Gramps and Hunter

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I know you can tell which one is Gramps. The shawl-collared, elbow-patched cardigan. Hunter is a hat knit from the left-over Berroco Vintage. That mustard shade is “mellow” and the main color is “forest floor.” Easy care (40% wool, 50% acrylic, 10% nylon).

Here’s a few other views:

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And a close-up of that great shawl collar:

gramps5Gramps is a pattern by tincanknits, available individually on Ravelry and on their website or as part of their Nine Months of Knitting Collection. This pattern’s been knit and posted more than 1000 times on Ravelry project pages. In its current release, the sizes included are from newborn to 4XL. That really is amazing.

Gramps is a seamless design, knit from the top down. After the body of the sweater and the arms are complete, you work the button band and collar and add the pockets. No sewing except to sew the sides of the pocket in place.

Here’s a closer look at Hunter, another pattern from the Nine Months of Knitting Collection:

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Now for the best part of the post:

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I heard (and enjoyed) that collective “awhhh…so cute” and will take that as encouragement. Check out the elbow patches:

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As for the hat, it’s cute as a bug’s ear but the little guy has a somewhat low tolerance for hats.

Dishcloths are us

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One thing led to another. I was interested in trying the new 65% cotton/ 35% rayon mix, Willow Yarns Ripples. Ravelry had a link to half-a-dozen free dishcloth patterns by Rae Blackledge that called for Ripples. Blackledge calls the bunch her “Color Study Dishcloths.” My knitted dishcloths have almost all seen better days. I was quite taken with the color combination of Milk, Jade Water and Peachy Keen. And so I was off to the races.

That’s “Crazy Chevron” with the colorful zig zag. And “Garter Blocks” is the shy one in the left front bottom row. Those patterns were spot on correct. The other two were not quite ready for prime time.

“Slip Stitches” is knit mostly in the milk colorway, with the rows of jade green near the start. It only works if you cast on 59, not 60. That will give you the multiple of 2 sts plus 7 that the pattern calls for. And rows 3 and 4 of the pattern need to end this way, not what’s written in the pattern: repeat from asterisk to last 4 stitches, slip 1 wyif, knit 3.

That jade green guy on the bottom right is Bubble Stripes. You need to work the tweed stitch on the right side rows. The even numbered rows are wrong side, not right side as the pattern directs. On the tweed stitch, the directions are to pull up a loop (lp) two rows below the next stitch to be worked and knit 1 stitch and pass the loop over the knit stitch. I understand that to mean you pull up a loop from the right side. As for me, I’m underwhelmed on that one.

There are two more cloths in the  Color Study set. I tried “Stair Steps” but it has errors and also turned into an unpleasant knit, with a zillion ends that would need to be woven in. That’s bad news for a dishcloth. It needs to live a hard life. This much I figured out before quitting: the 4th time you work with the “B” color I am pretty sure you need to pick up 5 stitches, not 3. The big problem I had was that after a few pickups, I ended up with mismatched garter stitch. You are told to pick up and knit. But when you get to the stitch holder stitches to do that, the stitches need to be purled to maintain garter stitch continuity. I tried to solve that by picking up in purl. Designing patterns is not my forte so I gave up.

There’s a “Triangles” cloth also. When I saw that an experienced knitter on Ravelry reported she must have made a mistake because it didn’t work out, I decided to take a pass on Triangles.

Instead, I used the rest of my yarn in my own color study. This trio is Andrea Springer’s wonderful free pattern: Bee-utiful Dishcloth.  You work the honeycomb pattern in two colorways. I was surprised by how much variation resulted. I even like the pooling of the colors. You have to stay alert in this pattern because it’s a bit difficult to rip back if need to. But I really like the result.

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I had enough leftovers to try one more: Modified Feather and Fan Cloth, a freebie by Mary Ann, of MissWoolyKnits. Rather elegant–especially for a dishcloth.

fan_clothAfter all this maybe you’d like my take on Ripples as a dishcloth yarn? Let’s leave it at I think it would make a nice lightweight sweater. Or even something for a child because it’s soft, drapes wonderfully well, and feels good next to the skin. Those aren’t especially sought-after traits for sopping up gravy drips from the kitchen table or cleaning dirty dishes.

