Category Archives: Saturday Sky

Winning Team! And a new pattern to celebrate fall.

No, I’m not talking about the Brewers.  Or the Packers.  (Not that they’re not winning teams right now….)

First, though I have not been blogging, I have indeed been knitting.  Knitting a lot, actually.

One of the things I have been knitting, for a brief but intense time, was a dishrag, for DishRag Tag V!  Emily from YarnMiracle once again was kind enough to put this fun and amazing friendly knitting relay on.  On September 21st, the box came:

filled with treats and dishcloth cotton, and a finished dishrag!

These were from my teammate Kirsten in Michigan.  (Our team, number 9 on the list, was called the A-Nine-ilators!)

I picked up the cotton and my needles and began to knit, punctuated with a trip to the first meeting of the year (and my first meeting ever) of the local knitting guild, Three Rivers Knitting Guild.

Though I got it finished and the packaged mailed off via the Automated Postal Center that night, the USPS hijacked our package, holding it in Peoria two days past the promised delivery date.  Oh, no!

But despite this unforeseen delay: thanks to awesome teammates and speedy knitting all along the way,

Our team WON the DishRag Tag!

Woo-hoo!  We mostly won glory, but also very cool knitting bags. (The purple ones are coming to the A-Nine-ilators.)  Thank you, Emily!

Whew!   As the race just ended, to our glory, there is glory in the leaves around us also.  It’s probably peak color here right now, thanks to an early cold snap a couple weeks ago, though right now it’s incredibly warm for October in the midwest.  I haven’t had time for a proper photo shoot, but here are a few photos of trees within a half block of my house:

Maple putting on colors

See the leaves blowing off the trees, below?

(you may have to embiggen)

That was yesterday’s Saturday Sky, by the way.

Lastly, inspired by a ‘homework’ assignment for a Harry Potter-themed competitive knitting group (you would think I’m competitive or something), I just designed a fractal-inspired hat for fall. It’s not truly fractal, but Sierpinski triangles were hard to interpret in hat form. Instead, I modified a stitch pattern from Barbara Walker’s second treasury, frogged a few attempts at semi-clever decreases, and came up with this:

Pythagorean Triangles Hat.

It fits my lovely knit-model, the RockStar, it fits me

it even fits my husband.

Geometry is my daughter’s favorite area in math: maybe that’s why the hat seemed to make her so happy?

Pattern, Pythagorean Triangles Hat: download now

Of Hail, Snow, Flood, and Lethal Creatures

Doomy doom doom….

Or perhaps not as bad as it sounds.  Wisconsin weather, with a bit of knitting and travel thrown in!

I’ve been mentally working on Sock Camp posts, but at the same time physically fighting off a nasty respiratory virus, which has caused all my energy to go to trying to turn my lungs inside out.  Lots of medicine and time later, I am definitely on the mend, so take up laptop to try to begin to chronicle.  But first, since my last post, lots has happened here!

I had mentioned that storms were predicted soon in my last post, and indeed, the girls got to hear tornado sirens and head into the basement, for just about the first time that they remember doing so (the RockStar does have vague memories of her toddler tornado warning trip to the basement).  One advantage of a laptop and smartphone: one can keep track of the National Weather Service’s updates on what’s going on, as the winds whip up and the lightning crashes and the hail rattles down.

Ah, the hail.

The hailstone going in the freezer

Have a hailstone (or two, or five)

Our garage is a storage area, and my (new) car was thus parked outside, so I winced in the basement as I heard that hail crashing and bouncing and pictured my car in its sights. Amazingly, it’s almost impossible to see the couple areas where the body is ever so slightly rippled. Everything else except my daffodils was fine. I certainly know people who didn’t fare as well, with broken house windows and damaged siding. But no tornado activity was noted in the area (though one had been apparently spotted to our southeast). Thus the area lives up to its reputation and the legendary Native American saying, that no tornado will hit where three rivers meet….

The weather continued bad, but not that bad, through the rest of the week, and I certainly felt bad. Then yesterday, as I started to feel as though I was going to make it, I woke up to this Saturday Sky:

which had already dumped this:

The robins were not amused, let me tell you.

unhappy robin

After I got over my own disgruntlement and worked yesterday, I stopped down by the Mississippi River, which is cresting well into flood stage right about now. Though the snow melted later yesterday, the weather continued blustery, with a cold north wind hurrying the flood waters along.

No viewing the river from THAT viewing platform today.

These rubberneckers were also checking the flood out.

