Monday, February 25, 2013

The other side of the ball

   One of the fun things about stitching temari is that not all sides of the ball can be seen at once. If one doesn't do so well on one side of ball, it can be displayed with the preferred side visible and the other side as unseen as the dark side of the moon.
   I just completed a 16 face ball with kiku or chrysanthemum stitch in the four hexagons and the other shapes filled in with swirl stitch.
I tried both solid color swirls as above and swirls where I lightened the color as I got close to the center of the shape as in the next picture.
I enjoy trying different color combinations of different sides too. (Perhaps I just have a low tolerance for boredom.) I also tried different greens with the same blue on the various kiku sides.
This was my favorite color combination.
The colors of this ball were inspired by a little bird found in Monteverde. While not extremely rare, it's very difficult to see because it hides in clumps of mistletoe high in trees. It's the Elegant Euphonia (euphonia elegantissima).
The nitty-gritty: I learned how to mark this ball by following a tutorial in the Temari Challenge Yahoo group. The marking is called C8 to pentagons and hexagons. The 16 faces consist of 4 large hexagons and 12 pentagons. Thanks again to Joan Z., who led the tutorial.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Where are all the sloths?

   Considering that sloths are one of the most common mammals in the tropical forest, they are surprisingly difficult to see. A study cited by Mark Wainwright in his excellent Natural History of Costa Rican Mammals found that sloths accounted for two-thirds the biomass of terrestrial mammals in a study area in Panama. Despite their abundance, it's not easy to see a sloth, especially the nocturnal Hoffman's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni), the only sloth species found in the Monteverde area. Consider this sloth sleeping less than 3 meters (9 feet) from our bedroom window.
 It was mid-afternoon before we noticed it was there. I don't feel quite so lacking in observational skills after reading in Wainwright's book that " Biologists have found that even individuals that have been precisely radio-located can be impossible to see" because they like to spend the day sleeping in the middle of liana tangles.
  So it's always fun to get a really good view of a sloth. Just looking at a sleeping sloth makes me feel like taking a nap.
 One way to see a sloth is to go on a twilight walk with a guide. Guides often search out a sloth before the tour and sloths are apt to become active around dusk, making them easier to see. The easiest way to see a sloth is to know someone caring for a rescued baby. Babies sometimes fall from their mother and are abandoned. Caring for a baby sloth is a huge commitment as baby sloths stay with their mothers for up to two years.
   Even though two-toes sloths are generally nocturnal, this one was active during the day. Perhaps that special flower was tasty enough to wake up for.