It’s fall now


Pulling in the docks. Pulling out the boats. Getting the house ready for winter. Laying in a supply of wood for the fireplace. Steve caught this water fowl in a pose that all the Long Lakers can relate to. Where did this summer go anyway? Wasn’t it just the 4th of July?


But there’s no mistaking it. It’s late fall and pretty soon we’ll be seeing Long Lake iced over. For now, we enjoy the morning mist over the lake and the spicy colors of our hardwoods.

We found this tiny snapper in our lawn a few weeks ago.


Steve picked him up from the lawn and set him near the water’s edge. He watched him slip into the lake. A baby ancient.


We hope he makes it.

And the fishing continues. At least for the diehards, like Jeff.




This is Cassandra Bibler’s “Hedgehog Hotpad.” I had a great time knitting these guys and sort of just couldn’t stop.


This blue and red set is knit in Knit Picks Dishie. I fairly quickly decided I wanted to try another set, this time in Lily’s Sugar ‘n Cream.


They’d likely work as hotpads, as Bibler intends. But I gift them just as dishcloths. Two may already be seeing duty as baby body washers.

Sometimes these clever mosaic cloths are just what the doctor ordered for a knitter. It’s fun to watch the critter emerge. They knit up quickly. And you end up with a useful item. Plus, in the case of these hedgehogs, they are way cute!

Scarf weather approaches


Isn’t this just the cat’s meow? It’s a free pattern, Mosaic Tile Scarf, by Gail Tanquary. I bought the kit a few weeks ago at one of Michigan’s very cool northern yarn shops, The Dutch Oven Bakery and Yarn Shop. Being a kit, I ended up using exactly the yarn called for in the pattern. I don’t do that all that often. So, the off-white is Crystal Palace Allegro DK. And the star of the scarf is Crystal Palace Mochi Plus, an Aran weight that’s 80% merino, 20% nylon. Using two weights of yarn really makes the self-striping Mochi Plus patterning pop.


This is a slipped stitch pattern, so every pair of rows is worked with just one of the colors. The color changes are hidden in that nice I-cord edging. And even when it flips over and knitwits wear it upside down, it won’t look too horrid.


Here’s yet another Noro Striped Scarf. Jared Flood doesn’t take the credit for this, but since I believe he’s who wrote a pattern alternating between stripes from different skeins of Noro Silk Garden, I’m completely willing to give him full credit.


Nearly 15,000 Ravelers have knitted this scarf and posted it on their project page. This time my two colorways were 382 and 337. A mostly pink red and a mostly blue green skein. Two skeins of each colorway. I made mine a bit wider than the pattern called for by casting on 45 stitches. I slipped the first and last stitch of the second set of each rows, purlwise, to give it a nice finished edge.


Any way you fold it, this scarf looks great.


Four skeins, at this width, ended up at 69 inches. So, plenty for multiple wraps around a neck. Here’s others that I’ve made. And another. The measure of a good pattern? I don’t have any of these anymore. I knit them. Friends and family choose them for their holiday presents.

Close to you


This is Close to You, by Justyna Lorkowska, a free small shawl pattern available on Ravelry. Knitters have started calling these small shawls a word that doesn’t fit well in my mouth. It’s a shawlette to some. Neither my dictionary nor my spellchecker knows that word. And when I hear it my head thinks towelette or worse, toilette.

Lorkowska has such a sweet story to tell about this design and how she named it. Compactly, her husband Martin decided he wanted to start hand dyeing yarn in their flat. He’s not, or wasn’t, a yarnie. Martin just did it to be “Close to you,” he explained. Now he’s off and running with his own yarn and fiber shop, Martin’s Lab.

Close to You is an almost mindless knit, with just enough interest in that easy lacy edge to keep a knitter’s hands interested when a knitter’s mind sort of needs to be someplace else. And the delicate picot bind-off is the perfect ending to this quick knit.


I decided I liked the bouncy garter stitch feel of this, knit up in caterpillargreen yarns self-striping fingering weight. So I decided not to block it. 400 yards. Knit on size 6 in a true fingering weight. My (ahem) small shawl turned out to be 13 inches at its widest and 32 inches from point to point.


I know the self-striping went a bit wonky, but I’ve declared it interesting. Even without the self-striping, its 70% merino, 20% cashmere goat, 10% nylon blend would be interesting.

I enjoyed this knit so much that I soon decided I wanted to knit another Close to You, this time in a more tame colorway.


A second Close to You was my first time knitting with Whimzy‘s Sokkusa O yarn. (The O is for “original.”) Other than the yarn being afflicted with bad spelling, it’s wonderful. Seriously wonderful.100% merino. Rich color. No knots. A little bit of clingy fuzz here and there to be easily picked off without affecting the integrity of the yarn. It was wonderful to work with.


Glass head declares it cozy and classy.


This time I decided to block. I wanted those yarn overs to open up a tad more than in my first effort. The steam-block worked well. It retained the nice squishy garter stitch feel, acquired a bit more length and width, and is now showing off its yarn overs to nice effect.

Wild edges and flowers


Our place is in one of bays on the east side of the upper part of the lake. We’ve been there for ten years now. This is the first year we’ve noticed some erosion at the water’s edge. At first we thought it might be a muskrat. Actually it might be. But it also seems to be that speedboats and jet skis come into the bay and create wakes a lot more than they used to.

We decided to try a natural border at the water’s edge to see if maybe some hardy grasses and whatever popped up might help. The alternative, a rocky divide or a breakwall requires permits. A true natural shoreline is a wonderful goal and we might try it in the future. Check out the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. But there’s a neatnik in our family and she might have a hard time leaving everything all natural and messy. We are very careful, though, that we don’t end up putting chemicals in the lake. We don’t use weed killer on the lawn. Actually, if we did we’d mostly not have any lawn. Especially this dry summer the weeds were about the only green stuff in the lawn. And we even powerwash the house and docks without using any soap in the powerwasher. Even the biodegradeable kind takes more trust in chemistry than we have.

Here’s another view.


I’ll be darned. Look at all those wildflowers.If there were a wildflower that put fear into Canada Geese it might almost be perfect.

Steve picked a bouquet of wildflowers and a number of them came from our little slice of natural.


So, it looks like Queen Anne’s Lace. I’m no gardener, but I don’t think it it is. I think it’s actually Water Hemlock, with its plant clusters squashed some to fit into the vase. Water Hemlock is a perennial native plant. Common in wet pastures and along roads and ditches. It’s a member of the carrot family and has a long taproot that smells like a carrot and tastes like a carrot. Except, if this really is Water Hemlock, don’t be tempted. It’s described by Stan Tekiela in his book on Michigan wildflowers as “by far the most poisonous plant in Michigan.” Something quite like this did in Socrates and you don’t want to go that route. A more benign identification is that it might be Water a/k/a Cow Parsnip. Nah. I like the Water Hemlock ID better.


This big yellow guy, with some of its glory faded, is a Black-Eyed Susan. I think. Some call her Brown-eyed Susan, which would be more appropriate. Susan is in the Aster family. Nobody seems to know who Susan was. Or why this sunny plant bears her name.


This purple delicate flower is another tentative identification: Spotted Knapweed. If so, it’s a non-native nasty. It aggressively crowds out other plants and may even change the chemical nature of the soil to keep away the natives and favor its own seeds. That would make it an allelopathic, a plant that releases toxins to inhibit the grown of plant competitors. Steve managed to find one of the prettier views for photographing this one. The bract under the flower, that sort of holds the flower in place, is a primitive looking ugly thing.


This one, I believe, is Sweet or Spotted Joe-Pye Weed.There are a number of Joe Pyes in Michigan. They are a native plant. As the flower buds open, these small, fuzzy-looking delicate blooms appear. They are are hardy plants and the bloom lasts a long time. So, who was Joe Pye? All of my flower books say Joe Pye was a Native American “medicine man” in the 1700’s who travelled around New England teaching the settlers about the medicinal use of native plants. Joe Pye said his weed was a cure for typhoid fever, kidney stones, burns, and inflamed joints.


The one flower Steve and I know for sure is Dandelions. We are experts on Dandelions. So, I don’t think he was picking Dandelions for his bouquet. I’m not sure about this one, but I think it’s a Common Sow Thistle. Sonchus Oleraceus. They are common along roadsides. Their stems flow with a milky juice. But Steve doesn’t remember if the thing slimed him or not.


Next up is the lovely named Yellow Goat’s Beard, another member of the Aster family. They also go by the name of the Western Salsify. Who the heck makes up these names? We caught this one at just the right time. The flowers soon turn into fluffy big globe-shaped seed heads, like dandelions, and that’s how this plant spreads.

wildflower1_lowresHere’s the full effect.

Those little clusters of yellow flat button flowers are Common Tansy, Tanacetum Vulgare. It’s another member of the Aster family. I like their nickname: Bitter Buttons. Apparently its leaves have a strong bitter smell. I have quite a few allergies and decided not to do too much sniffing around the bouquet, so I can’t personally verify that. It’s a non-native. One of its folk uses is for, ahem, ridding folks of intestinal worms. It’s worm-fighting prowess is maybe why it was packed in funeral winding sheets and why people would get buried with tansy wreaths. My goodness. After this research we may leave the Common Tansy out of future bouquets. Also the Water Hemlock. Definitely the Water Hemlock.