Friday, July 27, 2007

The panda cory I released into the big tank is doing great, and has grown quite a bit. I managed to get some video yesterday that wasn't too bad:

I also released the second-oldest fry into the big tank this morning. He's only 7 weeks old and still slightly smaller than the other was when released him, but is big enough that the tetras can't eat him. The fry tank is getting a bit crowded, since I have 15 more babies in there as of yesterday! That brings the total in the fry tank to 20! I'm not rescuing any more eggs for a while.

While I was at it, I shot this video of the adult female eating an algae wafer.

You can also see a male panda cory, glowlight tetras (the orangy striped ones) and black neon tetras (the black striped ones). The black neons are the pushiest fish in the tank, especially the large female. She doesn't like any of the other tetras getting too near her spot when there's food around! The tetras like algae wafers, but seem to be intimidated by the cories and also have a hard time seeing the wafer when it's flat on the gravel. So they mostly eat the pieces of wafer that break off and float around in the current.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Finally, Clue 4 is done. Don't know why this one took me so long, I just didn't feel like knitting the past couple nights. Clue 4 was longish (135 rows) but not complicated, just the small flower (or whatever) motif and the border pattern.

Still liking it, though I must admit that I'm a little nervous about what's going to happen in the next clue. I think Melanie, the designer and fearless leader of the mystery-along, has said or at least hinted that the design is asymmetrical and a fairly significant pattern change happens with the next clue. But I like symmetry.

And there's also the matter of the mysterious lifeline she had us put in at a specific row, at what I think will be the midpoint of the shawl. I've never needed lifelines before, but she told us it was very important so I did it. If you click to enlarge the picture, you can see the tails of the lifeline sticking out the sides, and it is NOT at the end of Clue 4, it's back a ways. What's going to happen with that????!! A ruffle knit across the back of the stole? A collar-y thing that needs to be centered? Wings on both sides? A second layer that we graft to the end to make a loop or moebius?

I guess if worse comes to worst and I don't like the way the shawl looks, I can frog it back and knit the second end as a mirror of the first. That would be very pretty too, and I actually may knit a second one of these and do just that. For now, though, I'll keep on doing as I'm told.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

For the first time since MS3 began, I have no finished Mystery Stole clue to show you on Friday night/Saturday morning. I did Chart E (half of Clue 4) Friday, and will get to the rest later today (yes, I'm writing a blog post at 1:30 am). We were off island all day Saturday, for Shaun's swim race in Bellingham, and lace knitting with beads and a large chart is definitely not ferry knitting (not when you have a three year old in tow, anyway).

I do, however, have a finished object to my credit.

759 pages.
6 1/2 hours.

I love the first-time reading of a book, especially in a series I like- that feeling of not knowing what will happen next, what the characters will do, not being able to put the book down.

All I will say about the book itself-- if you enjoyed any of the Harry Potter books, you must read this one as soon as possible.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I have finished spinning the first four ounces of the blue 80:20 merino:silk fiber, and I am enjoying this project so, so much.

That is a firmly packed rewound bobbin, containing approximately eleventy jillion miles of 80-90 wpi singles. It took me almost an hour to rewind that bobbin from the one the singles were spun onto, and that was using a bobbin winder!

I really like the way the white silk lightened up the dark, dark blue merino. The singles definitely look blue now, not as almost-black as the merino looked when unspun.

You might think that after spinning all that, I'd be tired of this fiber, but surprisingly, I'm not. I started the second half of the fiber this morning, and continued this afternoon at spinning group. The preparation has been so beautifully done that the fiber just flows.

At least part of the enjoyment is my "spinning station."

This is the chair I mentioned a few posts ago, the one that fits me perfectly. Nothing fancy, just a plain chair with the right dimensions. Comfy chair, delicious fiber, and a fast wheel.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Panda Cory Show had a landmark episode today. The largest of the fry, being fully eight weeks old:


to the big tank.

