A Travel Bag for the Birds

I’m not a Xmas person, but this is one of the two times of the year that I visit my family and friends. I usually travel with the birds, since the cost of a plane ticket plus the bird residence is a bit more expensive than just renting a car and taking the birds with me. And I know that it’s hard on them when they’re separated from us. But traveling with them is also stressful. I want to make sure that they are fine, and six hours in a car is not easy for them either. And there is also the mess they create. Last time I traveled with them I got a call from the rental company to complain about a white stain. I tried to clean it before returning the car, but it seems I was not able to remove it completely. I left the company mulling over the origin of the ‘white stain’, and decided to avoid this for future trips.

The black large cages are the lovebirds’, two birds in each one. These cages are great, spacious, sturdy and can be cleaned easily, but they are not practical for traveling purposes. I bought two cages like the one on the right. The are not exactly removable, but they can be collapsed and stored flat. The size is ideal to be transported on the back seat of a car, and you can insert a division in the middle. And they were cheap. I just needed to make a bag to protect the car seat from any bird mess.

I made a sketch to plan for it. I wanted a bag that could be easily used to cover the cage without too much fuss, and that would allow a ‘window’ for the birds to be able to see me and their surroundings while in the car. I had some beige canvas gifted by my sister some years ago. It is a great fabric to make handbags, I just wasn’t in love with the color, but for this project it was perfect. I attached a handle on each side and a triple handle on top, so that the bag could be easily transported by one or two people. I added a couple of cm to the measurements to have some ease.

The bag came out exactly as I wanted it, and it could be put on the cage in less than two minutes. I reinforced the inside of the bag where the handles are attached with extra stiff interfacing, typically used for handbag bottoms.

Here you can see it with the ‘window’ in action. At first I wanted to have just one zipper that could be closed inwards, and I actually got one but it was too short (I was stressed out and sleep deprived when I purchased it) and I could not go to the same haberdashery again, so I had to get two zippers, which also works fine. the zippers join in the middle, and run downwards and backwards so when completely open, the bag is almost flat.

Here the cage installed in the car and with the zips open. The cardboard contains the other cage, collapsed. I have the impression that the birds traveled more comfortable this time and could even doze off at the back of the cage. I had no issues with dirt from the birds, so I call this a win-win.

The construction of this bag was as easy as joining rectangular panels and adding a zipper. I just needed to pay special attention to corners and make them match. At first I wanted to line the bag to aim for a cleaner finish, but after working on Paula’s Hoodie and with the imminent trip, I was in a hurry. Now I think the bag is good enough as it is, light, sturdy, and easy to storage.

Another thing I had to solve for my trip was the food. With my restricted diet I just can’t stop and eat at a restaurant or eat some cookies. Previous times I went for canned fish and a piece of papaya, but it was messy and not ideal. This time I purchased an Electric Lunch Box for Cars and I packed some delicious stew. It took about forty minutes to warm up, and the top was not as hot as the bottom but it was wonderful compared with eating sardines.

The finches stayed home. At first I was going to leave them at the Vet bird residence, but Sally decided that it was time to lay eggs, and it was better to avoid moving the cage. So we left plenty of food and water and monitored them using a cheap webcam.

What I really liked from this camera was the night vision. It was a fairly cheap camera and very easy to set up, so I’m quite happy with it and we’re still using it nowadays to monitor the birds when we’re not at home or they are sleeping.

Sally laid ten eggs in total (two of them were before we installed the nest and broke, and other two were buried under the nest material by them), but they were either not fertilized or not correctly incubated, so after completing the cycle, we removed nest and eggs. It was a relief, since Gouldian Finches are usually not good parents, and I rather have some wasted eggs than dead babies.

Here you can see a video of Sally a couple of days before I removed the nest. She had a new egg on the way and I was worried that she were having difficulties to lay it, so I checked the eggs, removed them, gave her extra calcium, and waited to see if she would lay this one. After a couple of days it got reabsorbed, so we took the nest away.