(To give you an idea of the river’s rise, here they also are in happier times two years ago. The brick walkway goes perhaps four or five feet below the river watchers, and the river is some feet below the edge of the walkway.)

waving at sunset

In this picture, you can see the ramp down to the walkway….or part of it, anyway.

Another comparison:

a view downriver a month ago, when the river was already rather high.

and the same view yesterday, with the same trees.

(Fortunately, our cold spring has caused the water level to not be nearly as high as it could have been, thus flooding has been manageable. Also, because my city has preserved the flood plains (they are primarily parks) and some wetlands to soak up the floodwaters, it tends to do better during floods than other communities on the river. Thankfully.)

All of this snow and hail and flood made me remember my time in the Pacific Northwest with fondness….even if it was typical spring weather there (cloudy, cool, on and off rain), or perhaps even more rain than typical. At least there was no snow, or hail, or flooding….

There were lethal creatures, granted. But that was kind of my own fault.


You see, this year’s Sock Camp was called “Camp Jabberwonky”, with an Alice in Wonderland theme. There is always homework; and this year’s was to knit a Jabberwonky. Not a Jabberwocky, mind you, but a Jabberwonky. Details here.

After seeing an old photo of my half-stuffed mermaid (homework from two years ago): I had an idea. I would knit a headless Jabberwonky, after the victorious knitter has beheaded it! Complete with gore….

This required dyeing wool top for the gore (I had some that had proved not so good for spinning, due to still having suint — sheep sweat — in it). It seemed to turn out well!

Simultaneously, I cast on with some Socks that Rock and knit a somewhat fearsome creature (with a picot-edge neck). And was, of course, still working on it when I arrived in Seattle the day before Sock Camp started, to visit my friend Astrid and her husband Greg. In between Astrid’s taking me to see the Nick Cave exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, and an excellent lunch and equally excellent dinner, I knit away. And talked. Astrid being a knitter (and dyer) totally understood and kept me company by knitting herself as we talked; her husband is rather used to it, and accepted Jabberwonk-knitting unflappably! Also, Astrid had some awesome ideas for finishing strategies, and invaluably, had SUPPLIES! (Florists’ wire works better than pipe cleaners. Just FYI.)

On our ferry trip over to Bainbridge island the next day, the last bit of stuffing was stuffed, and my Jabberwonky was complete.

I can’t really say that Jabberwonky enjoyed the sights as we crossed Puget Sound to Bainbridge, since he’s headless and presumably can’t see; but I have to think he enjoyed the fresh air! Or something.


Not just a song (YouTube link)….

It’s a mitten!

Yes, not typically for me, I am

a) making mittens

b) doing colorwork!

But in such a good cause.  The RockStar has actually been asking for knitted mittens for quite a while. As in, a couple years.  Yet, I didn’t really believe her.  I haven’t seen her wear mittens otherwise.  And she’s lost handknits before. (Usually under her bed, granted.)

She saw these mittens, however, and fell in love.  You haven’t even seen the best parts yet.  These are the Winter of Love (and Peace) Mittens by  Johanne Ländin.  (Link is to The Loopy Ewe‘s page for these, where I bought the pattern, which is what comes up when I Google it – you can click to a bigger picture of the completed mittens there.  So cool!)

And even on the official picture, you don’t see the most squee-worthy part (in my mind).  Look at the palm.

And there’s a little heart on the thumb (which is my next step). And on the PEACE mitten?  You guessed it — tiny peace signs!  Squeee!

The teenager is very excited about these mittens, and I’m happy with the way they are knitting up, despite the fact that I have not done colorwork for a while to any significant degree.  I have made some modifications to the pattern:

One, the original pattern starts with corrugated ribbing (ribbing in colorwork).  Mostly, I hate doing this, but also, it doesn’t draw in worth a darn, though it looks lovely.  So, for a mitten, where you do not want cold winds to blow in the wrist, I think something that hugs the wrist is essential. I could have knit it as written and then knit a second, tighter, normally ribbed cuff on the inside….but instead, opted to knit a single thickness 2×2 ribbed cuff. 

(This photo is fairly true to the yarn color.)

