Close encounter


This pair of loons doesn’t seem to be nesting. They were in Ghost Bay with us for a good long while last weekend. They showed a lot of interest in the kayaks and approached us, rather than the other way around.These are two individuals.

loonlooking_lowresUp very close and personal.

Steve has a special lens that captures a lot of detail even at a distance. But this pair was within 15 feet of the kayaks much of the time. This view shows off one of the loon’s characteristics that make them so good at catching fish: their binocular vision.

We watched this pair fishing in Ghost Bay. We watched them swim by in shallow water several times. Talk about streamlined! And they are amazingly fast and powerful swimmers.

Sue had one of them dive near her and swim under her paddleboard!


Knitted poncho…sort of

poncho4I don’t know what to call this. A poncho. A sweater with no arms. A turtleneck shawl. I’ll just call it comfortable and leave it at that.

This was a Karen Bradley a/k/a Kaloula knit-a-long, with week-by-week clues, in the Cynthia’s Too Ravelry Group. Bradley generously left the thread open and you can still work through the clues if you’re hankering to work up this item.

The pattern calls for worsted weight Malabrigo Rios for the feather-and-fan top and Berrocco Ultra Alpaca Fine for the lacy bottom. That’s fine, not light. I first stocked the light and that weight is too heavy.

I’m not sure I came up with the best color combination, but I’m still proud of the finished item. I love to work feather-and-fan patterns. For years I avoided them because it looked so difficult. But it’s actually a piece ‘o cake. As for that lace bottom, well, for lace-impaired me, that was a challenge. I soldiered on and it came out quite nice. All those pesky yarn-overs lined up just right.

If you decide to knit this, don’t panic when it first comes off your needles. You will think you’ve just knitted a lampshade cover. But with somewhat aggressive blocking, it turns into a poncho-like garment.

Honestly, I’ve not yet had the courage to wear this outside the house. Strictly speaking, that’s not exactly true. I wore it to my knitting guild meeting. That’s outside the house, but in knitting-friendly territory where we keep our chuckles to ourselves. I’ve been a little worried–much as I like it–that it has a bit of a frump-factor going. What do you think? Would you wear it?


Monstrous Pike

jeff_pike_lowresI know. My “Jeff and His Giant Pike” stories are maybe starting to rub salt in your wounds. For those of us who can’t catch anything, including me, we are envious but trying to pretend we’re not. First it’s Jeff’s 38 inch Pike in October of 2013. Then it’s his 33 inch Pike last September. But now? Now it’s a Pike too large to measure by anything we had handy. It’s way bigger than the 36 inch yardstick Jeff had in his boat. Steve, who did not catch this fish (so he can be trusted), says this Pike was 42 inches long.

Lordy. 42 inches.

Jeff, like Jimmy John Shark is a catch-and-release Pike fisherman, so I started wondering if this could be the same fish he caught before. Jeff’s 2013 monster catch is photographed, below. I tried to find out how fast Pike grow. I didn’t get far with that. My question was whether one could grow 4 inches in about a year and a half. The result of my research suggests a nothing-definitive maybe-yes. Four inches longer. Clearly heavier, with a greater circumference. The same lovely burnt-orange fins. But I’ve decided this is not the same fish. The patterning looks subtly different.

I was probably just hoping there’s only one fish this monstrously sized in Long Lake because I don’t like the thought of this fish, and those sharp teeth, watching kids floating around in their tubes and my toes dangling off the dock.


One thing? We can now call Jeff “Master Angler Jeff.”  According to the DNR, a Pike achieves “Master Angler” status when it reaches 40 inches (or 18 pounds). That also usually means it’s female and more than 10 years old.

Rabbit illusion baby blanket

Here’s the recipe for a rather nifty illusion. Mix almost equal parts of two DK weight contrasting colors. I used Plymouth Select DK Merino Superwash, in an olive green and a natural shade.plymouth_selectDK_green


The rest of the recipe is just to knit and purl for a good long while, using the illusion technique of alternating the colors every two rows.

Wooly Thoughts, a/k/a Steve Plummer and Pat Ashforth, chart only the wrong side rows. But, no need to flip out even if you are chart-impaired because every stitch on every right side row is a knit stitch. And every white square is a purl. Even I can remember that…and I am easily confused by charts. I’m one of those folks who can’t make the symbol transition, typically, in charts that are knit flat rather than in the round. I have a lot of trouble training my brain that a dot on a right side row is a purl but a dot on a wrong side row is a knit. By contrast, illusion knitting charts are very easy to work with.

Bottom line. You will not find this difficult. At least not if you stick to the Wooly Thoughts patterns. I’ve done other illusions where the charting was less straightforward. The designers are correct when they say that “if you can knit, purl, and count, you can do this.”

As you knit, the illusion appears–but it only clearly appears when you look at it from the side.

bunny2Otherwise, what you see looks a bit like messy garter stitch, but with stockinette in between the ridges. This illusion is also interesting because the background color shifts near the mid-point of the blanket.

It’s tough knitting to photograph though. It turned out to be a wonderful lightweight blanket and will work well even as a carseat blanket.


Here’s another Wooly Thoughts pattern I completed: the Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Illusion Shawl.

Branta Canadensis


Canada Geese. We are up to our eyeballs in Canada Geese. This is the largest of what seem to be 4 broods on the lake. Judging from the droppings on my lawn, we’re in for a rough summer. I do not welcome their chin-strapped selves.

The good news? Our neighbor’s son will be visiting from Colorado soon. He’ll be staying at the lake for an extended period. He has two children and two Labrador Retrievers. We’ve given the pups free rein on our property. Hallelujah!