24 February 2017

Friday Funny

23 February 2017

Orphan Gemtones

I tried my hand, or, more appropriately, my machine, at paper piecing back in January. I'll continue to paper piece by hand, but I don't think I'll be jumping in the machine paper piecing craze again any time soon.

My first quarter block turned out all right. But the process was so icky for me, I dreaded going back to that block. Granted, a head cold prevented motivation and enthusiasm for anything creative off and on for three consecutive weeks, but I realized during that time that I found the process of paper piecing so unpleasant, I really didn't want to finish what I'd started.

I've learned over the past couple of years during the quarterly Ravelry WIP challenges that if I am not in love with a project, I have great difficultly finishing it. The whole purpose of the challenge is to finish WIPs. I knew I would need to get back to the gemtone Penny Lane block soon, or I'd never finish it. I even considered putting it in another project as a quarter square instead of finishing the entire square.

One day on the commuter train while finishing a snowflake frame, I realized I didn't have to paper piece the other three sections of the gemtone block. I could cut all the individual pieces and just piece it like I would any block. That's when I finally started getting serious about finishing this project for once and for all.

I started my gemtone project back in the summer of 2014 after scoring a clearance fat quarter packet of Stonehenge Bejeweled. I was SO in love with the colors and texture of that gorgeous fabric!

I had many ideas to craft blocks with gemtone fabrics from different lines and then combine them all into one quilt.

Perhaps I will still follow that dream one day. (After all, most of the Ravelry WIP finish rewards I earned during the last two years are gemtone fat quarters I requested!) But for now, it was time to finish a WIP. I decided to combine all my bright, rainbow orphan blocks into one project to finish this baby, I needed a bright color fix.

Some of the blocks came from a Block a Day project I started last year but lost interest in when I got a little more serious about finishing WIPs and not creating any more new WIPs.

I think I also lost interest in this particular one after I accidentally put a couple of blocks together wrong and had to redo them.

I needed craft only one more block for each row after assembling all my rainbow and gemtone orphan blocks.

I decided to try paper piecing for the final block. I was disenchanted with the waste of time spent frogging, the waste of sewing machine needles, the waste of fabric, the waste of paper and the waste of time in pulling the paper away from the finished quarter block. Many of the stitches pulled loose as I tried as gently as I could to remove the paper. I was tempted to leave the paper in place.

I know paper piecing is supposed to get easier once you've done it a few times. I knew I could piece the block traditionally in less time and with far less frogging.

The first quarter block took me two nights using the paper piecing method. The three remaining quarters were pieced in about two hours after about an hour of cutting the pieces, which probably was the most difficult part because I had to remember to mirror three different pieces.

In retrospect, I wish I had used three yellows in the center instead of two, and the traditionally pieced points don't all match up perfectly, but I'm thrilled with the ones that do match up perfectly. Especially since I'm trying to finish two WIPs every month, and I'm running out of February. I'm also thrilled to be done with the dreaded block!

I hadn't initially planned to put a border around the blocks, but one block was just a tad off 12 inches square, and a border could clear that right up. Once I started sewing the border on, the quilt top began to take on a new life, in my opinion. I didn't have enough black or white for a border, and I wasn't even sure I had enough of the deep maroon. But I'm sure glad I picked it. It makes a unique statement, I think.

I completed all the inner borders first because I wasn't sure there would be enough fabric for the outer borders.

I debated for a couple of days whether I should put on an outer border or use what was left of the maroon as binding. I finally decided there wasn't quite enough fabric for a binding, and I took a chance I could finish the outer border. This is all that remains.

I just love the new quilt top. It's the first of 15 I plan to make this year before Christmas. I don't know the young recipients, all age ten and under, well enough yet to fit their quilts to their individual personalities, but I'm pretty sure whoever gets this one is going to like it.

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

21 February 2017


I discovered just a few days before my birthday I'd have to renew my driver's license on said birthday. Or jump through all kinds of extra hoops the following day or later.

It worked out great at work; my bosses (and all the bosses in our company) would be in meetings all day, and we'd have what is affectionately known as our catered Cat's Away lunch. The annual event is huge every year. It was the perfect day for me to be a little late. I wouldn't be missing out on anything.

I locked my front door at 6:05, planning to be first in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles when it opened at 8. As I backed out of the driveway, I heard this huge harrumph, harrumph.

I just knew I'd run over one of the neighborhood cats. My heart sank, and tears welled up in my eyes as I went to the back of the car to find out which feline had been resting beneath my car.

Instead I found a completely flat tire. Not low. No air whatsoever.

I thought I'd ruined the rim coming off the driveway because the rim hit the street so hard. I tried to park the car so it wouldn't be in the way and The Lizard wouldn't have as difficult a time changing the tire as he would have had the car been on the sloped driveway. I didn't have time to change the tire myself. I went back into the house to begin calling neighbors who also work 30 miles away in downtown Denver to find out if I could hitch a ride with someone.

After leaving three messages, I finally found a ride. I locked up the house and walked out to the corner to be picked up. I redialed the first three numbers to let other neighbors know I'd found a ride. Turned out I'd awoken each of them. I felt guilty.

I called The Lizard at work to inform him of the biggest birthday surprise I've had in quite a while. We didn't chat long because my ride showed up.

"I hope you don't mind if we take my daughter to school," my neighbor said.

"Not at all," I replied. I hope you don't mind if I need to part ways with you at the DMV so I can renew my license."

As I buckled my seat belt, the 14-year-old in the back of the car, who is getting her learner's permit next week, piped in, "My mom told me to always check all four tires before I get in our car."

"Good idea!" I told her with a smile. "You can darn sure bet I'll do that every time I have to drive from now on."

