Tuesday, May 19, 2015

You Can Lead The Bird To The Berries But...

This weekend the cedar waxwings descended on my Yamazakura Cherry tree.
 

 To fill their bellies full of bitty ripe cherries...


Most of the time they are so busy, bobbing and weaving and picking and flitting, that it's all I can do to snap a few shots...



This year to my great surprise, I noticed a pair of waxwings perched on a branch and staying put.

Slowly I moved to where I could see what was going on and set my camera on continuous burst...



At first, I thought it was a loving couple but when I watched the back and forth that followed, I recognized the behavior immediately...



It was exactly the same behavior that I observe at my feeders in late Spring when new bird parents bring their fledglings to the gourmet smorgasbord that I set out for them.

The newly fledged birds sit there dumbly amongst all the seed and continue to chirp for their parents to bring their food even though the food is right in front of them.

And so that's what was happening here.  The fledgling is on the right and the Mama is on the left trying to teach the young adult how to forage and eat his own berry...


Time and again the adult passed the berry to the youngster...


And time and again the little one would try to get the berry centered in his beak...and not quite get it...



And not knowing what to do, he would pass the berry back...


And Mama would pass it back again.  

This time I thought for sure that the baby bird would get it.  I mean that berry is pretty well centered in his beak.   I think Mama was thinking the same thing...



But no.  It wasn't going to happen.  

Just when the kiddo decided to do the flip...the quick motion of tilting back the head and letting go of the berry so he could quickly gobble it up...it got off center...again...


And he passed it back again...


And she tried again...



And he aborted again.  

It reminded me of when I used to put cheerios on Jack's highchair and he would pick them up and try to feed me...and I would eat one...and pass one to him and he would shake his head no and laugh, with his lips pressed shut...and pass one back to me to eat...and so it went...



Except Mama wasn't eating this berry-o and this little guy wasn't getting the idea that he was supposed to.

It went on for minutes.  I have hundreds of pictures of this dance.

Until finally, he squished the berry in his beak and just like that, it was gone.  Down the hatch...



A little cheer erupted from my heart as I watched Mom fly off to pick another...



And Junior just sat there, waiting around...not even trying to pluck his own berry...


For the sake of that Mama bird, I hope I observed the first berry eating lesson of the day and not the tenth!

And we think human parents need patience.

[Note:  Last year's Cedar Waxwing post is here if you're interested.]

[Back update:  Thanks for all the back well wishes.  I'm still lying on my belly and typing this.  Can't sit for any length of time still but I am slowly getting better.  Here's hoping I'll be stitching by the end of the week.]

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Crazy Mentors

Eight years ago I began blogging.

At that time I had just discovered the practice of crazy quilting.   The mixed-media, anything-goes approach to the art form was a perfect fit for my magpie nature and gatherer personality. 

I sought out as much information as I could find which led me to the websites, blogs and stores of this talented and beautiful group of women you see below.  I fell in love with their work first, spending countless hours soaking up the knowledge they so generously shared...

From left to right:  Susan Elliott, NickiLee Seavey, Lisa Boni, Allie Aller, Maureen Greeson, Betty Pillsbury, Shirlee Fassell
Now I just love them for the greathearted souls they are.  

I have such gratitude for all they've taught me. I wouldn't be the embroiderer I am today without their guidance.  They have left their mark on my work and my life is all the better for their mentorship.

When I heard Allie and Lisa were heading East, I called Maureen to see if we could stop by for a hug.   There is no finer hostess than Maureen Greeson and so she did what any good hostess would...she invited Betty, Shirlee and NickiLee who live within driving distance and we had ourselves a Gathering. 

It was a banner day for us all...sitting around Maureen's table, sharing stories, laughs and our latest work.  Most of us hadn't seen each other since the Crazy Quilt Gathering in 2011 so there was lots to catch up on.



It was one heck of a show and tell!

Allie shared a couple of her quilts but had packed most of them away by the time I got my camera out (sorry Allie)...



She shared her "Be Kind" quilt, the centerpiece of which was a cross stitch by her Uncle Hal's wife.

Detail of "Be Kind" by Allie Aller
It shows an amalgamation of both hand and machine techniques, using crazy quilt fabrics, trims and threads in a traditionally machine-pieced way. Allie's been playing with combining old quilting techniques in new and contemporary ways.  She has authored two books and is working on a third!

Detail of quilt by Allison Aller
Allie has starred in many posts on this blog as we've been friends since the beginning of my blogging life.  You can read them here.  You can follow her on her Facebook page or her blog, Allies in Stitches.

Next up is the magical, marvelous work of Betty Pillsbury...



Her quilts are full of fun, fantasy and the feminine divine...

Detail of Crazy Quilt by Betty Pillsbury




She's also an herbalist and works in union with the fairies to craft healing and medicinal herb products...

Detail of Crazy Quilt by Betty Pillsbury
Love the hand-colored image above and the flow of shibori ribbons in her quilts...

Detail of Crazy Quilt by Betty Pillsbury
You can learn more about Betty and her work at her website, Green Spiral Herbs,  follow her on Facebook and read this post I wrote about Betty's workshop in 2011.

NickiLee Seavey is known for her lace-infused crazy quilts and her Etsy business, Raviolee Dreams where she shares and sells her beautiful hand-dyed laces...


NickiLee brought a work-in-progress where she is appliqueing and embellishing her hand-dyed laces onto an antique quilt base...

