Friday, December 30, 2011

The Next Serendipity Quilt is Beginning!

Well, I have cut out two more of the Serendipity quilts.  This one uses a fish fabric of which I had bought quite a bit -- used it for the backing for one of those nine quilts I machine quilted.  I thought it would be a good one for this type of quilt.  I am using a different pattern from the book for this one -- called Brilliant Sky.  I am going to use the same block for the whole quilt but am going to vary the background colors to give the illusion of two different blocks. 

 I have found that these 12 inch repeats work extremely well for the quilts.  I have noted in doing the regular "stack and whack" type quilts that if the repeat is bigger, you can usually make the block bigger but making big blocks with 12 inch repeats doesn't work as well.

These are the matching hexagons.  Think this will be a cool one!!

This is kind of a boring picture as I don't have a "before" picture.  For some reason, the color on the bottom half of our south facing side faded terribly while the top stayed the same color as the front.  Luckily, they left cans of paint for all the rooms in the house as well as the outside when they finished building the house!  As the weather is supposed to be gorgeous for the next few days, Warren took the opportunity to get the bottom painted and it looks great again!  

He also put up some netting on our third floor porch as one of our kitties either jumped or fell from that floor a few days ago, scaring us to death!  He evidently made an intermediate stop on top of our van which broke his fall of 30 feet and he is none the worse for wear (although there are now scratch marks on Warren's prized van).  We found him almost immediately sitting on the lee side of the house -- he hates the wind and it was a windy night!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Almost Finished!

Well, the top is all sewn together finally and I am really quite pleased with it!  I found some fabric that was very close in value and color to the greyed blue green that is the background for the stars so that I could finish the skinny triangles on the top and bottom.  I am also going to add a strip of it to either side as well.   A quilt like this deserves a fancier border so I will have to think about that for awhile!  I don't have much left of any of the fabrics that make up the blocks so would have to find something very similar.  You will have to forgive the wonky picture as I don't have a large design wall down here so I had to improvise a bit to get a decent picture as it is 4 feet by 6 feet.  The block is the Flag block from Sara Nephew's Doubledipity book which I really love!!  I did do a different layout than those in the book -- most of those had nine blocks instead of the ten I did.  I also changed the background color to white for some of the central background blocks to make it a little more interesting.

This shows the top a little better so you can see how it is finished off.

My favorite duck hasn't been at the Lake lately (I told Lisa she scared it away) but today there were three Greater (I think) Scaups hanging out with the Coots.  

You can see the two males and the one female in front.  I am not convinced that one or two of the Scaups aren't a Lesser Scaup as one seemed to have more head definition than the others but it might just be the angle.

Time to start a new quilt.  This one will be much brighter colors -- the whole rainbow in fact!  I have chosen the block that is on the cover of the Doubledipity book which is called Brilliant Sky.  I may be a bit more adventurous with this one and make blocks with different color rows.  

I also decided how to finish off the Colin Firth quilt.  I wanted to do something with the outer edges and think I have decided what to do so will test out that hypothesis as well!  I may even attempt quilting that while I am down here.  I probably will wait until I get home to quilt the above quilt as I don't have much in the way of backings down here, although Thousands of Bolts might help me there!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays to all My Blogger Friends!

This is our Christmas tree this year and Santa seemed to recognize it as such so I have a couple of new toys to play with (a net book and some tv transmitting earphones).  The earphones will be great for listening to the tv when I am running full speed ahead with the sewing machine.  I am more of a listener than a tv watcher anyway and my hearing is not what it used to be!

I am doing dual duty keeping Lisa's kitties company downstairs as well as continuing to work on my Serendipity quilt which is good fun. I am watching eight years of Upstairs/Downstairs while I am doing it too (thanks Priscilla). 

I stacked a new repeat fabric last night so I will be ready to start on another version soon.  It will probably be a bit more scrappy as I get a bit more adventurous with the blocks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In Process....

For a change, I decided to test out the pattern I was using before cutting every piece of fabric I had!  The center is the repeating pattern, and then four additional fabrics are required to complete the block.  At this point I haven't put anything together and am trying to decide if I like the fabrics (I didn't) and trying to decide what to do for the additional diamonds between the green stripes.  I have a very limited assortment of fabrics here from home but am trying to use what I have.

This was another of the centers to test again whether I liked the fabrics (uh uh).

A closeup of a piece of the block showing the red (and fussy cut repeating triangle).  No no....

Ah ha!  This is the first block up above but I inverted the diamonds in the middle and substituted a new fabric for the red one at the tips -- it is a little duller and has some green in it.  I then added a pinkish batik and decided it was okay.  There is a lot of pink in some of the other blocks and it reads as background even though it is a little brighter because there is so much activity in it. (I was afraid that the stars themselves were going to look like background.)

