Before I Confuse The Next Skein, Too

A few weeks ago, I washed and set three or four skeins of yarn. They dried beautifully outside in the sun & breeze and I twisted them into skeins and set them on my desk waiting to be photographed and shared here so that I could then move them over to my handspun stash. Then I finished another three or four skeins and set them on the growing yarn pile on my desk. I thought briefly that adding them to the finished pile might be confusing, but after brief consideration decided I’d remember which were finished and which were not.

Famous. Last. Words.

All seven skeins sat on my desk while rainstorm after stifling humidity after rainstorm after trip away from home after rainstorm (August & early September involved a lot of rain here) delayed the finishing of the last three or four skeins. Then finally last week the weather cooperated and on a fantastic sunshiney, breezy day it was time to get the yarn all finished.

As I readied the water for the first skein, I realized it had happened. I could not for the life of me remember which were finished and which were not. Had I washed three or four skeins? Sure, I could have made some educated guesses. I mean, yarn is different once finished and if I’d wanted to study each skein I probably could have sussed it all out. Alas, I was impatient after waiting all these weeks to get the yarn set, so I opted to just rewash them all. It took twice as long than it needed to, than if I’d just — you know — made a second pile on the other side of my desk to start with, but there you have it.

In any case, I’m about to start plying another project, so before I confuse that skein, too, it’s time to share these seven skeins and get them squirreled away into my handspun stash!

It’s worth noting that all of these skeins are spun from Three Waters Farm fibers — y’all know I work as a moderator for the TWF Ravelry Group and am just the biggest fan. TWF fibers by far make up the bulk of my fiber and handspun stash and for good reason –the colorways are just to-die for and the bases are simply the best. I’m totally serious when I say I can’t get enough and I never get bored spinning them. There are times I buy a single colorway multiple times just to try spinning it a different way — it’s true! But I digress before my gushing gets out of hand!

The first four skeins I’ll share are for my Vivid project. I’ve not yet started knitting it, but I’m definitely making good progress on creating consistent yarns to use in it when I get there. All the yarns I’m spinning for it are silk blends in coordinating color palettes with an aim at being roughly worsted weight yarns.

First, Vein of Turquoise on an 80/20 Merino + Silk base…

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This skein is significantly brighter than my other selections for this project, so it may or may not ultimately wind up in it. Time will tell.

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I love the icy blue streaking through the oranges and yellows though, so whatever I end up doing with this skein I have zero doubt I’ll love it!

Next, Moving in Circles on an 85/15 Polwarth + Tussah Silk base…

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Which is quite similar to Pumpkins & Persimmons on the same base…

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They are so similar and yet so unique!

I find it very fun to explore the subtle differences in these two. Moving in Circles has just a bit less contrast, almost a toned-down version of Pumpkins & Persimmons. They will work great in my Vivid project for sure!

And then there’s Hickory & Maple on the 40/40/20 Merino/Superwash Merino/Tussah Silk base…

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This is one of my favorite bases and this colorway is one…

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I would buy it again and again — it was a dream to spin!

Next, I get to share my spindle spin from the Tour de Fleece this year, Still Water on that same 40/40/20 Merino/Superwash Merino/Tussah Silk base that I love. I’d finished the singles up at the end of the Tour and then plied then using my wheel shortly after…

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It’s one of those skeins for which it would be easy to point out “imperfections.”img_3647

But it was a labor of love, for I do love spindle spinning, and those “imperfections” are what show that this yarn is handmade, slowly and while life was happening. I like that and therefore where some may call it “imperfection,” I prefer to think of it as “personality.” It’s a lighter weight yarn — floating between fingering and sport weight. I have zero idea how I’ll use it. It was a spin for the joy of spinning and will hang out in my stash until I find the perfect use for it.

And lastly, two totally random spins, just because. First, my August Top of the Month Club, Sheltered Zinnia on Rambouillet…

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I really love Rambouillet…

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It’s one of my favorite wools to spin just because whatever weight I spin it at, it’s got bounce and a squish-factor that is just awesome.

