The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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I went for a wintery walk with my pops.

Hey all.  Just returned from a holiday trip to see family in MN.

Pops and I traditionally take walks.

We started out looping around the friendly farmer/neighbor’s field and avoided the crabby one’s field.   A Snowy Owl’s taken up a winter residence in its perimeter.  Pete and I saw it flying about one day. The next day we watched it make a strike and fly off with a kill. What a beautiful sight it was.

It’s easy to imagine the owl and other raptors’  prey scampering around in labyrinths under the snow’s cover.  Eagles and Hawks we also watched circling the sky.   Apparently owls can detect rodent urine through snow. And their hearing!  Curious about owls?  Read Owl Papers by Jonathan Maslow.  Fascinating critters.  Outstanding book.

I used to sit in an old hunting stand in an elm on the perimeter of this field and read.  The rickety boards, nailed up the side of the tree, are long gone.

Birch. I miss these trees.

A fungus?  It felt like stiff, short-napped velvet. Plenty of oddities abound.

Winter walks in MN are so different from where I now live. They are studies in contrast on white canvas.

And the oaks.  Time’s been tough on them. Not many are left. There are a few specimens of grandeur in the old pasture.  Such fine shapes, a handful of crinkled, auburn leaves left on.

Many of my memories are woven from this landscape. It was  fine place to grow up, to wander about in, to play in, to explore. We used to plow through the woods for what I now know as miles. Back then, there were no measures, just full days and the  need to get in for supper when called, just before the light turned the snowy ground that stunning blue color.

My nephew Sammie (age 3 1/2)  and I wandered about the woods a bit after sledding.  Man that was fun!  Been awhile. I wonder if the woods felt as  expansive to him as it did to me back then?  I hope he makes some memories as I have. I hope they plant a seed of appreciation for the outdoors.

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MN in July – Poppa Retires! On Chasing Rabbits, Baby Life Jackets and Mosquito Carnage.

My dad retired in July.  He’s been a small practice Family Doctor for 38 years.  To MN I traveled for a week of family quality time and two celebrations in his honor.

The largest was at the golf course he’s golfed at those 38 years.  His co-workers and our family attended.   Was fun to catch up with many I haven’t seen in ages.

We managed to snap a family photo.

L-R: Moi, Bro-in-law Wes and sister Karen, dad (Harvey), mom (Marlys), Sis Rachel holding my new niece Lily, her hubby Tyler, sis Ali, Nephew Lucca standing (he had just finished hunting for rabbits in the bushes), and BIL Josh holding my other nephew Sam.  The rabbit hunt was a brilliant idea.  I’m learning the best way to entertain a squirrely 4 year old it to distract him.

My sisters crafted photo boards and rounded up mementos for all to see.  The name tag is from the original clinic building dad started at fresh out of school.  His school crossing guard certificate and a grade school report card were fun to see.  I didn’t know he had a box of such charming mementos.

Nephew Lucca showed us he could write his name.  (Dad and his sister Charlotte):

BIL Tyler and I took Lucca fishing.  Lucca brought his superman fishing pole and Tyler made him his own mini-tackle box.  What a good uncle!

Nothing was biting (not even a wee Sunfish).  Tyler, being the prepared and clever fish biologist he is, pulled out a seine net from his trunk and we pulled it through the water.

Lucca got a kick out of the fry (baby fish) the net revealed.  Just look at that smile!

My nephews are growing up so quickly. Time with them is precious.

Sam turned one in June.  He’s a mellow, smiley boy.  Almost walking on his own, he wasn’t ready to let go of furniture or one’s hand.  I hear he’s now taking some steps on his own.

I babysat Lily a couple times.  Nervous to do so,  I know nothing about infants and have not the secret placating weapons Rachel has.  ;  )

I introduced Lily to merino wool. Hey…can you foster a love for knitting at too young an age?


MN in July means hot weather. It was in the 90’s some days and muggy.

Karen and Wes kindly took us on a boat ride.

Swimming! It’s way too cold here in northern CA for swimming in the ocean.

I stink at swimming but love doggie paddling around in a warm lake. Karen and I practiced our cannonballs off the boat. I look forward to this each summer trip.  We also picnicked and swam in the St. Croix river another evening.

