Monday, 3 August 2020

A Glimpse of Things to Come

Last week I watched Teresa Kogut's FlossTube episode. She talked about a trip to Ohio that she had taken the previous week in order to appear at a stitchery shop in Vermilion OH called Clare's Stitching Post. She was there from 1pm to 4pm on Friday, July 24. If we weren't barred from going to the US during the pandemic, Skip and I most certainly would have traveled there to meet her.

She then ventured to Findlay OH to the Craft Gallery where she got the two new samplers framed and ready for release in the fall.

Because she showed this photo on her FlossTube at 17:15, I think it's OK for me to show a screen shot here. He's holding Above All, the one I stitched for Teresa.
I'll wait 'til she releases it before I show a good, detailed photo of it. As you can see from the photo, it isn't really big - 179 stitches x 178 stitches. I don't remember if it was 35ct or 40 ct fabric. The motifs weren't huge and were fun to stitch. It looks like Teresa was successful stitching the little row of stitches on one of the urns that I missed.

On my own stitching, I've been working on Newcastle Bouquet. It's on 40ct Sandstone linen with one thread over 2. For stitching while I'm videochatting with my stitching friends, I outline something that just has to be filled in (like the leaves) so I don't have to count a lot at the risk of making mistakes. My grid lines are very helpful and are easy to snip and pull out after working in a particular area. I'm missing the hand-dyed floss (Classic Colorworks 228 Licorice Red) for the other half of the red bird (cardinal?) and one skein of the darker green (WDW Bark). Looking online someone was going to charge me almost $10 for shipping within Canada! I am now having to decide if I'll just use the DMC substitute 347 - very dark salmon.
I also need to substitute for one of the flower colours as it's too close to the fabric colour. Either that, or used the called-for colour and just backstitch around it to make it 'pop'.

I have also set myself a goal to FFO (fully finish) one stitched project per week. I have several rolled up in stitchery rolls and all the finishing materials here so there's no good excuse for not tackling some.

We've finally had a break in the heatwave and I was able to sit outside on the deck (under an umbrella) this morning for my stitching videochat this morning. The temperature was perfect and the natural light is great for stitching on 40ct.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

#2, #3, and #4

These guys eclosed this morning.
Two of them were out by the time I came down for breakfast and the third was ready to emerge.
I took the castle outside and set up the camera hoping to catch its emergence on video. The chrysalis is completely transparent and the scrunched up butterfly is visible through it.
Unfortunately I missed the first part by only a few seconds.

I haven't figured out how to edit and upload the other video.

I left the Caterpillar Castle open and out on the deck hoping the three adults would fly out when they were ready. When I checked on them several hours later, they had gone.

Another Blanket à la Hudson's Bay

The latest crochet blanket is over half done. This is the first half. I'm at the end of the green in the second half.
I'll buy some more white yarn to make another one to use up the coloured yarns.

I did somewhat of a destashing earlier in the week and some of my Tuesday night fibre fans took about half of the yarn and fibre off my hands. I'm making room for some of my fabric stash.
If I clear out another cubby from this IKEA shelf, I can probably get the rest of my fabrics in there. I may arrange them by colour at some point. I need to continue to destash as a lot of my stuff just sits here year after year and at this point, I'm ready to get rid of some of it. My yarn stash alone is vast and I need to get rid of more of it to make room for fabric.

I made another batch of basil pucks today.
Image may contain: plant
After washing and spinning basil leaves, I put them in the food processor and drizzle some olive oil while processing. Then I press them into the mini-muffin tin. I could also use ice cube trays or silicone ice cube trays but I didn't have any spare ones. After freezing them solid, I pop them out of the mold and into freezer bags to be used after the season is over.

Sunday, 26 July 2020


Inspired by Shelley and Jeanette, I finished crocheting a blanket for the chemo department of our local hospital. I used up quite a bit of my acrylic worsted weight yarn and ended up asking for donations to finish it.
I don't think it's very nice looking so I stitched a heart in two opposite corners. I used reversible stitching - kinda like blackwork. Hopefully the recipient will realize it's the thought that counts.
Unattactive or not, it will be quite cozy for the user.

The stripes I crocheted made me think of the Hudson Bay Point Blanket colours. I decided to crochet another blanket using those colours and am well on the way. I got quite a bit done during my regular Sunday afternoon videochat with some of my stitching friends.

I'm using a 6mm needle and cast on about 135 stitches to get the 45" wide blanket.

Then 4 rows of double crochet in each colour as follows:

Then 20 rows of white. Then repeat the colour stripes in reverse order starting with green.

That'll give me 84 rows and a length of 55".

We had blistering heat again today. I didn't go outside except to chat with Skip while he was working out in the garden. We are expecting rain tomorrow afternoon and things will cool down a bit on Tuesday. By then I hope to have the second blanket done and be able to deliver them to Shelley for her delivery to the hospital.

In COVID-19 news, I have been monitoring the cases in the region in which I live (Durham Region) in the eastern greater Toronto area. Today we only had 1 new case and only have 24 people with the virus isolating at home.
We haven't had anyone in hospital or ICU for over a week and have only had 1 death in about the last month. All that being said, I'm still not comfortable going indoors in a public setting such as a restaurant. I do our grocery shopping in off-peak hours and get in and out as quickly as I can. I have had stitching friends over for deck visits and can comfortably accommodate 5 people while observing social distancing. I've been at others' homes for deck and porch visits as well. On Thursday we had friends over for a deck visit and wine after dinner and didn't wear masks. We were at least 2m apart - maybe farther and didn't wear masks. It was a gorgeous evening and we enjoyed each others' company until the mosquitos started in on us after dark. That reminds me, I need to buy a couple of mosquito coils.

