I finished the West Yorkshire Spinners' "Gingerbread" colorway socks over Christmas
I really like this brand of yarn. It's affordable, it knits up nicely (and makes a nice feeling fabric) and comes in fun colorways - I think they do a Christmas one more or less every year and I have a couple of them ("Fairy Lights" and "Hollyberry")
I also started new socks over break and got more done on them during Zoom knit time Saturday; this is a KFI sockyarn in a colorway called "Green Bay," it does a very slow ombre effect (the end of the skein is a dark blue-green)
I'm going to knit the leg on these a bit longer than I sometimes do to try to get more of the ombre in the sock.
I also ran out to one of our field areas to grab twigs. I'm doing a winter-twig identification lab as the first plant systematics lab: I am going to ask the students to look at the different twigs I have (there are 10, all from different genera, most from different families - there are two Ulmaceae (winged elm and sugarberry) but I think those are the only from the same family.) I'm going to have them find the differences between them (bud shape, color, glaucousness or hairiness, leaf scar shape, presence or absence of thorns....) and then, depending on if time permits (or not, have them do it as a homework), try to develop a dichotomous key *specifically for those ten species* (which is less overwhelming, but also cuts down on the risk someone will just gank from an existing key and copy it - it won't work without the species in that key). I think it's important to learn how dichotomous keys work and are developed, but also I think slowing down and looking at detail is important - people say "winter twigs are really hard because there are no leaves" but if you know what to look for in things like the bark and leaf scars and buds, you can generally tell them apart. Or at least you can get to the right family or genus.
The Corps of Engineers land we use is right up against a private parcel, and I was surprised to see how much the owner had cleared that parcel out (this is looking on to it from the trail on the Corps land):
the person has the right to do what they want with their land but I admit I'll be discomfited if I take a class out there some time and find someone's lake cottage or manufactured home on there, with loose dogs and someone who eyeballs us to make sure we don't step on "their" land - often times people out in the country can be territorial and somewhat unfriendly to things like college classes, even if we try hard to avoid their property. ESPECIALLY if it's some rich person from DFW who is using the cottage as a getaway....
I did see some interesting fungi on a log out there. It's been too long since I had mycology (and I wouldn't know all the species down here) so I don't remember what these are, if I ever knew:
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