Wee Lily had a special infant-sized life jacket and sun hat.  Boy howdy was she pissed when first put on. She soon settled down. I wonder if it had a swaddling effect?

Boat rides are a ritual. So is eating fish from dad’s fishing trips. They take him WAY up in to Canada every year.  I enjoy eating the lake fish he saves for my summer trips.

Walleye-oh so good!

Karen and I went over to Wisconsin and attempted a hike at Kinnickinnic State Park.  We brought Loki, a sweet old Husky who’s in doggie geriatric years, now, but still loves a hike.

Up on the river bluff, the view was really pretty. But the mosquitoes!   Forgetting bug spray (why, oh why didn’t I think of that?) they drove us mad.  I can’t remember them ever being that thick. They weren’t bad next to the water.

We walked a short loop through the trees but nearly ran back to the car.

Was a week packed with family activity.  Looking forward to the next visit.

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Sis Rachel’s Baby Shower – Cover that Baby in Knitwear!

I’ve been knitting. Probably doesn’t seem like it given my lack of posts on knitting.

March took me to MN to help throw my youngest sis Rachel a baby shower.  It was a joyous and fun day involving great food, fun (non-cheesy) games and much shared laughter.



Fancy foods, the theme was pink.



One game I thought creative and engaging had the gals modelling a baby (animal, person, totally open to interpretation) out of play-doh.



Many handmade gifts were given to Rachel.

Sis Ali cross stitched a botanical sampler Lillian’s name will be added to:



I made Rachel a Baby Sweater on Two Needles by Elizabeth Zimmerman.  What a blast!  I highly recommend the pattern. Details in a post to follow.

This lovely little dress, knit in Madelintosh Sock, had me cooing and squishing it repeatedly.  Rachel, though she doesn’t knit, is a member of a Stitch n’ Bitch back in MN.  Many of its members were present. I enjoyed sharing ‘knit-speak’ with them.  Rachel is a sewer and a quilter so she has handwork at the ready.


Wee booties and a crocheted hat and cloth:


REALLY wee booties:


I met some new folks (and visited with some of Rachel’s friends I haven’t seen in years) that day.  Lots of love shared!




A Chilly MN Christmas – 2012

I become one with my Michelin-Man-Sized down jacket when visiting MN in winter.  Single digit and low teens temps coupled with low wind-chill factors meant covered skin and, some days, short trips outside.  Looking out my window at a snow-free world, sun out, plants still thriving on the deck I ‘m reflecting on how much I appreciate a climate not frozen in winter’s grip.

A chilly week here in the Bay area, temps are in the mid to high thirties when waking and are hitting a max of high 40’s with one rogue day of 52.  The air’s damp here, making it feel cooler than the temp reported. But it’s nothing like back in MN.

Near a week I had in MN to spend Christmas with family.  Quality time with each of three sisters I enjoyed both solo and as a group. My nephew Lucca is now three and a blurred bundle of action obsessed with boy things like “diggers” (trucks, tractors, etc.), trains and other (foreign to me) boy things and Sam is now 6+ months and the same lovable, pleasant, quiet, squishy bundle of love.

Sam’s really close to crawling and in true baby form, puts near everything in his mouth.



My youngest sister Rachel and her hubby Tyler are expecting a little girl in April.  Rachel’s flying out to spend some time with me in February, can’t wait!

With camera on auto-timer I snapped a few family pics. Lucca managed to sit still for one pic.  If we could harness his energy…think of the potential!  :  )

L-R:  Maizey on the couch, Wes and Karen, my mom Marlys (sitting), dad Harvey, Ali with Sam in her lap, Josh (the tall one who almost didn’t make it into the frame), Tyler and Rachel with little “Peanut,”  and Lucca and I, who ran from the camera and did my best to keep Lucca still for the pic.



Maizey, my parent’s sweet, geriatric cat enjoyed the tree, both napping under it and chewing on it:



Oh did I eat. Tried to keep it under control. Have learned to hit the market when I visit to obtain own healthful groceries and snacks so I’m not tempted to eat out too much. Plus, being lactose-intolerant in the homes of dairy-loving folks can be a challenge.  And the Christmas cookies!  I am a sucker for them.

