Finishing Touches

After writing my post from yesterday, I wandered out into the yard to fill the bird feeders and just take a little walk around. Lo and behold, one of the sunflowers has opened already. What a nice way to celebrate the summer solstice!

Since I wasn't expecting that for at least a couple of weeks, it was a nice surprise. Just behind me, I checked the cherry trees. I've seen squirrels and crows in the trees. Thankfully, the starlings seem to have moved on. Some of the cherries have been eaten by critters, but there are enough on the trees this year that I think we might actually get some. These are the bings...close to ripe, but still a little too tart.

Our other tree is a Black Tartarian. It was a replacement for our first tree that died, and it almost died a couple of years ago too. This year, it has the most fruit I've seen. Up high in the branches are huge clusters of cherries. 

Since we almost never get any of the fruit from these trees for ourselves, we quit pruning them a while ago and we're just letting them be pretty shade trees that bloom profusely in the spring. Even with these up so high, we can use the bucket on the tractor to get up high enough to pick them. Indeed, we've flirted with death this way before, and you can read an old blog post about it right here, if you're interested.

After admiring the cherries, I checked in on the tomatoes in the greenhouse. There are tomatoes! Only a few for now, but lots and lots of blossoms give the promise more to come.

These being greenhouse tomatoes, we want to give them a little boost when it comes to pollination. The door and window are left open so the wind can blow through and flying insects are free to come and go. Even so, we fondle the flowers with a soft make-up brush, just to be sure.

The last thing I checked on was the plum tree...still loaded with plums. I'm so excited about this!

Since I've spent so much time on hand-stitching the last several days, I promised myself a change by getting to work on my other high-priority item for June, Scooter's Pawtrait. I took this image off of Facebook, and so the detail is lacking a little. Nevertheless, I think it's good enough for my purposes.

Quite a while back, I edited and printed off a posterized version so that I could better see the differences in color.

I'm realizing that dog fur is quite different from cat fur. The strands are much more uniform. A black dog has many strands of black fur, while a cat has a mixture of many different colored strands.

These always start with a transparent overlay and an ultra fine point Sharpie. You must use this pen because any other ink will smear, and you'll end up with ink all over your clothes, your arm, your hands...pretty much everywhere except on the transparency.

It's a little like paint by numbers. You create a map of the color changes.

This being applique, you need to work from a mirror image of the original, and so I flip the transparency over when I put it on my light box. Also, I've taken to making a note to myself to "trace this side". I use the transparency to assist with placement as well, and I'm often forgetting which is the right side and which is the wrong side.

The other thing I'm realizing is that dog eyes are different from cat's eyes. In all the cat pawtraits I've done, the cats appear to be wearing eyeliner, and that informs how I put the eyes together. For example, here are Smitty's eyes.

Also, the iris fills the eyeliner and the pupils are elliptical. I had to ask my friend Marei (Scooter is her dog) what shape Scooter's pupils are. (It's been a long time since I've had a dog.) As it turns out, her pupils are round. Also, she has no eye-liner. Finally, it appears from the picture above that she has a dark inner lid that fills the portion of the eye not filled by the pupil. After studying this for some time, I decided the best course for the eyes was to make the largest portion of her face first, cutting holes for the eyes, and then filling them in from behind. When I took the class from June Jaeger, she taught us to make the eyes from behind to avoid a bug-eyed appearance.

I traced out the applique,

and then cut it out along with the eye holes.

Then I filled in behind the eyes with black fabric,

And then added the iris, cutting holes for the pupils. It was hard to tell if I'd really captured it without adding more color in the fur.

Then, I started adding the portions of the nose. Here's where I left it for the day.

Today, I'll fill in the bottom portions of the muzzle and the mouth, and I think I'll have a start on a pretty good likeness of Scooter. She's a little tough because her colors are fairly uniform. Of course, it always helps when the applique is complete and I can start adding top-stitching.

After that, I finished stitching the last of the binding for Live, Love, Teach, and the quilt was finished. Yahoo! I started this quilt on January 28, 2015, and while it seems like I've been working on it a long time, I have many finished quilts that took much longer. A little commitment to a timeline can go a long way.

Smitty has inspected it and given it his final apurroval.

This morning I sewed on a label, which I've pixelated. I don't want Lisa to see what it says it until she has it in her hands. After that, I'll share it with you too.

The only thing left to do on this is to sew on a hanging sleeve. After that, I'll put it in the mail and get it to Lisa...and not a minute too soon since it's been over a year since she retired.

Today is a CSA pick-up day, and I need to make a quick trip into town to run a few errands. I haven't mentioned the vegetables lately but I'm still holding my own against the onslaught. Last week's share included one small zucchini...the first of the season. I used it last night on these Chicken and Summer Vegetables Tostadas. I used homemade salsa verde in these and added the last of the garlic scapes just to zazz them up some. Dee-lish.

And that pretty much fills you in on the latest here at the Three Cats Ranch. I guess it's time to get on with my day.

7 comments from clever and witty friends:

Sarah said...

I think I need to try that recipe this weekend!! The farmers' market just opened and dad said that the summer squash might be ready this weekend (when they leave for vacation = more for me). I'm a quesadilla girl so I'll put my own twist on the tostados. Thanks for sharing!

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I miss our plum trees. The birds get our cherries and that's ok as it is an old tree that bares rather gnarly fruit. BUT no pears or apples this year (no blossoms due to the late cold). Will be aiding our local farmers in their wares this year.

Wendy Tuma said...

Thanks for sharing your process with the Pawtrait. It's impressive!

Dana Gaffney said...

The sunflower picture is gorgeous! Scooter's coming along nicely, the details are adding so much.

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

Love your blog still, Barb. You are a bright spot in my day.

Kate said...

Congrats on finishing off the Live Love Teach quilt. Scooter's pawtrait is coming along beautifully.

Michele said...

The pawtrait is coming out great already and I love the quilt finish. You really did a fabulous job with it.