And last, but certainly not least…

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Butte Shadows, also on a Rambouillet base.

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This is one of those colorways that was just love at first sight and I knew I had to have it. And when it arrived in my hands, I just had to spin it.  This skein is in that worsted or DK realm and it’s every bit as dreamy as I imagined it would be.

And there you have it, a month or so worth of spinning. Beautiful colorways made complete with so much joy and fun and life twisted within these fibers. And rather than set them back on my desk — which would be easier — I’m going to take them over to my handspun stash shelves and put them away properly… before I confuse the next skein, too, and end up washing eight skeins where I could be washing just one!

I Just Have To Keep Looking

This week was another odd week. It’s been a trend lately that — ironically — has been stressing me out. Our family treasures that we have the freedom and means to spend time together, but it’s been taking advantage of this very freedom and its subsequent disruption of the schedule I built for our school days that has been wreaking havoc on my state of mind. For reasons unknown (beyond my desperate desire for an established routine, that is), I’ve been butting heads with a slightly chaotic reality lately that’s been at odds with my fabricated idea of school year normalcy. It’s left me feeling a little defeated and very tired. I realize it’s all in my head and really kind of ridiculous considering how much of the issue is all in my own perception of what “should be,” but I’ve been feeling weary nonetheless.

Today, however, I’m delighted to have a day at home. To reflect on the past busy week, share a bit here with you, and hopefully unearth a reminder that I may need to give myself a break; that maybe all the internal frustration is indeed pretty baseless and that I just need to relax a little and adjust my perspective. Can a day at home do all that?! I suppose we will find out!

It started, you see, with a hike…

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on a beautiful day with Moose.

There were flowers both new…

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and colorful…

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and spent…

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This is often the case this time of year. The leaves are starting to change here and it feels almost unreal that the summer is almost over and that fall is beginning to take hold. All those familiar markers that denote the coming fall were somehow disrupted in my mind this year and I feel taken by surprises by the red and yellow leaves starting to show in the trees and the cooler nights we’ve seen sporadically.

Somewhere during the week I managed to finish spinning some singles…

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“Painted Nettles” was such a colorful spin. I’m going to ply it as a simple 2-ply and I purchased a coordinating red to go with it to possibly use in a 2-color shawl knit someday. I’m really into this idea of spinning multiple skeins that work together for future 2 or 3 color projects. I’m in no rush with this one as I likely won’t get to the red anytime soon.

At mid-week, we all piled in the car and headed East. Mr. Knitting Sarah had meetings for work that took place a short drive from my parents’ house, so we rode along to spend some time with them. We left early Wednesday and dropped the kids and dog for some quality time with Grandma & Grandpa while Mr. KS & I headed to the beach…

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We don’t get much Big Water time anymore where we live and Mr. KS knows that it’s something that I miss dearly, so he made a point to take me and let me spend some time.

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I did some beach knitting and enjoyed the last of my morning coffee. We stayed a good long while, until Mr. KS started to get a little stir-crazy and hot in the sun. Where I could stay at the beach all day, he kind of hates the sun because he burns very easily. It makes the fact that he made a point of taking me all the sweeter! It was restorative, indeed, and I should add that on the knitting front, I still adore this knit!

The next day as Mr. KS went to his meetings, the kids and I spent quality time enjoying some panfish catch & release with my dad…

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We just went to a small lake a few miles from their house, but the water was so clear we could watch the little bluegills nibbling our worms. It was a beautiful day to be on the water! And when we returned, we grabbed a late lunch and then I volunteered to mow my parents’ lawn. They have a nice lawn tractor, so I listen to music and zoom along and get the job done for them. When we’re there long enough and it needs to be done, I never mind doing it.

After an early night and a somewhat quiet morning, we picked up Mr. KS from his last meeting and headed home in order to make it back for our town’s annual Maple Fall Festival where we had to work bright and early the following morning. We spent most of the day working, but playing, too.

