Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dad's Memorial Bench

Here's a look at the memorial bench we're going to put up for my Dad. Mom got the memorial dollars totalled up, I finally got the wording right that all my family members could agree on, chose 5 possible locations for placement around the St. John's property to present in a proposal to the trustees. Amazingly, the church trustees were able to approve one of those spots in only 3 days, and we were free to move ahead with this project. I visited Bill at the memorial company yesterday, signed the agreement and gave him the deposit. Hopefully, before the end of September, this bench will be in place near the school where my Dad influenced so many lives for the past 50 years. Hopefully the people who sit on this bench and were Dad's students or worked with Dad will have some good stories and memories to share with each other or their own kids and grandkids.

Love you and miss you Dad! You can bet I'll take my turn sitting on this bench and remember some of the interesting and fun stories of having you for a teacher too!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Midwest Birding Symposium Update

By now you probably know that I'll be attending the Midwest Birding Symposium in Lakeside, Ohio in just a little over 3 weeks. I'm also one of the lucky few chosen to be an "Official Blogger" at the Symposium. I'm really looking forward to this road trip with my best birding friend Lynne (also chosen as an Official Blogger). And if any of you have any good tips on the best way to get through the Chicago expressway system with a minimum or stress and/or profanity, please share them with me in the comments.

It looks like there's a multitude of fun activities and events planned for attendees at the Midwest Birding Symposium, but did you know there's going to be a raffle too? I understand that the money collected for raffle tickets goes to benefit a variety of birding, conservation and natural resource groups. I checked with the folks in charge of the symposium to see if they were still looking for raffle items and if they'd be interested in any of my handmade fiber treasures. The answer was "Yes!" So for those of you who are attending the symposium, please be sure to register to win one of these following items I'm donating:

8-Pointed Star-Shaped Ripple Afghan
Stripes are Pink Camo and Cafe Au Lait
I'm still crocheting on this one -- it's about half done and already pretty large. It will definitely be big enough to cover an adult -- probably even an adult and her small dog or cat!
It's 100% acrylic plus machine washable and dryable.

Lace Shawl
Knitted with silk/wool yarn and adorned with beads on the entire shawl
(click on the photo to enlarge)

Included with the shawl is this adorable copper shawl pin in the shape of a little birdie (from my personal collection)
Haven't registered for the Midwest Birding Symposium yet? No worries because there's still time and space available. If you think you can make it to the festival this year, I even have a discount code for you to use. Mention MBS2011BB25 on your registration to take advantage of the group discount rate.

Hope to see you there and if you can't make, check in with the Nature Knitter blog on Sept. 16-18 to get all the latest news from this "Official Blogger."

Monday, August 15, 2011

County Fair Results

For the first time in many years, I entered some of my knitting projects for open class competition at the Olmsted County Fair. The entry process can be done totally on-line now, so that really streamlined things on entry day. I was kind of disappointed last year when I went to the fair and saw that there really weren't many handknitting projects entered in the fair. I thought with all the people that seem to be knitting these days that there would have been much more, but maybe people just don't do that anymore? So I decided that this year I would try raising the competition bar a bit by entering a few of the items I've finished in the past year. Here are the results of my fair entries and I've included the judges comments that were attached.

Gray Wool Mittens
"Nicely done. Decreases accentuate linear look. Warm, interesting cuff design."

Fair Isle Tam
"Colors work well together. Even floats inside."

If you're not a knitter and wonder what "even floats" mean, she's referring to the color not in use that's carried along the backside of the knitting project. If you're ever with a knitter and that person picks up a colorwork garment and turns it inside out, this is what we're looking at.....

Blue Swirly Cable Hat
"Interesting cables, shaping and cables work well together. Yarn accentuates cables."

Baltic Style Mittens
"Nice Braided Cuff. Interesting color combinations with muted and bright. Warm material. Even stitches and floats, nicely done."

Norwegian Wedding Gloves
"Exquisite! Yarn choice accentuates the lace. Great job, no finger gap, workmanship is superb."
Was awarded the burgundy "Honorable Mention" ribbon on these also. I've never seen or received this ribbon before, so I'm not sure if it's something new or what the deal is with it exactly.

Batik Shawl (knitted with 100% alpaca yarn)
"Love interplay of cables and lace, interesting to look at -- even the back is interesting. Very even, lovely piece."
I love the interplay of cables and lace on this pattern also -- one of the main reasons why I chose to knit this shawl, and it earned me the Reserve Grand Champion award!

Of all the years I've entered projects at the fair, this is the only time that I can remember receiving blue ribbons on everything. I was pretty happy about that. One year (sometime back in the '80s) I did get a Grand Champion ribbon and trophy on a large lace knitted shawl, so this year's reserve grand champion ribbon was pretty exciting too.

On all of my judges comments, the following statement was included: "Thanks for sharing your talent with Olmsted County." I hope that seeing my knitting projects at the fair will inspire and encourage other knitters in Olmsted County to think about entering their projects in the fair next year.

(I apologize for the poor color on these photographs -- I took the pictures late last nite under artificial light so they look pretty crappy.)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Wren Family

Underneath my deck, I have a little wren house (shaped like a mailbox). Every year since I put it up, the wrens have had a family there.
Since there's no way to look inside, I have no idea how many babies are squished in there, but I do know there are at least two.

And they're very noisy babies!
All day, every day, Mr & Mrs Wren spend every waking hour searching my backyard for bugs to feed these noisy babies. Sometimes they find bugs in the garden......

They perch on the clothesline before feeding the bugs to the babies (because their house is right below the clothesline).

But they really like to perch on the edge of the hanging basket holder that's right next to their house.

Their babies hear them chirping when they fly home with a bug and since those babies are always starving(!) the parents never get a rest.....

"More please, NOW, Mom!" ("Sigh," thinks mom)

During my photo session yesterday afternoon, one of the wren parents arrived with this epic-sized grub!

Let's see how the baby likes this treat......

Mom obviously considering whether to eat this tasty morsel herself or try to fit it in Junior's beak.

OK, let's try it WIDE!

Much wider, please!
That's good, you've almost got it!

OK, now get ready to swallow.......are you ready? I'm going to let go.


And Mrs. Wren goes back to searching for more insect treats in the backyard.
Watching these birds feed the insects they find is the main reason for never using pesticide sprays of any sort in my backyard. Having once inadvertently killed a family of bluebirds by spraying tent caterpillars with Raid, I learned a difficult (and valuable) lesson. Now I rely on the birds to do all the insect control work in my backyard and they seem to be managing the job very nicely.