Monday, September 25, 2023

September Flowers, and a New Shawl Pattern

Where did August and September go? Here we are on the cusp of October, with autumn beginning to color the landscape, and the air resounding with geese on the wing. Summer heat has given way to warm days and cool nights. Thanks to rampaging seasonal allergies, I'm rather looking forward to the first frost, though as yet there's been no hint of one. (On the bright side, delayed frost means a longer garden season; there is much solace to be found in fresh-picked herbs and tomatoes.)

It's been a while since I posted any wildflower photos, so here is a month's worth to make up for it.


Butter-and-eggs, or toadflax, has been thick along the river trail this year:

The real stars of September are of course the asters - all kinds, all sizes, from tiny spears to tall and swaying bouquet-like clusters, in every delightful shade of white and palest pink, soft blue and lavender:

Red clover still shines out from roadsides and ditches:

Queen Anne's Lace is beginning to curl up and hug itself against the cooler weather to come:

Once-bright coneflowers are putting on their fall clothes:

On a clear day in mid-September, goldenrod shines against a deep blue sky:

The marshes are full of cheery tickseed:

Snakeroot blossoms in pale clumps at the edge of the woods:

Tiny white sweet-clover edges the road:

Cinquefoil is still blooming too:

And a lone amaranth (I think) guards a glowing golden field of soybeans:

On this ride, I pass a thick patch of hawkweed (or possibly hawk's-beard), looking like tall lacy dandelions:

Many of them have gone exuberantly to seed:

A week later, most of the goldenrod have also gone to seed:

The countryside is taking on its late-September coloring of scarlet, yellow, and green:

Not exactly a flower, but a bike named Iris:

Another common September sight - a woolly bear crossing the road:

(Tallulah the turtle, being rather fond of woolly bears, here climbed down to say hi. But the woolly bear was in a rush, and crawled right past her without saying a word, so I have no photos of their encounter.)


Over the weekend, life turned grey and drizzly, and rain is forecast for the next several days. I'll miss my bike commutes this week, but am very grateful for the moisture (we've been in severe-to-extreme drought status all summer).

How has your September been?

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In other news, I recently released a new shawl pattern:

Note: The pattern links below will take you to my Ravelry store; you don't need to be a Ravelry member to buy a pattern there. If you're not comfortable using Ravelry, and you live in the US, you can contact me using the form at right to arrange a pattern purchase through Paypal Goods and Services.

A tribute to my twin loves of bicycling and crochet, Vuelta is a top-down triangular shawl named for La Vuelta a España, the final Grand Tour of the professional cycling year. (Which was won by an American this year! Way to go, Sepp.) The Vuelta shawl is open and airy, with lacy stitch elements inspired by sprockets and spokes and wildflowers growing along the road.

Vuelta is suitable for laceweight, fingering, or sport weight yarn, and is easily customized for size; the edging can be worked after any even-numbered row. My sample was designed with a gradient, but this pattern will also look lovely in a solid, tonal, or lightly speckled yarn.

A note about the yarn: I used Apple Tree Knits Groovy Lace in colorway Rainy Day Gradient, from my sister's stash (miss you, Sis). Groovy Lace is a single-ply, 100% wool laceweight yarn, beautifully light and ethereal. My sample used 85 grams, or about 623 yards, and measured 48" wide by 20" deep after blocking.

The Vuelta pattern is 6 pages long and includes written instructions and charts. You can find it here in my Ravelry store. Enjoy 25% off the pattern through October 3, 2023, with code SPROCKET at checkout.

Thanks for reading, and happy crocheting!

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Monday, August 14, 2023

Maerula - a New Pattern

Note: Pattern links in this post will take you to my Ravelry store. You don't need to be a Ravelry member to buy a pattern there. If you're not comfortable using Ravelry, and you live in the US, you can contact me using the form at right to arrange a pattern purchase through Paypal.


Meet Maerula, my newest crochet shawl pattern:

Named for Anteos maerula, the Yellow Angled-Sulfur, Maerula is a shallow, asymmetrical triangle shawl with rounded corners and a scooped top edge. It's crocheted side-to-side in a lacy stitch pattern inspired by butterfly wings, with a striking edging worked in one with the rows. This pattern is suitable for fingering, sport, or dk weight yarns.

My sample was made with Hobbii Cotton Kings Sultan Pastello, color Gooseberry, a stranded 100% cotton sport weight yarn perfect for warm weather or chilly offices. The finished shawl measured 64" x 14½", and used about 586 yards.

The Maerula pattern includes full written instructions and charts. You can buy it here in my Ravelry store, and enjoy 25% off the pattern through August 20, 2023 with code BUTTERFLY at checkout.

Thanks for viewing, and happy crocheting!


P.S. Here's a peek at the butterfly behind this pattern's name:

Anteos maerula, Yellow Angled-Sulfur
(c) John Rosford – some rights reserved (CC BY)
Photo used under a Creative Commons License

You can find many more photos of Anteos maerula here.

