02 October 2014

Unexpected

Maroon Bells

Look out, Maroon Bells, here we come!

That was the plan, anyway...

Our final charity ride each year is in Durango, and we must pass through about 200 miles of extraordinary aspen stands to get there. Typically, this annual pilgrimage is our first photographic autumn color tour of the year. This year, the leaves began turning early, so our five-day getaway was our second leaf extravaganza of 2014.

Monarch Pass
Monarch Pass, Week 1

Because we had five days, we planned to get up at 4 a.m. on Day One and drive to Maroon Lake outside of Aspen for a 7 a.m.-ish sunrise. This typically is a stop on our annual autumn leaf tour every year, nearly 16 years straight for me now.

One year more than a decade ago resulted in this awesome poster.

One of the final daisies of the season framed by Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Bells; montage created in Photoshop and duplicated in a very wild quilt!

This poster was so popular in the mountain-climbing club I then belonged to, I thought it should be a quilt, too. So I printed eight of the manipulated photos on fabric; eight because that's what I could fit on two sheets of 8x10 fabric. Because this was a wild concept, I thought zebra stripe borders were in order. The blocks turned out incredible, in my opinion, but I needed one more.

To harmonize with this crazy theme, I thought a hand-appliqued dahlia block would be the perfect center for my Crazy Bells blocks. All the zebra stripe fabric and dahlia fabric were leftovers from clothes I'd made for my kids when they were really small and still crazy enough to wear clothes mom made.

Zebra Dahlia

The dahlia block was much bigger than my Colorful Bells blocks, so I chopped it down to match, then assembled the quilt top. It then hung on my quilt rack for about 12 years!!!

Colorful Bells

Last June, I realized I was going to be the only member of the Send group in Ravelry's Spring 2014 UFO Club without a finish. The group offers a fun quarterly challenge to get at least one unfinished quilt (WIP or Work In Progress) done. The Send group sends fat quarters to finishers at the end of each quarter. There also is a No Send group; they get no fabric rewards for finishing... by choice! Perhaps one day I will be able to temper my fabric addiction, but for now, Send group for me!!! I LOVE the rewards, especially because they come from all over. I even received a fat quarter from Canada for my previous finish!

Fat quarters from other Send group members sounded delicious, but my main goal was to NOT be the only one in the group without a finish. So I rummaged through my leftovers to find something for a backing and came upon almost enough of the plum zebra fabric for the entire back. I added a strip of white zebra to make it big enough to cover the back, then pieced together batting leftover from past quilts to make the center layer big enough.

I then did something I've never done before. I pin-basted the layers because I thought that would enable me to finish by the end of June. Just getting the layers on my quilt frame would have taken longer than the one night I had before this year's MS-150 bike ride.

I thought I could whip this WIP into shape after pedaling 150 miles the following two days. I underestimated the drain of 150 miles on a 50-plus-year-old body. I was too tired after the ride to finish. Then life got busy. No time for sewing. The UFO (UnFinished Object) hung for another 12 weeks or so.

Finally, the night before our Durango trip, I decided I didn't want to be the only one in the Summer 2014 UFO Club Send group to NOT finish a quilt. I would be gone through the end of the month, so it was now or never. Or at least not in the summer challenge, and a second consecutive quarter of being the only quilter not to finish a project. NO WAY!

quilting detail

I got off work late that night, packed for the trip, then sat down to start machine quilting this baby. Once again, I chickened out of true free-motion quilting and did the lift-and-rotate method to work an outline around the dahlia star all the way to the edges, except for the Maroon Bells photos. Lift the presser foot; rotate the quilt, two, three, four; lift the presser foot, rotate the quilt... This quilt was small enough (43 inches by 40 inches) that lift-and-rotate wasn't as much of a pain in the back as Lizard Leftovers.

Most importantly, finishing another quilt would give me just enough confidence to take on the next UFO. One of my problems, in addition to being over-committed all the time, is that the time between finishes diminishes my faith in my machine quilting. I've read somewhere you have to log about 1,000 hours of machine quilting to be truly good at it. I go into every project with an attitude of "This will be perfect or else!" Or else it doesn't get finished.

I NEEDED a finish. I needed to know it's okay if a practice quilt is not perfect, as long as I'm building skill and confidence. And finishing!

