Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

So this has definitely been a stormy Christmas.

I didn't get a photo of it; but you might remember my wren nest from earlier in the year - well it was absolutely clogged with wrens yesterday. They were like clowns in a clown car coming out of the nest and all over the door and the wreath. Pretty significant wind came through again with the snow yesterday so I think they were hiding.

Never-ending snow:

Tiniest Christmas Tree ever:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snowy weather and completed project

Finally the ridiculous freeze broke a bit to bring in the clouds and the snow. There has been a lot of wind out here with this storm so the snow isn't accumulating so much as blowing around.

Just prior to losing power last night I also finally completed the largest quilt I have done yet. :) The design is "Winter Garden" by Nancy Rink, Quilter's Newsletter Magazine Jan/Feb 2004/No 359. This design utilizes the Shoo-Fly block but also had a fun border. There was actually even another border of triangles but I wasn't as crazy about it and given how large this quilt got, I am glad I omitted it.

I don't usually get to say that I love quilting my quilts; but this time I actually did. I am not sure if it was the challenge of it or the fact that I am simply getting better control and smarter about planning the quilting out. This quilt has a really nice mix of straight quilting lines and free motion. The size of it was intimidating though (especially when I realized I needed a queen sized batting) and it was a real workout to move around.

The backing is this really cute crow flannel that I got at Taylor Creek Quilt Studio in Maple Valley (really great little shop). I also got some great advice there when we realized I wasn't going to make this work with the amount of fabric left on the bolt. It turns out that is preferable to create a backing of three panels anyway rather than one seam down the middle. This is more for the extreme stretch that happens on commercial quilting machines; but basically it distributes the stretching stress a little more rather than putting it all on one seam. And. I loved the look...

You may note the little kitty feet in the above photo. There was plenty of fighting going on to keep the cats and the quilting doberman OFF the quilt while I was trying to take photos of it. And this is why I have to wash all my projects before I give them away.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The cold snap has arrived

I really don't have much to say except that all of these cover jobs are not done by me.

I have been somewhat alarmed to find that rescue kitten is also an under-the-blanket pet (mostly because I have to be careful about squishing him).

And yes, he is actually sleeping that way, with his legs like that.

Happy winter everyone. Hope you are all keeping warm.

Knitting mistake

I made probably one of my more impressive knitting mistakes in all my time of knitting and I still couldn't tell you exactly what happened. The pattern was from Rowan and called "Lauryn Shawl" by Lisa Richardson. As you can see; mine didn't turn out as a shawl.

One of two things happened: either I totally blundered the count or I was shorted a skein (it was a kit).

Still, a very interesting pattern with a neat effect.

Three Forks Natural Area

The Three Forks Natural area is a small little park that has some river bank access and flat and short trails. The quilting doberman is sitting on the historic site of the North Fork School.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It is certainly pink

I don't think I have ever been so happy for a quilt to be completed mostly because it caused so much problems I was just glad to be done with it.

The pattern is called "Second Honeymoon" from the The Quilter Magazine, March 2004. I am pretty sure I have worked on it on and off for almost 3 years. I learned a lot from this quilt. The fabric chaos is due to not having enough of any color and being too new to quilting to know how to plan for enough fabric.

I broke a ton of needles quilting this one for two reasons, one, failure to clip excess fabric at the star points (I think called rabbit ears?) ESPECIALLY important with thick flannel, and two, failure to adjust my quilting plan once I realized the problem so that I could avoid these particular thick points of fabric. is DONE! And hopefully some little girl will love it a lot more than I do. :)

The quilting doberman enjoying the fall weather out on the North Fork:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

National Alpaca Farm Day

And finally...National Alpaca Farm Day.

I almost didn't go to a farm this year. It is sort of neat to check them out last year; but I had spent plenty of time at both the Heritage Festival and Outdoor Quiltshow. However, I decided to check out one farm on my way home and I was SO glad I did.

The farm is Jo's Fleece Fields in Carnation (Lake Joy community). It is well worth a visit even not on National Alpaca Farm Day. There is a great variety of animals in a very welcoming setup and the hosts were all totally fantastic.

This farm isn't just about Alpacas. It is about Alpacas and several other animals including llamas, goats, and hens.

In one area there are about 4 llamas with the herd of Alpacas. Llamas average around 500 pounds and Alpacas around 150. Alpacas are probably considerably cuter; but a little lacking in the personality department.

The llamas live happily with their Alpaca herd serving as the herd watch dogs. They warn the Alpacas of danger; even getting between the Alpacas and the danger or getting them back up to the barn. These two were particularly social and came right up to us. They would lean on the visitors and follow them around for attention.

These two males were separated out for a couple of reasons. One, since the Alpacas will never come up to the fence to see us like the llamas will; it gave us a chance to get really close to one. But these two were also used for fleece comparison. The darker one was worth considerable more and when you touched him his fleece was extremely dense compared to the other male.

