Put up your dukes!

This is an American Red Squirrel, a/k/a pine squirrel, a/k/a chickaree, a/k/a Rocky Balboa. Really, this is one of the feistiest little critters in our neck of the woods. If he were even a quarter of our size he’d eat us for lunch. He is tamiasciurus hudsonicus. His Wiki entry says he’s “a diurnal mammal that defends a year-round exclusive territory.”

Technically, Rocky’s year-round exclusive territory is a red pine near the water’s edge. Woe unto the bigger Eastern Gray Squirrel who ventures into that pine. Rocky (or possibly Rockette) will chase that squirrel away and pursue for a good distance. He’s apparently decided to extend his territory.

He’s hungry and getting ready for winter. The hull-strewn area directly under our feeders include plenty of intact black-oiled sunflower seeds, including because pesky goldfinches like to sit at the seed feeders and toss seeds down to the ground for the rest of the flock. Rocky is feasting and he isn’t kind to the other squirrels.

We have recently seen him sometimes call a truce. After all, it’s hard to stuff your face while you’re in attack mode all the time. But it’s not really his nature.

His nature is to speak loud and carry a big stick in his effort to go far.

Did you ever wonder about the expression “put up your dukes?” It’s a vestige of British rhyming slang. Rhyming slang is where a word or phrase that rhymes with another comes to substitute for what the word or phrase means. And then the rhyming slang loses its context (or is shortened) so that the original word disappears. “Fork” was British slang for “fist.”  So, “Put up your forks” was an invite to a fight, as in “Put up your fists.” And then the fork phrase was played with and rhymed so that one pugilist might say to another “Put up your Dukes of York.” And, eventually, that was shorted to “Put up your dukes.”

There’s been no fisticuffs out on the lawn. Just Rocky being feisty chasing around the bigger brown and black Eastern Grays. Oh. And he’s eating and stashing a ton of sunflower seeds.

Lego Mania

My favorite 5-year old, Isaac, is a Lego Maniac for sure. This late in the life of Legos, there is probably a Lego gene. Like father, like son. So Lego knitting sounded like good birthday-present knitting. This is Amber Allison’s free pattern, Some Assembly Required. It looked like it might be a stretch even for someone experienced in knitting toys. I didn’t want to invest a lot in yarn if the project proved a bust. Plus these Red Heart Super Saver colors were perfect!

Here’s what’s very special.

Yep. Some assembly, indeed.

This was a terrifically fiddly knit. But I still enjoyed making it because with these things you always keep your eye on the prize. The prize is that some little person will like what you knit. My Lego guy is just under 12 inches fully assembled. And Isaac likes him.


Not every Lego maniac is 5 years old. I can see this guy sitting on plenty of adult desks.

Isaac was also a big fan of this part of his Lego birthday package.

These Lego mitts might even turn up as part of Isaac’s Halloween costume. Mix ‘n match works on a chilly night. They are another freebie, this time by Carissa Browning, Lego Man Mitts.

The pattern includes 6 sizes, from baby to large adult.

And the package was all done up in very special wrapping. This is Celia’s Blankie, a wonderful Carol A. Anderson Cottage Creations pattern.

My Lego version of Celia’s blanket is knit in Plymouth Yarns Galway worsted and Paton’s Classic wool. You can read more about my modifications here. It will be a very warm very cozy blanket. I knit it in 2014 and packed it away until it was the right time for gifting.


My knitted Lego package was a big hit. But it is true that this grandmother decided to add to the allure of the gift by including a Lego City heavy cargo transport.

Yes, it’s true…more hats

This is a Woolly Wormhead’s DS Slouch. It’s one of Wooly’s freebies. She is a “hat architect” with more than 300 hat patterns available in her Ravelry store or on her website. Her hats are often stunning, colorful, shaped in unusual ways. You can join her Woolly Hat Society on her website and get special offers, including occasional special “pick a freebie” invitations. But DS Slouch is a free-for-all.

It was a good knit. I used my recycled Malabrigo Rios. Yep, the one from the frogged poncho that bore some resemblance to a lampshade. That frog just keeps on giving!  Here’s the top.

I left mine unblocked, but not unruly.

The next hat is one I’ve knit a number of times. Sort of the ultimate test of a good pattern. It’s Rikke, a free pattern by Sarah Young.  I enjoy knitting it. People around me must enjoy wearing it because I don’t yet have one in my personal hatbox. More than 10,700 Ravelers have knit Rikke and posted the hat on their project pages.

Mine is a Red-Winged Blackbird Rikke. That’s the colorway of Washtenaw Wool Company’s Huron that I used. Here’s a look at the beauty of a worsted all skeined up. You might say it called to the birdwatcher in me.

Pretty cool, don’t you think?

Yep, the hat’s cool too. Here it is laid flat.

I especially like the way the band swooshed. It reminds me of the red-winged blackbird’s wing-patches. And, as always, we’re not done looking at the hat until we see its crown.

Ok, it’s a bit over the top. But why not? Some people will put anything on their head. And when hats make enough of a statement, sometimes they don’t get claimed in my holiday pick-a-gift, which means I get to keep them. I will stand out in a crowd in this one.

Here’s a few more Rikkes I’ve knit. (You’ll have to scroll down to get to them). A Mountain Colors Twizzle Rikke in a Mardi Gras colorway. Another again in Twizzle. And a few were made so long ago that they’re lost to the antiquities. The pattern is designed for a DK weight. But it also works well in worsted. Garter stitch was perfect to tame the wild variegated Huron colorway.

One more. Linden Slouchy Hat by Jo-Anne Klim. Mine is knit in Anzula Cricket, a DK spun of 80% merino, 10% nylon, and 10% cashmere goat.

