Thursday, 21 April 2016

Back to Birding

Skip and I have gone birding the last two afternoons at Thickson Woods - a densely treed space on the northern shore of Lake Ontario.

The first day, I discussed cameras with a couple we met there. Although the woman had a CoolPix P610 camera and told me a 900 model was now available, she said she really liked the old P100 she once owned. I realized I have owned the CoolPix P100 for a few years so yesterday's birding session was primarily to test out that camera that I hadn't really used in years.

Here are the pics from Tuesday afternoon with my new Panasonic Lumix ZS40.

I like the contrast of the red dogwood stems with the drab brown. This is the meadow just north of the Waterfront Trail and the woods.
There were lots of American goldfinches twittering away. We have also had a pair at the feeder in our back yard.
We could hear this white-breasted nuthatch's 'yank yank yanking'. He flitted around a lot so it was hard to get a still shot of him.
Other birds we spotted were a northern flicker, lots of chickadees, a brown-headed cowbird, and a mourning dove.

Then several of these butterflies were flying around.
This one landed in the sun right on the path. I had to wait a long time for it to open its wings so I could ID it.
After checking our various sources, it was determined that this is the Mourning Cloak, a very common butterfly across the US and Canada and  is one of the earliest to appear in the spring. We didn't see any yesterday - probably because it was a cooler day than Tuesday.

With my old CoolPix100 (purchased back in 2010 - I just checked), I took some pics during yesterday's visit to Thickson's Woods (also known as Thickson Woods).

I took lots of pictures of chickadees but this seemed to be the best one that turned out.

American Robin
This rabbit was rustling around and not really bothered that we were nearby.

There are several of these nuthatches.

It was also hard to get a good (not blurry) photo as they really do flit around.
I like this picture because it shows a cloud-free sky (finally!) and the customary posture of the white-breasted nuthatch - working down the trunk. The distinctive markings, upturned bill and tail are good aids for IDing. And the 'yank yank yank' of their call.
I couldn't get a good shot of this hairy woodpecker.
We did hear the flicker and saw it a couple of times but I also couldn't get a good photo.

There were a couple of hermit thrushes on the path in the meadow. I took dozens of photos, these two  being the best of the bunch. We get hermit thrushes in our back yard as well.
Note the spotted breast, reddish wing edges and tail,  and thin, white eye ring.
The robin looked very noble as he sunned himself.
We saw three of these brown-headed cowbirds.

These are the only good photos of the many that I took. I have a lot more to learn about the settings on the CoolPix. The reason I haven't used it much is that it is a bulky camera that I have to wear on a strap around my neck, as opposed to the wrist strap I use for my little point-and-shoot Panasonic Lumix. When wearing binoculars, I do have a bit of juggling to do with a camera around my neck. I have lengthened the straps on the harness for my binoculars so it makes it a bit easier to juggle the two devices.

We don't see nearly as many birds here as we do in the RGV, but it's still nice to go out in the fresh air and sun and see the early spring flora and fauna.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Pfeliraupe Pfinished

I got the Pfeilraupe finished and blocked.

I experimented with some ways to wear it.
Not sure I'd wear it this way. I'd probably pull it around so the ripply part is more in the centre front. I cast off loosely yet I could feel the edge pulling across my arm and shoulder.

It was very cozy around my neck.
It was fun to knit but not quite the right fit with my broad shoulders. A smaller person would probably wear it well.

Speedy Spinning

Last week, I started spinning this multicoloured fibre that I had acquired at Rhinebeck 2015.
It is 70% Alpaca/ 20% Merino/ 10% Silk and drafted like a dream. I was particularly drawn to the colours.
Wanting to keep the integrity of the colours, rather than barberpoling, I chain-plied the singles. I got it all done in one session.
This 103g skein yielded 246 yard of yarn.
Jen1 and I are heading to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in a couple of weeks. I will be taking inventory of my stash before we leave. It is very humbling to note how much beautiful fibre and yarn I already own and helps me rein in my purchases at the festival.

I have many, many skeins of my handspun containing between 200 - 300 yards in each colourway. Mo gave me a great idea to find yarn the same weight that matches one of the colours. Then I can use my handspun for decently-sized items with two colourways. I will be on the lookout for coordinating yarns while I shop at the Frolic in a week and a half, and also for patterns suitable for two colourways.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Silk Dyeing with Tissue Paper

At the Shuttlebug guild on Wednesday, we dyed silk scarf blanks with special tissue paper that bleeds its dye when wet.

We selected strips of tissue paper in various colours and tore them into smaller strips. We then put our silk blank on a paper plate and sprayed it with water that had some vinegar in it and placed the coloured tissue paper pieces on the wet silk. The colour bled onto the silk. We folded the silk over and kept adding tissue, covering all the white parts until the whole length had been folded up. Then the corners were tucked over and we put it in a Ziploc bag for transportation home.
Once home, I hung my scarf up to dry with a newspaper under it to catch any colour drips. I still need to heat-set the colour.

It was an inexact science with pretty good results although the colours were rather muted.
It was a quick and easy 'make and take' project.

I just need to remember to take my scarf to the meeting next month for show and tell.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Finally a Pair of Twined Mittens

I finished knitting the twined mittens and twisted the braid fringe.
I still need to block them to even the stitches out,
particularly on the thumbs.
My idea to use regular s-twist yarn worked with twisting the yarns in the opposite direction.
The idea is to twist the yarn in the direction that loosens the twist to 'poof' the yarn up a bit.
They should be nice and squishy after I block them.
Today a bunch of us went to The Gathering in Port Hope. It is an annual spinning event.

There were about 200 people there and many different kinds of wheels. A lot are Lendrums like the two slanty ones pictured. They are Canadian made and highly regarded.
After many years of bad luck, Mo won the 50/50 draw.
I finished plying the Water Lilies colourway of the roving I'd been working on for several weeks before we headed south.
254 yards of loveliness.
I'm not sure what I'll knit with it (big surprise) but it would look nice with a solid or tonal yarn in one of the colours.
 I then started spinning this roving that I had purchased at Rhinebeck last year. It's 70/20/10 Alpaca/Merino/Silk.
It's spinning up very nicely. I'll probably chain ply (Navajo ply) it to keep the integrity of the colours rather than barber pole it.
Lots of my knitting/spinning acquaintances were in attendance including Judy, Judy and Jacki from the Shuttlebugs.
After our traditional lunch at Basil's, we went to The Black Lamb to do some more shopping.

We concurred that it was a very fun day.