Saturday, February 23, 2013

Randine's Christmas Hoodie

Yes, I realize I am a couple of months late. That's how I roll. I don't know why it has taken me so long. These fleece hoodies sew up super fast. There isn't much to them.

I cut it out and sewed it up yesterday. She stopped by last night to pick it up. Mom made her model, of course.

What did she say? "Where's the pocket we discussed?" Oh, yeah. I forgot. Knowing that she wasn't going to be satisfied until it had a pocket I had her leave it overnight. Today I let her know it was ready, again. More modeling ensued.

I think she finally likes it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Recent Sewing Bargains

I recently found these lovely vintage patterns for $.99 each plus shipping. I have a serious "thing" about vintage patterns. Can't resist them. I swear I am going to sew myself a bunch of vintage style dresses....just as soon as I fully understand altering patterns to fit my pudgy body.

Until then these will go live in the pattern file with the rest of my collection. I don't want to jinx it but there is the possibility I will be dragging home a box full of vintage patterns this weekend. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Yesterday I was bored and decided to make the run of the local thrift shops in search of bargains. I found these 2 books on using a serger, for $1.99 each.

Apparently the Singer book is THE book to get if you want to learn about your serger. I also found these 3 fabrics in a bag for 30% off $2.99. The first are cottons and there are 3 yards each.

There was also this super groovy piece of knit fabric in there. Sadly it is only half a yard. I'll have to wait until I get a solid knit to mix it with.

My Redneck Bee Feeder

The girls are starting to take in syrup at a faster rate. I needed to rig up a second community feeder. I'm not a woodworker or even very handy. All I needed was a way for the bees to get up under the jar lid. This is what I came up with. Just 2 pieces of wood and an inverted bucket. Not pretty but it works. When I sat it out this morning.

And after it warmed up into the low 40's. 

The Carniolan hive is much more active than the Italians. Not sure if it's because the Italians are sick, or in a colder spot in the yard, or if the Carniolans just like to get out and fly when it's colder.

Soon I'll be able to get in the hive and look around. I need to make sure both hives have queens. I think I want it to be into the 60's and sunny before I go digging around in there. Don't want to chill the brood.At that time I'll insert pollen patties and put the top feeders on. We want lots of strong, healthy bees so they can bring me gallons of honey this year. I know that spring is just around the corner. Look, both my chickens have begun laying again. They took the winter off. Slackers.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Essential Oils For My Bees

This year I had planned to explore organic beekeeping practices. The recent discovery that one of my hives was infected with Nosema has made me realize how important it is to ensure our bees are healthy. For the past 2 summers I was content to leave the bees to their own devices. Last summer I was more focused on splitting the bees into 2 hives. All seemed well when I tucked them in for the winter. Still, for some reason the Italian hive fell ill. The good news is that they seem to be rebounding. Many more bees are out flying and I don't see as many dead bees on the front of the hive, outside the entrance. It is still too early to be opening the hives but I have noticed the bees out flying more and more. I have begun to feed them at a community feeding station in my yard. Between the 2 hives they are taking about 3 cups of syrup per day. Today I decided to try adding some essential oils to their syrup.

I especially want to get the thyme oil into them. Thymol is reported to repel the dreaded varroa mites. It is also effective against tracheal mites. How does it work? The bees ingest the syrup containing the EO's (essential oils). They also feed it to the larva.The mites go to feed on the larva and are repulsed because they taste like thyme. The key is to feed the bees enough EO's to dissuade the mites but not enough to harm the bees. After some Googling I determined that I would need 5 drops of thmye oil and 10 drops of sweet orange, peppermint and lemon grass oils per quart of 1:1 sugar syrup. I need to get a calibrated syringe but for now shaking out the drops will have to do. I dosed up a fresh quart of syrup and set it out for the bees this morning. It smells very fragrant and I was wondering how the bees would react to it. No worries, they love it.

This morning.

Just before dark this evening.

Having the EO's in there didn't slow them down a bit. They ignored the pollen patty, though. I noticed it had moved. I think a bird must've sampled it while I was out running errands.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Meet Kathleen, My Singer 28K

I don't think I have introduced this sweet girl yet. I picked her up about a month ago (along with a German treadle machine). Her owner was only asking $25 for her and once again I could not drive there fast enough. Actually I made my husband drive since I have a phobia of freeways. The seller was an older British lady who's husband had just passed away. She was downsizing and wanting to part with a couple of vintage machines. This particular one had belonged to her mother. She brought it back from England after settling her mom's estate. Over across the pond hand cranks are a dime a dozen but they are rather hard to come by here in the states. Especially in this wonderful condition. I wanted to honor the original owner who kept such nice care of this machine so I named it Kathleen, after her. Kathleen came to me needing a little loving care. Her presser foot bar had slipped down out of the tube and she was quite dirty and full of lint and dust. However her decals are almost pristine and her internal mechanisms all work well. None of her screws were welded shut with hardened oil and even her clutch disengages as it should. Based on her serial number she was built in 1905. That makes her 108 years old. She also came in her coffin case which is in very good condition but I did not photograph that. Sorry. Here are a couple of videos of Kathleen in action to make up for that oversight. First up is a video of her winding one of her long bobbins. She uses these bobbins inside of a bullet shaped shuttle case. This is known as a vibrating shuttle (VS) machine.

