Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Shown below are a couple pairs of slippers (I was sewing them together Christmas morning!). Also shown is a little pair of mittens for my great nephew.
These half-mitts went to my SIL in California (along with the black "magic gloves" they're shown with). I hope she likes them.
This is one of Kathleen Taylor's Freebie Friday patterns (Easy Lace Fingerless Mittens). I love these fingerless mittens and wear them for most of the winter--at home and at work. The nice thing about them is if you wear just the mitt, your fingers are still free for typing or other work, but if you add them over a pair of gloves (like in the photo above), they really keep your hands warm.
And here are the last items--2 off-white dishcloths for a couple of co-workers and the blue & white variegated one for my sissy. This is Cathy Waldie's free pattern called Christmas Lace Dishcloth. She also has a pattern for a matching hand towel to knit, but I wasn't that ambitious this year. You can check out her "Wishing I Was Knitting at the Lake" blog here or click on it in the Knitting Blogs and Links section in my sidebar.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
December 20, 2008: ROCHESTER, MN -- The Minnesota Department of Transportation in Owatonna and Rochester advises no travel in the 11 counties of District 6, which include: Olmsted, Freeborn, Mower, Fillmore, Houston, Winona, Dodge, Steele, Rice, Goodhue, and Wabasha. This is until further notice, due to extremely poor driving conditions caused by heavy snowfall and reduced visibility.
Today dawned clear and cold, so I waited until the sun came up and then spent 10 minutes putting on all my layers to go out and fill all the birdfeeders. In case you're wondering, that's a smile on my face -- not a grimace (as it looks!)
This is turning out to be a winter like we used to have--before global warming.
This morning the weather service said we have 18" of snow on the ground. As you can see, the backyard dog is up to its tummy in snow and the pheasant (the dog was pointing at) is now completely buried in snow. (For new visitors to my blog, the dog is a metal sculpture and there's also a metal pheasant sculpture right in front of the dog--here's a link to an earlier picture of it. Rest assured, I would never leave a real dog like this in the backyard in any kind of weather!)
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I was extremely surprised to see this Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker in my backyard this afternoon. Here she's sharing the suet with a starling.
Here's a better look at her underneath and you can how she got her name! I checked my field guide and determined that this is a female because her throat is white (the male would have a red throat).
Here are a couple pictures of my Red-Bellied Woodpecker pair enjoying seed from some different feeders. They seem to favor seed over suet. This is the male.
And here's the female, trying to get a little protection from the weather.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I have what appears to be a little ice volcano over the bubbler. You can see that the water is completely ice free, but the air temperature is so cold that it freezes the spray of the water that's being pumped up over the rock, resulting in this covering of ice over the bubbler. The birds still come to the edge of this birdbath to drink, but they know it's too cold for bathing. Once the wind dies down, the warmth of the water should eventually melt this icy covering away.
To take my mind off the frigid weather, look what arrived in my mailbox today:
This next hat (entitled "A Pup Named Phil Hat") is from the toddler's clothing section of Knitting Pattern Central. It will be going to my great nephew for Christmas. You know, I've been knitting for a lot of years, but I can honestly say that I don't remember knitting anything as cute as this ever before. I can hardly wait to see how this looks on Ethan.
The rest of these aren't Christmas presents, just pictures of projects you've only seen partially completed before. Here's the shawl I made from the Noro Kureyon sock yarn. It's a small shawl, but adds a nice bit of warmth around my shoulders. I probably should have used a plain colored yarn, because I don't think you really notice the lace pattern with the color changes in the yarn. I'm also not totally happy with the edging. The points on the edge that pulled out very nicely when I blocked it are now tending to curl up. I'm thinking about adding some beads on those points around the edge to give the fabric a bit of extra weight and keep it from curling up.
Here's the other Tam O'Shanter I knitted from Angela Sixian Wu's "Three Tams" pattern. I really like how these colors turned out. The dark colored yarn is a 2-ply worsted weight wool called Regal (part of that yarn my friend Don gave to me last summer). As I was knitting with it, I thought the yarn was a little bit rough, but once I washed this hat and put in a little fabric softener, it dried so nicely (over the dinnerplate again) and is now really soft to the touch. I'll add it to my drawer of finished projects until I find the perfect giftee or silent auction to donate it to.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Today I have some fun pictures of some woodpeckers in my backyard. Here's the Red-Bellied Woodpecker getting peanuts out of this tube feeder in spite of the starling/squirrel guard I've got over the feeder. Isn't it amazing how far he can stretch through the wire? Then he uses his tongue to get a peanut out of the feeder port. It seems like an awful lot of work to me, especially in light of the fact that I have several easily accessible suet and peanut feeders in the yard, but I guess it's just a woodpecker thing. Gives me a chuckle watching him though.
Here's a handsome Hairy Woodpecker. I felt lucky to get this picture. These guys are pretty cautious and usually don't hang around the feeders long enough for me to grab the camera and get it focused.
