Monday, May 3, 2010

Butterflies and Other Bugs!!

I have always loved just about any dog or cat I have ever met. I also have a soft spot for smaller furry things - squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, even white rats. But I was a little surprised when I recently realized I was also very fond of a lot of different bugs? After thinking on it for just a little while, I realized, of course, it was because I associated these bugs with one of my favourite places on the face of the earth, Grand Lake, New Brunswick. I grew up in Fredericton and spent all my summers as a child at my family's cottage on Palmers Cove, Grand Lake.

Grand Lake is New Brunswick's largest fresh water lake. This view of Grand Lake is just down the beach from my cottage.

This is my "Frog Pond"!! This pond was a couple of hundred yards down the beach from our cottage and was a favourite destination for my cousin Shelly and I when we wanted to go for picnics. In the spring I would catch pollywogs. A pollywog is the infant frog which first emerges from the egg. They have a fat round body, a long tail and no legs. I would catch a few and keep them in a fish tank. Once they had grown their legs, I would release them back to the pond. Much to my mother's dismay, they sometimes preempted my release plan with their own escape.

Sunsets at Grand Lake were spectacular. As much as we enjoyed our days on the beach, the nights were fun as well. There were about 15 cottages on our cove and lots of kids. Kick the can, hide and seek, bonfires, marshmallows, sleeping out on the beach - no TVs or computers for my generation. My favourite companion was my cousin Shelly. Her dad, my uncle Bob, was a journalist and communications advisor with the United Nations and they lived all over the world. But every summer they came home to Grand Lake and stayed in my grandparent's cottage next door to ours. One of our favourite night time adventures was catching fireflies, my number one favourite bug. Seeing fireflies flitting through the forests and meadows behind our cottage was just magical.

They are harmless, gentle little insects. I don't think they know how to bite. We would catch as many as we could, put them in a glass jar with twigs and grass and lots of air holes. If you caught several, they actually did emit enough light to provide just the right illumination to be a fabulous prop for ghost stories, another favourite Grand Lake activity. By the way, we had our own Palmers Cove ghost. According to our parents, the ghost was the spirit of a Confederate Soldier who walked the road leading from the highway into our cove. I never once saw him and am convinced it was something our parents made up to keep us from wandering to far from the cottages at night.

We always released our fireflies unharmed the next morning. It is not good karma to hurt something as magical as fireflies.

Another favourite bug was the dragonfly. They would rest for hours sunning themselves on the rocks on the beach. They looked just so weird but in their own way beautiful. Their bodies and wings were a mish mash of iridescent jewel tones. We never tried to catch dragonflies. Not because we were afraid of them. You really didn't need to capture them to be able to look at them. If you sat on the beach long enough on a sunny day, one or two dragonflies would always come along, rest awhile on the rocks near you and enjoy the sun along with you.
By now you are probably wondering - "What does all this bug stuff have to do with yarn or knitting?" It started with a pair of Fair Isle Socks form Red Bird Knits called "Flutter By" which was part of the Trunk Show we had for a couple of weeks.

This picture does not begin to do them justice. They were knit with a black background and Arequipa hand paint alpaca sock yarn for the butterfly motifs. Unfortunately the sock has moved on to the next Trunk Show location but we have the pattern and yarn. Karen has fallen in love with them and is considering using it as the class project for a summer class on knitting Fair Isle Socks. I also love these socks. Because they are beautiful and because I love butterflies, another of my favourite bugs.

My favourite butterfly is the Monarch.

These magical little creatures migrate to the forests of Mexico in winter.

A trip I hope to make one day is to the specific forests of Mexico where millions of Monarchs come together, covering the trees. One of our knitters, Zelda, is a travel agent and has found for me all kinds of information on tours to the Monarch migration sites in Mexico.
Twice a year, our 2 main GTA yarn distributors, host open houses for yarn shops to preview new yarns. Gabriela and I were wondering around in yarn heaven aka Diamond yarns warehouse. I was looking at sock yarn. I mention to Gabriela - "That yarn looks like monarch butterfly colours". Gabriela wandered over to look and picked up an information sheet - On Line Supersocke 100 Butterfly-Color!!!! A whole line of self patterning sock yarns in various butterfly colours.

We grabbed a couple of bags to try them.

I had not knit with the On Line Sock yarn before. In addition to liking the colours and patterns, I very much like the texture of this yarn. It is so, so soft. Now that I have butterflies and other bugs on the mind, I am seeing all kinds of knitting opportunities. Woodsmoke Woolworks has bumble bee and dragonfly hats. I have found several mosaic stitch patterns with butterfly motifs. The new Vogue Stitchionary # 6 featuring lace, has two butterfly lace patterns. I might just have to try some of them. I'll let you know.
I know there are lots of bugs we all love to hate, but many are magical little creatures that add beauty and interest to our world.