After dropping her off at school, we headed toward downtown Denver. Within a mile, there came that sanity-gouging noise again.

Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph...

I knew that noise. I'd experienced that noise. Most recently! I knew exactly what it meant. The calendar had to be wrong. This HAD to be Friday the 13th!

My neighbor was able to pull over safely. I offered to help change the tire, but she insisted on calling her husband to rescue us.

I finally arrived at the Department of Motor Vehicles three minutes after it opened, and I was 14th in line. And two hours late for work.

But not late for free pizza at work for lunch!

The day got only better from there. My dear, sweet husband brought home flowers for me, and it turned out I didn't have to replace the rim. Just one tire, not two.

The joy of having a full-size spare! My 382,000-mile, nearly 20-year-old car is still running on factory spare and factory rims. As well as factory upholstery and factory paint. The engine has had a lot of work over the years, but it's still original, too.

Me and my car. We're both showing signs of age, but we keep right on purring! Or purling... ha ha ha!

I think I might be contagious, though. I won't be getting in anyone else's car until I know the flat tire virus has abated.

20 February 2017

Snowflake Monday

When I first heard about Winter Storm Niko, I remembered a desktop cat I had on my computer many, many years ago, about 1998, I think.

I tried looking for Niko and learned it's the generic unisex equivalent of Nicolas or Nichole, but I couldn't find the kitty screensaver I loved. Gotta love the name, though. Do enough research, and the name eventually connects to Nikon! Which, in my opinion, makes it an extremely cool name.

Finally, I found Neko the kitty when I spelled it differently. Do you remember Neko? Does Neko bring back memories from before the turn of the century? Back before cellphones and iPads and computers on every desk in the workplace... Oh, I guess you probably had to have a Mac to remember Neko.

Here's a Neko you can play with on your current computer screen. Actually, 40 of them. Spirit is my favorite! Looks just like the triplet kitties who lived with me in Estes Park more than two decades ago – Bonsai, Kamikaze and Boo. That website also has a link to a super cute real-life Neko herd!

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

Finished Size: 4 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Neko Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 4 dc in ring, take loop off hook, insert hook through 2nd ch of starting ch 2 and replace loop on hook, pull loop through ch (popcorn stitch made), ch 10, sl st in 9th ch from hook, ch 1, * 5 dc in ring, take loop off hook, insert hook through top loop of 1st dc and replace loop on hook, pull loop through top of 1st dc (popcorn stitch made), ch 10, sl st in 9th ch from hook, ch 1; repeat from * 4 times around, omitting last ch 10 of final repeat; ch 1, 1 dc in top of starting popcorn st, ch 3, 1 dtr in top of dc just made to form 6th ch 9 loop of Round. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 6 dc over post of dtr directly below, 13 dc in each of next 5 ch 9 loops, 6 dc in starting ch 9 loop, sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 3: Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), sk next 2 dc, 1 dc in next dc, ch 3, 1 dc in same dc (V-stitch made), * ch 3, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook (dc picot made), ch 3, 1 sc in 3rd ch from hook (sc picot made), ch 3, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook (dc picot made), sk next 6 dc, 1 dc in next dc, ch 3, 1 dc in same dc (V-stitch made), [sk next 2 dc, 1 dc in next dc, ch 3, 1 dc in same dc (V-stitch made)] 2 times; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last V-stitch and last dc of final repeat; sl st in 3rd ch of starting ch 3; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

I leave you with one more Neko herd...

In case the above video doesn't work, check it out here. It is worth watching.

17 February 2017


I'm speechless...

16 February 2017

Living on the Edge

On September 5, 2015, I began crocheting some of my blue and green selvedges into a mandala using the pattern I designed for thread crochet following the death of Marinke Slump.

As the piece became bigger and bigger, it began to ruffle on the edges because of the 12 increases on every round of the original pattern, which was written for a much smaller scale.

I wasn't in the mood to unravel. So my selvedge mandala has for nearly a year and a half rested atop a stack of quilting magazines next to our living room chair, where I sit on a heating pad when I can't sleep at night. Meanwhile, I did tons of piecing and quilting, as well as a few sewing projects, and I cut up plenty more selvedges. The pile kept growing and growing and growing. Becoming more and more annoying with every new project.


Down with a head cold most of January and not retaining enough energy or will most nights after work to quilt or do much of anything else creative, I decided one evening I should go ahead and finish this mandala rug. It was right there, next to me. I didn't even have to reach for it.

I thought this might also be a good time to organize my relentless and out-of-control mountain of selvedges. It truly was a mountain.

I finally ripped back three rounds on the selvedge rug and then continued crocheting, working in only six increases on each round instead of 12. That worked for about four rounds, but then I had to do 12 increases on the even rounds and 6 increases on the odd rounds, which required a bit more unraveling and redoing. Nevertheless, the project was moving along at last. Finally!

I underestimated the amount of selvedges I'd need to complete the rug and was short about six or seven yards on the final round.

I'd already organized three years' of selvedges and packaged them to sell on Etsy. I didn't want to break into one of the packages to finish my rug.

I pulled out one of the Ravelry reward fat quarters I'd received a couple of years ago for finishing a WIP quilt and cut the entire fat quarter into 1-inch strips. I added the strips to the dangling selvedge on the unfinished rug, and about 20 minutes later, this longstanding WIP was finished!

I tried to make the color registration dots show whenever I could.

Taking pictures of the finished rug was more fun than taking pictures of the packaged selvedges. My first amaryllis of the year bloomed at just the right time!

The packaged selvedges took a heck of a lot more time and math than the rug! But thank heavens they are DONE! And in my Etsy shop. Good riddance!

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.
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