And here is a video of her sewing along. Still going after 108 years. Amazing! What a lovely old girl she is. I am so fortunate to have found her.

She will have to share accessories with my Singer 66 Red Eye treadle and my Singer 15-91. They are all side clamping, low shank machines. I spent some time adjusting her thread tensions, both top and bottom and I think I have it set up perfectly. Look at these nice, even, balanced stitches. The swatch is folded over so you can see the stitches top and bottom.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Errol's Pajamas Are Finished

That is one owed Christmas present I can cross off the list. Here are the finished pajama pants. I doubt I'll be able to get him to model them so this will have to do.

I sure hope they fit. I had to guess at the elastic. Errol is so skinny, I'm sure they'll be fine. Here is a close-up of the mock fly detail, complete with button.

Pj pants sew up really quickly. Here is a picture of one of the pockets. I used a solid color on the inside front of the pocket.

I had barely  enough thread. This was a brand new spool when I started. I need to remember not to buy such tiny spools.

Children First

I am itching to begin a new sewing project for ME...but first I need to sew up the 3 Christmas gifts I owe. They won't take long. Just 3 fleece hoodies and a pair of PJ bottoms. Still, I am dragging my feet. Today I decided to get started on Errol's PJ's since they will be the more difficult (and interesting) of the 3 projects. He doesn't know it but his PJ bottoms will be an experiment. I want to see if I can accurately shorten both the crotch and leg lengths. That was my main unhappiness with this pattern when I made a pair for myself. I took Errol's measurements to determine what size to sew for him. Extra Small which was no surprise. He is a little guy. I also took his inseam measurement (28") and am using that to adjust the leg length. Once I altered the tissue pattern I transferred the correct size markings over to my parchment paper. You can see below that the paper wasn't quite wide enough and I had to splice a bit onto the crotch corner (lower right).

And here are the pieces all cut out and ready to sew. I adore this flannel print. It's a camping theme with little camper trailers. So cute!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Take Your Medicine, Bees.

Yesterday I had my husband drive me out to Sunny Bee Honey Farm in Auburn to pick up some Fumagilin B. It is a medication used to treat Nosema. I am not one to over medicate my bees but when we humans are sick we take an antibiotic. I feel the same way about this. For some reason this particular hive's immune systems were compromised and they are succumbing to Nosema. In case they are weekend by a mite infestation I also made up some yummy grease patties. Here is what's on the menu for today:

1 cup of 2:1 sugar syrup to which I've added 1/16th teaspoon of Fumagilin B. Each hive will also get 3 grease patties added on top of the cluster and one grease roll placed inside their door. Grease up, ladies. Mites can't hold on to greasy bees. Kind of like trying to catch a greased pig.

My spur of the moment grease patty recipe:
1 lb. sugar
6 oz. vegetable shortening
2 Tbs. honey (from my bees)

I haven't been into the hives since the fall. I don't like to open the hives during cold weather. It just stresses the bees too much. But this is an emergency. Sorry girls, mama's coming in. I knew they wouldn't be overly pleased....and they weren't. I went into the sick hive first. I take my bees into the winter with 5 boxes. I know, you aren't supposed to. But it works for me. The top box was pretty much empty. I removed that. The next box didn't have much going on, either, so I removed that. The next box held the top of the cluster. I took out my syrup bottle and began squirting medicated syrup down the seams. It was slow going so I eventually just removed the lid and poured it in. I placed 3 patties on top of the frames, replaced the 2 boxes and closed the hive. I then placed 3 patties on top of the cluster in the strong hive. I did not pull any frames. I didn't want to disturb the bees any more than necessary. I then threw caution to the wind and removed the entrance reducers, placed a roll inside each hive and replaced the reducers. Much to the annoyance of the bees. Again, my apologies, ladies. It is for your own good. The good news is there seem to be quite a few live bees still kicking inside the sick hive. These ladies are quite PO'd that I disturbed them.

My fingers are crossed that the medicine will help and this hive will recover. As soon as I can I will put a gallon of medicated syrup onto each hive. I will also be hunting down some essential oils to add.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Oh No! Nosema!

After doing some online research I have confirmed my growing suspicions. It looks like my weak hive has a Nosema outbreak. It is probable that I will lose that hive. I wish to be an organic beekeeper and don't want to rely on medications. I was hoping to learn how to keep my bees healthy using essential oils and have ordered a book on the subject but it may arrive too late to help this hive. I am not ready to throw in the towel just yet. I read about giving the colony a drench with sugar water to which bleach has been added. I hope to attempt that this weekend.

My other hive is probably also infected but to a lesser extent. These bees all came from the same colony which I split last summer. But this new hive is in a more shaded spot. That seems to have been their downfall.

