Ghost Bay raccoons

Steve was in Ghost Bay by 6:30 in the morning and heard quite a commotion in the woods. From all the racket, he prepared to finally get a glimpse of a bear or an elk at the Long Lake watering hole. And. And…


raccoon2_lowresNo bear. No elk. Three raccoons. Possibly a parent and two almost-grown kits. Two of the raccoons were crashing through the woods, tumbling and nipping at each other. The third, possibly the parent, wore the raccoon equivalent of a long-suffering look. They worked the shoreline, presumably looking for tasty nibbles. Worms, crayfish, clams. Yum.



Mindy Talleck’s Duffers Revisited is a great felted slipper pattern available on Ravelry. Nearly 1300 Ravelers have knitted up a pair and posted about it on their Rav project page. The pattern is set up for basically all sized feet. Using a US size 11 needle, the knitting is quick–maybe 2 hours a slipper if you decide to take a wee nap instead of knit straight through. This top photo is how the slippers look before you felt them.

The green and gray yarn is Shepard’s Wool Worsted, by Stonehedge Fiber Mill. It was the fastest felter in the bunch. Next in the “I’m finished felting” race came the brown pair, in Rowan Creative Focus Worsted. And the slowest to felt? That was still an excellent felter, Lamb’s Pride Worsted, by Brown Sheep.

I decided to knit them all up and felt them together in my top-loading washing machine. I used the hottest water my hot water tank could muster and liquid Ivory Snow.



I followed Talleck’s pattern precisely, including all the heel decreases. In the tightest of the felted pairs, the heel is a bit overly turned in. But it’s still comfortable on the right-sized foot. And the material molds to the wearer.


The Rowan pair felted to the softest fabric of the three yarns. It also relaxed the most in the heel area and yielded the widest opening. My young neighbor who received these is studying ballet. I think she’s keen on them partly because they look a bit like a ballet slipper.

The tightest fabric was the Shepard’s wool. I was very happy that I moved up two needle sizes to bind off. Otherwise, I think feet would have had a very tough entry into these pair.



Duffers look very sweet embellished with buttons or buckles. But my sewing skills are a bit impaired and my button box didn’t yield the perfect buttons. Sewing a few felted balls on this pair brightened them up.

stoneduffers_ballsI have it on good authority that Duffers allow little feet to slide amazingly well on hard-wood floors. So gift them with a warning. And definitely don’t wear them on non-carpeted stairs. If this old duffer makes a pair for herself, I believe she will apply some anti-skid “braking” product.

Cascading Leaves Shawl Recipe


MIx one 8 ounce, 560 yard cake of Michigan Indie dyer Karen Bradley’s Petite Rayure using needles that get you to about 5 stitches per inch in stockinette. A size 8 worked for me.

Follow the directions supplied in Bradley’s Cascading Leaves Shawl, available (unfortunately) in not-too-many places. But you can still read the clues Bradley posted for it in her mystery knit-a-long on Ravelry. If you can’t find the right ingredients, give her LYS Cynthia’s Too a call in Petoskey, Michigan. Cynthia carries all Bradley’s Kaloula Yarns and also has a paper copy of the pattern for sale.

Your shawl is done when you are beginning to fear that you will run out of yarn. But with 15 yards left in the cake, your creation will be complete.



cascading_frontThese gradient yarns really produce some show-stoppers.


We’re getting to be a party lake!


As we paddled to Ghost Bay this morning, the lake was echoing with loon calls. We spotted three flying in together, making that distinctive tremolo call that loons make in flight. There was also an unusual amount of wailing going on.

We knew what was up with all the racket when we spotted this gathering in the north section of the lake, fairly close to shore. Eight loons are shown above. But there were actually nine.

In mid to late summer, loons gather together. Non-resident loons fly in and resident loons will swim out to join them. But first, they stash their chicks someplace amid thick vegetation and then they host the gathering away from the chicks. Biologists believe that these gatherings build relationships and cooperation among mature loons.Typically, the loons will spend some time swimming together in circles with their heads cocked to one side. There is a little of that evident in the photo and we definitely saw it, though we didn’t recognize it as anything habitual until we returned from our paddle and read up on these gatherings.

The loons also spend time diving together. All nine were on the surface in a tight group. One would dive, sort of making a more exaggerated move than normal. And all the others would follow. The loons also spent a good bit of time seeming to clown around–not like the dignified loons we’re so used to. They ran on the water, not preparing to get airborne, but just moving around on the surface.

Such an interesting event. Long Lake is honored to have hosted it!

Paddling back from Ghost Bay, after the gathering had dispersed, we encountered this one lone loon. It was very calm and approached close to our kayaks.


Long Lake’s Bald Eagle

Loons and eagle

This guy was high, high up in a white pine on the east side of Long Lake, sort of looking toward Belly Button Island. That’s what we call the big island, anyway. As far as I know, it doesn’t really have a name.

This eagle was definitely lord of all he surveyed. We watched for several minutes while he perched. We moved on and then saw him flying across the lake.

It seems like there’s been a lot of Bald Eagle sightings this year. Hopefully, we’ll have a nest on the lake and we can enjoy a pair for many years. Wouldn’t that just be the cat’s meow?