Monday, December 21, 2009

Let is Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

In celebration of the light dusting of snow Virginia Beach received last Saturday, I give you another lyrical science piece written during a beautiful snowstorm in Montreal last year. Enjoy.

The rapidly approaching Christmas frenzy and the cooling of the exterior air stimulates, in most northern dwelling people, a euphoric feeling and expectancy that can only be heightened by the arrival of snow. Even in my earliest childhood memories, the first snow fall is always accompanied with joyful leaps and spontaneous outbursts of festive song. The effect of snow on children is such that teachers can often predict an upcoming storm without the help of high tech instruments, simply by evaluating the restlessness of the classroom.

SnowflakeImage by Vlastula via Flickr
As snowflakes gently float down from above, lightly dusting the ground below, one might wonder what magic lies behind these intricate shapes. Snow and rain falls generally occur after a warmer period; water molecules evaporate and condense in the sky gathering together to form the fluffy white clouds. As they dance upon the wind, these molecules will encounter other particles like dust, bacteria, and other water molecules with which they shall form bonds and, if the temperature is low enough, they will crystallize. 

Water takes on a hexagonal conformation in its crystalline state and additional molecules will adhere in a six sided fashion creating the characteristic snowflake shape. When their combined weight exceeds the elevating strength of the wind, they tumble through the air masses towards the earth. If the air temperature remains cold throughout their descent, the crystals will remain, if not, they shall return to liquid or semi-liquid form.

Flocked TreeImage by Liralen Li via Flickr
As snow falls gently upon your bundled up form, dimming sounds and prompting the appearance of a healthy glow on exposed areas, take a moment to observe the intricate beauty of their translucent shapes. You should rejoice and be amazed by the abundance of shapes, sizes and patterns, a vivid testimony to nature's creativity. The accumulation of their individuality upon the sleeping land appears as a blanket of downy whiteness to our eyes because of the light reflecting and refracting through their crystalline bodies. Rest assured that the light blue tinge, which freshly fallen snow sometime takes on, is not a trick of your mind,but is linked to the slight preference of the ice crystal lattice to absorb red light and refract blue. (Yellow snow is a whole other ball game.)

White Christmas (film)Image via Wikipedia
In the past years, the snow fall and accumulation has diminished and has been replaced with increasing rain and sleet. Knowledgeable scientists associate this reduction with the increasing heat capturing capacity of our atmosphere; crystals are still forming in the sky but they cannot maintain their form on falling, to our greatest desolation when we awaken to a green and rainy Christmas morn. Bringing more meaning to the classic Christmas song "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby. 

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, 
just like the ones I used to know... 

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Six Geese a Laying

On the sixth day of Christmas, 
my true love gave to me:
Six Geese a laying,
Five Gold Rings,
Four Colly Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

For the sake of those paying attention, yes, I skipped over the fifth day of Christmas. Gold rings, although made from a naturally occurring precious metal, I'm no Geologist; I'll just stick to what I know - plants and animals. Day six, showers us with yet another animal based gift. Not only are we receiving six Geese, but they are laying. Geese, as you may know, are also a somewhat domesticated fowl that one would keep for its meat and eggs. Contrarily to the hens, which have a repetitive and short egg cycle, geese only lay eggs once a year and it takes them a while (between 1 and 2 years) to reach a size worthy of the table. However, by giving this cumbersome gift of soon to be overprotective snapping females, this person's true love is yet prooving his worth as a provider but also improving the social status of the receiver - the bigger the gaggle of geese, the wealthier the owner is. As interesting as this may be, I could not identify a specific species, so here is my favorite fun goose fact.

A large goose can snap your arm with a beat of it's wing.

Take care!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tool Wielding Octopi

The octopus is by far my favorite animal. It is considered the most intelligent invertebrate in the world and I think it's the cutest.

Veined octopusImage by Borneo-Aquanerds via Flickr
My friend sent my this link to this amazing video of a Indonesian Veined Octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) using coconut husks to build itself a shelter. Not only is this octopus shown building a shelter, it's also shown transporting the coconuts from one place to another. It can no longer be considered an impromptu utilization of its environment; some cognitive decision was made.  
The use of tools is frequently used to separated the "higher organisms" like humans and primates from the rest.

