Saturday, 28 July 2007

Cat's Paw Socks

After surfing the Internet for a pattern for Cat's Paw Socks, I decided to design my own based on lace patterns I saw. I am using the Silky Sock yarn from Adirondack yarns which I purchased last week in New Hartford, NY at Indigo Yarns. I cast on 64 stitches and did K2, P2 ribbing for an inch before starting the pattern. It is going well, however the dye is coming off on my hands! This is the first time I've had that happen with yarn. I will wash them in 'Soak' before wearing them the first time. Hopefully any residual 'loose' dye will wash out. I'm loving the new Addi Turbo Lace needles. I'm using the 2.5mm one.

I ran errands today in preparation for a birthday party we are attending in Keswick tomorrow and also in preparation for my trip to Missouri on Monday. I'm staying at Lorna's tomorrow night so I don't have to get up at an obscenely early time to get to the airport for our 10:30am flight on Monday morning. Once in Kansas City, we're renting a car a driving the 2.5 hours to Columbia, MO.

Chewy #3 seems to be either resting or dead. Scooter thinks he's just getting ready to make its chrysalis. Time will tell...

Friday, 27 July 2007


We arrived home today and the neighbour who has been taking care of Ollie and the caterpillars (sounds like a rock band name from the 60s) came hobbling across the street (he has a cast on one foot) to tell us two of them pupated while we were gone. Chewy #1 (or its chrysalis) is attached to the top of the jar near the neck and Chewy #2 was attached to what was left of a leaf. Apparently Chewy#3 who is still a caterpillar ate around the leaf of Chewy #2. I attached Chewy #2 to the top of the 'pupation stick' (my term) with a staple so he'd be hanging and not lying on the bottom of the jar amid the poop. I expect Chewy #3 to make its chrysalis any day now. At least when the big guys are in chrysalis form, there won't be any more pooping.

When I was cleaning out the jar, I noticed we have another little caterpillar! It must have hatched from one of the eggs that was on a leaf being fed to the others. So here we go again.

We had a good drive back from Buffalo today although there was some drizzle from St. Catharines to Grimsby. We got home by 2pm. I got 3 loads of our laundry done and got take-out fish and chips for supper. We've eaten so much chicken this past week.

I'm home until Sunday evening then I'm off to Lorna's for our trip to visit Francey. Francey's two kids go to school at the University of Missouri. They realized buying a house for the kids to live in while there would be cheaper than paying residence fees for the two of them for 4 years. So we're flying to Kansas City, MO and renting a car to drive to Columbia, MO to meet Francey. The next day we're driving to St. Louis to meet Francey's husband, Rich, who will be flying in from California where he has been fighting forest fires. We will drop the golf clubs off with Rich and their younger son, Andrew so the boys will cavort in St. Louis and us girls will play in St. Louis for a day or two then go back to Columbia to the kids' house to goof off some more. One thing I'd like to do is go see the movie, "Hairspray".

I'm scouring the Internet for 'cat's paw' patterns for socks. I think I'll be designing them myself because I haven't found exactly what I want. I have found lots of lace patterns for scarves and wraps, etc.

I have decided to do an entrelac scarf with the Karaoke yarn I bought in New Hartford, NY. I found a pattern I like in Pam Allen's "Scarf Style". I almost bought the book yesterday in Buffalo but held off because I saw very similar patterns on the Internet that thought I could use. I checked the catalogue for our library this evening and lo and behold, they have the book! It's due to be returned on Aug. 7 so I'll put a hold on it. Yay!!!

Thursday, 26 July 2007

"Let's Go, Buffalo"

Today we attended Buffalo Bills' Training Camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, NY.

We had a heck of a time finding the parking lot where we could take the shuttle into the college. At one point Skip noted a reticulated bus 3 vehicles ahead of us. We knew that was the kind of bus that is used as a shuttle to the camp. I told him, "Follow that bus and don't let him out of your sight". Sure enough, it lead us to the parking lot.
While Scooter and Skip watched the action on the practice field...

I did some knitting in the bleachers.

I knit (KIP*) on the shuttle bus back to our car. I was working on a sock for "Afghans for Afghans". When I stepped off the bus, a woman came up to me and asked what I was knitting. She also asked about my using one circular needle. I told her it was the "Magic Loop" method and she could look it up on the Internet. I also told her that almost everything I have recently learned about knitting, I learned on the Internet.

