Monday, April 30, 2007

I finished spinning the red Romney last night, plied it, and washed it. It came out nice- 7.2 oz, 572 yards, about 12 wpi. I spun this semiwoolen, drafting forward and letting go to allow the twist to pop into the fiber mass before drafting again. Lustrous and fairly soft, considering it's Romney, though that's outerwear-soft, not next-to-the-skin-soft. It would be a great sweater yarn, if it were three-ply (this is two), and if I had a couple more pounds of it. I may weave with this, or put it up in my shop. Haven't decided yet.

The panda cories are doing well. Perhaps too well. All four babies are still swimming around, and yesterday, I found 11 more eggs in the main tank. E.L.E.V.E.N. I picked them off the java fern and put them in with the fry, but I don't know what I'm going to do with 15 more cories if all these grow up. If the adults keep this up, the eggs will have to stay in the main tank and take their chances against the gauntlet of adult fish. (I'm not even thinking about a bigger tank, no no no no no......)

The fry's yolk sacs are noticeably smaller today, but I can't tell if they are eating the powdered flake food and mashed egg yolk I've been feeding them. I've been doing twice-daily water changes in their little tub, and they are definitely using the java fern as a refuge. This is such a fun process to watch. I do indeed feel like a proud mama.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Panda cory fry, less than one day old.

The fourth egg hatched last night sometime between 10:00 and midnight. I put a small tuft of java fern in their tub when I changed the water this morning, so they have something to hide under. I have the tub floating in the net breeder, so it's really close to the tank light, and I don't want to stress the fry out too much.

Floating the tub in the net breeder is working out very well, I think. It's easier to clean than the net, and there's no danger of the babies getting crushed between the net and its plastic framework, yet the tub water stays the same temperature as the tank water.

Yay for fry!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Oh my goodness!! LOOK!!!

The eggs hatched! Three so far, and the fourth looks very promising. I can see the little larva wiggling around inside! I can't figure this out, because as recently as this morning, none of the eggs looked like they were developing- I couldn't see the dark spot of a larva at all. Then some time between noon and 7:30 pm, three little fish appeared!

They are so cute! About 1/8" long, with delicate transparent fins, tiny little eyes, and a big yolk sac.

And just because I can, here's a video clip:

I'm so excited that they hatched!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Still no big news on the pands cory eggs. Meaning no babies yet. I lost one of the eggs (the one we were watching, that I was sure was developing) to mold, unfortunately. Waaa! I'm still not sure if the remaining four are doing anything. I guess I'll let them go as long as I can. It's been six days since they were laid.

I do have fibery activity to report, shockingly! I spun for a while yesterday! I've been in such a slump recently. I brought the wheel out onto the back patio yesterday, and spun while Emma had fun with bubbles and on her swings.

(That's the spiffy denim rug I wove, under the wheel!) It was a lovely couple hours outside. The fiber is from the 2002 Sheep to Shawl event in Friday Harbor. It's a Romney cross that we dyed in the fleece. We didn't use it all at the Fair, and I snagged some of the uncarded leftovers. I carded it sometime in 2003, and found it again last fall when I was reorganizing my fiber closet.

It's very easy to spin, though typically Romney in it's coarseness. After plying, though, I think it'll be nice.

That's about halfway through the spinning session- I finished filling the bobbin last night before bed. Maybe I'll fill another tonight!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Panda cory eggs, 3 days old.

Well, it appears that I made a mistake when I said that all five eggs are developing. The top egg here is definitely developing. See how much s/he has grown since yesterday! And yes, I've shown the same two eggs every day. They're stuck to the side of the tub, so they don't move around.

The lower egg, though, doesn't seem developing. The crescent that I thought was a larva is in fact the shadow of where it's stuck to the tub. Oops. I looked at them with a hand lens, in really good light, and it was obvious that it was the surface adhesion that was making that crescent. Based on this, I may only have one developing egg, unless the others are just going slower.

Even one is still exciting, though!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Panda cory eggs, 48 hours old.

They don't look that much different than yesterday, do they? I hope they're OK. The larva in the top egg seems to have sunk to the bottom of his/her egg. I got a net breeder today, so they can live in the tank instead of a separate tub.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Panda corydoras eggs, 24 hours old.

You can see the larvae inside the eggs now! They are C-shaped, curled in their eggs; the one on top is horizontal and seen from the end, so it looks like a dot, and the one in the middle in seen from the side so you can see the "C". All five eggs are developing.

I'm so excited about this!
Eggs! I found five panda cory eggs last night, and carefully removed them from the tank to raise separately.