Here are some of the other stars starting to form.  I have had this fabric for probably 10 years and actually had it in several colorways as it is perfect for "stack and whack" applications as it has so much variety and color in it and relatively large shapes (the repeat is about 12 inches so only requires 2 yards to get the appropriate amount of hexagons!

These are the original pieces I auditioned for the star points.  I will probably make them blocks at some point but the contrast in them isn't good so  you kind of lose the effect unless you look closely.  I did fussy cut these though!!

This was a bilaterally symmetrical print -- the kind that Paula Nadelstern always features in the middle of her fantastic blocks.  This is a closeup of one of the previous blocks.

Believe it or not, the leaves  have been going quickly and I have finished one quarter of the border already and this is how it will look on the quilt.  I may still add some flowers but we shall see.

Of course, we all know who he is but I got him in the sun again and then upped the saturation up a bit so you can see his fantastic color.  I am definitely thinking he is going to find himself in a quilt relatively soon along with some of his fellow travelers.  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

More Ducks...Some Nicer Pictures (I Hope)

It was cloudy and chilly this afternoon and the Red Headed Duck was hanging out with the mallards.  This is the first time I have seen one of these out of the water.  He wasn't shy at all and was quite close so you can see all his different colors.

A side view as he was heading for the water.

Finally got the sun shining on my favorite duck. This was yesterday although he was there today as well hanging with the mallards and domestic ducks.

You can really see the iridescence in this closeup.  They have about every color in the rainbow.

I have been working on the border for the Baltimore Album (although truthfully it had been so nice outside I was spending most of my time on the porch watching dolphins and reading).  I may actually get it done in a reasonable amount of time but have to get my applique skills back a bit more!

Time to start on one of the Serendipity quilts (from Sara Nephew's book of the same name).  These are a fancy version of the hexagon radially symmetrical blocks.  The weather is supposed to be cool again tomorrow so I may just stay inside and get some work done!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

After One Day of Winter, Spring Returns

The light was right today and the Northern Shoveler was there again and I was able to get several really good closeups even though he was about halfway across the lake.  They are a very striking duck with their iridescent heads and stark white chests and those really funny cupped bills.

Today he was hanging out with all the Coots as you can see.

Back again today, we all know who he is.

I don't have a good surface to show the whole quilt top but this is a Baltimore Album quilt I started  25 years ago -- I used to applique the blocks on my frequent plane trips from Rochester to Wash DC on business  - it's bad when the stewardesses start recognizing you!  It languished for years as blocks which finally got sewn together last year and then were waiting for a border of some kind.  Well today was the day.  I got the darn thing drafted finally yesterday, cut all the strips I needed on the bias and sewed them onto the border fabric.  

This is the unturned  bias strip onto which I will applique approximately 500 leaves!!  I really wanted to work on this as I needed a good hand project for tv viewing in the evenings with my dear husband. I have never liked to sit without doing something with my hands.   I may add a few flowers into the border as well and haven't finished the corners yet.  And I have sewn the binding on the nine quilts I machine quilted while I was down here.  There was one heck of a lot of work in this top so I want to get it finished.  I will hand quilt it as well -- it is the old cotton sateen that quilts like butter so that will be fun and hopefully will get done before our next GVQC quilt show in a year and a half.  I plan on putting a family genealogy on the reverse side -- I can track back parts of the family for hundreds of  years so it will be a bit of a challenge to draft as well!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nice Surprises at Carolina Lake Yesterday!!

Well, since my Wood Duck Who Thinks He is a Mallard was again at Carolina Beach Lake yesterday, I decided to concentrate on closeups of his head.  Unfortunately, he never seems to be there when the light is good and a flash doesn't seem to help much.  I won't bore  you with the 50 other shots I took!  They have changed Blogger so that if you click once on any of the images, it will give you a strip of all the images in that blog all blown  up!  

The birds are beginning to show up for their migration (guess the weather was getting colder up north) and here are three male bluebirds crowding on the post across the street.

While reading the paper out on the porch this morning, we looked down and there were a male and a female House Finch on our palm tree eating those berries.  This is a rather  unusual view of a finch!

I walked around the Lake clockwise instead of my usual counter clockwise and thought that the Lake was strangely vacant of all bird life (except for the usual Coots, Mallards and Domestic Ducks)!!

However, just as I was getting back to the car, I spotted two ducks that I thought were mallards and it was hard to differentiate as I was looking into the setting sun.  It was lovely to discover that one of the  Northern Shovelers was back with what I thought was his mate.  It turned out to be a Red Headed Duck upon closer inspection!  So migration must be beginning finally!  I saw the Shovelers a few days last January.  They are another very attractive duck with their funny looking large bill.

