Monday, 31 August 2015

#8 and #9

#7 emerged on the weekend. It was another female monarch. Last night, there was a dark pupa and another was getting dark. I knew there would be at least one more emergent adult this morning.

Sure enough, there were two! One had just emerged as the wings were still wet and a bit crinkled.
The first one was a male. You can see a dot on the veining of the hind wings.

He hung onto the stick for about an hour before flying away. The younger one was left with a long stick in the container so it could make its way out when its wings were ready. It was another girl.
One pupa is left. It will probably emerge late this week.

Skip bought a new car so it was finally time to bid farewell to the 14 year-old Mazda Protegé 5. I gave it a good cleaning, vacuuming and washing. It hadn't been as clean since Skip had it detailed in the spring of 2014.
My grand-niece is off to prestigious university in a prestigious co-op program and could make use of the car. So she and her mom (my niece) came to pick it up last week.
And off they went - zoom zoom.

In knitting news, I have been working on a couple of projects. One is a stealth project to be revealed later. The other is the Nurmilintu scarf using the madelinetosh yarn I bought in NY state on our last visit.
It's garter stitch alternating with a lace panel. It will look quite lovely once finished and blocked.

I still need to finish the border around the Aran sampler afghan.

Tonight I'm going spinning for the first time in several weeks.We've all been busy this summer so haven't met in August at all. Starting after Labour Day we'll start meeting on Tuesday nights - same place, same time.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

A Lot Happened This Week

I finished the 30th square. It was one of the cable patterns from one of the Barbara Walker treasuries.
I then stitched all the squares together, butting the edges together and whip stitching them. I guess I'll do some kind of border around it - probably a couple of rows of garter stitch with some eyelet thrown in.
We also had some hard landscaping done on the front and back yards. We had the driveway paved a couple of years ago but the decrepit interlocking brick on the walkways needed replacing.
Most of the walkways drained towards the house so the new ones were graded so the water would run away from the house. In the front, it eliminated one of the steps up to our front porch.
In the back, the concrete stairs to the back door and garage door were rather wobbly. And again, the grade was towards the corner between the two doors. The landscaper built up this area and added river rock to the area by the fence. We usually pile firewood there in the fall for use in the winter.
 Way better.
 With the new deck last year, new eavestroughs (gutters) and roof this year, and new walkways, I believe we're really improved the curb appeal of the place. Plus with the re-grading, minimized the threat of flooding in our basement, although, thankfully we've never had water leak into it.

The last larva is getting ready to pupate. The egg that was on the leaf I found earlier this week wasn't an egg after all, so if all these latest pupae emerge as adults we'll have a total of 10 this year.

Back in 2011, when I was on the UK knitting tour, I picked up this pattern at the Knitting and Stitching Show that we attended in Harrogate. 'O Christmas Tree' designed by Bonnie Sullivan, owner of 'All Through The Night'.
The pattern originated from Oregon, but I liked it just the same. I then misplaced the pattern for a year or so. Then when I found it, I realized I had the fabric already but just needed to get the variegated, hand-dyed floss for it. Finally, last week Marilyn and I visited Hedgehog Stitchery (at the new location) and I found exactly what I was looking for. I started it last night and have finished about a quarter of it.
It will fit nicely in an 8" x 10" frame if I don't mat it or a standard larger one if I do.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

# 29

I finished the 29th square yesterday. It a modified version of the cable pattern from another one of Carol Feller's sweaters, Straboy.
Modified, because the original chart does not follow the over, under, over, under cable pattern.
Original Straboy cable
See the difference?
My version
Here they are side by side:
(oops! I just noticed the uncrossed cable at the top of the column on the left square) I'm the last person you'd say had OCD but I'm really fanatical about my cables following the over, under, over, under pattern. And it's SO easy to 'fix' any chart that doesn't do that.

Note to self: photograph finished items and look for mistakes before finishing the item.

I'm currently knitting the 30th and final (for this afghan) square. It isn't going as quickly as I'd hoped. The cable pattern is from Jared Flood's 'Druid Mittens'.  The chart is microscopic and is somewhat confusing on the even numbered (return) rows. The symbol legend doesn't explain the stitches very well, such as, how to execute some of the stitches on the private side of the fabric. I've been winging it a bit. There are also bobbles which are executed on the private side. It is slow going. I may just rip it back to the garter stitch border and find another cable pattern to do. I've been scanning all my cable books and Interweave Knits magazines. Hopefully, I'll finish #30 tonight.

The Fifth One's a Boy

Last night, I went to bed knowing there would be another freshly emergent monarch.

This morning after it dried off a bit, I took it outside into the shade to finish its preparation for first flight. I had a pretty good inkling it was a boy because of the hint of a dot on one of the veins.
I had to wait until it opened its wings to confirm that it indeed was a male. The black veins are thinner and there definitely are black dots on the hind wings.
I have left him out there with a stick to crawl onto when he's ready to fly.

