Archive for the ‘Life in the North Woods’ Category

I just found a wonderful place to keep track of blogs I am following, and now I’m keeping track, I’m a little more motivated to write.  The site is called Bloglovin’, and it’s really easy to follow people, it’s also easy to find other folks you might want to check out. Anyway, reading all those blogs has put me in the mood.  The house is quiet, Peter is in the Taj Garage teaching a neighbor how to make a cane rod, and even the dog went with him.  My birds continue to mob my feeders, lots of goldfinches, pine siskins and woodpeckers, although we haven’t seen the pileated woodpecker for a while.  Chickadees abound and will feed right off my hand when I’m filling the feeders, even the nut hatches seem tempted. So this blog seems more about the north woods than about knitting.  People sometimes wonder why I would live in such a remote place – our nearest year round neighbor is 1 1/2 miles away.  I can’t describe well enough the peace that comes over me when I look out of my big picture window and see nothing but snow, trees waiting to come into leaf again, birds and animals.  It’s the same sort of peace I find in old churches and cathedrals, or floating down the river in a kayak.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy people – in fact one of my closest friends will be here with her husband this coming weekend, and most weeks I knit with friends in Gaylord on Thursdays, and quilt with friends in Lovells on Mondays.  In the summer there are all sorts of people around, but I really enjoy the peace of winter. However, winter leads to “mud season” – when the road turns to slop, the puddles turn to thick, damaging ice, and the culvert is running over the road.

IMG_20140416_084312105Max in the "Driveway"IMG_20140416_083638515

These photos were actually from a year ago, but you will get the idea – deer in the yard, poor Max, trying to figure out how to walk down the driveway, and our bunny rabbit who lives right under the porch all winter.

So, snow photos, enough water to seem like a flood, although luckily we have mostly sand, so it eventually percolates into the ground, and there is no danger of the house being flooded.  I think this year we may consider moving out for mud season!  Last year we had an eight-day period when we literally couldn’t get out – roads flooded.  But we had groceries, lots of rod-building stuff for Peter, knitting and spinning for me, and plenty of books.  What more could we want?

I spent a wonderful weekend in Sault Ste. Marie at two all-day workshops with Amy Tyler – Spinning Super Stretchy Wools, and the second day was “Matching Yarn to Project and Project to Yarn”.  The first day was all spinning, and I have a spindle full of all sorts of yarn, with varying levels of evenness – my spinning still has a long way to go.  But I always learn from Amy, not just what she plans to teach, but all sorts of tips and techniques.  The second day was all knitting – I’m known for breaking the rules, but I’d never though of knitting with a needle many sizes smaller or bigger, than the yarn calls for – very much an eye-opener.  And once you’ve done that, what would you make at that gauge?  So much more – to all knitters and spinners, if you have a chance to take a class from Amy, do it, she’s a great teacher.  Thanks so much to Lois for her hospitality and company after the classes were over.

Meanwhile I have been knitting – currently making a baby blanket for our newest grandson, due around the beginning of April, and of course I’ll have to make a blanket to match for his big sister’s doll.  Maybe even baby coats to match too!  Pictures will come closer to the time – I’m still struggling with placement of photos.  Peter’s fair isle sweater is temporarily in the “time out” box – got to get the blanket done.  What else, well I have my “car socks” that live in the car, and two projects in mind – but I’m going to move them out to the FROG so I won’t be so tempted to start them.  I’ve done my gauge swatches, made sure I have enough yarn, working on patterns. and made notes then bagged each project – how organized can you get?  This organization is very much thanks to Amy, by the way.

The problem with having a “time out” box is that projects go in there for all sorts of reasons – bored, to complicated, not sure what to do next, not sure if I have enough yarn – none of these are really valid reasons, but sometimes things percolate to the bottom of the box and may not surface for weeks [dare I say months].  Sometimes I’ll dig down to the bottom of the box and get a surprise, and often it will inspire me to move the project to the “active” basket, and even finish it.  I have a bad case of “starteritis” as do many of my knitting friends, you know who you are.

So friends, another entry, done a little in fits and starts, but it’s there.  Keep that fiber flowing — life is good.





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I follow several blogs, and I’m envious of those who are able to blog on a daily/weekly basis – me, I’m having trouble with a monthly blog.  So, I’m up here in snow country, not venturing out a lot – the garage is as far as I go, mainly because my laundry room is there.  I did mention this is a pretty small house?  I always hesitate to tell people I live in a “log home” because people tend to visualize one of these log “mac-mansions” with high peaked windows [how do people clean those], lots of balconies and porches and landscaping all around.  Our house is a one story ranch, no basement, although I do have a porch, it tends to be a gathering place for stuff, rather than a House Beautiful outside living area.  As for landscaping – don’t even go there.  The only thing I plant is daffodills as the deer don’t eat them, and there are a few perennials that manage to survive my lack of gardening skills.