After the practice, we drove to Buffalo and had lunch at one of Skip's favourite restaurants - Cracker Barrel.

We took turns 'setting a spell' in the rockers on the porch.

And I continued knitting while Scooter showed off the candy he bought - remember "Pop Rocks"?

*Knitting In Public

Wednesday, 25 July 2007


Today we played 9 holes of golf at Beaver Creek Golf Course about 8 miles NW of Rome, NY. We then headed out for Rochester (one of Skip's sports radio personalities calls it Crap-chester, ergo the title of today's blog). We had lunch at a service centre on the NY Thruway. We were delayed 1/2 hour on the Thruway for no apparent reason. But both lanes of westbound traffic were just stopped. There was a truck on the right shoulder before the stoppage that had a sign that said "Accident Ahead" but we saw no evidence of that.

Once in Rochester and checked into the Best Western, I headed to "The Yarne Source" a very nice yarn store and purchased a skein of Adirondack Yarns "Silky Sock" in the Seamist colourway. It is 50% merino wool, 20% silk and 10% nylon. I also purchased two Addi Turbo Lace circular needles in 36" lengths.

We had dinner at Romano's Macaroni Grill and headed to Golf Galaxy so Skip could purchase his beloved Bionic golf gloves.

Tomorrow we're off to Pittsford for the opening day of Buffalo Bills' Training Camp and then will push on to Buffalo for the night. We'll be back in the GTA on Friday.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Baseball Hall of Fame

Skip, Scooter and I are on our annual road trip. Today we visited the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. It was our second time (and Skip's third). The town of Cooperstown, NY is very small and quite charming. We parked at a lot about a mile outside of town and took a trolley downtown.

After our visit, we drove back towards our motel and stopped in New Hartford, NY at a yarn shop called Indigo Yarns. I bought 3 skeins of Karaoke 50% soy silk/50% wool yarn (colour 278 - Mermaid Mix) to make an entrelac scarf.

The proprietor offered to give me an entrelac pattern for the scarf but couldn't find it. The model she had made up was from "Scarf Style" edited by Pam Allen. I found a pattern myself here on the Freckles & Pearls website. Now that I've knit and re-knit the 'garterlac' bathmat, I feel confident I can tackle the scarf pattern except this time I have to actually purl some rows for entrelac stockinette. I will CO 16 stitches instead of the 24 that the pattern calls for.

I finished another pair of socks for "Afghans for Afghans" from the leftover yarn I had in my stash. I ran out of grey so had to knit the toes in another yarn. I have cast on for another pair from some red yarn from my stash. This project has really given me a lot of practice knitting short row heels. I don't know why I found them so hard before.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Nursery Photo

Chewy and his colleagues continue to grow at an amazing rate. I finally took some photos:

Here's a closeup with all three of them quite visible: (the littlest one is face on and about an inch to the right of the medium-sized one)

There is quite a difference in their sizes but all three of them were 'taken into care' when they were itty-bitty, say, 0.5 cm long. The largest one is now about 5cm long (2"). Skip tells me they grow about 2000 times their size from when they hatch. I'm not surprised because all they do is eat and poop.

Eat and poop. Eat and poop.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Chewy's Getting Big!

I got a big surprise today when I was cleaning out the mayonnaise jar and giving the caterpillars new milkweed leaves. Chewy has gotten huge! He's almost an inch long now. The other Chewys are thriving as well. I think a little one even hatched from an egg I had put in there attached to a leaf.

We are going away next week so I'm trying to figure out how to get them fresh milkweed daily. Also they leave a lot of droppings (frass) . The neighbour who is feeling Ollie has agreed to look after Chewy and his colleagues so he'll do whatever I ask him to do. We certainly have lots of milkweed to feed them. I may just pick some stems with leaves on it and put them in water so they stay fresh. I had planned to dig up a plant but it might be too big for a container. I'll figure something out.

On the knitting front, I got the Baby Surprise Jacket pattern in the mail yesterday and started it using the yarn left over from Skip's Aran sweater. It might not be the greatest for a baby's sweater but it's mostly so I can get the hang of the pattern. I checked online for some clarification about the pattern and now think I understand how it goes. It's an Elizabeth Zimmerman design originally published in 1968. Pictures to follow...

