Thursday, September 13, 2007

Simple Pleasures

You know, it doesn't really take very much to make me happy these days. I think I demanded much more of my self (and others) when I was younger. Perhaps that's just the way it is as one gets older. Maybe not. Either way, I'll take my joy wherever and whenever I can find it. More often than not, I only have to look in my own yard to find joyful things. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I capture those images with my camera. Today was one of those days. The first photo shows a Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly nectaring on one of my most loved wildflowers, the Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis). The spicebush swallowtail is a large butterfly (~4") and the iridescent blue hindwings glow in sharp contrast to the vivid crimson red of the cardinal flowers. (Can you believe I took that picture! Yowser!!!)

I fell in love with Cardinal flowers the first time I saw them in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park maybe a dozen or so years ago. I attended a plant sale my 1st fall (9 yrs. ago) back in Tennessee to complete a graduate school assignment. The gardenistas (is that a word???) were hauling 1 gal potted cardinal flowers out by the little red wagonload. I just had to have one so I carefully chose the perfect plant, a splurge at the time, and took it home. Given a nice shady or semi shady spot, a little compost, and plenty of water and in a few years you too can have dozens of cardinal flowers to brighten your yard in August and September when everything else is withered. You'll have enough to transplant to every shady spot you have and more to share with friends and family. Add a few Lantana to the mix and the butterflies and hummingbirds become your daily companions (esp. if those butterflies cocoon in the trees and bushes around the house). I never said joy didn't require a little work!

I'm delighted beyond words that this photograph turned out. Let's just say I tested the limits of my camera's ability to focus at maximum zoom. This is a juvenile Cooper's Hawk perched in a very large tree in my neighbor's yard. The tree may be in his yard, but from our deck & patio we get maximum enjoyment from it. This summer we've had an unusually high number of visits from a pair of Cooper's Hawks. This tree is a perfect place to scan the underbrush for prey like chipmunks, rabbits, field mice (eek!), snakes (yikes!!!), and even squirrels and groundhogs. And to think I live in a subdivision in a very populated area of town! These large raptors look quite massive when they decide to drop by my birdbath. Needless to say every one else vacates the premises in a hurry. I'm grateful to have such a natural form of rodent control nearby :-)

So, that's what's happening in my garden, now for the knitting content (this is a knitting blog, right?). I dropped in at Loopville yesterday to chat with Jinka, the owner, and see if I could exchange the 2 balls of Kidsilk Haze I bought 2 weeks ago. Long story short--do not expect KSH purchased now to match in color/dyelot the KSH purchased last winter. I tried and it didn't so rather than keep the mismatched balls I figured I trade them in for another color and maybe add a ball or two to knit another project. Jinka was a sport and I left with 4 balls in a yummy deep burgundy color called liqueur. So now I have 3 balls of Trance and 4 balls of Liqueur and decisions to make on which 2 shawl patterns I want to knit. Maybe I will finally knit something out of VLT

I ran into Judy Sumner, our local famous designer and the woman behind Knoxsocks Designs, while at Loopville. She does walk-in tutoring 3 afternoons a week but no one showed up yesterday. That was great for me because Judy had just received one of the new Japanese Stitch Dictionaries she had ordered and she was anxious to share this newfound treasure. I was practically speechless this book was so good. These stitch designs, which included cables, lace, edgings, and the like, were so far superior and creative way beyond anything I have seen coming out of the United States or Europe. I left the shop drooling and chanting "I want, I want, I want!!!" Better yet, the price point was no worse the buying the Barbara Walker Treasuries according to Judy. That means I can afford it if I plan well. I have the ISBN# and where she ordered them so maybe next month. Judy was busy designing a sock pattern for a popular handpainted yarn company, so keep your eyes open! While I'm at it, you should check out her website. There are some very nice sock patterns there and you would be supporting one of the most kind and generous ladies I've ever had the pleasure to meet.

Whew! I'm getting long-winded here, but I just have to share my used bookstore find before I shut up and call it a night. As a part of my dejunking endeavors I gathered up a bunch of gardening and flower arranging books to trade in at McKay's, my favorite used book store. I knew I get pretty good credit for these books and I was right. It was a good thing cuz' I scored a copy of EZ's Knitting Without Tears in superb condition! I've been trying to slowly acquire all the Elizabeth Zimmerman books for my knitting library as I consider them to be among the bones of a good knitting library. You know, right up there with the stitch dictionaries and lace books like AGOL and VLT. So while I'm standing there in the craft section I meet a couple of ladies from a neighboring town and one lady points to a book on the shelf and tells me it's on her must own list, especially if you ever want to design your own sweaters and such. She said the magic words, design your own, so I grab the book and start thumbing through. I can tell right away that she is correct and I decide to splurge even though the price point ($8) was a bit much, I thought, for an old book. Later i decided I had made out like a bandit with this book: The Complete Book of Progressive Knitting by Ida Riley Duncan (c)1940. This little green book has it all, from how to knit to how to design a skirt or sweater with the proper proportions to a small stitch dictionary at the back. I just love vintage books--another simple pleasure in life.

Knit on!

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