Saturday, May 10, 2014

Spring in the backyard!

Living in Minnesota gives you a deeper appreciation for the changes that come with 4 seasons, particularly after this last winter.  Spring is finally here and looking great.  Over the 17 years that we have been in this house Steve has worked to improve the backyard.  We now have a private park out my back door.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak Photo
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is currently visiting the yard in groups of 3-6 or more.  The coloring is so clear and crisp.  They like the feeder and will just sit and munch.

American Goldfinch PhotoRight now we have the beautiful Goldfinch in his brilliant mating splendor.  They stay all year round but are the fabulous bright yellow from mid-April to about September. They are small and flit around the yard all day long.  Baltimore Oriole Photo
The Oriole has been working the yard for the past week also.  Steve puts out the grape jelly they like so much along with the cut oranges. We have seen half a dozen in the yard at one time or another.  They are also snacking at the hummingbird feeder Steve has put out.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Photo  Even the hummingbirds are coming back now.  They seem to be the late arrivers at the party.

Steve says that he has seen 1 Indigo Bunting this spring as well.
Indigo Bunting Photo

This seasonal migrating birds are in addition to our regular bird population of Robins, Wrens, House Finches, Sparrows, Grackles, Bluejays, Starlings, Swallows, Red Winged Blackbirds,  Mallard Ducks, the occasional Red Tailed Hawk and even a Bald Eagle every now and then.  It is just consatant entertainment watching the backyard.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Handwork is Good

I started working on this quilt a number of years ago based on a line drawing in a Marti Michelle pattern book on Hexagons.  I like English Paper Piecing and liked the tumbling blocks concept of this design so I started collecting fabrics.

I wanted to do something that was really just color gradations and not showcasing fabric patterns.  Knowing that I didn't need a lot of yardage in any one fabric meant that I could look at smaller quantities of many fabrics.  A trip to Mary Jo's in North Carolina a couple of years ago resulted in lots of options and more dollars than what I had planned.  Oh well, it is a hand project and will last for quite awhile.

I was right about the amount of time but wrong about not needing more fabric.  For the last couple of years I have played with the gradations and made a number of blocks.  In the last month or so we have had a couple of long haul road trips where I was able to tack the fabric while Steve motors us down the road.  Last week I realized that I needed to start putting this on the wall so I can see what I actually have completed, what needs to get changed and what I need to add or edit. I also spent time working out the general placement in EQ7.

My what a difference putting it on the wall made.  I now see that I have a couple of fabrics that are too dark or too green versus teal.  I have figured out what "nine patch"star blocks I want to add into this design and have most of the placement /colors worked out.  I know I want to add a pieced border using the same diamond units to carry the colorful theme all the way out.

I still have some blocks to make but my reluctance to continue the project has been resolved and I have a better plan in mind.  Now I am jazzed to keep working on this.  I have most of it cut and prepped.  This weekend I am going to start working on the "nine patch" star blocks to see just how much of a challenge it is going to be.  I think I will do at least some of it as paper foundation piecing before I whip stitch the 3 diamond row together.  Not sure about the process yet but i should be entertaining.  I will let you know....