This is our new normal. When the weather gets colder, we'll be back in isolation. Hopefully our case rate will be almost negligible and we'll start being comfortable visiting inside. But that is a couple of months away.

We just began Stage 3 in our region last Friday where restaurants and bars can be open with reduced seating. I'm bracing myself for the spike in our cases. This will occur every time some restrictions are lifted. The key will be to not overwhelm our medical system with new and life-threatening cases.

Lucky 13

I have 13 pupae now. I love this stage because I don't have to feed them and they don't poop.
There's only one larva left and judging by its size it should be ready to pupate in a couple of days.

A couple of them pupated under one of the milkweed leaves, so I had to snip that portion of the leaf away and attach it to the ceiling of the castle with a pin. Unfortunately one of the silk parts - the cremaster - broke right off so I glued a loop of thread (turquoise) on it and also pinned it to the top (second from the right).

The first one will eclose around August 3.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Starting Newcastle Bouquet

I got the fabric for 'Newcastle Bouquet' at Kim's on Friday. It's 40ct Wichelt Sandstone. I gridded the last sampler I stitched for Teresa Kogut and found that once I had that done, I could stitch a lot more confidently, count more accurately, and make fewer mistakes that I would have to frog and re-do.

I start in the centre and do my grids in a zigzag. I find it's easier to count that way. I don't know anyone else that does it that way but it sure works for me.
I use sewing thread. I don't tend to pierce the grid lines when I'm stitching so they're easy to snip and pull out with tweezers when I'm done an area. I'm stitching 1 over 2 using most of the called-for colours with only a couple of DMC substitutions which I'll identify in a later post.
The dark spots are specks of link inside my camera that I can't get to to clean up. Aside from that it takes acceptable photos.
As I work outwards more from the centre, I'll continue gridding.

This is going to be quite a long project. I can do some of it when I'm chatting online with my crafty friends, for example, the inside of the oak leaf that I've outlined is filled in with only one colour. That's perfect for social stitching where I don't have to count.

I got word on Saturday that the model I stitched for Teresa finally arrived at her place. Phew! It took 7 weeks for the fabric, threads, and pattern to get to me. When I mailed it back, I mailed it regular first class mail in hopes it wouldn't get held up at Customs and would go through like a regular piece of mail. I'm very relieved she got it in a little over 2 weeks. Her plan is to take it and two other stitched samples to a framer a few hours away and pick them up at a later date. She wants to release the three sampler patterns in the fall.

If any of you are going to be near Clare's Stitching Post, 682 Main St in Vermilion OH next Friday, July 24th, Teresa will be there from 1 - 4pm. If there wasn't a raging pandemic and Skip and I could enter the US, we'd definitely be taking a road trip to meet Teresa and explore Clare's Stitching Post.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

First Pupa

I haven't been pursuing the monarch rearing as enthusiastically as I have in past years. I just don't seem to have the same excitement about it. I tend to be like that. I hurl myself at passions, interests, and hobbies and then often my interest wanes a bit. Sometimes I come back to past pursuits as I did with stitching, and when I knit again I really enjoy it.

Anyway, I have about 10 larvae on the go. (Larva - singular, larvae - plural) I may have even brought in another egg today when I was clipping the top off a milkweed plant to bring in to feed the herd. This morning one larva was on the ceiling of the Caterpillar Castle getting ready for its 'j' formation.

This is a pic of the Caterpillar Castle from a previous year. In the jar a green water reservoir can be seen. Basically, I cut the tender top section off the top of a milkweed plant and jam the stem into the reservoir. It stays upright in the jar and the leaves stay really fresh. The larvae seem to like this setup as it seems to replicate what they'd experience outdoors in the wild - minus predators, of course.
This evening I checked and it had formed the chrysalis (pupa). At this point I write the date on a little piece of masking tape with its number (this was #1) and stick it on the outside top of the castle right on top of the chrysalis. This pupa hatched from its egg (which I found on June 30 and brought inside) into a larva on July 4 so it took 15 days in the larval stage. That is about the longest time it takes. I figure because our house is air-conditioned, it slows things down for them.
The closer larva appears to have made its silken 'button' which has attached its hind end to the ceiling. Its longer fore antennae can be seen at its other end. Probably tomorrow it will hang in the 'j' formation, then pupate as well. The other two chubbier larvae will probably do this as well. The smaller one at the back is just up there waiting to shed its skin and grow bigger. Then it will crawl down to where the leaves are and complete its last couple (out of 5) larval stages. Then it will crawl back up to the ceiling and pupate.

These guys are in the other castle. Three are visible and one is munching away inside one of the leaves.
When the caterpillars get to this stage, they each eat one leaf per day. I have a great crop of milkweed in the garden this year so should be able to meet their dietary needs until the last one pupates.

#1 will emerge from its chrysalis (eclose) in about 2 weeks as a fully formed adult. In the pupa state there is a way to determine the sex but it requires a bit more effort on my part that I'm not really up to at the moment. I'll just have to wait until it emerges to determine whether its a male or a female (easily done by the naked eye).

Until last week, I hadn't seen many monarchs flying around at all. With the hot weather all that changed. Out in the wild, they have about a 3% success rate of making it from egg to adult. In my kitchen it's about 97%.

When I release these butterflies, they will lay eggs and when those eggs complete metamorphosis, they will be the ones to fly down to Mexico beginning at the end of August or so.