Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Combo Update

The larva that hatched early last week is growing steadily. It's half an inch long now. I have no idea where the other hatchlings are going. They just seem to disappear. I'm wondering if the bigger larva is eating the smaller ones...
I haven't found any eggs this week so that might be it for this summer.

On the knitting front, I have started the Ruddington sock four times and finally have the right yarn, tension, and needle size. I had to frog the previous version with 2.25mm needles as it was just too snug. I used 2.25mm for the cuff and switched to 2.5mm needles for the leg. It is working out much better.
I did an 'eye of partridge' heel flap, have picked up the gusset stitches and am on about round 6 of the gusset decreases. I will continue the cable pattern down the instep.

We have a new member of our Monday night spinning group. Alexa is fairly new to spinning and in two Monday night sessions has already noticed a significant improvement in her spinning consistency. She owns an alpaca farm with 10 alpacas of various colours. I hope to visit there sometime soon.

Only 60 days 'til Rhinebeck!!! Wheeee!!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Three Tries

I've been trying to find the right sock yarn to show off the Ruddington pattern. First I used a tonal hand-painted yarn which didn't do it any justice.
Next I tried a marled yarn that didn't work either. I frogged that sample before I had a chance to take a photo of it.

I knew I needed a solid-colour yarn with a nice twist to show off the cables. I found two skeins of Chloe & Spud Fine sock yarn - 80% superwash wool and 20% silk (what Cat Bordhi calls 'nature's nylon') in my stash. The skeins are 65g and 248 yd (227m) each.

I am much happier with the result. The cables really 'pop'.
Here are the details:
- 72 sts
- 2.25mm needles
- added 2 knit stitches on either side of the 32 stitch pattern.

They're Girls!

Skip and I went on a mini-holiday last Wednesday to Friday to the last LPGA event being sponsored by Wegmans in Rochester, NY. Coincidentally, the butterflies were scheduled to emerge from their chrysalises while we were away. My bug-loving friend, Mike, consented to look after the 'livestock' while we were away.

On Wednesday, the first chrysalis got dark and you could see the furled wings through the clear casing. This is a photo of the second one getting ready to emerge with the empty casing of the first one beside it.
Mike missed the emergence of the first one but was there when the second one came out. He got an amazing video of it but I can't get it to upload. Here's the first one outside, getting ready to fly away. Because of the thicker veining and absence of a black spot on the hind wings, it's a girl.
The second one hatched on Thursday and was also a girl.

The egg on the milkweed leaf I took over to Mike's hatched as well. I told him to look for it developing a black dot on the tip of the egg which indicates that hatching is imminent. Once he knew what to look for, he spotted it easily.
After it hatched, it ate part of the egg casing and started in on the milkweed leaf. He sent me another video which he shot through his microscope. It was pretty exciting.

We got back last night and I picked up the 2 larvae today. We can't really figure out what happened to the other two eggs/larvae that hatched.

I'm hoping to get these two to the pupa stage and will look for more eggs tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

September Sock a Month Early

I finished the first of the ninth pair of socks I've knit this year. I am using Lang Jawoll Color Aktion yarn from my stash. This yarn comes with a spool of reinforcing yarn which I forgot to use - d'uh! Instead, for the heel I used a combination of eye of partridge and a shadow wrap heel. I extended the reinforcing on the sole for another centimetre beyond the heel.
It was getting dark when I took these photos but you get an idea of the colours.
Using 2.25mm needles, I did a tubular cast-on of 68 sts and knit 2 x 2 ribbing for an inch then 3 x 1 ribbing for the rest of the leg - 7" including the cuff. Then I knit 1" of stocking stitch before starting the eye of partridge heel on half the sts (34). I then knit the rest of the sock in stocking stitch, sizing it for a man's medium size foot - around size 10.

For once, I'm not starting the second sock right away. Instead, I'm starting a sock version of Fiona Ellis' Ruddington cardigan. The stitch pattern will work well for socks and I'm adding 4 sts on each side for a 2 x 2 cable. I found a ball of handpainted yarn in blue-black tones with a nice twist in my stash. Unfortunately there was no ball band.  There will be photos as I progress.

On the butterfly front, I found yet another egg today. So we have 2 pupae with one of them due to emerge within the next couple of days and the other will follow a day or two after. The third larva didn't make it. It did adhere to the top of the Bug Bottle but didn't form the chrysalis. Skip thought that because of the injury to its midsection, perhaps it couldn't get its last skin off. It just died up there.