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Monday, July 24, 2023

Not a Feature, but a Bug

(Warning: insect photos ahead.)

Over the years I've found that photographing wildflowers also means photographing bugs. (And spiders and bees, but for brevity's sake I'll use the collective term "bugs".)

Sometimes it's intentional:

Bee on blue vervain

But usually it's not. Often I don't even notice the bug until I'm editing photos on my computer screen at home:

Orange milkweed with unsuspected ant

Wild bergamot with hidden bee (I hope it's just napping)

Sometimes it's a combination of the two:

Bee on swamp milkweed with bonus white spider lurking in the blossoms

And occasionally I hit the mother lode:

Rudbeckia with very long-legged spider that
disappeared just after I snapped this photo

I used to be scared of bugs and spiders and bees, but after years of close encounters like these, I've learned that most of them simply aren't interested in me. They just want to get on with their buggy lives, and if I leave them alone, they'll generally leave me alone. (Mosquitoes and deerflies and ticks, however, are always worth avoiding. And I've learned not to weed near a ground wasps' nest.)

How do you feel about bugs?

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Monday, July 10, 2023

Cycling at 93°

The road exhales heat like a slow-breathing dragon
Trees let fall a benison of shade
Changeable winds blow hot and cold
and carry birdsong sweet as spring

I settle into a steady rhythm
and follow my shadow
towards the curtained coolness of home

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Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Red, White, and ... Green

Happy July 4th! Today I celebrated my independence by weeding the garden beds, working on a crochet design, and making pesto* - which we promptly enjoyed for lunch:

Gluten-free pasta, pesto, and sweet red pepper

Extreme close-up!

This surfeit of green goodness is brought to you courtesy of the aforementioned garden beds, supplemented by pots of herbs in the porch window. Despite weeks of blazing heat and statewide drought conditions, my Very Small Garden is flourishing (by the grace of God and with the help of twice-daily watering).

This year's crops include collard, kale, and serrano peppers:

Basil, tarragon, thyme, flat-leaf parsley, and chives (plus spearmint, not shown):

And two varieties of tomato:

All punctuated by dianthus and bright marigolds:

And to top it off, backup basil and mint in the porch, plus rosemary awaiting transplantation:

I feel rich.


What do you like to grow?

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*My pesto recipe is a very loose one, little changed from the version I first posted here: 4 parts packed fresh basil leaves, 2 parts finely grated fresh parmesan, and 2 parts olive oil, with walnuts (or pine nuts if the exchequer allows), crushed fresh garlic cloves, and salt to taste. Toss all ingredients into a blender and process to desired level of smoothness. I've recently started adding a tablespoon or two of hot pasta water to the blended sauce, which smooths out the flavor and seems to prevent oxidation.

Monday, June 5, 2023

A Mixed Bouquet

... of rides and a hike and wildflowers. (Mostly wildflowers.)


View from a favorite bridge on a mid-May ride, with swallows swooping and circling overhead:

Leafy spurge taking over a roadside ditch:

Lilac in the wild:

Dandelion pastoral:

Sheep newly shorn:

Another favorite bit of water:

Jacob's ladder, or Greek valerian:

Darling chokecherry blossom:

Bonus for the sharp-eyed cyclist (this is why cycling jerseys have pockets):


Later that week, on a short hike at a nearby nature preserve, wildflowers spotted along the trail included wild geranium:

Blue-eyed grass, a miniature member of the iris family:

Wild columbine:

False Solomon's seal:

There was also a possible Ent sighting:

At the top of the hill, a lovely view:

Also enjoyed were bright new leaves unfurling in the woods:

Rocks, trees, and sky:

A six-petaled wild strawberry blossom:

And glorious wild lupine growing next the road on the drive home:


On my next ride, oleaster was blooming all about the countryside:

And viburnum (possibly V. lentago):

A field was edged with dried mystery plants:

Dame's rocket, a favorite (though invasive) wildflower, was just appearing:

Delicate frilled puccoon...

...overlooked a very green pasture, with cattle framed in the wire fence:

Miles later, I found new-to-me wildflower, probably spring-cress:

And Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), earliest of umbellifers, and one of the few flowers with a botanical name as delightful as its common name:


On a bike commute later in the week, I found another new-to-me wildflower, prairie groundsel:

And the familiar humble cinquefoil:


On the last weekend of May, hoary puccoon were blooming:

And balsam groundsel:

At my turnaround point, voices carried across the lake from boaters enjoying the holiday weekend weather:


The last ride of May was a commute, with photo stops for bird's-foot trefoil along the river trail:

And showy guelder-rose (Viburnum opulus) on a country road:

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I can't quite believe it's June already. The last week has been unusually broiling; we seem to have tumbled straight from chilly end-of-winter into full-blown summer heat. My little garden plants, only a week in the ground, are struggling to find their footing in this baking environment. Things should start cooling down tomorrow, I hope.

How's your weather? Hot, cold, or just right for June?

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