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Quilt In A Day – Hawks Aloft Style – Part 2

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear with no evidence that it should have been wintry.  Our hearty crew was hard at work early on.

Sweatshop 2014

Sweatshop 2014

Stitching, stitching . . .

Steve Elkins uses paper foundation piecing techniques to stitch blocks for the quilt.

Steve Elkins uses paper foundation piecing techniques to stitch blocks for the quilt.

It wasn’t long before the different blocks began to emerge.

Star Block in progress

Star Block in progress

Keep Calm and Carry On was the mantra of the day.  For a while it seemed like the stack of block kits was getting larger, not smaller.

Pat Folsom, the newbie to this year's retreat.

Pat Folsom, the newbie to this year’s retreat.

We were twelve strong, including two newbies, Pat Folsom and Allison Schacht.  Both had such a good time, they have already signed up for 2015.

First Look at the Middle

First Look at the Middle

It wasn’t long before the center star was completed.  Here, Cynthia Figuerora-McInteer shows the results to Steve E. and Laurie Marnell, while my dog, Gabby, looks on.  He’s probably not terribly impressed.  After all, this is his 9th quilt retreat.

The Center is done!

The Center is done!

Shortly thereafter, the inner border of Flying Geese completed the center.  Now, to stitch that to the already existing Flying Hawk circular border.  And so it went, until late afternoon when all the blocks were completed and we began to stitch the final borders.

Sami Sews on the Border

Sami Sews on the Border

We took turns stitching on the final borders, so four sewers each attached one border.  It is a one woman stitching job at this point.

Snoozing

Snoozing

As our excitement mounted, the dogs remained unimpressed.

Mary Chappelle sews on the third border.

Mary Chappelle sews on the third border.

and, finally as the dinner hour neared . . .

Chellye Porter and Laurie Marnell work on the Final Border

Chellye Porter and Laurie Marnell work on the Final Border

by this point, it really helped to have a holder to keep the weight of the quilt top from dragging on the stitcher!  And, Ta-Da!  We finished at 5:59 p.m., one hour earlier than the 2013 quilt.  We celebrated in style that evening and then posed for the final photo the following morning.

The 2014 Hawks Aloft Raffle Quilt Top.

The 2014 Hawks Aloft Raffle Quilt Top.  Image by Steve Elkins.

From L-R: Pat Folsom, Anita McSorley, Sam Sanborn, Chellye Porter, Miss Elaenia, Gail, Gabby, Barry, Laurie Marnell, Steve Elkins, Cynthia Figueroa-McInteer, Ed Chappelle, Allison Schacht, Mary Chappelle, and Layla!  A good time was had by all.  Many thanks to all who participated.  The quilt top has now gone off to Lincoln, NE where it will be magically quilted by Kris Vierra!  Look for it to make its debut at the Monte Vista Crane Festival, in Monte Vista, CO in early March.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quilt In A Day – Hawks Aloft Style – Part One

Raffle Quilt 2014 - Sneak Peek

Raffle Quilt 2014 – Sneak Peek

It all started about a week before the big event, when several of us worked on pre-sewing the birds so we would have a chance to complete the 2014 Hawks Aloft raffle quilt in one day which is always our goal.

The Cabin.  Image by Steve Elkins.

The Cabin. Image by Steve Elkins.

Three of us, Ruth B., Laurie Marnell, and yours truly, decided to retreat to the cabin on Thursday for some relaxation.  Laurie brought her dog, Barry, along for the weekend.

Laurie and Barry

Laurie and Barry

Playful and unbearably cute, Barry got along well with my dogs, Laney and Gabby.  They played themselves into exhaustion,

Ruth with Gabby and Barry

Ruth with Gabby and Barry

while Miss Elaenia practiced looking cute!  It’s one of her best skills and I believe that she practices in the mirror when I am not home.

Laney, the Cute!

Laney, the Cute!

Friday afternoon, the rest of the crowd arrived and we worked on cutting kits for the individual blocks, with Ed, our master cutter, a.k.a. Mr. Precision!

Ed

Ed Chappelle

Ed and Mary brought their newly adopted dog too, Layla, who wasn’t too sure about Barry!

Layla

Layla

It was a Four Dog Night!  While the dogs all got acquainted, so did we!

Dinner in the New Room

Dinner in the New Room

Enjoying a sumptuous dinner by Ruth and Chellye Porter, we relaxed in style in the new room, for tomorrow would be all about stitching.  Could we do it?  Would we succeed in finishing quilt top #21 in just one day?

