31 March 2014

Snowflake Monday

Back when I released this year's snowflake pattern booklet, I hinted about an embellishing contest/challenge. Life has slowed down just enough now that I think I can set the snowflakes in motion.

Featured in this year's snowflake pattern booklet is a fruity snowflake called Pineapple Sorbet. While I was working up my sample of the snowflake, I thought it would be cool to dangle a pineapple charm from one of the points. But I couldn't find one! So I thought maybe I could crochet a very tiny one. That's what sparked the idea for a challenge to embellish the Pineapple Sorbet Snowflake.

If we get a lot of entries in this challenge, I may stage another challenge in the future. I've got plenty of hand-dyed yarn and greeting cards I can give out as prizes!

The Pineapple Sorbet Snowflake pattern is published only in this year's booklet; it will not be published online. The booklet is available via a tax-free contribution to the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. You may make a contribution in my husband's name or mine. My husband's fundraising effort still has not reached the required amount, so any contributions in his name are deeply appreciated!

I have opened a Flickr gallery where photos of embellished Pineapple Sorbet Snowflakes may be uploaded. Prizes will be awarded for the audience favorite and the favorite of three non-crocheting judges. Featured prizes will include approximately 300 yards of snow-dyed cotton worsted yarn and a set of snowflake greeting cards. I may even part with some hand-dyed crochet thread in my stash if we get enough entries...

My Snowflake Greeting Cards

parfait snow-dyed cotton worsted

rainbow stash

The deadline for entries will be at noon Mountain Daylight Time on Friday, April 11.

Hooks ready? Let's see what you can do with the Pineapple Sorbet Snowflake!

D-Stitch Snowflake

And now, on with this week's snowflake pattern:

I hate when I find a mistake in a snowflake after it's too late to fix it!

The first attempt at this snowflake was to cover an ocean rock. That snowflake turned out so well, I thought the pattern would make a great snowflake. So I made another with my hand-dyed blue thread.

I wrote the pattern, and then I pinned the blue snowflakes. And I found a mistake!

I still like the snowflake, but the mistake jumps right out at me. Can you see it?

This snowflake incorporates a combination of stitches I'm not sure I've seen in any stitch guide. I don't know if I invented it, but I call it a D-stitch because to me, when worked in multiples, it looks like a bunch of capital Ds.

The stitch is created by working double crochet stitches around the post of previous double crochet stitches, with chains in between. It creates a lovely lacey scallop perfect for edging snowflakes or other items.

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!

D-Stitch Snowflake

Finished Size: 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

D-Stitch Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Sl st in ring, pull up loop on hook nearly as big as dc and twist 1 time, [draw up loop through ring, yo and draw through 2 loops on hook] 2 times, yo and draw through all 3 loops on hook, (counts as starting dc of 3/dc cluster), * ch 5, [yo and draw up loop through ring, yo and pull through 2 loops on hook] 3 times, yo and draw through all 4 loops on hook (dc cluster made), ch 5; repeat from * 4 times; sl st in top of starting dc cluster. Pull magic ring tight.

Round 2: * 1 sc in next ch 5 sp, 2 hdc in same sp, 3 dc in same sp, 2 hdc in same sp, 1 sc in same sp; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc.
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 6 (counts as 1 dc and ch 4), 1 dc in 4th ch from hook, [ch 3, 1 dc around post of dc just made] 4 times, skip over next shell petal, 1 dc between next 2 sc, * ch 4, 1 dc in 4th ch from hook, [ch 3, 1 dc around post of dc just made] 4 times; repeat from * around 4 times; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 6; 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.

D-Stitch Snowflake Rock

28 March 2014

Friday Funny



Oh, my heavens.

Extinct. I was a switchboard operator for many years...

Clever!!! (Now that I've done macro snowflake photography for the first time, I think these are melting snowflakes shown in reverse.)

Happy belated birthday, Leonard Nimoy!

Live long and...

You know what they say about red shirts, right?

Smirk.

Cute time hog.

Too cool to eat!

Even cuter!

Tasty cute.

Peeps Knit

Amazing thread bugs, and a snail...

Oh, my

After this page loads, scroll down and keep your eye on the image. Coolest rainbow ever.

Funny only in the sense of what can be done in Photoshop.
Internet privacy is something very, very serious, and kids (and some adults) do need to be taught.

Not humor. Just one of the most inspirational posts ever. EVER.

Another Olympic tearjerker.