Baby chicks were everywhere! All you could hear was the peeping as the moms moved them around to keep them away from the visitors.

Hens in the hen house.

There was also a goat area and they were generally social and curious as well.

This was the only time that this one withdrew his head and body from the hay station.

This one ran up to me first.

And finally pea-mom and pea-baby. Apparently pea-dad was somewhere in the area. Like good peacocks they live on the roof of the house at night.

I want a farm. :)

Duvall Heritage Festival

So after the Duvall Outdoor Quilt Show it was on to the next Duvall event: Duvall Heritage Festival.

This is a very small scale event centered around the Dougherty Farmstead. There was some music, hat making, and several "household" demonstrations such as shucking corn, washing clothing, churning butter, yarn spinning and apple cider pressing.

There was a lady trying to work a field with two mules (I think - I mix up mules and donkeys sometimes). I would going to describe them as stubborn but I think that is pretty much a given. Apparently she wasn't their normal driver so they were exceptionally uncooperative. It did make them very easy to photograph however.

The Dougherty historic house really was neat. It apparently served as a post office and Catholic Church in addition to a residence.

In one of the upstairs rooms there were about 8 older quilts on one bed. The lady would tell the history on one and then turn it back to move on to the next one. Most of the quilts seemed to have been made by a relative of hers (frequently her great grandmother).

One room had something known as a linoleum carpet. I actually really liked it. Apparently it was something you could order in the Sears catalog.

Annual Duvall Outdoor Quilt Show

A cute owl quilt featured at the Duvall's Outdoor Quilt Show.

Thankfully the weather cooperated. The above quilt is a collection of quilt blocks from a Western Washington Quilt Shop Hop (I am not sure from which year - maybe last year?).

The Quilter's Garden in Duvall hosts the annual event. It is such a pretty event to see the quilts hanging on the shops off of Main Street.

Friday, September 26, 2008

“Underground Railroad Quilts” lecture

I attended an amazing lecture last night in Duvall. This was the first lecture in the Duvall Cultural Commission fall lecture series. Ted Hutchinson was our speaker or perhaps more accurately our "griot" (he described griot as an African word for the town storyteller and keeper of the oral tradition). Using a seemingly effortless combination of storytelling and song I learned the symbolism behind several very familiar block patterns as communication tools during the American history of slavery.

Initially in the lecture I was irritated not to have a working pen. I quickly realized that this wasn't a lecture to take notes in however. This was a lecture to absorb.

Hutchinson had three sampler quilts that have been made for him from various churches or people inspired by his presentation. The quilt in the photo immediately above was made for him in one week after hearing his story. Note this block from the sampler quilt that helps explain each block as a communication tool:

Even that above key doesn't really capture the full explaination; including down to the use of the dominant color in some of the blocks to convey meaning.

As the story goes; these quilts were made by slaves for their masters. Specific quilts were hung out by the house slaves for airing depending on what needed to be communicated to the other slaves.

It is too bad that when they teach in school about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad they don't include the stories of these quilts. Or about how Harriet Tubman had narcolepsy due to a particularly bad beating when she was younger; causing her on occasion to drop at potentially unfortunate times while she was trying to lead others to freedom.

While I can post these quilt photos and talk about the stories of the blocks as Hutchinson told them to me; the part I can't capture very well is all the other tangents of American history that were being rapidly exchanged during this lecture.

One of the stories I was able to remember and look up when I got home was regarding Ebo Landing.

There was another story regarding a demonstration against building on a fairly large burial site. Since I can't hope to remember that story correctly; this is a great article regarding cemetery style and land use ownership confusion in the Charleston area.

Ted Hutchinson is 78 years old. He is American born and grew up in Harlem. It wasn't until his wife needed an idea for a Master's project while they were living in Spokane that he started immersing himself in this amazing history.

Myself and maybe a couple other attendees were probably the only handful that had not been through at a minimum either WWII, the Vietnam War, and possibly most importantly the Civil Rights movement of the 60s.

I was somewhat surprised when the Civil Rights movement came up; only it so easily blended in it was sort of amazing. The subject came up regarding how traditional (and often religious) songs that were altered for the 60s purposes. In about a 2 - 3 minute discussion I got an insight into that time period that I am not sure I have ever felt or understood despite the movies I have seen and the history I have read.

Ted Hutchinson said if you have a story to tell be sure to do it before you die. And he certainly has a story.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rare photo of the three cats together

I haven't posted in a long time and probably should get some projects back up here; but today was a rare time when all three cats were "hanging" together. My guess is that elder kitty was there first and the other two crowded in.

The quilting doberman is well into heart disease now (DCM). If I was more organized I would do regular blogging to document decisions, incidents, disease progress in him and treatment.

He is a 7 year old doberman. He showed the first questionable symptom in September 2007). He was diagnosed definitively in June 2008.