They are about 1.5 mm (1/16") in diameter, sticky, and quite hard. I was able to pick them off the java fern leaves with my fingers. I kept them in a plastic tub overnight, but I'm off the the store in a few minutes to get a brooding net so they can live in the aquarium. I'd rather not have to worry about the water in the tub getting too cold or icky.

A little research online revealed that the eggs should hatch in 3-6 days, and it will take about two days after hatching to absorb the yolk sac. After two weeks they begin to show the adult coloration, and at about two months, they will be ~.75" long, which is about how big mine were when I got them.

The adults I have are about 1.25" long. I just checked my archive, and I got them on April 14, 2006. It's been a year already! Doesn't seem like that long.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Oh my goodness! Definite aquarium excitement! The panda cories are breeding!!!! I was taking dinner out of the oven tonight, and noticed that the cories were acting crazy; zooming up and down the glass, chasing each other, and clustering in a wiggly group. I looked closer, and saw definite mating!

I took some movies, but this is my first time uploading to YouTube, and I'm not entirely sure if I did it right. I apologize for the abysmal video quality- I know my camera doesn't take great movies, but I swear, they didn't look this bad before I uploaded them! (Edited to add: OK, now I see that I had my camera set to the low video quality. D'oh! Sorry!)

This first clip is of the courting behavior. The female is in front, the two males are in back.

And this clip is courtship leading to mating. Both males start out trying to get the female's attention, then when they move into the java fern, one male is successful and gets to mate, and the other male swims off.

I saw the female carrying around eggs a couple times, and depositing them on the java fern leaves. I may see if I can find a couple and raise some babies. I don't think they'll make it if I leave them in the tank unprotected. The tetras were very very interested in what was happening in the java fern, and I know that panda cories will also sometimes eat their own eggs and fry.

So cool!

Friday, April 20, 2007

I forgot to mention this before, but I'm famous again- My laceweight silk is the Handspun Fix of the week, over at the Yarn Museum!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Emma and I went exploring up Ladd Canyon today, in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. It's at the south end of the Grande Ronde Valley, the same area where we cut our Christmas tree last winter. Actually, I went up the same road where we got stuck on the ice during that excursion. The road was much less scary this time!

I was hoping for some wildflowers, and was not disappointed.

Violets (Viola sp.)

Jeffrey's shooting stars (Dodecatheon jeffreyi)

As we climbed in elevation, I noticed that it was getting colder. We started out at about 55F on the valley floor, and by the time we got midway up the mountain, it was down to 38F! And the view was this:

Waves of snow flurries coming over the tops of the hills! It was really cool watching them billow toward me. It didn't stick, but it was fun taking wildflower pictures in the snow. I did wish I had a sweatshirt on, though!

The meadows on sides and tops of the mountains were full of flowers. It's still early- not everything was blooming, but that just means that I'll have to keep going back. The lupines probably still have a month to go.

Larkspur (Delphinium bicolor (?))

not sure

not sure, something lily-ish

paintbrush (Castilleja sp.)

Sagebrush Bluebells (Mertensia longiflora)

Phlox sp.

Western serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia)

Can you tell I don't have a field guide for the wildflowers of this area yet? I'll be fixing those labels when I'm suitably outfitted. I get all twitchy when I can't put a name to what I see.

It was a really fun outing, despite the fact that Emma was asleep in the backseat nearly the whole time. I couldn't get out and walk around, but at least I scoped out the area for future walks. And it's so very beautiful.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fiber work continues to be sporadic. I just can't get excited about anything. I've knit a few rows on Kiri, but really, that's about it. I have 18 layers of leaves done, 439 stitches on the needle, and have used up 32 grams of the leftover ugly blue yarn. I started with 79 grams, so that means I'm not even halfway done.

In non-fibery news, I had a milestone this week. I passed 400 species on my bird Life List! Number 400 was the Black-necked Stilt, a gorgeous shorebird that I have wanted to see ever since I began birding. So very elegant and long-legged. They migrated in to the Grande Ronde Valley this week- when I went birding at Ladd Marsh last Sunday, there were none to be seen, then when I went again Friday, there were dozens. Friday the 13th was definitely not bad luck for me - in addition to the stilts, I also saw about 15 Cinnamon Teal, another new species for my Life List. Two new species in one day, less than 5 miles from home. Nice. Ladd Marsh is one of my favorite birding places here.

On Thursday, Emma and I went for a walk at Morgan Lake, five miles outside of town in the other direction and up in the mountains. (It really is up in the mountains. The town of La Grande is at 2700 feet, and the lake is at 4100 feet! It's very strange to drive up a steep and winding road to get to a lake.)

