Yarn Along

Kit Camisole

I am currently in the doldrums of my Kit Camisole. Lots & lots & LOTS of stockinette in the round, briefly interrupted by a handful of half-linen stitches across the back. I had high hopes for this knit. Hopes that I would be wearing its silky smooth linen most of the summer. Not likely at 6/7 stitches per inch & over 300 stitches per row. I’m just not that fast of a knitter. I also think I probably cast on one size too big which will make this a camisole worn exclusively under a cardigan (per my usual, I suppose). I’m using Quince & Co. Sparrow in the colorway ‘Truffle’ which I thought had a slight metallic purple to it, but it is basically in the deep grey family.

So many books are stacked up in my reading basket, waiting to be waded through…instead I find myself poring over my three newest pocket guides. I am determined to find myself fluent enough on our hikes through the Iowa countryside to identify most of the wildflowers I see. We spend a lot of time at Koutny Pond as the (unpaid, amateur, default) land stewards and thus I want to be well-versed in the prairie plants, too. Growing up in Wisconsin, I was able to identify most of the flowers in the Northwoods. I seem to have lost most of that knowledge, sadly.

Joining in with Ginny this week. Check out her wonderful blog for more knitting/literary inspiration!

Golden Zucchini {Squash} Bread “by” June

Zucchini Bread_June

Zucchini Bread_June

Zucchini Bread_June

Zucchini Bread_June

Zucchini Bread_June

Zucchini Bread_June

Zucchini Bread_June

My name is June. I’m three years old. I dressed myself today. I love Ninja Turtles. My mama let me help bake zucchini bread (first time!) using two of the (she says) “fifty million Golden Zucchini squash” we have growing in the garden right now. There are squash bugs taking over the patch. She said tonight we will go out and try to squash a bunch of the squash bugs before they devour anymore squash. I measured & mixed, but my favorite part was holding the eggs (probably from my favorite chicken Margaret or maybe her sister Marianne). But I really liked putting the chocolate chips on top. (I shared some with my friend Nora who is here visiting today.)

I ate my delicious bread next to a vase of flowers my mama picked yesterday. The End.

An Overdue Thank You: Catalina Mountains, AZ

Back in May (May!), Coralee, June & I flew to Mesa, Arizona to visit my parents (snowbirds) and attend the wedding of my cousin. We had never visited their new home near Tucson.  {Merritt stayed in Iowa with Brian (dad/hubby) due to his severe motion sickness & Brian’s need to work.}  The girls had never been on an airplane before & they fared perfectly!  There was quite a bit of turbulence on both our departure and return flights due to massive thunderstorms over Iowa.  At one point during our flight from Iowa to Mesa, as the plane was rocking & tossing, June (age 3) started HOLLERING, “I don’t want to die!”  Yikes!  She wasn’t really scared, just loudly making a point.  The passengers around us were fairly amused, thankfully.  The first set of photos is from our time waiting at the airport in Cedar Rapids, IA.  June was beyond giddy at the prospect of flying.  She is a relatively fearless child. {Click on any photo to view it full-size–looks much better that way, too!}

Arizona May 2014

 

Arizona May 2014

 

Arizona May 2014

 

Arizona May 2014

 

Arizona May 2014

 

Arizona May 2014

 

Landing in Mesa near midnight! It is such a neat experience to both depart and board a plane outside in the night air. June was looking out the window for my parents, her Nana & Papa Hammond. She couldn’t quite understand why they weren’t sitting right there on the tarmac.

Arizona May 2014

 

The next day we set out with my parents early in the morning to see all the wonderful natural areas that surround their community. The (Santa) Catalina Mountains rise up just beyond their neighborhood. Stunning. The birding was excellent. Coralee added many birds to her Life List. As my father (an avid birder), Coralee, & I looked for birds, my mother & June hiked behind us playing in the sand & just generally enjoying one another. We saw many Saguaros (the tree-like cactus species that is found throughout the area). Those stately beings are truly impressive.  Massive trunks of water.  We also hiked a trail that showcased some of the area’s archaeological treasures.

Arizona May 2014

Arizona May 2014_Saguaro

Arizona May 2014

Arizona May 2014_Dad

Arizona May 2014_Nana_June

Arizona May 2014

 

Who’s that hiding on the desert floor? ;)
Arizona May 2014

 

My parents’ front door with a family of Gambel’s Quail trailing across the bottom. We saw Gambel’s Quail EVERYWHERE around their community. The chicks with their tiny topknots are so captivating.