There is a lot of information on the Internet regarding this disease in dobermans; but not a lot on the day to day progression of living with it; so maybe I will work on that.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bewick's Wren

A small nest appeared above my only doorway. It took me a while to work out what bird it was. Finally I was able to see the white stripe above the eye. Also, so many sites now have bird noise recordings that are really helpful. It was a Bewick's Wren.

Apparently it also had a girlfriend and on the day that Rescue kitten escaped the little eggs also unfortunately hatched. This is my only door and I was obviously in and out of it frequently that night. All I could hear was frantic peeping every time I went out and the adult birds would be in the nearby trees very upset.

They seem to have survived. Last night I was finally able to count 4. They are more active at night and the nest is tiny; making them difficult to see and photograph. Their little tufts of feathers on the top of their heads are pretty funny though. Hopefully that comes through.

It makes leaving the house a little more challenging. They have pooed all over the door mat and I am terrified of stepping on one of them but apparently their diet includes spiders so they could nest inside the house for all I care.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Rescue Kitten's big adventure

My primary motivation for this post is to publicize this site:

Cats in the Bag - General Pet Searching Tips

The author's e-mail address bounced and frankly; given what her site is for I don't blame her for disabling it. My guess is she was flooded with calls for help.

My thank you e-mail to Pauline (should she ever see it):

"I would like to thank you for your pet search tips Web site. It got me through a lot these past couple of days.

Wednesday evening my indoor only young male cat escaped out the front door in an unfortunate tangle with my dog; he didn’t mean to run, he just got on the wrong end of the legs. I looked at him in horror as he panicked and darted. I made one attempt to dash after him and somehow had the sense to pull back and run in for some canned food. I returned back outside and he was entirely gone.

It rained all night.

Thursday was spent significantly canvassing the neighborhood and passing out fliers. I live in a rural area and I back into wilderness. I had spent enough time on you site to have some hope that he was actually very near by. It was hard to believe though; very hard. It was hard to deal with the fact that he simply wasn’t calling back.

When all was said and done he was located Thursday night at dusk about 20 - 30 feet from the door he came out of. He was under a giant rhododendron that backed into even thicker foliage with apple trees behind it. I had spent a lot of time in the apple trees because I thought that was the direction he ran but never got a peep. The apple trees were backed by a loud creek (you never realize how much you hate living next to a creek until you are calling for you cat – desperate for a reply).

People ask me if I think he was there the entire time. To be honest; I suspect he was. When I did find him; there was nothing about how he looked or acted that suggested he was just roaming around enjoying himself. Whatever the reason, he wasn’t willing to reply to me until that much time had passed. I was set up to sleep out for the night and do the “simply sitting” method. As it got dark I couldn’t stand it and did one more round of light calling. I got a response. Notably he would only respond when I was in front of him and not behind him in the apple trees. I think this is because in front of him was soft grass…behind him was twig and branches and I couldn’t walk without cracking them.

Once I had a visual on him it took about 20 minutes of laying flat on the ground and light talking until he came close enough in that I could be sure of my grab. He became far more chatty with me once I laid on the ground.

He immediately used the litter box and ate. It is about 24 hours later now and he is still sleeping and clingy. Behaviorally he is definitely different right now. He is not as playful but he also seems really tired.

Thank you again."

I would also like to acknowledge the Feral Cat Coalition who was still available at an odd time on a week evening for my sister to go over and get a live pet trap for me to set the first night he went missing. Description:

"Feral Cat Coalition
Redmond, WA, 425.883.7629
Offers a clearinghouse of advice and information about feral cats, and lends traps to assist with trap-neuter-return. Does not provide shelter for feral cats."

Uncontrolled cat breeding and over-population is a pretty daunting problem for anyone to take on and the woman running the Feral Cat Coalition is pretty amazing for making herself readily available like that.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Calligan Lake

On Friday, May 16th, desperate for sun and to finally locate Calligan Lake I decided to get my map out and getting hiking. I know why I couldn't find it last was because it was the uphill fork that I distinctly remember avoiding last time I was out there.

Mostly the access to Calligan Lake is a series of logging roads off the North Fork. The reason I mention it is because they don't note the mileage on the map of logging roads like they do of trails.

Had I bothered to figure out before we headed out that this was going to work out to about a 16 mile or so hike I probably would have re-thought the large mexican food meal as well as the little joy driving I did prior; resulting in a late (2pm) start for the hike.

But, we still had fun. The quilting doberman with hiking friend on an old abandoned bridge over the Calligan Creek:

I believe it was about this time that I noticed the mileage situation. Sadly this bridge probably would have been the fastest way to one end of Calligan Lake; however, just past the bridge was about 1 - 2 feet of soft snow on an abandoned road and I was feeling wimpy because I was in shorts; so we had to backtrack and probably add at least another mile on.

Finally at Calligan Lake:

We hardly had time to spend at the lake as it was after 5pm and I knew how long we had to go to get back. It was beautiful though.

The quilting doberman in his own little road swamp on the hike back out: