Friday, 28 April 2017


I finished Riddari, the Icelandic pullover sweater, this evening. It is in the English version of Knitting With Icelandic Wool. 'Riddari' means 'knight' in English.

Last night I had to reknit the neck 3 times before I was happy with it. First, I had to figure out which bindoff was stretchy enough yet also looked good. Then I realized decreasing from 112 sts to 80 was too far so I ripped back to the first round of black after the last round of grey and black and decreased evenly to 88 sts.
The rolled collar was really easy to do. It was 5 rounds of stocking stitch with a loose bindoff. The loose bindoff was achieved by using a 6mm needle.
It knit up quite quickly once I got back at it.
I ignored the names of the sizes and went by the actual dimensions. Skip is normally a 'medium' but his favourite sweaters that go over long-sleeved shirts have a 44" chest so I swatched, determined the stitches per inch, multiplied by 44 and determined which size used that many stitches for the body. In this case, it was the XL size. I also knit the sleeves first to check that the gauge was right before committing to hundreds of stitches for the body.
I still have a bunch of ends to weave in.  The yoke rounds start at the left shoulder blade and the jogs really aren't apparent.
I didn't add any rows on the back to bring it up a bit higher than the front. A little coaxing when I block it should do the trick.
A few years back I made these labels using printable fusible web and satin ribbon. I sewed one in so Skip will know the back from the front.

I'm very pleased with it and know it will look smashing with black, or grey trousers, or jeans. Skip suggested I knit one for myself so we'll have matching sweaters. I just may do that as I'm hoping to go on a Baltic cruise next year. If I do one for myself, I would definitely 'cardigan-ize' it.

For now, I have enough yarn left over to knit a matching hat. I will definitely line it with light fleece or t-shirt material as this yarn is really scratchy. My sources tell me that using hair conditioner in the water when I wet block it will soften it up a bit.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Birthday Birding

It was a beautiful day yesterday for my birthday. I thought I'd go birding at the local woods.

There is a concrete block beside the Waterfront Trail upon which people put seeds for the 'fauna'. The cardinal let me get pretty close.
I love its contrasting colour to the grey woods.
Along the treeline of the meadow, there are always birds scuffling around on the ground.
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco (slate-coloured)
This is exactly where saw a hermit thrush last year.
Hermit Thrush

I think this was a song sparrow.

There were lots of midges flying around - an excellent food source for lots of the birds. We always see lots of tree swallows here.
I almost always see an American goldfinch.

Just before I left, I got a quasi-acceptable shot of a hermit thrush.
Of course there were lots of robins and red-winged blackbirds as well. In the woods, there were several Northern flickers but too elusive for me to get a good shot in the late afternoon.

It was a very pleasant way to celebrate the day.

This morning, Skip and I ventured out again. Sadly, I left my camera back home so. of course, we saw some species really closely. Argh.

Today we saw yellow-rumped warblers, chipping sparrows, a brown creeper, ruby-crowned kinglets, a red-breasted nuthatch, three brown-headed cowbirds in the meadow, what we think was a field sparrow (a lifer for me), and a cormorant flying overhead.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Many Projects on the Go

I finished the sleeves and body of Skip's Icelandic Riddari sweater and have joined them for the yoke.
There are 14 stitches under each arm that are on holders and will be grafted later. I am about to start the colour work.

My original contrast colour was red but most Icelandic sweaters are more muted
so I popped into Myrtle Station Wool yesterday and picked up some denim-coloured yarn for the contrast.
I honestly only saw red on children's sweaters when I was in Iceland.

Stitching-wise, I've been working on several projects. I'm behind on the guild stitch-along but it won't take long to get caught up. This is the cross-stitch version of the stitching armchair caddy.
I worked on this little sampler for a bit just before we left Texas with the colours I had on hand. I had to stop when I got to the point where I needed colours I was missing. I picked them up at Mary Maxim in Port Huron just before crossing back into Canada.
There really isn't too much more left to do.
I don't think I've done much more on this since I last blogged about it. I have some decisions to make about the colours of the flowers. I like the blue house and am glad I changed it from purple.
I have several other projects on my to-do list so will be working on these in a rotation to get them done.

The Ontario Handweavers and Spinners Conference is coming up the first weekend of May. The Shuttlebugs are going to be displaying clothing that would have been worn during the founding of Canada in honour of our Sesquicentennial this year. Judy Findlay spun, plied, and dyed red yarn for a coureur des bois hat and I volunteered to knit it.  I finished it this afternoon and am wet blocking it now.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Backyard Birding

Skip and I have been home for a week. We find it takes as long to recover from a car trip as the trip is long. We have resumed normal activities and last week did a lot of errands, appointments, got the taxes done, etc. etc. We are taking it easy this weekend.

We are keeping a backyard birding list this year. We have two feeders - one that holds 5L of seed with a perch that spins if too much weight (3 grackles+) is on it. The other is a nyger seed feeder that the goldfinches, chickadees, and nuthatches enjoy.

Today Skip spotted a male northern flicker digging around in the back yard.

According to the Sibley, "this species forages largely on the ground, feeding on ants. A large woodpecker, with long, slightly downcurved bill."

It is brownish with a barred back. Both sexes have a red crescent on the nape,

a black breast band,
In eastern North America, the male has a black malar (cheek). In the west, it is red.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Last Time Birding with the Bay Area Birders

Today was the last time we'll be going out with the Bay Area Birders. After meeting at the clubhouse of the SPI Golf Club (which is actually in Laguna Vista), we went to Holly Beach Rd. just north of the golf club and east of the water treatment plant.

Along the chain link fence was a pair of northern bobwhite quail.
We then looked out at the water to see what shore birds we could see. Tall Bob in the front sets up the spotting scope for us and we take turns.
The first lifer for me today was the Wilson's phararopes. They were doing their usual swimming in a circle to 'create a vortex that draws prey to the surface'. (Sibley)
We saw this little plover running around. We thought it was a semipalmated but looking closer at its thickish, longish beak I'm wondering if it is a Wilson's plover. If so, another lifer for me.

There were also least sandpipers and willets. Then Janet directed us to the field to the west of the golf course where a group of American golden plovers flew in as if on cue. Another lifer.

It was time to head to the Sheepshead lot on the island. When we got there there were two small passenger buses and several cars already parked there. There must have been about 30 birders. Here is one group of them on the south side.

On the north side in the ebony tree right beside the fenced area some northern parulas were feeding heartily and didn't really care that we were so close. It was almost too close for binoculars.
This one is probably in its first year as there is no 'necklace'.
The dark 'necklace' indicates that this one is a male.

The Nashville warbler has a big, dark eye with a white eye ring.
It wouldn't be a successful outing without an anole perched on a tree with its red dewlap puffed out.
More parula pics.

We got to see the male summer tanager again, albeit behind some mesquite foliage.
It was hard to get good shots of the orchard oriole.
But it finally came out from behind twigs, etc. allowing my camera to focus properly on it.
The oranges are a favourite treat.
We saw more black-throated green warblers today.

Another lifer for me was the Louisiana water thrush.
I finally got a shot of a black-and-white warbler.
The last life bird for me today was the yellow-breasted chat. I was very pleased to get at least one acceptable photo.
I would never know what half these birds were if it weren't for the other more knowledgeable birders in our group and that we meet at various birding spots. The very best companions are the ones who explain the differences and diagnostics which really help me to internalize the information.

We will be seeing our birding friends again tomorrow when over 30 of us will attend a potluck dinner at the home of one of the couples at the golf club. Then it will be farewell for another year.