Click the following link to watch the video :

Yeah for Octopi!
Take care!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Four Calling Birds

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

Calling birds is an Americanization of the traditional English Colly birds. "Colly" is a dialect word meaning "black as coal". Colly bird or Black bird most likely refers to the Common Blackbird, Turdus merula.

The Common Blackbird is an old world thrush native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. It was successfully
Common Blackbird, also called Eurasian Blackbi...Image via Wikipedia
introduced to Australia and New Zealand.The male of this species is black with yellow eye rings and bill. The female and juvenile, like most passerine birds, have dark brown mottled plumage.

Both male and female and territorial and will defend their carefully built, mud-lined, cup shaped nest.
It has a pleasant and distinctive song - a medley of chirps and whistles - and various warning calls.

I found this Youtube video by a patient birdwatcher. You can hear and see a Common Blackbird from Szlovákia. 

Take care!

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Three French Hen

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Three French Hens,

This is a tough one seeing that French Hen's aren't a particular species. It's most probably a reference to a variety of chicken that was developed in France. There are three main varieties of French Chicken that may have inspired this song, the Crevecoeur, the Houdans, and the La Fleche.

The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is thought to have first been domesticated in Vietnam. It is the most common and widespread domesticated animal. Chicken's live in flocks and are omnivorous ground feeders. Their flying ability is limited but they are good runner. They will chase you ferociously and for a considerable distance if angered and their peck is painful.

The Crevecoeur is a black crested bird probably derived from a Polish breed. It originated is Normandy and is reputed as not being very friendly. It's egg and meat production is average and therefore this breed is mainly used for show. 
It's name, in French, literally translated means Break/Rupture Heart - maybe because they are not very nice.

The Houdans are appreciated for their meat and large white eggs. They differ morphologically from the Crevecoeur by their mottled black and white colouration (in some cases pure white), a fifth toe and a beard.They are named after the place they were bred. qualifies them as docile and easy the find and raise in the States. Like the Crevecoeur, the Houdan is qualified as ornamental.

Last but not least, the La Fleche - meaning the arrow in french. The La Fleche is black with white cheeks.  This breed is very rare and is distinguished from other ornamental chicken's by the pair of spikes instead of the usual comb (they look like little devil horns).
A La Flèche chicken.Image via Wikipedia

I close this post with a entry from the Guiness Book of World Records, the oldest chicken was female and died of a heart attack at the ripe of age of 16. No information was provided to whether the chicken was eaten or not.

After all this, I still do not care much for chickens, the only thing they have got going for them is how cute and fuzzy they look as chicks.

 Take care!

Two Turtle Doves

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
Two Turtle Doves and

The Turtle dove, Streptopelia turtur, is a recognized emblem of love since the species is renoun for it's strong pair bond. Contrarily to most illustrations of this second verse, the Turtle dove, strickly speaking, is not white.  However, the name Turtle dove is sometimes mistakenly used for the Ring-neck dove (S. capicola) and the Collard dove (S. decaocto). Such confusion strengthens my resolve about the importance of latin names. S. turtur is native to Europe and North Africa, between which it migrates back and forth.

Turtle_DoveImage via Wikipedia
The Turtle dove is brownish with dark and white specks across it's wings and the side of it's neck. This pattern that vaguely recalls a turtle's shell may be responsible for this bird's common name. It's latin name, S. turtur, refers to the call it makes during the male's mating display.
It's tail is wedge shaped. The central feathers are dark with white tips and framed with white feathers on either side. The tail feathers are frequently flaired during flight, displaying the stunning colouration for the pleasure of onlookers.

I have never had the pleasure to observe a Turtle dove in the wild, I therefore leave you with this pretty painting Wikipedia so gratiously presented to me. 
The Turtle DoveImage via Wikipedia

Take care!

P.S. For the sake of my insatiable curiosity, do you have an advent calendar and if so, do you prefer it to hold daily chocolates?

