August! This is my favorite part of summer. The flowers are blooming like crazy, the monsoon is cranking moisture up to Colorado for afternoon showers, and the hummingbirds and butterflies are cruising through the backyard every morning. The cats and I have been outside too for knitting and bug chasing.
I finished my August socks while sitting out in the garden this morning. Since the cats have been hanging out with me the entire time I was knitting these socks I thought MacKenzie might enjoy posing with them.
OK. Message received. Having been denied assistance by the cat most likely to cooperate I decided to pose the socks on one of the garden tables. (I know; very boring but no teeth!!) Look at how great the Seafoam Stitch shows off the yarn!!
These socks are the Galvez Socks by Debbie Haymark. The pattern is in my copy of Lace One-Skein Wonders edited by Judith Durant. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.
Gosh, I finished those fast. There’s lots of August left before I need to think about socks again. I promised a friend to help out during Alpaca Farm Days next month. I feel an urge to knit lots of little fingerless mitts (out of alpaca of course!!) to show off (and sell!) to visitors to the farm… 🙂
I’ve been gardening and reading more lately (I have finished three of the “Bee Books” and am pondering what I should write about them…) so my knitting projects have been languishing a little bit. Nothing is finished. Nothing. Not even halfway done. I have been busy enough to get some things started, however!
I finally got started on an outdoor project this week too. Check out my very bare and exceedingly lonely garden swing.
I’m working steadily on both projects at the same time. The crocheted swing seat is making progress in the mornings as that is a good time to work outside with it, and the Clover HItch Tee is growing every evening while I indulge in a little binge television. Right now I’m watching the series Fargo on DVD. Wow! What a good production. A little dark (OK, really dark at times…), but still excellent. And the way those people talk? I’m Swedish-American, and the social norms and speech of the Fargo characters is the language of my childhood. By the time these projects are done and I’m finished with Fargo I’ll be in my swing in the garden and talking in the language I used to hear while sitting in my Grandmother’s kitchen learning how to crochet. The circle is unbroken after all. How cool is that?
I just finished reading my first “Bee” book, A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson. This book was a quick friendly read about bumblebee biology, ecology, and the efforts to build habitat in the United Kingdom that will support and grow wild bumblebee populations. One of the techniques that the researchers in the book utilized to detect bumblebees was to have observers sit in their garden (or some other location) for 20 minutes to tally the number of bees they saw.
I’ve been a little sad over the absence of a strawberry crop this year, and I thought that it was due to a lack of bees. As I read the book, however, I realized that many of the bees that I have seen in the past were actually bumblebees. I plant a lot of flowers that should be attracting bees, too. Late yesterday afternoon I headed out to the garden for 20 minutes with my camera to see what was actually going on out there.
A little search of the internet led me to believe that this is a Bobmus huntii bee. The bees were really targeting purple flowers yesterday afternoon. I saw them on the lavender, this catmint plant, and on the pincushion flowers. I don’t know why my strawberry plants were a flop this year, but maybe is was due to a very wet and cold spring that made it hard for bees to get to them. I learned that bumblebees struggle in those conditions as they need to maintain enough heat to work their flight muscles. Who knew?!
As I was sitting out with the bees and the flowers I realized that while I have a lot of plantings that attract wildlife, I have actually made my yard and garden into a habitat for cats. Check out what I’ve done for them.
Squirrels use the yard constantly and provide the cats with some quality exercise as they chase them, but I no longer put out food for squirrels. They have been raiding a neighbor’s trash and burying stuff in my planters, so they get little else from me. I used to have a bird feeder and nesting boxes in the yard, and I really liked the birdsong and the activity was hours of entertainment for the cats (who really never managed to catch anything, but they loved to try!). I discovered that the birds also attracted other cats (AKA enemy cats!!) so I had to stop putting out food. Even an invisible fence will not keep a cat in the yard who chasing out an invader!
Now my cats think they are dogs. They make me get up in the morning to let them out, mill around the door carrying on as soon as I come home, and are happy to go in and out all day through a cat door. They come running in from the yard when I shake the kitty treat bag, and stay in all night (asleep!) like good boys. I can do cat-free crafting activities during the day (like warping my loom) while they happily doze outside dreaming of bugs and garter snakes. By making the yard an appealing habitat for my kitties they stay put and are safe outside.
Crazy cat-gardening lady, huh! Some of my friends think it is strange to let my animals tunnel thought plantings, but they are just a part of my overall scheme. After reading Dave Goulson’s book I also realized that this isn’t just a backyard; it is also important habitat for wildlife in the city. I will be putting in more plants with an eye to supporting bumblebees (who evidently are critical to the pollination of strawberries and tomato plants!). Later this summer my butterfly plants should get going and there will be hummingbirds and butterflies for kitty entertainment. Everyone wins!