Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tote Bags Part 3


I still need to trim off the extra threads but my first bag is done!

The second bag will look just like it and now that I know what I'm doing, I should be able to whip through it without the angst I had making this one.  Even though the bag is made of denim, its pretty floppy until its filled with something (thus the pillow for the photo).

These bags will be available at the silent auction during the Scout House Fundraiser on January 29th.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cage Fleece Experiment

I've been composting the guinea pig shavings for several months.  Not that I have a garden, but I figure better to let it rot in the back yard in the chance of using it rather than throwing it out.  It just seemed wrong to bag it in plastic to go in a landfill.  But I'm getting tired of throwing out a lot of clean, dry shavings, just because I happened to clean out the whole cage.  Too much waste!

I have never wanted to go over to a fleece-only cage:  too much laundry, day-to-day sweeping and more frequent cage cleanings.   The upper levels of the cage are fleeced and they stay fairly dry and clean.   They can last two to four weeks before the fleece needs to be switched out.

I noticed that there were portions in both of the cages that tended to stay clean and dry... so I decided to experiment with a partial fleece area on the ground floor of the cages.  I cut a length of 1/2" pvc pipe to help hold down the fleece against the shavings edge.  This was to both keep the girls from burrowing under it and to help keep the shavings on the shavings side of things.  I made some modifications this week when I cleaned the cage, but overall its been working pretty well. 

I thought the pink and brown would do nicely to hide shavings and poo.  However, I wasn't really thinking of the upper levels' fleece colors when I bought it.  I'm rather amused by how it clashes.  Luckily, its really noticeable only if you're standing directly over the cage.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tote Bags Part 2

After several days of trying to ignore the tote bag material laid out on the floor, mocking me, I decided to tackle this project again.  Time is running out!  I made a clean copy of my calculations, ran through them several times, measured all my cuts and then cut.  Amazing.  I manged to cut all of the pieces I required for the two bags and had two 1" strips left over.  Whew! that was close.

I've got the hems stitched, the handles assembled and pinned on (most of it while watching that dismal Patriots game - so at least my afternoon wasn't a total waste).  I've changed my mind several times on how I want the T-shirt print to go on it.  I think I have a good solution, but its too late tonight to start more cutting.  That is a project for another night.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tote Bags Part 1

I'm making tote bags for the Scout House fundraiser.  I'm a little nervous because part of the design is cutting apart and sewing on the "I came I danced  I Concord" T-shirt. It just feels wrong to cut apart a shirt that's still intact.  But before I get to that, I need to make the bags.

I have set of instructions and bought yardage for two bags.  But once I took a close look at the instructions and compared it to the size of the T-shirts, I realized I needed to modify the original layout.  I wanted my bag to be shorter and wider.  You know the saying, Measure twice, cut once?  Well I need one: Calculate thrice, measure twice, cut once.  I knew when I was cutting the fabric, even though I had measured at least twice, that it felt wrong.  After I cut it, it was obvious something was wrong.  I went back to my calculations and discovered I missed a step which was to have added 7" to the overall length. Seven inches.

Cripes!  Where do you think I went wrong?

Um.... perhaps my rule should be Calculate clearly, measure twice, cut once.

Fortunately, since I purchased the material based on the original instructions, I bought more than I needed.  Unfortunately, had I cut it correctly, I could have used the extra material. I think I had enough for 3-4 bags.  At this point, I'll be lucky if I can make the pair without buying more.  <sigh>   I believe I now have the correct calculations and laid it out so that all the pieces will fit on the remaining material.  However, I shall wait until tomorrow before I work on it again so I can give it a fresh start.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The not-so-new Newbies

One year ago tonight, in the snowy cold, I went to the Animal Rescue League of Boston in Dedham to check out a few guinea pigs they had recently posted on Petfinder.com.  Willow had lost her cage mate in mid-December and was desperate for more company.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to take on more pigs.  Willow was acting so old and cranky.  Losing Pippin had been hard.  Did I want to lock myself into another round of pig ownership?  But I found myself passively searching for a pair of sows the last week or so in December.

The shelter had several pigs come in on December 30th.  Two mamas and their nine offspring.  The babies were only seven weeks old and beyond adorable and total squeaking machines.  What a ruckus!  I found the two moms, named Midnight and Sweetie, together in a separate cage further back in the crowded room.

Pinni - shavings all over from trying to not get caught!  Look how tiny she was!

I managed to grab Midnight, and as soon as I had her in my arms, she settled and started sniffing around.  I loved that she was curious even though I was a complete stranger.  I knew she needed to come home with me right there and then.  Sweetie was fast! and harder to catch.  And freaked.  She trembled when I held her, but her fur was so soft and I loved her mohawk hairdo and multi-colored fur and blue eyes.

Bertie - she was *convinced* we were going to eat her.

Both Midnight and Sweetie were about seven months old so they were a bit bigger and calmer than the babies.  I figured they'd be more likely to get along with Willow.  They'd save me from baby-proofing the cage, too.  The shelter was thrilled I was interested in the slightly older moms -- the babies were sure to be adopted out quickly, but adult-looking pigs are always more difficult to place.  So Midnight and Sweetie came home with me.

The names had to go.  Sweetie was sweet, but both names were boring.  It took us several days before the names that they should be called came to us:  Pinniped and Bertie.  The Newbies.
Hard to believe they used to be the same size as Willow.

Happy Anniversary, Bertie and Pinniped!  You've been a lot of fun (and such trouble!) in the past year.  I'm so glad I brought you home with me.