Knitting Elephants


This is Lorraine Pistorio’s Baby Elephant. No, wait, this is actually Baby Evelyn’s Baby Elephant. Evelyn turned 1 this summer. And she started walking. So, I suppose this is really Toddler Evelyn’s Baby Elephant.

It’s funny how you can take a zillion of your hours to knit something and people will mostly mention something like, “Wow those are really beautiful buttons.” With this elephant, almost everyone (except Evelyn) looks at this elephant and say “I love the toes.” Actually, I like the toes too. That’s mostly because I am a very poor embroiderer and these toes came out quite the way I intended.

Here’s another view.


A little slouchy. Better to cuddle with. In all my years of knitting toys, this is the first time I used safety eyes. They are very solidly in place and I feel comfortable giving this to a young one.

Speaking of elephants.


Yep, an elephant purse, with the second set of safety eyes I’ve used. This is a Morehouse Farms Kit. It was a hoot to make. What do people who see it say first? “I really love the tusks.” Sometimes, apparently, it’s the little touches.


The purse is very lightly felted, which stiffens it a bit. Knit on!

Thirsty fawn


“Mom, I know it’s kind of early for us to be drinking. But I’m parched. If I don’t get something to drink right now, I’m going to faint.”

“You drink, I’ll watch. Drink quickly, little fawn. I don’t like the looks of that guy in the pontoon boat. He’s aiming something at us.”

“Mom, no, I’m not done yet. My mouth is still as dry as a mouthful of sand. The world is terribly hot.”

“When they aim, we run.”


This pair was drinking in the late afternoon, on the east side of the last bay in the south lake just before the narrows. The doe seemed very aware of us, even though we were far off.

Welcome Home Yarns


This is Tanya Thomann’s Marquette. Tanya’s the designer behind MayBea Crafted. She’s TanyaTho on Ravelry. She’s my Black Sheep Knitters Guild mate. And she’s also at least one-third of the team responsible for a new all-Michigan yarn, Welcome Home. Carla Kohoyda-Inglis of cjkoho is the dyer. Mary Glass is the Michigan shepherd whose herd of Romney/Blue-Faced Leicester are responsible for the fleece. And the yarn is processed and spun right here in Michigan. My sense of the yarn is that it’s a light worsted weight…or maybe a hefty DK. My Marquette is worked on size 4 US.

I very much enjoyed working with Welcome Home. As I’m thinking you expect, it’s a tad rustic. I like that. Every once in awhile you get a reminder that your yarn was recently walking around in a field. But only every once in awhile.

Tanya has kitted Marquette with plenty of yarn to complete the project. Sheep to skein–all pure Michigan!

Here’s another look at Marquette. It’s got a great crown decrease. No pointiness here.



There are some long floats to deal with in sections of the pattern. But it’s well worth the effort. And I really like the great saturated colors. Look for Welcome Home at festival booths. Or join Black Sheep Knitters Guild and I’m thinking you’d have an easy source for this kit and this yarn!

This is another MayBea Crafted Welcome Home kit: Drummond.


This is much easier Fair Isle work than Marquette. No long floats. I wasn’t sure if the orange and pink were going to work well together, including because the colors seemed to me to be a bit hard to distinguish. But the use of brown was inspired. And even when the colors share the brim, they work well together.

Here’s a look at the crown decreases.


It’s been in the 90’s for weeks. There’s been almost no rain. It’s so hot and dry that my neighbor has had to move his honeybees because they were starving despite his best efforts. And here I am, knitting winter hats!

You can learn more about this Michigan Sheep-to-Skein effort here and even reintroduce your Welcome Home yarn to its sheep here.

In case you’re not from around these parts, Marquette is a great small city in Michigan’s upper peninsula and Marquette County boasts more than 80 miles of secluded Lake Superior coastline. Drummond Island is a short ferry ride from Detour, on the eastern tip of our upper peninsula. Coming from the direction most folks come from, cross over the Mackinac Bridge and sort of just turn right and you’ll get there. Year round, it isn’t called the “Gem of Lake Huron” without good reason.

Steve’s Tyrolean socks


Here, with apologies, is the somewhat-too-long story of this pair of socks. They are Ann Budd’s “Basic Sock Pattern” from her “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges.” It is an entire book of no nonsense patterns with absolutely no goofy names. Basic Sock is an excellent pattern and it fits Steve’s boxy foot exceptionally well.

