Knitting in the Large

Projects

I had the idea YEARS ago to knit a rug. For this I would need extra large knitting needles. Where to get such large needles one might ask? Ask your husband to make them of course.

So my wonderful husband made me a pair of extra large knitting needles (20mm round x 36″ long with a wheel on the end). However, I never did get around to using those needles, until now that is. It all started when my son accompanied me to the craft store. We were looking for something else entirely, which we found, when my son liked the feel of this REALLY huge yarn. It was extremely soft! Then it dawned on me, what a perfect yarn to use with my extra large knitting needles. Sold!

The yarn we chose was a Loops & Threads brand labeled 87 yds/35 oz – 80 m/1000 g / Super Bulky 6. It called for a needle size of 12 mm / US 17. Ha! What do they know! What this super bulky acrylic yarn needs are super extra large needles. I’ll show em!

At home that evening I got out the needles and proceeded to find a show on the television to knit along with. Of course, I chose MasterChef. But as I was about to sit on the sofa, I realized the needles were not going to work. I would need to bring in an armless dining room chair so my needles could move. They were too long to use on the sofa. Boy these were big needles!

I must say, the knitting does go by quickly with such big yarn and needles. Although, my project was a bit heavy. Since I was making a rug, the pattern was not hard. I decided to cast on twenty-five and knit until it was long enough or I ran out of yarn, whichever came first.

Compare the big needles to a size 15 and a size 8. Compare the yarn to regular size by Vanna.

I knitted until I ran out of yarn. Now what? It seemed a bit smaller than I had hoped for. The consensus around the house was to keep going. So back to the store we went to get another ball of yarn. Thank goodness this is on clearance as it is normally pretty expensive stuff.

Another night and more MasterChef to accompany my knitting project. But woah, this project was really getting heavy and I needed a bit of support. I marched into the dining room and brought back another chair. Then on second thought, I made that two chairs. I now supported both needles with the seat of a chair so my arms could support my project. How on earth did the manufacturer of this yarn think I could make anything on a size 17 knitting needle!?

Using a chair to support each needle as the weight of the project weighs me down.

After two trips to the store, two balls of yarn, and two extra chairs, my project is now complete. I do like the outcome. Would I recommend this project? Why not! I would caution, however, that the weight of the project after the first ball of yarn was a bit challenging. Maybe a few pushups or a bit of weight training before adding the second ball of yarn? Happy knitting!

Finished project! Approximately 30″ x 40″.

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Be Your Own Barista

Cooking

I like to enjoy a good cup of coffee on a cold night. Something warm and soothing. However, it is summer and the temperatures are rising. Somehow settling down with a warm cup of coffee doesn’t sound so tempting. Make mine a cold brew please.

I had my first cold brew at a cute little coffee house that is no longer in existence. Coffee over ice with a straw. It was refreshing and sort of like iced tea in a way, only stronger. At some point I decided I should try this at home. It is so simple to make it seems silly to pay someone else to make one.

I purchased a Cold Brew Infuser Kit by Craft Connections Co. It consists of a 64 oz. Ball Mason Jar and lid with a stainless steel filter basket. It also came with a recipe book if I ever chose to get really fancy with my coffee. I also bought some French Roast coffee beans that I ground myself.

To make the Cold Brew Coffee:

  • Grind coffee beans and fill the filter basket with 3/4 cup of course grind coffee.
  • Pour 4 cups of room temperature water down the center of the filter basket over the ground coffee.
  • Put lid on jar and give the jar a gentle shake.
  • Let the jar steep for 12-18 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Remove the filter basket and pour a glass of coffee in a glass over ice.
  • Store remaining coffee in refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Apparently, the Cold Brew Infuser Kit can also be used to infuse fresh fruit into water. That sounds like something tempting to try! Also, I read where cold brew coffee is better for acid-reflux sufferers. It has less acid than hot brewed coffee. This has to do with the beans not being heated. Worth a shot!

Baby Bluebirds Have Arrived

gardening

It is mid July and we have spotted our first glimpse of our newest baby bluebird. The parents have been nesting for a while so we have been waiting for this day. Now that the day has come we could not be more thrilled!

Baby Bluebird

We have had baby Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) now for the past few years. Ever since my husband made and gifted me a bluebird house, the birds have come to make their nest and raise their babies. Both the male and female bird help to prepare the nest and take care of the young.

Daddy Bluebird
Mommy Bluebird in Action

It is such a treat to watch the activities of this newly formed family. The parents are very attentive to their babies and can be seen flying to and from the nest throughout the day with food for their young. Welcome Bluebird family!

Chrysalis Crisis

gardening

Last week, I published the happy, exciting news of caterpillar sightings in our garden. I even found a chrysalis on the side of our house. I had never spotted a chrysalis before. How exciting!