27 March 2014

My First Quilt(s)

MacQuilt

My grandfather mail-ordered his clothes and frequently received tiny fabric swatches in the mail. Those tiny rectangles of pinked, mostly double knit were always given to me, of course, from the time we moved in with my grandparents when my birth mom took a permanent and unauthorized field trip. I was four years old, and Barbie dolls were the coolest things on the planet back then. Grandpa's little "quilt squares" were just the perfect size for outfitting red-haired and rigid Midge with comfy blankets for her cereal box bed.

Oh, how I wish I still had one of those masculine, drab little quilts. I'd never seen bright, colorful fabric back then, so browns and blacks and dark navy blues of my grandfather's wardrobe were as good as the color of the wool blanket on my own bed.

My grandmother was a very crafty person, always into something new. She was part of a quilting bee that met every Thursday for a day of quilting, and I got to go with her. My brothers got to kick around in the garage and backyard with Grandpa.

All the bee ladies were so impressed I could thread my own needle, it wasn't long before they had me quilting on a corner of the latest baby or wedding quilt right alongside them. My stitches had to be consistent, and the under side of the quilt had to look as good as the top side. I've had that drilled into me since I was about five years old.

About five years later, my new mom announced we'd be getting a new baby brother or sister. I thought by making a girly quilt, I could guaranty the new addition would be a sister, which would help with the odds of our newly blended 4-to-2 boys-to-girls clan. Off to TG&Y (which my new mom tongue-in-cheek told us stands for Turtles, Girdles and Yo-Yos) I walked to scope out the latest in baby blanket fabric. I don't know what ever happened to the lime green and pink floral quilt I crafted for that new little baby sister (Yes, the quilt magic worked! She was a girl!), but Susie carried it around with a baby doll for a few years after she learned to walk. So my babysitting money was very well spent on that wild "go go girl quilt."

I'm sure I made a few more square patch quilts before the next one I actually still have proof of, but I can't remember too many details, only that I loved bright colors, and my new mom trusted me to keep her sewing machine in my bedroom. We didn't have a sewing table; my mom would move everything into the dining room when she needed to sew, and she'd sew with the machine on the dining room table, then cart everything back into a closet. I suppose she saw keeping the sewing machine in my room as a lot easier to get to than buried in the closet.

I didn't have a table or a desk in my bedroom. I sewed on the floor. Sometimes, when I couldn't sleep at night (which still happens today, darn it), I would get up and sew by turning the wheel on the side of the machine. That way, I didn't wake anyone. It was a slow process, but it worked.

The next memorable quilt was begun after my first quarter of college. I got homesick and returned to live with my family, but they'd given my room to my little sister. I spent the next year on the couch in the living room, which conveniently had a small table in front of it, and Mom let me keep her sewing machine there.

I was working full time by then, so I could afford nicer fabric than I could buy in high school. I was really drawn to the shimmery prom fabrics, and I'd buy up remnants and clearance satins and crepes. I didn't have a real plan at first; I just loved the fabric. After buying a yard of silver satin, I got the idea to embroider favorite album covers onto the satin. Later, those squares were combined with embroidered squares of my favorite song lyrics and a few fake fur squares in a pillowy quilt I gave to a boy I hoped to marry one day. Each of the 12-inch squares was made into a slender pillow, and once I had 12 floppy pillows, I sewed them together to make the quilt. My first quilt-as you go project, so to speak.

I had one square left over, and I still have that square. I've always thought maybe one day I could make a few more album cover squares from prom dress fabric and make a new quilt that I don't give away. Mine! All mine!

album cover quilt square

Today's quilt would be much different. I would make a real quilt, not floppy pillows, and I would quilt the entire piece rather than simulated quilting along 12-inch pillow edges. The new quilt might include different songs than the 1980 version featured, but I think a modern version would be every bit as fun and memorable as the original creation.

It's just a little more difficult to design a quilt square from a piece of artwork the size of a cassette box or CD case than it was when 12-inch vinyl was still the meaning of life.

Logos I embroidered one a very long time ago

an old favorite

We still listen to these.

25 March 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Hoffman Challenge

Viola Mae by Liz Waechter

Quilting in a Gourd by Rebecca Aitken

Sea Garden by Sondra Dunn Mahoney, best incorporation of challenge fabric

Meara Jones by Kathryn Botsford

Detail of Meara Jones by Kathryn Botsford

2010 Hoffman Challenge Dolls

by Judy Klem

Lady in Waiting by Jo Ann Massey

Jovan - Peaceful Spirit by Martha Dudley

The Dragonslayer by Stephanie Novatski

2006 Hoffman Challenge

Lizard Leftovers

Lizard Blues

Little did I know when I bought this fabric I was embarking upon what would one day become a family tradition. Going on nearly two decades ago, I found this fabric at a discount store and fell in love with it because of the color scheme and because it's southwest. I bought about three yards and used a very small amount for the vest on the black version of this dress, which was, at the time, all the rage.

