Ice out 2013

beaver1_lowresTwo weeks ago Long Lake was totally frozen and this beaver would have been sticking pretty close to his lodge. But this weekend, there’s no ice anywhere on the lake. We spotted this beaver paddling on the west side of the lake, north of Belly Button Island. He seemed headed for Ghost Bay.

This guy was kind of small. Small, for the largest rodent in North America. Maybe that means he didn’t eat too much birch tree underbark this winter. The tree damage isn’t as bad as last year, though one area in the narrows near the biggest lodge was fairly hard hit. That lodge saw some major construction over the winter. It’s noticeably taller and bigger. And there is a lot of gnawed debris littering the lake bottom.

We were paddling in the kayaks in the early evening, headed back from Ghost Bay, when we saw this beaver paddling around. We got a good look at how he uses his broad, flat tail to help him change direction in the water.

beaver2_lowres

This weekend, we also saw a humungous school of largemouth bass headed through the narrows into the lower part of the lake. There were about 40 fish all about 12 to 15 inches long.

Long Lake is waterfowl central at the moment. There are flocks of buffleheads and mergansers. A loon pair followed our kayaks for awhile. A pair of white swans visited for a bit. The presence of at least three pair of noisy Canada Geese is not particularly welcome, given the mess they and their goslings will soon be making on our lawns. It looks like one pair is already building a nest on the island near the public access.

Heirloom acrylics

Green_blankie

I knit this green throw in the summer of 1978. Jimmy Carter was president. It’s alternating simple seed stitch and reverse stockinette panels. For reasons that are now obscure, I lined up leaves in long rows on the reverse stockinette. I was 26 years old, had already been knitting for 18 years, and was quite proud of my creation. Recalling my knitting budget, this would definitely have been discount department store acrylic. Thirty-five years ago I was a solo knitter, without the support of a local yarn shop or a “Knitlist.” And Ravelry was just a gleam in Jess and Casey’s parents’ eyes. But knit happened anyway.

This throw graced the back of a series of couches, used and new. The couches long ago moved on to parts unknown (or at least unrecalled). But the green throw lives on. It traveled to my son’s new home in the past few years. He, his wife, and their Chocolate Lab, Roxie, are still using it and it still looks basically OK. Even the fringe has held up well.

Here’s another look at the remarkable staying power of acrylics.

green_blankie2

This next blanket is an early full-sized Rambling Rows. It might even have been my first Rambling Rows, that wonderful Cottage Creations pattern by Carol Anderson that I come back to again and again for heavy doses of garter stitch.

Rambling_Rows

This Rambling Rows was knit around 1995, of a variegated acrylic that was LYS-purchased and more on the pricey side. I recall it as being a Spanish yarn, but don’t remember the producer. My son used this blanket on his bed for many years. It led a hard life in dorm rooms and in rental homes. When I visited him a few weeks ago, I slept under it. It’s still going strong, still keeping the family warm.

Rambling_Rows2

Stora Dimun Shawl

DimunShawl

Not to toot my own horn, but I think this looks totally cozy. It’s Cheryl Oberle‘s large-sized Stora Dimun Shawl from her wonderful book Folk Shawls. Knitters have to buy the entire book to purchase this pattern, but it’s well worth the price. There are 20 shawl patterns inspired from folk shawls around the world.

Stora Dimun is one of Oberle’s Faroese Island shawls. You cast on stitches for the bottom edge of the shawl. With regular decreases, a triangular shawl emerges with a center panel. Subtle shaping helps glue the shawl in place even if its wearer is active (or even if its wearer is snoozing in a comfy leather armchair).

Mine is knit in the yarn Oberle suggests: Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mills Silk Blend, in the chesnut colorway. This is a 75% wool, 25% silk sportweight. I normally eschew silk, as in “deliberately avoid using, abstain from.” Silk and I typically find each other’s company icky. But this yarn is enough to make me change my mind. Unlike typical silk, it doesn’t suck moisture from your hands and won’t send you scurrying to your body butter after every knitting session. It’s lightweight and warm–just like the large Faroese Island shawls are supposed to be.

DimunShawl5

DimunShawl6

 

Good golly, Miss Molly

ruffle_scarf3

This is Susan Mills’s Molly Scarf. The pattern is part of Classic Elite’s booklet #9114. I don’t often knit patterns in exactly the yarn called for, but this superwash, worsted weight printed Classic Elite Liberty Wool seemed exactly right for this project. It was my first time using Liberty Wool. Good yarn. I’d definitely use it again.

Looking at the finished scarf in a shop, I couldn’t figure out how it was knit. Clearly short rows, but it just looked quite the mystery to me. I won’t spill the beans here. But prepare yourself for a FOUR row pattern. Yep. Four rows, over and over and over. The scarf is reversible. But each side of the ruffle is different. And the sides are flipped along the ribbed spine of the scarf.  This is a situation where one photo is definitely worth a bunch of words.

ruffle_scarf

How fetching

Fetching_green

I finally made a Fetching for myself. Since completing this pair, they’ve seen quite a bit of service and have not disappointed. Fetching is a free Knitty pattern, designed by Cheryl Niamath. It’s available here. 19,150 Ravelers have knit Fetching and then posted photos on their project page. That must put Fetching among the top Rav patterns. It’s definitely a keeper.

This version is knit in Cascade 220 Superwash. A true workhorse of a yarn.

Click on the thumbnails to see a close-up of my newest Fetching, along with others I’ve knit in the past few years.