Monday, February 27, 2017

More stash busting

Hello, everyone.

In the battle of the clutter, I'm using up some more stashed fabric.

Fabric: a lightweight silk print. Use: gathered skirt with invisible zip and a waist band. No pattern needed for this!

I had to change the needles in both the sewing machine and the serger for this fabric. It's much too light for the usual weight of needles, so they are now size 10 needles.

Hand basting was required to get the gathered skirt fabric to mate up with the waist band. I used a bit of machine embroidery thread for that. Also the zipper was hand basted into place on the interfaced seam allowance.

Still needed at this point, hand sewing the inside edge of the waistband down and hemming. Probably going to be a hand hem, this fabric seems too light for a machine blind stitch.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Revised Block Idea

Hello, everyone.

As is probably common, there was more noodling around with the block sketches the other day.

This is the revised Double T block, now a 12x12 size instead.

The base looked too tall, so the row of checkered piecing at the bottom was added. In addition, using the larger size allowed for a more recognizable shape for the letters of the T. I'm thinking red, of course, for the parts outlined in red ink, black for the shadowed parts of the letters, white or ivory for the main background, and then the checkers at the bottom in gray or beige with black.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Pack duffel progress report

Hello, everyone.

All the materials for the pack duffels have arrived! It's so exciting. And as soon as the project I'm doing now finishes, in a day or so, the duffel making will begin.

The fabric for the shell: main (red) and contrast (gray)
 Our duffels will be made from nylon Oxford cloth. It's not as lightweight as ripstop, but it is expected to go through airport conveyor systems, after all. Stated weight is about 4 ounces per yard. There will be about a yard of fabric in the duffel.
The top zippers: a good color match.
 These zippers open from the middle, not from the ends.
The zippers for the stow pocket. Almost a good match, but not supposed to be on display anyway.
The gray zippers have a reversible pull--that is, it can be pulled from either side. That will allow us to close the stow pocket after we stuff the bag into it.

The pocket bag will be made from a chunk of ripstop fabric that was already on hand.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Block Play Ideas

Hello, everyone.

In connection with a new quilt that has been requested, there has been some pencil block work done lately. The requestor is a Texas Tech student.

A quick stroll through Pinterest didn't come up with a whole lot of candidates...there was the square named Ararat for an elephant square from the Kansas City star, and a whole lot of applique elephants, and a couple of other pieced designs that just didn't appeal a lot.

A Tech elephant
Yes, yes, I know that Tech are the Red Raiders. And one of their big slogans is "Guns up!" But the masked rider is way, way beyond my artistic level. As is the hand in "guns up!" position. (Any hands, actually, are beyond my artistic level.)
The doggie with a blanket shown earlier was a possibility, and it might even make an appearance, substituting Tech fabric for the Aggie fabric that was used for the first dog blanket.
Here is an elephant, suggested colors being two shades of gray (the ear different from the rest) and the blanket being Tech-design fabric. The corners could be black, here, and the "floor" could be green, with the remainder of the background either a nondescript "solid" of any color or maybe a sky type design. There is just enough extra room at the top to add a little more shape to the ear if wanted. But do we want an elephant ear that looks like a straight-up lozenge?

The Double T in 6x6 square
This one to have the Double T in black and the main background red. Possibly a contrast shade of white or pearl gray in the side bar. (Side bar is there because I am really uninterested in blocks with odd-numbered dimensions--it was 6 tall and 5 wide until that was added.) If the square was made in 12x12 format, the double coloration of red and black in the square could be done. Also the serifs on the smaller T could be done with no problem, and the larger tee could have square serifs too. In that case, I would sub pale gray or white for the background and either a strip of Tech pattern fabric for the side bar or just have the side bar as part of the regular background. (Switching the sides of the bar could give a nice zigzag effect in a vertical stack of the T squares, too.)

And an attempt at a bridge
For this one, colors might be gray and/or black for the bridge structure and either a plain background for the rest or possibly something that suggests a body of water near the bottom and sky above.

The previously shown hammer and wrench blocks might even make an appearance, too, in the thematic colors of red and black.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A good training day

Hello, everyone.

After a busy week, and only the Estero Llano Grande walk to show for it, we got down to business yesterday: Hike and Bike. Knocked out 6 miles in 2 hours, which is actually our natural pace when we are in shape.

And one should always keep one's eyes open and camera ready when training.

Roseate spoonbills
 When approaching the wooden foot-bridge, about mile 2 or 2.5, it is well to keep quiet and look around carefully.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Walk Report: Estero Llano Grande State Park

Hello, everyone.

A few days ago we drove over to Estero Llano Grande State Park, just south of the city of Weslaco. The turn-off is clearly signed and there is parking.

We flashed our spiffy annual pass and got our little paper bracelets and walked up and down and around. It was very enjoyable. Flocks of the Snowbirds were there, of course, with their big camera rigs, and they had plenty to see.

View toward east from observation deck at entrance. Many ducks! Boardwalk in
background goes around pond to rest of area.
 This pond was wide! Many of the birds were wading instead of floating in it.
View toward west from the same deck.
 There are several other ponds around, and various types of habitat: grasses, scrub, tall cattails, etc.

One of the alligators, relaxing in the mud.
I especially got a charge out of the "alligator etiquette" section on the visitors' map. The first rule, paraphrased, is "Don't make them angry." A wise rule! There is a wooden observation deck at the pond the alligators like, so the visitor has a chance to see them in their element. There were benches there, too. In fact, there are a great number of conveniently located benches along the many paths.