This quilt top was just what the quilt police ordered. It's not perfect. I've decided I HATE pin-basting. The quilting alone took until nearly 1 a.m., which made both of us too tired to get up three hours later to drive to Maroon Bells. And I still had to finish the binding.

Colorful Bells

The next morning, we slept in. Because really, we had no choice, with an eight-hour drive ahead of us! And then while The Lizard loaded up the car, I put on a binding made of leftover black fabric from Dancing Lizards, my first entirely-by-machine binding, and by golly, what a start to a great vacation! I FINISHED A QUILT! A very old quilt, to boot!

Colorful Bells

It cost me the Maroon Bell sunrise I was hoping for, but perhaps this fabric Maroon Bells finish is even better than a few more photos in a vast collection. I was so happy as we finally began to head west at about noon, I'm not sure our tires touched the ground until Kenosha Pass, where the leaves were at peak! We would have missed the leaves at Kenosha Pass had we taken the Aspen route to Durango instead. Kenosha Pass leaves were mostly gone when we drove through again five days later!

Kenosha Pass

30 September 2014

Wordless Wedneday

Canyon View

A Closer View

a little closer...

A Nest!!!

Fly!

Six of a Kind

Million Dollar Highway gold
Million Dollar Highway Gold

Wouldn't you know it? I'm 200 hits away from being able to actually watch, live, in person, as my page hit counter rolls to 4,000,000, and my internet provider says, "You need to upgrade your software!"

Like a fool, I did.

And internet was totally lost until a live, on the phone, technician finally surrendered after three attempts to get the new software working. She finally had me uninstall the new software and then reinstall the old software via my modem.

"Can I do that?" I asked. "I have no internet!"

"You shouldn't need internet if it's in your modem," she replied.

She gambled the old software would be part of the modem package, which luckily it was, and finally, after a total of six reboots, we had internet again. Unreliable and intermittent, but we did have internet again.

Six Zeroes Snowflake Rock

Thankfully, we had not missed the moment. I spent the next half hour or so, however long it took, making a new Six Zeroes Snowflake, the one I designed last year while waiting for 2,999,9somethingsomething to turn into 3,000,000.

Perhaps I should design a new version of Six Zeroes...

Cure Spinal Muscular Atrophy

I'd thought the magic number would hit on Saturday while I was shooting the 2014 Spinal Muscular Atrophy Walk & Roll, during which I had no time to watch my iPhone like a hawk. When I got home, I excitedly discovered I still had a way to go.

3,999,180

Then I thought for sure it would happen while I was at church on Sunday and unable to monitor the progress.

3,999,888

The counter was moving rather slowly when I got home from church. The Lizard attributed that to the Bronco football game. I told him my readers hail from more than just Colorado, and probably very few of them give a hoot about the NFL.

Nevertheless, we thought there might be time for a quick bike ride. So that's what we did. When we returned home, the counter was still crawling very, very slowly. Slower than me on a bike!

But we were getting closer!

How Cool is That?!?

Instead of working on a quilt or working on my special project or even cleaning the house or taking a nap, I sat down to watch the ticker. To further amuse myself, I kept changing the tag line on the ticker to reflect the mood of the moment.

The Lizard watched a movie while I crocheted and kept one eye on the counter. When it hit 3,999,993, I called him in to watch with me, and he watched over my shoulder as the live ticker struck the magic number. The final few digits took less than ten minutes.

Just one more...

I got to see it again!

wrenched

Just like that, it was over. But I got to see it again! I got to see it last year, but the previous two times, 1,000,000 and 2,000,000, I had to watch from my phone, signal was weak, and I missed the exact moment twice in a row.

Why do I care about something as seemingly meaningless as a bunch of zeroes? Anything that comes in sixes catches my eye; I'm a hexie holic and a snowflake spastic. Not sure why numbers grab me so, but this condition affects me on my bike and in my car, too. Oh, and how many shots I take with my cameras as well... recently celebrated the 100,000th shot on my D300, then had to turn the darned thing in for servicing when it developed an old-age owie. Darn it!

