Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Our Christmas cactus actually bloomed brilliantly right on time this year -- only the second time in the 20 years we have had this plant!  It has been so warm down here that the blossoms are dying off faster than they would have if the temps had been a little cooler outside.  We have broken high temp records for 5 out of the last 7 days and we have had our air conditioning on for a week -- this is North Carolina not Florida!!  Last February was the coldest on record and this December was the warmest on record!  Even the water temp was 65 today!  Crazy.....

Tuesday I spent the day with my friend Dianne dyeing and she spotted a lump in her mulch.  Underneath was this sweet potato which was about the size of a soccer ball!  I liked all the nooks and crannies and had to have a picture.  Don't think they will be eating this.  Daffodils and azaleas are blooming down here, very confused about the season.

We did a session of extreme overdyeing at Dianne's.  The colors we used for the first baths were top to bottom, Grape, Fuchsia, Leaf Green, Golden Yellow and Sun Yellow.  The overdye (columns) are Neutral Gray, Turquoise, Basic Brown, New Black and then Deep Navy.  They were each 3% solutions (WOG).  We used low water immersion with 11 yards in each bucket.  Some interesting results  I thought.  The grey is very weak as an overdye and changed the color very subtlely.  It is a blue/gray.  My favorites were the Basic Brown overdye (not much difference between the overdye on the Sun Yellow and Golden Yellow which surprised me.  I like the colors I got overdyeing with the New Black.  Also, surprisingly was that the Navy did the darkest overdye.  I don't know whether the scale was just off or whether it is that much stronger than the other colors.  It is a very nice clean color,

This is just another look at the colors.  I think this gives a much prettier view of all the colors. and gives you a better idea of how they will behave in a quilt pattern.  Some of the darks will make awesome background fabrics.

Just taking some pictures on  a nice day at Greenfield Lake a week ago.  Only Cormorants and Pied-billed Grebes were in residence.

First time I have seen the Redhead female out of the water.  The Canvasback has left but the three Redhead females are still hanging out with the Coots.

Yesterday I saw my first Common Loon of the season.  I have seen several Red-throated Loons at the beach but this Loon was down by the boat dock hanging out with the Horned Grebes -- quite a few of them.

This is the Loon from the front.

This was one of the Horned Grebes and I liked the background and his bright red eye!

This is a juvenile Herring Gull with an illegally sized Flounder that he was trying to figure out how to eat!  The state officials would have fined him if they saw him!!  They recently changed the size limit on what fisherman could take in the Southern Flounder.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Another Day of Dyeing!

Dianne and I got together to dye again this Thursday and first we did a little show and tell of what she had done the week before.  This was one she did with the New Black from ProChem.   

 These were three pieces done with an Intense Blue and put on large poles on the diagonal.  The first was an overdye on a Mixing Red.
The top piece was scrunched and tied up and dipped in a dark green.

This piece was wrapped on a small pole on the diagonal and squished down and dyed with a mix of brown and black.  The Basic Brown is always too reddish for me and I like this dark chocolate.

This was done by doing hand stitching and pulling tight and dyed with a mix of Scarlet and Basic Brown.

 I was anxious to try the new Gray that is a pure color (and not a mix like all previous grays).  Both Dianne and I did a gradation using the same concentration of dye and one yard pieces.  This is Dianne's result and below is my result.

Mine are obviously much darker and I had a bag break so I think that is why the one piece is lighter than I would expect.  The difference -- hers was pfd and mine was pfd and Mercerised which gives you a much deeper color which really shows here.

 I can finally use up the remaining Mixing Gray I have hoarded since 1999!!  They stopped making it years ago and it was a prepared gray.  This was is just great and I am so happy I happened upon a Facebook posting which pointed me to Carol Soderlund's blog on the new color!

I also did another gradation which I had great hopes for.  Like a beginner, I somehow forgot to add the soda ash!!!  So I got a bunch of very pale blue pieces of fabric!  Well, into the overdye pile!!