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That’s my girl, “Zorbing” with gusto! If you ask me, she sort of looks like a girl trapped in a bubble in this image, but she swears she enjoyed it! We got home around dinner time, pretty exhausted from the cumulative effect of multiple days in the sun. When my head hit the pillow last night, it was heavy.

I woke up this morning, though, and was ready to take advantage of a day at home which seems to be exactly what someone else in this house needs as well…

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This is the current view under my desk (the white streak on his face is just a sunbeam, but that is his ear up against my knee — how this is comfortable, I have no idea). I think Moose might have been a little bummed to be trucked about all week with us and all the unpredictable comings and goings and then stuck home alone yesterday for most of the day. Poor, sweet fella!

In any case, dog plastered to me, I worked on a swatch for my Tecumseh sweater this morning…

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And I learned a few things:

  1. My yarn measures out to a DK weight (hooray!), but
  2. I do not like it knit to the prescribed gauge of 22sts = 4″
  3. I love it knit to the gauge of 19sts = 4″
  4. I can do math to figure out a way to (hopefully) make that work

And thus, the project moves on! I’m planning to prep my main color today and get spinning! I’ve got grey from 2 separate dyelots, so I will be prepping and mixing them all up to hopefully blend it all into one nice lot of yarn.

As I wrap this whole account up, I can’t help but recognize that it was a pretty amazing week, full of family and memories, and so many good experiences. True, my schedule was blown to bits and the dog is being a little weird today, but maybe that’s just the way it is. You just don’t get the whole kit & kaboodle — freedom and order, schedules and days at the beach. Somewhere in all of it, there’s got to be a balance to be found — be it in perspective and frame of mind or just making it all work together in harmony. I have to believe that balance is out there somewhere even if it’s been eluding me lately. I think I just have to keep looking.

 

 

Second Annual

This past weekend was the WI Sheep & Wool Festival and while I was unable to attend this year, it brought back a lot of truly wonderful memories from my last time there. Last year, if you remember, a large group from the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group traveled from near & far to get together and meet up for this event. It was just totally incredible! This year, the same amazing group of women set-up a similar get-together, but this time in Maine. Unfortunately, that was not in the cards for me either this year, but they’ve been sharing stories and images with us and my heart is full knowing they are having a fantastic time.

True to form, these enthusiastic band of ladies haven’t stopped at just the travel and adventure, die-hard knitters that they are, they had the idea to put together a knitalong to coincide with the whole event. It’s such a grand idea as it allows those who can’t travel to still participate and be a part of, even if the travel is not in the cards. Last year, the group decided on Rainbow Warrior and believe it or not, a year has passed and I’ve yet to share my finished project. Well, friends, today is [finally!] the day!

My Rainbow Warrior project has existed in not one, but three incarnations. It started as this…

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But it just didn’t suit me. So I switched it up and tried it with this combination…

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But it was still not quite right. It was a little too Green Bay Packer-y for me (not that there’s anything wrong with that, just wasn’t tickling my fancy). After ripping attempt #2 I had this inkling that this skein might be the ticket…

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It’s a skein of KnitCircus Greatest of Ease Lothlorien Panoramic. And I thought… this gradient + that grey I’d been using — SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock in Silver — I think that could be it! With the holidays coming and other things on my mind, I tucked both skeins away in my cedar chest only to unearth them again months later in mid-June.

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And I just knew it was going to work almost instantly. And in a few short weeks, I was finished.

Since that time I’ve been wearing it. And loving it. And not photographing it. It actually made it on my little shawl and sweater rack near by bed so I could throw it on on chilly morning. Finally, this morning — inspired by my latest knit — I brought it down to the mannequin and took some photos to share. Would you like to see?!

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After being through two combinations I did not care for, it’s even more satisfying seeing how this version turned out.

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The pattern was really fun and easy to knit and I adore how the gradient worked with it. And while I can take or leave a picot edge, on this shawl, I really love it. I think it suits the texture perfectly.

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Beautiful. And already in my regular rotation of shawls!