Arizona May 2014_front door

 

One of our favorite activities was relaxing in my parents’ backyard “spool”–a hybrid pool and spa.  I could have stayed in it forever!  June wore a life-jacket and decided she is now a fish. It was difficult to coax her out.  She just kept swimming back and forth across the tiny length.

Arizona May 2014

 

Coralee took this photo of a female Black-chinned Hummingbird approaching the feeder. She spent close to two hours on Thursday, perched just beyond the hummingbird feeder, watching silently as the many different individual birds paid a visit. She took dozens of amazing photos with her iPod & identified five different species of hummingbirds.

Arizona May 2014

 

Friday morning birding along a trail that runs the edge of my parents’ community (at the base of the Catalina foothills).

Arizona May 2014_birding

Arizona May 2014_birding

 

Yes, this is me. I was here, too!
Arizona May 2014_selfie

On Friday (we landed in Mesa late Wednesday night), we headed toward Phoenix to a golf resort for my cousin’s wedding. Coralee, my father, & I went hiking early Saturday morning in the foothills behind the resort. The bugs were awful. We scampered back down once we reached the top of the trail very quickly.

Arizona May 2014_wedding hike

 

A Cactus Wren & my new favorite bird.  I’m not exactly sure why, but I just fell in birder-love with this species.  The biggest wren in North America & Arizona’s state bird.
Arizona May 2014_Cactus Wren

 

June & Coralee ready for the wedding Saturday night. Coralee still LOVES to match June’s outfits & June, of course, loves to match her big sister.
Arizona May 2014_wedding hike

 

I must admit that I threw quite the adult pathetic hissy fit when my parents started living in the Southwest during the coldest winter months. I fought visiting them (in Arizona) for several years. I am so glad they gave my girls & I the opportunity to fly down & experience the breathtaking beauty that is the Santa Catalina Mountains. I cannot wait to return! Thank you immensely, Mom & Dad!
Arizona May 2014_birding

Arizona May 2014

Sweet Home{coming} Dress

Sweet Home Dress

Sweet Home Dress

Sweet Home Dress back

Sweet Home Dress detail

Sweet Home Dress edging

Sweet Home Dress

I sent this newborn, ‘welcome home’ dress on its way from Iowa to California this week. My dear friend is due in early August with her second baby, but all signs are pointing to an early delivery {hopefully not until the end of July, so fingers crossed!}. I used Quince & Co Sparrow in Nannyberry, a 100% organic linen yarn. I no longer want to knit with anything but linen, specifically Quince & Co linen.  I’ve been spoiled.  Both Sparrow & Kestrel {another Quince & Co linen blogged about here) knit up like a dream & wash up even better. Kestrel works best in the washer & dryer on delicate/low. Sparrow is a cold-water handwash, lay flat to dry, & then iron–looked brilliant afterwards. My friend & I chose linen for her baby’s coming home outfit due to the crazy summer heat in her neck of the woods. I used vintage buttons at the back close. The pattern was based on this, loosely. I had some trouble finding a suitable newborn dress pattern that would work with linen. I altered the pattern considerably {after knitting up a different pattern with Sparrow & realizing the pattern was not newborn-friendly & not linen-friendly}. I went down to a US Size 1 needle and decreased the stitch count in various places, as well as the dimensions. Linen really has no stretch so what you see is what you get, making the finished dimensions vitally important as you can’t block linen into a different size, nor shrink it. I hope hope hope this Sweet Home{coming} Dress is a good match for the little one about to make her debut Earthside. I tried to think about her & her mama while I knit, stitching calmly so as to impart nothing but positive energy into the dress. Silly? Probably, but the world is brimming with negative energy today. I like to think each stitch we knitters make with our hands is an act of love sent forth into the ether with determined faith.

A better place, one stitch at a time.

My radish crop…

Radishes

Radishes

…was dismal this year & I am completely melancholy about it as I LOVE radish & butter sandwiches. Coralee & I planted two whole packets of seeds starting as soon as the ground could be worked. We used heirloom varieties from Seed Savers (one of which we had success with last year). I replanted the rows at least four times due to frosts that kept plaguing us here in the Midwest this spring. Our “spring” was then followed by an extreme heat that arrived so quickly I don’t think we really had a “spring” in the true sense of the word & thus I’m attributing my radishes’ poor showing to this fact (as opposed to something I probably did!). I bought a bag of Michigan-grown red radishes from the grocery for $0.99 this week & made a pint & a half of pickled radishes. The blue jar contains our garden radishes, the clear jar is bottled Mitten radishes. I’m sure both jars will taste delicious, but I plan to savor mine more.

