Saturday, August 5, 2023

Books and a birdbath

Even though I haven't designed a new pattern in ages, I still keep my beautiful collection of reference books on a shelf beside my favourite armchair. Let's look at some! And then I will tell you about our recent birdbath adventures.

The Field Guide to Knitting by Jackie Pawlowski is tops because it is compact enough to take to Knit Night, for instant perusal when somebody in the group is struggling to identify a stitch or come up with an alternative. I've never been called upon to do this, but it's nice to know it's possible. I used it a ton when I was looking up interesting patterns to fit into a set stitch count and pair nicely with something else.

I am frequently indebted to the hard work of Clara Parkes, both for The Knitter's Book of Yarn and The Knitter's Book of Wool. You don't always need to know how particular fibers behave, but it is useful if you are substituting something new for what a pattern recommends, or if you are designing something you want to function in a certain way. For example, acrylic yarn is essentially plastic and will have a tiny amount of give if you do ribbing, but otherwise, Not. Cotton has no elasticity so in theory it will behave like acrylic, but in practice, it will sag out. Neither is an ideal substitute for wool, unless you're very attentive to pattern size. (but don't get me started, heh)

Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor is the only thing I ever received free in exchange for a promotion here at Hugs, and if I am never offered another, I would be well content. It is a must-have, in my opinion, and so thoughtfully produced with excellent photography and a spiral binding. 

One more book I especially enjoy is The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, by Carol Ekarius and Deborah Robson.

This chunky book makes a great weight for straightening out bent pages or pressing flowers! But obviously its main value is as an excellent reference to everything one might use to knit or spin. For me, it was always a companion to Clara Parkes' books - the three are equally valuable - but it definitely stands alone, too.

Books have been on my mind lately, as I've finally sorted out a kind of life on Instagram - click through if you want to see how I'm curating photos between jaunts to other people's feeds. I'm settling into it as a place for my non-knitting interests, and have discovered soooo many great books to read, even as I am faintly astonished by the bookcases of people who read a lot. I mean, I feel like I read a lot, but it turns out I have nothing on true fans. If I was pressed to take a photo of a stack of hard copy novels with coordinating spines, I'm not sure I could come up with it, especially since I volunteered to switch to e-books so the other readers in my family would have shelf space. Meanwhile, there are reading people who have entire (full) bookshelves organized by colours that shift gradually to the next shade in the rainbow. 

(for the record: that would drive me crazy, because I want all my Jane Austens in one place and I my collection is not exclusively from Penguin. also, what happens when you buy a new book and it doesn't fit in its colour spread?)

Okay, let's talk bird baths! As in, we bought one. I had read a news article about how important it is to provide birds with water during heatwaves, which of course sent me down the rabbit hole of what was available and practical for our local bird community. We ended up with a glass bowl we can bring inside in winter, perched on a folding stand we can tuck away neatly when not in use. The fact that they're not attached makes it easy to dump out the water at the end of the day, so there's less risk of mosquitoes. 


But on this point, Pete and I have had some Discussion. He felt we could dump the water in the mornings, right before we refilled. I felt if we left a water bath out overnight, we'd attract the raccoons to our yard again after a few years without any denning in our garage. But Pete had a point about the birds getting up a lot earlier than we do, so we went with his preference.

We also put a couple of stones into the water. I'd read that smaller birds appreciate a perch, and also that cordoning off the solar-powered fountain accessory Pete really wanted to include would keep it from drifting to the side and spraying all the water out of the bowl. 

Well, it's been a couple of weeks now, and we haven't seen one single bird in our birdbath, whether we put in the fountain accessory or take it out. No squirrels either, and no insects lingering. It's like having a party and having nobody show up. Then one morning we came out to find one of the two stones hurled out onto the ground (you can see both of them there in the back, against one of our big grey planters). 


And that is why we dump the water at night. Because Pete doesn't want raccoons any more than I do. 

We have them now anyway, though. These three cubs were following their mom around the perimeter one evening last week. It's a terrible picture because I've been writing instead of washing the glass at our side door, but they're still pretty cute.

Especially when they're on top of, rather than inside, the sheds we bought to keep garbage secure from them.

Anyway, we may not have birds in our birdbath, but we do have a cute water feature in our garden, so that is something. And now I am heading out to enjoy it, because it's a lovely day and I am ready for a little break.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend and I'll see you next Saturday!

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