Caterpillars & Christmas

We have a friend in our neighborhood who raises monarch butterflies each summer.  She grows milkweed (the only thing monarch caterpillars eat) and then collects the butterfly eggs and raises the caterpillars until they hatch into butterflies. Then she releases them so that they can fly to Mexico.  A couple of years ago, she asked if we would be interested in raising some as well, and she set us up with a small “habitat” (Is that the right word?) so that we could keep some of the caterpillars.  We had a great time – all our caterpillars hatched into butterflies.  Unfortunately, we missed butterfly season last year, though.  So, this year when she asked again, we jumped at the chance.  Out came our caterpillar tower and we were on our way.

We dutifully marched over to Karen’s house where she presented us with 5 caterpillars (in different sizes), and let Jasmine release one butterfly that had recently hatched and was ready to fly on its way. We collected our own milkweed from where it grows wild on our property, cleaned out an old jar to use as a milkweed vase, and introduced our caterpillars to their new home.

Unfortunately, we did lose one caterpillar.  It crawled to the top of the tower and tried to turn into it’s crysalis, but something went very wrong.  It was very upsetting to Jasmine – we had a funeral last night in which we were all required to say a few words. And, I think we were all a little nervous that we may have done something wrong and that we’d have similar problems with the remaining four caterpillars. We never had an issue like this on our previous attempt at butterfly farming. Apparently, though, sometimes nature just doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.

As of today, however, I’m happy to report that we now have one crysalis and one more caterpillar that is hanging in a “J” – the last step before the crysalis.  I’m hoping that by the time school is over today we’ll have 2 crysalises. WOO HOO!

Now, on to knitting.  In our family we all have knitted Christmas stockings – all different.  Rob’s was made by his grandmother when he was little.  I made one for Jasmine when she was born, and not wanting to be left out, made one for myself a year or so later.  So, of course, since we are a family of 4 now, we needed another stocking.  For Robbie I chose a cabled one.  I went with a slightly larger gauge so that I could more closely match the size of Jasmine’s stocking (which is huge), and found a pattern I liked.  And, it’s just about finished.

I’m still not sure about it though.  The pattern orginally was a download from  It’s not there any more, since apparently is now just pulling their free patterns from Lion Brand. (I looked since I cut off the very right side of the instructions and didn’t notice until I started knitting).  Anyway, I’ve decided it was a very poorly written pattern, which is probably the reason I can’t find it anywhere on the internet now. There were all kinds of number errors, and the pattern itself is not written clearly in a few spots.  Thankfully, I’ve knit socks before – If I hadn’t I think I probably would have been stuck in a number of places on the pattern.  The foot shaping seems a little funny to me as well.  I know that this is a Christmas stocking, so that’s the reason for the gradual slope of the foot (as opposed to a normal sock where there’s more of a right angle) – but somehow the shaping still doesn’t seem quite right to me – I think the foot section should be narrower?  Maybe?  I have to think about it.  I’m not above ripping the foot out and re-knitting it if I could figure out what I don’t like about it.  Who knows – maybe by the time I embroider the name and add the hook, I’ll feel better about the foot shaping.

Here’s the stocking next to Jasmine’s.  I’m fairly please with the size.  They are completely different, but I think the sizes are similar enough that they look about the same.  I already have orders that HER stocking must be the biggest.  (And, I do understand – my 36 year old brother still complains each Christmas that my stocking was always bigger than his).

So there it is.  If I decide to frog part of it, I’ll post my revisions . . .  Hmmmmmm.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. SmittenKnitten
    Sep 11, 2008 @ 03:30:20

    Wow! How cool you are raising monarchs! We’ve raised some Anise Swallowtails here. You know we are on the monarch’s flight path here so if you’d send us some milkweed pods we’d be happy to plant them a rest stop ;).


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