This park has a great abundance of riverine type birds. There were "small" herons, spoonbill, various cranes and ducks and grebes, and assorted small birds. There were even a couple of young ibis wading around in the pond by the wood deck. There was one bird house, not occupied, in a pond. Other than the seed feeder at the entrance, the park administrators are not using feeders. With the layout of ponds, with plants and resting logs, that they have created, they don't need feeders to have many birds to watch.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Pack Duffel (Beta version) report

Hello, everyone.

As the title says, this is the beta version of the pack duffel. (The prior version was just proof-of-concept.) The pack in the picture was filled with assorted bedding to approximate the shape and size of a loaded pack, and the hip belt was clipped around the pack instead of flying free.

The length of the bag was taken in somewhat and the height of the end panels was diminished a little. The stow pocket was not altered.

(I didn't put the top zips back on for the test fitting in this version. I was already satisfied with that part of the bag.)

Onward and upward and all that stuff.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Stash Busting Again

Hello, everyone.

One of the nice things about having a stash of supplies on hand is that one can explore possibilities.

But first, another apron is done. It didn't use up any sparkly stuff this time, but it did use up a couple of decent-sized pieces that were begging for a purpose.

Another spring-themed apron
 And, after discussing the possible fates of backpacks in checked baggage, the thought of making a travel cover for our packs came up. Something light weight, not a heavy canvas duffel bag! And as we talked, the idea of how to store it during the trip came up, too.  A test of the project concept was necessary. Not only was it needed to see if the idea would even work, it was a great way to use up some shiny stash fabric, and to try out the idea.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Walk Report: Sabal Palm Sanctuary in Brownsville

Hello, everyone.

We awoke early and rarin' to go, so we got into the truck and headed down the highway to Brownsville. (Fortunately, we remembered to bring cell phones so we could check Google Maps for the actual location!) We found the Sabal Palm Sanctuary, formerly operated by the Audobon Society, without any trouble and had a friendly chat with the nice volunteer at the Rabb House where the admission is paid. She was very informed on various birds and hot butterfly-seeing sites on the area. (It's closed on Wednesdays, and shuts down for the night at 5 pm, just so y'all know.)

The place is beautiful. It's almost an undiscovered gem. The birds are not "baited" or "staged" by the use of bird feeders, but they have a lot to say in the trees overhead. Also the fly around a lot. If you were minded to sit down for a quiet wait on one of the many benches, you could probably make some really pretty bird pictures.

The historic Rabb Ranch House
 There is a butterfly garden, unseen off to the left in this photo.

Apparently there was a lovely updraft that day!
 Don't forget to look up.

A Red-eared Slider was sunning in the resaca
 They have a number of short walks with great photo moments. This was taken from an elevated boardwalk over the water.

The palm tree had leaned over the path. Moss was growing on the trunk, too!
The several walks near the resaca are very pleasant. Assorted native plants are growing along with introduced plants that have gone wild. I never thought I'd see a bloom from a Sanseveria plant! (AKA "snake plant" or "mother in law's tongue") There are both native palms and introduced palms that appear to have gone feral. Spanish "moss" is all over the place near the resaca. There was a berry plant that I'd never seen before, called variously snowberry and David's milkberry, which is at the very northern edge of its natural range. The little fruits are really snow-white! Lovely. Also we saw a floating plant, which might have been the famous floating fern. It was cute in an elegant, understated way.

There is a native loop and a loop near the river which have a lot of potential. I understand that if there has been rain there are a number of butterflies near the native loop. The day we went, it was mostly peaceful and quiet.

This little walk is really nice and enjoyable. It is also conveniently close to Stripes locations with good breakfast tacos, gas, and restrooms. Should such things be of interest to the visitor!

We think we got in about 3 miles of walking, by stitching together most of the little routes of the sanctuary.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Birds (Bentsen Park)

Hello, everyone.

Now that we have an annual pass, we're going to Bentsen Park quite a bit. It's allowing us to see how things change over time...mostly, how the birds react to the conditions of the day.

Yesterday we saw quite a few birds early on, but then they took to cover and stayed there. A hawk flew over--possible explanation. The border helicopter flew over from time to time--the birds at the feeders don't like heli motors, it looks like. They got all jumpy when they heard it, but kept eating anyway.

Anhinga (also called "snake bird")
 We almost got to the resaca too late for all the action!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

This n That

Hello, everyone.

We are somewhat behind in our training at this point. The weather was soupy and foggy and misty on Friday, too, so we didn't get out then either.

On the plus side, I'm using up fabric stash a little bit faster right now.

This is another apron. Aprons use up fabric faster than fidget mats--but there is still one of those in progress too. (I'm in the midst of hand stitching the back of the binding down and then it will be done.) This apron is using up some metallic-printed fabric, the eggs and chicks print, and also a big chunk of polka-dotted light green. The next green polka-dotted apron, about half done now, will use a green and yellow and purple violas on white print for the pocket and waist tie.

After that, it might be time to make a quilt that has been requested by DD2. Elephants? Grays, blacks, reds? We'll see.

DH has been working on a project of his own: peanut stick bird feeders. It started when he measured the ones at Bentsen State Park last week.

The feeder was empty and we took the opportunity to see how big it is and how it's hung from the holder. That is one fat eye-bolt.

We do, as it happens, have some pieces of wood around that would do nicely for this project. If it comes out, there will be updates!