 

 

 

 

 

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New Year and New Beginnings

As I sit down to write this I realize that it has been almost a month since my last post.   I apologize for slacking off during the holidays this year.  However, even though I haven’t been posting, I have not been idle!

Butterfly Filigree

Butterfly Filigree  

Many thanks go to my longtime friend and colleague, Donna Barnitz, who came up with the idea for the filigree work.  The butterflies are part of a quilt in progress and this was our first attempt, using UltraSuede and hand painted fabrics from Mickey Lawler, of SkyDyes.  This work in progress let loose an entire Pandora’s box of ideas for similar work.  Next up on my list of projects was to design the Hawks Aloft raffle quilt for 2014.  (Pam Eastman, of Edgewood, NM, won the 2013 quilt.)

Cooper's Hawk in Flight.  Image by Doug Brown.

Cooper’s Hawk in Flight. Image by Doug Brown.

Through my work at Hawks Aloft, I am very fortunate to know some incredible photographers, like Doug Brown, who allow us to use their images in our public outreach, and social media pages.  Donna and I came up with the idea of doing a filigree bird for the 2014 quilt.  Actually, the idea was more hers than mine.  So, we started looking at Doug’s images and settled on the above image of a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk in flight.  Of course, our work would only be an interpretation of the image, not a literal translation.

One Hawk

One Hawk

The silhouette of the hawk fit perfectly into the space that it needed to fill.  Donna traced the shapes onto fusible web that we then fused to UltraSuede.  Then, we cut out the shapes including all the filigree spaces within the larger shape.  Donna thought that adding an emblem unique to New Mexico, would enhance the overall design, hence the Zia symbol.  We divided up the cutting out process among five of us, Donna, Afton Warrick, Mary Chappelle, Laurie Marnell and yours truly.  Once those were cut out, we cut another piece of fabric, a batik, and placed it beneath the UltraSuede and fused everything to a background.  All was well, except that we weren’t comfortable that the fusible would be secure enough without extra stitching.  And, we had only seven days in which to complete all 12 of the hawks!!!

Afton Warrick and Donna Barnitz

Afton Warrick and Donna Barnitz

We had a stitching party two days ago, with the goal of getting all the zigzag stitching around the outside of the hawks.  Donna, Afton, Laurie and Laurie’s dog, Barry, joined me!  Oh, what fun we had!

Laurie and Barry

Laurie and Barry

Barry was especially helpful as he helped folks do special things, like washing our hands with his large tongue and wagging tail.  Actually, the best part was that Barry got along so well with my dogs, Gabby and Laney, that they wore each other out and had to take loooong naps later in the afternoon.

The Sewers - Laurie Afton Donna Barnitz, and Laurie Marnell

The Sewers – Laurie Marnell,  Afton Warrick, Donna Barnitz

We began stitching at 10:30 a.m. and by 3 p.m. all 12 hawks had been secured with Superior Threads Invisible Polyester Thread.  We stuck them to my design wall so we could photograph our handiwork.

Afton the Angel

Afton the Angel

Afton even sprouted a pair of wings for her angelic efforts!

Birds on Design Wall

Birds on Design Wall

And, here they are – 12 hawks adorning the wall, interspersed with other works in progress.  After my sewing buddies all went home, one more task remained: trimming all the hawk blocks to size and stitching the circular border together.  Then, I also added the outer border to square it up!

Raffle Quilt 2014 - Sneak Peek

Raffle Quilt 2014 – Sneak Peek

And here it is!  The official Quilt Retreat takes place next weekend at the cabin in the Jemez Mountains.  We will have 12 quilters on hand, and we hope to complete the remainder of the quilt top in one day!  Do you think we can do it?

Stay tuned . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Life Well Lived

It was a really rough week last week, one of those where just getting through every day is a chore.  None of the posts I intended to write every made it to the ‘publish’ stage either.  Normally, I only post about quilt-related material on this blog, but I also know that many of you, if not all of you, have heard stories of my beloved “Trouble”, the American Kestrel that lived with me for the past 19 and a half years.  She crossed over the Rainbow Bridge last week after a sudden and rapid decline that began as soon as I arrived home from a teaching trip to New Jersey.  I hope you will enjoy this post about my love affair with a very special bird.

The Christmas Kestrel

The Christmas Kestrel

In the spring of 2014, we will celebrate the 20th birthday of Hawks Aloft, the organization that I, and other founded in 1994.  It seems like yesterday; we were the new conservation organization in town, running on a shoe string budget thanks to our initial funders, Blue Sky Natural Beverage Company, the Frost Foundation, and our main benefactors Jerry and Sally Mayeux.  We had a fledgling education program, a full-time educator, and a part-time director – me. We also hoped that, someday, we would be paid to conduct research. But, with few documented research credentials, we began our program with the help of volunteers and organization founders, Jerry Hobart, Jim Place, and Chuck Brandt. That was the beginning of the Raptor Monitoring Surveys in the Rio Grande and Estancia valleys, conducted entirely by volunteers then, and still an all-volunteer effort – 20 years later.

