Sunday, April 20, 2014

Jacobean Journey Quilt - Block C4

We're finally seeing hints of spring with temps in the 60's and 70's.  Trust me we're really happy considering how cold and long this past winter has been.  Seriously makes me think of moving to California but everywhere has its own problems so I'll stick with the ones I know.

This is the second month of Jacobean Journey Quilt and this month we were assigned to do two blocks - C4 and D5.  I'll discuss block D5 in another posting just to space things out a bit. I have to admit I'm glad we didn't start out with these two blocks first, although that's what Hoopsisters starts you out with.

At our last class, there were approximately 20-30 women there who were doing one of two Hoopsisters patterns, either Jacobean Journey or Feathered Star.  Those who brought their blocks in did a little show-n-tell and all of them looked really good and everyone seemed really pleased with everyone else's.

TIP: Prepare all your fabric first!  Cut the appropriate fabric given in the instructions for each block and iron it. I used a light spray starch just to stiffen up the fabric a little but you don't have to.

Block C4

This block was fairly straight forward and turned out really pretty.  If you have the pattern, we used Fabrics, 1, 3 and 4 and all 4 coordinating threads and there's a lot of stitching, over 27,000 in this one. If you want to watch the whole thing the video is below.

First, stitch your placement area. Using water soluble thread in the needle, stitch down fabric 4 and trim. Using thread B, stitch the decorative stitching. Switch back to WS thread and stitch down fabric 1 then fabric 3. At this point you have to trim those two fabrics or you can trim them individually. Then stitch down fabric 1 and trim and then fabric 3 and trim. Once all your fabric is down, you will do all the decorative stitching, add the backing and then the final quilting.

Part 1 video for block C4:

Part 2 video for block C4:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Look Back to 2013

I am by no means a photographer. I'm not someone who's going to go hiking in Yellowstone National Park in -30 degree weather to get a shot of a buffalo covered in ice. I'm just not going to go quite that far but I do look for interesting things to take pictures of.  I've got a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 that I really like and I'm still trying to figure out what everything does but I mostly leave it on automatic mode. That's what its for right?  For me to not mess with the settings?  Well, at least whoever programmed the thing will appreciate me using the auto mode.

So, since I started my blog, I thought about things I wanted to post about and thought I would take a look at what I did last year and see if I could "beat it".  Whatever "it" is for 2014 and thought I would post a few of my favorites for you to enjoy and hopefully I'll find some more unique subjects this year.

I literally have hundreds if not thousands of pictures in iPhoto and I'm certainly not going to bore you to death with all of them or even a fraction of them because well, mostly they're just pictures. Nothing great, unique or even interesting but a few are passable.

Stepping into my backyard in the summer is usually a dull, routine affair but I keep an eye out for insects and butterflies because I like taking their picture. Most of the time they move around so fast you can't see them and two seconds later they're gone. Hey, I planted a lot of flowers around here and the least you can do is give me a minute or two to look at you!  But no. They move on and move on quickly. They've probably got more buggy things to do then look at the weird two-legged, wingless, smelly mammal looking at them. That's why I always have my camera handy. Besides the last 3 years have been Monarch free and I want to be ready whenever I happen to see one again.

I'm sure many you have seen a hummingbird moth. It visits butterfly bushes and other nectar bearing plants and its fairly small and fast. Really, really fast.  I must have taken 100 pictures before I got this one and this is a small crop of the original.  This is a snowberry hummingbird clearwing moth and this is the only hummingbird moth I've ever seen in Ohio although, I think there are others.  This little guy dances along the flowers, drinking from each petaled tube at a rate that boggles the mind but after all he's running on pure sugar. What I love about pictures is the details!  You can see the little feathery antennae, the super long legs, his little furry body and of course the windows in the wings.

Another common backyard visitor is the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. A fairly distinctive yellow and black stripped butterfly with hints of blue and orange. This is the butterfly I see the most of but most of the time they look fairly tattered and beaten up but not the one below. The wind was whipping around that day and the sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds constantly making for much photo awkwardness. So I came inside and I took this picture through my dining room window. The sun came out, the wind died to nothing and the perfect butterfly posed nicely. There's even some pollen decorating its body and wings. I just love it.

When I go to my grandmother's house, there's always something you just don't see everyday and I always take my camera. Grandma lives surrounded by woods and she's seen blue buntings, phoebe's and who know's what else. Last year, I saw a really strange bug. I thought it was a dragonfly at first but it landed and I saw its wings were folded along its back and it had the biggest eyes I had ever seen. So no. Not a dragonfly but it was definitely a more threatening looking insect. I took as many pictures as I could once it landed in a bush to consume some other poor bug that wasn't fast enough that day. Neither of us had any idea what it was and since grandma has no idea what the internet is let alone have access to it, I had to wait until I got home to figure out what it was. I discovered its a red-footed cannibalfly. After reading about cannibalflies, I'm fairly certain that as flies go, this is the Godzilla of the fly world and if your a flying insect and this thing sees you, your pretty much cannibalfly chow. One of these guys was also in one of my ornamental grasses about a month later but nothing so large as this guy.

Although not the best picture, I did see a 5-lined skink at grandma's as well.  Her place is actually crawling with these guys and if they feel the slightest bit threatened they use their superhuman lightening fast speed and hide so they're almost impossible to photograph. But this one happened to be snacking on some little cricket looking like thing and that's the only reason why it stopped giving me the opportunity to take a picture. These skinks are very common and the juveniles are often dark with blue tails.

I've also see Red-Spotted Purple butterflies, Spicebush Swallowtails, a really cool White Lined Sphinx Moth, which I got some really bad pictures of, a Tiger Beefly and an Eastern Comma. I had never seen a Tiger Beefly and when you read about it says, "The Tiger Beefly is very common in Ohio." How common is very common, because this is a first for me in 41 years. Sheesh. Both of these photos definitely lack a lot of things. The Eastern Comma decided to land on my window screen instead of the much prettier butterfly bush just in front of it and the beefly was just in a bad place to be photographed as well.

And of course, I usually try to photograph birds which normally don't come out very well. I did get a fairly good picture of a male cardinal. He had just hopped into the sun from out of the shade of a tree and his feathers lit up.  At least my mom like the picture.

Here's hoping that 2014 brings in a few Monarchs and a Zebra Swallowtail, neither of which I've seen in years, as well as some new and weird moths, insects and birds.