Time to retire the blog (but not the knitting)

Well, well. Yep. That’s me paddling off into the sunset. No worries. I’m a (basically) healthy 71-year old. And of course I’m a voracious knitter and intend to remain so. I started this blog fifteen years ago on May 30, 2009 and it just feels like the right time to close this chapter. My apologies that I had to disable comments several months ago. The spammers found me and only running silent gave me any peace. If anyone wants to follow what I’m knitting, you can find me on Ravelry. I’m Noreen1009.

When my son built my blog and gave it to me as my Mother’s Day present I had no idea it would be so much fun. I’ve loved featuring life on the Sunrise Side of Michigan’s lower peninsula and Hillman’s Long Lake. And throughout it’s been knitting, knitting, and more knitting. What could be better?

I thought I’d close out the blog with a sort of greatest hits post. Google Analytics tells me where most of my traffic goes. Plus I have a few favorites of my own that I decided to include.

My 2011 post on Lijuan Jing’s Vortex is the hands down reader favorite.

This post’s popularity is helped out by the designer giving me permission to post extensive errata to significant parts of her pattern that don’t seem to have been published anywhere else.

My 2010 post on the afghan I was knitting on July 20,1969 while Neil Armstrong walked on the moon still finds its way to a fair number of eyeballs.

Lots ‘o Red Heart in this one. More than 50 years after I cast off the space program’s pretty much in shambles but the afghan soldiers on. As a sixteen-year old I had no thought that my grandchildren would be cuddling under it.

A new contender for blog traffic winner is my own 2022 Gartergantuan creation in 63 skeins of Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted.

Sixty-three 113-gram skeins. That’s not a typo. It’s shown here on a queen-sized bed. I managed to knit my own weighted blanket. Brown Sheep featured Gartergantuan on its Instagram feed.

This next greatest hit is a personal favorite. It’s the story of repairs to my grandson’s knitted “Big George.” Here’s how George arrived in my ER after a nighttime eruption of vomit and a needed trip through the washing machine.

Here’s the original 2010 post to check out Big George in his pristine state.

My adaptation of Yuvinia Yuhadi’s Ubiquitous chair cover is another personal favorite post.

I used the designer’s pattern to understand the number of stitches I’d need and the general construction. The rest was me fiddling around trying to reproduce the feel of a bedspread I remember from my grandmother’s house.

While I’m thinking about designers, here are posts on my two Ravelry-published free patterns, Sunrise Side Bear and Acorn Hill Pony.

Gosh. Choosing what to include in this good-bye post is harder than I thought.

I don’t knit many sweaters, but here’s one I especially like that I knit for one of my brothers.

I knit boatloads of shawls and wrote about most of them here. Ute Nawrotil’s Waiting for the Sun is probably the one I’m most proud of. I was afraid to cast on, thinking it would be beyond my skill set. But it worked out. Big time, I think.

Please have a wander through the archives. There’s a lot of knitting here. Ravelry tallies my yardage knit during approximately the 15-year span of this blog at 387,407. That’s more than 220 miles of yarn. Lordy!

If Michigan’s “up north” is your passion, as it still is for me, more posts with lasting click-power are Whitefish Point Cemetery, Rogers City, and public folk art along US 23 between Alpena and Harrisville. Lots of Michiganders struggling with Canada Geese and their mountains of slimy tootsie roll droppings find some of my goose posts amusing.

The many-year saga of the Eastern Kingbirds who raised their brood in the cupholder on our lake-side dock bench somehow seems like a good place to close out the blog.

These kingbirds are fierce and devoted mothers.

My son’s 2009 Mother’s Day blog gift meant and means more than I can express either to him or to you. It’s been a heck of a run! My sincere thanks that you visited my blog.

The knit goes on…

The birds of Spring

Waking up to snow on the ground and ice on the plants that rim the lake during the first week of May made us pine for spring. The Adirondack chairs are out. The twigs in the fire pit await a calm day when it’s safe to burn. The boat is in. The kayak launch aid is set (the “H” about 4 feet from shore). The orange halves are hung on the trees waiting for orioles.This dawn looked more like fall. But so beautiful.

We do not have swans on Long Lake. But, wait. This Spring is different. These are definitely Mute Swans. They had the telltale lump at the top of their bill and the bills were lighter than they appear in these photos. They’re the exotic transplant seen most often in Michigan and not our homegrown Trumpeter Swans.

We’ve seen them once or twice before in about 15 years on the lake. But this quartet hung around for more than a week.

We see Common Mergansers regularly in the Spring. But Hooded Mergansers are rare. These guys were a hoot to watch. The males were puffing up their impressive crests and clearly performing for the nearby females. This female seemed unimpressed.

Here’s the pair once the male had chilled out and the female had, apparently, changed her mind.

We do not have Red-Breasted Mergansers on Long Lake. But, wait. This Spring is different. These are definitely Red-Breasted Mergansers.

It’s the male’s punk hairdo that’s the big give-away. And the female has some of the same fly-away look going on.

We have a number of warblers that put in appearances on Long Lake. But we do not have Yellow-Rumped Warblers. But, wait. This Spring is different. These are definitely Yellow-Rumped Warblers of the variety formerly known as Myrtle. You can tell it’s the Myrtle variety rather than the Audubon variety because the chin-strap is white rather than yellow.

