Monday, August 27, 2018

Flowers of August

For sheer abundance and variety of roadside wildflowers, July and August are probably the best months of the year in my part of Wisconsin.

Here's a sampling of flowers (and a few other things) I've seen on my August rides....

Cloudy Sunday Evening Ride

Hairy vetch, a member of the pea family that deserves a prettier name:

A field of Canada goldenrod:

Delicate flowering spurge:

Hare's-foot clover going to seed:

American Lotus growing on a nearly-hidden backroad lake:

On that same backroad I often spot feathers lying on the ground:

Glowing thistle brightening a cloudy day:

Alien-looking horsemint blooming at the edge of the woods:

A favourite barn under grey skies:

Deer standing in a twilit shade (I passed this deer four times trying to get a good photo, but the light was too poor):

A cheery woodland sunflower shining above dark leaves:


Cloudy Morning Ride to Work

I've been trying to ride to work once a week, as weather permits. Though I don't usually stop for photos, on this particular morning the temptation was too much.

First there was a field of chicory mixed with red clover:

The last two miles of my route to work are along a river trail, where wildflowers sometimes* grow with abandon. In the space of a mile I saw baby coneflowers:

And hoary alyssum:

Large patches of Butter-and-eggs, or yellow toadflax, in the grass beside the trail:

And fleabane:

Ragweed (bane of my existence and the cause of many a sneeze):

And minuscule cinquefoil:

A regal spiderwort stood aloof from the other flowers:

Bright birdsfoot trefoil made spots of gold:

Spotted knapweed waved dainty lavender petals:

Everybody knows the next one, right? I rode past clouds of it nodding in the breeze:

Goldenrod grew on the river side of the trail:

And prairie onion, a new-to-me flower:

A glorious jumble of orange milkweed and late-blooming crown vetch:

At the water's edge, gorgeous swathes of purple loosestrife:

*It's a good thing I photographed the trailside flowers when I did - the next week the city mowers came along and cut them all down. Grrr.


We interrupt this flower-laden post for a brief photo of Lunch from the Garden:

Isn't summer delightful?


Sunny Morning Ride to Work

No flower photos on this day (thanks to those darn mowers), but I did see twin fawns next to the trail:

View of the river:


Partly Cloudy Saturday Evening Ride

This ride was made memorable by the most painful insect bite I've ever received. I don't know what bit me, but it felt very like a jellyfish sting I once got. The pain persisted through the ride and into the night, but (thank God) was gone when I woke up the next morning.

Photos were few that evening, but here's the best of them:


Sunday Late-Afternoon Ride

The next day's ride was much better - no insect bites, and plenty of flowers.

Blue vervain growing next to a marsh:

Joe-Pye weed nearby:

Swallows have been gathering for weeks now. I passed a group of them on a wire, with a single mourning dove in their midst:

Summer-heavy trees lining a favourite bend in the road:

Wild sunflowers and goldenrod supporting a rustic fence:

Gratuitous bike shot, with turtle:

It's been a good year for whorled milkweed, the tiniest of the milkweed species. Here's some I found growing at the edge of a field:

Nearby were some small flowers (fleabane, I think) going beautifully to seed:

And salsify, looking magical and ready to fly:

Around the corner, a huge patch of Pennsylvania smartweed grew in a damp spot:

While wild cucumber tried to take over the road:

A few miles later, I passed a small patch of stiff goldenrod (much rarer around here than the ubiquitous Canada goldenrod seen above):


Sunny Saturday Afternoon Ride

This short ride happened yesterday, and yielded only one photo - a coneflower surrounded by some rather interesting buds:

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August has been mostly cloudy this year, with plenty of rain - in some places, more rain than we could well handle. I wish we could share the surplus water with our friends in the dry west and northwest.

Has your August been cloudy or sunny? Rainy or dry?

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Snapshots from Chain Link 2018

Where's the summer going? (And can I get any of it back?) Here it is mid-August and I haven't even blogged about July's crochet conference. Time to remedy that situation.


At the end of July I was privileged to attend Chain Link 2018, the national conference of the Crochet Guild of America, held this year in Portland, Oregon.

My flight left in the early evening, headed west towards a slowly-sinking sun that gilded the clouds outside the plane windows:

After a night in Salem, my friend Amy and I drove northward to Portland. Shy Mt. Hood was visible on the horizon for part of the drive:

The conference was held at a hotel near the Portland airport. (Very near.) Here's a typical view from our window:

Good thing I love airplanes. :) The room was surprisingly quiet given its proximity to the runway.


Chain Link offers a large and tempting array of classes. This year, I signed up for Multiple Motifs with Susan Lowman, a wonderful instructor who taught us the basics of making a continuous crochet motif fabric. Here are the samples I completed in class:

I also signed up for Vashti Braha's Self-Healing Crochet Stitches and How to Cut Them, which was so absorbing that I forgot to take any photos in class! Vashti is a true innovator, and a crochet kindred spirit, so her classes are always fascinating.


One of the great events of each year's conference is the Design Competition:

Crocheters from all over submit original designs in several categories, including garments, accessories, home decor, Tunisian, thread, artistic expression, and more.

Here are just a few of my favourite entries:

I wish I could credit the designers of these amazing pieces, but their names were not included in the competition, nor have they been released as of this writing. (CGOA members can view the winning entries by signing in here.)


In addition to classes and competitions, Chain Link is a great chance to connect with friends.

Teresa Kasner and Gracie Saylor, two long-time blogging buddies who live in Oregon, came to meet me at the conference. Here we are (along with Gracie's sister) in the Marketplace:

Teresa, me, Gracie, and Gracie's sister. Photo courtesy of Teresa.

And here I am again with my friend and roommate Amy:

Photo courtesy of Amy


In case you haven't noticed, another delightful feature of a crochet convention is that everyone wears crochet! Here are just a few of the wonderful projects I saw worn by friends and fellow designers:

Top left: Shari White, Susan Lowman, Kathy White, and unidentified (in light pink) hanging out in the common area. Top right: Vashti Braha and Kathy White sharing a hug.
Bottom left: Linda Dean in a striking Tunisian wrap. Bottom center: Ravelry friend Kelly's adorable crochet fascinator. Bottom right: Kathy White's Veronica Shawlette.

All these glories require yarn, so each year's conference includes a Marketplace full of beautiful fibers to tempt and inspire us.

A few of my favourite booths:

Top row: Renegade Yarn Co. yarns (left) and booth (right)
Middle row: Schmutzerella Yarns (left), Inner Yarn Zen (right)
Bottom row: Oink Pigments (left) and RedFish DyeWorks (right)

Not only is there yarn for sale, but conference attendees get lots of freebies too. Here's my combined haul from this year's event (six of those skeins were purchased; everything else was a gift):


Time flies when you're having fun, and so it did at the conference. Before I knew it I was sitting in Portland Airport again, enjoying tamales for lunch while waiting for my flight home:

Then it was back on the plane for another beautiful flight over the varied and lovely land that is America:

And finally, home to a green and refreshingly damp Wisconsin. (Oregon, though beautiful, was horribly dry.)

For more photos of Chain Link 2018, see my roommate Amy's post here. A video of the conference banquet, featuring a speech by Pauline Turner and the annual Fashion Show, is available on the CGOA website here.


Have you ever been to a crochet or knit event? How was it?

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