Thursday, July 17, 2014

Jacobean Journey Quilt - Inner Border

Its been several months since we started the quilt as a BOM but since I'm adding on both inner and outer borders, I figure I better get started making those blocks.  The inner border comprises 2 blocks.  I need 36 of one (straights) and 4 of the other (corners) so I'm going to try to do roughly 10 per month or so.  I'll discuss the inner border corner block in another post.

Inner Border Block

This block I call the "straights." Both of these blocks are different from the rest so far.  For these two blocks you have to piece fabric together BEFORE you begin the block.  The inner block has a diamond pattern in it and you're going to sew 3 strips of fabric together (fabrics 3, 2 and 4) and then line up the seams onto the stitch pattern.  I have found this to be the most difficult step.  Its not really difficult but you have to be very accurate.  You sew the fabric strips together with 1/4" seam and if they're off your seams will not match up, your diamond pattern will be out of place and the decorative sewing will not match up in the right square and the really frustrating thing is, you won't really find out if your fabric placement was right until the very end.

TIP: Don't try to sew your strips the length of the WOF or you'll be sorry. Yes, I did this and no it didn't work out well for me.  Instead,  cut them into roughly 10" lengths and then sew them and that way they'll be a bit more manageable. This worked much better for me.

After you've got the strips sewn together, stitch out your block placement outline.  You should be able to line up the seam line from your strips onto the block lines for the inner diamond pattern. If your seams line up okay, then cross cut your strips into 1.75" pieces.

After cutting your stripped piece into smaller pieces, iron the seam so it alternates - away from the center and towards the center.  This will help to "lock" you seams together. Honestly, this is hit and miss if you ask me. Some of mine seemed to fit better going in one direction then the next piece won't match up well. Then I grab one that is ironed in the opposite direction and it fits. But sometimes I don't alternate at all and they match up fine.

Place the first piece right side up and line the seam to the stitch line and sew the tack down.  You can use a glue stick or wonder tape to hold the piece in place. The next piece is going to go right sides together lining up the seam with the stitch line. Stitch the tack down.  Be careful here. After the tack down is stitched the machine foot will travel across the piece and mine has been catching the seam and pulling the fabric.

Next, fold that piece over, again making sure that seam is on the stitch line and tack down. Continue the same method all the way across. After that you'll simply place your fabric 3 right sides together for the top piece and the same for fabric 4 on the bottom. At this point, attach the backing fabric and stitch the decorative stitch on the block. I've made a video of the decorative stitching below.

Once you get everything going it seems to go pretty quickly. I was really careful with my seams matching the stitch line and the decorative stitching is still a little wonky in some areas that I wasn't all that happy about.  Hopefully, I won't have too many screw ups. One down and 35 more to go!

Inner Border Block Video

If you want to watch the Hoopsisters video putting together the entire block you can find that here.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Trip to the Zoo

My husband and I, went to The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium specifically to see the new Africa exhibit a few weeks ago. This exhibit just opened in May and is roughly 43 acres. The area includes a watering hole, camel rides and an area to feed giraffes and more.  The keepers move different savannah dwelling animals in and out of the watering hole area throughout the day and they have cheetah runs twice a day. Keepers thread a string around some well placed round wheels on the ground and the winch pulls a grocery bag covered tennis ball around the large circular area which the cheetahs love to chase. Think lure chasing with big cats.

We also saw ostrich and zebra at the watering hole in the morning as well as some gray crowned cranes off in the savannah area. Next to the watering hole, is the giraffe feeding area. You can pay $3.00 and you get to feed the giraffe getting up close and personal with their sweet little noses and big dark eyes for you to see.

Just before the watering hole area, are camel rides, which we didn't do but its awesome for the kids. We also love the polar bear exhibit which was added about 2 years ago. The bears, both polar and non-polar, have a much larger area to explore and swim in.  Keepers were giving a presentation and tossing in peanut butter covered toys for the polar bears to enjoy.

The zoo is getting really large now with all of the improvements and we got there around 9:30am and left around 2:30pm.  My pedometer said I had walked over 12,000 steps or roughly 8 miles!  Seriously. My feet hurt.  Anyway, of course a lot of animals were hunkered down in the shade, hidey hole, tree stump or where ever they could stuff their furry little butts to stay cool and we didn't get to see them or see them well anyway. At least the bobcat was out.

