Long Lake looks lively now

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The beaver lodge on the west side of the narrows has spread out a lot this winter. It’s starting to rival the bigger lodge on the east side.

We can’t know what lodge this beady-eyed fellow calls home, though.

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He’s not exactly looking his best in this photo. In fact, he kind of has a Peter Pettigrew/Wormtail thing going.

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Steve snapped the closeup just as the beaver stepped out onto the bank. The beaver interrupted his meal to give Steve a dirty look and then continued munching.

At one point, Steve saw three beaver in the narrows. So, lots of activity. But, fortunately, we’re not seeing damage to trees. We’ve also checked out Ghost Bay. The birch tree carnage of 2012 hasn’t been repeated.

And the loons are back! There are at least three on the lake. These two chased each other around as if they were having a major tussle.

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Is this territorial behavior? Competition for a mate? Or, for that matter, mating behavior? We don’t have a clue. But this pair definitely meant business. Some kind of business.

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Bounce, in Perfection

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This took me a good bit of time to knit. It’s tincanknits DK weight baby blanket, Bounce. Bounce is available for purchase on Ravelry or direct from the tincanknits website.

I like my Bounce. But I think I made a few poor choices. And they are none the fault of tincanknits.

Thanks to a guildmate who decided to part with five skeins of Kraemer Yarns Perfection DK for fifty cents a skein, I had these five colorways, minus the dark blue:

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Perfection DK is 30 percent wool, 70 percent acrylic. I decided that the five shades I had were a bit too pastel and traditional. Especially with the orange and gold, I now think I was wrong about that. So, I figured I’d shake things up and add a deep, dark, bold color. Here were my choices for the 6th color, the prominent garter stitch ridges.  I now think this would have looked better if I’d chosen a white, as in the tincanknit sample.

So, keeping in mind I still think this is a pretty thing, I chose dark blue as my sixth color. It’s a pretty shade. But probably not so pretty with the other five shades. Where are those color wheel thingies when I should consult them?

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You know, when I look at it in this view, I like it a little better.

And my second mistake? Unfortunately, it was using Perfection DK. It was totally worth every bit I paid for it. Its list price is $6.75 US per approximately a 260 yard skein. So even the 2 blue skeins I paid full price for didn’t break the bank. But it’s not soft at all. It’s very scratchy. And this is the verdict of someone who has high tolerance for wool scratchy. This is acrylic scratchy. It feels a little bit like the nylon scrubbie I use to clean pots with.

I gave the yarn a 3 stars out of 5 on Ravelry. But that might be too generous. I’m afeared that any babe swaddled in this will get cranky fast. I’m still pondering how to soften my Bounce. I might toss it in the washer on gentle and then toss it in the dryer. So soon after finishing what proved to be a long slog, I haven’t had the courage to try that yet even though Kraemer says “machine wash, tumble dry.”

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Strelka the Valiant

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I am quite proud of my Strelka the Valiant. He’s knit from a pattern by the talented designer, Annie Watts, of Wattsolak Designs.  Watts blog here, where her pattern is available for purchase. And Strelka is also available on Ravelry. My Strelka is knit in Big Bad Wools Pea Weepaca, a half ‘n half baby alpaca/merino fingering weight mix. As with any stuffie, Strelka needs to be knit at a tight gauge, so break out your size one needles.

Watts says that Strelka “may be small, but he’s brave and scrappy.” Just so. But not that small. He stands a tad over 13 inches.

Here’s Strelka from the back.

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All together now….”Great tail!” (That’s a version of what just about everyone says when they see his backside.)

Strelka is protesting that the next photo is just too frightening for this blog. But, here’s Strelka in pieces.

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This is a great pattern that’s totally error-free. I’ve already knit Watts’s Sputnik the Magnificent. But Strelka the dog is better than Sputnik the cat because this time I made a sensible colorway choice. The pattern needs a strong contrast between the two colorways. Subtle doesn’t work too well.

Weather…or Knot

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This is Weather…or Knot, a free pattern by Mindy Ross available on Ravelry. I knit mine in Plymouth Yarn’s Worsted Merino Superwash Solid. This is the dark gray colorway. I know, you’re getting sick of reading about how much I like this yarn. Weather…or Knot shows off one of its best features: excellent stitch definition.

A grown-up knitter with more than 5 decades of experience shouldn’t be afraid of trying something new. Right? Well, right for reversible cables. (Don’t blame me for being afraid of beadwork and laceweight yarn and brioche, please.) I thought it must be difficult to do reversible cables. Not these. These are super easy. In fact, this turned out to be easier than one-sided cable work because the cable needle’s positioning is always the same.

I enjoyed the cable part, a lot. I liked the rhythm of the long stretches of ribbing. The I-cord ends? Not so much. But it was very interesting to see how it all came together. You start out knitting the individual I-cords and keep each on a stitch holder until you can knit across them all. And the ending I-cords are done one by one, while you hold the live stitches in reserve. Very clever. Tedious, but not difficult.

Long Lake is bracing for more snow. It’s been a light snow winter, overall. But we’ve already had two major snowstorms since spring arrived. And tomorrow the predictions are for 8-11 inches more. So, scarves are garments of choice for a few more days.

Ice-out can’t be far off though. There’s clear water on Long Lake already. But, for now, more snow.

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Yep, more hats

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This is Concentric, my first Woolly Wormhead knitted hat. Woolly, or maybe I should adopt the NY Times style and say, Ms. Wormhead, thinks of herself as a “hat architect.” She “builds them with her head” and “constructs them with her hands.” Looking at her hundreds of hat patterns on Ravelry and her own website, I’ll accept that hat architect label. Heck, she is sort of the hat whisperer.

But despite the knitting kingdom’s many hats off to Wormhead, Concentric was the first pattern I tried. I like it.

Mine is knit in Stonehedge Fiber’s Shepherds Wool worsted. The Lakeshore colorway is a favorite. Glass head likes it because it matches her cheek so nicely.

This is  top down construction, so here’s a look at the top:

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And now the top all nice and concentrically rounded:

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A great hat. If you give it a whirl, be careful to bind off very loosely. I knit the hat on US size 7 needles and switched to a size 9 for the bind-off. It’s still a tad tight.

Now for something completely different.

When Berroco’s newsletter arrived with news of the free Memphre pattern a few weeks back, it quickly went into my Ravelry queue. It’s inspired by classic gansey stitch patterns,

Soon I was in a shop that stocked Berroco’s fairly new Artisan yarn–the very yarn the pattern calls for. Two skeins insinuated themselves into my basket and this is the result:

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Artisan is an 80% merino, 20% silk, worsted weight. It’s a tad slubby, which I’m supposing is what makes it artisanal. But, for this hat, I’d have liked a little better stitch definition. Still, I like the hat, the pattern, and the yarn’s OK too.

Here’s a look from above at the excellent, non-pointy, crown decease section.

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I didn’t know what a Memphre is. It’s a long-headed lake monster that some claim lives in Lake Memphremagog in Quebec, Canada. It was first reported in 1816 and was last reported in 2005. Wow. I wonder if Berroco knows about that.