Friday, November 29, 2013

Some New Birds and Lots of Old Friends (Birds) on Thanksgiving!

This is a collage of my Little Blue Heron that I saw the other day.  I had these pics on my small point and shoot and really liked them. These I include in the category of "old friends".

Another of my very favorites -- the Oystercatcher.  There were a lot of them down in the Ft. Fisher basin at low tide on Thanksgiving.  There were a few people down there but not as many as most weekends and holidays.  

He was doing a lot of grooming while I watched.  Eventually they all got chased away by someone walking along the beach.

I think this is a juvenile Herring Gull as he was so big and very noisy and not hanging out with the other gulls.

This is an awful picture but the bird was very far away, moving fast and I just took the picture as fast as I could as it looked so different to me.  Turns out is a Clapper Rail which is common enough but one I have never seen before.  They tend to hang out in the reeds so  you can't see them!  The tail bob is the giveaway but I needed help in identifying this one as I was looking in the sandpipers!

Another common bird but one which I haven't seen before -- a Dunlin. I guess I had not realized they were so small.  There were Semi-palmated plovers, Willets  and Sanderlings as well but again, these looked different, even though they were just a speck in the camera lens.  I couldn't get close.

There were lots of birds off shore down by Ft. Fisher and I will have to walk down there tomorrow.  I saw my favorite sea bird -- the Northern Gannett which has arrived back for the winter.

It was a nice Thanksgiving treat to see so many birds!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

November Quilters By the Sea and Jacket Progress

I still can't get these ladies to hold up their quilts for more than a few seconds.  I really like the colors in this one which is a very simple pattern but done in solid substitutes, the colors really pop.  There were a lot of quilts turned in during this meeting for the neo-natal  unit at the local hospital.  The coordinator had asked for extra effort in creating some of these quilts which have to be at least 40 x 40 inches.  Little did she know that almost everyone who got up would have one or two to contribute to her.  She left with two chairs filled high.  I wish I had my scraps down here but maybe some will manifest themselves by the end of the winter!

I liked this black and white and yellow log cabin.  I plan on making a quilt at some point with that palette.

Our program this month was on organizing  your quilting space and there were so very clever ideas, a couple of which I will try (using one of the swinging drapery rods to hold fabric to cover up the fabric on  your shelves so they don't get bleached out by the light).

 This group is very active in making Quilts of Valor as well and I liked this one especially.  I have given all my red, white and blue prints away but probably still have some solids hanging around!

This lady had become a big fan of purses such as myself.  This one allows you to change the bottom of the bag with the season.  May have to look into that!

Well, I now have both sleeves and both fronts done.  I would be further along if I hadn't sewn most of the strips in the wrong order on the first front I did.  I am not a big fan of ripping out stitches -- especially lots of them. I haven't trimmed the sides yet, nor done the darts the pattern calls for.   You will definitely see me coming.  I am not sure I will wear this one in public except in quilt venues!!  I have to find some fabric for lining.  I am partial to silk so will have to find some locally or go online.  One of the quilt shops locally used to have silk so maybe there will be some left!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jacket Frustration and a New Visitor to Carolina Beach Lake

Well, a Little Blue Heron is no great rarity but it is the first time I have seen one at Carolina Beach Lake.  Usually I see the Great Blues and very often the Tri-Colored Heron.  He posed nicely for me as he gathered food.

There were quite a few Grebes as well but they run for the reeds anytime they see me coming and hide until I leave so no good pictures.  The ones I took, however, have some strange coloring so may have to evaluate again.

My normal wintertime ducks have not arrived (Scaups, Red Heads, Scoters, Shovelers and Mergansers), so will have to do with this picture of a Starling.  I do think they are really pretty in the winter as there is a lot of iridescence in their coloring.

My primary deed for the day was getting the two sleeves of the jacket finished.  You will notice that I covered up one of the blacks as well  on the one on the right. I will applique a piece of the lighter purple shade so that it looks more balanced on the left hand one. It is not obvious if you don't use a really strong gradation  However, then the problem....

This is what one side of the front (or back) looked like when I set it up on the design wall having arranged it according to the pattern directions (a black and white picture that showed the gradations).  It looked a bit peculiar to me as the zig zags seemed to go nowhere, unlike the sleeves where they meet in the middle.  I realized that the pattern directions were basically wrong.  Thank goodness for design walls and looking at things before jumping to the piecing.  

This is what it should look like to match both the picture of the garment on the pattern envelope and also to match the sleeve.  It makes the v-pattern in the center.  The other way would have been interesting but would not have matched the completed sleeves. 

Well, I wrote to the pattern designer and she sent me back a very nice note saying that she would never again hurry a pattern to publication before having someone test it out.  She had been in a hurry to go to printing as she was coming to my home guild in Rochester coincidentally!  Luckily my note caught her just as she was going to have it reprinted so she is busily updating the pattern as this blog goes to publication!  (She is sending me two free patterns as well!!)  Nice!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Strips and More Strips!

Always anxious to see how things are going to look, I took the first strips sets and cut them into 3 inch squares and used the pattern to place them for one of the sleeves.  I definitely won't fade into the background!

