Monday, 17 July 2017

One Over One Done

I finished the stitching. I just noticed I have a couple of stitches to finish crossing.
Yesterday, Skip and I went into The Big City to see the musical about Carole King, "Beautiful".
The performances were excellent, particularly by Chilina Kennedy, a Kingston ON native, who played Carole. Particularly impressive was her piano playing and that of others on the stage. Such good memories are evoked by hearing the tunes she co-wrote with her first husband, Gerry Goffin. It's remarkable that her first big song,  was produced when she was only 16 years old.

Thanks, Skip, for that excellent birthday present of tickets to the show.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Another One Over One

I started this little ornament last night.
It was a freebie from Gitta's back in 2007, A Blue Ribbon  pattern "A Star On Top' designed by Belinda Karls-Nace.

I don't have all the colours so am doing some substitutions. I screwed up some of the spacing as I was watching TV (a couple of episodes of the Great British Baking Show that I had PVRd) so I've picked out almost as much as I've stitched. And that's hard to do when stitching over one thread.  It is a 53 x 56 stitch piece, stitched with one strand of floss over one thread on 32 count linen.

Population Explosion

Yesterday I had 5 pupae and 5 larvae in various stages of development. This morning I found 3 eggs and this larva which I'm guessing hatched a couple of days ago.
Then this afternoon I went looking for more eggs and found 9 more (possibly 10 - I'm having trouble keeping track.

I have relocated all the pupae that were in containers to the top of the caterpillar castle. Basically, I peeled their silky attachment off whatever they were attached to

and stuck them on the roof of the caterpillar castle. The masking tape didn't work well so I sewed them on. They'll be fine there and hang there once they're hatched and their wings are strong enough for flight - usually several hours after emerging from the chrysalis.  One larva at the back is going to pupate in a few hours.
It is possible to determine the gender of the chrysalis but I haven't really had a good look.

With all the new eggs I've found, I've had to put them in various containers. All the pupae and big caterpillars are in the castle. Each little larva will be in its own container until it's big enough not to eat other little ones.
The open containers each contain a milkweed leaf with eggs on it. I don't have to worry about them crawling away until a day or two after they've hatched. I'll know when they're about to hatch when I see the black dot at the top of the egg. There are 23 or 24 monarchs altogether as of now.
I still go out several times a day and check for more eggs or larvae. I'm not sure what my maximum capacity could be. Every larva or egg I find could be one more that makes it down to Mexico to begin the 4 generation cycle all over again.

My biggest concern will be finding enough fresh milkweed to feel the larvae after they hatch.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Ornie Rerun

The weather has been craptastic these past few days so I've had lots of time to cross-stitch. I finished the 'Silent Night' ornament yesterday while binge-watching "The Handmaid's Tale".
Despite the smallness of the project, there's a LOT of stitching and beading. All the stitching is with one strand of floss. All the beading was done with 2 strands and as I mentioned in a previous post, I went through the bead one way (/) and back through the other (\) which makes the beads lie horizontally.
With some nifty Christmassy fabric or music note fabric as a coordinated backing, this will make into a really nice ornament.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Stitching Update

I finished the last bit of the 'fruit' in the tree last night. I think I'll put my name and the date on either corner at the bottom and then get an 8" x 10" frame for it. It would easily make into a cute pillow, too.
I finished this little one stitched one over one and need to put my initials on it somewhere, then do a nice ornament finish.
This one was stitched a long time ago and I just unearthed it. It's a Lizzie Kate design from the 2002 Just Cross Stitch (JCS) Christmas ornament issue. I plan to stitch it again over one thread to make an itty bitty ornament. This was stitched with DMC colours substituted for the Gentle Art Sampler Threads (GAST) called for in the pattern.
I have stitched this Silent Night ornament a couple of times before. It's from a JCS ornament issue from over a decade ago. The beads aren't Mill Hill but are a good substitute and seem to be accepting the non-beading needle quite well. So far I haven't had any beads that had too small of a hole.
The beading is going slowly as I was stitching it in a reclining position and had to carefully pick up and put down the beading tube every time to add a bead. I'm also crossing through the bead both ways so it stays in a horizontal position rather than slanted when stitching it only one way. I'm also correcting the incorrect second flat position in the clef sign in the pattern. (I'm picky about stuff like that.)

I may even have a previously stitched one of these kicking around that I can also finish. This particular one will be a gift.

Casa Oruga (Caterpillar House)

I was really busy at Casa Oruga yesterday. I found two more larvae on our milkweed,

one pupated in the 'Caterpillar Castle' after wriggling its last skin off,

two pupated on the lid in the 'Bug Bottle',
and left their last skins on the bottom of it,
the egg hatched,

the larva I thought was dying seemed to have rallied and after bringing in, rinsing, and drying off fresh milkweed leaves, I had lots of poop to clean up.

 The other larva on the ceiling of the 'Caterpillar Castle' is preparing to pupate.
It was still hanging there this morning
and when I checked 90 minutes later...
 The little hatchling is growing fast and has already doubled in size from yesterday.
If they all make it to adulthood, I could be releasing 11 monarchs this year. Fingers are crossed.

I'm going to have another look on our milkweed plants in the garden today for more eggs or larvae.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Found Some More!

I found another larva this morning on the milkweed in the garden and a egg! The egg should hatch in a couple of days.
It's the first egg that I've found this year and there may be more. I need to have another good look in the same area as monarchs usually lay several eggs in the same general area in the same general time span.

The larva that I found is about 5 days old. I left it on its leaf and tore around it to bring it inside. I added another juicy one to encourage it to eat.

I do rinse the leaves off that I bring in from outside and dry them. I also rinse the 'milk' off the cut area and either wrap it in wet paper towel, rest it in residual moisture in the jar, or put it through plastic wrap to sit in water.