And, yes, there is a yellow splotch on its rump. It was just such a fluttery critter that Steve couldn’t get a photo of its rump.

There was a time when Myrtle was its own species. And the somewhat similar Audubon warbler, with less distinct coloration and a yellow chin strap, were considered to be a separate species. The two species were merged by the birding universe’s powers that be. They are the only warbler that can digest the waxy berries produced by myrtle and bayberry bushes. They aren’t a rare warbler, at least not during migration. But we’ve never seen them here before.

Wouldn’t that gray, black, white, bright yellow make a great colorway for a yarn? Or an interesting way to find (or free) your fade?

It’s just not your normal Up North Michigan Spring. In so many ways, it’s not a normal Spring.

Speaking of Canada Geese

I don’t have friendly feelings toward Canada Geese. I’ve written about this a lot on my blog over the years, including my efforts to chase them away with a big floating alligator head with shiny jewel eyes that sparkled in the sun.

That worked not one bit. In fact, a pair of black ducks decided to befriend Headly the first night he appeared at the dock and they soiled the dock big time.

And then there was the plastic coyote.

He had a big fluffy realistic tail that flapped in the wind. We moved him around the lawn thinking maybe we’d keep the geese wondering if he could do more than wave his tail at them. That didn’t work either. And everytime I caught a glimpse of him I startled.

We’ve strung the property (to the extent that we can). I’ve run after them in my white bathrobe yelling and waving a broom in the air. I have permission to go on my neighbors’ lots to chase them away. Nothing, except a dog–which we don’t have, works for longer than a few minutes unless THEY decide they want to graze elsewhere. So, from about June until September we have to deal with geese, their goslings, and–of course (and this is the point)–their slimy toostie roll droppings.

Last summer my grandchildren, then ages 3 and 5, visited for a week. They were quite entertained by the adult efforts to keep the geese at bay. Especially memorable was their mother herding the geese off the neighbor’s lawn screaming like a banshee as the geese fluttered ahead of her.

My daughter-in-law later suggested that the children would enjoy having knitted Canada Geese. They’d taken to calling themselves goslings and to teasing their parents sometimes by calling them Mama and Daddy Goose. Gulp. Knit geese? Knit Canada Geese?

These two made their appearance in time for a Valentine’s Day send-off to the kiddos. They were well-received. The children are totally sweet and totally knitworthy.

This is a pair of Betsy’s Goose, a freebie pattern on Ravelry offered by Sara Elizabeth Kellner. I decided to economize on the yarn and knit the geese in Paintbox Yarn Simply Aran, a 100% acrylic. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the yarn. Even knit at tight gauge, the yarn didn’t squeak as I knit. There were no knots. It’s an excellent acrylic in my view. The pattern was an easy knit.

Lots of folks have trouble with the legs. Basically, the geese don’t want to stand on them. Some knitters just leave the legs off. But I didn’t think that geese without legs and feet would suit. I positioned the legs in a few places. I tried them stiffened with a section of plastic straw. I tried running a length of yarn from the leg to an unobtrusive place in the neck to try to strengthen them. None of that worked. On a second try I borrowed feet from a different duck pattern where the feet are larger. That didn’t work either. Finally this is what I did:

I used the black yarn, doubled, and moved up to size 6 US needles rather than the size 4 that I used for the body. I followed rounds 1-4 for the leg, as the pattern directs. But I didn’t knit any rounds of the next one inch the pattern called for. I moved right into the remaining rounds, 1-8–as written. My idea was to double the yarn to make the legs stiffer and to shorten the legs, a lot. I ran a running stitch across the foot, at the base of the stumpy little legs to help flatten the feet a bit. When I fastened these feet to the goose in the place where goose feet ought to be, the goose toppled over–just as with all my other tries. I had to place the feet much further toward the neck than toward the tail before the goose would balance. So, not anatomically correct. But it worked and looks OK.

I wonder what this pair is looking at?

No. Please. No.

Rest easy. This is a photo of a Long Lake Canada Goose attack during the southern migration when, for reasons unknown (to me), the geese only rarely come ashore. At this time of the year, and through the summer, we tend to have “only” 4-5 geese pair on the lake. Oh, and each pair has between 3 and a dozen goslings that survive to what passes for maturity among these critters.

Ending on a more hopeful note, but still sticking to the theme, this is the Flying Geese Hat by Streelymade Designs.

I knit mine in Mirasol Umina. It’s 50% alpaca, 50% merino and lists on Ravelry as an Aran weight. I see it more as a worsted, though.

Good hat. Nice simple crown decrease.

Canada Geese. Beautiful birds. I just wish we weren’t up to our eyeballs in them.

April 21, 2020…when did winter end?

I am basically a weather-tolerant person. Well, except for the hot muggy stuff.

But 24 degrees and winds at Drake Passage speeds on April 21st is a bit much.

Here’s the place where the land meets Hillman’s Long Lake.

It’s even a bit colder this morning. Yesterday’s snow dusting is on the grass. The lake edge still gleams in the bright morning sun.