We’re crawlin’ with critters


We spotted this spotted sandpiper in Ghost Bay. He was teeter-tottering along, like these petite (7-8 inches) shorebirds do, picking at stuff with his bill. He startled when we paddled into the Bay. But once he settled back down he actually landed closer to us than when we first saw him. He has a distinctive black line from his bill across his eye and a nice clear white eye-ring. It’s spring, so this spotted sandpiper is, well, spotted. Just before the fall migration, which extends as far south as Bolivia and Brazil, Spotted Sandpipers molt and that nice spotted belly becomes spotless.


This beaver was swimming in Ghost Bay recently. You might be able to spot him yourself. We’re hoping to get to know him, as an individual, because he has a very distinctive reddish coat. And he’s got almost a white patch on the lower half of his face. He didn’t issue any alarm call.

The beavers have been busy this year. Once the ice melted, we can see that each of the lodges on the lake experienced a building boom.

This next guy doesn’t quite rival the beaver in swimming ability, but he’s no slouch. It’s an adult Northern Water Snake. First is a view of his not so beautiful head. We can tell he was an adult because his banding was not as distinctive as a young snake would be. And he was pretty big.


These snakes can live from 10-15 years and grow to about 3 and one-half feet long.

Here’s a view of him where you can see his length.


This guy wasn’t cooperating with Steve’s photography efforts. Doesn’t it remind you of some of those Loch Ness monster photos you’ve seen?

Northern Water Snakes a/k/a Nerodia Sipedon aren’t venomous. They will bite if you mess with them. But you have to make a total pest of yourself before that will happen. And if they bite you you’ll need antiseptic and a band-aid, not an undertaker. Don’t handle them, though. What they mostly do is release a foul-smelling substance that apparently you will not want to smell twice in your life. Here’s a view of a younger snake that we saw on the lake a few years ago.

We don’t see many water snakes. They do no harm to humans. They do no harm to game fish populations. They are good snakes who’ve been preyed upon mercilessly by humans who don’t like snakes (by the way, they scare me too) and who think they may be deadly Water Moccasins (Cottonmouths). We don’t have any Water Moccasins in Michigan. Not even one. We do have Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes, but even our rattlesnakes haven’t killed anyone in a zillion years. “Welcome to Pure Michigan: our snakes won’t kill you.” So let’s count ourselves lucky to have a few Northern Water Snakes on Long Lake and just give them some elbow room.

And speaking of giving critters elbow room, the loon pair in the lower lake is nesting. If we and our dogs can all stay clear and let them nest in peace, by mid-July we might be meeting a chick or two.


Hardy Miss Babs Yummy


This is my first time using Miss Babs. It is Yummy, a sportweight,100% merino 3-ply. And this is Melissa LaBarre’s very popular pattern, “BABY Tea Leaves.” It’s an excellent pattern. I intend to knit it again. But the star of this post is the yarn.

OK, the colorway is a little garish. It’s very garish. But I like it anyway. First off, knitting with it was wonderful. I finished the sweater. I was recuperating from surgery at the time and had to limit my trips up and down the stairs. I asked Steve if he would take the sweater down to the dining room and put it on the table so I could steam it later. He was carrying a load of laundry downstairs at the same time and I placed the sweater on the top of the laundry heap.

Ok. That was a pretty big mistake on my part. Steve took the laundry down to the laundry room and proceeded to accidentally wash the sweater in the washing machine along with whatever else was in the basket. And then he tossed BABY Tea Leaves in the dryer. This is truly the test of a superwash. All I can say is that it’s not as bad as I would have imagined. It felted only very lightly. The photo is post-laundry disaster. I think it’s still wearable by the newborn I planned it for.

Here’s how the back looks.


A little more of a ruffled look than the designer planned. But not at all a disaster.

This is how Miss Babs Yummy looks before it gets beat up in a top-loading washer and buffeted in a dryer:


The colors are a tad brighter and more distinct. This is Anne Hanson’s Fallberry Mitts, a free pattern available on Ravelry. I should have knit these in a nice, calm color that would show off the cabling. But I had just the right amount of Miss Babs left. And the colors are my friend’s three favorite: orange, purple and green. I have to admit I’ve not seen here wear all three at the same time, though.

Fallberry is an excellent pattern that passes my major test for a fingerless mitt. It has a good thumb with a nice thumb gusset.


Long Lake critters


Today’s a day for putting a not-so-beautiful critter in a prominent place. This big Snapping Turtle hauled herself, probably herself (we didn’t ask), out of the water onto the island at the south end of the lake. It’s near the time of the year when Michigan mother snappers will lay their eggs in sandy soil. That happens in late May to early June. We’re sort of there. It’s not easy to find sandy soil on Long Lake islands. So she probably has to start looking kind of early.

