The 2014 loon chick flies

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This is Long Lake’s only 2014 loon chick, in about mid-September. Its parents had either recently departed for places south or were about to. We saw the adolescent spending a lot more time alone as fall approached. The adolescent loon regularly came quite close to our kayaks. This one has seemed a bit more independent a little earlier than most of the chicks we’ve met before on the lake.

By late September, we still weren’t seeing the loon fly. But, as shown in this sequence, we got the feeling the young one was feeling his (or her) oats in the flying department. The loon wasn’t going anywhere, but there was an awful lot of wing flapping and stretching going on.

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We were definitely rooting for flight. The nights are pretty cold. The little guy is all alone with only the lethargic black ducks for company. The goofy buffleheads will be here soon. This loon needed to get moving south.

Then, on October 8th, Steve saw the young loon dive in the southern smaller part of the lake. It surfaced and then started doing the wing flapping thing. Pretty soon the loon was kind of skipping across the surface of the water, doing one of those very ungraceful takeoffs that loons do that make you wonder if they’ll ever get airborne.

Then, suddenly, this year’s chick was in full flight. It headed north eventually up about 50 feet and has not been seen since.

babyloon_flies1_lowresNot the clearest of photos on this last one. But it’s definitely the adolescent loon. Hopefully this one makes it safely south to its wintering grounds.

Cam’s Jacobus

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Yep, another Jacobus. This time it’s for a young neighbor of mine who tells me monkeys are just about his favorite animal. You’ve met my Jacobi before, actually Jacobus and his buddy Saar. They are the best knitted monkeys out there, and I’ve knit some cute ones before this. Jacobus is the creation of Annita Wilschut, the very talented Dutch designer who specializes in stuffies, like Vera the bear, Karel the bunny, and Joris the…the…dragon (I think).

Jacobus is knit all in one piece. No seaming. None. For those of you who are used to knitting Alan Dart or Debbie Bliss toy patterns (which are also cute as bugs’ ears), you are used to ending your knitting and bracing for a sewing session that takes just as long as the knitting. Not with a Wilschut pattern. Off the needles. Stuff the creature. Finished. OK, Jacobus’s overalls need just a bit of seaming–but it’s easy peasy.

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Jacobus is sitting next to me begging me not to put him on the internet without his overalls. But I do want you to see him in his skin, so here goes.

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By the way, Jacobus is knit in Ella Rae Cozy Soft, a DK 75% acrylic, 25% wool mix. I’m afraid I have nothing good to say about working with this yarn. The colors are quite nice. That’s the best I can say.

Long Story Short Scarf

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This is Amy E. Anderson’s Long Story Short Scarf, a versatile pattern that’s more a recipe than a specific pattern. It’s available for download on Ravelry. I purchased mine from Blackberry Ridge, kitted with their worsted weight yarn.

This pattern includes directions for scarves, shawls, baby blankets and afghans in your choice of 3 stitches. It is intended as a way to use up your leftovers. If you like, you can choose a new yarn at the beginning of every row and cut it at the end of every row.

The Blackberry Ridge kit directs the knitter to use the “baffled” stitch from Anderson’s pattern. The direction for “baffled,” which is one of three choices on how to work the stitches, baffled me for a good long while. The directions say to “knit 3 right side rows, knit 3 wrong side rows.” Hmm. Pretty much us knitters alternate between right side and wrong side rows unless we are working on circulars, in which case we knit only on right side rounds.

Here’s the deal: you must use circular needles. Anderson tells you that but doesn’t explain the why of it, at least I didn’t find the why anywhere. You knit one row, cut the yarn. Do NOT turn the needles around. Go back and join the new yarn starting at the same stitch you started with in the first row. And then do that for a third time. On the 4th row, turn the needles. Now you are working what Anderson calls a “wrong” side row (though there’s really no difference between the right and the wrong side). Do that same thing for 3 rows and start the next set of six rows. Easy peasy.

