Friday, August 29, 2014

Wildlife Encounters

What a busy time we have had with family get togethers and lots of driving! It's been a blast, but we are glad to be home again. On our way back home from one of the trips, we stopped in Williams Lake for two nights to do some mountain biking. One evening, this family of three deer showed up outside our window. What a treat it was to see them!

 Later I headed down to Scout Island Nature Centre with the kids and we took in the sites. It poured rain off and on and we got to see some rainbows.
 And a heron! But not a lot of wildlife hangs around when you have two little ones with you!
 So I headed out on my own the next night, right around dusk. Right away I encountered some deer eating along the side of the road.
 And then I saw the muskrats! I have only seen a muskrat once before, so I was very excited to witness them here. I watched as this guy chewed off some reeds and swam away with them, returning to do it all over again. Muskrats eat reeds, but they also use them to build lodges, similar to a beaver lodge, only smaller. They don't use sticks or mud in the construction of them either. Geese and other birds will often nest on top of these lodges, as they make a nice platform in the water.
 I perched myself on the edge of this little bay, across from the large beaver lodge. I was hoping to spy a beaver, but I think I only saw muskrats (Well, I might have seen one small beaver or large muskrat. Hard to say).
 As I was standing there, this little deer came out from a nearby island to drink some water. It later returned with its mother and they both swam across to the mainland. (It's neat that so much nature thrives here, right in the middle of this industrial city.)
 This muskrat was swimming over to an old beaver lodge that was slowly returning to the lake. Muskrats will often live in old beaver lodges, and even in lodges currently occupied by beavers! It was thought that muskrats were just freeloading squatters, but they now have evidence that muskrats actually help out by keeping the lodge in good order by mudding the walls and I have even heard of muskrats paying rent by bringing food to the beavers.
 This little muskrat kept me company as I sat in solitude. He just floated there, munching pond weed and he seemed unconcerned about my presence.
 A little turtle surfaced right under me. I was surprised to see him. Where we live, a few hours more north, there are no turtles and the only reptiles are garter snakes.
 It was getting pretty dark by now and my muskrat buddy (he looks like a floating log in the last picture) eventually deserted me, making me aware of the isolation of where I was. Regretfully, I returned to my car and headed back. I could lose myself for hours when I have a chance to observe animals in nature. It is thrilling for sure. And dusk is a very exciting time to do it, as a whole new world awakens, one that we rarely get a chance to see.
Have you had any encounters with wildlife recently?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Airplanes, Babies, and Comfy Corners

Deep breath in. Long exhale. ahhhhhhh. Summer. It feels good, doesn't it? We are in the midst of another heat wave. Last night I made the most of it by going for a solitary dip in the lake after dark. A massive blood-red moon was just rising behind the mountains. It was a gorgeous night. Have you ever gone swimming in the dark? It is beautiful, though slightly unnerving as you can't see the bottom. Then I start to picture a giant sturgeon brushing past my leg and you should see how fast I can get out of the water.
Last weekend we went to the Vanderhoof International Air Show. My husband has been so excited to take Kesten to see it, since Kesten loves to point out every plane and helicopter he hears. And he had a blast! Although he loved the parked planes more than the flying ones. At the beginning of the show, a clown gave Kesten a foam plane and he held onto that thing throughout the rest of the day. In his car seat on the way home he sleepily said, "Plane. Thank-you, Clown." Awww

 This little girl turned 3 months-old yesterday! Cedar Baby, where has time gone?!
 Here she is screaming at me for making her do tummy time. But she figured out how to roll over tonight, so now she can get out of it whenever she wants!
I've been experimenting a bit with painting during nap times lately. I've been trying out watercolours again and the other day I did a Ted Harrison style painting of our old church on the lake. I remember having to do Ted Harrison style paintings in school as a child and it was fun to do it again as an adult. 
 And finally, our family is coming to visit us tomorrow, so the house is *pretty* clean, which is nice for a change! Here are some favourite little corners:
 A place to paint and draw.
Well, that's it for now. Have a wonderful week and weekend! I know I will!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Knitting! Woodland Beaver Kit Hat and Tail

 Life at the beaver lodge just got a whole lot cuter! Here is my latest edition to my woodland animals knitting patterns: the Beaver Kit! Who wouldn't love an adorable little baby beaver kit? This pattern is knit using extra chunky yarn, so it takes very little time to complete. This ensemble is modelled by my almost 3 month-old baby girl. It probably fits babies in the 0-3month range, maybe stretching into 4 or 5 months of age.