The reason I opted to share this with you today is that just like last year, the Friends of Knitting Sarah Group (really, it’s a shame my name is on it because they are well beyond me at this point!) have selected a new KAL to coincide with the get-together and while a group are knitting away in Maine, those of us unable to attend are enjoying their photos and stories and knitting away on this year’s selected pattern, Down The Road And Back Again.

This year, I pulled a few options out of my stash and put them in a bit where I could walk past them, get used to them together, and ruminate on my options. Then, as I was contemplating photographing my options and posting them to the group for opinions and thoughts, I thought what about…

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It’s my handspun Merry Poppies spun with Three Waters Farm fiber and a skein of String Theory Caper Sock in Dark & Stormy I received as a gift a couple years back. I’d started a project or two with the Caper Sock, but never found anything that was good enough. Before losing incentive, I wound the Merry Poppies, weighed both skeins (the project goes by weight, so awesome for all you handspun knitters out there!) and started. And unlike the many false starts of the Rainbow Warrior, this one I knew was going to be perfect from the get-go.

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I am just smitten with everything about this project. It’s fun to knit and the colors just work.

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I am struggling to put it down — just one more color change, I tell myself all the time! It’s one of those knits!

So I don’t think the second annual Friends of KS Fall KAL will take as long as last year’s (at least I hope not!), but there’s no denying that both are/will be lovely and that I’ll get a whole lot of wear out of both of them. Even though the first took a good long time, this event has quickly become a KAL I really look forward to and enjoy knitting. Here’s to many more years knitting with this wonderful group and to many more adventures and opportunities to get together in the future!

Settling In

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind around here as we attempt to settle in to a new school year. Fighting with computer programs, learning a new schedule, and still squeezing a few last hurrahs out of summer have made for a busy house. I’m very happy to say I’ve conquered the misbehaving software, think we’re finally on target for our schedule today, and we did manage to squeeze some fun into the last couple of weeks. I don’t know how we got there — on any of it — except to say that there was a lot of stubborn perseverance involved at times and a commitment to just making it all work.

Our first adventure was to spot a new-to-us bird, also know in the birding world as a “life bird” or simply a “lifer.” A Swallow-Tailed Kite‘s range does not reach north beyond Louisiana normally, but there were reports that one of these birds was hanging out about an hour and a half away from our house. We aren’t huge “chasers” when it comes to birds, but since even Mr. Knitting Sarah hadn’t yet seen one in his lifetime and it wasn’t too far, we had a day off and decided to go for it.

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It’s a very elegant bird — sized sort of like a red-tailed hawk, but much lighter and sleeker as it puts on an aerial acrobatic show grabbing bugs and dragonflies from the air. We were lucky enough to watch this beautiful bird for at least an hour even mingling with a kettle of nighthawks for a bit. My favorite part, however, was when it would grab bugs from the tops of the trees and then while in flight, it would feed itself with its feet! What a crazy behavior! It was a grand memory indeed and we celebrated with a yummy lunch out and then raced home to meet my parents who were incoming for a visit.

My parents arrived mid-afternoon and we were very fortunate that my dad brought his boat along, so the kids and my dad and I explored some new waters nearby over the next couple of days…

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I try to never pass up a day on the water…

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We got a tip from an old friend to try this new-to-us lake and it was wonderful. With the kids, we tend to fish for panfish and just catch and release and this spot — while it has other kinds of fish in it as well — provided a pretty steady stream of bluegills for us.

Almost as good as the fishing, we have a tradition when we fish with my dad that we usually grab a bite to eat somewhere and on day one of our fishing exploits we stopped at what may be the best named restaurant on Earth, The Thorpedo, in Thorp, WI.

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Family dining fare at it’s most Wisconsin-y.

Somewhere amid the hub-bub, I did make some headway on a couple fiber-y projects. Remember the latest Top of the Month Club from Three Waters Farm that I shared in my last post?