I leave you now with some shots from my visit to Vigo this last Chrismas. As I’ve said, I’m not a Christmas person, but I had a good time.

I used my phone to take all the pictures, so I apologize for them not being high quality. It seems it will be like this most of the time from now onwards, since I have very little time to set up the tripod and the DSLR.

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New Year, New Site

Happy 2017! You’ve probably arrived here from my old site at WordPress.com. I know that my old blog has been quite dead for some time, and since I’ve been experimenting with self-hosted WordPress for my other site about Audiobook Reviews, I decided to move my crafting blog here too. I had this domain for several years, and was not doing anything useful with it (I played with Drupal years ago but the site is mainly broken now). With my other blog I discovered the flexibility self-hosted WordPress gives versus WordPress.com, so I decided to move ElenaKnits, and maybe add a couple of ads to try to cover a bit of the host service. If you find them too intrusive, please let me know.

I am not a Xmas person or prone to making new year’s resolutions, but during my holidays I had the possibility to rest and come back with a fresh mind. I am not making promises, but I’ll try to share here what I’ve been making in the past months and what I will be making in the future. Plus other aspects of my daily life like BIRDS (I can’t imagine my life without them).

Again, I don’t usually do this kind of things but I couldn’t resist to the Best 9 of Instagram:

2017 was a year with a mix of things. We moved to this apartment in January, lost Daisy in July and then gave a home to Jane. My blogging and sewing stopped for a while, until I had to make things again, because I need it like I need to breath. I switched from crazy prints dresses and started making more useful garments, things that I needed and wear almost everyday. I tried to reduce my stash this year and avoid buying fabric. I almost succeeded here. I also took a break from knitting due to gauge issues and my stupid atopic skin. I’m back on the game, but taking things slowly.

I hope I will share this and much more here, but don’t expect very carefully taken photoshoots. I’ll get most of the pic from Instagram, since it seems to be the only way for me to document things nowadays.

I hope you enjoy the ride!


Butterick B5895 and Untangling Knots Hetty

OMG, when was the last time that I posted a finished project here? I have some to show you that I finished about last month but I’ve been too busy to blog about it. Pictures were taken almost four weeks ago but stayed in my hard drive until now just because life is very busy right now. I’m having so much work that after 6 pm I can’t bear to look at the computer save for watching some meaningless series. But fear not, here you have the first set of finished garments.


These are Gertie’s Butterick  B5895 pants. Since I didn’t find the printed pattern close by I bought the PDF from McCallPattern.com and they redirected me to PrintSew.com to download the pattern. Here the nightmare started. They don’t provide a PDF file, but a PDC, which is an encrypted PDF for which you need to install a program, LockLizard, and download a license from PrintSew. I printed the pattern last year after I just bought it, but I didn’t have the chance to sew it until now, and since I misplaced some of the pages, I had to reprint them again. I still had the LockLizard installed on my Mac, but my license did not work anymore, so I had to send an email to PrintSew and wait for them to come back to me the day after. I wanted also to mention that the pattern is 48 freacking pages, 8 of them totally blank, and quite some mostly blank as you can see here:


According to my measurements I should have made a size 12, but after measuring the pattern pieces at the hips and waist I went for a size 8, but I had to make a full inner thighs alteration (as seen on Cation Designs blog), adding 2 cm to each pattern piece (4 in total).


I also shortened the pants around 7 cm and tapered the legs after they were already sewn.


The fit is not bad, but if I don’t pull them up vigorously I get horizontal wrinkles, meaning that the waist is too high, around 2 cm higher than my natural waist. Nothing too surprising, since I have a short torso due to being petite.


I thought I was going to need more space for the bum (as it usually happens) but the stretch cotton sateen helps here and I don’t feel constricted. But look at those wrinkles. I definitely need to shorten this for next time. Well, this is just a wearable muslin.


Even though it’s just a muslin I decided to serge the edges so that I can wear this without fear of it getting disintegrated. The left part of the zipper is a little bit wonky. I should probably interface this next time or just use more wash away quilters tape).


When I started sewing my garments insides were a mess. I take now the effort to make them neat, and with a serger it’s easy peasy.