I think its strange that I have to go to the zoo in order to see some common songbirds. I've always wanted to see a Cedar Waxwing, Blue Bunting, Eastern Bluebird and a Scarlet Tanager but I never have.  Maybe I'm just not leaving my house often enough? Anyway, I finally got to see all but the Tanager. If he was in the aviary, I couldn't find it. Seriously? How does a red and black colored bird hide in green trees? There was no missing the blue bunting. That little guy was very, very bright blue.

The other more wild birds we saw were the flamingos and the lorikeets, a parrot type bird from Australia.  The lorikeets exhibit has been around for a while and for a small fee you can feed them some kind of sugar water/milk like solution. They are pretty and seem friendly when they land on you to get to the little bucket you're holding but don't be fooled. They bite and they will steal your bucket.

All in all a great trip to the zoo. We had great weather to enjoy and got a lot of exercise in the process. If you haven't been to the zoo in a few years you'll enjoy the various upgrades but it is getting really big so you might have to go several times in order to see everything. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mammals and Fowel

Well, it finally July and we've had some visitors in the yard.  I live in the suburbs of Columbus and we're infested with rabbits and of course deer. Sometimes we'll wake up to 7 of them laying in the backyard and other times we don't see any for weeks.

In early May, I noticed a loan doe a few backyards over standing in some large trees and I thought, "Wow, that looks like a weird deer." I took some really bad pictures of her because she was so far away but through the camera lens I could see her from all angles as she walked or should I say waddled around.  She was pregnant. I mean, about to explode pregnant and I'm fairly certain I don't know much about deer gestation but I was fairly certain she wasn't just having one fawn. I was fairly sure there was going to be twins, which I understand deer mostly have but I've never seen a doe in this advanced condition before.

Anyway, fast forward several weeks to early June. My dog, River, started going crazy at the front window, which normally means the UPS man is on our street. I went to the window and looked out and saw what appeared to be the same doe with two little fawns in my neighbors front yard.  I'm assuming its the same doe but who really knows?  Its not like they all look that different from each other.

So one of the little ones, with his cute big ears and sweet white spots trotted into our small front yard and momma started to follow. Well, my chin dropped when I saw a third fawn following her and they all proceeded to torment my dog by gracefully trotting across the yard not fifteen feet from the window. I grabbed my camera but didn't see them again.... well, that day anyway.

On June 15, I was outside with River when I saw the doe and fawns again. I quickly got the dog inside and grabbed my camera. I took several pictures and some are grainy or slightly blurred but hey I did what I could before they all ran off.  And of course, I had just made a new flower bed out back by the big ugly green telephone/utility boxes and planted a bunch of perennials, when the deer came through and nibbled some. I had already seen the evidence of munched plants but what can you do?  Its like laying out a buffet to deer and bunnies and then saying "no, don't eat that it's mine."  Right.  They don't care that you paid money for these things. They just eat the blossom, fill your yard full of deer poo for your dog to eat and move on. Apparently, they think this is a fair trade in the their little mammal minds. Me, not so much.

When the doe got closer, I could see she still has a very large lump on her right side so I'm wondering if her health is okay or not.  We can only hope it is. She seems fine and moves okay. I'm sure if I had triplets my right said would be lumpy too.

The other family that's been visiting our yard has been a female mallard duck and her 8 babies. We've watched them follow her around for weeks. Each time we see them they're bigger and none have gone missing.  One of the little ducklings was a bit gimpy and he limped badly at first but the limp seemed less pronounced each time the little family came through the yard. They would just walk through eating whatever bugs they could find sometimes going back and forth across the entire yard like a voracious bug eating vacuum.

Its been a few weeks since we saw the group and I'm glad to say all 8 were still following momma around and it looked like they had gotten most of their feathers in and none of them looked gimpy so whatever injury one had it appeared to heal.

We've barely seen any bees and certainly no butterflies.  We've seen some cabbage whites and even those seem to be scarce.  I even planted millkweed this year and nothing seems to land on them but I'll keep an eye out for caterpillars. Keeping my fingers crossed that July will see some butterflies.