Long Lake’s Sports Illustrated cover nominee


This is Nick. (And yipes, if it isn’t, somebody quick set me straight). Nick is the best water boarder on the lake. Water boarding makes his sport sound like torture. It would be for me, but Nick doesn’t seem to think so. Wake board. This is wake-boarding.

Nick is jaw-droppingly cool to watch. He speeds around the lake, jumping over his speedboat’s wake and tapping the underside of his board before landing (as in this photo), or hanging on to his tow rope with one hand and waving hello to the awe-struck. He twists, turns, and inspires.

Nick is devoted to his sport. He is often out in the early morning before the potatoes, excuse me the tubers, get started. His boat’s driver, usually Mrs. Nick I believe, is always courteous and watchful around us unpowered boaters.

Nick will be the first person on the water in the early spring and the last one off the water in the late fall. We sometimes are out in our kayaks earlier and later, but face it, we aren’t getting wet and we aren’t working hard. We’re sipping our morning coffee in Ghost Bay. Or floating around hoping to spot snapping turtles.



Le Cirque

I’ve just completed Nicky Epstein‘s Le Cirque Baby Afghan. I made some modifications and it’s going to be a baby playmat. Epstein has a well-deserved reputation for designing wow-factor stuff. This pattern is included in her newest book, “Knitting in Circles: 100 Circular Patterns for Sweaters, Bags, Hats, Afghans and More.” I first borrowed the book from the library and was so taken with Le Cirque that I decided to buy the book.

You start out knitting circles that Epstein calls orbits. Easy short row stuff, in an interesting textured stitch. This is Martha Stewart’s Crafts Extra Soft Wool Blend yarn, by Lion Brand. The yarn feels wonderfully soft. It’s 65% acrylic, 35% wool, so it should be easy care. It’s toss in the washer and then toss in the dryer. The color palette is mostly subdued tones, but that was perfect for what I wanted to do with this project. The yarn has lots of great qualities and only two not so great. For Lion Brand, it’s kind of expensive. And every skein had some “internal” knots where the yarn had been joined with a few teensy tufts left sticking out. I decided I could tolerate that. They simply melted into the project.

These are the larger-sized orbits:


You knit 5 of the bigger size and 4 of the little ones.


Then you knit some figures, also basically building on circles. Here’s the elephant:


And here’s my lion, with a modified mane of my own design:


Instead of the loopy mane Epstein designed, what I did was cast on stitches and knit one row. Then I cast on a bunch of stitches (somewhere between 6 and 11). Next, bind off those newly cast on stitches, knitting the last cast on stitch together with one of the “old” stitches. Then put that stitch back on the left needle. Cast on stitches again, bind off…repeat across the entire row. I knit several strips and sewed them in place.

Here’s clown girl:


And her friend clown boy:


Assembly was a bit of a bear. Instead of just sewing the orbits in place, I joined them with a 3-needle bind off technique. I picked up stitches on each surface to be joined and then used the third needle to bind off. I bound off holding the wrong sides facing each other, so that the ridge that formed is on the public side of the work.


Notice the pinwheel in the center? That is exactly how it’s supposed to work out. I goofed in one way, though. I departed from Epstein’s instructions for exactly how the colors should be spaced. I didn’t think one set of my colors looked good placed next to each other, so I changed the placement of colors in two orbits. Then, when I assembled them, I found that some of my colors (check out the pink in the top left and top center orbits) were lining up next to each other. That’s not best, so if you knit Le Cirque, keep your “A” through “I” colors spaced just as Epstein instructs–unless you’re better at jigsaw puzzles than I am. Once the rest of the assembly was complete, that goof doesn’t really leap out.

Here’s the elephant in place in the playmat:circus_elephant

Here’s the lion:


And the two clowns:



Here’s one half:


And the other half:


Here’s the full view:


My other modifications were to stuff the lion and the elephant. I also knit backs to all four of the figures. The back patches hold the stuffing in place. All the threads fastening the small pieces are covered so that no small fingers can work them loose.

And I knitted an I-cord border rather than the crochet edge Epstein suggests. That’s my choice only because my crocheting skills are almost nonexistent.

I’m really pleased with how this turned out.

2013 loon pair


They’re back. This pair wasn’t nesting as of the first weekend in May. But they are clearly “an item,” calling back and forth to one another. We think, but can’t know for sure, that this pair was on the lake last year. They seemed very acclimated to us and to our kayaks. They approached quite close. For awhile they seemed to be following us as we headed to Ghost Bay.

If past is prologue, there will be two loon pairs on the lake, one nesting on Belly Button Island and the other nesting in the lower bowl of the lake, likely on the island. We wish them calm, undisturbed nests. Come early July, we hope to see four tiny loon chicks riding on their two sets of parents’ backs.

Cozy slippers

gray_slippersI know, it’s warm now. Even in Michigan. But feet can still get chilly in warmer weather. These are Anne Bosch’s “Quick Knit Slippers.” The pattern is available through Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill or on Ravelry. About 185 yards of bulky weight yarn will do the trick. Mine are knit of Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky, an 85% wool, 15% mohair blend that’s been a Brown Sheep yarn since Kelsey was a pup. (No, I don’t know where that expresion comes from either. Does anyone but me know it? It means a long time.)

These slippers are a very quick knit, on two needles. The only modification I made was to switch to 4 needles for the top roll, and to make it roll with all purl rounds (preceded by a few knit rounds), rather than garter stitch. That avoided the seam on the top of the slipper.

gray_slippers3How did those bears get in here, anyway? They are Pat Kreiling’s double knit Jiffy Bears. Here they are all dressed up.


These “Lounging Slippers” are from an out-of-print Workbasket Magazine booklet called “The Classic Collection: Fun Family Footwear.” The only attribution for the design is “by the staff of Workbasket Magazine.”  One cool thing about this old booklet? It’s printed in what seems to be 18 point type. Easy to read.

These slippers are also easy to knit. Mine are worked in Cascade 220 wool. I decided I’d stick to the idea that matching things are boring. But it’s still nice to signal when something’s a set. They are possessed of an unfortunate elfin quality off-foot. But they mold nicely to the foot once feet get poked into them.

A cool-weather kayak shrug


In the early (and late) season paddles on the lake, kayaking can be a tad chilly. I figured an extra layer to cover the low back and my arms would work well. I’m quite pleased with this one, a Cleckheaton pattern from their #615 booklet, “Celebration Days.” They’ve given it the unfortunate name: “Hug-me-tight.”  Knit up in the pastel pink or yellow shown in the booklet, I can picture it as a hug. Think bedjacket, on a mother’s day morning, with young ones feeding mom her breakfast in bed. Not a scene that set my heart to thumping, actually.

But, as a kayak shrug, this works really well. And, just in case you think I don’t wear a PFD in the kayak, I do. I’d just taken it off, to remove an outer gortex jacket, when Steve snapped this photo.

I am quite pleased with this little shrug:



It’s as bright and eye-catching as a signal flag. The center colors are knit in fingering weight Wollmeise “Pure” 100% merino superwash. The blue is Wollmeise Sockenwolle “Twin,” an 80 percent merino, 20% nylon fingering weight. 52 inches of ribbing on size 4 needles doesn’t exactly keep a knitter on the edge of her seat. I got bored with the blue and that’s when I started trying to think of how I could liven up the experience some. Odd how the center panel seemed to knit up much more quickly than the blue.

Here’s a useful tip. When you get to a color changing row in ribbing, just knit the entire first row of the new color. The out-of-place knit stitches just fold nice and unnoticed into the furrows of ribbing. Instead of those ugly half-one-color-half another color purl stitches, you end up with a nice crisp color change.