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Well, I got to spinning it. I haven’t (at least in my memory) spun with a Cultivated (also known as “Mulberry”) Silk blend before and I’ll admit this one took me a bit to get the hang of. I’d broken up my fiber into small 1-3gram nests for short color repeats and in using the short-forward draw, I found it was kind of tough to draft. It was clear that I was missing something in how I was approaching and handling this blend. I played around with different ways to make the drafting easier and finally landed on heavily pre-drafting. Really pre-drafting out each nest made it spin like a dream and I’m happily cruising along now. I’m sure there are other ways of drafting this beauty, but this method worked for me! I’m very happy to have cracked the code, too, as I have a companion colorway headed my way soon as I’ve been envisioning stocking my shelves with some two color companion skeins for future 2-color projects.

I also finally started plying my Sunshiney Day skein for my sweater spin.

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I don’t know what else to say other than I adore this yarn. I think that bodes very well for the sweater to come! Now to get it finished so I can swatch and then continue with the spinning!

I’ve been focusing most of my attention, however, on my Honey Trail Shawl for my mother-in-law. It’s at the large, difficult to photograph stage, so pardon the quick & dirty version of a photo here…

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But I’m now flying toward the end…

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I believe I’m under 10 rows from the last section now and it’s at the point where those rows are nice and short and I feel a little like a kite that really has caught the wind, so I’ve on a mission to wrap this project up.

The sun is shining here today after over a week of almost constant rain and I have to say it’s a nice change. I was beginning to feel a bit like this guy that my husband found at a nearby botanical garden we visited yesterday…

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I love rainy days and I love sunny days, just too much of one thing for a period of time tends to wear on me and I think this dragonfly was 100% with me with that sentiment. Today’s change is most welcome. I’m finally washing all my finished skeins of handspun (there are 7) and am hoping to have them dried in the sun & breeze that is abundant today. I’m baking bread because it’s 70F and not at all humid. The computers and all the software is working today, we are right on schedule for our school day, and I’m thinking we are going to have a beautiful afternoon outdoors once we are through with out studies for the day. Yes, my friends, it feels like it’s been a long time coming, but I believe we are at long last, truly settling in!

One Last Hurrah

Today we are starting our school year. We like to ease into these things, so we’re starting mid-week with partial days and will dive in in earnest next week. Before taking the plunge into the 2018-2019 school year though, we took advantage of a fortuitous and not very common two days off in a row for Mr. Knitting Sarah and had a little mini-adventure over the weekend, one last hurrah before the end of summer.

As it is mid-August and the peak of vacation season in these parts, finding a spot for camping or a hotel that was dog friendly on short notice was not easy. Mr. Knitting Sarah is nothing if not determined and creative when it comes to unearthing a good adventure though and I was not in the least surprised when he announced a plan. Destination: Clam Lake, WI, Population: 37 and a herd of wild elk.

We left as soon as Mr. KS was done with work on Saturday with homemade brown bag dinners in hand and made the two and a half hour drive north. Scanning the roadsides as we went, I spotted a large Snapping Turtle and our son pointed out a Red Fox. We talked and sang loudly along with the radio as we went, pulling in to our destination around 7pm in high spirits.

Located in the heart of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Clam Lake is one of those places that if you blink you might miss it. Downtown it’s got a small motel, a tavern with good food, and a gas station/general store/motel with all of 8 rooms, the latter of which we called home for a two nights. Clearly a hub for the locals, the folks behind the counter take impeccable care of the place and know most people who stop in by name. It is a true gem! We checked in, peeked at the room (it was literally one of the nicest kept hotel rooms I’ve stayed in), and got back on the road to see what we could see. Twilight is, after all, one of the best times to see wildlife.

The first thing to note is that these northern woods are incredibly dense in summer. I always feel like it’s kind of a miracle when we see things. I fully believe all manner of animals are likely watching me from a mere couple of feet off the trail and unless they want me to, I will never know it. It never stops us though, the joy is in the looking. The more you look, the more you see. The elk — reintroduced in Wisconsin in 2016 — were the goal, but we knew there was potential for lots more — wolves, black bear, bobcat, mountain lion, fox, snowshoe hare, and a whole host of birds are all common in the area.