If I do lose them I will disinfect the hive, move it to a sunnier location, and start again with some frames from the robust hive. 

How Did My Bees Come Through The Winter?

It's been a while since I've made a post regarding my hives. That's because there really isn't much to comment on once they hunker down for the winter. Now that spring is creeping up on us the bees are out more and more. There really isn't anything blooming yet but they like to get out of the hive to scout around, stretch their wings and have potty flights. They don't poop in their hive if they can help it and they can hold their waste for quite a long time. You may recall I now have 2 hives. One Italian and one Carniolan. The Carniolan hive is in the prime spot. It gets more sun and they have come through the winter very strong. The poor Italian hive is in the shade of my apple tree and doesn't get the same amount of sun. They have not done well this winter. Once the weather got warm enough for them to come out and fly they managed to poop all over the front of their hive. They also seem to have more dead bees out in front of the hive. I am worried that they are sick but it is still too cold for me to open the hive and look  around. I am hoping to get in there this coming Sunday if it is warm enough. I'm going to make them some bee candy, too. Probably wouldn't hurt to stick a pollen patty in there, as well. Today it was 43 degrees and the Carniolan hive was out flying so I set a sugar syrup feeder out on a table, between the hives, to see what would happen. As you can see, the Carniolans were all over it.

I had heard that bees do not take syrup if it is under 50 degrees. That does not appear to be true. Or maybe the bees missed that memo. Unfortunately the Italian hive was not as enthusiastic, even though I set a second feeder out very close to their hive. The feeder has bees at it, but I think they are also Carniolans. The Italians just aren't doing much. You can see how dirty the front of their hive is. I did go out this morning and wipe it down with a wet rag. If you notice me leave rather hastily it is because I had curious bees landing on me. I think they liked my purple hoodie.

I will keep you updated as to their condition once I have a chance to crack the hives and see what is going on inside. I need a nice day with a temperature of at least 50 degrees and no wind. I have chosen to be an organic beekeeper which means I do not medicate my bees. We had a master beekeeper from Cheney, WA. speak at our last club meeting. Ho, too, is into chemical free beekeeping and has not lost a hive in 3 years. He uses essential oils and other organic means of keeping his bees healthy. Luckily he has written a book on the subject, including his recipes. I've ordered the book and should receive it soon. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Some Jo-Ann Fabrics Bounty

I have been hanging around on a sewing forum and learning a lot from the talented seamstresses there. These ladies are awesome. At first I was quite intimidated by their skill but they are so willing to share their knowledge and very encouraging. Because of their influence I am now becoming a much more discerning fabric shopper. I've been buying quite a bit of my fabric online but this is such a tactile hobby and I love to feel the fabrics while I shop. Thankfully there are some nice things to be had at Jo-Anns if you know what you are looking for. I bought the following last week while they were 40% off.

This is a linen/ rayon blend with embroidery and sequins. It will become a dress.

This is a rayon shirting. I like wild prints.

This is another linen/rayon blend. It is purple with a black cast and has a woven texture. I plan to use this for my dress fitting class.

And last is a cotton/rayon jersey knit that is reversible.

JA's also had Vogue patterns on sale for $3.99. I bought these.

If only JoAnn's would stock more nice fabrics instead of so much polyester garbage. I'd also like them to stock silk organza and cotton batiste. Even imperial batiste would be welcome. A girl can dream.

Getting Spring Fever

It's been a little bit warmer lately and the bees have been out flying. Spring is just around the corner. I am filled with anticipation of what this new growing season will bring. Just a little while longer before I need to begin feeding my bees and getting the backyard cleaned up. And I need to get sewing! I still owe 3 of my children Christmas gifts. But I keep getting sidetracked by my own sewing wants. I bought some lovely cotton lawns to make myself some blouses and tops for the warmer weather. I also joined a group on a sewing forum called "A Top A Month 2013". Right now I am behind by a month. I thought I'd whip up a top really quick so washed up one of the 2 yard cuts of lawn. OMG! The blue ran into the fuchsia  I did manage to get 80% of the dye stain out by giving the fabric a soak in oxiclean.

 Yesterday I set about making a muslin for this fitted top.

I cut it to the same size (I thought) as my dress bodice that turned out so nicely. Well, the top was WAY too tight at the waist. I altered the muslin all last light and finally got it to where it felt comfortable but it took many, many alterations. I don't think I like the style enough to continue fussing with it.

That's the beauty of a muslin. You get to find out if the pattern is a dud without wasting your fashion fabric. On to the next. I have shifted gears and will attempt this top (I'll be making the longest version with 3/4 sleeves) out of this vibrant fabric. My husband says it reminds him of a VW van but it makes me happy. He doesn't have to wear it. I think it will be cute with some tapered leg pants in a dark chocolate brown.

The fabric is washed and this time no running dye. I'll soon begin the muslin but first I need to make a couple of fleece hoodies for my daughters, before it gets too warm for them to wear them.