Snapping turtles aren’t attentive parents. Mother will lay the eggs. She buries them so hopefully they won’t all be eaten by the egg eaters and then leaves them. If they escape being somebody’s breakfast, a few months after the eggs were laid the hatchlings will, well, hatch. They head for the water. Eggs that were kept warmer turn out to be females. Eggs that were kept colder turn out to be males. Let’s not try to glean any greater truths from that.

A snapping turtle has a small shell relative to its overall size. It can’t pull all its vulnerable parts under its shell, so that may account for its aggressive temperament. On land, don’t mess with them. It’s not really a good idea to help snappers cross roads by picking them up. That bony beak has no teeth but steer clear or you may not be so accurate counting on your fingers anymore. But in the water these big guys are meek. They like to hide in the mud with just their heads sticking out. They aren’t likely to bite off your toes. Anyway, that’s what U of M BioKids tells kids. U of M wouldn’t fib. While a snapper is buried in mud, they will open their mouth, hoping to attract prey with a dangly part that looks a bit wormlike. If you don’t look too closely, I suppose.

Snappers are omnivores. We have two families of Canada Geese that are already hatched and pooping all over our lawns. There are five little goslings in one family and four in the other. They are small enough that a big snapper could…well…it would probably be very mean to hope for that.

And here is one of Long Lake’s loons doing that half-submerged thing that they do.


It looks like at least one pair and possibly one solo loon have joined us this year. It’s still hard to tell. Soon the pair should set to nesting. Hopefully they won’t nest where the careless will assemble, especially the careless who also travel about with dogs. If we and they are lucky, around the 4th of July we’ll see one or two chicks riding on their parent’s back.

We took pity on the Baltimore Oriole trying to feed at our hummingbird feeder. That didn’t work out well. Steve put out an orange. It can’t seem to get enough of it and keeps coming back for more.


And, speaking of the hummers, they are back and they are hungry.

Pair of hares


This pair of hares, seated so sweetly, is not hell-bent on eating the new green shoots in your garden. This is the ever-sedate “Sitting Hare,” designed by Claire Garland, and available for purchase on Ravelry. My pair is knit in Debbie Bliss Rialto, a DK that worked well knit at the tight gauge that assures the hares’ stuffing isn’t seen. (They hate it when their stuffing shows.). I knit mine on US size 3 needles.

Here’s a view, face (and scarf) forward.


Their chests puff a bit. Their thighs are muscled to help with quick get-aways. Their backs are nicely sculpted. And their ears are tall and well-shaped.

For knitters of stuffed buddies, here’s the best part.


The best part is that there are hardly any parts at all. The knitter completes the knitting and the only parts that need to be sewn in place are the arms. Everything else is stuff and seam!

An excellent pattern. I believe I know a little one who will enjoy this pair of hares.

Hats for all heads


All right. I could have started this with something that would catch your eye in a different way. This may not be your cup of tea.It may not be my cup of tea either, though it was quick and fun to knit. But consider that nearly 180 Ravelers have knit this BUN Hat designed by Andi OldTrout. Andi is from Harstine Island in the state of Washington. My guess is that Andi knows folks with cold ears and cold necks. I do too. Her BUN hat (bottom up neck-flap) is perfect for heads that need such attentions.

Here’s another view.


Nice crown. I knit my BUN in Lamb’s Pride Bulky on size US size 10 needles. I chose a nice manly brown shade, thinking I knew someone who would think this was just the ticket. I won’t name names, but I was right. I’m confident it’s been keeping one set of ears quite warm this winter.

This one suits a different head.


The head this will best suit needs to be walking in the woods before dawn hoping to bag a big buck. No one will mistake her for a deer, not when she’s wearing this hat. There’s no blaze orange as blazey as 100% acrylic. This is Deborah Norville’s Everyday Soft Worsted, by Premier Yarn.

Here’s a view of the great crown decreases. I am confident my niece will be wearing this one next deer season.


This excellent pattern is Elena Nodel’s Cherry on Top. OK. The original was red and meant for Nodel’s daughter for Valentine’s Day. I repurposed it some. The hat would have a very different drape in the Malabrigo Rios that Nodel designed it for. But I am quite satisfied by the Deborah Norville that I picked up discounted at Meijer’s.

I liked the pattern so much, and considering I paid $5 for it, that I quickly decided to knit another. This time I used WATERshed by Harrisville Design, in the mallard colorway. Harrisville Design describes the yarn as a “soft-spun, minimally processed, cushy super-heathered woolen yarn.” It is all those things, provided you don’t expect soft-spun to mean soft.


So far we have brave cold heads with no fashion sense that need hats. And we have heads with a need to be warm and not be mistaken for deer. This next one is for little children who need to put a chuckle on mom’s and dad’s face.


Yep, another DMC “Top This” hat. I’ve knit the monkey, the giraffe and the sunflower. Click here. An elephant now joins my menagerie. If these kits take you even two hours to knit you probably snuck a nap in mid-knit.