Dragonfly Moult

This dragonfly just crawled out of its nymph carcass. It chose the webbed strap of our colorful kayak cart to finish its moult and then dry off its wings in the sun.

In its nymph stage, just like in its adult dragonfly stage, these guys (or are they one guy) are fearsome predators. Google “dragonfly nymph feeding” and you can watch many YouTube videos that are a way too gruesome for my little blog. I don’t think anyone comes here to watch worms, tadpoles, and feeder fish be chomped and gobbled up by something that looks like it inspired Ridley Scott’s Alien.

With its moult complete, this dragonfly will eat just about every bug it can get its mouth near. It catches bugs like mosquitos, flies, mayflies by using its legs as a basket to dump food into its mouth. Dragonflies basically eat constantly, And they are among the most efficient predators on the planet. Some estimates saying they capture 95% of the prey they set their eyes on. One look at that mask of theirs (the large hinged lower lip) lets you know these guys mean business.

Oh, dragonflies don’t bite people unless you really really provoke them, say by holding them when they want to fly away. They seem to be drawn to colorful clothing. If one lands on you, just sit quietly and enjoy it.

If you watch birds, you are birding. If you watch odonata (the Latin name for the dragonfly species) you are oding. We enjoyed this weekend’s oding. Dragonflies are buzzing around Long Lake in great numbers right now.

Modern Mukluks

It’s finally summer here in Michigan: hot and muggy and what am I knitting? Andrea Mowry’s “Wanderers: Modern Mukluks.” I purchased the pattern as part of a Craftsy kit that included Cloudborn Fibers Highland Worsted. I haven’t been super pleased with this company’s fingering weight, but the worsted was very nice to work with. Well spun, no knots, no thinned spots.

My only modification of the pattern was to add an inch of one-by-one ribbing at the top of each sock. Many of the Ravelry projects suffer from an unpleasant rolled top so many Ravelers before me have made the same modification.

The pattern calls for an afterthought heel. That worked well.

One itsy bitsy problem. Even though I knit mismatched ribbing, this is how much of the main color I had left.

Way too close for comfort.

What’s your strategy when you think you may run out of yarn? Do you knit faster? I’m more likely to not watch. I know it’s going to be close, so I just don’t look. I think I feel that what I can’t see can’t hurt me.

Golden

I just realized that I’ve been on a bit of a golden jag in some fairly recent projects. This one is “Little Lonely Cable,” a freebie by Joji Locatelli, available on Ravelry. Locatelli is a talented Argentinian knitwear designer who released this hat pattern free, back in 2013, to honor 3 years of support by Ravelers around the world.

The pattern is designed for DK weight. I knit mine in Shalimar Yarns Breathless DK. It’s a 75% merino, 15% goat mohair, 10% silk yarn and works up beautifully, with great stitch definition.

Here’s a look at the crown decreases. They are rather abrupt–by design, of course. The decreases create a garter stitch snowflake top. And that one lonely cable continues throughout.

Next up is “Linden Cowl” by Jo-Anne Klim of KBJ Designs. Klim hails from Penrith, New South Wales, Australia. My version of Linden Cowl is knit in Fleece Artist Woolie Silk 3-ply. Woolie Silk is, well, wooly silk. 65% wool, 35% silk. It’s also a DK weight.

I especially like the texture of this one. The lace is inspired by the shape of Linden Tree leaves.

Linden Cowl is an excellent fun knit. The yarn and the feel of this is so yummy that I kept the cowl for myself.

This next golden one is “Delfino,” another freebie available on Ravelry. This hat is designed by Luciano of LucianoLoop. She’s fairly new to her knitwear designer path.

I knit my Delfino in Anzula’s For Better or Worsted. It’s a worsted (obviously). And it’s yet another great yarn: 80% merino, 10% cashmere goat, 10% nylon.

Delfino passes one of my key tests for a good hat. It has a nicely behaved crown decrease and doesn’t come to a poked-out point.

While I was knitting the crown, I thought that ditching the cables so suddenly caused the crown to get disorganized. But I was wrong about that. It looks great.

So, it’s Jojo Locatelli from Argentina, Jo-Anne Klim from Australia, and Luciano from Montevideo, Uruguay. With the incredible assist from Ravelry, every knitter’s work is enhanced by having access to designs from, well, from everywhere.

Jutta

Meet Jutta. She’s another amazing knitted creation by Dutch toy-designer Annita Wilschut.

Jutta’s skin is knit in a discontinued Cascade Yarn Aran-weight: Longwood. I searched for a good long while for just the right shade of pinky beige skin that I had in mind. A friend of mine spotted one lone ball of Longwood “Dew” hiding out in a sale bin. Perfect!

Jutta’s overalls are knit in “medium weight” Socks That Rock, a Blue Moon Fiber Arts, special colorway:”Doodle Doodle Honey Cocka Valkyrie Fledge.” I know, you’re thinking I made that up. I didn’t. But it is great yarn despite its name. I am very proud of myself for deciding to use it–especially the contrasting colorway that gave Jutta’s hair such a distinctive look. Medium weight is basically a DK.

Here’s Jutta from behind.

The I-cord hair is fiddly to knit, for sure. But Wilschut’s very detailed and clear pattern teaches a way to knit multiple I-cords at the same time. I won’t spill the beans. But it’s very ingenious. After a bit I was knitting eight strands at a time.

Speaking of Jutta’s behind.

You can see that the detail is quite extraordinary. Butt, hands, elbows, knees, heels. Even a belly button.

Look close–the belly button is subtle, and knitted in, not sewn on top.

One distinctive feature of Wilschut’s designs is that there are no parts to sew together. They are knit in the round. Off the needles. Stuff. No hours and hours of sewing, as with so many toy patterns. The only sewing you’ll need is to attach ears to some of the critters and to sew up the stuffing seams.

Here’s a few photos of Jutta unstuffed.

The pattern even provides detailed eye and mouth placement. That is extremely helpful to the sewing and embroidery impaired among us. I’ve not used safety eyes before, but I decided to give that a try with Jutta. I am quite satisfied.

Here’s Jutta’s skin from the back view.

Even the placement of the I-cord hair is controlled by the designer. You knit what’s basically Jutta’s scalp in the hair color. And you place an I-cord strand on each garter stitch bump. So clever!

I’ve made Joris the dragon, Jacobus the boy monkey, Saar the girl monkey, Vera the bear, and Karel the bunny. And some of these stuffed buddies I’ve knit more than once. With each new knit I’m impressed all over again with this designer. If you decide to try one of her patterns, you’ll not be disappointed. And I’m pretty sure that my soon-to-be-two year old granddaughter won’t be disappointed with Jutta.

Lookin’ lively

We’ve been seeing Bald Eagles regularly on the lake already this year. This one had been fishing. More likely scrounging.

A tasty morsel, for sure.

And there have been turkeys aplenty this year too. This tom was looking for a date and putting on quite a display.

Even though Bald Eagles may have untidy table manners, I am grateful that Ben Franklin didn’t win the argument about which bird should be our national symbol. Turkeys may be smarter in the bird IQ department. But there’s something about that head and beard that just don’t cut it for me.

A big snapper has been sunning on the small island just across from the public access dock in the lower lake.

If your small boat can make it through the narrow cut-through, watch for the trail of tamped down grass. Snapping turtles and turkeys. Two critters that remind that life is long on this planet earth.