There is one larva which has almost doubled in size since it's emergence from the egg two days ago. And with today's found egg, there are a total of 3 eggs. I would be so pleased if I could get all three eggs through the larva stage.


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Another Hatchling

A few days ago I found two more monarch butterfly eggs under leaves of the same milkweed plant. Hurray! Last night, I could only find one egg. I'm not sure what happened to the other one. Anyway the one egg had a black dot on the end which indicates that it's getting ready to hatch.

The leaf the egg was on had all dried up so I removed all but a bit around the egg and put a fresh leaf right beside it. This morning, I checked and there indeed was a new little larva. If you don't know what to look for they're hard to see.
Here it is metrically.
Again, this will take about 10 - 14 days to reach full size before pupating.

The two chrysalises continue to 'hang in there'. The third, ailing larva has crawled up to the top of the container but doesn't seem to be doing much of anything.

Although it is very small (about 2/3 the size of a full-grown larva) I thought it was getting ready to shed its final exoskeleton in preparation for pupating but nothing seems to be happening. I'm afraid that without food, it's just going to perish up there. I found two more eggs just now very close to the stem of each of the leaves. I've got the stems in water hoping to keep the leaves somewhat fresh 'til the eggs hatch.

In spite of continuing to find the odd egg here and there, I haven't seen a single monarch butterfly in our yard. They are very stealthy this year when laying their eggs.

It has been somewhat disconcerting this year to a) not find very many eggs, and b) not have had more larvae make it to the pupa stage. Next year, I plan to keep the leaves moister so they don't dry out by the time the eggs hatch.

In spite of the setbacks, I have 2 pupae that will most likely make it to the butterfly stage and at least one larva that might make it to the to the butterfly stage. We'll see about the two eggs I found today.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

More Bags

Mo liked the project bags I made her and asked me to make a couple more as there was enough fabric left.



I found another shortcut while I was making one of them. Normally I leave the bottom of the lining open in order to turn the project right side out and then sew up the opening afterwards. In reading the instructions for a similar pattern the person sewed up both bag bottoms and pulls everything through the handle. I tried that through the shorter handle and it worked! No more hand-sewing for me!

I also make a big zipped bag for myself using the same fabric and lining that I used to make a smaller one a couple of years ago.
New one in the back.
The new one is big enough to hold my brushes and larger bottles. I still have fabric left over so I'll probably make a couple more coordinating bags.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Another Sewing Blitz

Today I made several knitting project bags for Mo using my favourite pattern. Although the pattern calls them 'Grab Bags', Skip tells me they look like Japanese knot bags commonly used for carrying lunch in Japan.

Mo had given me several fabrics to pick from.  I have streamlined the process somewhat by cutting out both lining pieces with the outer fabric at the same time. Basically, I lay one fabric on top of the other and fold it over to the correct width. It takes a lot less time that way and the fronts and backs always match perfectly. I also don't attach a pocket outlined in the pattern.

This fabric reminds me of the "Flower Power" of the 60s. 
I lined it with a leafy, green fabric and topstitched with green thread.
Then I made this one with pink and brown fabric. It reminds me of Neapolitan ice cream.
I lined it with this pink fabric.
I made another one using the same outer fabric but this time, lined it with heart fabric.
Mo also included some fat quarters with very cute kitty-cat prints - so I could make some for her daughter. The bags are about 14" wide before seaming so fat quarters aren't big enough (only 11" wide when folded). In the past, I've printed the pattern at 80% and that has worked well with fat quarters. However Mo had pre-washed the fabric and it had shrunk even more. So this time I printed the two pages of the pattern at its widest at 72% and it fit the fabric perfectly.

On the left is the full sized-bag and on the right the smaller one.
I lined the bag with the pink fabric.
Reducing the bag made it proportionately shallower, however. Since a fat quarter is 18" long, I realized I had enough to extend the depth of the bag making it more useful so I adjusted the pattern accordingly. I lined it with the leafy green fabric.

This shows the difference in depth between the two bags.

The narrower, deeper bag is almost as deep as the regular-sized one. I have all kinds of fat quarters of my own I realize I can use now for these bags that I've modified the pattern. I hope Mo likes the bags as much as I enjoyed making them.

It's funny when I knit a project, I don't really like knitting multiples of the same pattern but when I sew something, I love making multiples.