Before long, we spotted this guy in the waning light…

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We got a good long look at him, but with low light and shooting with my phone’s camera through binoculars the quality of the photo is not fabulous. It does, however, serve as proof that with my own eyes I’ve seen wild elk in Wisconsin. As we kept driving along the old forest roads, we also saw loads of White-Tailed Deer, Snowshoe Hares, and a particularly animated American Woodcock dancing in a tremendous display in our headlights for quite a while. It was magical and incredible to witness — such an unexpected delight! I just won’t ever forget it. What a night!

The following day we rolled out of the racks early, stopped for a quick breakfast, and headed to the Namekagon River Visitor Center — the kids love a good visitor center and we were looking for a trail recommendation, so I waited with Moose while the family checked it out. It just so happened that as our daughter talked up the local ranger, he asked if she’d like to help name and release a monarch butterfly…

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Of course, she did…

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She named it “Steve” because, of course, what other name would you give a monarch butterfly?

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Godspeed, Steve! Safe & happy travels to you!

After saying farewell to Steve, we hit a trail that skirted the Namekagon River. The trail was lined with the most gorgeous Red Pines…

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I find Red Pines have the most extraordinary bark. And we enjoyed the quiet of the woods and the flow of the river below. After 20 or 30 minutes, we took a moment to sit along the river while the kids played and the dog swam and the multitudes of Cedar Waxwings acrobatically snatched bugs from the air above the river…

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And I spun.

On the way back, hearing birds in the tree tops I looked way high up in the canopy…

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And I saw some immature American Redstarts high up in the trees along with some Chickadee friends. Thank goodness for my binoculars! And on the ground…

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Signs of autumn to come or our incredibly dry summer? I’m not sure. And a feather left behind by a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker…

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We finished out our hike and continued our car safari over toward Spooner and coffee…

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And after a rest and refreshments at the hotel, we finished the night off with a little more wildlife viewing and a spot of fishing…

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We didn’t catch anything, but sometimes it’s just nice to throw a hook in the water.

We finished our weekend out with a jaunt up to Copper Falls State Park and another hike…

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On a new-to-us trail which ended with some time just sitting by a waterfall, a favorite past time of Mr. KS. Poor Moose, though, was growing tired and anxious to get home and after a while hanging out he started to cry a little. He’d hiked and swam and had begun snoring loudly during the car rides, a sure sign that he was running out of gas and this was just his last straw — time to head out, family! Along the way back to the car, notables were immature Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers and immature Scarlet Tanagers and a Golden-Winged Warbler. It was a beautiful, quiet hike. An excellent end to a fantastic weekend.

On the ride home, I managed to make decent headway on the Honey Trail shawl for my MIL…

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I’ve turned the corner and am beyond the halfway point now. I was worried initially with all the little cables that I wouldn’t finish in time to give to my MIL when they visit at the end of September, but I’ve got no concerns now. Hitting the point of decreasing always feels like such a victory, even more than finishing sometimes, I think.

Arriving home, it was hard to believe how much we squeezed into just two days, but still we found ourselves deliciously refreshed. We came home to construction beginning on our street, the promise of school starting, the need to begin the process of tidying up the house before it’s closed up for winter, and an empty hummingbird feeder. In addition to all the young birds we saw on our mini-adventure, we’ve had 2 immature (or 1 female and 1 immature or 2 female — I can’t tell) Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds camped out in our backyard. I’ve never had much luck with regular hummingbird visitors to my feeder, but I noticed them a week or so ago and quickly moved the hummingbird feeder out to where I’d seen them. Ever since, 9 out of 10 times I peer out the back windows one of them is there, sitting on the brush pile or the feeder. Sometimes preening, sometimes eating, sometimes stretching their little wings, sometimes just sitting and looking around, these little birds are surely preparing for the autumn changes to come and their long journey South to Texas or Mexico or maybe even Costa Rica.

I plan to keep the feeder full as long as our hummingbird friends hang around. After all, we all need a little break, one last hurrah of summer to ensure we’re rested and refreshed and ready to go when the next leg of our journey needs to begin. We got ours in Clam Lake, so it’s only right that our little friends get theirs in our quaint little backyard as well.