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Caterpillar Nursery

My husband, Skip, is an avid birder and nature lover. A few years back he collected some milkweed seeds and planted them in a couple of corners of our garden in the hopes they would attract monarch butterflies. Monarchs lay their eggs on the underside of the milkweed leaves. The eggs hatch, and little caterpillars are born. The first thing the caterpillars do is eat their egg shell then they start chewing on the milkweed leaves. After 3 to 4 weeks the caterpillars pupate and create a beautiful green chrysalis. About a month later they become butterflies.

We didn't see any monarch butterflies near the milkweed plants until last year and at that, I only saw one. I'm not sure if eggs were laid. However this year, we have seen considerably more monarchs and actually witnessed one laying an egg with her ovipositor.

She curls her back end under the leaf and deposits one football-shaped white egg.

This is an extreme close-up of the egg.

After a few days, the egg hatches and the little caterpillar is born:

It is at this point, we've been harvesting them, leaf and all and putting them in a big, clean mayonnaise jar with an old hunk of pantihose over the top.

We got the idea when we visited The Butterfly Farm in St. Martin last March Break on our wonderful southern Caribbean cruise on the Crown Princess.

The caterpillars voraciously munch away on the leaves. Because the leaves are no longer attached to the plant they dry up after a day or two so each day we put new leaves in the jar and carefully remove the old ones every day as well as any 'droppings'. We have seen the little caterpillars double in size and start to display their characteristic stripes.

Our little guys are still only a few days old.

Every day I inspect the leaves on the milkweed plants in our gardens to see if I can rescue more little caterpillars. I believe earwigs have been eating many of the little caterpillars and birds have been carrying off the ones that have grown to a good size. The big caterpillar's defense is that they do not taste good to their predators because of the bitter milkweed they are constantly eating. However a bird might not get a full taste until they have chomped into one and by then it's too late - the caterpillar is dead.

It is our hope that we will be able to witness the growth of our caterpillars until they pupate and make their chrysalises and hatch as butterflies. We will then set them free to migrate south.

I'll post updates from time to time and actual pictures once the caterpillars get big enough.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Donkey Sanctuary

Yesterday the three of us went to the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada just outside Guelph. It is a lovely, peaceful place where 53 rescued donkeys live well fed and cared-for by volunteers and supported by charitable donations.

There are three sizes of donkey: miniature, standard and mammoth.

This is a picture of a mammoth donkey, Apollo, and a miniature donkey, Paco.

Paco was born with a deformed jaw so he eats slowly. Apollo is the largest donkey at the Sanctuary. He is a 'gentle giant'.

Windy is the oldest resident at age 40. She is blind.

Chiclet is a white standard donkey who was rescued by someone who saw him living alone and neglected. The ends of his ears are broken off due to frostbite. Chiclet befriended Paco, who at first was impatient with Chiclet but in time became accustomed to having a white 'shadow' at his side. Chiclet is a gentle fun-loving donkey who revels in the attention of staff and visitors.

It was a lovely day at the serene place where these once unfortunate donkeys will live out the rest of their days. Next visit, we hope to walk all along the trails through the fields and get to know the 8 mules who live there as well.

I am almost finished the acursed yellow bathmat. I though I was done but when I held it up and looked at it, I realized I had screwed up the top row of triangles. Grrr.

I am looking forward to receiving the pattern for the Baby Surprise Jacket. I will knit the first one out of a washing-machine-friendly yarn.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Wow! Where Did the Time Go?

Good grief, two weeks have gone by since my last post. The last few days of work went well. My retirement party was very nice. I was pleased to have 3 former students there - one from each decade of my teaching career. My best friend was there as well as Mark from MN who came especially for my party. Tuesday, I had a lovely dinner with the Special Ed. department at the Mandarin. Wednesday, was lunch with the Math department. They gave me a gift card from Future Shop. I decided to enjoy these last days with my colleagues and not worry about getting all my stuff out of my office and classroom. I decided to come in for a day in July to get the job done.
Friday I worked in the morning and then we went to the golf club for our staff luncheon.

