Thursday, April 27, 2006

Another day, another hat. I made this one up as I went along, too.

I like how the intarsia ribs spiral along the decrease lines.

I did this hat with the decrease stitch and the one preceeding it in the green yarn. However, if I make another of these, I'll do it with the decrease stitch and the one following it. The white yarn tended to show through the decrease.

The top doesn't quite lay flat like the last one did, because there are only eight decrease points and also the contrasting ribs tend to pull in a bit. I used a separate strand of yarn for each rib, but because they are two stitches wide and this is knit in the round the rib wanted to act like i-cord. Which is actually a neat idea, and deserves some experimenting to develop further....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

My day, last Sunday. A post where words are mostly superfluous...

Jackson Beach, looking toward the Olympic Mountains

Jakle's Lagoon, looking back toward the trailhead

Corallorhiza maculata (Spotted coralroot orchid, red form)

Corallorhiza maculata (Spotted coralroot orchid, the less commonly seen yellow form)

Chocolate lily (Fritillaria affinis)

Camas (Camassia quamash)

Dark-throated shooting star (Dodecatheon pulchellum)

Death camas (Zigadenus venenosus)

White fawn-lily (Erythronium oregonum)

some forget-me-not type flower, possibly Myosotis discolor?

Ivy-leaved toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis)

Miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The daffodil runner continues to grow, and is about 3 1/2 inches high now, unstretched. This is 48 1/2 rows (out of 260) completed, and approximately 25 hours of crocheting. Each row takes half an hour.

Here's a crochet tip that I especially like with fine thread: Use a safety pin (coil-less is best, but mine seem to have all disappeared) to hold the working loop when you put the project down. That way, there's absolutely no chance that it will start unravelling while you're gone. I've found that there is a law of probability similar to Murphy's, which states that the finer the thread and the smaller the stitches, the more likely a catastrophic, unplanned frogging is to occur.

I also knit a bit on the urchin shawl yesterday, but I'll spare you another picture of the lace blob. It looks essentially the same as it did here.

Last night, because I was tired of tiny yarns and intricate lace, I started this (and finished this morning):

A child's hat, knit from Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (color is Jungle, and not quite as shockingly green it may appear. I had to fiddle in Photoshop because my camera wanted the yarn to be blue). This was knit on #6US Addi circs, the design is original. It will probably fit a 7-9 year old. I need to find one of those to try it on, because it's too big for Emma and too small for me.

I like the top of the hat because it lays flat when it's not on a head, even in its unblocked state (as it is in these pictures).

With this yarn, these needles, and my gauge, decreasing every other round at nine points gives a flat circle.

I've also been spinning a bit recently, though (amazingly) not Ashland Bay top. We've begun the Sheep-to-Shawl warp! We do a practice shawl at the Fourth of July celebration, and so like to have the warp spun and ready for dressing the loom by the middle of June.

This year, we're doing a blended yarn. It's 60% Romney ewe lamb and 40% baby alpaca. Both these animals live on the island at local farms, the fiber was shorn by an islander, and it will be washed, carded, spun, and woven by my spinning group, so the shawl will be truly an island original. (Hey, Liz! does this count for anything toward the Eat Local Challenge? Maybe it's Spin Local! Supporting local fiber farmers... ) I love Sheep-to-Shawl.

It's really amazing what the addition of the alpaca does to the Romney wool. I find Romney, even Romney lamb, to be on the coarse and scratchy side. But that bit of alpaca changes the hand of the fiber to something soft, puffy, and incredibly luxurious. It's a dream to spin.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Another progress picture of the Daffodil Runner-

Moving along fine. This is a fun, easy pattern.

Mostly what I wanted to post about today is my aquarium. Looky what I discovered yesterday:

I'm pretty sure this is a Malaysian trumpet snail, Melanoides tuberculata. These are livebearers, unlike the physids, which lay egg masses. Like the physids, these can overrun a tank, but I'm going to keep it because I like snails. If the snails become a problem, they can be thinned.

I also have other new residents of the tank. Three panda corydoras catfish!