I take pictures of my odometers when they hit significant marks. Unfortunately, I slept through 333,333 in my car during our summer vacation this year. I'm hoping one day I can do one of those old Toyota jump commercials, celebrating unrealistic miles on my metallic baby.

I did capture the previous six-of-a-kind on the 4Runner... way back in 2008!!!

Six of a kind, right outside Vegas in 2008

29 September 2014

Kittyflake Monday


Dogs are cute, and bears are adorable, but kitties... My heart belongs to cats! Well, and The Lizard...

My first attempt at creating a Purrfect Snowflake wasn't perfect. Too many stitches in too small a space. Back to the crocheting board. My hand-dyed hibiscus thread turned from pink to gray over the summer, and then it turned a strange hue of cream when I stiffened it. Kitties come in that color, but my first Kitty Flake attempt isn't all that attractive to me.

Not So Purrfect

My second attempt, fashioned with my hand-dyed hollyhock thread, didn't include the kitty motifs because I wanted to work out the size challenge before making another kitty flake. This time, the snowflake looked perfect, although it was headless.

Perfect

The third attempt truly was Purrfect as far as kitty bodies go, but the cat heads still needed just a little work. One more time...

Better, but still not Purrfect

Finally, on my fourth Purrfect Snowflake, I'd worked out all the hairballs. Now it looks like six kitties!

This snowflake may be worked without the motifs, and the motifs may be connected to just about any snowflake bigger than 1.5 to 2 inches.

What lovely eyes you have!

I looked everywhere for googly cat eyes, buttons shaped like cat eyes, oval-shaped beads in cat eye colors, or small enough (3 mm) cat eye embellishments for this Kitty Flake and came up with nothing. So I cut tiny eyes from green felt and even tinier eye irises and noses from black felt.

UGH!!!

I really had trouble cutting such small pieces from a pattern, and the paper pattern I'd drawn on a piece of scrap kept falling onto the carpet as I was cutting because it had the personality of a five-month old kitten. I found that dabbing the paper with a tiny bit of spit to adhere it to the felt helped it stay in place while cutting. But I also found it was easier to cut a strip of green felt (or yellow, orange, purple or whatever Halloween color you like) a little less than a quarter inch wide, then cut nearly quarter-inch rectangles from that, all the same size, and trimmed off the corners for the eyes. For the irises, I cut another strip of black felt just a tiny bit wider than an eighth of an inch, then cut squares from that, all the same size, and trimmed off the corners. For the optional noses (in retrospect, I think the kitties would look fine without the noses), I cut yet another strip of black felt just a tiny bit wider than an eighth of an inch, then cut squares from that, all the same size, then cut each square into a triangle, then trimmed off two tips of each triangle. The third uncut nose tip is the bottom of each nose.

What lovely ears you have!

After this relentless exercise, which probably doesn't involve the loss of weight, unfortunately, I was tempted to down an entire carton of my husband's Ben & Jerry's Phish Food ice cream all by myself and buy the little squirt bottles of dimensional fabric paint for the next set of eyes. Just an idea. If you come up with a better eye idea for this, please let me know because I have three Kitty Flakes still needing eyes!

The easiest eyes??? Photoshop. Heh heh!

Purrfectly Placed

This is another snowflake for our Sisters of the Snowflake Yahoo Group's autumn service project. A Purrfect Snowflake could be the purrfect gift for a child in need of hope and/or smiles. I hope you'll join us in trying to make the world a little brighter this winter.

I'm taking brief breaks from my special project to make snowflakes for Children's Hospital in Denver. If you would like to participate in this service project and don't have a facility in your area you would like to donate to, Children's is one of the top pediatric hospitals in the country. My adopted daughter was treated there many years ago. I know a couple of doctors and several staff members there, and I have known many children who have been treated there over the years. I currently have one friend whose infant is being treated there.


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

Purrfectly Manipulated

Finished Size: 8 inches from point to point for Purrfect Snowflake, 5.5 inches from point to point for Perfect Snowflake
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 8 crochet hook, stitch markers (if desired), small amount of felt in desired cat eye colors and a ton of patience, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, glue, water, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line
NOTE: Eyes and nose may be googly eyes, may be made from tiny pompoms and/or buttons, may be drawn with permanent markers, may be embroidered or crocheted, or may be omitted altogether.
NOTE: For small children who put everything in their mouths, no eyes or noses may be more appropriate.