Second, speaking of yarns and color: the yarns are also part of the modification, and picking the right yarns led to some delay.  After stash diving and looking at the pattern with a careful eye, and listening to the RockStar (she wanted the contrast color to be a color-changing yarn or a reddish-orange); I decided I didn’t have the right contrast color.  (I don’t have a lot of orange-ish.  I do have a lot of red, but it’s true red or wine color.)  Additionally, the pattern is written for fingering (sock) weight yarn: but the measurement of the mitten was 7.5 inches around, and my hand is that measurement (my daughter’s hand is at least as wide as mine).  My strong feeling is that mittens need a little wiggle room, both for insulation and for comfort; they are not supposed to fit (literally) like gloves.  The pattern suggested knitting on bigger needles to get bigger mittens, but that would tend to make them more airy and less windproof (again).  This is winter in the upper Midwest, so I’m all about the warm….

Anyway, I decided to make the mittens out of thicker yarn (sport weight) to make them bigger.  The dark blue yarn I had in stash: nicer than I would make my own mittens out of, but the teen is not a toddler, and it was cheaper than buying new, so the background yarn is delicious Pashmina from MadelineTosh, in Ink.  Then the teen picked out the contrast color: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport in Satsuma colorway.

(Both of these from The Loopy Ewe, as it happens, bought at different times.) So, a week ago last Friday, when the moon was setting,

the Satsuma yarn was wending its way to me, and shortly thereafter I was casting on!

So that by this Saturday’s gray and snowy sky,

I had made great strides on mitten number 1

(yesterday’s OVE mitten)

and then today am decreasing at the top; then just the thumb to go.  Then on to the Peace mitten!

Though color work is a little slower, I’m getting in a groove (heh, these are indeed groove-y) and they’re going reasonably quickly.  I need to get them done while they’re still useful, after all.

Sadly, around here, there is indeed plenty of winter left.

Blue-ish Skies, Bright Lights, Blue Shawl

Today’s Saturday Sky (Skies) I actually got to see, before and after work:

Cloudy, snowy morning.

Glimmers of blue around the high clouds later.

As the flurries came and went,  chased by a north wind.

However, last weekend, I only saw the sky in the early morning.

That’s because after work, I spent the rest of the day indoors, watching this:

Yes, the show choir competition season has begun!  The RockStar is in the varsity high school show choir this year, as a sophomore.  Rehearsals started late July, believe it or not.  Competitions run through March.  Weekends are going to be a different proposition from now until then…

She loves it, though.

And, as an excellent dancer, she is in the front most of the time, and has two dance solos as well.  Brava!

I spent the rest of my day after work at the competition, which was local; the show choir performed in the early afternoon, finalists were announced at dinnertime, the choir performed again in the finals in the early evening, and then the results weren’t announced till after my bedtime.  (Their choir did well overall, placing fourth among 16 or so (I forget exactly).  Plus one of their vocalists was selected ‘best female vocalist in show’.)  Long day for everyone.  But I hung in there…. aided by knitting.

I worked on my Aestlight Shawl, my third iteration of the border, trying for smaller borders taking up less and less yarn since I am running short.  This border, I ‘unvented’, in the words of Elizabeth Zimmermann, though I am sure it’s published somewhere.

This is as small as I think I can get the edging and still have it balance the body of the shawl.

And I really like knitted-on edgings, which is what the shawl calls for in any case.

So do you think I’m going to make it?

Nah.  Me neither.

More yarn is coming from the dyer!

First Saturday Sky of the year

In my philosophical rambling yesterday, I forgot to show you Saturday’s Sky from New Year’s Day.

It was a cold and cloudy sky, as seen from our Riverside Park next to the Mississippi River.

(Cell phone pics, as I didn’t have my camera with me.)

The tiny specks in the upper left of this picture  (you WILL have to embiggen to see)  are eagles; I saw one closer as we were leaving.

There’s still some open water for them and the ducks,

though I don’t know quite what fish (or what else) the eagles eat this time of year.

We were at the park to take down lights from the annual Rotary Lights display, as part of a show choir fundraiser.  See the string of lights below: one of many many that we collected and wound on giant spools, while others dismantled the other parts of the display.

We were quite chilly in the -16 F (-27 C) wind chill

(a gentle zephyr from the south)

but the poor guys in the cherry pickers taking the lights down from the trees had the coldest job.

The Rock Star and I were glad to come home and warm up.

And Citrus was happy to help with that.

First Snow

Yes, we had those flurries before….but yesterday, Saturday morning, I awoke to the first real snow of the season.

The Saturday sky started out cloudy, as it continued to snow in the morning, and then gradually cleared up as we dug out.

I had snow on my lap inside the house, too.

No, no roof emergency, nor open windows.

This snow.

