numbers.

Yesterday was also a stellar day for the little Yarn Rascal. When I was a kid in elementary school and my sister was in kindergarten, Mom had a calendar she made for my sister and me. The objective was to help us be mindful of our conduct during the day and behave more. Before our bedtime, she would review our conduct and assign us a star reflecting said conduct. A red star meant bad day, blue meant I was just above being real bad and skating on very thin ice, silver meant overall I was good, and gold meant I had stellar comportment that day. I remember having more blue stars than any other color. My sister racked up the gold and silver ones. To this day I am not fond of the color gold.

This is all to say that if the Yarn Rascal kept a calendar he would have, by his standards, had a Golden Paw Day yesterday.

Picture2

He managed to gain entry into one of my more serious yarn stashes. Lorna’s Laces, Dream in Color, Berroco. This stash also had patterns in it along with notes I made on adjustments to the patterns. The nice thing about the Yarn Rascal is he just can’t help but share his success with me, which means he dashes to wherever I am and ecstatically wags his tail while from his mouth hangs the yarn or in this case the yarn and a frayed piece of paper with writing on it. Immediately the chase is on, which causes him further glee.

I am debating whether there is an obedience class at Petsmart in his near future.

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