Kitty Cool

Kitty Motif Instructions (Make 6.)

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 11 dc in ring; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in same st, 2 dc in each of next 6 dc, 1 hdc in next dc, 2 sc in next dc, 1 hdc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc; 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: Sk next dc, to form 1st ear 4 dc in next dc, ch 1, sl st in top of dc just worked, 2 dc in same dc as 4 previous dc, sk next dc, sl st in next dc, 2 sc in each of next 2 dc, sl st in next dc, sk next dc, 3 dc in next dc, ch 1, sl st in top of dc just worked, 3 dc in same dc as previous 3 dc, sk next dc, sl st in next dc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Mark 2 middle bottom dc of each kitten motif chin.

Purrfect Snowflake

Purrfect Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and ch 3), 1 dc in ring, * ch 3, 1 dc in ring; repeat from * 3 times; ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 5 to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round. Pull magic circle tight.
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 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc over post of dc directly below, * 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 3 dc in same sp; repeat from * around 4 times; 3 dc in starting ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round.

Round 3: 1 sc over post of dc directly below, ch 6, * 1 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 6; repeat from * around 4 times, omitting last sc of final repeat; sl st starting sc.

Round 4: * 2 sc in next ch 6 sp, ch 3, 1 tr in same sp, ch 3, 3 sc in same sp, ch 2, 1 tr in same sp, ch 3, 2 sc in same sp; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc.

Round 5: * Sl st in next sc, to make first leg ch 6, 2 tr in top of next tr, ch 3, sk next ch, 1 hdc in next ch, sk next ch and next sc, 1 tr in next sc, to make neck ch 9, 1 sc in each of marked middle dc stitches on chin of motif, 1 sc next ch of ch 9 and in each of next 2 ch, 1 hdc in each of next 3 ch, 1 dc in each of next 3 ch, 1 tr in same sc as previous tr, sk next sc and next ch, to make second leg 1 hdc in next ch, ch 3, 2 tr in top of next tr, ch 6, sl st in next sc, to make tail ch 12, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, 1 sc in next ch, 2 sc in each of next 3 ch, 1 sc in each of next 6 ch, sl st in each of next 3 sc; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last 2 sl st of final repeat; bind off. Weave in ends.
NOTE: If desired, neck may be made shorter by chaining 6 instead of 9 and working 2 sc, 2 hdc and 2 dc after connecting head motif. If desired, tail may be made longer by chaining 14 instead of 12 and working 8 sc at end instead of 6. Tail also may be shaped in any manner desired by placing increases anywhere along tail, bearing in mind increases close to body of flake may crowd legs.

Perfect

Perfect Snowflake Instructions (because "headless" is just a little too creepy)

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and ch 3), 1 dc in ring, * ch 3, 1 dc in ring; repeat from * 3 times; ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 5 to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round. Pull magic circle tight.
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 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc over post of dc directly below, * 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 3 dc in same sp; repeat from * around 4 times; 3 dc in starting ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round.

Round 3: 1 sc over post of dc directly below, ch 6, * 1 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 6; repeat from * around 4 times, omitting last sc of final repeat; sl st starting sc

Round 4: * 2 sc in next ch 6 sp, ch 3, 1 tr in same sp, ch 3, 3 sc in same sp, ch 2, 1 tr in same sp, ch 3, 2 sc in same sp; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc.

Round 5: * Sl st in next sc, ch 6, 2 tr in top of next tr, ch 3, sk next ch, 1 hdc in next ch, sk next ch and next sc, 1 tr in next sc, ch 10, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch, 1 hdc in each of next 3 ch, 1 dc in each of next 3 ch, 1 tr in same sc as previous tr, sk next sc and next ch, 1 hdc in next ch, ch 3, 2 tr in top of next tr, ch 6, sl st in each of next 3 sc; repeat from * around 5 times; 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.

A link to the blocking template I use is located here. That website has some of the most helpful snowflake information I know of. I also have a link to it on my sidebar to the right. I try to keep all the important links there so everyone will be able to find the information they need.

Mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture. Apply eyes and noses, dabbing with an extra drop of glue if necessary. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins.