Those dang starlings are still hanging around. (The trap is filled with snow, so I'll have to get it thawed out sometime over the weekend and set it up again.) I filled the suet log that hangs off my deck and yesterday when I got home from work the log was almost completely emptied and there was all kinds of starling poop on the patio below. Those dirty pigs! So this morning I took the drastic measure of putting the cage over this suet log to keep the starlings out. Here's a little video I took of the Downy Woodpecker enjoying the suet in this log--and how easily he gets to it despite the starling guard. I feel bad because I think this guard will also deter some of the bigger woodpeckers (except maybe that crazy Red-Bellied!), but at least I won't have the aggravation of having mobs of starlings right outside the dining room window.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
For those of you who like bluejays, here are a couple of videos that I took last Sunday morning. If you've never tried a window feeder for feeding your backyard birds, now's the time to start dropping some hints for that perfect Christmas gift! It's really fun to see the birds up close!
Sorry about that ticking noise--there are 2 clocks very close by and I don't even notice them anymore, but they sure sound loud on the video.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Here's how the backyard is looking--you can just see the top of the metal pheasant's head now (compared to seeing almost his entire body on November 30th).
The weatherman had been predicting some pretty high winds after the snow finished, but we were thankful that those predicted 30 mph gusts didn't arrive after all, so most of the snow that fell just stayed where it was instead of blowing and drifting all over the place.
When we got home from work today, Mr Johnson fired up the snowblower and after he finished clearing the driveway, it was my turn to make all my paths to the birdfeeders in the backyard.
I love playing with the snowblower! I know some of you might think this is a huge waste of gas just cutting all these paths through the backyard, but it makes it so much easier for me to get out and fill all the birdfeeders every day, plus Sophie really likes running on the paths too. These are all her tracks in the picture below--she gets off the path when I throw her frisbee.
Before I went to bed last night, I checked to see if the deer had stopped to eat some corn and I was surprised to see at least 7 in the backyard. Mr. Johnson just got back from his walk and he talked to one of the neighbors who lives up the street who mentioned that he had seen 17 deer recently eating apples in his backyard. Holy Moly! It will be interesting to see whether the number of deer in our backyard continues to increase as winter progresses. I'll keep my camera handy and post updates as they become available.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I don't have anything particularly inspiring to share in this 400th post, but there are a couple of cool pictures from something I recently discovered in the backyard that I've saved for the end. (Don't forget, you can click on any of these pictures to make them bigger.)
After waking up to a temperature of -3 degrees (F) this morning, temps have moderated to a balmy 9 degrees and we're getting some light snow as I'm writing this post. Weather like this really increases the bird activity at all my backyard feeders.
Here are a couple of nice pictures of the always attractive Mrs. Northern Cardinal.
Of course, the bluejays are all hanging out waiting for me to dispense more peanuts. They can really fluff themselves up in this cold weather.
Now that the leaves are off all the trees, look what I discovered in the big weeping willow tree in my backyard:
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I browsed the list of titles and chose the podcast titles I wanted to listen to and within minutes, I was learning all about BirdJam......
from two of its creators: Jay and Denese (complete with pictures!) Isn't this cool??
Next I listened to my friend Julie's story of Fergus the bullfrog called "Paradise Lost" from her great book "Letters from Eden."
I don't know about you, but when I was a little kid I loved it when my mom read stories to us, and that's exactly what listening to these stories was like. Somebody who knows about these things please tell me: I can download audio books to the iPod too, can't I? Then I'll really be able to maximize my knitting time!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Amazingly enough, in the 40+ years I've been knitting, I've never made a Tam O Shanter. But I found this really cool pattern for Three Tams at Knitting Pattern Central. The patterns were designed by the very talented Angela Wu (see her blog here).
So I know you're looking at this picture and wondering, "how in the heck is she going to get that goofy looking thing turned into a tam?" And here's where the real magic comes in. After washing and squishing all the excess moisture out of the hat, you just stretch it over a dinner plate.
It's easy to center the plate correctly and evenly with this pattern. Isn't the top shaping beautiful?
Here's what the bottom side looks like. I love how this turned out and the really neat thing is that the contrasting colored yarn (Noro Kureyon) changes colors all by itself within the skein. Once the hat has dried, I just take out the dinner plate and it's ready to wear or more likely be given away as a gift.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Because the weather was kind of crappy on Saturday and Sunday night (snowy and blowing) I think these little yearling deer were laying low in a sheltered and warmer spot. But tonight, things have cleared up and there is barely any wind, so these hungry critters headed out early to check for food. Fortunately I had gone out around 5:00 and put shelled corn in both of the trays.
The picture above was taken without the flash and the one shown below was with the flash (which doesn't seem to bother them). I have the trail camera mounted on a nearby pole also, but didn't have it turned on tonight (the batteries are probably frozen anyway).