26 May 2016

Wrapped Up in The Wave

Spoonflower recently introduced a lightweight fleece, and oh, boy, did I have to try it!

I selected a photo of The Wave, of course, and had a full yard printed.

I barely got home with the printed fabric two weeks later when it arrived because everyone wanted this cute little blanket, even before I got an edging on it!

I'd recently participated in a fleece blanket drive for Children's Hospital, and my group cut and tied more than 100 blankets of varying sizes. The fleece we use for those blankets is thicker than Spoonflower's fleece and also features print on both sides.

Even though Spoonflower's fleece is low-loft and is printed only on one side, I still like it. It doesn't ravel and so doesn't require a hem, and it's perfect for cuddling.

I knew before I ordered this fabric I wasn't going to tie the edges like the charity blankets. I wanted to crochet around the entire piece with my hand-dyed cotton. When I auditioned my madder-dyed, avocado-pit-dyed and iron-dyed cotton yarn, I didn't really like the colors together. So I opted for black acrylic yarn for the edging.

I wanted the blanket to be washable, so I didn't consider wool yarn.

The most difficult part of this project was using an awl to poke holes all the way around the edges without poking me. Once the holes were finished, I filled them with yarn via a size G crochet hook. I finished the crocheting during our recent trip to San Rafael Swell and Canyonlands National Park. Except for the awl, this was a perfect traveling project during cooler weather. The fleece kept me warm while the spring weather pulled yet another winter on us.

I'm as crazy about The Wave as I am about snowflakes. And now I can show my Wave pride in a fashionable way!

The winner of last week's Quilts from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks giveaway is Mary Marcotte at Fleur de Lis Quilts. The magazine is going out in the mail today. Thank you to everyone who participated!

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

24 May 2016

Max Blizzard and The Gem of Camelot

Spunky eight-year-old Max and 12-year-old Trudesile make their way through a very narrow cavern that becomes more narrow along the way and manage to solve a complicated puzzle in order to keep moving toward their goal of saving the universe in "Max Blizzard and The Gem of Camelot". The two kiddos are squeezed together in so many adventures throughout the book, I found myself wondering if author Pat Hatt is in league with J.J. Abrams.

Earth in "Max Blizzard and The Gem of Camelot" is a cookie cutter world, and everything is the same. The people are all boring, and life is nothing but one big, fat routine. Imagination has been suppressed, until Max begins having dreams. Bullies taunt him, and Trudesile steps in to protect him. Together they fall through a rabbit hole of sorts into another dimension where imagination is encouraged and not forbidden.

Imagination runs wild in Pat Hatt's head, and this 284-page fantasy captures but a tiny slice with fantastical names like Lempilightess (think Legolas) and Gramortimous (think Kraken) and quixotic characters including a blue goo Davy Jones or leprechaun Lester mingling their way through quests to escape monster clouds that fight with rain and snow or to reunite characters' good and evil sides amidst showers of blue lightning sparks.

Action is fast and furious. There's not a boring page in this entire book. Max's crush on Trudesile is cute, and possessed fairies make the reader want to reach for a fly swatter.

"Max Blizzard and The Gem of Camelot", available here, was an enjoyable three-day read. When I first bought the book (a while back, I'm ashamed to admit), I thought it was aimed at teenagers and perhaps young adults. Now that I've finally read it, I think it would be appropriate for anyone who enjoys Harry Potter- or J.R.R. Tolkien-type fiction, but I do need to point out a couple of characters have poor vocabularies and resort to a specific curse word a handful of times. Very minimal, nothing we don't hear every day, and even good pirates are not known for their lingual finesse, but the four-letter word stood out to me, and I caught myself wishing a different word, perhaps an imaginative made-up word, could have been used instead.

I am not receiving any compensation for writing this review, but I do consider Pat Hatt an online friend I've never met. He's been faithfully following my blog every single post since about March 2013. He even reads and comments on Snowflake Mondays!!! I'm quite sure he doesn't read the patterns, and I'll bet the closest he's ever gotten to string of any kind is to tease his rhyming cat, Orlin.

This is NOT Orlin.

Orlin blogs completely in rhyme (with a real name like Pat Hatt, how could you not?) at It's Rhyme Time seven days a week and 24 times a day once or twice a year. I think Orlin/Pat stumbled on my blog via Fundy Blue, a retired teacher right here in the Denver metro whom I have not yet met and who blogs at Standing Into Danger. Fundy stumbled upon my blog via Mrs. Micawber, a blogger and real-life dear friend I have met and who sometimes rides with The Lizard and me to fight multiple sclerosis. Small world, huh?

Pat Hatt also blogs over at PatHattBooks.com. He is a prolific writer with 58 children's books to his credit. He releases a new book every single month! I honestly don't know how he does it!

Two weeks ago I promised I'd share a review of a completely different genre of book after striking out twice trying to encourage and reward readers to enjoy and review free adoption fiction on Smashwords. No one left reviews for "Are You My Sister" or "Collecting Smiles." That means THREE autographed paperback copies of "Heart Strings" are available today! Your odds of winning just increased yet again!!!