We borrowed raptors from others for our education programs and set about acquiring the necessary permits. We extend a big thank you to Shirley and Jack Kendall, who helped us submit the paperwork, and build the first outdoor flight cages that would become home to the educational ambassadors that captivate children and adults alike.

Trouble at the Cabin

Trouble at the Cabin

Shirley called one day to tell me about a fledgling American Kestrel that had been found alongside a ditch in Albuquerque. The kestrel, a female, was placed with other young kestrels in a large flight cage at the Kendall Rehabilitation Facility in Corrales, where all would be provided with live mice so they could learn to hunt and hone their flight skills. But, this particular falcon had little interest in earning her meals. Instead, she begged loudly and plaintively whenever Shirley went out to feed the growing brood. It became obvious that this young female was a human imprint and would never be releasable.

Trouble Bathes, splashing water everywhere

Trouble Bathes, splashing water everywhere

She became our first official education bird, coming to live with me.  A friendly little chit of a bird, she and I bonded immediately,as only and imprinted raptor can, chirring sweetly when I offered her mice or mealworms. It wasn’t long; however, before I noticed broken feathers and fault bars (or weak spots) in the ones that remained. Soon, nearly all of her feathers were broken at the tissue level, leaving her unable to fly, and similarly incapable of being outdoors, exposed to the elements.  We named her Trouble, because her troubles were caused by a thoughtless human.

After the Bath - Drying off on Top of the Computer Monitor

After the Bath – Drying off on Top of the Computer Monitor

At age one, after a year of proper diet, she grew good, strong feathers and a matching attitude. She learned to fly inside my house!  Jack built her a 20’ long flight cage outside my kitchen window.  She spent her days out there, but every night around dusk, she returned to the window to be let in, flying through the house to the bathroom, where she put herself to bed on the bathroom door.

Where Food Comes From

Where Food Comes From

By then, she also had decided that we were an ‘item’, and I was a precious resource to be guarded at all times. Over the years, Trouble took out her wrath on our hapless educators and unwary visitors to my home, waiting silently on a high perch until their backs were turned, whereupon she launched the stealth attack, whacking them on the back of the head. Trouble charmed school children with her striking beauty, her unfortunate situation caused by humans, and her larger-than-life personality.  She was, indeed, a legend among all who knew her.

Guarding the Mouse from me!  The Mouse I had Just Handed to Her.

Guarding the Mouse from me! The Mouse I had Just Handed to Her.

Although I knew that eventually the time would come to say good-bye, the little kestrel princess seemed to defy death time and time again. She escaped twice but was successfully recaptured both times after several anxiety filled days. We retired her at age fifteen, about three times the normal life expectancy for any American Kestrel. Still, she continued to thrive, coming indoors at night and hunting for mealworms in their plastic tub.  One night last week, she came to the window as she always did, and I dutifully delivered the mealworm tub, but she refused to eat. It was then that I noticed her ragged appearance and brought her indoors.  After a rapid decline, she crossed over the rainbow bridge the next morning.

Trouble, the Kestrel Princess

Trouble, the Kestrel Princess

Trouble won’t be with us for our 20th Anniversary celebrations next spring, but will live on in our memories – one remarkable falcon – the kestrel princess!

Thank you for bearing with me on this painful post. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On the Coromandel – Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach - Return to the Sea

Hot Water Beach – Return to the Sea

Marion and Kerry took me to Hot Water Beach on my first New Zealand trip, in 1997. My memories of that day have remained foremost in my thoughts and I longed for a return visit.  So, when Kerry and his mates set off for afternoon fishing, Marion and I headed south a few miles.  So named because of the hot springs located right on the beach, each day of the year, humans are drawn to this place.

Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach

They arrive in synchronicity with the departing tide, and they begin digging.  Digging what will become the soak pools.  There, they relax in the soothing waters until the sea returns to reclaim it’s rightful place as master of the coast.  If you stand on the beach sand and squish your feet down into the sand, depending on where you stand, it can be so hot that you must move on.  When the tide returns, it is then that the humans begin their frantic, and sometimes hilarious quest to defeat the inevitable, building their sand walls higher and higher in the hopes of soaking a little longer.  Inevitably, with each incoming tide, humans lose the battle.  I think it’s an extraordinary place, and . . .