I did throw some pieces of pink fabric into a couple of the pots to overdye the and they are pretty boring and will get overdyed again!!  This was a bit of a surprise.  I had a set of fat quarters that were a gradation of Mixing Red and not particularly exciting.  I overdyed them with a 3 percent solution of Sun Yellow and got a really nice gradation and I could definitely see them in flowers in the future.  I really do like the effect you get when you overdye a gradation with a set percentage of another color.  

Now I am trying to figure out what colors to come up with in one of our Extreme Overdyeing events a week from tomorrow!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Canvasback and Friends -- the Last of the Canvasback

This is a slightly different view of Ft. Fisher at dusk!  There were no clouds to make for the colorful sunsets but I liked this view.

The rest of the pictures today are of the Canvasback which had been visiting at Carolina Beach Lake.  This was the last day that I saw him and his three female friends and the conditions were perfect for picture taking and he was only about 30 feet away from me for quite some time.  I have only seen a Canvasback once before when I took one of those birding trips but this is the first male Canvasback I have seen and he is beautiful!  Here he is hanging out with the Coots.  The rest of the pictures are all of him and his friends!

 Loved the background in this shot and you can see so much detail.

 Here he is with the reflection of the bright Carolina blue sky.

I caught him busily cleaning himself.

 Just another shot with nice background.

 This is one of his lady friends which is a Redheaded Duck female.  There were three of them that seemed to stay with him if the other Coots and Mallards wandered off in a different direction.

 This is most of the gang.  For some reason, the Mallards were hanging out separately this day.  You can see his lady friends in among the Coots.

 This domestic White Tufted duck has been a constant visitor at the Lake for years.  I haven't ever seem any signs of breeding with the Mallards though.

The Ibis were hanging out as well by the side of the Lake basking in our very warm weather!!

We have had 70s almost every day in December which is very unusual!  It makes up for the last two years which were pretty cool by comparison.

I saw this Double Crested Cormorant hanging out at the boat launch area at Ft. Fisher.  There has been no Dowitchers this year or Red Knots and the Marbled Godwits have disappeared as well.  I think duck season has a lot to do with this!  I still see the Oystercatchers at low tide and there  have been Horned Grebes pretty consistently as well.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

You Can't Get Away From the Birds Down Here - Back to Carolina Beach Lake!

I had pretty much eliminated Carolina Beach Lake from my daily sightings as last year there were literally no birds but the ever present Mallards and a few American Coots.  I went down to check on the Coot population this year as the lake is covered with algae and the fountains are not going like they were last year.  I was shocked to see this Canvasback Duck which is a duck I have only seen one other time and that was up at Matamuskeet where all the ducks winter and even then I only saw one at a distance.  It is a relatively common duck but I just haven't seen them.  He likes to hang out in the middle of the lake though which makes photography a challenge!  You can see his defining characteristics here though, red head, black neck and top of head and beak and stark white back.  I have been down there each day trying to get the perfect photo without a lot of luck!

 Here he is with what I think are female Red-headed ducks and male and female mallards.

 A picture from another day but you can see his eye here.  It is very difficult to get good pictures of very  high contrast birds in the water and he is high contrast!!

This picture and the next were taken as he shook himself off after a dive.  He dabbles mostly but occasionally dives for some food.

His wings are back here.

These Mallards in the sun just were begging for their picture to be taken.

A couple of the American Coots with their friend the Killdeer were standing by the side of the lake.

This group of Ibis were standing around today waiting for the rain.  Rare to see them all with their bills out of the water!!

A couple were preening by the side of the lake with even more Killdeers.  You can see the black tips on their wings clearly here.  These are mature adults.  The juveniles are brown.

I believe these are female Redheads as they just look too light to be Scaups and their heads are too round.  There were three of these hanging out with the Canvasback.

Our house is a block from the beach with no obstructions.  the other day sitting on the porch reading I noticed a large number of Gannets diving at our beach access so I went down to see if I could get a closer look.  There were probably a 100 of them altogether, both adults and  one and two year juveniles.  They were diving like crazy.  You can see a couple of them have just left the water.  This went on for about an hour.  Last year there was a HUGE occurrence of these in January over a two day period -- 1000's of these seabirds.  They are one of my favorites down here.