But on the other hand, we have a garage that is actually bigger than the house, and has an upstairs we refer to as the FROG – furnished room over garage – which functions as a rod shop/woodworking space for Peter, and a knitting “studio” for me.  We are less than 100 ft. from one of the premier trout streams of Michigan, surrounded by woods, and our nearest full time neighbor is almost a mile and a half away.  It’s about 7 miles of gravel road, in varying conditions, then just over a mile of two-track, so it sounds isolated, but that’s a small price to pay to live in a little piece of heaven.  There is something inherently beautiful about winter – birds massing at the feeders, smooth white everywhere covering up the debris of fall, and I’m snug inside my house with lots of yarn, another grand baby on the way and enough books to keep me company.

On weekends we have people around, more in the summer than the winter, and I’m involved in a couple of groups – a knitting group that meets Thursday’s, the Gaylord Knitters, and a quilting group that meets on Mondays, the Lovells Loose Threads.  Although I’m not a quilter, the slippery slope is getting closer.  Meanwhile I take my knitting and enjoy great company.  What is it about knitters and quilters and all fiber people that makes them wonderful to hang around?   My weekly trips out to my knitting group, and my quilting group give me great social contact and, of course, quality time with Peter, when he’s not watching basketball and football.

So, how were your holidays.  We were very busy – early Christmas down in Indiana with the boys, the Jennifers and the grand kids.   One of the wonderful things about grand children, particularly the two little girls, is that I get to knit for them – a couple of Wallabies, scarves, hats and, now that they both have American Girl Dolls, doll clothes.

No photos this blog, but at least I’m back in the blogosphere.  Meanwhile keep that fiber flowing and enjoy this beautiful season, but know too that green shoots will start pushing their way up and soon there will be daffodills.

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I’ve never had as much difficulty writing a blog as I am with this one.  Deb, my friend from Arkansas and her husband Nick, arrived last Tuesday.  This visit seems to have been months in the making, with plans, emails, texts and phone calls, but the time finally arrived.  And now the visit is over, and I am really missing her.  We are extremely close, and luckily our husbands also enjoyed each other’s company.  This was a good job, as Deb and I spent the better part of three days on the road.  I was so lucky to meet Deb, not even 2 years ago, and we developed a friendship that continues to be the most intimate friendship I have ever had.  So this entry is part diary, and part sadness in that it will be a while until we all spend time together again.  Our turn to head to Arkansas in the fall.  So this is what we did. . .

Wednesday we drove into Grayling – my bad, the Parrot’s Perch was closed, but we went round a couple of galleries, and visited a brand new quilting store, where I was offered a teaching job once they get the yarn side up and running.  Then we wandered around a couple of stores, picked up a few vitals such as limes [gin and tonic], grapefruit juice [to go with the vodka, and general nourishment to go  with the liquids.  Then back to the guys, so they know we haven’t left town, at least not yet.  Tomorrow a real yarn crawl.

Thursday we headed out for Alanson and the Dutch Oven.  Incredible amounts of yarn, almost too much choice, and we were welcomed by friendly people.  I bought a couple of skeins of yarn,  fingerless mitts for Christmas gifts, and then we headed for Petosky and Gloria’s Too.  Again lots of choice, but I did restrain myself – bought a Steven West pattern, however when I got it home I couldn’t make any sense of it [the photo showed mainly stocking stitch, and it was not knit in the round, but I could find no purl stitches] so I’m going to follow up with the designer and see if I’m missing something.  Deb bought some DK yarn and a shawl pattern [I think, although things became a little blurry and the yarn stores  tended to merge into each other].  I did find a couple of really nice hair clips.  We also spent time in the best hardware store – Meyers’s Hardware – where we looked at all sorts of great stuff, and Deb did pick up a couple of things, including a Trout doormat.  I love that hardware stare, probably my favorite place in Petosky.  We had planned a visit to Stonehedge, but ran out of time and energy, so headed into Gaylord for some group knitting.