But now I have to come up with a new contest because book reviews apparently aren't something my readers want to do. (Oh, and my previous contests weren't total failures; Smashwords sold four additional electronic copies of "Heart Strings" the day of each of the previous two book reviews, bringing my total sales to 48 books! See! I am well on my way to selling a million copies!!!)

If my lack of contest success is because the prize, my own book, doesn't seem like much of a prize, well, just let me share with you the comments of a co-worker's mom (whom I don't know), who received an autographed copy of "Heart Strings" as a gift (not from me) for Mother's Day. She said she couldn't put my book down and that she read the entire thing in a day and a half. She asked her daughter to ask me when my next book will be done.

Yikes! Guess I better get busy, huh?

Does it feel like I'm stalling? Not a bit. I have a new creative contest idea. Let's see if this one will work...

Pat typically is my first commenter each day. I'm going to ask him (right here, right now; he had no advance notice) to start a story with one sentence, preferably in rhyme, and each commenter after him should add a one-sentence continuation, preferably in rhyme (because it's good mental exercise and helps prevent and/or delay Alzheimer's). No goats in boats, though. That's already been heavily exhausted, okay?

Three autographed paperback copies (or electronic PDF copies if you are outside the US because I'm paying postage out of my own pocket) of "Heart Strings" will be awarded randomly on Tuesday, June 7, 2016.

Please bear in mind I do not have internet access during the weekday except via my phone, but I will do my best to keep up with the thousands of comments I expect to garner in this sweet little contest.

On your mark, get ready, set, GO!

23 May 2016

Snowflake Monday

I think we've finally seen our final snowfall of the season. That doesn't mean snowflakes won't be found in my garden.

I'm finally finding time to stiffen the snowflakes leftover from last year's quilt.

The garden snowflakes I shared last week, today and the ones I plan to share in a couple of weeks were initially designed for the snowflake lamp I revealed earlier this year.

We may be done with winter, but I'll always be surrounded by snowflakes. And that's NOT a complaint!

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

Finished Size: Garden Snowflake 14: 3 inches from point to point; Garden Snowflake 15: 2 inches from point to point; Garden Snowflake 16: 3 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 8 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

Garden Snowflake 14 Instructions

Foundation Round: * Ch 15, 1 dc in 11th ch from hook, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 sc in next ch, sl st in next ch, ch 3, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook (picot made); repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting ch; bind off. Weave in ends.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Garden Snowflake 15 Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 4 dc in ring, pull hook out of loop (dropped loop) and insert in 2nd ch of starting ch 2, insert in dropped loop, pull dropped loop through 2nd ch of starting ch 2 (popcorn stitch made), ch 3, * 5 dc in ring, pull hook out of loop (dropped loop) and insert in top loop of 1st dc of this 5/dc group, insert in dropped loop, pull dropped loop through top loop of 1st dc (popcorn stitch made); ch 3; repeat from * 4 more times; sl st in top of starting popcorn stitch. 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: 1 sc in next ch 3 sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 dc in same sp, ch 3, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook (sc picot made), ch 1, 1 dc in same ch 3 sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 sc in same sp; ch 5, sl st in sc just made (ch picot made); repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Garden Snowflake 16 Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 1, pull up loop to size of dc, [yo, draw up loop through magic ring, yo, draw through 2 loops on hook] 2 times, yo, draw through all 3 loops on hook (beginning cluster made), ch 3, * [yo, draw up loop through magic ring, yo, draw through 2 loops on hook] 3 times, yo, draw through all 4 loops on hook (cluster made), ch 3; repeat from * 4 more times; sl st in top of starting cluster. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: * 1 sc in next ch 3 sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 dc in same sp, ch 2, 1 dc in same sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 sc in same sp; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc.
Please go here to see the original.

Round 3: Ch 3 (counts as 1 tr), * 1 dc in next ch 2 sp, ch 3, 1 dc in same ch 2 sp, ch 7, 1 dc in 6th ch from hook, ch 5, 1 dc in same ch, ch 5, sl st in same ch, ch 1, 1 dc in same ch 2 sp, ch 3, 1 dc in same sp, 1 tr in top of next Round 1 cluster; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last tr 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 the snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

20 May 2016

Friday Fun

As Spock would say, fascinating!!!

19 May 2016

Colorworks Concepts

Have you ever bought fabric that made you want to sit down at the sewing machine right that very instant?

I think it happens to me just a little TOO frequently. But this time, oh, was it ever difficult! I was in California to shoot the wedding of my niece, and this fabric (with a price even better than the colors) made me want to squeal with joy like a little kid at Christmas!

I even put off editing photos the first night I returned home just so I could dive into this new acquisition. Fabric like this shouldn't be on shelves at all. It should be beneath the presser foot, and RIGHT NOW!

Then came the moment of grim reality. I opened the package and pulled out the cut fabric. I'd resisted pulling it out of the package all the way home! As I prepared to slice off the selvedges (because I actually save selvedges and either craft with them or sell them on Etsy), I realized the drop-dead gorgeous panel that caused me to fall so head over heels wasn't printed with a seam allowance.

