Sunday, May 6, 2012

Knitting + Some Birding, Too

{I announced the giveaway winner in that post--congratulations again to Naomi! My son has a fever but as soon as I can get out of the house during the PO's office hours, it'll be on its way!}

Friday night I did some clearing-the-decks knitting, getting the current, almost-done project out of the way so I could start a new one.

I finished the Branching Out mitts from Coastal Knits. I used Cascade 220 for these, which is a worsted weight, not the called-for sport weight, so they're a little off, but I thought they'd be okay, considering the total number of cast on stitches is only two less than what I cast on for my favorite worsted-weight mitt pattern (Evangeline, of course). These are still a little big on, though. (No cables pulling them in, of course.)

And the thumb is funny. Pouchy, almost. But it looks that way in one of the photos in the book, too...I probably should have adjusted it a bit for the heavier yarn...although I think partly it's that the gusset starts right after the cuff, instead of a few rows up, like I'm used to. You know what fits your own hand, you know? But even still, I'm happy enough with these gloves, and I love the purple against the light grey.

I was clearing the decks, of course, so I could begin Azami.

Which I did, Saturday night, several times. Don't ask. I think I've got it now. (ETA: Nope, I frogged it again.) The yarn--I'm using the called-for yarn, Valley Yarns Southwick--is very soft but loses its twist easily and then it's just a bunch of strands. Sigh. I do like wool best for knitting with.

I wasn't the only one making things this weekend. Friday I noticed a bird flying back and forth under our deck. I didn't see anything there when I looked, but Saturday morning I saw some vegetation, by Saturday afternoon it was definitely nest shaped, and this is what it looked like Sunday morning.

The orientation of the photo is funny because I basically just stuck the camera up there and clicked blindly. The nest is built on a crossbeam underneath the edge of the deck. I'm pretty sure it's a phoebe who's building it; I've gotten just glimpses as she flies back and forth, but she looks phoebe-like, and the nest site is consistent. (The rest of this post is about birds, so you can skip it if it's not your thing!)

The birds in our yard are making me so happy. This is the first year I've put out a feeder; the advice in heavy deer tick areas is not to have a bird feeder because it draws mammals into the yard, and they bring ticks. Well, we have ticks in the middle of the grass where they have no business being anyway, plus I hung the feeder off a tree on the edge of the grass, near the scrubby, figuring it would make the birds feel more comfortable if they didn't have to leave the shelter of the trees. The result is that we are seeing more of the birds that we hear every year. If we want an even closer look, we still need binoculars, but this is the first year I've seen, for instance, a red-bellied woodpecker. (No, it's belly isn't red. Don't ask me.) I saw a pair of downy--or maybe hairy, I can't tell them apart at that distance--woodpeckers on the bird-feeder tree, too. The towhees like to walk around at the base of the bird-feeder tree or sit in the branch and sing. And the white-throated sparrows (Oh, Sam peabody peabody peabody!) are at the feeder all the time.

This is in addition to our usuals: titmice, cardinals, chickadees, goldfinches, and nuthatches, who visited the feeder all winter, too; the goldfinches have packed away their dull winter feathers and replaced them with their bright yellow ones. They travel in a mob, flitting and chasing each other all over the bushes. Mrs. and Mrs. Cardinal visit the feeder together. The veerys (veer-veer-veer) and woodthrushes (eee-o-lay!) are back, but deep in the scrubby, where I can only hear them, not see them (yet, anyway--maybe I'll see them this year, too!). There's something that sounds maybe like a worm-eating warbler, but I'd like to get a look at it. My younger son likes the teakettle song of the Carolina wren best, and the catbirds are back, mewing away.

I don't know what it is about them--but whenever I'm near a window on that side of the house, I look towards the feeder. It feels pretty special to catch a glimpse of these creatures going about their business and deigning to do so where I can see. When we're waiting outside for the school bus in the morning, the birds provide a raucous, cheerful soundtrack. I don't mind hearing them when I'm still in bed (or the barred owls at night, either, and I'm hoping the whip-poor-will comes back, too, they're so cool to hear at night). The birds are part of why I love where I live, and loving where I live is a big part of who I am and what inspires me.

Do you watch the birds? Do you have any favorites?


iamrushmore said...

I could talk about birds all day. when I was 7 or 8 my parents gave me a birdfeeder, bird book and binoculars for christmas, and I've been a watcher/lover ever since. I've always had multiple feeders in the yard, but last year we attracted a fox and raccoon as regular visitors. the fox didn't bother the birds, and in fact chased the squirrels, which I rather liked, but we have so many neighborhood cats that it made me very nervous having daily day time visits from a fox. and then the darn raccoon started emptying the feeders every night. i started taking them in at night and putting them back out in the morning, but then he just started coming around in the day time. and I couldn't afford to feed the raccoons! so I stopped filling my feeders for about 6 weeks. started up again and the darn raccoon was back. so I stopped all fall/winter. and only just put out a new (allegedly raccoon proof feeder) a few weeks ago. so far so good. and all my old favorite friends are coming back. had our first spring visit from the rose breasted grosbeak. I usually have a pair all summer long. and I've also had a visit from the strangely named red-bellied woodpecker, who is just breathtaking. I'm hugely impressed by your bird-call identification. I try and try, but can never seem to associate the sound with the bird. guess I'm a visual learner :)

Shell said...

I love how your mitts turned out. Mine always look a little too big on me because I only have small hands but I prefer my fingerless mitts abit longer on my fingers. I did knit a pair of full mitts afew years ago in bulky wool and they were enormous, they looked like oven gloves.
We seem to have quite afew different birds visting our garden but after talking to our neighbours, most near by put food out for a varity of birds. The usual visitors are sparrows, magpies, blackbirds and starlings, though we don't get as many starlings as we used to. We have the occasional robin, pied wagtail, thrush, longtail tit, great tit and blue tit. This year we have spotted a number of jackdaw which we have never seen in the garden before. As we have the three little chickies we are wary at times as to let them wander the garden as we have had visits by a kestrel and more often by a sparrowhawk

lamina@do a bit said...

Love your mittens(even the wobbly thumb) and the colour combo it just lovely! :)

amy said...

Karen, I'm a bit jealous of the rose-breasted grosbeaks! As for the songs, my hearing is better than my eyesight. When I was taking ornithology in college, I had a hard time spotting the birds up in the trees that everyone else seemed to see easily, so I tried to focus on the songs. (At the time I lived in the city, too, and outside of class all I heard was the mockingbird mimicking a backfiring engine and the like.) But that was years ago, and when we moved here and I started hearing all these songs again and they'd tug at my head. I still knew lots of them, but I've had to go searching for many of them. I know enough to narrow it down, usually. Tonight I overcooked the asparagus because I was trying to figure out which buzzy warbler I was hearing. (I'm still not sure.)

Shell, I'll have to go look many of those up, mainly all the tits you mentioned plus the jackdaw. I recently learned via a photo in the Flickr embroidery group that goldfinches on your side of the pond have red faces! I was all, THAT'S not a goldfinch, until I checked where the embroiderer lived, and it was the UK. Ok then!

Art by Wiley said...

Oh, I love those mitts. They're gorgeous!

Michelle said...

We have a ton of woodpeckers right now. More than normal, I think. The map says the catbirds migrate down here in the winter, but I don't think I've ever seen one.

Bells said...

Azami is great! I've not seen it before. I truly think that'll be a great design for you. Perfect.

Love the mitts. So 'on theme' for you. I may have to consider them next from that book.