Thursday, April 30, 2015

I'm Delicious

We've had a ton of rain the past couple of weeks. Which is a good thing since the lakes are all so low and we are still in Stage 1 drought measures from summer. Added bonus, it also gives us pretty rainbows.


But lots of rain also means that lots of bugs have been making their way into the house. Most of the bugs are little centipede type things which seem to have quick (kitty-assisted?) deaths upon crossing our threshold. But we've also had at least one mosquito. And mosquitoes love me. So now I have tons of bites - mostly on my back but some on my arms and legs. Fortunately, things on the itching front have been much better since going gluten-free. Less inflammation in my body to react to the bites perhaps?

Anyway, the rain has also really helped things in our back yard grow. This is what it is currently looking like.

Our Yard

Lovely, isn't it? I'm hoping the grasses won't get too tall too early though. We still have at least one more good month of profuse wildflower blooms and I'd hate for them to end up hiding in the tall grass.

Speaking of wildflowers, we still have new stuff popping up almost every day. On my last two visits out there, I found lots of new things blooming.

Catclaw Sensitive Brier
Two-Leaf Senna
Tiny White Flowers

Yes, that last picture isn't the best, but it is the season's first Firewheel (aka Indian Blanket, but Firewheel is such a fun name!) so I had to include it. If this year is like last year, the purple and yellow in the yard will give way to red and yellow soon enough and we will have lots more of these popping up!

Of course, new flowers mean new things attracted to them (and everybody still loves the antelope horn). We have tons of pollinators outside right now. Two weeks ago we were overrun with ladybugs but now, it is butterflies. Pretty much everywhere you look you'll find a tiny sulfur or a hairstreak fluttering about. And mixed in are some more unusual ones, too.

Goatweed Leafwing (M)
Gray Hairstreak
Variegated Fritillary
Common Checkered-Skipper
Common Buckeye

That second to last picture is of a very lucky Buckeye. I'm not sure what took a chunk out of his wings, but it didn't seem to bother him. Hopefully the birds in our yard are better behaved than that, but really, I think they just have better aim.

There are more pictures on my Flickr because I take a ton each time I go outside. Seriously, this last butterfly safari? Over 200 pictures. Most of them horrible! But in my defense, butterflies are really hard to photograph clearly so it takes me ten or twenty tries before I get it right.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I finished my travel socks!

Staggering Monkeys

Sadly, these did not turn out to be my most successful pair of socks ever. It was really a perfect confluence of various factors that lead to these imperfect socks.

First off, this is my first time using yarn that was not mostly wool. Forty-six percent bamboo. Which, I have learned, has very little sproing-factor to it. I'm used to mostly wool yarns for sock knitting and wool is a lot stretchier than bamboo. This yarn, though, reminded me a tad of cotton yarn. (Though there is a decent bit of wool in it. Just not quite enough to save me.)

Second, I took a non-elastic yarn and knit a pattern (with frequent increases & decreases) that is inherently not the most elastic pattern. And then I made it even less elastic by replacing some yarn over increases with lifted increases (a less giving increase). Which, yeah, now I don't have random holes in my socks but I also have less stretchy socks.

Then, to top it all off, I somehow managed to be very tense when knitting the heel and leg of the socks. I knew when I was knitting it that my gauge was a bit tight - the stitches weren't flowing as smoothly and I was having trouble working the increases - but I just couldn't fix it. I do tend to unconsciously tighten up my gauge when I work with a yarn with less give so I'm sure that was part of it, but I think maybe the fact that so much of the knitting took place in the car might have made a difference, too. So yeah, tighter than normal gauge.

All those things combined mean these socks aren't too flexible and as such are rather difficult to pull on. Like, really difficult to get over my heel. But once they are on they fit really nicely.

I'm a bit disappointed that I messed these up to the extent I did, but they are wearable (with some effort) so I'm still going to wear them. And my next pair of socks will be wool!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Travel Time

Dan and I just got back from a trip to the St. Louis area. We were there for a relatively short four days, but it was for his sister's wedding, so it was still a pretty big trip!

Wedding Flowers

Except for some colder-than-expected weather (the event was mostly outside), the wedding was really lovely. Sadly, I don't really have any pictures as I'm not a huge wedding girl and was having more fun just being social with folks, but I think I was one of only a few few folks not snapping shots, so I don't think anyone will notice the lack. Pretty much the only thing I got was the reception site during the decorating, just to prove it happened!

The Wedding Venue

The trip was much easier on my health-wise than I anticipated. The day after the drive there (and back) was a little rough but otherwise I was good. Though apparently four days of fairly regular activity is about all I can do before I start to turn to mush. Yesterday was a day of mushiness and recovery. I'm starting to feel a bit more non-comatose today. (Of course, we seem to have brought the cold and rainy weather back with us and that's not helping. Dang it! I'm ready for pool weather!)

The last time we drove to the area, I think it snowed for about half of the trip. This time, the drive was really nice. Long, but nice. (Made longer by the fact that Dan went the speed limit the whole way there. Which is good. But yeah, makes it longer than normal.) Oklahoma had a metric ton of Indian paintbrush and it was probably a good thing I hadn't brought my 'real' camera as I was already tempted to make Dan stop too many times for pictures.


(I held myself to just one wildflower-related stop, but I did manage to slow the trip up there a little by also getting in a yarn stop. I couldn't help myself.)

