Wildlife Wednesday

One of the perks of working at UCSC is that I get to do a fair bit of wildlife spotting. The campus is housed on the site of a former ranch and quarry, and even with the expansion I’ve seen during my time here, we still have redwood groves, hiking trails, and open fields. I see deer and squirrels almost every day. Raccoons, skunks, and coyotes appear less frequently, but still come as no surprise. But today’s spotting was exceptional—a bobcat! I’ve worked here 24 years, and this is only my second bobcat sighting, though they no doubt have seem me a great many more times than I’ve seen them.

This bobcat was crossing the main campus road just as I drove up to work. He trotted across both lanes to a field behind some nearby houses, then headed toward some brush that works its way down to one of the undeveloped areas of campus.

The moment I spotted him, I pulled my car to the side of the road and switched on my hazard lights so I could watch him on his progress. Several other cars, a bicyclist, and two pedestrians all went by without noticing a thing.

He (she?) was there and gone so quickly—after all, he’d crossed into our territory and wanted to return to his own. I wanted to ask him to stop, so I could watch him longer. A foolish part of me wated to pet him, to rub him under his chin and scratch his back, though I’m sure that impulse would have abandoned me if there’d been any real possibility of contact.

I’m trying to replay this brief event in my mind, to carve it into my memory. Who knows when I’ll see another bobcat? Not soon–if the bobcats have anything to say about it.

Tuesday Mewsday: Because Maggie Is the Mama, That’s Why

Actually, Maggie isn’t Damian’s Mama, but since she did teach him how to use the litter box when he was a wee thing, she gets to pull rank occasionally.

Case in point—

1. Damian finds box and stakes his claim.
Damian in the box

2. Maggie notes box and Damian’s attempt at claimage.
Maggie spies Damian in the box

3. Maggie suggests that perhaps Damian should seat himself elsewhere.
Watch out Damian!

4. Maggie triuphant!
Maggie in the box

FO from Before the Dawn of Time

No, it’s not really that old, but it almost feels that way.

This is my version of the Kerry Blue Shawl from Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls. Note that I elimiated the final rounds of the pattern, as I didn’t like the stitch used. Instead, I just opted for an early picot bind-off.

Bloofer shawl on the fence

Bloofer shawl, spread out on the steps

It’s just the right size for draping over my shoulders once I fold it in half.

I give away a lot of my knits, but this piece I’m definitely keeping for myself.

I Am Still Working…

… on my basic breathing skills, which seem to come and go somewhat erratically, thanks to this cold.

Chris and I taught our beginner’s lace knitting class yesterday. Biggest lesson: fifteen students is too many. People picked things up at different rates, of course, so we had to do a lot of moving from one person to the next, quickly assessing individual situations and changing gears. Margaret, the owner of The Golden Fleece, helped out too, which made things better. By the time our last student left, everyone had gotten her shawl cast on, had learned how to read a chart, and knew which parts of the chart to repeat to work both havles of a top-down triangular shawl. (When we have a moment, Melissa will convert the class notes and the chart to a pdf, so I can post it on-line, and we’ll include pics of the shop sample.)

Once I got home, completely exhausted, I had a nice, long soak in the tub, then charted up a longish swatch for a new shawl idea and sat up past midnight knitting it because I couldn’t bear to sleep until I’d seen how it worked up. I have four shawls all going on at once inside my head, demanding to be swatched, written down, and knit up—and it’s beginning to feel a bit crowded in there.

My Picks from Spring/Summer Drops

I have such fun when the pictures for the new season of Drops patterns are posted, though I’m finding a bit less that charms me this time around than I udually do—but that may be due to my cold or to the nature of summer knits. As a result, I don’t have ten favorites this time, but I have picked out six that I’ll be looking for over the next few months.

l-089 (aren’t those Drops pattern names poetical?):
A cute, simple bag that would work well in any of the organic cotton yarns currently on the market.

Not really summer wear and the mohair might itch, but definitely worth having a go at in Malabrigo when autumn’s a bit closer.

A graceful lttle piece.

This would look terrible on me, but I think it would be great fun to knit.

This one I can definitely imagine wearing.

Ok—this would make many women look like linebackers, but wouldn’t it beit knida cool on the right person?

Just When I Seem to Have Things Under Control…

… I get sick. It’s a sore-throat, cough-deep-in-the-chest thing, but it responds pretty well to hot water with honey, lemon, and a generous shot of bourbon (the bourbon is only added after work, not during). Melissa could tell I was sick because I did no knitting whatsoever on Tuesday.

I’m hoping this thing turns around quickly because Chris and I are teaching our Beginner’s Lace Shawl class on Saturday. Lucky for me, she’s already written an excellent first-draft of our handouts, so I have the luxury of just thinking about polishing and expanding, not creating everything from scratch.