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Twelve Days of Christmas

                                                                                                                                       Thanks for the image

The official Twelve Days of Christmas begin on December 25th and end January 5th, right before Epiphany. I am beginning on December 1st because this song popped into my head this afternoon as hubster and I were debating whether a Norfolk pine could substitute for our traditional Balsam Fir Christmas Tree (although the latter is not native to Virginia, it's smell is essential for my enjoyment of this festive time, the topic is still up for debate). Each lyric of this text holds mnemonic clues for the basic teachings of Christian faith. This song is reputed to have been created in the 16th century to enable the secret transmission of Christian instruction to the children of England during the reformation. However, there is no hard evidence in this matter. You may read about the hidden Christian Teachings here. Other sources say that this song comes from a translation from the french which in turn came from a translation from the Greek and much of the lyrics are translation errors or linked to Greek mythology. Which ever origin you choose to believe makes little to no difference for the following posts as I shall be looking at today's song from a scientific/biological point-of-view.
Let's begin shall we. 

On the first day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me                   
A partridge in a Pear Tree

The partridge is a non-migratory, ground-nesting bird native to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle-East. The specific partridge illustrated in most illustrations related to this song is most probably the Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix) as it is the most common species. It has been successfully introduced to North-America and is a favoured hunting target.

Grey PartridgeImage via Wikipedia
This bird does fly although not as gracefully as the swallow and generally only for short boubts generally brought on by being scared or flushed from bushes. Although it does not build it's nest in trees, it can find refuge in tree branches if the need be.
 They are related to the bigger and more commonly known and more colourful pheasant.

Partridge annecdote, I travelled by bus from St-Andrew's Scotland to Ullapool - approximately a 4hr trip if I remember correctly - and during this trip, three partridges managed to fly directly into the bus.

The pear tree is native to coastal areas of western Europe all the way to Asia including the north Africa. They are medium size trees comparable to the apple tree. Most species are cold hardy which allows them to be cultivated in Quebec, Canada where winter temperatures can drop below -40 degrees Celsius. Pears have been cultivated in China for over 3000 years. The Romans also cultivated pears, however, they did not eat them raw. China, Italy and the United States are the present days main pear producers and exporters.

w:Pear blossoms, California, unknown variety
The pear, is botanically referred to as a pome, same for the apple. The five petaled flower of the pear tree is generally white, rarely tinted pink or yellow. It is, at time, impossible to tell a pear tree from an apple tree without tasting it's fruit; the pear has a gritty texture because of the presence of sclerids or stone cells - structural cells with a hardened secondary wall.
Pears are a good source of fiber which helps with the regulation of intestinal absorption of glucose and digested fats in addition to preventing constipation.

Summer Beauty pear - watercolor 1893
Pears ripen from the inside out which explains why you and I have frequently found ourself biting into what we believed to be a wonderfully juicy pear only to find it to be rotten at the core. You can avoid these situations, test for ripeness by gently pressing near the stem with your thumb. If it's soft, the pear is most probably ready to eat. Pears don't ripen on the tree, they are harvested before that happens. To speed up the ripening on a pear (or any fruit), place it in a brown paper bag for a couple days. This closed environment will capture the ripening gas, ethylene, produced by the fruit and it's increased concentration will cause the fruit to ripen faster. The more fruit in the bag together, the faster the ripening process will be (to a certain point). To keep a pear slightly longer, keep in a cool open space. Now, if only pears traveled better, they might compete with the apple as my favored on the go snack. 
Take care!
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

The New York Blue Jay

Blue Jay, Orlando, FloridaImage by Rick Leche Photographer via Flickr

Whilst we, my New York family and I, sat calmly in the lounge, some playing video games, others watching, we heard a loud thud; a bird had crashed head on into the large glass panes of the front window. We raced to see if it was still there, it was; the bird was unconscious and hanging from a branch by one foot. Filled with pity and a little fear, I grabbed a towel and, under the supervision and encouragements of my beautiful stepsisters and husband, gently lowered the bird to the floor, allowing it to recuperate from it's collision. It flew away not too long after, avoiding an enthousiastic photoshoot. I sure hope it's ok.

The stunned bird was a gorgeous Blue Jay (Cianocitta cristata). Blue Jays are common birds that are present throughout the year from Central to Eastern North America. If their flashy blue, black and white colouration didn't give them away,  this large songbird's booming jeer should help you pin point them quite easily (click here to listen). They genereally produce their calls when perched and are silent in flight.

