Dinner in the Long Lake nursery

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“Ahhh, mom. Not dragonflies again!”

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“No complaints. They’re nutritious and it’s all your dad and I can find tonight.”

The Eastern Kingbird nesting in our dock-bench cupholder seems to have three (or possibly four) hungry mouths to feed. Both parents are foraging and both bring food to the cupholder gang.

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In fact, the adults are now taking their parental roles a bit too seriously. They’ve decided we’re a threat as we walk to our pontoon boat, which is tethered to the dock. They’ve been dive-bombing us when we enter or exit the boat. Fortunately, no collisions (yet).

Very pleasant trips

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So, a very good friend gave me a totally decadent yarnie holiday present in December: 300 yards of Reywa Fibers Harmony. It’s a 5-ply sportweight that blends 50% Tibetan yak and 50% fine wool. The company says it’s unbelievable soft. That’s true. Mine is the charcoal colorway.

The pattern is Laura Aylor’s Pleasant Trip. And I knit a good bit of it while I was on a trip to New Orleans for a conference. I know. People don’t generally go to NOLA and find time to knit. My hotel was in the French Quarter. I walked about enough to find the Quarter Stitch, a friendly shop on Chartres Street. I’m afraid I did do some stash enhancement there. They kindly mailed my purchase home for free. And then I headed back to my room to knit on Pleasant Trip. I’m just not a party animal.

Here’s a closer look at the pattern. Charcoal proved tough to photograph:

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We had some very cool days in Michigan even into May. So I wrestled my cowl away from Glass Head and actually already got some wear out of it. Great yarn. Excellent pattern.

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This next cowl is making a repeat repeat repeat performance on the blog. Yep, I’ve knit Stephannie (with two “n”s) Tallent’s Chinle Cowl four times. There are eight projects posted on Ravelry and half of them are mine.

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This one is knit in Michigan’s-own Fiberstory CORE dk, in the Aegean colorway. Sarah’s Etsy Shop isn’t stocked at the moment, but a 6.20.2016 post promises she’ll be back soon. Here’s a look at some of her yarn. CORE is 100% merino and very soft.

I made the medium size, but increased the length by an extra repeat of each motif. Glass Head says its comfy. She thinks it looks good with the color of her jaw.

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Long Lake carnivore

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Look what sprouted on the southern section (next to the shore) of the island in the lower lake: Sarracenia Purpera a/k/a the Purple Pitcher Plant. We’ve been rounding the island in our 14 foot Gillgetter or kayaks for ten years now. Long Lake continues to surprise.

The deep burgundy color before the petals unfurl may be designed to look like, well, raw meat. Check out figure seven in this article for confirmation of what we’ve got and for a good and somewhat disgustingly amazing discussion of how the Pitcher Plant attracts and digests its prey.

In addition to the look-like-raw-meat trick, it lures bugs like flies and ants partly with the alluring scent of its prior-trapped decaying prey. Waxy slippery surfaces inside this beauty eventually lead to a pool of water that then can’t be escaped because the plant hoses down its visitors and prevents even flies from just flying away. If the bug does escape the pool, it still has to climb steep leaves. Since flies can’t hover like dragonflies or helicopters, this doesn’t go well for them. And if bugs manage to escape the leaves, there’s still those downward pointing hairy bits. The exhausted bug eventually gives up, drowns, and get digested.

Apparently Purple Pitcher is a fairly common wildflower in the bogs of the northeastern part of the United States. I’ve never seen it though. Here’s more info on the Sarracenias. And some great photos. Once I figured out what they were, I couldn’t stop reading up on them. But I’m not planning on adding any to my tabletop bouquet.

Summer duds

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This is (mostly) a Knitting Pure & Simple pattern by Diane Soucy: #266 Little Girl’s Sundress. I modified it a tad. The striping was my idea–not too special. But I’m rather proud of the ruffle.  Here’s a closer look:

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Here’s how I knit the dangle-down ruffle: purl 2 rounds, knit 1 round. Next round *knit 1, knit in the front and back of the stitch*, repeat from * to * across the entire round. Knit one round. Repeat the increase round. Then knit 1 round. Repeat the increase round. Knit 2 rounds. It uses a TON of yarn, though.

For the bind off, I used the “elastic bind off” from page 123 of the Cap Sease book, “Cast On, Bind Off.” You knit 2, insert the left needle into the front of both stitches on the right needle from left to right and knit the two stitches together through the back loops, knit 1–repeat across row.

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The sundress is knit in Berroco Weekend. It’s easy-care: 75% acrylic, 25% cotton. This is the first time I’ve used it. I was quite satisfied. The colors are ambrosia and cornsilk.

Next, is a free pattern on Ravelry: Confection Baby Shrug, by Tonya Wagner. The designer suggests Blue Sky Worsted Cotton and I happened to have one skein and a bit, left over from this. I knit the 18 months size and needed one skein, plus about 5 yards.
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Once I completed the shrug, in the dandelion colorway, I decided it goes fairly well with the sundress. And, in cotton, it could be quite useful if the summer day turns a bit chilly. I’m not quite understanding why the wrists are quite so wide, though. My hand fits through it.

All fun stuff. Knitting for the wee ones is a blast!

Long Lake’s Bird Nursery

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This is the bench on the end of our dock. You may wonder why that bird, an Eastern Kingbird, is squashing herself (the herself is the hint) down so low on the armrest.

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If that doesn’t beat all. She’s nesting in one of our cupholders! Actually, though it’s a bit cramped for a bird that’s between 7.5 and 9 inches long, maybe she’s a trendsetter. It’s sturdy. As long as she stays put it probably won’t get waterlogged. I’m guessing it holds the heat quite nicely. And it’s definitely not going to get blown away in the wind.

She’s been very tolerant of our comings and goings. We have tried not to disturb her. We aren’t, for example, sitting on the bench. She has dibs on the bench for the duration. But our pontoon boat is moored to the other side of the dock and we’re not abandoning our boat to suit this Kingbird, or ahem, Queenbird.

She flew off for a bug dinner, no doubt, and Steve was able to peek into the nest.

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Well, I’ll be. And since this photo was taken, a fourth egg has been added to the clutch. The average clutch size is 2-5 eggs. Incubation is 14-17 days. And the time from hatch to fledge is 16-17 days. We’re in it for the long haul and just hope this spot isn’t too exposed to predators once the chicks hatch.

We think that this Eastern Phoebe has found a much better nesting place than the Kingbird. Phoebe is under our side porch overhang, atop a gutter drainpipe, with the chimney at her back.

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Our Phoebe is quite the graceful one, shown here working on her nest. We’ve also watched this flycatcher in prey mode. The Force is strong with this one! She hits her target for sure. And quick.

Even Martha Stewart would be proud of this creation. The moss and other greenery is the perfect touch.

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