The Perfect Pattern for the Perfect Yarn

I’m having one of those fortuitous moments when the right yarn and the right pattern join together to create knitting that’s pure pleasure.

The Pattern is Iris from Sunflower Designs. (Below is a picture of the designer’s original piece, not my version—I can’t take any credit at all, except for having the good sense to find this stole irresistable.)
Iris Pattern
This pattern calls for 5,000+ seed beads, which I admit I am not using: they would no doubt look lovely, but would seriously reduce the likelihood of my every finishing this piece.

The yarn is Blue Heron Egyptian Mercerized Cotton in Old Gold. (That’s it there on the right.) Note that clicking on the Blue Heron link may induce drooling, lust, and uncontrollable yarn acquisition. I will not be held responsible for the consequences.
Old Gold Colorway Blue Heron Yarns

Melissa’s misplaced her camera at the moment, so I can’t show you pictures of the delightful union of these two, but I’ll try to correct that situation soon.

Now, if my work would only do itself, so I could stick to knitting.


This quarter on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have a break between the two classes I teach—just enough time to go poking around Ravelry a bit. Today I was on a hunt for lace. I started by going to the “People” section, then scrolled down to “Your Neighbors,” which lists other Ravelers who have queued some of the same patterns I have. From there, I nosed my way over to their queues and poked around a bit. This process is a bit like diging through the closet of someone whose style you admire—you find all sorts of beauties.

Here’s a handful of what I found (with on-line links for you non-Ravelers).

Susan Pandorf’s “Crocus Pocus”:
Crocus Pocus

Hazel Carter’s “Legends of the Shetland Seas”:
Shetland Legend

Kieran Foley’s “Serpentine”:

Bad Cat Design’s “Victorian Driftwood Shoulder Shawl”:
Victorian Drftwood Shawl

And here’s one non-lace charmer—Tuulia Samela’s “Deep in the Forest Mittens”:
Wood Mittens


Odds and Ends

I’m in the middle of post-holiday, start-of-the-quarter chaos (actually chaos is too strong a word, but I can’t think of another), trying to juggle an assortment of unrelated responsibilities and activities. I didn’t make any resolutions per se, but I am trying to get things more in order and to establish some better habits.

• Cats. I DO have a home for Penny, but it’s near Seattle, so I’m still trying to find a way to get her there. If worst comes to worst, I can buy myself a one-day round-trip airline ticket and take her as carry-on, but the ticket would have to go on my credit card, and I’m trying not to use it. I’ve been posting on various animal rescue sites looking for someone who’s going that way and would be willing to take her along, but no luck yet. If anyone out there can help, let me know. I’m very excited about getting Penny to her new home as she and I have been having lovely cuddle sessions the last few evenings while Bea and Sparky have been out—I’ve enjoyed these, but they also remind that she needs more affection and attention than I can give her to be fully happy. Once she gets to a place where she doesn’t have to share the laps with other cats, she’s going to be in heaven!

• Exercise. After fighting a losing battle all of last year to lose some weight by eating less, I’ve decided to try another strategy and to really work at getting movement and physical activity into my life. If I can get my body to start feeling stronger and capable, that pleasure should help motivate me to work on healthy eating. I’ve got a twice-a-week-at-the-gym, twice-a-week-activity-with-Melissa, plus regular stretching plan going and have genuinely enjoyed it so far. Yesterday for one of our two weekly activities, Melissa and I headed to the local roller rink. We were both ridiculously wobbly at first, but got a bit steadier as we went on. We only lasted about a half-hour, but enjoyed it enough that we plan to keep going and see if we can build up our stamina. In particular I loved those wonderful, gliding moments when the skates moved smoothly under me and I felt my body sailing along with the music. That combination of sound and movement is so satisfying to me.

• Knitting. I’ve just finished another neck-warmer pattern and would like to write a hat pattern to go with it, but while the neck-warmer required increases, the hat requires decreases—and inserting these while maintaining the several pattern stitches I’m using has me stumped. Chris and I are also preparing for the Beginner’s Lace Knitting workshop we’ll be offering at our LYS on the 17th. I’ve got the pattern charted, but want to write out detailed directions that will make not just this pattern, but the whole genre of triangular shawls clear for first-timers.

• Food. As part of the exercising-not-dieting campaign, Melissa and I are trying a bi-weekly program that delivers local, organic produce to one’s home. We’re hoping that the delivery will make it feel exciting—like a gift—and that having things on hand will keep us from eating out so often.

I hope everyone else’s year is off to a good start, with knitting, health, and appropriate animal companions to add to the everyday joys.