To try to balance out the food I took a few hikes. Number one was with my sister Karen in a pretty, urban nature preserve. Lack of snow kept us from XC skiing as planned. Had a great walk, though:




Hike number two was my Pop and I’s annual “Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick Walk.” at Wind in the Pines Preserve in my hometown.  9 degrees that day, we dressed warmly and still went for it.


It’s a bit otherworldly being set into a snowy, dry, cold place when used to a lush and green Northern CA winter.



A tromp through the woods at my parents’ finished off the day.  I like to poke around the woods when visiting.  Many, many hours I spent as a kid exploring its nooks and crannies.  Funny how much larger it seemed then. Sometimes I see evidence of forts we built.  My folks live on 10 acres of woods. It was  a great place to grow up.



Sorry for the weird blue tint to the snow.  I just can’t figure out my camera in such settings.



Was a cold and quiet day.  Woodpeckers at work broke the silence. Squirrels rustled about in the trees. Few elm and birch stand. Disease has been hard on them. Birch are so lovely.


The pond, once deep and foreboding, now a shallow home for cattail, is an imprint in the snow.  We skated on it when very young.



Winter in MN is harsh. How did I get so puny?  Glad to have warm, happy quality time with family.







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MN in July – Quality Time With the Fam

Late July took me to MN to see the Fam.

Here, a little photo journal of the trip:

Pedicures with two of my three sisters resulted in all blue toes. I’d never gone blue before.

Poppa, on his annual fishing trip to rural Canada, caught a monster of a big ol’ Walleye. Per my request, he saved it for my arrival. Nothing beats fresh walleye. 27.5″ and 7.5#   He assured me it was “a monster.”

What would a hot, Midwestern weekend be without a boat ride and swim? Wes and Karen brought the boat out to Big Marine Lake.

My Nephew Lucca (who just turned 3) ‘drove.’ He likes pressing the horn button. What a smile!

Lucca went for a swim with his aunties. Karen morphed into the Seaweed Monster (yep there are weeds on her head.) An unusually hot summer there, the water felt like a warm bathtub. It was delightful. From what I hear, though, it’s wrecking havoc on the fish.

Speaking of fish my BIL Tyler took Karen, Rachel and I fishing at a little city lake. We hit a school of Sunnies. One after another we pulled out, all 4 inches or less. If fact, Rachel stopped casting and just touched her bait to the surface, counted to 5 and boom, a bite. That became a laughable game. Tyler taught me how to gently remove hooks from a fish. But I wouldn’t hold the bullfish. Just couldn’t do that.

Lucca had a belated birthday party. I was immersed in kid-dom for the week. Lucca’s a fireball of energy and growing up so quickly.

Sam, kidlet number two for sis Ali and Josh arrived in June. He’s a snuggly, quiet, sweet little baby who molds into you however you hold him. Sigh…so sweet.

I gifted a quilt to Sam.

He’s got some growing into it to do:


Pattern’s called Lucky Stars by Atkinson Designs. I’ve made it before. Using all batiks I kept to stash fabric except for the backing. Robbins Nest in Lindstrom did the quilting. She does such great work. Please consider mailing off pieces to her.

These tall yellow flowers, BTW, are in Ali and Josh’s yard. They originated in my Grandma Quick’s parents’ farm in Hinkley, MN. Grandma had some in her yard. Fortunately, Ali and Karen transplanted some into their yards. There they thrive! No one knows their name. We call them “Tall Yellow Flowers.” I think of Grandma when I see them.



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Two Minneapolis Yarn Shops – Bella Lana and Stephen Be

A vacation wouldn’t be a vacation without being a good knitting tourist.  I visited two Mpls., MN shops I’d never been to while out for the holidays.

My fave was Bella Lana.

Owner Cornelia Griffin was helping a customer block a project.  Such a friendly and supportive atmosphere in some LYS are not always present.  She gave me a little tour of the shop and explained her design process for creating the space. Bella Lana’s different from most yarn shops.  A former Bay area architect, Cornelia surveyed knitting friends on the ideal yarn shop environment.  Lighting and a de-cluttered environment were frequently mentioned.  (I’ll agree with that!)

