Thursday, 30 March 2017

Another Stop at a Stitching Shop

After birding this morning in Harlingen, we went to the Rio Grande Grill for barbecue lunch. It was highly rated on TripAdvisor.
Any place with Felix the cat eating there has got to be an excellent place.
Skip saw a picture like this on TripAdvisor. We wanted one of our own.
We shared chips and spicy pico de gallo. I had brisket with pickles and charro beans and Skip had brisket with coleslaw. There was a lot of fat on my brisket that I didn't eat, but the meat was very tasty.

After that, I needed to pick up a few stitching supplies to tide me over 'til I get home at Judy's Stitchery Nook. She's been in business almost 30 years so has a vast inventory of patterns, fabrics, notions, and threads. I could have spent hours in there.

I now have the fabric for my smaller sheep project and the threads that were missing from my stash.
Before I start that one, I am beavering away on a stealth knitting project that I am halfway done.

March 30 Hugh Ramsey Park with the Bay Area Birders

A bunch of us visited Hugh Ramsey Park in Harlingen this morning. A tremendous amount of work has been done clearing overgrowth away and planting appropriate plants. We were told today that for a good part of the last century, the arroyo area was the dumping grounds for the municipality. It was then covered with soil and in the year 2000 planting began. Now it is very lush and green thanks to the hard work of many volunteers and staff.

These photos highlight what we saw today.
American Snout
Coral Bean
Tropical/Couch's Kingbird
Great Kiskadee
Harris's Hawk
Flower of a potato vine
Red-bordered Metalmark
Texas Spiny Lizard
Texas Crescent (southwest variant)
Not so great photo of a white-eyed vireo
White-winged dove, plain chachalaca, and white-tipped dove
Migrating broad-winged hawks
Close-up of migrating broad-winged hawks
It is very enjoyable to go birding with a group as there are more pairs of eyes for spotting and lots of expertise identifying birds by their calls and seeing them. I often can spot a bird and even get a good photo but have no idea what it is until I can look at the pictures on my computer. And when it comes to warblers, I'm very deficient in knowledge.

It was a beautiful day for taking in all that nature provided us with today. We are hoping the warblers will stop in at the convention centre on the island next Thursday. Hopefully they won't just pass us by.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Stitching Sheep

Last June, Jen1, Barb, and I popped into a stitching shop in Cambridge on the way to our knitting class in Kitchener with Kate Atherley. Barb and I both bought 'Sheep in the Meadow' by Country Cottage Needleworks.  I started it back home and tossed it into my craft suitcase when I was packing for our trip south. After stitching almost a dozen biscornus, I picked up the sheep project last night and stitched the sheep and a bit of the grass while watching TV
When I was at Judy's Stitchery Nook in Harlingen a couple of weeks ago, I bought a smaller version that was actually published 3 years later (2013) and has slightly different colours.
I like the yellow flowers and blue house. I'm going to use those colours on the larger project instead of all that lavender colour. We're going to Harlingen again on Thursday with our birding group so we'll stop into Judy's again so I can pick up the threads I need and possibly a lighter-coloured linen fabric for the smaller project.

There are DMC equivalents for the hand-dyed threads but I like the look of the hand-dyed ones on big expanses like the grassy area. I spent an inordinate amount of time on Pinterest last night looking at potential projects. And people wonder what retirees do with all their time...

It's 28C out. The swimming pool calls...

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Hummingbird Biscornu Revamped

I finished the second hummingbird biscornu today while sitting by the pool. It's the top one.

It's a bit plainer. Two of the hummingbirds have the heads out and two have the heads in.
I put beads in the flower centres on the top and on the pink flower centres on the bottom.
The fabric is 32 count Irish linen - the good stuff. Not that pesky Charles Craft stuff. I omitted the beads on the little flowers on the bottom.

 I like the colours. There is also a pattern for a needle case with the hummingbird and flowers.

The linen was lovely to work with. It felt nice in my hand and the needle slipped in an out of the fabric easily.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Evenweave Isn't Always Even

I bought some 18 count Aida cloth at a craft supply store the other day to make a biscornu. I happily stitched away using the Four Little Hearts pattern. Doing the Rhodes heart was a little tricky on Aida as there aren't two separate threads to stitch through but I persevered. I used the DMC 4210.

The pattern is 36 x 36 stitches. Does that looks square to you? It certainly didn't to me. It measures 2" across.
But more than 1/4" longer for the same number of stitches! Almost 16 count lengthways. What??? It's not square??? Who knew Aida cloth wasn't square???

So this fabric isn't any good for biscornus that require pieces to be square. Rats!

Last week I redesigned the hummingbird biscornu pattern.
Original pattern

I replaced the blue 'snowflakes' in the corners with flowers and rotated two opposite birds 180 degrees so their heads were towards the centre.

Again, I stitched the first side on 'evenweave' 28 count linen. And it didn't turn out to be square either.

Across, it measures 4 1/2".
But vertically, it's only 3 3/4". Argh!!!
Who knew 'evenweave' fabric would have different measurement of the warp vs. the weft?  If being square or a particular measurement isn't important, this commercial fabric would do. But now I know why we should buy our stitching fabrics from a reputable stitchery store.

Fortunately, I did bring some good 32 count linen fabric with me and the first hummingbird piece I stitched tonight is square. I'm now working on the second side. This one will stitch together nicely. Stay tuned for an update in the very near future.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

March 18 National Butterfly Center in Mission

We tried to go to Quinta Mazatlan this morning but there was a big event going on and hundreds of people so we bailed. There's no way the birding would have been any good with all those people milling around. We can pop in there tomorrow or just skip it altogether. We quickly changed our plans and drove down to the National Butterfly Center in Mission.
The water feature by the parking lot is a lovely, cool oasis inhabited by a red-eared slider turtle and some water lilies.

Along the trail, there are many suspended logs with 'butterfly brew' smeared into the grooves cut in them.  The butterflies love to feed on this sugary substance. Here you can see the thin yellow 'tongue'. I was unable to get a shot of this butterfly with the wings open but when I get back to my butterfly book, I'll figure out what kind it was. The right wing looks a little damaged.
This butterfly looks really drab.

 Then voila! A flash of blue - it's a Mexican bluewing.
In the back corner of the wooded area is a nice, feeding area with a water pipe trickling onto a big rock. All kinds of critters use this area.
In flew a curve-billed thrasher.

We got to see a clay-coloured robin a couple of times while we were sitting there.
The red squirrels like to drink right from the pipe.

Golden-fronted woodpecker
Another favourite bird of mine is the Altamira oriole.
A peanut butter mixture had been smeared onto logs all around the feeding area. It guaranteed that the Altamira oriole would pay the area a visit.

Altamira oriole - back view

This little fellow is a cotton rat. There were about a half a dozen of them. They make a great meal for the owls and raptors in the area.
Green jays also frequent the area.
Kiskadees also like the peanut butter mixture.

The female cardinal really had her crest up.
 This was the second appearance of the clay-coloured robin.

I was excited to see this  Northern Bobwhite.
I thought it was a life bird for me but when I checked my list, apparently I'd seen one before.
On the way back to the car we spotted a couple more butterflies that I will need to identify when I get back to the condo.
Texas Crescent southwest variant
This one was only about an inch wide. I think it's a red admiral.
This is Spike, the resident African Spurred Tortoise. He is about 15 years old and is about 2 1/2 ft. long. He came right over thinking we had food for him. Unfortunately we didn't.
We really don't know enough about butterflies nor do our cameras lend themselves to photographing them to fully appreciate the butterfly centre, however the birding is great and we'll probably make a point to come back here the next time we're in the area.