Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Little Nurmilintu

I knit this little scarf to go with my new windbreaker for my Scandinavian tour.
The yarn is Punta Yarns Mericash Hand Painted. It's 80% merino and 20% cashmere - light and luxurious.
I did one full course of the lace pattern and 2/3 of another before the last garter stitch swath.
I also did a picot bindoff - CO2, BO 5.
The lace pattern was very easy and made the basic garter stitch background interesting.
I had a few metres of yarn left after binding off.
It blocked out to about 56" long and 22" deep - perfect for a light wrap around my neck in the late Scandinavian summer.

Skip and I leave today for our adventure. We don't look forward to pulling an all-nighter for the transAtlantic flight and because of a stopover in Amsterdam, won't get to our hotel Copenhagen until at least 6pm their time tomorrow - noon our time. We are taking dramamine for the plane ride in hopes we'll be able to sleep or at least snooze.

I have a sock underway for the flight and many hours we'll be sitting on various modes of transportation over the next 2 weeks.

Our last pupa has been farmed out to Christine and her family to release when it emerges early next week. That will make 74 this season. Next year? Tagging!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Penultimate Pupa

My second last pupa eclosed yesterday morning. I almost forgot to release her yesterday afternoon but I took the castle out onto the table on the deck, unzipped the opening and left it there for her to fly out.

A couple of hours later, I noted she hadn't flown away yet. It was getting cooler out so I put her on one of the zinnias in the sun.
I attempted a selfie with her but couldn't get her with her wings open.

I did finally catch her with her wings open, though. Just not with me in the photo.
A little while later I checked on her and she had flown away.

The last pupa will eclose next week so Christine and her family will pupa-sit while Skip and I head off on our next adventure. They'll release the last one of the season - #74 - when it's ready to go.

It has been a very successful year with the monarchs. My initial goal was to release 20. Little did I know I'd find so many larvae and eggs! Next year, I plan to tag my butterflies and will need to make a mental note to order the tags in the middle of June. In the meantime, I have turned on at least 3 families to the joys of raising monarchs and hopefully will inspire others to pursue this easy and enjoyable summer past time.

Cuddle Quilt

I make another Cuddle Quilt for Lorna's impending grandchild. This time I used the cuddle fabric on the back and bindings with the flannel tucked underneath for the front.
I tried a different technique this time. First, I cut triangles off each of the corners of the cuddle fabric making sure they were all the same size. I then folded the edge with right sides together and stitched a 1/2" seam to mitre the corners. I turned the mitres right side out and put the cuddle fabric wrong side up on the table. I then measured the size the flannel needed to be to fit inside the 'frame'. Once I cut the flannel, I tucked it inside the 'frame' and stitched down the cuddle fabric with a decorative stitch.
As this was a bigger quilt, I measured out from the centre 6" in the 4 directions and drew a square on the flannel. I then stitched this square to anchor the flannel to the cuddle fabric using a longer stitch - about 3mm. I recall.
My sewing wasn't perfect with this 'slippy' cuddle fabric but the result is a nice, snuggly quilt that measures about 36" x 36".
 I gave both it and the little quilt to the little mama.
I'm so glad I found a use for the sheepy flannel fabric and that I found cuddle fabric with stars on it to go with the background stars on the flannel.
These blankets are fun and easy to make. There are lots of YouTube videos on the topic and I watched many of them, gleaning ideas from each one of them.

Now I need to knit the baby something...

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Sewing for Baby

One of my longtime friends is going to be a grandmother in a few weeks. I've been pouring over Pinterest for ideas to make the little one some gifts. I decided to make a faux Boppy Lounger which seems to be a popular item for newborns.

I couldn't find any fabric in the woodland theme - the décor of the child's nursery - so picked something else.

I couldn't find a pattern for the lounger so just made something up based on the dimensions. I made it more square than round but did round off the corners. I would make it more round the next time.
The indentations are closer to the front rather than centred.
I added a little handle for ease of carrying.
I used the stuffing from 1 1/2  inexpensive Walmart pillows (about half the price of fibrefill stuffing) and hand-sewed the opening shut.

The indentations were made with dental floss for strength. I did stab myself doing the first dimple. Did you know hydrogen peroxide is excellent for removing blood? Or other organic matter for that matter.

I then tackled a self-binding receiving blanket. This video from Shabby Fabrics was my guide.

I prewashed and dried the fabric in the dryer, then pressed it.
Self-binding receiving blanket
The instructions were very clear. Basically it can be any size - just make the outer fabric (back and binding/border) 10" larger on each side than the inner fabric.
I just picked two different, neutral shades of this cute 'heffalump' fabric.
Mitering the corners is really easy with this method. I use an erasable pen for all my markings. Frixion is popular but double the price of a generic erasable pen - I think mine's a Scripto. The  markings just disappear with heat of the iron.

I was able to use a decorative stitch for the top-stitching which also 'quilts' the two layers together, sews down the seam allowances towards the outside, and closes the hole left for turning.

I then tackled a Cuddle Quilt using cuddle fabric - not Minky but a different (less expensive) brand that my Fabricland had in stock.

This time, I used Jenny Doan from Missouri Star Quilt Company's video as inspiration, although I did a couple of things differently.

This one I didn't make square and the backing/border fabric was flannel I've had on hand for ages but hadn't bought enough for the project for which it was initially intended.

The cuddle fabric is hard to work with because it shifts around. I tried to square the sides up several times and gave up when it was 'close enough'. I cut the sheepy flannel 6" longer on each side than the cuddle fabric.

Because of the slithery cuddle fabric, I opted for Jenny's method of mitering the corners. First, though, I turned 1/4" under all around the flannel and basted it down. I didn't want a raw edge once I created the border.