The way back we ended up listening blindly to GPS a little too much which took us a slightly different way (skirting around OKC but then we ended up unable to get on the turnpike because we didn't have exact change) and that way had tons of paintbrush but also some crazy vibrant and dense patches of crimson clover.

Crimson Clover

All in all, a very good trip.

Oh yeah, and did I mention yarn?

Cascade Yarns Alpaca Lace Malabrigo Yarn Sock
Vice Paradigm Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere


Friday, April 24, 2015


It's not news that I've had a lot of problems off and on with my hands. Lately, it's seemed a lot more on for some reason I haven't totally figured out. But good news! I've discovered that knitting daily (ideally in the morning) really helps limber up my hands and decrease the overall pain. Naturally, I've used this knowledge only for of good. If by 'good' I mean 'knitting socks'. Which I totally do.

Staggering Monkeys Socks

it does mess with my gauge a tiny bit, starting out knitting with stiff, slow hands, but I'm alternating back and forth between the socks so it hasn't been a huge deal. (Though one sock has a much neater mini-gusset than the other - the messy one being the one I did first thing in the morning, the neat one after my hands had already begun loosening up.)

I've tried to talk Dan into seeing if I can get a doctor to prescribe me medicinal knitting so we can deduct my yarn purchases from our taxes. I don't think I convinced him of the need.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I've finished my purple sweater! Isn't it fun?

Unblocked Sweater
Purple Sweater

This is the first time I've done a lace weight sweater and I must say, I quite like it. I think next time I'll use a US2 needle instead of a US3 just because my stitches are a little messy and that didn't block out fully, but whatever. I'm happy with it.

One little bit of oops, though. Even though the two skeins of yarn were the same dye lot, one was a bit lighter. If you look at the left sleeve, you can see a line where I connected the lighter yarn. Oops. It can only be seen in certain lights and a lot of the time it just looks like a shadow, so I'm going to leave it for now. I can see how much it bother me and, if I just can't take it, I have enough yarn left to see if I can find a darker section of the ball and reknit that sleeve. I did that with the right sleeve with only marginal success - the line is a tad fainter but still totally there. Or I can try overdyeing it with something to even out the color difference. Or maybe leaving it in sun for a tad to see if I can lighten the whole thing. So yeah, I have options. Now I just get to see if it bothers me.

Monday, April 20, 2015

More Visitors (and Blooming Things)

Antelope Horn
Small White Flowers
Lady Bug
Monarch Larva
More Small White Flowers

In other yard news, though on the horrific side of things, Dan and I mowed yesterday. Which normally wouldn't rate as horrific, but this time, I apparently mowed over some smallish rodent. I mean, I stopped the mower once to rescue a skipper that was having trouble flying away and another time to allow a ladybug to remove itself from a flower I was about to mow over, yet somehow I managed to mow a mammal.

I'm kind of horrified. Like seriously had trouble getting to sleep because I kept seeing the resulting pieces. HORRIFYING.

And to add insult onto, well, mammal-cide, when I was using the blower to clean off the patio bits, I found a chunk of bird wing on our front door mat. Not a feather. Part of a wing. Not sure where the rest of the bird went. Really hope it didn't get mowed over. Or weed whacked. But are bad as Dan can be about accidentally weed whacking my irises (HOW DO YOU DO THAT? THERE IS A SIDEWALK BETWEEN THE YARD AND MY IRISES! HOW?!?!), I doubt he'd be so careless to weed whack a bird.

So yeah, not the happiest mowing experience yesterday. On the plus side, the baby birds on our front porch are all grown up and ready to fly! And turns out there were five of them (I had only counted four.) How do I know? That's how many dive bombed me from the nest when I went out to get the mail.

Eastern Pheobe
Eastern Pheobe

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Babies are Back!

The nest on our front porch is once again host to some Eastern phoebes (I think they are). Their faces are just as delightfully grumpy as last year.

Eastern phoebe
Eastern phoebe

There's a lot of other nature going on in our yard, too. Thankfully, the birds are the only ones that camp out at our front door. The rest, you have to go looking for.

Dainty Sulphur
Desert Grassland Whiptail
Clouded Sulphur (F)
Cobweb Skipper (M)
Carolina Wolf Spider
Common Checkered-Skipper

And naturally, there's some blooming stuff, too.

Antelope Horn
Some Kind of Blooming Grass?Pin Clover
Dotted Blue-eyed Grass

Thursday, April 16, 2015

So Much Stalking

A few new things are starting to bloom in the yard. We've got the first of the returning thelesperma and some scarlet gaura has been showing up, too (though I know from past years that will be fewer in number than the thelesperma). There's also one we haven't had in prior years - breadroot. It's just in the front yard so far so we'll have to adapt our mowing pattern for it.

Scarlet Gaura

I also spent some time in the back yard yesterday attempting to stalk some flying things. A few repeats have shown up but I still enjoy stalking them.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (M)
Orange Sulfur
Painted Crescent

We've also had a couple of new ones - a Monarch and a Nessus Sphinx (which flies like a hummingbird and is really hard to photograph!)

Monarch (F)
Nessus Sphinx

Lots of exciting stuff going on in the yard. Are you tired of hearing that yet? I'm sure you will be by the time the blooming is done in our yard. I mean, I still have to restrain myself from posting pictures of bluebonnets every time I mention yard things. I'm still so excited we have some in our yard this year!