My older daughter, The RockStar, is in the corps de ballet in the Snow scene in the Nutcracker ballet this year.  (Yes, ’tis Nutcracker time again.  The performance is next weekend.) She volunteered me  — when I was not there — to sew her Snow tutu.  I needed to hem the bodice and sew it to the skirt, then fit the bodice to her and sew alternating hooks and eyes.  I haven’t really sewn since middle school, and my teenager doesn’t sew at all, more than sewing ribbons and elastics on her ballet shoes.

Mom?  I’m  sorry about that Madrigal singers dress with the train that I volunteered you to hem in high school.

Really sorry.

Autumn Leaves, finished

“Autumn Leaves” being my name for my version of the lovely “22 Leaves Shawlette“. (Ravelry link)

Though the leaves here are also about finished for the autumn.

Yesterday’s Saturday Sky sunset.

I did indeed block the “Autumn Leaves” shawl last Tuesday. Then took the shawl off the blocking pads Wednesday. It took a bit longer to photograph the shawl on its own, given Thanksgiving preparations, and even longer to track my shawl model down at the same time that the sun was shining.

But here, for your knit-viewing pleasure, the finished shawl at long last.

It was pretty nippy out. I appreciate my model! (Note, she does work for chocolate.)

A detail of one of the 22 leaves, plus the edging I adapted.

The shawl was delivered to its recipient tonight. She seemed to like it!  I am pleased enough with how it turned out, and with knitting it, that I am considering knitting it again: for myself. And I rarely knit lace projects more than once, Girasole being the only other exception I can think of, right off the bat.  So that is very much a compliment and testimonial to the pattern.


Oh, and thanks to Judith who was kind enough to wish me a happy birthday yesterday — which was indeed my birthday! I spent it largely knitting and relaxing at home during the day, which was amazing (and rarely happens), and then dinner with my daughters and husband. Today, much of the day was also spent knitting, relaxing, eating brunch with my extended family, and visiting friends (for fun and to deliver presents) — so the birthday celebration went on! Such a deal!

From tonight’s walk on the wild side in the wetlands:

I took a walk expecting to see some November-ish scenes, like this

or this. (As I obviously did.)

Even though the sun wasn’t warm any more, I felt lucky to see some sunset gold, here

and here

and fading pinks here over the bluff.

Moments after that last picture, though, I turned around to see something amazing. But…I’m going to save it for next Eye Candy Friday. This post is quite long enough, and stunning pictures are few and far between in late November!

Back Home Saturday

And I didn’t even tell you I was gone.  (But I have been.  For the past week.)

Where?  Well, this is what I saw this morning.

And this.

And, for a little more of a clue as to where I was, I saw this on my morning walk as well.

Yes, we just returned from our annual week at Family Camp at YMCA Camp Olson, a wonderful magical week that the whole family looks forward to; even those of the teenage persuasion.

How magical?  See what else I saw on my morning walk?

It was very hard to leave.

Rock Star Weekend

The RockStar had a busy weekend (which means we did too).  Many dance classes & rehearsals (recital in two weeks), confirmation today with attendant events last night and afterwards today….lots of homework…and in between all of that, performing at State Solo and Ensemble competition, in a quartet with three friends.

(I have a bit more to tell you about Sock Camp, but family — obviously! — and work obligations have been interfering.  But I needed to share this with you first…)

On this glorious spring day yesterday:

the RockStar and her friends stood up in front of a judge and a few others in a recital hall at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and sang Billy Joel’s “Lullabye”, a cappella.

It gave me goose bumps.  And I don’t think it was just because I was the mother of one of the singers.

So I want to share it with you.

(The judge seemed to share my opinion. They earned the highest score.)

Sock Camp Onwards and Upwards!

Last night’s Saturday Sky sunset here

just didn’t have the same grandeur as the sunset over Ludlow Bay, somehow.

(Though it was good to be home.  Well, except I missed my breakfast buffet, and wonderful coffee, and decadent desserts, and non-stop fun, and most of all MY KNITTING CAMPER PEEPS!)

Speaking of:  A few of the faces of Sock Camp!

My friend Cece and her baby Maggie.

Maggie got around.

With Steph and Tina, as they laid down the law welcomed us on the first evening;

Dancing to the Glee soundtrack with Sockateer – Counselor Cockeyed, who is practicing her grandma moves in preparation for an exciting event (by the way, Maggie is definitely a music baby; when the Glee CD stopped temporarily, she told us about it loud and clear!);

Helping Janel teach class as we knit on our little sockies:

Group shot!  Foxes with Josh (from the Inn), the Totem Pole , and our little Maggie Fox Cub!

And with another camper friend.

Though she was also plenty cute all by herself.