2015 tally to date:
- 4 females
- 1 male

Monday, 17 August 2015

Two More Girls

Last night, the first of the last 5 larvae began the process of shedding its last skin and forming a chrysalis. And another pupa is getting ready to emerge.
On the lid of the other container is another pupa that will soon emerge as an adult monarch.
I went to bed knowing there would be two new adults to release in the morning. When Skip got up, there was one out. By the time I made it downstairs, the second had just emerged. Its wings were still wet.
One of them was ready to venture out into the outside world so I took it outside and got it to crawl onto the mint plant. Her wings (another girl - yay!) were still somewhat wet so I knew she would stay there for a few hours to prepare for flight.
One of the pupae is getting ready to emerge. The chrysalis is completely clear and the orange and black colours are showing through. I'm guessing it will emerge this afternoon.
After a couple of hours, more recent emergent crawled out and rested on the lid, getting ready to fly. The other one had flown away unobserved while I was in the house doing stuff.  I could clearly see that it was yet another girl.
She was quite large. And then she just flew away! She flew over to the tall cedars on our neighbour's property.
So that's 3 female adults and another ready to emerge today.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

A Girl, 27, and 28

When I went to bed last night, I knew I'd wake up to an adult monarch this morning. The chrysalis had turned dark so I knew it was only a matter of hours 'til the last stage in the metamorphosis.

Sure enough, this morning, I found this waiting for me.
There is no problem having it enclosed in the container for several hours as it gives it time to dry its wings and exercise them a bit.

I took the container outside and got the butterfly to sit on a plant I have in a planter on the table on the deck.
This is what the empty chrysalis looks like - transparent with some markings on it from the wings.
There is a way to determine the sex of the chrysalis but I can't be bothered as it involves the use of magnification and I have misplaced my magnifying glass. I'm happy to wait until it opens its wings after emergence.

Because of the thick black veining on the wings, I know this is a female.

She sat on that plant for a couple of hours, then flew away when I wasn't looking. Hopefully her great-granddaughters will come back here next summer to lay eggs on our milkweed plants.

I have finished two more squares and only have two more out of the thirty to do. This one is the cable pattern from Fiona Ellis' 'Ruddington' cardigan.
Last week I was couldn't find my Carol Feller book, "Contemporary Irish Knits". I hunted high and low, in all the usual places and several of the unusual places. I'm really quite organized when it comes to my knitting books, but I just couldn't find this one.

Finally on Friday night, I looked down between the sofa where I sit to knit and the end table and there it was! So the next square I did was the cable pattern from 'Ardara'.
So that's numbers 27 and 28 done.

Now to decide what cables I'll do for the last two squares.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Escape and Recapture

Last night I was checking on the larvae and noted that there was one missing. I carefully looked through the leaf remnants and couldn't find it. I had no idea what could have happened to it as escaping from its jar was highly unlikely. I looked for a trail of poop but didn't see anything. It was upsetting because it meant there would only be a total of 9 this year if they all reach adulthood.

This afternoon I was chatting with Skip and looked down on the kitchen floor and there it was!! Several feet from its original spot. I quickly got it onto a piece of paper and back in its jar with a fresh milkweed leaf. It's a miracle neither of us had stepped on it. Then I noticed the chubbiest one was on the outside of its jar. Yikes! Time to put them together in the larger container.
I hauled out the ice cube container and fashioned a covering out of some mesh screening that we still had from a long-discarded gazebo.
Now my challenge will be to clean out the poop regularly and keep them supplied with fresh milkweed. The first one will likely pupate in about a week.

The pupae are  'hanging in there' and I expect the first adult to emerge this weekend. I do get some notice as the chrysalis turns dark first - about a day before emergence, then clear and the colouring of the adult monarch can be seen through the casing.

I have been hit hard by a bad cold - my second this summer - after not having one in years. I think I have turned the corner and  feel much better although not 100% yet. I was so sick I didn't do any knitting two days ago and only a little bit last night before I conked out for my 13 hour sleep. I am so grateful to not have to get up and go to work feeling this crappy like I used to have to do when I was teaching and having to prepare lessons for the substitute teacher.

Food tastes really bland so Mo and I are going for Mexican food before our weekly sit and knit tonight. I do believe an adult beverage will be in order. ¡Salud!