Pockets are a value added to a pair of pants, even though these feel a bit weird because the waistband sits too high.


And here is another garment I wanted to show you this time. It’s Hetty by Andi Satterlund. I attempted to knit this cardigan just after it was released, almost three years ago, but the recommended yarn was difficult to find in this part of the world, and I just saw it in maroon. No my favorite color but I gave it a try. I failed miserably, it’s not that I fell out of love with the yarn because I never loved it. It’s just that I started hating it…


The result was that I abandoned this project for a very long time. I started it again last year with this pink Cascade 220 but abandoned it again after Gerry left us. Just after the summer I retook it again and finished it at the end of last year. Then we had Christmas and moved to a new apartment, so I didn’t sew buttons until almost two months ago. It’s one of the things I enjoy less, so I tend to procrastinate here. I know, ridiculous.


After all the time it took me to finish this cardigan, I am very happy with the final result and the fit. I had my doubts about what to do with the repeats at the “seams”, but after checking several projects in Ravelry, those parts (sides and where the seam would go on the sleeve) are never perfect, since the pattern repeat is broken by plain stockinette. I was bothered by it at first, but I learned to live with it. It’s just a design feature!

I added two repeats to the sleeves to make them longer, as I always do with Andi’s patterns (my wrists get cold!). The bulge you see on the left one is my watch under the cuff.


Our four lovebirds are often perched on me at the same time but you’ll never see the four very close together, except for Billy and Daisy, because they are a couple since a very tender age. They are very territorial creatures and they tend to have quite a bad temper. I love them anyway and enjoy their cheeky nature.


And I finally solved my lighting issues. There were two issues in fact. First, I should explain that I mainly use two lenses for my photoshoots. I like my 35 mm F1.8 for close shots, like when I want to show a cardigan or a top. It’s a fast lens and I don’t need a lot of light. But for complete body shots I need to use my 18 – 55 mm F3.5-5.6. This lens needs more light so it’s restricted to limited conditions. When using the remote I usually shot in A mode, so that the camera auto adjusts if light conditions change (a cloud at a certain moment). But the last time I used this lens my pictures were very dark. I found out that my camera somehow miscalculates when using this lens, so I decided to shoot everything in manual this day for both lenses. Another issue that I had to correct was the non-uniformity of the light. The photoshoot location in my previous apartment didn’t have this problem, but my current sewing room receives much more direct sunlight and they tend to be dark patches in some places. So I bought this little gadget that folds to a very small size and it seemed to help.



Astronaut T-shirt

After my first Maria Denmark’s Kristen Kimono Tee I knew this pattern was perfect to showcase this fabric I purchased during Christmas 2014. I made this top last May, but shortly afterwards we lost Gerry and I didn’t have the heart to look at the pictures and publish them on the blog. I hope you understand, it was so painful that this top stayed in my closet for almost a year. I think I am ready to share it now, even though I still miss Gerry very much and I hope he’s fine and happy wherever he is.


Here Colin, Billy and Daisy wanted to be in the picture. Marvin was also in the room but observed us from afar.


And then he decided to join and see why I was obsessed with smelling Daisy. I love their smell. I could sniff at them for hours!


There is not much to say about this top that I haven’t said before. It’s easy, fast, it fits well and it’s free.


I fell in love with this knit the moment I saw it. It was around 1.5m by the kilo and it was ultra cheap. It seems a digital printed fabric, and even I loved the moment I saw it, I didn’t know what to make and avoid disturbing the print. This pattern was perfect for that.


These birds drive me crazy but here we’re having a blast!


Fall and winter plans

We finally signed the contract for the new apartment this Monday, I suddenly started sleeping fine again, and I found my fingers itching to start making things. I took the little time I had to read sewing and knitting blogs and I have my head full of projects to complete this fall and winter. It’s beginning to chill here and I decided to stop complaining about the cold and rain and embrace the change of season as an excuse to making proper winter garments. This 5th Fall Essentials Sew-Along seems the perfect way to get me doing this, even though I’m joining a bit late.

