Thursday, March 20, 2014

Back Outside Again!

I set out for a walk yesterday even though the weather was still uncertain but after about 15 minutes, the sun finally came back out again.  This Oystercatcher is about as close as I have ever come to one -- he was hanging out with a Royal Tern (same color beaks I guess) and then decided to walk on the rocks.  You can even see the two colors in the eye and the beak in this picture -- eye looks like  yellow surrounded by red closeup as well as the gold tip at the end of the beak.  I do love Oystercatchers!

He obviously posed for me a lot and here you can see his whole body including the pink legs.

There was also a pretty little Snowy Egret showing his spring feathers.  To me the Snowy Egrets are much showier than their larger cousin the Great Egret.

The Royal Tern finally woke up as he was asleep when sharing the post with the Oystercatcher!

I am getting ready for guests and trying very hard to get a small quilt done for the next quilt meeting which is on Monday -- don't think I will make it with the nice weather which doesn't inspire me to sew!

I am also taking a two day class next week with Vikki Pignatelli (her website) next Monday and Tuesday and guests are arriving on Wednesday and then I play duplicate bridge for several days -- they had to have been pretty desperate for a fourth as I haven't played duplicate bridge in probably 50 years and have very rarely played any kind of bridge since then!!!  Should be interesting!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kitties and Quilts

This is our cat George hunkered down on a quilt for a long winter nap.  We have been surrounded by ginger kitties this past week!!

This is Paca, my daughter's cat.  We were babysitting while she has been off to Paris and then Seattle.

This is her other kitty Jahi who favors one of the newer quilts on the sofa downstairs.  All our kitties have started shedding so spring can't be too far away!

Well, I went on ebay and managed to find more of the print that I had used to make the hexagons, figuring I would use as a border.  I didn't like it.  I then decided that maybe I would use triangles and just some of the print in the border.  Didn't like that either.  So...

I am going with it as is with no extra border besides the green which kind of acts to float the middle.  I am pretty sure I have enough of the green to use for the binding as well.  It will end up being 72 x 76 inches which should fit on a queen sized bed.  I will include that nice extra hexagon fabric on the back so you can see the original fabric which is not even a little obvious from the finished product here!!  This quilt has really been fun to make.  Have to get busy on a challenge quilt and facing the beach quilt before my  bridge playing guests arrive in a little over a week!!

I will be playing tournament bridge for the first time since college almost 50 years ago!!  I wasn't that good even then and the conventions have changed a lot since .  I can barely remember my name these days so counting trump will be a real challenge!!  

My dear friend will then be returning less than a month later to babysit the kitties while hubby and I go on a once in a lifetime trip to New Zealand and Fiji.  We have all our transportation booked and just have to book a few hotels at this point.  One of my old roommates from college is now a NZ citizen and so she has given me some great hints of things to do as we are not on any kind of formal trip.  She recommended that we don't go to Christchurch because of the earthquake that badly damaged the city but encouraged us to book the two day Doubtful Sound Cruise out of Queenstown where she lived for five  years before building a home in Duneden. Too bad she is here in the States while we are there!!  I am most nervous about the almost 36 hours that it will take -- I don't even know what the difference in time will be but we will be crossing the International Date Line so it will be a different day as well!!  My oldest daughter lived in Auckland for several months working at the University of Auckland between undergraduate and grad school.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Visit to Airlie Gardens in Wilmington

Although a little chilly, it was a beautiful day to visit Airlie Gardens to see the Camelias which we figured would be in full bloom (if not a little over the hill).  The cool weather must have slowed things down as they were at peak and just beautiful as always.  This is a view into one of a couple of ponds that are featured on this vast estate.

One of the variegated varieties of Camelia which is among my favorites!

We have been seeing daffodils all around despite the rough weather a couple of weeks ago.

More daffodils!

These were the only tulips I saw though but in another month....

Like England, the pansies are a winter flower around here and  you can see them almost all winter although more vigorous as spring approaches.

I missed the Bluebirds that were  hanging out but when I looked up, I saw this stunning Red-headed Woodpecker.  Pictures don't do this bird justice!!  Quite a hole he is making there!

