a blog about what interests me! birds, baskets, butterflies, moths, biking.............

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Teaching kids to knit!

I belong to a knitting group that meets once a week, year round, to knit mittens, hats and sweaters for our local school children. We're always amazed at how many items are needed once winter is upon us. All our yarn is donated and we donate our time. We have given hundreds of sweaters, hats and mittens in the 5 years since our group was started.

Recently we were asked to assist at the Grafton Elementary School, teaching 9 and 10 year-olds how to knit. The first session consisted of Mary, me and their teacher, Mrs. No-E. We divided the 12 boys and 4 girls into 3 groups and each of us showed our students how to knit. They would be making a headband with large needles and bulky yarn and to make it easier, we cast on 6 stitches and knit the first row. Not too much progress was made that first class.
But when we returned the next week, a lot of the students had finished the headband and started another and some had started knitting scarves. Mrs. No-E told us how excited they were about knitting! They were knitting during recess, at home and whenever they had spare time. By the 3rd session they were all knitting like pros...and we couldn't be happier! It was a great feeling of accomplishment for all of us!

Friday, March 19, 2010

black squirrel

The first time I saw a black squirrel was in Maryland when I was doing a craft show in the 80s. I then noticed them in Westfield Mass and in Canada but never here in Vermont. A few years ago I thought I saw one in the woods behind our house. Then recently I noticed one coming to the bird feeders to eat the sunflower seeds. He or she is as big as a gray squirrel and are a melanistic version of the gray squirrel. I finally took a few good pictures.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

ruddy shelduck and greater white-fronted goose

I know the pictures aren't good but we were birding today (Mar 11) in the rain and although it wasn't raining when we took these pix, it was late in the day and overcast..........
It's a ruddy shelduck, not native to North America and probably an escapee from someone's farm for exotic ducks. No matter, we were all thrilled to see it! He is a 'he' as he has a thin black line around his neck. He was still in the cornfield the next day on rt. 5 in Westminster, VT. A beautiful bird!!!

here's the greater white-fronted goose we saw the next day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A couple of uncommon gulls

We went to Turners Falls late yesterday afternoon to see the waterfowl. In a very close group of gulls, we saw greater black-backed, lesser black-backed, iceland, herring and ring-billed gulls. The lesser black-backed and Iceland gulls are uncommon in our area.
I got a great picture of the lesser standing in shallow water, just to the right of the greater. Great for size comparison!! The lesser is smaller, the back is not as dark and the head has dark streaking.

The Iceland gull with his head stuck under his wing, has no black wing tips, so we just look for the all white gulls of which we found this one. For size, he's bigger than the ring-billed but smaller than the herring gulls.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pods on a Vine

Here's the latest piece that I've had photographed. Rachel did a great job, we worked at it for quite a while trying different 'poses' to get it to look good. Overall, it's 28" long, the pods are about 4" by 7". The materials are black ash, beads, waxed linen, paper cord, carpet tacks and thread. I dye the beads with fabric dyes and they're sewn onto the basket.

Monday, March 1, 2010

more Florida birds

OK! I'm back working on new basket pieces and I'll post pix soon, but here's a few more birds I saw in Florida.
Black-hooded parakeets, certainly not native birds but escapees who have become feral, are a noisy lot! Glad they're not residents in Vermont, colorful but LOUD!

The solitary Limpkin is a beautiful bird of the shallow water swamps and ponds, walking slowly looking for food. Great color and loooong bill!

We saw Wood Storks at the deSoto nature reserve. Formerly called "wood ibis" because of it's resemblance to the Ibis, it is really a member of the stork family. Looks like the kind of bird you wouldn't want to get close too. They hiss!