New Zealand Dotterel

New Zealand Dotterel

so do the birds.  Above is a New Zealand Dotterel who calls Hot Water Beach home. The New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu is an endangered species found only in this country. It was once widespread and common but there are only about 1700 birds left. This serious decline in numbers is due to a combination of habitat loss, predation by introduced mammals and disturbance during breeding.

Protect the Nesting Birds

Protect the Nesting Birds

The Department of Conservation, fences off nesting areas and their observers protect them for the dotterel and other endangered species like the Fairy Tern. Pied Oystercatchers, the most abundant wading birds in New Zealand, also benefit from the protected beaches.

Pied Oystercatcher

Pied Oystercatcher

We found a couple of these little fellows too, foraging on the beach for macro-invertebrates hiding beneath the sand.  There’s room for everyone on New Zealand’s beaches.

 

 

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Maungatautari – Sanctuary Mountain

I first came to the mountain in November 2011 with friends from the United States.  My Kiwi friends, Kerry and Marion, joined us there for an evening of Kiwi spotting – the birds, not the people.  With  47kms of predator proof fence enclosing 3400 hectares in a sea of pastureland, it is the largest ecological island on mainland New Zealand.  It is, without doubt a must-see experience.  I could not wait to return!

Predator Proof Fence

Predator Proof Fence

So,

Birding in the Dark and the Rain

Birding in the Dark and the Rain

Marion and I headed out long before the dawn.  Right about the time we began pulling our binoculars (bins) out, drops began to fall from the sky.  Not to worry though, Marion had six (yes, 6!) umbrellas in the back of her car!

Sunrise at Maunga

Sunrise at Maunga

It was a little eerie to walk in the darkened forest.  We could hear, but not see the birds as they awakened from their nightly slumber.  We climbed to the top of the observation tower in time to greet the rising sun.  There is nothing more magical than to be alone in the forest with only wild birds as your companions as the sun kisses the earth.

View from Maunga

View from Maunga

We didn’t see much in the dark and the rain, but the clouds lifted as we headed back down the hill for breakfast at Out in the Styx.  Upon our return an hour later, things were quite different.  This time, the only drops were those that fell from the wet vegetation that towered above us.

Tall Natives

Tall Natives

We walked toward the feeding area where we were thrilled to see a very large, and very red parrot!

Kaka - Image by Charles Cummings 2011

Kaka – Image by Charles Cummings 2011

Maunga staff feed the birds in this area once daily around 11 a.m.  And the Kaka, one of the native parrots of New Zealand, were waiting.

Stitchbird, or Hihi

Stitchbird, or Hihi.  Image by Charles Cummings 2011

We also had good looks, but not great photos, of the native Hihi, or Stitchbirds, that came to the nectar feeders.  Small and fast, it was only with extreme patience that my friend, Charles, managed to photograph this individual when we were there in November 2011.

In Maunga Forest

In Maunga Forest

In addition to the birds, just being in a primeval forest among the ancient trees can be a life-altering, almost religious experience.  My favorites were the giant silver ferns, the national symbol of New Zealand.

Fiddlehead frond

Fiddlehead frond

It is easy to understand the Koru symbol, so widely used in this beautiful country when one gazes upon the gently rounded, unfurling of the new fern fronds.  However, not all ferns seem to grow this way.

Baby Ferns

Baby Ferns

Some just seem to carry and nourish their newborns until they are large enough to survive in the cold, hard ground.

Marion's Maunga Leaves

Marion’s Maunga Leaves

Along the way, Marion continued to gather leaves for her dye pots.

Looking at Maunga

Looking at Maunga

As we walked out of the forest, our short visit at an end, the skies were brilliant and we could see Sanctuary Mountain in all its glory!  Sanctuary Mountain will be one of the stops on my New Zealand Tour in April 2014.  It is pure magic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Taupo – Around Town

Schoolyard Art

Schoolyard Art

With Symposium 2013 at an end, I said farewell to new friends as well as long-time friends.   My next few days would be spent with Marion Manson, the woman who is responsible for my love affair with New Zealand.  Back in about 1990, Marion purchased a pattern from me.  It was my first overseas order and I was so excited that I wrote to her.  She wrote back and soon we were dedicated pen pals — this was in the days before internet!  Marion was on the organizing committee of Symposium 1997, held in Hamilton and I was invited to teach there, my first New Zealand Symposium.

Taupo Museum with Marion

Taupo Museum with Marion

Marion works in natural dyes on different fibers and it active in the art community throughout New Zealand.  First on our agenda for the day was the Taupo Museum, except that some shop windows beckoned along the way.  In honor of the Symposium many of the shop windows were beautifully decorated.