 

Long Lake Carving

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How cool is this! This is a topographic carving of Hillman’s Long Lake. Tom ordered it special for us from Backwoods Carving. Every depth on the carving is the equivalent of 10 feet for real.So the deepest places are 90 feet, just north of Belly Button Island.

The carving even includes the little island in the south part of the lake.

Compare from the Michigan Fishweb site:

mapWe’ve had a little printout of the fishweb site map framed and hanging at the lake for nearly ten years now. We show it to people, complete with a little house drawn on the map so visitors will know where we are on the lake before they head out to kayak.

The wooden version has now replaced our little paper map. Beautiful! (Our 294 acre lake and now our carving of it.)

Tom’s Storey

story2This is Martin Storey’s afghan. Actually it’s Tom’s, but Martin Storey designed it–with a teeny bit of help from me. I made just a few modifications.

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This blanket fits on a queen-sized bed with it’s border hanging a bit down on all sides. That’s a lot of knitting. I used just under 20 skeins of my new favorite yarn: Plymouth Yarn Select Worsted Merino Superwash. I know, that’s a mouthful. But it’s a more descriptive mouthful than Devildash Down The Creek or Mrs. Smith’s Bread Box. Patterns have taken on oddball names of late and yarns now compete in the oddball name department. So I am quite satisfied with Plymouth Yarn Select Worsted Merino Superwash. It tells knitters all they need to know. The only thing wrong with the yarn is, even at 218 yards a skein, $14.95 is too expensive. But when you need 20 skeins that WEBS 25% discount brings the price to the normal and comfortable range for wool. Check out the beautiful colorways. This one is Basil. And that pop of purple border is, well, Purple.

Storey’s pattern is free on the Rowan website, still spread over 9 PDFs. The pattern was first released in weekly installments as a Mystery Knitalong. Being timid about risking committing to a pig-in-a-poke, I waited until hundreds of Ravelers had knit the Storey before I decided to start mine. By then I knew this was going to be fun.

You knit six squares each of eight different patterns. These harsh-light photos show the squares well and also showcase this yarn’s great stitch definition.

There’s Garter Stitch Waves:

square1Nordic Star:

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Heirloom Lace:

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Lace Kisses:

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The pathetically limp bobbles of Dots and Dashes:

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Little Doughnuts:

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My personal favorite: French Plait (which I adapted for Joley’s Headband):

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And finally, my second favorite, Ripple Cable:

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After the great fun of knitting the squares comes the great tedium of mattress-stitching them all together. That took dozens of hours working at the table I inherited from my mom. She used to quilt at this table. And before that it belonged to her mom. Gram used to keep it in the basement and put spare cookware and dishes on it.

Here’s one of the major “ta da” moments–finishing the mattress-stitching:

storey_blanketIt’s also when I realized that I sewed one of the Garter Waves squares in upside down. See it? The fourth square as you move on the diagonal from the bottom right hand corner. Either that, or I sewed its five sibs upside down. It’s OK though. It will be just as warm the way I left it.

Storey’s border has been described as a pizza pie crust. He would have you cast on 11 stitches, work a twisted cable, knit on those 11 stitches for a zillion inches, and then sew it on. Yuck. Here’s what his looks like. I think mine is an improvement:

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More on my tweak of Storey’s fine pattern in a bit. You may have noticed Storey’s concept of this afghan is (ahem) more colorful than mine:

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A lot more colorful. My version is inspired by the afghan that Rowan Ambassador, knitter extraordinare, Dayana Krawchuk (Dayana on Rav) knit. You can see it here, on her blog, with internal links discussing her modifications. Actually, it’s not fair to say she inspired mine. I was a total copycat. Except for the border.

After all that mattress-stitching to get the pile of squares turned into a blanket, I didn’t want to face more sewing.

