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.

Fall at the lake is hat weather’s start

Long  Lake has been spectacular lately. This was the view one day this week about an hour after sunrise. The weather is crisp. OK, the weather’s pretty cold. It reminds that winter isn’t far away.

Time for hats. This purple one is Claudia Eisenkolb’s Not Cabled. I knit mine in Berrocco Ultra Wool, a worsted weight superwash that is a new favorite of mine. Not Cabled just looks like it uses cables. The illusion is achieved by merely working knit and purl stitches.

In this view you get a better sense that this isn’t cabling.

And, as always with hats I like to knit, the decreases successfully continue enough of the pattern to create an attractive crown.

This sunny hat is Lion Brand’s Seed Rib Hat. The pattern calls for  a DK weight. I used Stonehedge Fiber’s Shepherd’s Wool DK. My sense is that this hat will be a hit in my holiday choose-your-gift basket.

OK. People will likely say “I like the pompom” and overlook that the crown decreases nicely continue (and properly dispose of) the pattern stitch. But as knitters we will be pleased by what’s under the pompom, a series of organized crown decreases.

Given the death of Classic Elite and its yarns, this next hat might be called “Ode to Classic Elite Fresco.” But it’s actually Susan Mills no-nonsense Fresco Simply Slouchy Hat available now, via Ravelry, as a freebie.

Such a sweet and simple thing. And knit up in sportweight Fresco, it’s kitten-soft.

Next up is Joji Locatelli’s free pattern Rafa’s Hat. I decided to knit mine in a skein of Worsted Merino Superwash Hand-dyed, a Plymouth yarn that I’ve had in my stash for a good long while. Speckled yarns don’t entice me much anymore. But I think this pattern works well in this yarn.

A very simple crown decrease. And it works!

And finally, an oldie-goodie, knit in Berroco Comfort to satisfy the wool-adverse.

It’s the delightfully named School Colors Hat AC-53. It’s a Fiber Trends pattern by Betsy Lee McCarthy, available direct from the Fiber Trends website and on Ravelry. This hat has a trick up its sleeve to create the double roll. The trick is all about the rolling and not much about the knitting. I’ve knit many of these and posted about them on my blog. I get questions about how to form the double roll. The answer is to finish knitting and then just do exactly what the pattern says. Exactly. Without any overthinking. The double roll will happen. This pattern was released back in 1492 and, no, you haven’t discovered that the roll doesn’t work.

The crown knits up neatly even though Comfort shows the decreases more than I think ideal.

More Rib Sampler Scarves

Recently I needed a mindless super easy knit that would keep my hands busy and my self soothed. I remembered how much I’d enjoyed knitting  Lion Brand’s Rib Sample Scarves during the summer heat. Knitting another one felt right.

Usually I don’t knit these in pricy yarns, but I’d been trying to find a home for my Fibre Company Cumbria for quite awhile. The yarn is 60% merino, 30% masham, and 10% mohair worsted weight. I’d already tried knitting it into two different shawls, one with some lacey bits and another loaded up with short rows. It just wasn’t playing nice with those patterns and I’d had to frog.

So, this would be a rib sampler scarf for me. I supersized it, casting on 54 stitches (rather than the 28 called for by the pattern) and elongating all the sections. I knit the 2 by 2 ribbing at each end for 15 inches instead of 8. The garter stitch sections are 5 inches instead of 4. The mistake rib and farrow rib sections are 10 inches instead of the 8 the pattern calls for. And, as I always do with this pattern, I extended the 1 by 1 ribbing in the neck section to 15 inches instead of 12. This version needed about 670 yards and turned out to be 80 inches long. At its widest point it’s 10.5 inches.

This is going to be a cozy winter piece and the “buttermere” colorway will look great with my black coat.

So, I’ve already let the cat out of the bag that I’m quite the fan-girl when it comes to this scarf. Ravelry lists 23 project pages for this scarf and (ahem) I’ve knit nine of them. In fact, in late July and early August, in the sweltering heat, I knit two other Rib Sampler scarves. This next one is knit in Stonehedge Fiber Shepherd’s Wool Superwash. It’s a lightweight worsted.