He seems to be doing really well. He hid in the plants for about ten minutes, then started trundling around with the adults, nosing in the gravel and picking out morsels of food. This next picture is really bad, but you get an idea of the relative sizes of the juvenile and the adult. The juvenile is 13/16" long from tip to tail (I measured while he was in the net).

Hooray for the fry! I'm so proud of us both. The remaining babies in the fry tank (13) are doing well, and the largest of them is 5 1/2 weeks old and starting to get the adult pigmentation.

I raised a baby fish from egg to release size!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Well, once again I was compelled to knit the entire MS3 clue (we're up to #3 now) on the first day, which leaves me hanging for an entire week before I get more of the chart.

Anyway, here's the rumply stole, completed through Clue 3, 200 rows.

I still like it, especially the border. I have no idea what the "theme" or story of the stole is, though.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Panda Cory Show, week 7 1/2.

He's pretty much fully colored up now, just a tiny bit more to go on the dorsal fin. About 3/4" long, and extremely active. His 8-week birthday is next Tuesday, and to celebrate he's graduating into the big tank. I think he'll really appreciate the extra swimming room.

As for the other 14 (one is 5 weeks old, the ones I rescued from the main tank as fry are probably about 3-4 weeks old, the rest are 4-8 days old)- they're doing well and very active!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Mystery Stole Clue 2 is finished. I didn't pin it out for the photo this time, so here it is all rumply:

There were only 50 rows this week, and it was a pretty fast knit- I did the whole clue in a movie and a half (all of Star Wars-A New Hope and half of The Empire Strikes Back). I really like the design so far, but it's a bit frustrating to have to wait another whole week to get the next part of the chart. Alas, I guess that's part and parcel of doing a mystery-along.

I had an interesting thought as I was knitting. Reading a chart is like reading a musical score. I played viola for several years in elementary/junior high, and always thought it was really neat the way my brain translated what my eyes saw on the page into finger movements, without me really even thinking about it.

Tonight, I felt that same thing happening while I knit. I could read a few stitches on the chart, my fingers started going, and while those stitches were being knit, I glanced up to see what the next few stitches were going to be. I can't quite knit lace without looking, though I can stockinette, but a glance at the chart every so often across the row was enough, and my fingers kept moving the whole time. I didn't have to think "ssk" or "k2tog" or "yo," I just saw the symbol and my fingers did it.

It was really cool.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


So, I was cleaning the big aquarium last night, just doing a routine water change and vacuuming the gravel a bit. As I was vacuuming around the big driftwood, I noticed a panda cory fry wiggling on the gravel! Apparently one of the black neon tetras noticed as well, since she zoomed down and ate the fry. I lifted the driftwood a bit, and saw several fry wiggling. I immediately put the driftwood back down, stopped vacuuming, and ran for the net. I netted out all the adult fish and lifted out the driftwood again. Using a combination of the gravel vacuum and the net, I captured and removed four cory fry and put them in the little tank. I also picked fifteen eggs off the big java fern and put them in the fry tank.

As of this morning, about half of the eggs have hatched, and I haven't seen any dead fry floating around. Hard to get an accurate count, but I think I've got around 14 babies in the fry tank again.

The rollercoaster ride continues.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

In addition to whirlwind trips to Oregon, there has been a lot of fibery activity this week. First of all, I finished Clue 1 of the Mystery Stole. It's working up nicely so far. Adding the beads isn't nearly as fiddly as I feared it was going to be, and I think they'll add a lot to the finished stole. (Even though you can't see them in the picture.)

The Jaggerspun Zephyr merino/silk yarn is lovely to knit with, not splitty at all. I'm glad I went with the size 3 needles, though. I think when I give the finished stole a hard wet blocking, it will open up just the right amount. The stole pattern has more open space than the swatch pattern, so it opens up more. I'm happy with my choice.

I've also been continuing on the crochet scarf, and am nearly at the end of the ball of yarn. This has mostly been worked on during the day while babysitting (I've been watching two kids plus Emma for a week and a half), so it has been to the beach, the playground, the sandbox, and the library. Oh yes, it will definitely need to be washed before it is blocked. I try to be careful, but beach/sandbox dust gets everywhere. It's 40" so far, unblocked.