TIP: Because of the long necks and the big heads on this snowflake, I used a strong mostly glue/water solution for the first stiffening. After thorough drying, I applied a second coat of straight Elmer's, not watered down, along the necks on the back side to further strengthen my kitties.

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 the snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

Banzai

26 September 2014

Friday Funny



Yuppers, that's how it happened.

I can't stop laughing.

bottle robots

Purr.

Yarn-shaming.

The comments on this scarf are hilarious!

Maybe I should do this with golden aspen leaves...

This girl crocheted her wedding dress during her morning commute. Five months!

Dumbfounded

Oh, dear

Toilet Paper Roll Art

Really cool paper folding.

30 years ago...

Something to do during breakfast.

Tee hee hee!

Spirograph embroidery

My dad actually had the *reel* thing when I was growing up.

Very cool recycling!

Mice in the house?

You think my HOA would mind if I did this???

This would be prettier than a trash can.

I like Star Wars, but I'm not sure I'd wear these.
Except maybe on Halloween...

Someone bought this domain to make people laugh.

25 September 2014

Bugs, My Eye!

The Moon, Mirrored

I rarely take off my sunglasses when I'm outside in any semblance of daylight.

But that didn't stop another gnat for finding a warm, comfortable place to give up the ghost during the second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Crested Butte. The Lizard and I had just deposited our schwag (free stuff) in the car and were returning to our chosen viewpoint where we hoped to watch the pro cyclists just 500 meters from the finish line in a couple of hours. And then it happened. A bug flew right under my sunglasses and right into the right corner my right eye. Not a right move!!!

I had learned the first time this happened my eyes are no game, and immediate action is worth losing a cherished bicycle race lookout. I immediately returned to the car, crying but unable to get tears to fall. My eyeball felt as though it was on fire, and the only thing I could think of was to find a mirror so I could safely dislodge the bug without severing any of its body parts.

The car windows were not reflective enough for me to undertake emergency surgery. The rearview mirror was wide angle and not at a good angle to boot for me to wedge my head closely and visually locate the tiny beast.

By this time, The Lizard, who wasn't sure why I was crying and beginning to wail, caught up to me and beeped the alarm to unlock the doors. I hopped in and pulled down the vanity mirror, which is never used for typical stuff such as applying makeup or fixing hair. I pulled down my lower eyelid and inspected the damage. There in the crease was this ghastly little dead bug, apparently leaking bodily fluids all over my burning eye. Still, I could not get tears to flow.

So I did the next best thing. I grabbed the water bottle on my bicycle and began dousing my eye. To heck with clothing and car upholstery! It was just water anyway; everything I stash in my car sees worse when I leave the windows cracked and thunderstorms take advantage.

The Lizard figured out my quagmire and went searching for clean tissue, which he carefully handed to me to keep it as germ-free as possible. I dabbed the tissue right onto my inner eyelid and applied a bit of pressure.

I wasn't sure if my first bug-eyed experience was caused because I scratched my eye while trying to remove said alien or if the invader was just toxic. So this time, I tried to be careful, but I also tried to be forceful. No microscopic appendages were welcome in my orifice!

The Lizard performed a clear-eyed examination... my eyes were finally beginning to fill with burning salt water.

"You missed a spot," he concluded, handing me another tissue.

I repeated my stratagem and inspected the tissue. There before my teary eyes was a tiny leg. Or arm. I couldn't see clearly enough to make proper identification.

Because of the last experience, The Lizard insisted I use the entire bottle of water to continue flooding my eye, which still felt as though it was coated with gasoline, rubbing alcohol or sandpaper, or a wicked combination of all three. I did not object.

Ten minutes later, I decided I probably needed to wash from the other direction, too. I tipped my head the other way, and The Lizard assisted in drenching my eye again.

I looked as though I'd had more than a little accident as we returned to the bridge over what would soon be storm waters to take front and center of what other fans said was the best seat in the house. Within about half an hour, the pain was mostly gone, and a thunderstorm washed most of the rest of the fans off the bridge.

True blue fans were back as soon as things dried out, and so was my eyesight. One of my most precious possessions. About 600 photos' worth.

A good race was had by all! Well, except the bug...

rain on me
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