Deb finally got to put faces to names from the time she was a distance member of the Gaylord Knitters, and the Gaylord Knitters got to meet this person I’ve been talking about.  A good afternoon of talking and knitting, several conversations going at once, our usual short attention spans were evident.  But we both enjoyed ourselves.  As Deb says, now when I mention someone, or a yarn store, she can picture it well

The next day we were having some major work done on the road in, involving some heavy equipment, and lots of moving of earth, so Deb and I lit out of here early.  Didn’t want to get trapped in by a front loader!  So we head out for Traverse City and points beyond.  First stop was probably the best.  A gem of a yarn store called Thistledown in Sutton’s Bay, where we spent the better part of the morning.  So friendly, such a happy place.  Lots of great yarn, tucked away in four [or is it five] rooms with great choice, wonderful fiber and a good selection of books and patterns.  I felt a real connection with Cathy, the owner.  Her goal is to teach knitting the way Elizabeth Zimmerman knits.  She has been to knit camp, and has had Amy Detjen, Meg’s right hand girl at Knitting Camp, come to the store for workshops.  I’m impressed.  And was even happier when she suggested that I might do a workshop for her.  No specific plans, but it will be a lot of fun.  I bought some Blue Heron yarn – a rayon/metallic yarn in a pale lemon and very pale orange/pink.  The colorway is called Day Lily, and there is enough to make two beautiful scarves – the design is called Mystery Scarf, and it looks like it’s going to be fun to knit.  Deb bought the same yarn in a different colorway – more fall colors, but all their colors defy descriptions.

From there we headed up to Cedar and the Wool and Honey yarn store.  Another gem – friendly, and they had roving too.   I bought some Blue Faced Leicester roving in a pretty purple color.  I love spinning BFL roving, it has such a lovely feel to it.    I also bought a couple of hanks of  some Canopy yarn, a deep maroon and a pretty medium blue – 50% baby alpaca, 30% merino and 20% bamboo – really soft – more fingerless mitts for the Christmas Box.  Our final stop was The Lost Art in Traverse City – they moved and we had a tough time finding them, in part at least because we were pretty bushed by that time.  Small purchases only, but the new store is bigger than the old one, with a good layout.

My “Christmas Box” – I tend to knit more for the process than the finished product, so I often find myself knitting something I will never wear, just because I wanted to knit it.  A true knitter will understand this, although my husband doesn’t.  So these things get put into the “Christmas Box” and are there whenever I want a gift for someone, or a raffle prize for a conservation organizations.  Not a bad idea for any compulsive knitter who sometimes finds they have too many shawls, scarves, socks, etc.

I have no photos of Deb and my time together – somehow we were too busy in the moment to take time to make pictures.  There were a couple of extremely photogenic moments, but these were on the river, and no way will I take my phone on a kayak trip, specially when I have the dog with me.  Suffice it to say Nick, Deb and I had a couple of hours on the river.  Very pretty, and they both enjoyed it, however I had some dreadful mosquito problems – I would slap at a mosquito and kill three or four in one swat.  Then of course I had Max with me.  He refused to go home with Peter when we started as there was a family of geese and he is, after all, a bird dog.  He got too close, then the goose family called in backup and there were two more adults, so Max backed off a little.  But there was no way he was going back with Peter, so he was in the kayak with me, and in and out and in and out.  He’s a little heavy to haul in when wet, so we almost dumped and by the time we got home I was as wet as if I had dumped. What a trip.  He was so pooped that when we got to the dock he wouldn’t even get out of the kayak.

Enough for now – lots of wonderful memories, and we’re missing Deb and Nick, but I deal with that by knitting – as I deal with everything.  Keep that fiber flowing . . .

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I know we will probably still get some snow [it always snows on my blooming daffodils, and they are just buds], but I look out of the window and the gold finches on my feeder are showing lots of yellow, last night I could hear the peepers in the swamp [more about the swamp later], and all the birds are looking brighter and in courting colors.  The bird songs are different too, again it’s courting season.

We have been literally marooned in here – water rushing through the culvert and over the top of it on the road – definitely not safe to drive through, and flooding in the driveway – more water than we have seen here in the thirty years plus since we bought the property. Luckily we did a good grocery shop the Saturday before the big downpour, April 12th, and I didn’t leave the property until April 19th when we left to go down to Saginaw for a quick trip to see the family – 2 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, 2 beautiful granddaughters and my wonderful 16 year-old grandson.  It’s not often we are all together in the same place, so this was quite an occasion, to be treasured.

Of course, the forced “isolation” was actually wonderful knitting time.  I finished my shawl for the contest for Knitting Camp and blocked it, and I’m really pretty proud of it – the theme was “A Secret Garden”, the children’s book, and the shawl has a brown border, to indicate the earth, and the rest is in green, with lace flowers and the words “The Magic Is In You”, a theme that runs through the book, worked in lace, thanks to Bridget Rorem’s Lace Alphabet [School House Press].  It was fun to knit, although challenging, and I kept changing my mind all the way through, but I’m happy with the results.




As for living in a swamp – this is our driveway, with Max trying to figure out how to get through without falling through the ice!  This was taken April 15th!


So now most of the snow has gone, it’s wet and as I look out of my window I see it’s snowing again, but not sticking.  But I’ve become somewhat of a wimp after spending Easter with the kids and grand kids in sunshine down in Saginaw.  Oh well, I know Spring is just around the corner.

Keep that fiber flowing . . . .

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