The very next morning, I checked on the chrysalis. Everything looked the same. I was intending to check the chrysalis frequently, as I did not want to miss out on the butterfly as it was developing and breaking free to fly away. My son and I left the house for a few hours and when we returned I decided I should take a picture of the chrysalis. This I decided to do every day so that I would have a record of the butterflies emergence.

As I went outside, I noticed first the side of the house had been splattered with something. Then I looked at the chrysalis. Only the top part of it remained. At first, I thought it hatched while we were out. Then I realized it should have changed first to a dark color and then to a clear encasement. It was too soon in the process to have fully developed. Something had gone wrong. Had something gotten a hold of the chrysalis before the caterpillar had time to complete the process?

We will never know exactly what happened to the chrysalis. Unfortunately, things like this happen in nature all the time. It is hard for animals to survive in the wild. Predators, weather, lack of food, all sorts of things put animals at risk. My poor little Monarch.

There are still caterpillars on our plants. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to find another chrysalis in the yard and hope to see that one turn into a beautiful Monarch butterfly. I wish them all good luck.

Visiting Joshua Tree

Travel

Somehow, when picturing Joshua Tree National Park, I always thought of one lone Joshua tree. After all, if there were a lot of trees the tree would be plural, right? Oh how wrong I was. Joshua Tree National Park has more than one tree and is a vast desert.

One thing that overtook me about Joshua Tree (roughly 45 miles from Palm Springs, California) was how large it was. It seemed the desert could go on forever. It is actually made up of two deserts coming together to form the park. Below 3000 feet makes up the Colorado Desert or Eastern part of the park. The higher elevation makes up the Mojave Desert where the Joshua trees can be seen.

Skull Rock

When planning a trip to Joshua Tree, keep in mind the temperatures. We took our trip in December, which was a perfect time to go for pleasant hiking. Temperatures are in the 60’s Fahrenheit in December, dipping down cooler at night to somewhere in the 30’s. Spring is the most popular time of year at Joshua Tree due to the desert flowers in bloom. Summer would be the least desirable time to visit as it is a desert and the temperatures can get to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a bit warm to be hiking.

Joshua Tree has a lot of hiking trails and is a beautiful place to visit. At night the stars are plainly visible without any light pollution. If you want to see the stars at night pack a jacket, as it does get cold at night. There is nowhere to purchase food in the park, so pack a picnic and plenty of water. Be sure to pack a camera to capture this remarkable park. Happy Traveling!

Monarch Butterflies Come to the Garden

gardening
caterpillar eating milkweed

It is a sunny July day in So Cal and we have spotted caterpillars on one of our plants. These are not the brown fuzzy caterpillars I enjoyed watching as a child. These caterpillars are stripped yellow, white, and black and will turn into Monarch Butterflies.

chrysalis

The caterpillars are busily eating away at the milkweed on our plants. However, I spotted another interesting little something on my way in the front door. Attached to the side of the house is a chrysalis. That means we have a butterfly forming inside this chrysalis. The caterpillars crawl away from the plant when it is time to form the chrysalis in a safe environment. According to research, the butterfly is developing inside the chrysalis for 9 to 14 days. Since I do not know how long this chrysalis has been there, I will have to keep an eye on it’s development. How exciting!

our butterfly plant

There are a few Monarchs fluttering about the garden now. It is nice to know that soon there will be more. As with the birds in our garden, if you give them what they need they will come.

The Beautiful Rotary Botanical Gardens

Travel

The Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville, Wisconsin is one of the most beautiful gardens I have visited. Full of interesting plants, colorful flowers, and fun sculptures, it is well worth the trip. Let me give you a tour…

kaleidoscope to view flowers – so cool!

The Rotary Botanical Gardens is developed into 26 garden spaces on over 20 acres of land. Some of my favorite garden spaces are the French Formal Rose Garden, the Sunken Garden, the Shade Garden, and the Japanese Garden. I also was delighted by the interactive kaleidoscope sculpture that allows you to look at flower petals through a kaleidoscope.

A view of the Japanese Garden

I went in the summer, however, the Gardens would be wonderful to see in other seasons as well. The plants are changed out for different seasons so there is always something new to see. Along with different seasons come different hours of operation. Be sure to check the hours and days they are open before making your trip.

The Gardens are a photographer’s dream. Tons of beautiful flowers, interesting backdrops, sculptures, and insects make it well worth the trip. Charge your batteries before going and be sure to allow time to take in the gardens. There are plenty of benches throughout the garden to sit and enjoy nature or to take a break.

The admission to The Rotary Botanical Gardens is reasonable and they have events and classes throughout the year , so be sure to check-out their calendar. One can also have meetings or weddings held at the Gardens. How nice that would be! On the way out, do not forget to stop in the gift shop. A nice selection of garden merchandise is available for purchase.

So, if you like gardens and find yourself in Wisconsin, be sure to stop by Janesville and enjoy an afternoon at the Rotary Botanical Gardens. You can bring a lunch and have an enjoyable meal on their terrace. Remember to stop and smell the roses.