Saturday, August 30, 2014

More Waffling

This baby quilt seems determined to get the best of me. I laid out the fabric I showed you here that I thought would go so well as backing only to discover there was very little red/fuchsia and way too much orangy rust in it. Couldn't do it. However, once I started the new search for an alternate backing, I did remember this hand-dye - another one from my friend's stash - which really is quite lovely with the top and gives me some of the bright lift I couldn't seem to bring to the piecing.

I auditioned 3 blue variegated cottons and one purple for the quilting, settling on this one because it had that turquoise leaning and a brightness the others did not. I'd been waffling a bit about the quilting, thinking I'd stitch in the ditch along the seams and then maybe freemotion quilt wavy lines down the wider strips. An episode of Quilting Arts reminded me of this pre-programed stitch on my machine that I've used before on utility quilts. I'd not spaced rows of it close together as shown on the episode though, and decided this was probably the answer to how to quilt this. After testing settings, I stayed with the default width but changed the default stitch length to spread out the undulation.

Time to have some fun. Time to let go! With walking foot on and stitch set, I could just run the quilt through the machine, first sending those undulations down the narrow strips. The subtle variegation of the thread worked perfectly over the different fabrics, helping to pull it all together.

I eyeballed the spacing of the quilting through the wider strips, then decided I needed to add a bit more quilting for utility sake. I probably would not have added the straight lines a quarter inch from the seams were this just for the wall, but I'm hoping this quilt gets used, and that means it will be washed. Extra quilting stitches help stabilize everything and should help the quilt last longer.

About the time I was feeling better about this quilt, I ran across this anonymous "The Creative Process" which made me laugh. It so describes my journey with this quilt and many of my creations:

  1. This is awesome.
  2. This is tricky.
  3. This is terrible.
  4. I am terrible
  5. This is awesome.

I enjoyed this easy quilting that works so well here, but there was one more waffle left - binding fabric. I'd set aside a dark fuchsia more or less identical to that used in the top, having decided against the dark purple that never made it into the quilt in spite of being the first hand-dye I'd pulled. I wasn't totally convinced though, and even less so when I turned that backing to the front as part of the basting process prior to quilting. Oh - that would have made great borders, if I had thought to do borders. Maybe it would make a nice frame with the binding, tie in with the lighter fabric in the top. I laid pieces of both around the squared up quilt, and although the fuchsia would have worked, I decided to go for the lighter blue instead. This is a half-inch binding (to balance with those half-inch strips in the top) which I seldom do. I had wanted to sew it on completely by machine, but messed up the width dimension such that it is barely wide enough to cover the seam line on the back, so I am hand stitching it down, something that wasn't in the plan. Oh well - I convinced myself that it's for the best not having that machine stitching running along the binding on the front.

So I really like this quilt, am anxious to get it to that baby before he outgrows it, and can't quite figure out why there is all this bad karma in it, lots of little bumps and missteps along the way to frustrate and shake my confidence. Just when I think I am on the home stretch, the quilt gives me one last sign that I am so not in charge. As I'm turning the binding to the back and pinning, I prick my finger on the second pin, noticing the blood on my finger before grabbing the quilt and rubbing it all over the back. Whew! Oh wait. I better check around to the front...and sure enough - 3 drops of blood on that light blue binding. So this is a chance to share with you another favorite tip. Dab a bit of hydrogen peroxide on the blood with a Q-tip and let it fizz the stain away. Then dab with plain water to dilute the peroxide and let dry - magic!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Round Lake Tree Textures

I wasn't going to do it - take pictures of bark while walking around the lake on my birthday. Lord knows I have enough reference pictures of such, especially of the Ponderosa Pine which normally captures my attention. And then I saw this - looking all in the world to me as if the texture had been dabbed on with a paintbrush (click on pic for larger view).

Then there was this magnificent "painted" texture - could not resist these sinuous lines.

Here's a close-up of the same tree - almost like thick tresses.

And a different texturing near the base. The horizontal striations puzzle me.

This is a close-up of the base of that big old tree with so many branches. It too has the horizontal striations over the vertical texturing.

Drawn to the charring on this one.

The rest of the shots are all from this tree with the interesting "feet".

All these different textures from this one side.