This yarn is Opal Antonia aus Tirol, by Zweger Garn. It’s a discontinued yarn. It was inspired by a Tyrolean pop singer by the name of Antonia. Here’s one of her YouTube videos. I think she must be the one in the sort of hula-inspired skirt.

Um. It’s hard to know quite what to say about that. It’s been on YouTube for a year and half and it’s had 13 views. Actually, I was the 14th. Antonia is a knitter. And Zweger Garn named a line of sock yarns after her. I found the yarn marked way down when Sweet Peas closed in St. Clair, Michigan. I think the self-striping didn’t quite work out as intended. Those green globby sections don’t look quite right.

Steve really likes hand knit socks. Mostly he wears them in winter around the house.

So, the story of these socks. The yarn, which is 75% wool/25% nylon, is skeined with 465 yards. That should be enough even for a man’s pair of socks. But after approaching the heel on the first one, I convinced myself there was no way I would have enough yarn. So I took my heavily discounted yarn and partly finished sock to a local yarn shop, intent on adding another color to the heels and toes. Easy. Right? I couldn’t find a good match and ended up buying this pricy skein of Spud and Chloe fingering weight.


You may have noticed something. But you probably figured that it it didn’t “go” well with my Tyrolean pop singer colorway because there’s something off about your monitor. Your monitor tells no lie. It looked terrible.

I used to make a lot of socks, but I haven’t made any recently. Apparently I’ve lost some sock IQ points, because I forgot where the color change should go for the heel. I did the heel in the main colorway. So I decided I’d just put a color block in the foot part of the sock. Exquisitely bad idea. And then I returned to Antonia for the toe. Another bad idea.

I finished the sock and then stared at it for weeks. And I stared at my remaining Antonia and decided I might have enough yarn of that colorway after all.

So, I eventually knit the second sock entirely in Antonia. Then I frogged the first sock back to where Spud and Chloe made their appearance. And, just to make it special, before I was done I managed to convince myself that I really was going to run out of yarn after all. But, no, I’d weighed the yarn correctly. I had a very small amount of yarn left. Just enough for darning if it’s ever needed. But, actually, I don’t do darn. Darn and I don’t play well together.

In the end, this is a nice basic pair of socks that fits Steve’s feet just the way hand-knit socks should: perfectly, with no irritating seams.


What’s up on Long Lake


We aren’t going to have any loon chicks this year on the lake. But we have loons-in-residence and from time to time we’re the party lake this summer. Loons occasionally gather in social groups. We hear them flying in, sounding their loony-tunes flight calls. We see them doing their skittering chasing about.

The underside of a loon is always a surprise. Even when you know their beautiful plumage is topside only, that white underbelly still seems sort of unfinished. Like the black magic marker ran out of ink.

See how the loon has its feet crossed in flight, as if at the ankle?  I’m thinking that must help it to deal efficiently with wind resistance. If loons did all that foot waggling and scratching in the air that they do in the water, they’d probably fall like a rock.

Here’s a beauty of a definitely different sort.


The Turkey Vulture. We see them circling in kettles that can number a few dozen individuals. But they don’t always travel in packs. This guy was a loner. Its fanned-out wing tips are a dead giveaway. Also, if you see a bird swooping down to something dead and smelly that’s pretty much a giveaway too. Oh yes, there’s that red head, all nicely defeathered so the bird can pick at carcasses and not have to do much grooming. There’s no mistaking that red head.

This fellow, cruising high over Long Lake, is a Great Blue Heron.


Great Blues fly with deep, strong beats of their very wide wings. But from ground level, it’s the long trailing legs that tell you best what’s up . When Great Blues fly, they pretty much fold their necks into sort of an “s” shape. So, look for long legs, long beak, but you won’t really see a long neck. And if you’re suddenly being reminded that all birds are descendants of dinosaurs, you’re probably looking at a Great Blue Heron. These guys may set you to wondering if the dinosaurs are still extinct.

Here’s one everyone knows, the Bald Eagle.


If Bald Eagles are flying high, they are more likely to be gliding than riding a thermal up in a spiral as a vulture does. On Long Lake the eagles often fly low over the tree lines. Their wing tips fan out, but not so exaggeratedly as a vulture’s. And unless the bird is very high or very backlit, the white head and yellow beak is the giveaway.