I increased the width by casting on 44. On the first (and last) section of 2 by 2 ribbing, I knit 10 inches. I kept the garter stitch sections and the other ribbing sections (except for the midsection of 1 by 1) at 4 inches. And I knit the middle 1 by 1 ribbing for 15 inches. This version used about 415 yards and turned out to be 60 inches long and at its widest points (the garter stitch sections) it’s 9 inches wide.

This next one, my BSeen rib sampler, is headed to a local charity auction. I knit it in hunter orange intending it would scream “not a deer…not a deer.”

It’s knit in a very rustic wool: Briggs & Little Heritage. It’s a definite Aran weight. It won’t satisfy the itch-adverse. But it will be warm and protect the wearer from more than just the cold. I knit it to the same dimensions as the Shepherd’s Wool version.

This scarf is a wonderful rhythmic knit. It never fails to sooth whatever savage beast is trying to beast me at the moment.

Cowl weather is coming

Before I became a voracious knitter, decades ago now, I didn’t know what a cowl was. Now I sometimes even wear them in the summer or to take the bite out of an air-conditioned chill. This cowl is Purl Soho’s freebie: Floats Cowl. I knit mine out of Heritage Yarn’s Prime Alpaca. It’s a 100% alpaca sport weight.

I had difficulty with what should have been an easy knit. It’s a 2 row pattern and you work it looking at the non-public side. In other words, the floats, formed from slipping two stitches, form on the inside. On the next round, you purl the slipped stitches. For me, it was very difficult to look at my knitting and know which round I was on. Even when I started counting rounds, “odd round are slip stitch rounds and even rounds are plain rib,” my brain would lapse into the wrong stitches. Plus, it’s a very hard stitch to fix when you goof–at least it was for me. And every mistake shows up very obviously. I tried stitching a repair in one spot. That worked…poorly,

I tried working the stitch facing the public side. It doesn’t look the same. Moving the yarn before and after you slip the stitches anchors the yarn (or something like that) and it gives a different look.

I am typically good with really boring knits. Miles of garter stitch bore many experienced knitters. But not me. Apparently knitting something that’s only a bit boring and I lose my concentration and screw up. Sigh. This cowl is very warm. I’ll get good use out of it.

I knit the full 11 inches that the pattern called for. I blocked the cowl after soaking it in Eucalan, toweling out the moisture, and laying the cowl flat (without using any pins). I had lots of yarn and didn’t worry about the gauge. Mine came out to be 42 inches in circumference and 11 inches deep. A worthwhile knit. And because there’s a few mistakes in it, I will keep it for me!

This next cowl is Jenny F’s No January Blues Cowl. The blue is Tosh DK by Madelinetosh, a beefy DK that matched Mirasol Yarns Umina, which is actually a rather light worsted. Jenny F says “This DK/light worsted weight cowl uses 2 colors to create a gorgeous melange accessory that will effortlessly fit into your wardrobe.”  I knit this awhile back, as part of a mystery knit-a-long (MKAL). Honestly, I have been following the bandana cowl craze with disinterest and I don’t think I’d have knit it if I knew what I would end up with.

This.

But it’s a pretty thing. I wore it, once, and people commented on it without mentioning that it’s a melange accessory. At least they didn’t ask if I was getting ready to rob a bank.

Here’s an easy peasy one, Boxing Clever, in bulky-weight Duo, by Jarbo-Garn. It’s an acrylic gradient-like yarn. Quite beautiful. This freebie cowl, designed by Susan Ashcroft of Stichnerd Designs, includes instructions for changing the size and yarn weight.

I cast on 108, despite this being a bulky-weight. This was me in stash-down mode, which continues apace. So I used up nearly all my remaining skein by working 5 rows of boxes, 60 rounds. It’s a wonderfully extravagant major cowl that you can easily knit in one night.