Corydoras panda

Yes, I know I said I wasn't going to get more fish, but these are very small and having just three won't place that much stress on the system. The filter is so efficient, and is overpowered for the tank size to begin with that it should be OK.

Corydoras panda

They look like something out of Dr. Seuss, don't they?! Their mouth is underslung like most cories, and they have two barbels that are forked. It's really cool to watch them mouthing around on the gravel. Their barbels seem to be muscular, and they move them around to clasp the gravel pieces and feel for food particles. They also like to school together, and trundle around the tank all in a group looking for food.

I also got a new plant a couple weeks ago, to replace the "lily grass" that is well on its way out. I think it has two leaves left, and either doesn't like my water or isn't an aquatic at all. The new plant is the grassy stuff in the center back, and is Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae). So far it's doing well- no dead leaves.

So pretty! As you can see, the plants are happy. Compare this picture to the one from March 12. The Java fern, (left side, foreground) has almost doubled in bushiness! And last night I discovered another new leaf each on the Amazon Sword (left background) and tapegrass (right background).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I was going to post an updated picture of the filet daffodils, but silly me forgot the camera at home. Oh well. It's not really that much different from the last one, anyway- just about eight more rows.

So instead, I'll say "Yay me!" for figuring out how to put my own banner up on top, without the Blogger-generated title! Thanks Russell for the how-to, though I did have to rummage around in the template a bit and change/delete some other lines as well as removing the BlogTitle and BlogDescription tags. Don't ask me what I did, I'm not sure I could duplicate it.... But it works. And uploading the banner to a blog post via Hello and taking the url from that worked as well. (I had actually already figured that part out on my own- that's how I got my textless photo of the fiber up yesterday, but I couldn't figure out how to turn off the Blogger text.)

Anyway, thanks again, Russell!
What happens when I'm at work very late at night, and just waiting around for the autoclave? Fiddling with blog colors!

I make no claims to know anything (at all) about html coding, but I did come up with something that's not too bad. Does anyone know how to get rid of the Blogger default header that automatically inserts your blog title and description over the background picture? I'd like to leave off their text and replace the photo of the fiber with one that I added my own title text to.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Not a very productive fibery weekend this time. Poor little Emma was a sick chick, with a fever of 102°-104° and extreme clinginess from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon. Tylenol and cool washcloths controlled the fever (somewhat), but all she wanted to do was be held and rocked, with the occasional book or Dora the Explorer when the Tylenol was working. She hardly ate anything, and when that happens, we know she REALLY doesn’t feel good. After she threw up three times in the wee small hours of Sunday morning (all over herself, me, my bed, and her bed, of course) and still wouldn’t drink anything, it was to the point at Sunday noon that I was concerned she was getting pretty dehydrated and considering an after-hours emergency visit to the island clinic, which isn’t usually open on the weekends. Thankfully, she got up from her nap at 5:00 without a fever, and asking for orange juice. Whew. Color me a relieved mama.

Anyway, here’s the progress so far on the Daffodil Runner. This 30 rows, about 11 hours of crocheting.

I’ve just gotten to the point where the picture of the daffodils starts. The forked blob in the middle is the bottom of the stem, the swoop on the right is the first leaf. I really like the way this is working up- the mesh is coming out nice and even, and like the other doily I made from this thread, the fabric is drapey, smooth, and has a nice sheen.

In other flowery news, my Phalaenopsis has opened two more flowers, and is looking very pretty.

The blooms this time are definately more stripey-veined than last time. I wonder if it's the temperature that has such an effect on the coloration.

Since Emma was feeling so much better today, I decided that we could go for a walk in the afternoon. I wanted to go back to Jakle's Lagoon to see if the Heart-leaf Twayblade orchids that were in bud last weekend are blooming yet. Plus, it was a really beautiful day today, and after not leaving the house all weekend we both needed some fresh air.

This is the view from the parking lot at Jakle's Lagoon, looking northwest across Griffin Bay.

And here are the orchids blooming!