Quilt block by NickiLee Seavey
The combination of the old and new is absolutely marvelous...

Quilt block by NickiLee Seavey

And the use of the antique quilt as the basis from which to grow the quilt was brilliant...

Quilt block by NickiLee Seavey
NickiLee can be found on Facebook or on her blog, Raviolee Dreams.  You can also purchase her hand-dyed laces in her Etsy shop here.

Our hostess Maureen Greeson has probably taught me the most because I started following her before I even began blogging.  

Most of my first supplies were bought through her shop (which is closed *sniff*) and she used to publish a newsletter where she provided free motifs and embellishment tips.  I still have all of those tips in my inspiration file.

Maureen didn't want to share anything so I begged her to get out a Four Seasons piece which is still in progress.

I just love her eye for elegance, lace and charming victorian ladies...

Quilt detail by Maureen Greeson
I have always admired this piece and the use of crazy-pieced laces as the background...

Quilt detail by Maureen Greeson
And this wisteria!

Quilt detail by Maureen Greeson
You can find Maureen on Facebook herefollow her blog here or read this prior post I'd written about this generous woman.

I'm also grateful to Maureen for introducing me to this spirited and talented lady, Shirlee Fassell...


Shirlee used to appear as a guest contributor to Maureen's newsletters and her ideas were some of my favorites.

Shirlee has studied tambour embroidery at École Lesage in Paris where I'd like to go one day and is now using what she's learned there to do her own thing.

And boy is she!  Currently, she is combining the traditional concepts of crazy quilting and tambour embroidery using a LunĂ©ville hook and creating works that are altogether new and "Shirlee"...

Quilt detail by Shirlee Fassell
The pieces she brought to share are part of the Crazy Quilt Journal Project for 2015...

Quilt detail by Shirlee Fassell
Her pieces are treasure troves of texture...

Quilt detail by Shirlee Fassell
You can follow Shirlee on Facebook here, her blog, Needle and Hook, here and check out this earlier post I've written about her work.

Last but not least is Lisa Boni of Ivory Blush Roses.  Like Allie, I missed most of her show and tell but did catch the tail end of these stunning blocks she's making for the Crazy Quilt Journal project...

Quilt detail by Lisa Boni
She says that these colors are out of her comfort zone since she normally prefers...well...ivory and blush rose...and green/white...

You would never guess that these were out of her comfort zone...just gorgeous...

Quilt detail by Lisa Boni
Her work is impeccable.  

I didn't have a good individual shot of Lisa but I do have this one of us together sharing our love for margaritas...


And our outfits happen to match the new color scheme of her blocks.  Check out the rose pins that we're both wearing...a gift made by Shirlee with that hook of hers.

You can find Lisa at her blog, Ivory Blush Roses, or follow her on Facebook.

After show and tell, Allie put out a call for ideas by spreading a group of vintage stars that I'd picked up in an antique store.  The ideas were flying and the stars were moved around like chess pieces.


Did you see NickiLee holding Maureen's dog Gracie?  She wanted had her own opinions to add.

It was a rich day, full of connection and kinship, and you can see how stimulating and inspiring this group is.

We are so lucky to have this internet where we can show up on each other's virtual front porches and share our lives, our families and our work.

I never would have dreamed eight years ago that I would be gathering family-style with this talented group of teachers.  And just like meeting up with old high school friends, the internet allows us to "know" each other without ever physically having met.

The wonder of it all.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Tip from Jan at Delectable Mountain Cloth

Good Monday!

I'm still out of commission with my back but I'm a bit better than I was a few days ago so thanks for all the well wishes.  I'm going to have to figure out an ergonomic chair that can pull up to my embroidery frame so if anyone has any advice...I'm all ears!!

Here's a picture full of happiness...


This is my loot from my trip to Delectable Mountain Cloth.   I just love that crocheted and beaded berry trim.  *Sorry but there was only this one piece.* (I know, I know.  Don't be mad.)

It reminded me of this book with beaded edgings that I bought a while back.  Time to try out some of those patterns.

I also was really into the color nude this time around for some reason.


These silks have great structure and a stiffness which I'm looking forward to playing with. That's another thing about Jan's shop...there are tons of different types of fabric...the common denominator being that they are all natural materials...silks, cottons, linens, wool.

I also can't resist the incredible quilt packs that Jan puts together.  There are approximately 30-40 fabric pieces per roll, perfectly sized for piecing crazy quilt blocks.



The fabrics are unbelievable...running anywhere from $25-over $100/yd and priced incredibly reasonably.  There's no way you could afford to purchase such a wide range of exquisite fabric.  I can't get enough of them.

Lastly, I picked up some of this icy blue panne velvet.



Panne velvet is a type of crushed velvet where all the nap is hard pressed to one side.  The overall effect on the velvet is very glossy and looks like sealskin.

What if you don't want this glossy look?

No problem.  According to Jan, all you have to do is wet the velvet and put it into the dryer.

So I tried it.  I wetted it...


And dried it. Now I have two different types of velvet.  One very icy and slinky and the other very soft and malleable.



I noticed that the wetted version also doesn't hold creases like the panne velvet does.

And there you have it.  A tip for panne velvet on this beautiful Monday.

*sigh***


P.S. Unbeknownst to me, Delectable Mountain is a quilt block pattern! Maybe that was unbeknownst to you too...

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