Sunday, March 25, 2012

New One-Block Wonder

I just started a new quilt top - another One-Block Wonder. This one is quite different than ones I've done before - the design is much more subtle.

The hexagon blocks are added to the design wall as they are made. The yellow dots are the pins holding the two halves together. I already see changes that I want to make.

This is the original fabric - not one you would normally consider for a One-Block Wonder. I have the same fabric in a darker color and may incorporate darker blocks in the final top - we'll see.

Our days here in Ocala are numbered. In April, we're spending a couple of weeks in Fort Myers and my sister, Beth, is joining us for seven wonderful adventure-filled days! I miss the birding further south (and my sister) - so this will be a real treat. My goal is to find and photograph a Mangrove Cuckoo. Check out the March 13 entry on STOKES BIRDING BLOG ( for a look at my prize.

At the end of April, we'll be heading north to Colorado Springs.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I Think He Likes It!!

Bill's quilt is finally finished. Notice the pocket at his feet - to keep them warm. I used the same fabric for both the borders and the backing and made the bottom border extra wide. After quilting, I folded the bottom up towards the back, basted and added the binding to cover the raw edges. I also made a matching head rest and I'm working on the arm covers.

If it looks like I posted this image upside-down, you are correct. Bill is holding it with the pocket at the top so it doesn't droop - but I wanted you to see the pattern the way it was made.

When my sister, Beth was here visiting, she showed me the proper way to layer and pin baste a quilt. I followed her instructions and quilted "in the ditch." I'm pleased with the results. Thanks Beth!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meadowlarks at Sunset

Now that the time has changed, Bill often goes to the RC flying field after dinner. Tonight I joined him. It was still a little too windy to fly so we did a little bird watching.

The Eastern Meadowlark is one of my favorite birds. I love their bright yellow chests and their song is beautiful.

This one was singing his little heart out.

The Purple Martins have returned. OTOW sets out rows of houses to welcome them back.

This must be a male and female enjoying the sunset as I was.

It was almost dark - but I had time for one more picture - a Palm Warbler. Some of Bill's friends arrived just as the sun was setting and the wind died down for the evening. I headed home while he took his night plane out for a spin.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bill's Bargello

These are the 12 fabrics Bill choose for his lap quilt. The gals in the quilt shop had a good time working with him to select this variety. Our first project was to place them in the correct order and this is what we came up with. I printed this image and put it by my sewing machine so I can refer to it as I'm sewing.

The pattern Bill selected is a Bargello - but it is just a picture, without specific instructions, so I had to deconstruct it in my head before beginning. He wants his quilt to measure just wide and long enough to cover him from toes to shoulders while he is stretched out in his recliner. He also wants a "pocket" at the feet to tuck his toes in. I figured the final dimensions will be about 33-inches by 75-inches.

After many notes, I began cutting. From each fabric I cut 2 sets of 3-inch wide strips. I stitched one set of 12 strips together by sewing strips one and two, then three and four, etc. I sewed the pairs together starting at the opposite ends of the fabrics till I had a rectangle that measured approx. 42-inches (width of fabric) by 30-inches (12 strips @ 3-inches each minus 1/4-inch seam allowances). The selvaged ends were uneven. I then folded right sides together and connected fabric one with fabric twelve to make a tube. I made sure I did not match ends and joined the fabrics at the natural position.

Next, I cut strips from my tube - 11 strips in various widths from 1 1/4 inch wide to 3 1/4 inches wide and 10 separator strips all 1 1/4 inches. I kept them in order but since most of the fabrics are batik, I didn't need to. It would have been necessary if I was using a fabric with an overall design.

Bill's pattern has a main set of strips (the ones of various sizes) and narrower separator strips. The main strips start from fabric one at the top to fabric twelve at the bottom and the separator strips go in the opposite direction. The main strip tubes were opened at different seams according to the pattern and the separator strips were cut open mid-fabric so none of the seams joined. If you think of the pattern as a graph, the design of the main set of strips moves down the entire width and the design of the separator strips goes up then down. I used the main strips in the order I cut them from narrow to wide and back to narrow with a separator strip between each.