I did notice that the center looked a little peculiar and then noticed a footnote on the pattern that said to take four of the blocks, cut off one of the strips and add a green in place.

.  Here I have taken the offending blocks out!

Ah, now that makes more sense!  As I mentioned, each of these strips starts out only 1 inch wide so each of those stripes is only 1/2 inch wide.  The thought of cutting all those 1 inch strips accurately was daunting so I went online and bought another one of the rulers that allows you to cut many strips at once without lifting up the ruler (it has slots).  I have one at home but use it so rarely, didn't think to bring it with me.  

It arrived today and is a little different than the one I have it home (more versatile) and it certainly helped me to cut these 195 strips in only about 1/2 an hour and very accurately!!  As I only had 1 inch left of one of the fabrics, it was well well worth it.  I had used one before back when I was cutting up fabric for knitting.  They are wonderful and will use it when I do another one of those Texas lone stars again.  So now all the strips are cut, I have a tape marking an accurate 1/4 inch on my sewing machine and am ready to go.

A few statistics though first:

1.  There are 195 1 inch strips
2.  There are 39 strips sets that I have to sew together
3.  These will produce 480 blocks ultimately
4.  This results in a jacket with 2400 individual pieces of fabric.

Now, my king sized Dear Jane probably only had twice that many pieces!!  Most of my quilts have nowhere near that many pieces!!  I think I must be crazy.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Greenfield Lake Ducks, Sky, Beach and Jacket Progress

Greenfield Lake is beginning to look like fall and I loved the picture of the Cypress trees knee deep in the alligator filled water!

This Great Blue Heron took off while I was watching from his hiding place in among the Cypress.

It was just beautiful there at Greenfield Lake Park with many trees taking on their bright colors.

My second favorite duck -- Northern Shoveler - was there in abundance.  Both males and females but they wouldn't let me get anywhere near them!  There were places where the trees were filled with Great Egrets.   Cormorants and Anhingas were  also there in great numbers.  I spotted a couple of Pied Billed Grebes as well.  I have been seeing them lately at Carolina Beach Lake as well.  I had to use my little camera with the 35x zoom to even see these birds, they were so far away!

A couple of the females -- I love their big bills!!

Couldn't resist taking a bunch of pictures of this almost full moon last week.

This is a "sun dog" caused by ice crystals.  It is a rainbow completely surrounding the sun.  The colors are more muted than a regular rainbow but the red is closest to the sun.  They occur on our chilly days.  I have only seen these down here.

There was a preponderance of Moon Jellyfish on the beach.  They have these four bright pink circular things in the middle which are gonads!  Shows what a jellyfish thinks is important!!  No circulatory system or digestive system is present!!

I am slowly but surely making progress on the jacket pictured previously.  Each of these strip sets is just 3 inches wide and  this picture shows the four strip sets contained in the jacket with the darker two being the more prominent ones.  I was shocked to learn that the jacket pattern was done by a woman who just taught a class at my home GVQC guild in Rochester!  I had seen the jacket just because someone had "liked" the site in FB.  Sorry, I missed the class now!

I cut two squares (3 inches by 3 inches) from each of the strips and placed them together to see how they look.  I think this will be okay!

One thing that wasn't suggested in the pattern but which is downright critical with this is the checking of your 1/4 mark on your foot or sewing machine!!!  I did a test and found that my 1/4 mark on my machine resulted in 2 3/4 inch wide strips.  I quickly placed down some tape at what I measured as 1/4 inch and tested again.  Perfect!!!  Both Sharon Craig and Jan Krentz emphasize this checking in their classes.  Even a slight variation when multiplied by four or five can mean disaster!

Friday, November 15, 2013

My Wood Duck Who Thinks He's a Mallard is Back!

Well, I knew it was time to start resuming my walks around Carolina Beach Lake each afternoon after the Coots started accumulating for the winter flock which usually numbers between 40 and 80 residents.  Sometimes there are Ibis down there and yesterday there were four of them.  We are seeing them more frequently in the field across the street from the house now as well.  I think the one on the far left is the most junior member.

Two of the aforementioned Coots.

You can see his big very funny feet here!

The last two days my favorite duck has returned and hopefully will be here for awhile!  Here you can see all his amazing colors.  He didn't return last year but I saw him for about a month the year before.  He is still hanging out with the mallards and now he is the aggressor in disagreements whereas before they would shun him.

This is a picture from today where the sun was behind me instead of in front.

He came up to feed some on the beach.  Look at all the colors in his iridescent head.

I have been going to Ft. Fisher each day at low tide to see if my Godwit will come back (or the Avocents or Rail).  A whole flock of Oystercatchers showed up, stayed for a few minutes and then cleared out again.