I have been spinning in the evening, while watching DVDs on the computer. After finishing the Sheep-to-Shawl warp yarn, I pulled out the delicious 8-oz bag of merino/silk (80/20) from my sister. I'm spinning this worsted, laceweight, and the singles are about 80-90 wpi.

This bobbin is about 2/3 of the first half of the fiber. I'm going to spin each 4-oz half on a separate bobbin, spinning all the singles first, then ply. I'd love to have just one giant skein of yarn, but I'm not sure my bobbins are big enough for that.

This fiber is beautiful stuff, and is basically spinning itself. Even though it's so fine, it seems like it's going really quickly. I'm loving the Super High Speed whorl that I got this weekend, too. I started the bobbin on the small side of the High Speed whorl (17:1), but switched to the Super High Speed this week. My High Speed whorl doesn't fit my flyer shaft tightly, and makes an annoying rattle at high speeds. The larger side of the Super High Speed whorl isn't that much different (18:1), and it fits tightly (doesn't rattle), so I'm a happy camper. Next time I do laceweight, I'll use the smaller side (21:1), and it'll go even faster. Fast is good when you're spinning lace.

High Speed on the left, Super High Speed on the right.
The Panda Cory Show has now been running for six weeks, and once again, there has been a tragic development. We are now down to just two fry. I'm not sure what's going on, but it's been a sad week, losing a fry a day.

The remaining babies are the big one (I'm quite attached to him, and am so glad he wasn't one of the casualties...) and one of the younger ones. The younger one is not quite four weeks old, and is at the stage of beginning to lose the finfold and get a dorsal fin. The older one is looking very grown up, and probably doesn't appreciate being called a baby anymore.

He now has a well-developed spot on his caudal peduncle (base of the tail), and the dorsal fin is about half pigmented. I'm thinking he's probably about ready to go in the big tank, but I like being able to watch him so closely in the little tank.

Speaking of the little tank, I ended up getting a real filter for it this weekend. Emma and I had to go back to La Grande to fetch some things from the house, and mow the grass. It was a superfast trip, and went like this:
  • left Friday Harbor on the 6:00am ferry on Saturday
  • stopped in Burlington to get Emma new sneakers- she wears size 11 now!
  • stopped in Seattle at Weaving Works just on general principles, and got a Super High Speed whorl for my wheel (!!!) and also an Addi Lace needle in US3
  • drove all day
  • got to La Grande around 4:00pm
  • played with Cobalt, who was very glad to see us
  • mowed the grass
  • gathered assorted forgotten things
  • ate dinner
  • watched the last episodes of the season for Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis on Tivo
  • slept
  • washed the sheets we slept on and hung on the clothesline (housesitters will take down)
  • continued gathering forgotten things
  • back on the road ~9:00am Sunday
  • drove all day
  • stopped in Burlington for dinner and Petco
  • caught the 8:25 ferry, very last car on (whew)
  • home in Friday Harbor at 10:00pm
  • slept
It was a long weekend, and Emma and I were both heartily tired of being in the car. The stop at Petco was good, though. I found the cutest, tiniest little filter I've ever seen.

It's a Red Sea Nano-Filter, and it looks just like a regular filter, except that it's so tiny! It's rated for tanks up to 3 gallons. In my little one-gallon fry tank, I have it turned to the lowest flow setting, and it still gives quite a bit of current. I put a sponge over the intake pipe to keep the fry out, and that helps slow the flow too. The fish seem to be doing OK with the increased current. I did put the little java fern on the rock back in the tank, to break up the current and give them some shelter. I'm hoping that the filter will improve the water quality, as that may be what killed all the fry. Plus, it's quieter than the airstone, which is nice.

For comparison, here's the Penguin Mini I have on the big (7 gallon) tank. I thought this filter was very small when I got it.