I really like this hat. I am of an age when the pure close-to-the-head beanie look doesn’t cut it anymore. But this beanie has so much texture to it that it tricks the eye a bit and looks good on my head.

Linden, like the Washtenaw Wool Company yarn, is also mimicking nature. Klim’s design interprets the leaf of the Linden tree.

And, as always with the best hats, the crown lays nicely and without a point.

The texture of this hat really makes it special.

Hat weather is almost here

This is Leslie Taylor’s Mayfly Hat, knit in Mountain Colors Perspectives RiverWash Sport. This was a Mountain Colors’ kit, purchased at a local yarn shop closing at a ridiculously wonderful discount. The pattern is also available for purchase on Ravelry.

With the gradient reds doing their thing, it’s a bit hard to see in my photo, but that’s three Estonian braids just above the ribbing. Honestly, I don’t much care for the effect of the braids in this yarn. But it does dress the hat up a bit.

I made a few modifications. I didn’t do a provisional cast-on–not with the first row planned as a 1 by 1 rib. A provisional cast-on might have worked well if the next row was knit plain. Otherwise my sense is it would have been difficult to pick up and knit that mix of knits and purls in sportweight yarn on size 3 US needles. Instead, I did my folded brim by knitting a turning round of purl. Then I knit ribbing for a few more inches. Next I knit the cast-on stitches together with the live stitches and I was off to the races to tackle the body of the hat.

My only other modification was to move up one needle size for the body of the hat. I think that’s a common convention that works well.

The colors are what make this hat shine. And, as always, well-behaved crown decreases (no pointy problem) are much appreciated.

This next hat is Herriot, a free pattern, by Nicole Montgomery. Let’s do this in reverse. Here’s the crown, knit in Malabrigo Rios.

The pattern calls for a bulky weight, and Rios is only a worsted. But I couldn’t get gauge (18 stitches and 25 rows to each 4 inches) in any bulky weight in my stash. Again, a totally not pointy crown. Perfect.

What makes Herriot special is the use of a stitch that I don’t think we see enough of anymore: smocking stitch.

I decided to use up some precious Rios leftovers for this hat, in two favorite colorways (Sunset and Lettuce). I also worked a bit of a fade between the two colors. This is a cool hat worked in a solid color as the designer intended. But I rather like my quirky stashbuster version.

This next hat is Windshield by Niina Talikka. The pattern calls for a DK weight and I knit mine in Anzula Cricket.

I’m unsure how the diamond motif of this hat became so indistinct on one side. Cricket has good stitch definition, so I didn’t expect the hat would have that problem. The designer says that “blocking is highly recommended to make the motif visible and for the hat to form its gentle slouch.” So, as directed I blocked. It helped make the motif come to life, but not as much as I hoped.

Still, I like this hat quite a bit. Cricket is 80% merino, 10% nylon, and 10% cashmere goat. It feels wonderfully soft. No one will complain “…but it’s so itchy.” And I also don’t see anyone complaining “where’s the second side of my diamond motif.” If you decide to knit Windshield, take a look at the project pages for this hat on Ravelry. The patterning definitely pops better in a solid color. Windshield is a top-down hat. That can be a bit of a bear to pull off. But the bear only roars for a few rounds and then it’s tamed.

No bunch ‘o hats post would be complete without including another rendition of one of my favorite hats, Susan Villas Lewis’s “The Thinker.”

I’ve posted about it many times, here‘s two, and here’s another and here’s two more. My newest version is knit in Malabrigo Rios. It used to be something else, part of a (sort of) poncho. When a knitting buddy’s husband saw her working on hers he asked if she was knitting a lampshade. Every time I was tempted to wear it all I could think of was how nice a lampshade it might have made. Anyway, I frogged the thing and now I have a lot of extra Rios. Knitting The Thinker was a good save, I think. And now there’s much more Rios for me to knit with.

Passing the buck

This buck was headed to the water’s edge in Ghost Bay last week as we paddled in our kayaks. We don’t see bucks often, so he was quite a treat.

White-tailed deer are named for that large patch of white fur on the underside of the tail that you see as the deer beats a retreat. Odocoileus virginianus to you scientific types. There are many subspecies of deer in North America and those subspecies are very difficult to tell apart.

These are the Hillman Long Lake subspecies. This is the subspecies that especially likes to eat Japanese Maples in people’s gardens. They wait until the leaves fill out nicely, the rain washes away the Deer-B-Gone stinky spray, and then they enjoy a nice red-leafed salad. They are the subspecies of deer that eat hostas before the slugs can. And they eat every day-lily bloom just before the flower opens. That subspecies.

Oh well. We don’t really begrudge them feasting on what passes for our garden. We are completely undedicated to gardening. We do sort of wish they’d leave us something for our trouble though.

White-tail herds are a matriarchal society. But we’ve been surprised this year to see that the herd browsing in the morning and evening on our property still has a young male moving with it. We don’t think he’s the same buck we saw in Ghost Bay, though. The one with the herd is small, with just two dinky spikes. The Ghost Bay buck had four points.

Here’s a look at one of the females, drinking in the narrows.

Some of the deer in Montmorency County have chronic wasting disease. That’s why bait piles and other unnatural ways of drawing deer in to feed are banned here. When deer gather snout-to-snout the disease spreads more easily.

On our lawn, the deer gather this time of year to eat the acorns falling from the large oak tree near our deck. At the water’s edge, they will stand on their hind legs with their front legs resting on the cedar tree trunks to browse. And we even see deer jumping on two legs to reach some tasty bits of cedar.