Blue FeathersImage by awrose via Flickr
Interestingly enough, the only pigment present on the Blue Jay's feathers is melanin, which make up the dark brown/black patterns on the tail, wings and the collar. The blue is caused by how light scatters or refracts through feather's barbs. This explains why on days when the sun is hidden behind a thick veil of clouds, Blue Jays appear more greyish that on beautiful sunny days.
Speaking of feathers, Blue Jays, perform anting, a practice by which a bird uses ants or subtances created by ants for preening (tidying their feathers) during moutling. Apparently, some individuals have been observed tripping over their owns tails whilst zealously trying to apply the ants to hard to reach feathers. (Now that I would love to see!)

Male and female Blue Jays are practically identical, they can be told apart by keen observers from their behaviour during mating season. The male can be observed feeding the female either in their newly built nest or on a nearby branch, this is refered to as courtship feeding. A practice also observed in humans, if you are lucky.

I have had the utmost pleasure extracting Blue Jays from mist nets, at the McGill's Bird Observatory. There is nothing quite like holding a live wild bird. If I had known at the time, I may have kept a stash of acorns in my pocket as it is their favorite snack. However, I was quite busy trying to untangle their tongue (yes, you read right) and feet from the net without braking anything in the process - they thrash around so vigorously.

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) – Algonquin Pro...Image via Wikipedia

Blue Jays are not known for migrating, actually, we know very little about their wintering habits. Sometimes they migrate south, others they don't. Nevertheless, I very much like seeing them add a touch of colour to the slumbering winter landscape.

For more information on this beautiful bird and others, check out Hinterland's Who's Who.
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey

         It's happy thanksgiving for all except for turkeys. As we enjoy the Macy's thanksgiving parade and the arrival of Santa Claus, I can not help but feel sad for all the turkeys out there that will be slaughtered and roasted for tradition. As if to strenghten my dietairy resolve, on my trip to down to New York, I caught glimps of a rafter of wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) from the train window. Due to a combination of surprize and being in a train zipping down the tracks, I missed a great photo oppportunity, oh well. There were four individuals, I'm guessing 3 females and one male, pecking around in a field. They looked a lot like this picture I found on wikipedia.

The two easily identifiable males on this picture are displaying, they don't always walk around all puffed up like this. Turkey's like lions, live in territorial groups of many females and generally one sometimes two males, called rafters (vs pride of lions).

Turkeys are a staple item of Thanksgiving dinner for the last two centuries, before then food was harder to come by and families were happy to celebrate with whatever fowl they could get. Thanksgiving is a North American celebration and disputably first took place in Plymouth where both Pilgrims and Indians joined together and feasted for three days thanking God for allowing them to survive through the winter and their first succesful harvest. Apparently, turkey became the fowl of choice after Queen Elizabeth's declared Rost Goose as St-Michael's Day offical meal. Michaelmas in Britain became associated with Thanksgiving in the States. So why don't we eat roast goose at thanksgiving? Turkey was more abundant and simpler to catch than goose in the New World.

Wild turkeys, contrairly to their domesticated counterparts, are quite agile flyers. They can be found from  the south of Canada to the south of Mexico. Over the years, they have been extirpated from various regions such as New Hampshire and Quebec due to over hunting and habitat loss. Thanks to hunting laws and habitat protection they are slowly making a come back. I am glad to announce that I have seen them pecking around the Eastern Townships (Quebec) these past few years.

Turkey is a good source of protein and is naturally low in fat. It's also loaded with zinc, iron, phosphorous, potassium and vitamin B. If your counting your calories, white meat is less fat and calorie rich than the darker meat.


Take care!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Alien Gnome Bandits

                                                                                     by Fred Conlon
«There is something terribly, wonderfully wrong here. Two opened jawed aliens are tromping off with your helpless, hapless garden gnome.»

This simply made my day and I felt compelled to share it with the world. I discovered this recycled garden sculpture in the wonderfully entertaining Skymall magazine along side many other hysterical and generally useless objects. Kudos to the artist that makes these with recylced and found metal.

Take care!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Virginia Creeper

Virginia Creeper
Parthenocissus quinqefolium

My favorite vine, especially in Fall because of it's beautiful colour.

It is characterised by a palmately compound leaves composed of five leaflets, hence the latin quinqefolium - five leaves. However, younger vines may have smaller numbers. In the case of the specimen below, there are four. The leaflets are dentate (toothed edges) distinguishing this vine from poison ivy whether all five leaflets are there or not.