And ask Brian to build me a coldframe next year.

How do you like to prepare radishes?

Radishes

 

Sweet Pleat

Sweet Pleat

Sweet Pleat

Sweet Pleat

Sweet Pleat

Sweet Pleat

Sweet Pleat

 

A little Friday handknit treat for my Junebug! I have wanted to try knitting with linen for a long time as I have many pieces of linen clothing in my own wardrobe. I’ve started a couple knit dishcloths a few times with Louet Euroflax but never finished either project–the Euroflax was just too stiff & bothered my hands after awhile. When Knitbot came out with the pattern Sweet Pleat during Kids Week this month, the beautiful photographs of the finished piece hooked me {& the adorable model!}. I used the yarn specified in the pattern, Quince & Co’s Kestrel in the colorway Sand. The yarn is luxurious. The sheen is dreamy. I have found a new yarn pleasure. Sweet Pleat itself is such a simple, but elegant knit and the linen makes it a definite easy care item–perfect for a three-year-old’s lifestyle. I made June the 2yo size, but knit the 4yo size’s dress length as she is very giraffe-like for a newly-minted three-year-old. She wore the top all day today from music class to shopping to the library & received several compliments–always makes a knitter smile! She spilled milk all over the front at lunch and the linen looks no worse for the wear. Love when the week ends on a happy note! Cheers to a great weekend!

A trip to Northeast Iowa; forcing spring

 

June in the children's garden at Seed Savers.

June in the children’s garden at Seed Savers.

We met an Ancient White Park calf at Seed Savers.  White Park cattle are an extremely rare, horned breed, originally from the British Isles.  Seed Savers is working to preserve these almost mythical animals.

We met an Ancient White Park calf at Seed Savers. White Park cattle are an extremely rare, horned breed, originally from the British Isles. Seed Savers is working to preserve these almost mythical animals.

Seed Savers_Decorah14 052

Seed Savers_Decorah14 109

Seed Savers_Decorah14 060

 

Trout at the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

Rainbow trout at the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

Grannis Creek.

Grannis Creek.

Seed Savers_Decorah14 090

Natural spring.

Natural spring.

 

This past Saturday we took our spring trip to Seed Savers Exchange in Northeast Iowa’s karst terrain, referred to as the Driftless Area, for the annual Rare Plant Sale.  We picked up far less plants than last year (I went overboard) & more heirloom seeds this year.  I love Northeast Iowa & Seed Savers.  Being from central Northwest Wisconsin (lots of pines & rolling hills) I always thought my move to Iowa was temporary, even after I married a Native Iowan (there are bumper stickers for this).  A decade on & three kids later, I find myself finally coming ’round to this state.  I used to imagine Brian & I retiring in Northern WI….I am beginning to replace those mind wanderings with Northeast Iowa.  It is truly an enchanting place.  If more people outside Iowa could experience this part of Iowa, I know their general opinion of the state would change.  As much as I’m warming to Iowa, I do still firmly lament the fence-row to fence-row, year-after-year plantings of corn here (& the ethanol subsidy), along with the absence of great swaths of moving, native grasses that once blanketed it…

Later on Saturday we went trout fishing at Coldwater Creek & caught one Rainbow which we ate last night.  It was delicious using this recipe.  The kids & Brian (even June!) worked hard to catch more, but luck just wasn’t on our side this time.  We saw a large number of Yellow-rumped Warblers while fishing & several other migrating warblers I still haven’t identified.  I need a better bird guide.  I need a Sibley.  We visited the fish hatchery in Decorah just after a wedding finished at the stream nearby & then headed home late in the afternoon.  We stopped off at Grannis Creek near Fayette to fish about an hour before dusk.  The stream seemed too shallow in most parts to support fish (in my uneducated opinion).  We hiked the entire stream through the Wildlife Management Area, stopping off when its winding path reached private land.  There is a natural spring tumbling down a short section of the valley wall into the creek.  A salient encounter.  The photo of all three kids, the spring & creek are from Grannis.  It was almost dark by the time we got back to the car.  The kids were on the look-out for ghosts.

Seed Savers_Decorah14 104

 

Think spring...

Think spring…

I finished a knitted bird nest & four eggs over the weekend.  The multiple false springs, rain, cold, & continued raw wind we’ve been experiencing called for it.  If spring is late, force it into your being.