Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Some New Critters for Me!

When I first saw three squirrels off in the woods, I assumed they were grey squirrels with something white in their mouths.  However, they are Fox Squirrels which I figured out even before blowing up the pictures  They are really too cute for words with those little mouse-like faces.  I have seen them several times now.

I had headed out to these woods at Carolina Beach State Park in search of a Great Horned Owl as I had seen some pictures on FB from birding friends.  I guessed it would be in the same place it had been reported a couple of years ago and headed to the path.  Sure enough, in only a slightly different place this very large owlet was sitting on a branch but no mom was nearby.  They are hard to miss as they are so large!!  They are  22 inches tall according to my bird book.

I went back the next day to hopefully show my sister and her friend March and sure enough, he was about in the same place with the sun shining on him

Just another angle but you can see his bright yellow eyes staring down at me -- he is turned here.  This was the first time I have seen a large owl in the wild.
the only other owls I have seen in the wild were the Burrowing Owls down in Florida.  Next year I will search for a Barred Owl!

I have also diligently for quite some time now been searching for Painted Buntings which I know are down here.  They decided to come out the day I took my sister over so we were all thrilled with this sighting as well!

Even though he is at the feeder in the park, you can see all his colors here which
are spectacular -- like seeing a tropical bird.

I went back the  next day and the male was at the feeder with a juvenile (I think).  What a thrill!

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Dyeing Day with Dianne and My Sister

My sister decided she wanted to learn how to dye while she was visiting with a friend from Florida so dye we did!!  I did my usual first step for new dyers which is a gradation.  She chose this blue (with my help as I knew she would love this blue) which is Pro Chem's Basic Blue.  I haven't had time or inclination to iron any of the fabric we did but it was a full day!!

I also did the gradation of the Basic Blue as it is my favorite of the blues.  While my sister did a gradation of Golden Yellow (the only yellow that really shows some variation in a gradation), I did a gradation of Pro Chem's Dark Green to which I added about a 2% solution of Sun Yellow to each shade.  It made for a nice gradation!

The ladies were game to do some sequenced overdyeing.  This time instead of the five pots in each of two steps, we used three.  The first three colors were sun yellow, golden yellow and mixing red.  These were then overdyed with intense blue, basic blue and turquoise.

We took the leftover dyes and just played by soaking in soda ash and then packing pretty tightly in a tray and poured dyes over them.  The ladies were very happy with their results!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Progress Continues and Only a Little Time Left!

Definitely making progress but have no idea how you would do this quilt without a design wall.  You just couldn't do it.  I have started doing the outside leaf blocks and decided on adding star blocks in each corner using the fuchsia from the middle.  I tried various and sundry ways to "end" those corner blocks (continuing the green up to the fuchsia, extending the fuchsia to meet the green) but didn't like any of the alternatives so went with this and a white background even in the setting triangles.  It definitely needs a border treatment which is my next challenge with my limited fabric choices down here!

I finished all the outside pieces and started sewing the rows together and here I have joined four rows on the diagonal.  Always difficult to keep track  of things on the diagonal, especially which setting triangles go where.  

The middle of the top is all finished in this photo and I have finished the newest season of Midsomer Murders at the same time!!  I love this English mystery series and own dvds of all 25 seasons!  

So now I am testing borders.  I am definitely going to do a yellow border next to the white although it doesn't show up much there so will make it wider than I usually do.  I am trying various shades of purple around the outside and thought I might do orange.

Here I have tried a darker purple but definitely have rejected that -- too dark.  I do have a piece of more bluish purple that I like the best so far (no picture).

I thought I would like some orange but don't think I like that either although I may put some in the corners -- to be determined.  Lots of auditioning and cleanup tomorrow as currently the room where I sew looks like a tornado hit it as I have been pawing through boxes trying to find the best matches!

I do have to get some cleaning done as I have guests arriving on Tuesday and more on Saturday and then I head north not too long after that.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

More Progress and Some Decisions...

Still making progress on this quilt.  This step shows more "petals" being added to each of the large outside pieces.  You can see that I haven't sewn the stars together yet.

The large flowers are all all completed although not sewn together.  So they join the stars which are also not sewn together.  I will not be opening any windows any time soon or putting on the fan!!

Here I have added the dark green petals on the outside.  I now have three different dark greens in the quilt!!!  I only  had a quarter yard of the last piece and literally just enough to make these blocks!  Looks like I didn't run out of the pale blue either which was a relief as I was cutting it close on this one as well!  

I did want to repeat the fuchsia in the middle somewhere around the outside as it needs to be repeated and I have very little of it.  So I have decided to replace some of the leaf blocks (like those ones surrounding the center block) with star blocks using the fuchsia for the star points.  I will use these in the four outside corners.  I will repeat the yellow with a thin border strip (maybe 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch).  There are setting triangles outside the leaf blocks that surround all this.  I have decided to repeat the orange there as there is a lot of green and purple and I do like a green, purple and orange palette a lot -- my favorite colors together.  I reserve the right to change my mind on this if it is too much.  The other alternative is a darker sky blue.  We shall see!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

And On We Go!