What? You don't see anything? Believe it or not, there are 34 orchid plants in that photo! They're fairly unobtrusive....

But like so many things, when you really look, they are beautiful. There's a purple form...

a pale form...

and an intermediate form...

All three color morphs occur mixed together, and a stand of these is quite beautiful even if it is only four inches tall. The flowers are so small and well camoflaged that I'd wager most of the people who walk the trails at Jakle's Lagoon never even know they're there.

In addition to the orchids, we saw some lovely morels. After Emma saw these she spent the next five minutes bouncing along chirping "Shroom!"

We also saw some of the slimier denizens of the Northwest. These are the last pictures in the post, and if you're squeamish about crawly things, you might want to stop reading now.



For those of you who are still here, we saw lots of big banana slugs. Emma loves these, and kept picking them up and saying, "Yum yum yummy 'nanas.... Nooooo! Icky! HeeHeeHee!" She is just so cute.

This one didn't have the dark spots that they commonly show.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I still haven't finished the doily, in fact I haven't worked on it at all since that picture was posted. I'm not entirely happy with the way the ninth round back came out, and am debating whether to rip back to that point. This was the round that I had such trouble with, and I'm still not quite sure it looks right.

While I mull over that problem, I started another crochet piece. It's the Daffodil Filet Table Runner, designed by Hugo Kirchmaier in 1919, recharted by Sandi Marshall. I'm making this in the same sewing thread that I used for the doily last summer, Coats #50 Machine Quilting and Crafts 100% cotton, and a #14 steel hook.

The website says this doily comes out about 21" x 60" when made with #30 crochet cotton, but my sewing thread version looks about 12" wide at the moment. It may narrow a bit when it's stretched lengthwise as well as widthwise and the filet mesh actually becomes squares rather than rectangles.

Six rows so far, and just under half an inch high. Each filet square is 3 mm wide (0.1 in).

Monday, April 03, 2006

Emma and I went on a nature walk on Sunday, to my favorite place on the island- Jakle's Lagoon.

This is part of the San Juan National Historic Park, and is at the southern tip of the island near where we used to rent a house. When we lived down there I used to hike it about once a week (until Emma arrived, anyway), more during the wildflower season. I haven't been there as much since we moved closer to town, but Sunday was a gorgeous overcast/sunny day, so Emma and I packed up and went for a picnic lunch and hike while Shaun was at work.

There are three main trails: along the beach, through the forest, and over the top of Mt. Finlayson (elevation 285 ft). This time, we hiked out via the beach and back through the forest, which makes a nice three mile loop, evenly divided between beach and forest. (And when I say "we" hiked, I mostly mean "I" since Emma was in the backpack for the whole beach part of the hike. At a weight of 32 pounds, I think she's about done with the backpack...)

It was such a great day. It took us about three hours round trip, including the lunch stop. The wildflowers aren't in full swing yet, but we did see some, including the whole reason I wanted to go on the hike in the first place- the Calypso orchids are blooming!

Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis

Each plant produces only one leaf and one flower, and depends on undisturbed, moist, old forests with the proper soil fungi. There's quite a large population at Jakle's Lagoon, and I feel lucky to be able to go appreciate them. Though not protected as rare, they are very sensitive. Picking the flower usually kills the plant.

In addition to the Calypsos, we also saw the other three orchid species that I've found at Jakle's Lagoon, though none were blooming yet.

Spotted Coral Root (Corallorhiza maculata)

Western Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia)

We also saw Heart-leaf Twayblade (Listera cordata var. nephrophylla), but I didn't get a picture. These were in bud, and I'm going back next weekend for photos.

Emma had a good time in the woods, looking at the trees and sticks and plants and rocks and birds.

The fallen logs covered with moss were very interesting, and she kept pointing out "one, two, diff'ent kind moss" to me every time she came across something like this

that had more than one kind of moss on it. What a naturalist!

Emma walked almost the whole mile and a half through the woods, and when we got back to the car she was out like a light. She didn't even wake up when I transferred her from the car to her bed when we got home.