I decided I’d do a mitered corner garter edge in a pop of color. Here’s a closer look:

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I picked up stitches all around the edge, about 35 to a square. That might have been a few stitches too many. But it was behaving nicely at that point. No curling or ruffling.  I used four 60-inch circulars to pick up the stitches and knit the border. Then I knit 5 garter stitch ridges (10 rows) in purple and one ridge (two rows) in basil.  I mitered the corners, increasing one stitch on each side of the marked corner stitch on each knit round (working the purl rounds without any increases).

Next came the last tweak.

For the cabled border, I cast on 17 stitches on a double pointed needle and knit one row. On row two, I began the following sequence, using the cable from the French Plait square:

Row 1: k4, C4B, P1, C4F, K3, K 2 tog thru the back, “using” one of the live stitches off the border, turn.
Row 2: K4, P4, K1, P4, K 4, turn.
Row 3: K8, P1, K 7, k2 tog thru back, with 1 of the live stitches, turn.
Row 4: Repeat Row 2.
Row 5: Repeat row 3.
Row 6: Repeat Row 2.

At the corners: three stitches before the corner stitch marker, I worked about 18 rows of border (just as the above) but not attaching it to the body of the blanket. I put the next 6 stitches on a yarn holder (same color as body of yarn). On the last stitch of the 18 unattached rows, I knit through the back of  the next stitch still being held on the needle. (Skipping those 6 stitches on the yarn holder). I knit a few more inches of attached border, then went back and used the yarn holding the 6 stitches to sew the gap closed. Turning the corner this way worked pretty well.

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The only problem with my modification is that I’ve got a bit of a ruffle going. Tom doesn’t mind. Neither do I. Knitting this border on, instead of sewing it on, was a good idea for a sewing-impaired knitter like me. If you decide to try it, be prepared for a long slog, though.

I really like the results and love the idea that it will keep my brother warm.

On the wings

The first dustings of snow have fallen. And yes it’s “sticking,” though there’s no accumulation yet to contend with. Long Lake is teeming with mergansers, black ducks and buffleheads. But I’ve still not boasted properly of all the winged things we’ve seen this year.

We had more Bald Eagle sightings than any other year. Since the eagles don’t migrate we’re hoping to continue the sightings through the winter. But it will be more difficult now that we can’t float around on the lake. Snow shoes will be an option soon though.

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What a creature. What a great blue-sky day that was.

We watched a Great Blue Heron patiently stalking prey on the shores of Ghost Bay for at least half an hour one early morning. We tired of watching before the heron tired of stalking. When we are patient ourselves, and quiet like the heron, we can drift around in our kayaks and not disturb the hunting. A few times the heron looked like it was doing the heron equivalent of salivating, but we didn’t see it catch anything.

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We watched this osprey in one of the dead trees in the south lobe of the lake, very near to the narrows, for a good bit. Steve was minus his best camera for wild life photography, so maybe the tree is the star more than the osprey. But what a pair!

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And when the sea gulls are not trying to snitch french fries from the Alpena McDonald’s/Home Depot parking lot, they can be quite the dignified bird.

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This one was perched, late in the fall, on what remained of the “this-will-kill-your-prop” now-submerged rock pile near Belly Button Island.  We imagine it hadn’t gotten to stand on those rocks all summer because it wasn’t anywhere near the top of the pecking order. There are still some gulls on the lake. Maybe this one is still sitting on the rock, making it look like he can walk on water.

There is some disturbing news, though. We were quite sure this year’s adolescent loon had flown off nearly a month ago. Steve saw it take flight and head high and upward. We are hoping that the little goofball didn’t get mixed up. But whether its “our” adolescent or another who just happened to make its way somehow to Long Lake, as of November 15th, with the snows closing in, there is still an adolescent loon on the lake.

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Honestly, this one–who we haven’t seen up close for a few weeks–looks to be smaller and somewhat lighter colored than the young one we watched all summer. We worry it’s this year’s chick, which certainly seems likely, and that it’s ailing. This photo was taken in early November. But we saw him yesterday, November 15th. He’d caught a fish.

Last year the adolescent didn’t leave until mid-November, so it’s still possible this one will take flight and head south before the lake freezes. “Fly, fly, fly!”