What the heck?!?

According to Northcott's website, "ColorWorks Concepts is a completely innovative program featuring colorful panels.... printed to look like complex piecing projects."

So here's this irresistible big piece of fabric that's supposed to make it easier for me to whip up a quilt for a kid, and the manufacturers forgot to include seam allowance?!? Or cut corners, or in this case, a quarter inch on each side of each panel, to cut costs?!?

Other panel connoisseurs might not have noticed. Still others might have caved and used the selvedge as the seam allowance. (I've done that in the past as a single parent when my budget was much tighter and I regarded every single inch on a scale equal to or greater than gold or even chocolate, and I was NOT happy with the finished results.) For me personally at this time in my life, I’ve worked very hard to improve my matching points and corners. It's a very big deal to me in every single project.

So how in the world could I make a quilt with this panel and expect a cousin, niece or nephew to drool over the imperfect points?

I stewed for a while and even considered incorporating the selvedges and making due with the teeny, scant 1/16th-inch-if-lucky seam allowance before realizing this quilt, when finished, will indeed be going to a kid, and therefor needs to be sturdily stitched. I decided to bite the thimble and cut the panel as planned, then make the planned quilt with unmatched points along the edges because most kids will not care, and some might not even notice.

Until they are adult quilters. Inspired by their doting aunt, whom they one day realize made an entire quilt with uneven points. And then spend the next week laughing because they'd grown up worshiping the skills of said aunt. "She used a panel! (Emphasis added to imply cooties) She didn't even bother to cut the sides accurately! What a cheater!"

I had to study the panel again for a while to remember why I initially was so drawn to it. Will it really be so awful to be seam up 1/4 inch all the way around and cause block points to be off? Will that really ruin this otherwise gorgeous fabric?

Yes, if I was entering it into a competition, but who in their right mind would enter a panel quilt into a competition?!? (I know, it does happen.) Yes, if it was going on my bed. But I wouldn't be making a panel quilt for my bed. I would piece the darned thing because I enjoy piecing, and I want it to be as perfect as possible. Perhaps no if the intended recipient cares more about video games, dance or piano recitals, fingernail polish or baseball games.

I need to be finished with 13 more kid quilts by Christmas (and the possibility of four more). I want the kids to love them, but I'm not so sure they are going to care about the seams as much as they care about the size, colors and designs. Especially after they spill hot chocolate all over it while telling ghost stories, let the dog use it, take it camping, and use it to wipe up the eggs, chili and ketchup they spilled on their Mom's brand new carpet because they were eating in the forbidden living room while she was shopping.

"It will be okay. It will be okay. It will be okay," I kept telling myself as I cut off the selvedges (which, by the way, are equally as gorgeous) and squared up the sides.

Once I began piecing the coordinating charm squares for an impromptu border, I thought about the mismatched panel corners only as I attached the sashing. I held the finished top up to get my husband's opinion. He'd heard tolerated me bellyache about the absence of seam allowance the entire time I was cutting and sewing. He would give me an honest opinion, and he would do it in a delicate way if he didn't like the edges.

"The kids will love it. They'll be fighting over it," he smirked.

Fighting over it... I hadn't considered inevitable tug-of-war battles as an additional reason the seams need to be trustworthy.

I pulled in some stash fabrics to spread the charm squares thinner, so in the end, I will need another panel to use up the rest of the charm squares. Yes, you guessed it. I ordered another one, a different one. Hopefully not as errant along the edges as this one, which I do still love as far as color and block placement.

I guess I need to piece my own bright rainbow-themed sampler with perfect points when I get done with all the kiddo quilts. If I can ever get done with all the cousin quilts and the rest of the next generation stops having babies! (Just teasing! I love all the new little bundles of joy in the family!)

My Colorworks Flimsy

And now, I have a little giveaway. I have anxiously bought each and every issue of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks for the last six years, as well as each and every issue of Quilts from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks. I've found the 100 Blocks special issues more and more difficult to find the day or even week of release for the last couple of years as bookstores have been closing right and left in my neck of the plains meet foothills. The most recent magazine volume, Issue 13, was released at the beginning of this month, and I STILL don't have a copy! I am Woman, Hear Me Whine!

I decided to go ahead and sign up for the auto ship subscription for the special issues only. I expected to have the newest version of 100 Blocks by now. Imagine my surprise when the magazine finally arrived in the mail yesterday, and it's NOT 100 Blocks! Instead, it's another copy of Quilts from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, which I already have.

I have the option of returning it, but I thought I might as well give it away to someone who'd love to have it and continue to sit and wait patiently for my 100 Blocks to arrive. Fingers crossed it will eventually arrive and not take three months...

So, if you'd like to take this extra magazine off my hands, please leave a humorous quilting-related anecdote in the comments below, and a winner will be randomly selected. US recipients only, please, because I'm footing the bill for postage. I'll announce the winner and ask for delivery information next Thursday, May 26, 2016.

Quilts from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks

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