Printer friendly version available here:
 Woodland Beaver Baby Hat and Tail

Main colour (mc): Loops & Threads Cozy Wool in Barley
Contrast Colour (cc): Loops & Threads Cozy Wool in Chocolate

8mm (dpn's if you want to work the hat in the round)

2stitches and 2 rows = 1 inch in Stockinette stitch

15" circumference for the hat, 16” waist circumference for the diaper cover (note: both these circumferences will stretch quite a bit)

cc-contrast colour
dpn's-double pointed needles
k2tog-knit two together
k3tog-knit 3 stitches together
m-make 1 stitch
mc-main colour
p2tog-purl two together
St st- stockinette stitch
WS-wrong side

This hat is worked flat (instructions for working in the round in parentheses)
Cast on 30 st in Barley (light brown) on 8mm needles (Cast on dpn's and join in the round, placing a marker to mark the beginning of each row)
Work 2 rows of k1,p1 ribbing
Switch to St st and work until hat measures 4.5 inches from the beginning, ending on a WS row.
Row 1: *k4, k2tog,* 5 times
Row 2: p (k)
Row 3: *k3, k2tog,* 5 times
Row 4: p (k)
Row 5: *k2, k2tog* 5 times
Row 6: *p1, p2tog* 5 times (*k1, k2tog,* 5 times)
Row 7: *k2tog* 5 times
Cut off a tail of yarn and draw through the remaining st on the needles. Pull tight and fasten in a circle. Weave in ends. Sew up the side of the toque if knit flat.
Cast on 6 st in Barley (light brown) on 8mm needles.
K one row
k3tog, k3tog
k2tog, cut off string and pull through loop on needle.
Make two ears and sew onto the sides of the hat, about 2” down from the centre. Sew the 1 st base of the ear down and then thread your yarn through each side of the 6st cast on edge and pull those corners down, securing them to the hat to make a slightly curved ear.
 Beaver Tail
Cast on 6st. Work in moss st (k1,p1, on RS, and knitting the purl stitches and purling the knitting stitches on the wrong side) When increasing and decreasing, the moss st pattern inevitably gets a bit messed up. Just continue the pattern as best as you can.
Work in this way until tail measures 3” long.
On the next row that begins with a p st: k1, m1, continue in moss st until 1 from end, m1, k1
Next row: moss st to end
Next row: k1, m1, continue in moss st until 1 from end, m1, k1
Continue in moss st for 4 more rows,
Next row: k1, ssk, continue in moss st until 3 from end, k2tog, k1
Next row: moss st to end
Next row: k1, ssk, continue in moss st until 3 from end, k2tog, k1
Next row: k1, ssk, continue in moss st until 3 from end, k2tog, k1
Bind off the remaining 4 st, weave in end.

 Diaper Cover
Cast on 30st in Barley (light brown) on 8mm needles
First row: k1, k2tog, yo, k until 3 from end, yo, k2tog, k1
Knit two rows in garter st.
Next row: Bind off 8 st, k to end
Next row: Bind off 8 st, knit to end (14 st)
Work in garter st until it measures 4.5” from the beginning.
Next row: k1, ssk, k until 3 from end, k2tog, k1 (12st)
Next row: k
Next row: k1, ssk, k until 3 from end, k2tog, k1 (10st)
Continue in garter st until diaper cover measures 4.5” from beginning
Next row: k1, m1, k until 1 from end, m1, k1 (12st)
Next row: k
Next row: k1, m1, k until 1 from end, m1, k1 (14st)
Knit until diaper cover measures 11” from beginning.
Switch to Chocolate (dark brown) if desired.
Work until diaper cover measures 12” from beginning. Bind off all stitches.
On RS of cover, sew on two buttons on the front dark band, 0.5” in from each side and 0.5” down from the top.
Sew beaver tail on the centre of the back of the diaper cover, about 1” down from the top.

Thank you! I hope you enjoy this pattern! Please let me know of any errors you find and I will try to fix them. Also feel free to ask me any questions by leaving a comment below. Also check out my other knitting patterns under the tab at the top of the page.
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