The Virginia Creeper produces clusters of small dark purple berries in late summer to early fall. These are not to be eaten. Although the taste should discourage you from eating more than one. The oxalic acid contained in the berries may be toxic to mammals, but these berries are a good source of food for birds during the winter months. So in addition to bringing a beautiful colour to your yard in fall, it may also attract some birds.

This woody vine is native to central and eastern North America. It grows in dense wooded areas but also along road sides and frequently up brick houses.

Take care!
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hurricane crafts - folded paper and jean skirts

This week, mother nature granted me the experience of living through a small hurricane. How exciting! The ocean sends waves of towering rage crashing down onto the beach, trees are whipped about like giant blades of grass, roads become rivers, windows shake, walls creak, and I remain inside, safe and warm, witness to nature's destructive powers. I'm told that we were lucky, the hurricane did not cause too much damage - in my little world at least. In our building, it broke a couple windows in the glass covered passage to the parking lot forcing management to seal it up for our protection and soaked a staircase and a couple flats leaving a foul smell. Poor Petester's car got flooded and we have yet to find out if it will survive this ordeal. Roads were closed and so were schools. Some people lost their houses to the ocean, my heart goes out to them. Nevertheless, once my hubby was safely home, the stormy weather and the discovery of put me in a creative DIY frenzy.

As my darling love settled into a comfortable position for chimera destruction (a.k.a Resistance 2, a video game), I transformed the lounge into a magazine recycling factory. You see, I love magazines, I can't settle for the online versions, I must have a tangible copy. Although I have restricted my purchases to the essentials, stock pile them, and then recycle them when the time comes, I wanted to find other uses for the glossy pages.

So far, I have found and tested three.

No. 1 - Zigzag bangles

These are lots of fun to make. (You can also use chip bags but I don't eat much of those.) I've figured out two sizes, the small as seen above, and a larger single bangle. Both are available in various colours at my etsy shop if you wish to have one of your own.

No. 2 - Paper Flowers

We got this beautiful gold tipped tulip vase for our wedding, it proudly showcased my birthday flowers while they lasted but without them it seemed lonely. These flowers were made with 3" circles cut from magazine pages based on a tutorial I found here. After making 16 of them, I tried the snowflake technique to allow for light to pass through the flowers and found that allowed me to use pages that had images that I didn't like as much since it removed the emphasis on the paper letting the form shine through. The stems we're supposed to be made from planting wire and plant tape but because of the hurricane, I was unable to raid the local craft store so I used pipe cleaners instead - it's alright but it's not perfect.

No. 3 - Envelopes

Why not? Surprisingly it was harder to design a template than I thought.  I hope the post office will accept them.

One paper cut too many led me to my next project. This was by far the most important project of the day and the one I am most proud of:  my newly recycled Hurricane Jean Skirt. I started with an old pair of bermuda jean shorts that I hadn't worn all summer.

And with the help of a Thread Banger tutorial (that you can find here), I turned it into a wonderful jean skirt. The project took me about 4-5 hours to complete from seam ripping to the finishing details. I will definetly be modifying more jeans, it wasn't that hard and the result is a fantastic skirt.

 That evening, hubby, my new skirt and I curled up on the couch and watched Jaws thankful to still have electricity. What an amazing day.

Take care!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Buying a Field Guide

I recently went looking for a tree identification field guide that covers all North America, it took me so long to decide that my poor husband became quite aggravated and retired grumpily to the comic book section and read an entire comic. This is a grave state of affairs so for the sake of all supportive spouses out there, here is my Top 10 list of things to look for in a field guide. 

  1. Size : It's not a reference manual, it's a field guide. I like to be able to slip it in into my back pocket or easily conceal it in my purse. (You would be surprised what else I keep handy.)
  2. Drawings vs Pictures: I prefer drawings since they better represent the essence of the species instead of individual characteristics. It is also possible to draw important identification details that are not always visible in a picture.
  3. Range Maps: Super important, especially if the guide covers a large area (e.g. North America). I prefer them to be on the same page instead of at the back. Who likes additional page flipping anyway?
  4. Common and Latin Names: A good field guide should have both and that's that. 
  5. A good written description: The description should include specific characteristics such as size, gender distinction, age distinctions, habitat preference, etc.. I also enjoy the additional knowledge of whether the species is edible (mostly for plants) or venomous .
  6. Built in Ruler: Size sometimes determines the species, nothing better that having a handy ruler you can't loose. (Less important for bird identification since it's mostly done at a distance.)
  7. Identification Markers: Arrows on the illustration pinpointing specific things to look for (e.g. distinctive markings or coloration).
  8. Glossary: (or informative introduction to the field) Sometimes scientific words make no sense.
  9. Index: Preferably with both latin and common names.
  10. Intuitive Organization: The species must be organized in a way that makes it easy for you to find what your looking for. It depends on the depth of your knowledge on the subject and there are a wide range of options out there ( e.g. by colour, by approximate size, by habitat, taxonomically, etc.).
 It's not always possible to find the perfect guide for all topics, sometimes the choice is quite limited. But when the options seem endless, knowing your preferences helps narrow down your search.