Here is the Red Headed Duck.

Most of the time I was watching them, they were swimming together which why initially I thought they were a pair.

Okay, just one more closeup of my favorite duck!  I noticed today that their red eyes sometimes turn almostly completely tan and then revert back -- don't know whether he was getting sleepy or not.  The males of the Wood Ducks are very colorful while the females are very, very drab (like the female mallards).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Project Progress...

Well, I did finish two dresses for my 33 month old granddaughter!  I am hoping that they are not too bright.  I also ordered long sleeved tshirts to put underneath them so that they can be worn in the winter as well.  They do look a bit long for an almost three year old but she can grow into them!

This is dress number 2.  These were fun to make and ended up with entirely different fabric than what I had originally intended and packed!!  They are called scrap bag dresses as they take small amounts of a variety of fabrics.  I used three fat quarters of the flower print and one fat quarter for each of the other two ruffles.  The lining was also a fat quarter.

Okay, so now is decision time.  This is version 1 of Colin Deconstructed.  He starts whole in the upper left and then gets deconstructed.

This is version 2 where he is finished in the bottom right and gets deconstructed up to the upper left.  Aesthetically, I seem to favor this version and it will allow me to add two more blocks with color in them.  I think your eye automatically for almost everything starts in the upper left so it needs something to draw it away from that corner.  The full Colin is the focal point (and color will be if I add it) so it gives you motivation to move your eyes down and cover the whole thing.  Am I just imagining things or do you all agree?  

I am relatively pleased with how things turned out as I think  he is identifiable even in the one where there is only 5 pieces of fabric.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's So Warm, the Birds Must Be Heading North Again!

Well, I thought even the Coots had left today but they had just moved -- the count is up to close to 100 now. 

All I have been seeing are the Mallards and the one Pied Billed Grebe who has stayed behind.  

So I am reduced to taking pictures of sparkling Mallard heads.

I must say that the Grebe must be getting used to me as he didn't object as much as usual to my taking his picture -- he was wary but didn't dive under water and skitter across half the lake like he usually does!  I thought this was a pretty good picture that gives you some idea of more detail.  He has his winter plummage.
Well, he is looking at me but hasn't left yet.  The lake is very full and will be fuller tomorrow after tonight's rain -- I think the birds like it a little shallower so I hope they let the water out like they did last winter.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas is Coming

We dolled up the front of the beach house with some colorful Christmas lights.  During this season, the island we live on is called "The Island of Lights" as they have Christmas lights strung for about five miles along the beach road as well as surrounding Carolina Beach Lake where some of the displays are pretty pretty intricate.  Kure Beach features seashore motifs while Carolina Beach has all the traditional Christmas motifs.  It really is Christmas-y despite the 60 and 70 degree temps and no snow.

I finally finished machine quilting the last of the nine quilts I brought down here.  This is a simple nine patch combined with a snowball block and was part of our Genesee Valley Quilt Club Fall Migration a couple of  years ago.  I had lots and lots of leftover browns from my 289 block Dear Jane!

This is a closeup of the above quilt and you can see the feathered wreaths I free hand machine quilted in the center of the snowball blocks -- they needed something.  It only took a couple of hours with my wonderful  Juki machine!!  I stitched in the ditch around the octagon and the light valued blocks in the nine patch.  So now I just have to bind it and it will be ready to cozy up under on the sofa!

Wood Duck -- No Need to Say More

It is supposed to rain the next couple of days so wanted to capture as much of my Wood Duck Who Thinks He is a Mallard as I could before he found more congenial company.  They seem to be accepting him better and they were in a very different area of the lake today.  This is just a collage of the pictures I took (only a small fraction sad to say!).  I think he needs a lady friend to keep him company.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Continuing Afternoon Walks at Carolina Beach Lake

Well, to my Rochester and other northern friends, this is not an uncommon sight but down here I haven't seen any of these Canada Geese -- not even flying over in their familiar V's.  There were five at the lake the other day and I remember only seeing a couple last year.

I took this picture just because the light was shining off this male mallard's head.  They really are a pretty duck but just too darn common!  You can tell there hasn't been a lot of variety lately!!

Yes, the most common of the gulls down here -- a Ring Billed Gull.  This one is a younger one I think as he was a bit more speckled than the mature ones are.  Usually the gulls stay away from this lake.

And amazingly, amongst the mallards on the lake was the lone Wood Duck again.  He follows the mallards around and here was taking the rear position with the flock.

With his female mallard friend, crossing the walk after the whole flock decided to get out of the water.

In amongst all of the mallards -- he is smaller.

He stops for a nibble -- you can see his different colored feathers the best in the picture -- I used my flash as it was quite late in the day and not very good light and they are sooo beautiful.