Monday, 3 August 2015

Snap Bags

Last October at the pre-festival Trunk Show at the Garden Inn (now a Best Western in Kingston, NY) at Rhinebeck, I purchased this snap bag thinking it would be a great prototype for ones I could make myself. It was created by That Clever Clementine who also has a Facebook page.
Pull the white tabs to open, then it snaps shut when you let go.

I wondered and wondered what I could use to make it spring back shut and finally, after reviewing several YouTube videos, realized it was pieces of metal tape measure that were cut and inserted in the pockets at the top. I went to our local dollar store and could only find 1" wide tape measures - which were too wide for what I wanted. Finally at WalMart, I found a 3/4" tape measure that was the right price - under $5. Don't use good scissors to cut the metal tape measure! Round the edges and cover with tape so you won't have sharp metal edges wearing away at your fabric.

The videos I reviewed were this one, and this one. But the best tutorial was this one, which had instructions for a lined snap bag with seams that aren't exposed. It was a little fiddlier, but I really liked the result.
I made two bags. The main fabric pieces were 8 1/2" x 11" and the lining pieces were 8 1/2" x 14". Basically they could be any width or length you want as long as you allow an extra 4" of length for the lining fabric which also encases the length of tape measure (about 1" less than the unsewn width).

I also used medium weight fusible interfacing which I cut slightly smaller than the main fabric pieces.

I added the little black and white tabs (2" lengths of ribbon folded in half) in the centre of each side to have something to grab to open the bag. It was just a 2" length of ribbon folded over and stitched into the casement seam.
I also squared off the corners on both the outer fabric and the lining. (It's all in the tutorial)
With the wrong sides together, the seams are completely enclosed.
On this one, I top-stitched along the top edge as well as the bottom edge of the casement.
On this one, I only stitched along the bottom of the casement. In both cases, I slipped the lengths of measuring tape in just before completing the stitching all the way around. I am grateful to have a free arm sewing machine as it made this operation very easy.
If you have a fabric that has an obvious direction (i.e. needs to be right side up), just cut two pieces 1/4" longer than half the length and seam across the bottom so both  pieces will be right side up once folded.

If you don't have ribbon to use for the opener tabs,  you could cut two 2" squares of the lining fabric and make tabs by folding each in half, then unfolding and folding each raw edge into the centre fold and stitching the sides together - like bias tape would be (except this wouldn't be on the bias). Or you could make prairie points or even use bias tape in a coordinating colour.

As for the tape measure, make sure you keep it locked or you will lose the cut end inside. If that happens, just take the case apart, removing the screws, and retrieve the end. Beware, the mechanism is spring-loaded and could explode in your hands.

Larva Update

The larvae are getting quite chubby.
 I estimate they'll pupate sometime this week. All 5 are crammed into the Bug Bottle. I clean out the poop and provide fresh milkweed a couple of times a day.
We are still waiting for the last egg to hatch. Then we'll spend the next two weeks looking after those 6 larvae.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Inishmore and Mystic

I finished two more squares: from the Inishmore sweater pattern,
and the anchor element from the Mystic sweater. I added the 'O's at the top to fill in space before the top garter ridges.
I also reworked this square. The one that had the mis-crossed cable in the printed pattern. I tried to knit a garter stitch border but didn't do the increases correctly in the corners (every row rather than every other row). It also needed to be bigger overall to match the other squares.
So I ripped out the faulty garter stitch border and put all the stitches on a circular needle and knit the border in the round, increasing on each side of each corner every other round. I should have started the garter ridges earlier but couldn't be bothered ripping it out again to do so.

5 of the six monarch eggs hatched in the last 24 hours and the last one is almost ready to hatch. We haven't found any more eggs. The 5 larvae are getting bigger and bigger (as is their poop). I need to find a covered container for them as they will pupate in the next few days. I'll probably use the Bug Bottle for them overnight and figure something out tomorrow.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Caterpillar Daycare

The caterpillars are big enough that there is no concern about them eating each other.

Last night, the average length was 1cm. The white thing on the right is wet tissue used to keep the milkweed leaf fresh.

Today, I put all 5 of them in the same container with lots of fresh milkweed. The container is an old ice container from a previous fridge.

You can easily see all 5 of them. From here on in, I'll need to provide fresh milkweed daily and clean out their poop - which gets bigger and bigger as they get bigger and bigger.
When I was picking the milkweed this morning, I found another egg! There are 4 eggs as of today that will be hatching this week. The back 3 jars on the left don't appear to have eggs.
I would really love to be able to release a dozen adult monarchs this year. I will keep checking our monarch leaves for eggs.

All of this is taking place on the kitchen table.
Once the larvae get big enough to crawl off the leaves, I'll be putting them in a container that has a mesh lid where they will hang and form their chrysalises. That should be in a about a week to 10 days from now.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Peacock Feather Stole and More Cable Squares

I finished and blocked the Peacock Feathers Stole. This is half of it draped over a door.
And outside on the table on the deck.
The peacock feathers change towards the ends. The large holes are achieved by double yarnovers which, on the return row, are knit and purled into. The largest holes near the end are triple yarnovers that are knit, purled, and knit into on the return row.
When I blocked it, I used wires on the sides picking up the ends of every other set of 5 descending yarn overs.
On the ends, I pinned out each chained part.
They hold their shape after unpinning when it's dry.
I loved this photo of its shadow that I took outside.
Immediately after casting off, I got back to the cable squares. I finished a third square using the pattern from the 'Must Have' Cardigan.
Back perusing my Alice Starmore 'Fishermen's Sweaters' pattern book, I selected a couple of elements of the Inishmaan sweater.
I also knit two elements of the 'Nova Scotia' sweater.
I'm really enjoying this project and and wonder if I'll be able to part with the afghan once I put it together. However, I can certainly knit another one.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

After an Eleven year Delay

Back in 2004, I completed stitching this piece. I finally framed it today.

The original had the designer's name (Marjolein Bastin) on either side of the bench in the middle and her initials beside the pencil on the bottom. I modified it by stitching the design's title 'The Four Seasons" and my own initials down at the bottom.

This is Spring,
and Winter.
I was going to take it to a framer, then I remembered I possessed the skills to do it myself if I could find a frame to fit it. I had some foam core board that was the right size on hand, and purchased the frame on a 50% sale. A 16" x 20" frame was a perfect size.

Woo hoo! I saved myself a bunch of cash.

Looking at it again, I really like the border and that some of the elements go outside the border.

I have a stack of finished cross-stitched pieces that need to be framed. This has motivated me to get some of them done.

Found Another One

When Skip and I headed out of town on Monday, I picked four milkweed leaves that had monarch eggs on them and brought them in a house. I stuck the ends of the leaves in a glass of water to keep them fresh until we got home.

Sure enough, when we got home yesterday, the leaves were still fresh and all four eggs had hatched. I put each leaf in its own jar with a fresh milkweed leaf.

This afternoon, I was out looking for some more eggs and noticed some chew marks on one of the leaves. On closer inspection, I saw a caterpillar!
It appeared to be about the same age as the ones I already had in the house. This is the first time I've ever seen a caterpillar on my milkweed. I assume all other ones that have hatched out there have been consumed by another critter.

So now I have five larvae - each in its own jar.
I will continue my daily search for eggs and keep these little fellas well fed with fresh milkweed leaves.