Here are three of my favorite field guides :

Peterson First Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America (The Peterson Field Guide Series)

:) Gorgeous Drawings                                  :( No latin names
:) Identification Markers                               :( No ruler
:) Perfect size                                               :( No range maps                       

Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification, Revised and Updated (Golden Field Guide from St. Martin's Press)

:) 9/10                                                         :( No identification markers

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Fifth Edition

:) Depiction of adult                       :( No identification markers
(male and female) and juvenile plumage                                       
:) Range maps                               :( Knowledge of bird taxonomy required for navigation

During my technical degree we were basically brainwashed into swearing by Peterson field guides, now I find that other publications meet my needs better. I'd love to know what you're favorite field guide is why. Do you swear loyalty to a particular publisher? Is your top ten similar to mine? Let me know!

Take care!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New look on the Climate Change Campaign

While reading through my favorite blogs, I came across this random environmental post by Yes and Yes. I felt the need to post it on my blog as well. This video is a public outreach strategy by the 350 group.
Their message is that we must reduce the quantity of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from 390ppm to 350ppm. This number comes to us from climate specialists and apparently is the upper limit of CO2 there can be in the atmosphere without repercussions on the global climate. They are looking for support in order to press the point of climate change and green house gas emissions during the United Nations meeting taking place in Copenhagen during December of this year. Their website is very interactive and you can easily spread the word through links to facebook, twitter and youtube, just to name a few. They put some information about the cause but very little individual actions one can take to reduce CO2 emissions on a daily basis. But individual action is not their aim, they want to influence corporations and governments to do something about it. I signed their online petition and you can too by clicking here.

Unfortunately I missed the International Day of Climat Action which was October 24th, I was unaware of it's existence. I'll know for next year.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sock Monster

My posts as of late have been scientific of nature and the upcoming posts promise to be similar. I felt it was the time to interject another recycled craft project. The world seems to have been struck with the cute japanese-style stuffed toys craze, from the Ugly Dolls to stray sock monsters. Well, I have not been spared from this affliction. The only thing between me and my own army of these cute toys, is my husband who refuses to purchase something so useless and that I could make myself.  So I did.

I guess I would characterize it as some kind of bunny like creature. It's cute and scary all at once - fascinating; it sleeps in the lounge. Anyway, it was very simple to make, all you need is :
  • 1 sock (preferably with a distinct heel colour)
  • Stuffing material
  • Black and pink thread
  • Sewing needle and thimble
  • Scissors
  • Chopsticks (optional)
Step 1: Cut down the middle of the toes to about 1 inch above the heel and sew the front and the back of the sock together along to cut creating two bunny ears. Cut off the elastic band.

Step 2: Stuff the bunny. Use chopsticks to stuff the ears, it makes it easier. Make sure you add sufficient stuffing in the heel to make it stick out a bit. Play with the stuffing to give your little monster the desired shape.

Step 3: Sew up the bottom. I used a simple running-stitch all around the opening, pulled it together and added three stitches to keep it together before tying a knot and cutting the excess thread.

Step 4: Sew on a face.  You can use extra-pieces of fabric to make the different parts of the face like the Ugly Dolls but I went with embroidery. It was easier at the time. I added rosy cheeks with a coloured pencil.

Voilà! You have your very own monster like cute stuffed recycled toy. There are endless possibilities out there and this was the first of my stuffed toys attempts, I'll hopefully improve over time. On that note, thanks for reading.

Take care!

Recommended Book :

Stray Sock Sewing, Too: More Super-Cute Sock Softies to Make and Love

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