Rhinebeck Bus Trip

A friend of a friend contacted me to let me know that she has organized a bus trip to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival (at Rhinebeck) this October. It will be departing from Georgetown ON on Friday, October 16 and returning on October 18. Here is all the information:
A bus trip like this would be so much fun as everyone would be giddy with excitement. Call or email Diana or Mari if you are interested in joining this group.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

And Yet, Two More

Back in November of 2013, Skip and I went on a wonderful knitting tour of Ireland. While there, one of the people we met on the tour purchased a lovely Aran sweater.
When I got home, I deconstructed the pattern. It included the Snail's Trail stitch which we had learned at our knitting classes in Galway and on the Aran isle of Inisheer. It is done over two stitches on the wrong side of the knitting as follows: yo, K2, pass the yo over the 2 knit stitches. On the right side, a column of twisted stitches is created.
Before I found my notes yesterday from the knitting tour and our classes, I tried to find the stitch description online and wasn't able to. I'm glad I found those notes.

Using the deconstructed pattern from Mary's sweater, I knit another square.
While on the tour, we had a full morning with Carol Feller. She went through some of the designs from her book Contemporary Irish Knits
and we knit a couple of swatches.

One of the patterns she also showed us was her Portulaca cardigan.
Photo - Joseph Feller
She designed a fairly intricate set of cables including bobbles.  I knit another square using the two cable sets that flank the button band in the front.
The lower set of bobbles were done as written with a 7-stitch bobble: K1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, then pass the first 6 sts over the last stitch. When I did the second set, I only did a 5-stitch bobble and liked the look of it much better.

I now only have 4 squares to go. I wanted to do something from Carol's book, but I haven't been able to locate it. I have looked in all the usual places but now must start looking in unusual places. I have a feeling, I'll find it in a tote bag somewhere in my office/knitting room.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Two More

I completed two more cable sampler squares. Both were taken from patterns in Lily M. Chin's book, "Power Cables".
The first was the Widening-Rib Cable Scarf. I added the column of twisted knit stitches on the outside of the 1x1, 2x2, and 3x3 cables. One nice feature of this scarf is the 1 x 1 cable column that is done on the back of the scarf making it 'almost' reversible. I say 'almost' because the other cables aren't reversed on the back. I enjoyed knitting this so much, I'm considering knitting an actual scarf.
On the bottom half, I only did a column of knit stitches on the outside of the other cables. Then I decided to rip the column down to the garter stitch border and re-do it with twisted knit stitches every other row. It did leave a bit of a gap where I twisted the stitches with the crochet hook as I ran back up to the knitting, but I think it will block out.

Then I sampled part of the sweater design of the Honeycomb V-Neck Pullover, which is pictured on the front of the book. This consisted of honeycombs knit with 1x1 cable stitches for the smaller honeycomb, the 2x2 cables for the big honeycomb and honkin' 4x4 cable up the centre. If I were to do it again, I'd only do a 3 x 3 there so it didn't pull in so much at the sides.
I only have 6 more squares to go. I may duplicate some of the ones I just finished and also want to do some elements of Carol Feller's Portulaca cardigan pattern, possibly omitting the bobbles.

On the monarch front, we now have 5 pupae (chrysalises) and 5 active young larvae. My friend, Marilyn, gave me a bunch of tender top leaves from her milkweed plants which I'm keeping fresh with the stems in an inch of water in a drinking glass. It's much handier than having to run outside all the time. Note to self for next year: harvest a bunch of tender top leaves from my own plants next year and keep them in water.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Pupa 2015-1

The first larva pupated last night. Its container-mate has started the process by climbing to the lid of the container.
Two of the three larvae in the Bug Bottle have also climbed to the lid.
While the last of this group of 5 larvae (2015-5) continues to devour milkweed leaves. The red arrow is pointing to the last shedding of skin of 2015-1. I added a stick to each container to give them something slanted and easier to climb on - other than the vertical sides of the container.
Here's 2015-5 as compared to the size of my index finger and thumb. 2015-1's shed skin is hanging from a fibre on this milkweed.
This morning, 2015-2 is in its j-posture, preparing to shed its last skin and create the chrysalis. Fine filaments are used to adhere them to the lid are visible now. It's like a silk pad. When it does the j-formation, it wriggles around to loosen the final layer of skin. After this a 'post' called a cremaster that attaches to the silk pad forms that has little barbs on the end and with more wriggling, hooks into the silk pad much like hook and loop tape (aka Velcro TM) works. As a result it is firmly attached and will hang in that position for about 10 days.
The 12 hour old chrysalis of 2015-1 has now formed the lovely gold dots around the edge.

I like this stage because I don't have to run out and find milkweed a couple of times a day to feed them. And there's no more of their poop to remove from the container.

However, the other 5 (Pupae 2015-6 through 2015-10) that have hatched are grown by leaps and bounds and are still in their separate nurseries (canning jars). I do need to give them fresh milkweed (with the stem wrapped in wet paper towel) every couple of days. Soon the feedings will be daily. Then I'll be able to put them together in containers and go through the rest of the larval process again.