Okay, so I went back and looked at the pattern and it does say "Easy".  Well, Each block is really really easy to construct and they come out perfectly.  However, that is the only easy part!!  If I had used just the colors on the pattern and had just the right amount of each fabric, it might have been easier, but there are so many abbreviations and charts, I am not sure that would have been the case.  Anyway, I didn't want to use her colors and I didn't have enough of any fabric as I challenge myself to only use the fabric I bring down with me and this year I chose to bring a lot of fat quarters and half yard pieces.  The challenge now is to find enough of each fabric that it looks like it was supposed to be different colors or shades of colors.  So far, so good!!  I have chosen white as the background "color" as I do have some of that and it gives a nice clean look to the quilt and I have found I like doing quilting in the white areas.  Here you can see that I have completed the center block and the eight leaves blocks that surround it.

Well, here I  have added the "petals" to the big flowers.  They look blue in the picture but they are really two different violet/blue fabrics, one a hand dye and one a fabric that I had three fat quarters of.  The dark greens are different from the green in the middle as well.  I am using orange around the outside flowers as I wanted something a little calmer than the bright yellow in the middle.  I do need to repeat that bright yellow again but you have to be awfully careful with yellow so I will probably just add a very thin yellow border as well as a little wider fuchsia border as I don't plan on using the fuchsia again anywhere and don't have much of it anyway!  I do have quite a bit of the yellow which is one of my hand dyes.  You can see here I have decided on a pale blue for the stars between the larger flowers.  I have just enough of that to complete the stars (I hope).    It is a batik that I found in my stash for down here.

Ah, here you see the difference between the purples on the four corners and the ones on the inside.  Making progress.

This is as far as I have gotten this week.  I haven't sewn the stars together yet so hopefully no big winds will take them off my design wall while I visit my daughter in Charlotte.  Of course, my first day here she managed to break her big toe on a Friday night and we had to go off to the Emergency Room!!  I told her not to move that big tv.....

I was auditioning fabrics as background for the leaf blocks around the outside and have decided to go with more of the white although I toyed with just using a slightly darker shade of blue but blue can get really overwhelming and for some reason, even though blue is one of my favorite colors, I hate working with it.  Blue and white quilts I have made are torture to finish and I have given many away so I don't have to look at them anymore!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Starting Something New -- It was Supposed to be Mindless.....

Each year when I head south, I bring projects that I just haven't gotten around to doing and probably won't at home where I have so many options!  I had picked up this piece of fabric, knowing that there was another kalaidoscopic quilt in my future.  I have made so many of the Serendipity quilts, I thought I would try a pattern for a four repeat kalaidoscopic quilt that I picked up in Florida at a quilt show a couple of years ago.  Figuring a four repeat would be mindless, I lined up the fabrics and cut my strips and squares. That was simple!  And then.....

This is the pattern, and naturally I am going to do the queen sized version which is the bigger quilt on the cover (92 x 92).  This is NOT a simple quilt!  And the only way I am comfortable making the color choices (which is usually a no-brainer for me) is to do sample blocks to see if I like the colors.  I wanted a much more subtle pallette as I want it for the beach here and the beach just calls for a more pastel pallette.  I think the color choices made in the pattern overwhelm the kalaidoscopes and I wanted them to shine through.

Making the blocks begins.  Nice to just do the four repeats once you get the knack of switching them in the right directions.  Sewing together is a snap, especially when watching Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time - a very soothing background for sewing.

I made so many blocks that I had to clear off my big design wall and put up the blocks in their relative places although they are all oriented on point where I only show the big ones on point here.

Here I have made the flying geese and squares that finish off the so-called "leaf" blocks.  Four on the inside have this arrangement and all the ones on the outside will be this too.  I am using white fabric for the background and miscellaneous hand dyed greens for the leaves.  The designer uses a clever way of making the four flying geese blocks fairly easily and very accurately but some odd cutting sizes for sure!  You make four at a time starting with nothing but squares.

I would like to get the top done before I head home in a few weeks.  I have guests one week though and a trip to my daughter's for another week so we shall see how I do!  Complicating this, is the fact that we are having beautiful weather so I want to be outside all the time!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Spring is Finally Here!

There was a whole row of Royal Terns down at Ft. Fisher on a rainy day last week.  They are all banded but I can't read any numbers but probably the color means something.

One of the Terns is quite vocal and you can actually almost see the eye here!

There was a conflagration of gulls down by the rock wall at Ft. Fisher and I took pictures for identification later figuring they were probably Ring-billed or Laughing Gulls.  Surprise, surprise, they were Bonaparte Gulls which I have seen before but not in this number.  I still have to identify the other strange birds in this picture (the dark ones).  

Ft. Fisher was beautiful today with these big billowy clouds that just dissipated as I was walking.

There are always House Finches belting out their songs by the house.  This is a very colorful male.

I finally finished quilting the Houses quilt that I started in the Flavin Glover class.  Of course, having it sit on the wall, I noticed two mistakes in it!  I am relatively pleased now that I have done the quilting.  I wouldn't do another one though as much as I like log cabin blocks.  I don't like making quilts that someone is well known for!!  The good part is that all the fabrics in this quilt are either my hand dyes or my hand marbled fabrics.

This is just a closeup showing the quilting more clearly.  There are curvy lines in the sky, twirlies in the trees and then just straight lines in the houses, one one the seam line and then one bisecting each piece.