(Click for even bigger cuteness if you can stand it.)

She wasn’t even the only baby at Sock Camp: we had two other well-behaved babies there.

No toddlers or other kids in class (this is not quite kid camp) but the babies had fun, and were fun!

The awesomely cute solo pics above were from our dyeing class with Tina on the last day (classes were taken with your tribe, and were in the morning).

We were asked to bring yarn that we didn’t care for the color of, to overdye, though not everyone had such (“Why would I buy something I didn’t like?”)

Me, I did have a couple skeins to overdye. One was a purchase with a specific sock design (in my head) in mind, and when I saw it in person, it wasn’t right; and I have come to the realization after a couple years that I just will never knit with this yarn as is.  It was something about the brightness of its magenta coupled with the paleness of the mint green.  I don’t know.  I didn’t get a ‘before’, but this is an ‘after’:

I placed blue on the magenta and somewhat on the minty green, and I like it better.  This was a merino/bamboo/nylon blend, so took the dye interestingly.  (It looked a lot darker when it was wet!)

Also, I had a skein from one of my favorite dyers that had not turned out quite as expected, back when she had been forced to change dyes abruptly, as the dyes she had used for years for all her colorways were suddenly discontinued.  This was the first attempt at this particular colorway with the new dyes, and didn’t come out quite as it was supposed to.

In reality, the skein has more chunks of brown and tan than this early morning picture makes it look like.  Once again (probably partly because I *know* what it’s supposed to look like), I wasn’t sold on this, or on how it would look knitted up (though that’s a bit of a crap shoot).

So I tried overdyeing it partially with blues and blue-greens.  With this result:

(Heh, in this picture, it doesn’t look TOO Much different.  It really does in person.)  I stopped short of what I could have done, as I wanted to preserve some of the original colors also;  one can always overdye!  But I have a second skein, and I might overdye that totally, kettle-dyeing it blue or blue-green.  The difference will be interesting.

Before getting to do those, Tina showed us how to do a color value study (using a couple different techniques).  Examples are in the picture above.  Although not usually my favoritest color, I was in the mood for a spring green, and that was what I dyed for my gradient yarn.  I was pleased with how it turned out….until someone else’s yarn leaked onto it (which tells me both she and I could have wrapped our yarn better).

See the blue-green-purple bits?  Not original.  Oh, well.  After I got over my grumpy, I realized it should knit up in a very interesting way, and I have the technology to do another gradient-type skein if I wish!

And last, we just got to play with color on a blank skein (the above and this skein were both STR medium weight).  I just changed colors somewhat randomly, but thinking about what would blend well with what:  magenta through reds to rusty browns to blue-greens is what I ended up putting on the skein. (And then I forgot the vinegar, so it was a wee bit lighter, I think.)

It’s a little reminiscent of the sunset over Ludlow Bay, actually!  I suspect I like this one better in the skein than I may like it knit up, opposite of the gradient skein…


So, last year was Tina’s first dyeing class ever.  And my group was her first class of that first class!  I don’t think I ever showed you the yarn I dyed last year (it was very busy when I got back from camp).

Last year, we dyed three skeins, and the first was an assignment from Tina: which had something to do with getting us out of our comfort zone.  We first talked about our favorite colors and why they were, and then had to speak about colors that were NOT our favorite.

My favorite colors are jewel tones, with deep greens, blues, blue-greens, and wine being my absolute favorites.  My least favorite colors are probably yellow and orange: though I used to dislike them, and now not so much.  Knitting and dyeing has made me love color more for its own sake.

So: my assignment from Tina was to put my not-so-happy-place color (yellow) in with my happy place colors.

And this yarn was the result:

(heh, I was hiding the yellow a bit in that picture.  Still wasn’t convinced, I guess!)


I just finished knitting socks made from that very yarn.  Which I cast on, on the night of the December blue moon (the Blue Moon Cast-On!)  In fact, I cast those socks off and wove in the ends in the Yarn Harlot’s sock class at Sock Camp.  It seemed so appropriate somehow!

And now I am very happy with them, not least with the yellow bits, which make all the lovely blues and greens ‘pop’.

It reminds me of irises, or yellow waterlilies on a lake.

My own design, a simple toe-up sock with gusset & flap heel à la Widdershins, and a slip stitch rib to break up the variegation while still resulting in loads of stretchiness.

Works for me!  And now I have Sock Camp on my feet!

(I’m knitting up the second skein I dyed last year now too….I’ll show you that sometime later.  But this post is quite long enough.  More to come about camp, however!)