They were pretty far out but this is a pretty good closeup of one.  They are large, mostly bright white with a beige head and black wing tips.  They are so large and striking, you can see then from a distance,

A just one more sunrise picture -- this doesn't happen very often (getting the pictures that is)!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Invitation to Join a New Art Quilt Group

Thursday I was invited to attend a long running art quilt group here in Wilmington.  I already knew two members of the group who are both incredibly talented quilters and I really looked forward to meeting the other ladies!  This was one of the first quilts that greeted me when I walked into Gerry's house.  Gerry was hosting this group for their annual Christmas party which was a potluck (I brought broccoli/cheddar quiche).  The quilting in the background is unbelievably intense.  I would guess it was about 40 x 36 and lovely!

This was a large piece that Gerry had done honoring her father.  Again, beautifully done.

I coudn't get back far enough to get this whole quilt in the picture.  Gerry said this is the last quilt that she hand-quilted and the hand quilting is exquisite -- would do anyone at GVQC proud!  She concentrates on art quilts now.

Couldn't quite get the whole quilt in this picture as well.  Loved the colors.

I actually think this was my favorite of all of them.  There was great texture in this one.

I look forward to getting to know these ladies better.  One of the exciting parts is that the only other woman in the guild who lives here in Kure Beach is also in this group and she drove me to the meeting and it was absolutely lovely to get to know her better.  It was a really nice group of women so I look forward to the next meeting!!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Day of Shibori Dyeing

Two mornings this week I got up at dawn (which is pretty late this time of year but still...).  There were just enough clouds to make the sunrise really pretty both days.  The second day I grabbed the camera and hurried down to our beach trying to catch the first few rays!

 Thursday I headed to my friend Dianne's house with a car packed full of dyes, clamps and clothespins as she wanted to learn to do some shibori.  I just grabbed a few of my already dyed fabrics that I had brought down here.  They were some of the lighter colors that were just boring as they were.  I bring down fabrics that are small chunks for the most part figuring on doing some random scrappy quilts.  I tend to dye larger pieces of yardage these days.  This piece was an exception in that it was a large piece of fabric dyed sun yellow originally.  This was sewn into a double tube and put on a 5 inch wide piece of pvc pipe and then pushed down with rubber bands at the top and bottom.  It was dyed in a brown/black dye bath.  I used a bit too much dye in these dye baths but you do get a gradation effect.

This is one of my favorite techniques for shibori and is the most labor intensive.  You basically put folds in the fabric and then do a running stitch and pull tight.  You can make any design  you want.  Again a little too much dye so not enough definition.  It was again brown/black over a pale yellow.

This was another yellow overdyed piece.  It was dyed with a brown/scarlet mix and was again sewn into a tube and put on a 5 inch pvc pipe.

 This was a fat quarter from one of my overdyeing experiments.  It was a plain leaf green which I inadvertently overdyed with leaf green!  This was twisted on the diagonal on a 5 inch pvc pipe with rubber bands at either end.

This is the same as above only using a much smaller pvc pipe -- probably only an inch in diameter.

This was another piece that was sewn into a tube and pushed down a 5 inch pipe.  It is a half yard piece and was yellow and obviously from the way it took color, it was variegated.  It is very difficult to see the variegation in a yellow but you can see it when overdyed as the more intensely yellow dyed will not take as much of the blue (in this case).

 This was a clamped piece where I used two mirrors and clamps (which kept falling off as the mirrors were too slippery).  This was accordion folded in one direction and then again in the opposite direction.

This is again the mirrors clamped on a fat quarter that was pink.  I presoaked the pink so it resisted the dye a bit more.  I overdyed with blue/violet.

All of these pieces were immersion dyed.  I used about 3 gal of water, 2 cups of salt per container and about 4 tsps of dye.  I added 5 tbsps of soda ash after fifteen minutes and then let it sit for another hour.  To get better penetration, it helps to move the stuff around during the first half hour.