Then I cut the corner triangles off as per Jenny's method outlined in the video.
Then folding the 'hypotenuse' cut edge right sides together, I sewed the mitre seam. Once all four corners were done I put the fabric right  side against the table and tucked the cuddle fabric into it's 'frame'. I did use basting spray first to anchor the cuddle fabric to the flannel and reduce shifting. One could always quilt the two sides together as well, particularly if making larger quilts.
I picked the same decorative stitch as I had used on the receiving blanket and sewed the edges of the 'border' down. These edges were the hem that was previously turned under and basted so everything came out neatly.
I should have used my walking foot from the start and switched to it part way along the first side when I realized the upper layers were shifting from the lower layer. My sewing was not perfect by any means but a very cute and cuddly quilt was achieved nonetheless. One of the borders is a little skewed but I pressed most of the wonkiness out. Be careful not to iron right on the cuddle fabric - use a pressing cloth nor use too hot an iron. The cuddle fabric is synthetic and will melt/scorch with too hot an iron.

I do have a largeish, square piece of the cuddle fabric left and could make another cuddle quilt. If I do, I'll try to do a neater sewing job. It could then be given to the mom and I could give the smaller quilt to my friend so she can have it at Grandma's house for baby visits.
The cuddle fabric sheds after it has been cut so prepare to vacuum your sewing area afterwards. To de-fluff the blanket after everything is done, just fluff it in the dryer.
The cuddle fabric doesn't shrink so does not need to be pre-washed. The flannel had been pre-washed so I was able to start right in cutting it for the project.

Saturday, 26 August 2017


Skip and I had fun during the eclipse. I made a pinhole viewer which was somewhat successful but the image was very small as the focal length was short - the depth of a Mary's Crackers box.

Skip heard somewhere that if you project the image through binoculars, there would be a good image. That was very successful. I don't know why the TV networks broadcasting the event didn't mention this easy method.

I stood with my back to the sun with the big end of the binoculars up and pointed over my shoulder and the small end downwards.

I projected the image onto the dark container that I keep deck equipment in.
The cool thing is that I could focus the binoculars to get a really sharp image. And it was a decent size, too.

We were pretty proud of ourselves that we were successfully nerdy.
We're all geeked up for the next eclipse on April 8, 2024.  We'll have our binoculars ready.

Shadow selfie...

Friday, 25 August 2017

Winding Down

After 12 days of multiple monarch eclosings and releases, today is the first day I didn't have a pupa eclosing. I have released 60 adults, have no eggs, have 4 larvae - three very close to pupating, and 11 remaining pupae. If all goes well, I will have raised and released 75 adults monarchs this year.

On Sunday, Christine brought two of her children over to see my operation. While showing them one of my milkweed patches, Nathan found a larva on a leaf.
After determining that he wanted to take it home, I broke the top part of the plant off and stuck the stem in a reservoir. He named it Jo(e) - (we won't know if it's a boy or a girl 'til it ecloses).
Christine messaged me two days later to say that Jo(e) had pupated so we're all looking forward to seeing it emerge. In the meantime they have found what they think are a couple more eggs which they're raising.

The butterflies emerge before noon. I keep them in the castle for a few more hours so their wings fully expand, dry, and get strong enough for flight. Here you can see an empty casing in the top foreground, a couple of darkening pupae, a larva on the top right, larvae on the floor hidden by milkweed, and 4 adults ready to be released.
Usually I unzip the door and just leave it open for the adults to fly out. More often than not I have to encourage them to leave. Often I take the butterfly to either the echinacea plant or a zinnia. They usually just sit there for a while, sometimes unfurling the proboscis and feeding. Then they fly away.
This is my last larva. It will be 9x this size before it pupates in a week or so.
The whole operation will be wrapped up 10 - 12 days after that, in plenty of time before our trip. If this last guy is still in a pupa when we leave, I have a friend who has agreed to release it.

This has been a very rewarding year for me - far exceeding my expectations. As I only released 4 last year, my goal this year was to really spend time looking for eggs and hopefully release 20 adults. Having 40 hungry caterpillars in various stages kept me hopping a couple of weeks ago - finding enough milkweed to feed them, and keeping the frass cleaned out of their various habitats. But I have really enjoyed feeling like I make a difference in their numbers.

The only down side was that Skip and I couldn't make any mini trips all summer. Next year, I will investigate having a couple of interested friends 'larva-sit' for us so we can have a bit more freedom.

Matchy Matchy

For our upcoming tour of Scandinavia, I've been searching all summer for a waterproof windbreaker that is a distinctive colour, big enough to allow layering underneath and long enough to cover my derrière if it rains. I finally found it at Sears for half price. BONUS!

However, I don't have any accessories that match the aqua colour so I've been trying to decide what scarf and hat to make for it.

I had knit this hat earlier this year. I like the Nordic style but didn't think the bright blue was quite right with the aqua coat colour.
I decided to re-knit it swapping the bright blue for aqua-coloured yarn that is just a shade or two darker. Not surprisingly I had it in my stash already. Fortunately, Mo provided me with the white yarn from her stash.
I found this tutorial via Pinterest on how to make a fringed scarf from woven plaid fabric. So off to Fabricland I went with my windbreaker in a bag to match the colours. This was the plaid that I came home with.
Now the pattern calls for 2 yards that you can get 2 scarves from. Being cheap thrifty, I bought one metre and will sew the two lengthwise halves together, then do the fringeing.

I also started a Nurmilintu scarf with Punta Yarns Mericash Hand Painted fingering yarn - again from my stash. I have enough to make a medium-sized asymmetric, triangular, garter stitch and lace scarf.
Once I have everything done, I'll decide what I'll actually take on the trip. Whatever gets left behind will still get worn as I use the jacket the rest of the year.