I am finishing the pair of shorts my boyfriend has been requesting for a couple of years. Sewing pants always takes me ages, and things always take more time with four lovebirds and lack of sewing mojo, so finishing this is passing a milestone.

wpid-img_20151008_172304.jpgI am currently knitting a Hetty. I tried to knit one just after the pattern was released, two years ago, but I fell out of love with my yarn and abandoned it quite soon. I started it again with new yarn a bit before Gerry left us, so it has been in standby for quite a while. I am working on it again whenever the birds allow me, which is difficult since I use plenty of markers to avoid getting lost in the lace pattern, and they want to steal them.

wpid-img_20150918_125008.jpgThe one in the picture is Colin, and he looks so much like Gerry that at the beginning I was deceived. Gerry turned two years old yesterday, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit melancholic. I just hope he’s alright and happy.

I didn’t have in mind joining the Penelope KAL, but as I’m getting my knitting juices going, I think I’ll try. I was not sure about what colors to combine since I usually have problems to match my clothes, so I decided to go for one of Andi’s choices, black and grey. They are not lively colors but they’ll go with everything.

This summer I wore my four Lady Skater dresses in heavy rotation, so I’m going to try something in the same line this winter, getting out of my comfort zone and see if I like it. I usually wear pants (jeans, corduroy, Thurlows) when the weather is not warm but I’ve been wanting to try merino jersey for a while, so I decided to do it now, and I purchased this merino fabric from NZ Merino Fabrics. I just hope the customs don’t overcharge me.

The jeans I made don’t fit me anymore. I went paleo three months ago (AIP, in fact), and my health as improved a lot, but my weight has also gone down quite a bit. I’m stable (I think), but many garments I made don’t fit me properly anymore. Maybe that’s why I’m leaning towards knits lately.

I have some corduroy in my stash, and I think I would like to make a Hollyburn skirt.

I had some beautiful knits to make more summery Lady Skaters but alas, it couldn’t be.
And I would like to end the year knittng the Rolling Thunder sweater, gifted by my friend Michelle.

I have off course a lot more projects in mind, but being realistic, I don’t think I will accomplish a lot more, taking into account that I take care of six birds, Christmas is around the corner and we’ll be moving around that time.


Life is still changing here. Marvin, another rescued lovebird, joined Billy, Daisy and Colin. The group dynamics still need some more time but they are progressing favorably.

Billy is being treated right now for a bacterial hepatitis. He was not himself lately so we decided to pay a visit to the vet, and after an X-ray and a blood sample he confirmed the diagnose. He’s been on antibiotics for almost two weeks and he’s much better now.

And Colin, the most lovable bird in the world.

Colin says hi #lovebirds

A video posted by @elena_knits on

We will moving soon again. If you remember, we moved about a year ago but this apartment never lived up to our expectations, apart from being freackingly expensive and quite far from Koen’s work. Also the landlord is the most irresponsible person I’ve ever known. We had continuous toilet clogs since the beginning of spring and had to wait days with the whole mess in the bathroom. So we’re leaving. Soon. We went yesterday to see a beautiful apartment. It will be available at the end of the year, but we don’t mind waiting since we need to give a two months notice at the current apartment.

As I’ve said before, my sewing and knitting mojo left with my beloved Gerry, but I made an effort for two important babies:

Koen’s newest nephew


And of my friends from university’s first baby

I used the Peekaboo Lullaby bodysuit pattern. As I made them already some time ago, I don’t remember a lot, except that my sewing machine chewed up one of the sleeves when hemming it, so I decided not to topstitch the neckline to avoid making a mess. I do this more and more with knits, as my machine is quite unpredictable on them. Probably I will get a new one when things are settled down (I have my eye on the Elna 3210).

And as I had quite some fabric leftover I made another Kitschycoo Barrie Briefs. I barely wore the other two I made this summer because the double fabric made made me sweat (we had the hottest summer in the last 10 years), but for fall and winter they are nice and cozy.

Aren’t they nice with their knights and dragons?