I braided the fringe. I think it will hold up better that way and look a bit neater. It works out really well because there are 3 strands of each color on each end, so you end up with a fringe of one braid of each color–at least in my version that changed yarn color every three rows.

Here’s a look at the Blackberry Ridge kit, which includes the pattern and sells for only $17.00. I purchased the kit from the Blackberry Ridge booth at Fiberfest in Allegan, Michigan.

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Fishing on Long Lake

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Jeff is one very serious fisherman. Here he is on Long Lake, near his favorite pike spot. Last October, Jeff caught a 38 inch pike near here. A few days ago, Jeff caught a 33 inch pike at the same spot.

Shelly, Jeff (and Julie’s) Great Dane, is also one very serious fisherdog. This is no “I bet when you go fishin’ you keep on a wishin’ the fish don’t bite at ‘yur line” look. Shelly is pure concentration and loving every minute out on the water.

Here’s how the American Kennel Club describes Shelly’s breed:

The Great Dane combines, in its regal appearance, dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. It is one of the giant working breeds, but is unique in that its general conformation must be so well balanced that it never appears clumsy, and shall move with a long reach and powerful drive.

Shelly is a Great Dane with a great loud bark. We tried to capture that bark for you, and as soon as Steve put the microphone near Shelly she went silent. This dignified dog does not bark for show.

What a great day to be fishing!

Headband season

It’s fall. Cold ears season approaches. We’ve had mornings near forty degrees, so cold ears season may already be upon us. A good time to think about headbands.

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This one is Katya Frankel’s Dryad Headband, knit here in Madelinetosh Tosh Sport on size 3 needles. Dryad needed only 81 yards of yarn. Despite the easy-knit look, I found it difficult to manage the increases at the midpoint of the first section. That neat, pretty line of stitches cutting through the center almost got the better of me. Somehow the double decrease at that midpoint, which is supposed to start one stitch before a marked stitch, kept slyly moving around on me. A wiggly midpoint horizontal would not have looked cool.

But I mastered it:

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Dryad is a pattern originally included in Interweave Knits, Accessories 2011 magazine. It’s available for download on Frankel’s website and on Ravelry.

This one is another critter altogether. No minimalism here.

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This is Bonnie Dean’s Arielle, a pattern available for download on Ravelry that I knit while it was still in its freebie stage. I had some leftover Super Bulky Cascade Lana Grande from a blanket project and this looked like it would fit the bill. And it sort of did. It’s designed for a loop closure. My gauge was off a tad, and a tad was all it took. I added a toggle style button and fasten it by poking the button through the fabric. Not ideal. But it works. Size 13 needles. Finished in the time it took my cup of coffee to cool.

This next headband is a rarity: a pattern I figured out (sort of) on my own. I’m working on a major blanket project designed by Martin Storey for Rowan. Rowan ran a mystery knit-a-long over the summer tied to their Pure Wool yarn. I was not ready to commit to such a major project until I saw the completed pattern and knew I liked it. Here it is, by the way. It’s beautiful! This is the 7th square (of 8): French Plait.

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That’s just a tease. Eventually the finished blanket will put in an appearance here. But, meanwhile, on the subject of headbands, a young neighbor of mine asked if I could knit her one. She is definitely the knitworthy type. She and I looked at dozens of headbands on Ravelry and none of them were quite what she was looking for. She wanted it fairly narrow. And she wanted cables. But, as I understood it, she wanted neat well-behaved cables rather than messy ones.

Storey’s square features three 8-stitch cables. I cast on 16 stitches, on size 8 needles, and knit the first four and the last four stitches. In the middle, I worked Storey’s simple cable.

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I knit a 16 inch strip and then sewed the ends together. A provisional cast-on would have been even better, but I didn’t think of it.

It was quite the hit with my 12-year old neighbor. I’m calling it Joley’s headband. I knit mine in a discontinued Classic Elite yarn, Tapestry, a 75% wool, 25% mohair worsted. Any worsted weight will do.