There was a small flock of these birds flitting around. They were so far away, I assumed they were Sanderlings but when I got home I discovered they were Semipalmated Plovers! I saw these in another place down here just about this time of year last year.  They really blended in with the oyster covered beach. They were very small and I amazed the pictures turned out as well as they did as they were pretty far away and I was looking into the sun!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Auditioning and a Bit of This and That

One of my very favorite birds is the Oystercatcher and we have an abundance of them down in the basin at Ft. Fisher when the tide is nice a low.  I managed to set my camera up wrong so didn't get some of the great pics I should have gotten!!  There were quite a few of them.  The amazing thing to me is that they were not at all annoyed by all the boats coming in and out but don't like people standing by themselves with cameras!!  They must be used to the boats and see no harm.

I couldn't resist this beautiful Turkey Vulture circling around my house.  At least he didn't land on my roof but did on another chimney and I know he doesn't deliver babies! When they are circling overhead, I always wonder if the end is near!

This is probably a Forster's tern (which I have seen down here) but he was very very white and looked like a Sandwich tern (which is not common down here).  Maybe it was the light, but he looked almost stark white.  Hmmm.

Anyway, back to the quilting!!  This is the final configuration I decided on for the beach piece.  It feels more balanced to me now.  I may reduce the sky part though and may add some features on top (I know there will be grass and reeds but don't know whether there will be shells or birds yet) before quilting.

I bought this pattern recently (Figure Flattering Quiltwear) and am trying to put together a pallette of fabrics from what I brought down here.  It calls for a gradation of nine values and one accent color.  On the photo of the jacket, the accent color is the bright turquoise.  This was my first iteration with the darkest value being black.  The green is the accent color.  Not sure if these are good colors for me but...

I then tried this sequence with the light turquoise on the side being the accent color.  Probably a little more conservative.

This is the gradation that is currently being contemplated.  The very last piece before the black seems to be a little light in value but it is such a nice transition from the black but I may have to rethink.  The rest of the values do work as I desaturated the pic completely as a test.  I noted that the values in the pattern itself were awfully close using this desaturation as well.  I have purchased and washed my flannel and am itching to get started and try out this new pattern.  As always I usually try to follow a pattern pretty rigorously the first time I use it.  I liked this one as it had a little more fit than the one I hae been using.  I, however, will definitely add a lining which isn't in the pattern.  I will probably also face the top and front and won't use binding but we shall see.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Marbling With a Friend

Lucky for me, Patricia Mattison (Pat's website) invited me over to her house yesterday to do some marbling and/or dyeing!!  Of course I have none of the stuff I need to do that down here but figured I could add some knowledge to the endeavors.  The first order of business was to see in person all of Pat's beautiful quilts.  Unfortunately I didn't get all the names of the quilts!!  This was one of the latest which was shown at Houston!  It has layers and layers of fabrics and is quite large.  The rectangular box on the bottom was a printer part in front of the quilt so it is not part of the design!!

This is one of her first quilts and is called Perseid Meteor Shower.  I loved it!!

This was a very large mermaid!  You can see the attention to the detail in the faces which is absolutely amazing.  

This is called Morgan (which is her daughter).  Pat sells her works in a gallery in downtown Wilmington, NC

This was one of several stretched pieces featuring some of her surface designs.  The background here is a piece of fabric from Judy Robertson but the shibori pieces on top are Pat's and go so perfectly.

This is another of her stretched pieces of surface design featuring one of her signature dragonflies.

I see these bushes with the red berries but have no idea what they are.  This one was growing by the side of Pat's house and looked beautiful with all the changing leaves and the green.

Now, I have to say that there is nothing more fun than doing marbling with a friend!!  It just makes the whole process so much more light-hearted somehow.  Of course, bossy me had lots of opinions and freely shared those!!  Pat and her daughter Morgan were doing most of the paint dripping but I joined in as it is a fun task.  Her set up was just right, the paints behaved and expanded nicely on top!  Pat had found many of the same paints that I like to use (Golden paints specifically which are the highest pigment acrylic paints you can buy).  She even had an ample supply of GAC900 (fabric extender) from Golden.  Pat and I had taken the same class from Elin Noble but I didn't remember that I learned about GAC900 from Elin as she didn't use the Golden paints in the class I took.  It made life very easy though.  Pat had set up a long table and made a frame with pool noodles and plastic and filled it with about 15 gallons of Methylcellulose - long enough to do four foot scarves easily!!   You can see Pat and Morgan laying down one of the first scarves in this new batch.

Here isMorgan with  one of the resulting scarves.  She  uses very light silk chiffon for many of her scarves.  After marbling, they are rinsed in a bucket of clean water.  They are then hung out on a line to dry.  I generally wait about a week after that to throw them in a washing machine and get out that last bit of size (methylcellulose).

This was one of my favorites.  It had already been marbled once with a brown and some oranges.  We over-marbled with all sorts of "warm" colors and I loved the result.  I think this was on bamboo or rayon rather than silk.  It has a very complex look about it!

I have ordered up some alum online and will do some marbling of my own next week.  Pat is definitely a bad influence as she recognized as I should be using up the box of marbled fabrics I brought down here rather than making more!!

Pat teaches classes in her fabric collage techniques as well as gives lectures  (Pat's Workshops).

It is good to have a "play" mate down here as I miss my many days with Marcia and Priscilla!!