Hoodies but not knitted ones

More than 15 years on Hillman’s Long Lake and we’ve never seen Hooded Mergansers before this week. Common Mergansers? Sometimes we’ve been up to our eyeballs in them. But Hoodies? Never before.

First one couple showed up. Then, the next day, this!

This group of 10 was just part of the tribe. At one point we counted 54 Hoodies in our little bay.

We are fairly confident that the duck that seems to be leading the parade is a female Common Merganser. That will give you a sense of how the Hooded Mergansers are rather dainty as ducks go. Hoodies are about 16 inches long with a 24 inch wingspan. The Common type are 21-27 inches long with a wingspan of closer to 34 inches. The duck in the lead doesn’t have the typical female Common Merganser hairdo, but she looks right (for that) otherwise, including for her size. That, plus we see very few Common Goldeneyes, they are comparably sized to the Hoodies, and her bill doesn’t look right for a Goldeneye.

Hooded MergansersLophodytes cucullatus. These are ducks whose young make the leap from their cavity nest to the ground when they are one day old. Their leap can be up to a 50 foot drop down to a forest floor. Then they waddle over to their mom who’s been calling to them as she waits in a nearby pond. Definitely a leap of faith for the tiny day-old fluff balls. Also some rather nonchalant parenting.  Still, it works. Mostly one supposes.

Hoodies have specially adapted eyes that help them find prey under water. They have an extra eyelid, a “nictitating membrane.” It’s transparent and helps protect their eyes the same way a pair of goggles helps humans see under water.

Here’s another look at a few of the Hoodies who visited Long Lake around November 13th and 14th.

The Hoodies attracted the attention of Long Lake’s Bald Eagles too. We watched as an adult and an immature eagle dove into the water looking for lunch. We saw five unsuccessful attacks in two different sequences. There were major splashes. And each time the Bald Eagles came up empty-handed. Empty-footed, rather. We know that the Bald Eagles need to eat. But we were rooting for the Hoodies.

Cozies for feet (and legs)

Mighty handsome legs, don’t you think? These tiny tiny leg warmers, baby sized, are tincanknits tic tac toes. Try to say that tongue twister fast three times. Tincanknit tic tac toes. Tincanknit tic tac toes. Tincanknit tic tac toes. Actually, not as difficult as I thought.

Here’s a closer look, off leg. As with the rest of tincanknit’s patterns, the pattern is sized from baby to adult. What an excellent idea. Newborn Georgia’s leg warmers–which could also serve as arm warmers–are knit in Kollage Yarns Sock-a-licious. It is, or rather was since it’s been discontinued, 70% merino wool, 20% nylon, and 10% silk.

I’ve never worn leg warmers. And I’ve never been a ballerina either. But I gather that ballerina status is not required to wear leg warmers.

Now we move to a cozy that’s less cute but more useful. These are Kris Basta’s Better Dorm Boots for Men.  This Ravelry freebie is meant to be knit in bulky weight (or worsted weight doubled) and results in a workhorse of a foot cozy.

My version of Better Dorm Boots is knit in Plymouth Yarn Chunky to assure that they are machine washable and dryable. The 25% wool helps warm the feet and the 75% acrylic makes sure they’re easy care. 120 grams of chunky is all it took to knit the largest size.

Bob’s feet are enjoying them.

These next handsome socks are knit from Churchmouse Yarn and Teas’ Basic Sock pattern. If you’ve not knit socks before, this pattern–in all its delightful wordiness–is an excellent place to start. I knit mine, well Steve’s, in a yarn he really likes: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Mediumweight. This is a sport weight, which make for a firm warm sock when knit on a size 1.5 US needle.

Here are Steve’s feet enjoying a nice nap. The true shades of this colorway are the deep purple and blue shown above on my white backdrop. But I couldn’t resist showing off what a nice fit they turned out to be.

I didn’t want to forget about kids’ feet. These are Mine. They’re actually Isaac’s. But the pattern is Mine by Faye Kennington.

Mine are meant to be knit in a super bulky weight. I tried knitting them in Sirdar Bigga, a super bulky, but my gauge was way off. The slippers would had to have been donated to a basketball player. I downsized to a bulky weight and then my gauge was way off in the other direction. These turned out to be 8 inches long. I knit them in Valley Yarns’ Berkshire Bulky. 85% wool and 15% alpaca so, once they’re washed and thrown in the dryer, they’ll be looking for something closer to a toddler’s feet.

But they were a fun knit. It would have been better, I think, if I’d started my two-color look at the start of the garter stitch rather than just after the cable section. The pick up of stitches isn’t as neat as it should be (and would have been) if I’d changed the color just on the sole section.

Would you possibly like another look at those tincanknits’ leg warmers? My Ravatar insisted on trying on the leg warmers and she’s asking to be featured on the blog in full-body view. She’s also been begging me to knit a pair of tic tac toes just for her. She says her spot on top of my knitting corner bookcase next to glass head gets really chilly sometimes.