Honeycomb Baby Blanket

This is the pretty thing I’ve been working on for the last month or so. An easy slip stitch baby blanket. Soft and cushiony, with lots of texture. It will make a great floor play surface for a young one. It is Hakucho‘s free pattern:  Circle Baby Blanket. It’s actually her Circle Cloth pattern, on steroids, and with a cool new edge treatment.

Mine is knit with eight skeins of Plymouth Encore, a worsted weight (75% acrylic 25% wool). The finished size is 35 inches by 40 inches. Hakucho recommends Lion Brand Pound of Love. One of the more unfortunate names for a yarn, but Pound of Love puts this blankie at a more affordable price point than Encore. And it’s not bad yarn. I was just looking for something softer.

You need to have a high tolerance for repetition to enjoy knitting this blanket. I do. I like to put myself on knitter auto-pilot and just cruise along. Every once in awhile, I started (and finished) a small project while knitting this, more to give myself some instant gratification rather than break the monotony of knit 4, slip 2, knit 4, slip 2, knit 4 slip 2, knit 4, slip 2, purl 4, slip 2, purl 4, slip 2, purl 4, slip 2. (Just giving you a taste of how incredibly easy this rather complex-looking honeycomb is to knit up.) During a recent spring vacation I knit nine different circle cloths and I was anxious to be one of the early adopters of the blanket version.  Maybe try a cloth first, and then imagine it on the wide screen.

Thank you, talented designers like Hakucho (“Deb” from Massachusetts), for your generous gifts to the knitting community.

Dragonfly a/k/a Mosquito Hawk

Dragonflies. Anisoptera.  Belonging to the order Odonata (“toothed”).

All dragonflies have two sets of wings, great big eyes (they are visual hunters), and a long skinny body with 10 segments. A big bug with teeth, sort of. Powerful mandibles for sure. A carnivorous big bug with a voracious appetite for mosquitoes that earns its nickname: “Mosquito Hawk.” There are 8 families of dragonfly and at least 124 genera in those families…and still counting. Read lots more about dragonflies here. I’ve not done much oding, so it’s pretty reckless of me to hazard a guess, but I thought at first this might be Didymops Transversa. The wings sure look like a match, with the placement of those dark “reinforced” sections.  And the body coloration looks close.

But, I have it on good authority that I’m wrong. Dragonfly Woman, an aquatic entomologist from Arizona, says she doesn’t necessarily know tons about identifying Michigan dragonflies, but she was pretty sure this guy was a member of the Aeshna genus–likely one of the mosaic darners. Wow, and me a sock knitter and all!  The good people hanging out at BugGuide agree.  A comment from one knowledgeable BugGuide participant says it’s definitely a female Aeshna.  I didn’t ask how he knows it’s a girl (probably more girls than guys darn, do you think?)  He thinks it might be a Canada Darner, but would want to have a closer look at the pattern on the side of her thorax to know that for sure.  Wow.  Again.

Shortly before we found this guy, Steve watched a dragonfly that looked like this one hatch out on the lawn from its superugly nymph stage. The nymphs crawl out of the water, crack out of their drab gray-brown carapace and unfold into something like this.  This visitor to our deck sat for at least half an hour drying his wings, we assume.  Or catching his breath.  Or doing the dragonfly equivalent of trying to figure out how all his new “stuff” is supposed to work.

Dragonflies will live for 6-8 weeks  Mate, eat and die.  This somewhat drab-colored dragonfly is not quite the match for the beauty that hatched out on our lawn a few years ago: 2009 Long Lake Dragonfly. But still a darned cool bug specimen. And so well-mannered as compared to the ants that have decided they own the deck this year.


This is Marshlands, by Amy E. Anderson (Wigglyworld on Ravelry).  It is knit in Blackberry Ridge medium weight wool yarns. For $16.00 the Blackberry Ridge kit is a bargain and there is an ample amount of yarn included. The pattern is also available in Amy’s Rav store. This hat is a very quick knit. It would be an excellent first Fair Isle project.

Embroidery is among the many needlecrafts that I never mastered, but Amy’s directions are very clear on how to embroider the tops of the reeds. “In at point one, out at point two, in at point three…,” all nicely charted. It has been observed that my reed tops look more like dead Christmas trees, but we won’t discuss that right now.

This hat looks incredibly dopey on my head. Sad to say, but true. But I had Sara, the granddaughter of my neighbors at the lake, try it on and she looked cute as a bug’s ear. My question to Sara was “braids–on or off?”  She voted to keep the braids on, and so I did. Amy’s pattern called for more diminutive six-strand braids.

Beaver Engineering

These are the biggest of the beaver lodges on Long Lake. They are located about midway through the narrows, on the east side. Quite the engineering feat. This Spring we saw a beaver swim into the first lodge.  Last Spring my peaceful kayaking thoughts were disturbed by the loud slap of a beaver sounding the intruder (me) alarm.

Beavers, a/k/a Castor Canadensis, are the largest rodents in North America. They live in family groups of about eight, and will typically include a sibling group of 2 year olds, as well as the new litter of kits.

These critters are said to be able to topple a tree in a matter of hours or flood an area overnight. What they are up to with all this lumberjack stuff is creating a pond environment that will support their semi-aquatic lifestyle. The shape of their lodges changes to adjust to the flow of the water. In faster water, beavers build a curved lodge to encourage stability. But in slow water they build the lodge more straight.

In addition to felling trees to build their lodges, beavers eat the underbark of trees. I’m thinking that’s why that rather large beaver-gnawed branch in the photo is looking so naked. With all this gnawing going on, the fact that their teeth grow continuously throughout their lives is useful. According to Wikipedia, beavers also love to eat water-lilies. We have quite a few of those in some sections of the lake. In the first bay beyond the narrows in the north part of the lake, where the peninsula juts out, there is a nice crop of water-lilies every year.  We often watch a beaver swimming away from there headed back to the narrows just as night falls. With a full tummy, I’m guessing.

I am hoping, however, never to come out to our front lawn in the morning and find one of our trees looking like this last photo. And when I paddle past the big lodge now, I keep alert near this tall tree.

Windschief Cowl

I’m still dabbling around with warm cozy stuff even though it’s been 94 and humid this week in Michigan. This cowl is the brainchild of the talented young designer, Steven West.  Knitted without its top closed, it’s a cowl. Soon I will knit the hat version, which simply leaves the top ribbing off and continues the twisted rib section through the decreases in the crown of the hat. Cleverly conceived.

A simple pattern that relies on twisted rib, gently moving diagonally. This is a wonderful quick knit, worked here in Cascade 220 Heather in the Christmas colorway. Wool cowls and Christmas, a suggestion of cool during an oppressively hot week.