Kiwi in Store Window

Kiwi in Store Window

Without a doubt, this was my favorite shop window!  And, I left a goodly amount of cash with them for safe keeping!  I walked out sporting a new jacket.

Weaving at Woolshed

Weaving at Woolshed

We found this lovely hand woven piece at the Woolshed, where many of the woolens and possum-down items were on sale.  I left some more cash there!  It was beginning to look like an expensive day.

Flowers everywhere Taupo

Flowers everywhere Taupo

But, we soon returned to our mission of the day – the many special quilt exhibits at the Taupo Museum.

Red Heart

Red Heart

The first exhibit that caught my eye was right inside the front door.  Covering two free standing panels were row upon row of 12″ square little quilts, all done in shades of RED!  The Red quilts at Taupo were a challenge given by Aotearoa Quilters. The winner was the lovely gerbera by Sonya Prchal. There were 137 entries from all around New Zealand. The quilts were all for sale, cash and carry, and the remainder will be shown at the Stitches and Craft show in Hamilton 7th/8th September.  Many thanks to Janet Ryan, of New Zealand for the above information.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Red Flower

Red Gerbera Daisy by Sonya Prchal, Grand Prize Winner

Red Houses

Red Houses

Red Koru

Red Koru

Red Ribbon

Red Ribbon

If anyone knows the names of the quiltmakers of the other quilts, and their stories behind these little quilts, I would sure appreciate that information.  Back outside, another shade of red caught my eye. . .

Sparrows and apple

Sparrows and Apple

Laying in the wet parking lot, amid the parked vehicles, someone had discarded an apple core.  It seemed to be just the meal the local sparrows hungered for.  Although all looks peaceful in this image . . .

Sparrow Fight

Sparrow Fight

Guarding one’s feast might just make winter survival a little easier.  Marion also was attracted by the outdoor colors.

Marion Picking Leaves

Marion Picking Leaves

She began picking winter leaves for her dye pots at home.  Before long,

Marion's Leaves

Marion’s Leaf Bouquet

she had collected a lovely little leaf bouquet.  And through it all, in the mist of the winter day,

Magnolia flower

Magnolia flower

the magnolias bloomed wildly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wildlife Quilts

Quilts that feature wildlife are among my most favorite.  So, I saved this selection for today.

Viewing the Bay of Islands by Sonya Prchal

Viewing the Bay of Islands by Sonya Prchal

In this delightful quilt by Sonya Prchal, a Tui looks out onto the Bay of Islands.  Tuis are the common garden birds that are easy to find in urban and rural areas of New Zealand.  They are distinctive with their glossy black feathers with the white (cottonball) puffy feathers at the throat and their song.

Tui at Dawn by Charlotte Scott

Tui at Dawn by Charlotte Scott

Tui at Dawn by Charlotte Scott is a particularly effective use of transparency in a quilt.  The judges liked it too as it was a multiple award winner at the show.  New Zealand’s wildlife evolved without mammals (except for two bat species) leading to a unique set of birds, many of which are flightless or poorly flighted.  The introduction of mammals to this island nation has had a devastating impact on the bird life.  The Department of Conservation spends millions each year in an attempt to control introduced possums, stoats, rats, mice and other mammalian predators.

Fanciful Feathers by Rosemary Rush

Fanciful Feathers by Rosemary Rush

Of course, quilter’s imaginations are fertile ground indeed!  Fanciful Feathers epitomizes the wonder that the mind can create.  With it’s bold use of color, this imaginary bird was a merit award winner.

Theres Plenty More Where That Came From by Natalie Murdoch

There’s Plenty More Where That Came From by Natalie Murdoch

New Zealand is famous for its fisheries and attracts sport fishermen worldwide, and Taupo is one of the primary areas to practice this sport.  At the Symposium exhibit, I also found two awesome quilts that celebrate the underwater wildlife so prevalent in the streams and lakes nearby.

Misty Morn by Sheryl Meech

Misty Morn by Sheryl Meech

Misty Morn by Sheryl Meech celebrates all that is beautiful about New Zealand, including the fish.  If you look closely at this first place award winning quilt, you will see an abundance of shadow fish in the water. If you are in the area be sure to check out the Tongariro National Trout Center.

Taupo Trout

Taupo Trout

It’s easy to enjoy the outdoor artwork of Taupo, made possible by the Taupo Sculpture Trust.  In fact all things Taupo are well worth a visit!

I am off to Houston to teach for the Greater Houston Area Quilter’s Guild, so there won’t be another post for a couple of days!  There’s plenty more to see about New Zealand!

 

 

 

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