The first section is finished and measures 32-inches wide by 30-inches long. I will make another section exactly like the first from my second set of strips and join it to the bottom of the first section - so the design will repeat in the same order. I don't know yet whether I'll add an entire third section, partial section, or make the foot pocket from the border fabric.

Stay tuned. Today, we play boccie ball at 3:00 PM, then go to dinner at the Ocala Airport. Yes, we have an International Airport here in Ocala - but regular flights don't fly in or out - just private jets and planes from overseas carrying horses. Ocala is, after all, the self-proclaimed "Horse Capital of the World."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Usual: Birds & Quilts

The weather here in Ocala, Florida has been absolutely beautiful - probably the best winter since we've been coming to Florida. But, the last couple of really cold winters has taken its toll on the bird populations. We are not seeing the numbers of birds that we've seen in the past.

On a recent trip to Cedar Key for some of Tony's world famous Clam Chowder, we stopped at a rest area where this adorable Carolina Chickadee was begging to have his picture taken.

I made Bill turn around so I could get a better look at this group of ducks. I was pretty sure they were Scaups - but had no idea if they were Greater or Lesser Scaups.

Lesser Scaups have a slightly different head shape - it comes to a very subtle peak near the top. I decided these were Lesser Scaups - then checked my
Stokes Field Guide to Birds and noticed that Greater Scaups are not seen this far south - which confirmed my identification. The males are black and white while the females are brown with a white marking at the base of their bills.

We have dozens and dozens of Goldfinches this time of year - but Bill noticed this one was different; he's white! I don't know if he just hasn't gotten his yellow feathers yet or if he is part leucistic - without color.

I finished my practice Bargello quilt top. I was originally going to make placemats - but I changed my mind and put them together to make a small lap quilt. I may use it as a wall hanging. I'm pleased with the result and the process was not as difficult as I thought. Now I have to get working on one for Bill. His fabric is waiting.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Red-headed Woodpeckers

When we stopped to see the Kestrels, we also looked for the Red-headed Woodpeckers. Sure enough, there they were!

We've never seen Red-headed Woodpeckers any other place - but we always see several at this one location.

This one was going in and out of the hole in the dead tree.

Beautiful birds!

I also spotted this bird in a nearby shrub. I think it's an Eastern Phoebe - but the brown on his wings has me confused. I kept going back and forth between the phoebe and Great-crested Flycatcher - but I didn't see any yellow on his chest - so I settled on the phoebe. Please feel free to correct me!

While my daughter Pamela and son Leandro were here, we took a stroll around Rainbow Springs State Park. The water is crystal clear and, as you can see, it's easy to spot the various creatures that call the water home.

The Azaleas and Dogwood Trees were in full bloom so we decided we'd let Bill take our picture. I had a wonderful visit with my beautiful daughter and little Leao (he's the BEST baby!)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Twitterpated Kestrels

Bill and I love watching the beautiful American Kestrels that hang out just outside the gates of OTOW. Usually, they are sitting on the wires, so I was pleased to get some pictures without wires or poles.

The female Kestrel has brown wings.

And the male has blue wings.

As we watched, the two birds came together.

What can I say?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Bargello Quilt

Bill wants me to make him a quilt - but not just any quilt. He wants one that measures 33 inches by 75 inches so it will cover him when he is stretched out in his recliner - and he wants it long enough to fold under his feet. I showed him several of my quilt books and the pattern he choose is a Bargello. I've never done a Bargello - so I decided I'd better learn.

This is my first attempt - and Bill actually likes it! This piece is placemat size - but the way the design goes, several can be joined together to make a small lap quilt. I'm halfway through my second square and already the process is making more sense. Bill has already chosen the fabric for his quilt - but I need more practice before it hits the cutting table.

This is the beginning of a comfort quilt I'm making for quilt club. I don't care for the pattern (Half-square Triangle Beauty) or the fabric so I'm having trouble getting it finished. I need to make 20 squares and I'm only half way there. Each of the 9 small squares in the 9 patch have to be cut-down and squared before they are joined so I'm getting my exercise going back and forth from sewing machine to cutting table.