There is one of each yarn in one of each color set out. This makes it easy to peruse. Nothing cascades on top of you when you pull a ball off a shelf.  If your like me you fantasize about swimming in a tub of soft merino singles but it’s tough to shop in cluttered environments.  The lighting’s very bright. Colors are true.

Sweaters for the store mascot (I forget the little dog’s name):

Second store visited is completly opposite Bella Lana in layout and form.

Stephen Be is a Mpls-based designer who specializes in radical and funky.  His store Stephen Be reflects that.

A clean entrance:

There are thousands of yarns in the shop which was once an old firestation.  I like the open room concept but the yarn is stacked to the roof, it’s hard to sort through.  Must work for some.

The shop also functions as a gathering place for knit groups, classes, concerts and community events.  Pretty cool!

Two distinctly different Mpls. yarn shops each with their own charms.

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A Balmy MN Christmas

Last year I missed Christmas with family. That tugs at the heartstrings.  Working Christmas this year (ah to be a nurse) we planned our family gathering the 26th.

MN winter is wickedly cold. This year records were set.  In the 30’s -40’s 5 of my 7 days there it was balmy!

Thought I’d share a few outings I shared with family.


First, a trip to the American Swedish Institute.  Part of their mission statement from their website:

The American Swedish Institute serves as a gathering place for people to share stories and experiences around universal themes of tradition, migration, craft, and the arts, all informed by enduring ties to Sweden.

The American Swedish Institute, a museum and cultural center of distinguished history and international reputation, exists to:

  1. •Preserve and share the landmark 1908 Turnblad mansion;
  2. •Celebrate and teach about Sweden and Swedish-America; and,
  3. •Promote and practice the values of respect for all peoples and the environment that are exemplified in the Nordic countries.A view from the outside on that gray day.  It’s an ornate, beautiful mansion built from a working class man who made his fortune in the newspaper business.  They say they lived a modest lifestyle considering their wealth.  It’s in a not-so-great neighborhood.  So pretty, if you’re in Mpls. I recommend a visit.


    I’m part Swedish.  My grandma spoke a little but usually smiled and said she couldn’t when we’d ask her to.

    Karen found a cute little Gargoyle water spout:

    The mansion was all dressed up for Christmas.  Many rooms had trees and some were dining rooms set accordingly for several Scandinavian countries.

    The Danish room’s table setting.  Love the simple blue design on the china:

    Ornate, gleaming carved wood in that house makes it radiate warmth.  The fireplace and stairway in the entrance:

    One particularly warm day pop and I went for a hike in the Scandia – Wind in the Pines Preserve just a mile or so away from my parents’ home.  Though the wind was chill we wound through tallgrass into a treed section.

    Dad’s following park rule #6:



    Sis Karen and her hubby Wes and I took the dogs to the nicest dog park I’ve visited.  There are hiking trails, an open area, and ponds for amphibious dogs.  Dogs of all shapes and sizes played in the snow.  MN’s bone-dry and starved for snow. Just a couple of inches frosted the surface.

    Loki’s getting old.  But she still runs and frolics.  I’m a sucker for her personality and blue eyes.

    Bridger’s a big lug of a love-sponge.  He knows how to get me to pet him.


    All my sisters and I had solo sister bonding days which I really enjoyed.  Ali and I went to the Mpls. Art Institute and saw a show called Edo:  Japanese Woodcuts.  I saw my first (real) Hiroshige prints.  She also took me to a Cuban restaurant in Mpls called Victors 1959 Cafe.  Tiny, full of attitude and character, the food is divine.

    Karen and I did some power shopping and got killer post-Christmas deals.

    I asked Rachel to find some cool vintage/antique shops.  We hit one called Hunt and Gather that was unlike anything I’ve seen before.



    Want bowling pins?  How about old lockers? Check.  Maybe some flash cards with animals on them? Scrabble letters?  Check. Bins of letters and doo-dads? Check.

    Bread wrappers?


    Displays of refurnished, re-purposed, fantastically funky furnishings:



    This a cool little neighborhood with coffee shops, antique shops and more.  It was fun having time with each sister.  Looking forward to the next visit, probably in July.