Friday, August 31, 2012

Yarn Bombing.... Even Tampax is doing it!

I thought it would be really fun to do a blog post all about yarn bombing. For those of you that are not familiar yarn bombing is "is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk." -

A few days ago I was sitting on my moms couch  and looking through Oprah magazine to find this ad:

Now if that does not get you to want to buy Tampax I don't know what will!,_Montreal.jpg

The next image is from 

This is one of my favorite. The world would be a lot happier place is everyone knit! 

Yarn bombed statue in Bali (Photo by Mike Piscitelli)

Artist, Magda Sayeg covered a bus in Mexico City with yarn.
Details bellow:

This one might be by far one of the craziest one I have seen 

This piece of yarn bombing is so big the belly button is
actually a person! This is a yarn bomb in Italy

This video is also really cool!! Take a second to watch it! 

So go out there and get your yarn bombing on!! Great way to use up some of your stash and put a smile on a few strangers faces. Lets make this world a much more colorful place!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

There BEE drama in our hive!

There is so much drama going on in our hive right now I don't know where to start. 

A couple weeks ago we saw that the bees were making queen cells but we did not cut them out because if they were making them then they probably had a purpose. I was really nervous because we both loved our queen. She was so good and she was laying up a storm. There was always fresh brood (bee larva) and our population was exploding.

This is a picture of a queen cell or queen cup. It looks different then the other cells because they are larger than normal brood comb and are oriented vertically instead of horizontally

The lower picture is what a queen looks like in the development stages. 

This past weekend, before we left for my sister in laws wedding, we went to check on our bees... The queen was gone and there was no fresh brood. Plus there was eight capped queen cells (meaning the hive had created 8 new queens.) We called our master keeper right away and told him what we saw. He said "uh oh not good." This is not what you want to hear as beginning beekeepers. He said that he would come the following week after the wedding. 

So Nick and I went on with our weekend (amazing wedding by the way) and meet with the master keeper on Tuesday. He looked in our hive and within two seconds he said your queen is gone :( Now I know she is just a bee but for any of you that are beekeepers or could possibly relate it sucked big time to hear that. We inspected the hive further to see two of the queen cells were opened and the queens had emerged. My first reaction was "Are we going to have eight queens? Because that's a lot of queens in one hive." Mike said that when the other two queens emerged (probably a day or two ago) they stung all the developing queens and killed them in their cells. Wow, queens are ruthless!! I am telling you there is major drama in our hive! He said that the other two queens that had emerged were on their marriage flight and would be back in a day or two.

The marriage flight is where the queen bee flies off accompanied by several drones. She will mate with these drones (male bees) in the air and the queen will store all the viable sperm in her body that she will need for her whole life span. She can live for up to 5 years which is much longer then any other bee. Worker bees (female only live for 4 to 6 weeks and Drones only live for about 50 days. (little side note only females have stingers).  

While we were inspecting the hive we noticed there was a massive amount of bees. More then we have ever seen in the hive. We also noticed that there was a lot less honey and Mike said that when the queen leaves they gorge themselves on honey. 

After the inspection Mike asked us why we thought the queen left. Nick guessed it was because we had too many bees and not enough room and he was right. The queen left with some bees to create a new hive, in other words she swarmed. Mike also told us that they were not getting enough food from the area where we had them and they would have to be moved. 

We are moving the hive tomorrow and making the hive larger by adding more suppers and frames. We wanted to start a whole new hive but its a little too late in the season for them to build comb and make enough honey to last them throughout the winter. 

I will keep you posted on how it turns out and all the latest bee drama. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A bit about blocking

I thought I would share the process I learned about blocking. Many of you may already know how to block but some (like myself) may not be so familiar. 

This is a picture of the shawl before it was blocked

You will need:
Sun or a dry warm place
A foam board (you can get a blocking board or you can use the kid foam play mats)
A towel 
Your project 
And patience

First soak your finished project in warm water, I added a little wool wash to mine. Do not touch your project while in the warm water, I know its tempting but natural fibers can felt. 

Next ring out your project but keep it damp. Lay a towel onto the foam board or blocking board. 

Next, lay your project on top and stretch it out. Some patterns require you to block a certain way so please read your pattern first. When blocking a shawl like the one I have in the picture, start with the center spine and then the bottom spine. 

Then pin along the top of the shawl making sure its tight and even on both sides of the center. Next, work your way down the sides of the shawl. You will notice there are points of your shawl that push out to make points more then others if you are doing a pattern like mine. You can also look at the finished picture of the pattern and you will see where you want to stretch and pin. Place the pins on a angle away from your work. 

The last step was the hardest for me. After its all pinned, let it dry. 

This is the shawl finished. It is a free pattern on Ravelry!
 Ginkgo Shoulderette Shawl by Maggie Magali

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Education. One first grader at a time!

You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.
Clay P. Bedford

A month or two ago I visited my friend Natalia's first grade class in Bennington, Vermont as a guest speaker. The first question the students had was if I brought a llama or sheep with me. I explained that getting a llama in my Honda Civic may be a little difficult, but I did have a lot to show them and a few fun games to play. 

First we went though some pictures on my Pad of llama, alpaca, sheep, angora rabbits and angora goats (where you get mohair.) I explained to them that fibered animals help keep us warm in the winter and then had them name everything that kept them warm. It was like little lights went off in their minds and they started to put two and two together- they wear wool and so do animals. "Why do we shear the animals in the spring and not the winter?" I asked. They were so excited to say how the animals need their winter clothes too. 

 We also played a little game called guess what type of fiber was in the box. First I explained that wool and mohair have lanolin in it and that wool had a natural curl/crimp to it like some of their hair did and llama and alpaca did not have any lanolin. We went around the class with one box at a time. I told them not to say anything until everyone was done and then they were able to yell out what they thought was the answer. They all did really well with their guess and plus they loved that they were able to yell and not raise their hands. I was impressed how focused they were and how they were little sponges absorbing everything I was explaining. I handed out a little bit of fiber to all of them to take home.

Next we used the hand carders. We talked about how they had to comb their hair and how sometimes we have to comb the fiber too to be able to spin it. Each of the kids got a chance at carding. I held one and they held the other. The kids got a kick out of this. Of course the boys were pulling theirs so hard and throwing themselves all over the room. It became a game of who could throw themselves father but at least they were having fun with fiber. The little girl below really impressed me. She asked if we could mix all of her fibers together! It was so exciting to see a little fiber artist standing in frot of me. 

Finally, working together I taught the kids how to spin. One student held the fiber while the other one twisted it. They were so excited and one kid said he was going to take it home to give to his grandma because she knit. I swear this was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. Plus I got them to sit still for 45 min!! I mean if that's not impressive I don't know what is. Thank you Mrs. Klien's first grade class for having me and making me want to educate that much more! 

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.
Mary Lou Cook