The wildflowers are blooming, and we saw lots of beautiful pretties, all new to me.

Yellow Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum)

We also saw several nice patches of Yellow Bells (Fritillaria pudica) and another pretty purple lily-type, but I didn't get any pictures of those because my camera batteries conked out. Emma and I are going back tomorrow, for that express purpose. Hopefully, she will be in a better mood this time. When we were there Thursday, she whined almost the whole time that she wanted to be carried. Ah, the joys of going for a walk with a three-year-old.

Monday, April 09, 2007

I spun up the rest of the hand dyed merino top from Liz on Saturday. Such pretty colors! It looked beautiful on the bobbin.

I wound it into a centerpull ball, where it also looked beautiful. I love the way the layers of singles make little windows.

Then onto the niddy-noddy for skeining.

A wash and dry overnight, and done!

That's 2.0 oz, 450 yards, and about 25-30 wpi laceweight yarn. I spun it worsted, short draw, from predrafted top, without excessive twist.

The wraps per inch measurement was really difficult to do, because the poof factor on this yarn is incredible. The singles were about 80 wpi, so I expected the finished yarn to be about 40 wpi. The merino was so light and crimpy, though, that it just bloomed and puffed and fluffed and expanded after it was washed. The skein went from 72 inches around, to 60 inches around! This is the softest yarn I've ever spun.

Thanks, Liz! I've really enjoyed this.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Urchin Shawl

The Urchin Shawl pattern is finally ready! This was my big design project of 2006, the largest piece I've ever knit. I hope it gives you as much joy as it gives me every time I look at my finished shawl.

This shawl was inspired by the beautiful delicate pattern on the shell of the Red Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotrus franciscanus), native to the northern Pacific coast of the United States and Canada. Covered with 3-inch-long spines while alive, and growing to a diameter of 6 inches, these animals hide their lacy inner beauty. The shawl is worked in the round from the center out and then a lace edging, reminiscent of gently waving seaweed, is knit on sideways.

It requires ~3750 m (~4100 yds) of laceweight yarn, approximately 40 wraps per inch, and 3mm (US #2) needles. As with most shawls, gauge is not critical, but after blocking there are 7.5 stitches and 9 rows per inch, in stockinette. Techniques used include increasing, decreasing, reading a chart, working in the round from the center out, provisional cast-on, knit-on edging, and grafting lace in pattern.

After blocking, the shawl is 84" in diameter, measured from point to point.

This pattern, though not difficult in the execution, is quite a large piece of knitting. A healthy dose of patience is suggested, and enjoyment of the journey. The results are worth it!

11 pages (7 of them are charts), 973 KB Adobe PDF file, available for immediate download after payment.

(Note: Ravelry membership not required for purchase.)


Friday, April 06, 2007

A couple months ago, I received this lovely roving from Liz. She dyed it herself, and kindly sent it to me when I was the winning contributor to her blog poll for which sweater design she should use as inspiration for her first handspun handknit sweater.

Isn't it pretty? It looks so springy and fresh. I was somewhat at a loss for something to do last night, having finished the Amethyst and Sapphire spinning, so I pulled this out.

It's spinning up lovely. It's merino top, about 2 oz, and is beautifully easy to draft. I split the top into fourths, lengthwise, and predrafted each before spinning. This is half. I'm doing it fairly fine, laceweight-ish but not definitely not froghair.

There isn't a repeating stripe sequence in the roving, and the colors are all blues, purples, and greens, so I'm going to spin all the singles onto one bobbin, wind a centerpull ball, and ply from both ends. The colors all harmonize well together and should make a great marled yarn without turning muddy.

I feel a flowery shawl design percolating in the depths of my mind.....

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I finally finished spinning the merino and silk blend that I dyed in December. This wasn't the greatest fiber, being somewhat noily, matted, and difficult to draft. Additionally, the silk fiber consisted of greatly varying lengths- anywhere from an inch to more than a foot.

Still, I like the finished product.

The colors are so saturated and the silk makes it glow. I couldn't capture the luminous quality of the singles, but the colors are pretty true, at least on my monitor.

Amethyst and Sapphire.

I have 112 grams of the Sapphire, and 114 grams of the Amethyst. No idea of yardage, and I didn't measure the wraps per inch (probably about 50-60ish?) but it's pretty fine and I think even if I plied, there would be enough of each for a scarfy shawly thing.

I still haven't decided what these will become, or even if I will ply them. Right now, I'm enjoying looking at the colors.