And yet, when I walked around to view the other side, it was as plain as could be. Imagine that!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Walk Around Round Lake

Yesterday was my birthday, and I hadn't planned anything special. After all, I feel like I've been partying all month what with treating myself to three of the eight Festival at Sandpoint concerts, shopping at the Arts & Crafts Fair and the Gem-Bead show, and spending Friday with my art group making the rounds of the Artist's Studio Tour. Fun fun fun all month long! Maybe I'd just stay home and have some fun fun fun in the studio. Oh, but the weather was too nice and I've been wanting for too long to check out the hiking trail at the aptly named Round Lake about ten miles south of where I live.

There are many small lakes in this part of Idaho, leftovers from a colder time when ice sheets and glaciers and ice age floods carved out the topography. This one just happens to be part of a state park and so has camping and picnicking facilities, a beach for swimming and a dock for fishing off of, a place to put in small watercraft and a trail system that circles the 58-acre lake - 2 to 3 miles around depending upon which routes you take. I took the Trapper's trail.

This trail follows mostly just above the shoreline and periodically has signage telling about the wildlife and ecosystem you may observe. Not being an early riser, I was hiking at mid-day so most of the wildlife was keeping to itself.

Much of the trail winds "under canopies of western white pine, Engelmann spruce, grand fir, lodgepole pine, black cottonwood, paper birch, red alder, and Rock Mountain maple." It's the end of summer, a dryness to the air, not much in the way of wildflowers, everything looking a bit spent.

Even the lilypads looked spent in spite of residing in the water.

And yet here on the side of this tree, bright green moss.

Not far from it, a reminder of forest fires that have passed through this area that can get so tinder dry.

And evidence of the recent winds from thunderstorms that took down so many trees in our area.

Round lake empties into a small stream that flows into the next lake along. I have a real fondness for the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Northwest, the smooth round rocks they flow over, all shades of my favorite neutral color.

Soon the trail crosses the creek via this bridge and switchbacks up the hillside. The trees seem less dense on this side of the lake, and there are tons of windfalls.

I always think trees grow straight up but often those that no longer have bark reveal a slight twist to the growth. Woodpeckers, no doubt, have been busy making those holes.

The trees are so straight and tall through here, and as I said, everything with a sense of dryness and age, that I was startled to realize I'd come upon some young trees, looking fresh and new. These weren't much taller than I am.

Couldn't resist a backlit shot.

Plenty to look at on the ground as well. Roots across the trail that looked like snakes.

Lots and lots of exposed roots in some places.

And this root popping up a burl-like round protrusion in the middle of the trail. I've not seen anything quite like that before.

At the half-way point, I found a bench to rest upon and have a bit of lunch while I watched these boys float by.

They weren't the only ones enjoying the water. I saw other boats and at least one paddle board.

The terrain was a bit different along the second half of the trail - getting steeper. 

I spotted both red-orange and almost turquoise blue berries on ground cover, but not many.

Couldn't miss this rotting birch next to the trail.

And then realized there was a virtual birch graveyard running up the hillside.

One stretch went over a rock outcropping - granite mostly.

And when I looked up the hillside, I saw this very large rock, no doubt carried there by the ancient ice sheet.

As I neared the east side of the lake I came upon a very large tree, still alive but the branches of it's lower half bare and looking dead. So many branches, such a tangle! Taking in its girth and age, it had a presence that was almost spooky. Maybe I've seen too many Tolkien movies...

Soon I was crossing a creek again, this one feeding into the lake. One of the amazing things about northern Idaho is that its mountains can either hold tightly together in narrow canyons or open out to surround farmland. This view shows just such farmland that abuts the state park.

I was nearly back to where I'd started, but decided to walk the short loop called the swamp tromp. There I found another bench by the water where I could rest and sketch. This old snag intrigued me with its half-on half-off bark.

And the last bit of intrigue before reaching the car - these two different species of trees uniting.

I really enjoyed my time in the woods, something I did constantly growing up in this area but do not do often enough anymore. I stopped off at the library on the way home to replenish my reading supply and spent the rest of the afternoon on my back deck enjoying a different kind of solitude, birthday cake and iced coffee.

And to top off the day, here's my birthday dinner ready to pop into the oven - crab & creamcheese-stuffed salmon fillet. What a great day!