There were Gadwalls and Wigeons on the large pond with the nature trail around it.  Of course, they seemed to know which direction I was heading and managed to stay as far away from me as they could.  I finally did find a blind on one side off the path so I could get a decent picture of the Gadwall male and female.

A little fuzzy but this is a pair of Wigeons.  I keep hoping to see a Green-winged Teal but so far, no luck.

More Wigeons and there were also a lot of Ring-necked Ducks on another pond but sun direction was a problem so I could only get pictures good enough to identify the ducks.  There was also a male Blue-winged Teal in the bunch so probably the female was not far behind!!  Other visitors have gotten pictures of a male and female Wood Duck but they haven't been around when I visited.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Almost Done -- Well at Least the Top

A long journey with this quilt is finally coming to an end.  It was definitely a challenge as I did not have enough of the main fabric, nor the purple or green fabrics to finish it completely.  I literally used every square inch of the blue.  You probably can't see but several of the hexagons on the outside top and bottom rows are star blocks instead of the larger hexagons.  I was only short four blocks.  If you look real closely you can see that I rearranged a lot of the big blocks to give a little better balance of colors -- most noticeable in the blocks with a lot of white that are kind of on the corners of the blue now.  In this picture I have started putting the rows together.  I can't sew them together to make the top until I decide what do on the ends to square it off.  

I had to take off the blocks individuall and attach triangles to make them into diamonds, then put them back on the wall and pin them in order.  Even with that compulsiveness, there were several times I almost put them together in the wrong order!

Finally all the rows are sewn together and the rows are back on the wall.  I found another 2 yard  piece of one of my green dyed pieces that is pretty close to the greens I used on the outer blocks.

All the rows are sewn and I have pieced most of the side pieces to square up the quilt.  Before I cut out the triangles and half triangles that I needed, I cut some strips lengthwise of the fabric.  Still not enough to make for unseamed pieces but this gives you an idea of what it is going to look like when done.  Now just to finish doing all the side pieces on the rows and sew the rows together and put this first border on which will make the center look a bit like it is floating.  Then I have to decide what more I want to do.  These added pieces make the quilt about 67 x 80 which  should fit on a queen sized bed.  I think the green calms it down a bit myself!

I should note that this is my original design, first done in a small size for the 2004 Hoffman Challenge.  I have not seen this arrangement anyplace else.  The weather has been cooperating the last couple of days by being cold, miserable and windy and not conducive to sitting on the porch!!  In fact, I wouldn't mind having long johns at this point!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Significant Progress

It finally became necessary to go out and get real design wall materials!!!  This quilt was just too big to do it in pieces as even with calculating, it was difficult to ascertain how many of each piece I needed and there is not unlimited fabric!  It actually took almost 2 hours to again lay out the pieces on the two 4 foot by 8 foot design walls.  

More progress by the end of the day ascertaining how many purple stars I will need to make and then to make a decision whether to have another row with the purple in the middle and then what color to put on the far outsides in the corner.  A problem is that I do not have enough of the big hexagons to finish it with that layout but that will make it more square which is what I want.

Did decide to add that outer row that has a purple in the middle on the top and bottom.  Have also been moving around the hexagons to try to get better color balance.  May desaturate the colors to black and white to see how I am doing.

Amost done!!  Decided to put stars around the outside in the four corners instead of the large hexagon blocks.  As I am using the dark green, they tend to fade more into the background anyway and looks planned I think!  I am totally and irrevocably out of the purple and dark green so may have to find another green that is close to square up the quilt.  Then will have to decide what to do around the outside as I think I want this to float a bit.  Looks like it is only going to be about 65 inches by 65 inches, maybe less and would really like it big enough for a queen sized bed. 

 I blew this picture up and counted 47 Oystercatchers in this very small space.  In the newspaper the other day, there was reported that there were only 800 Oystercatchers in the state of NC -- well over 5% of that population is sitting on the rock wall in a space about 6 feet by 6 feet.  In there are Dunlins and a couple of other birds as well which I haven't identified!

The big flock of Cedar Waxwings is still greeting me most days down by the secret beach parking lot!  I noticed one the other day with a bright red tail -- he had more than his fair share of the red berries I guess.  

They were all lined up with just a breath between them.  There is probably about 100 in this flock and the starlings have been keeping them company lately as well.  I can't believe I haven't seen these before!