These three larvae are really making short work of this cluster of leaves I brought in yesterday. One of these caterpillars isn't doing so well. Yesterday it looked like all its skin didn't shed off as pieces of it were still attached. It spent most of yesterday lying on the paper towel on the bottom of the 'Castle' so I put it on a fresh leaf. It lay there for the rest of the day - not moving much or eating. Then this morning, I found it with these other two. There is still some flaky loose skin attached. Time will tell if it thrives and makes it to the pupa stage.
This one is working on its own.
There is lots of frass to clean out now as they are eating and pooping a lot more.
I now have 4 different containers on the kitchen table and three jars with milkweed leaf clusters in the Caterpiller Castle. There really isn't any rhyme or reason to this. I am just experimenting. From past experience, I know to isolate the eggs and keep them on their own until after the larva has hatched and it's about 1/4" in length. Then it's big enough not to get eaten by the others.

The eldest larvae should be pupating any time now. They're getting really big. Soon they'll climb to the top of their enclosure and begin attaching themselves in preparation for shedding their last skin and making a chrysalis.

Flatfold Finishing

I tackled the finish for my "Waiting for Santa" sheep piece last night. This piece was 6" wide so I didn't want to make a tree ornament out of it. The flatfold finish allows it to stand up on its own on a shelf, table or mantle.
It is twice the work because one is making a back to match the front that is hinged like a bound book along the top. A piece of matching fabric joins the two pieces on the bottom that limits how far the 'book' opens.
I have it opening about 2".

I will be more careful with my gluing next time but I'm pretty happy with the result.
It's an alternative to framing or making it into a pillow.
I still need to make some cording to go around the front edges. Right now I have Wonder Clips holding the corners together until the glue really dries.
This is the tutorial video I used from the Twisted Stitcher on YouTube. It is actually for a mounted flatfold - one where the flatfold is created then the stitchery mounted on the front piece. However all the steps are the same to the end of creating the flatfold. For the written instructions only, scroll down this page. I much prefer videos.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

One Over One

I continue to stitch little ornaments. This one is being stitched over one thread with one ply of floss on 28count Monaco cotton. It's the 'Noel Sampler Ornament' by Cheryl Walker of Graphs by Barbara & Cheryl, Inc. in the 2001 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments issue.
I'm not thrilled with the colours and had to go a shade lighter with the 'grape' colour. It will make up into a nifty little ornament. I really like stitching alphabets.

Surprisingly, I haven't had to use a magnifier or reading glasses to stitch this. My optometrist 'tweaked' my prescription and I am able to see clearly enough for close-up work.

If I get myself organized enough, I'll get a Christmas tree up this year even though Skip and I will be away over the holidays. Some of these ornaments will make it onto the tree. Others may be given away.

Monarch Mania

The larvae are continuing to grow very quickly. Their 'frass' (poop) is also getting bigger and bigger.

Last night this guy crawled to the mesh on the top of its jar and sat there. I thought it might be getting ready to pupate although it's not quite big enough. It may have shed another skin in the night. This morning, it was back down, eating voraciously. I have to give it a fresh milkweed leaf twice a day. Its not stretched out here but definitely chubbier and the longest of all the larvae.
These two have shared a container and seem to be about the same size. They're a little smaller than the chubby one above.
One of the 5 in the Caterpillar Castle seems to have disappeared a few days ago so we're down to 4. They're doing well. I have kept the stems of milkweed in water and only need to clean out the frass regularly.

I first saw the Caterpillar Castle at the Birding Center on South Padre Island. I copied down the info from this affixed tag and ordered one to bring home.

One side is clear vinyl (facing camera), three sides are solid mesh, one side is mesh with a zipper for access, and the last side has a mesh 'sleeve' which can be used to reach in. I have the sleeve twisted up so the caterpillars don't climb into it.
I keep the stems in water. The jar opening is covered in plastic wrap so the larvae don't accidentally drown. This system has worked well, keeping the clump of milkweed fresh for the hungry larvae.
I'm not sure what is going on with the little guy on the bottom leaf. It sat on the paper towel for a long time last night. I though it was dying and put the leaf down beside it to encourage it to feed. I found it on the leaf this morning but it doesn't appear to be eating. It may just be shedding its skin. Time will tell.
I predict they will all form chrysalises this week. Once that happens, I don't have to do much until they emerge a week or so later.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Finishing Ornaments

I have been watching lots of videos on how to finish cross-stitch ornaments. Some of the best ones are on YouTube, FlossTube Finishing School by The Twisted Stitcher.

I tackled three ornaments. I mounted the stitched pieces on padded cardboard and created matching backs with coordinating fabric. Once they were all glued on and together, I made cording from DMC floss and glued cording around two of the ornaments.
Flip It F47 'Friends' by Lizzie Kate

Another one is drying right now. I put ribbon all around it and will make a hanger and bow of the same ribbon when it's dry.
 The backing is the same green fabric as on the other two ornaments.
I stitched this the other night. It's from the 2016 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issue and was designed by Caroline Seldon from Swallick Stitchery. I'm going to do a mounted flatfold finish so it will stand up on its own like a little easel.
Why Christmas ornaments in the summer, you say? Because I have many, many that I've finished stitching but need to make them into ornaments or frame them.

The Count Your Blessings project is going very quickly. I bought the pattern with Jen1 in London in May and the fabric in Fayetteville NY in June.
Country Cottage Needleworks "Count Your Blessings"
I just need to finish the yellow 'fruit' in the tree on the right and devise a bit of a lower border so it will look good in an 8" x 10" frame. It would also look nifty as a small, decorative pillow.