My car tire got buggered up after I hit a pothole on the way home from work that week. I had to get the tire replaced so Skip drove me to work after I dropped the car off. Fortunately, they were able to get the tire in stock and the repair was done. YAY! Since then I've had to have the tire rotated to the back to get rid of some vibration in the steering wheel.

Skip and I just puttered around the house on the Canada Day weekend. The statutory holiday was Monday because Canada Day was a Sunday this year. We decided to wait until Tuesday to go and visit my sister in Petrolia near Sarnia. We took the 407 for a hassle-free drive and had a nice drive there - a beautiful, sunny day. We had no trouble finding her new apartment. It is very nice and the only apartment in the basement of the building. The guest suites are also in the basement so Skip and I stayed almost across the hall from Ester's door.

On Wednesday evening, I visited Floyd and Angie. On Thursday, Skip and I went to Pt. Huron, MI to shop. Skip found a square-headed driver and a pair of new runners - EEEE width. I bought a couple of things at my favourite store - Christopher and Banks. We also had a nice lunch at Cracker Barrel. Friday morning I met the retired ladies from the school before I changed school boards 18 years ago. It was nice seeing them. A couple I hadn't seen since I left the school. There were only a couple of ladies that I didn't know.

Friday night we went to the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia to see a fast-paced comedy, "Perfect Wedding". Petrolia is such a small town we were able to walk to the theatre from the restaurant and then back to Ester's afterwards.

We finally got on the road Saturday morning about 10-ish and got home by 2pm. We puttered around the house and scritched the cat a lot. Neighbours fed him while we were away. Monday morning I went into the school early. After about 4 hours of throwing stuff out and packing, I got the last of my stuff out of the Math office and my office and music room. Just before I was going to bring the car around, the new guy stopped in. What good timing. He was able to help me load the boxes into the car and I was able to just hand the keys off to him. It was quite strange leaving that room for the last time as the 'proprietor'. I was a bit choked up after I pulled out of the parking lot but that passed. It was so strange, the remains of a 30 year teaching career fitting into 6 boxes.

This week I've been shopping, paying bills and doing house stuff. Scooter arrived last Saturday and is with us until Sunday. He's been golfing with his Dad every day - weather permitting. Yesterday we went to see the new Harry Potter movie. It was good. I only snoozed a little bit at the beginning of the movie when it was so slow-moving and dark.

Sunday, we're going to the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada . Skip happened upon their website whilst researching 'zonkeys' - half zebra, half donkey. The donkeys at the sanctuary have been rescued from abandonment or neglect. Each one has its own sad story. It is wonderful they can live out the rest of their days well fed, well groomed and in peace.

After we visit the donkey sanctuary, we'll have lunch and then I'll drop Skip and Scooter off at a golf course. I will then go to a bridal shower of a second cousin of Skip's. After that, I'll pick the boys up and we'll drive back to Toronto to deposit Scooter back at his mother's.

On the knitting front, I frogged the bath mat and as of today have reknit it to the larger dimensions. I'm 2/3 done now. I think I'll have enough yarn.

I bought some Cherry Tree Hill yarn on eBay and was thrilled when the seller told me the shipping would only be $1.65 US. I hate it when sellers charge exorbitant amounts for 'shipping and handling'.

Oh big news flash: Skip found my Palm!!!! It was under the passenger's seat of my car. I had looked for it there a couple of times but obviously not close enough. What a relief.

I finished another garterlac dishcloth that I want to give to Lorna tomorrow when she comes over to give me drapery advice. I still need to finish Shingo's sock. I'm on the foot of it so it won't take much more to finish it. I ordered the pattern for the Surprise Baby Jacket. It looks intriguing. One of the gals from my former place of work is expecting a baby in December - a perfect excuse to knit it. I will pick a colourful yarn - DK weight.

I asked Scooter if he would like me to knit him a pair of socks and he thought blue ones would be nice. They'll be nice and toasty on his feet in the winter. While at Mary Maxim in Pt. Huron, I bought 9 balls of Debbie Bliss alpaca silk (80% and 20% respectively) to make a triangular shawl. It's a simple garter stitch pattern. I'm almost finished it. I will bind off using larger needles so the long side (they hypotenuse for all you math fans) will have some stretch to it. I also bought some more sock yarn.