Love This Dress

I even found buttons to perfectly match the dress.

Lizard Button

When the dress finally wore out and could no longer be patched, I cut the buttons off and bought a small amount of fabric for a shirt to go with the buttons. The usable lizard dress remnants (and the leftover lizard shirt fabric) went in the stash box.

Lizard Shirt

I still wear the shirt sometimes.

Lizard Shirt

In 2004, The Lizard and I began dating. That was his nickname long before I met him. His co-workers had teased him about sunning on rocks during breaks, and the name stuck.

During our first date, a bicycle ride to the Delicate Arch trailhead, I discovered The Lizard likes to wear a bandana beneath his helmet to prevent sunburn stripes and to keep sweat from his eyes. Two dates later, he told me he'd like "lots more dates," and I decided to dig out that old lizard fabric and surprise him with a homemade bandana on our next date, a hike in Colorado National Monument. It was his birthday.

From that point on, I began collecting lizard fabrics. I would buy one yard and make a new bandana. He has quite the collection of bandanas now, featuring everything from chili peppers, Kokopellis, snowflakes and aircraft to camo, bicycles and lizards. And I have quite the collection of bandana leftovers.

Christmas 2012 bandanas

Lizards on his head!
Lizard Head in Lizard Head

Sometime before 2008 I got the wild idea to use the lizard leftovers in a quilt. We had been looking for a house for about two years, and we were trying to save money and not spend. We were in a very tiny apartment, and there wasn't room for more fabric (or bikes, or bike tools, or plants, etc.). I had used up quite a bit of fabric leftovers for charity quilts, but the supply still overflowed.

This quilt top was constructed entirely of leftovers. Even the batting was pieced together from leftovers. One of the black panels came from the original Lizard Dress from nearly two decades ago!

Pieced Batting

Some black remnants were not big enough for the panels.  I had to add narrow strips to make them bigger.
Some black remnants were not big enough for panels.
I had to strip piece them bigger.

I used hand-dyed (from Rit dye) denim blue flannel leftover from the still-unfinished snowflake quilt backing for the back of the lizard quilt sandwich. I pin-basted the sandwich but never quilted it because, Ta Da! We finally found a house! All the quilting stuff and fabric and sewing machine were packed away while we moved. My father-in-law made a beautiful cactus quilt rack for us, and that's where Lizard Leftovers languished until this month.

custom quilt top rack

Lizard Leftovers

I was never really happy with the flannel backing for the quilt, plus, when our car broke down in Cedar City in 2008, stranding us in that vacation paradise for a whole week, I found yet more lizard fabric on clearance in a tiny shop there. I bought the entire end of the bolt. The fabric, about four yards' worth, can be seen on the cactus quilt rack above.

quilt back rejection

I have wanted to replace the flannel with the clearance fabric ever since, but I just couldn't bring myself to use new fabric in a quilt that at that point, was entirely constructed of leftovers. So the unfinished quilt hung. And hung. And hung.

Last summer, we had overnight company three times, and all three questioned why we had unfinished quilts on the cactus rack and a store-bought comforter on the spare bed. Ever since we bought the spare bed, I'd intended to cover it with Lizard Leftovers because our bed is covered with Dancing Lizards.

The Lizard's 2008 Birthday

When I joined the quarterly quilt WIP challenge on Ravelry last summer, I decided I might be able to finish Lizard Leftovers with the clearance lizard fabric from Cedar City if I used the clearance fabric for something else first, which would result in more lizard leftovers, and likely enough to cover the entire back of the quilt.

I'm still trying to get a quilt finished in time to submit to hopefully be juried into this year's Denver National Quilt Festival, but I've been away from free-motion quilting long enough I didn't want to start out with a competition quilt. I wanted to practice first and rebuild self-confidence.

On March 1, I finally made a bandana with the clearance lizard fabric, and sure enough, enough fabric remained to cover the back of Lizard Leftovers. Since I'd constructed the quilt top, many more homemade lizard bandanas had graced the collection. I thought it would be fun to keep the bandana shape in the new quilt back, thereby eternally memorializing the bandana purpose of most of the lizard fabrics in the quilt.

I decided to fill the bandana cut with another lizard bandana triangle leftover, and then incorporate even more lizard leftovers on the narrow side instead of constructing a wide quilt back from 45-inch fabric, as I have done with every quilt I've ever made except Welcome to the Jungle. (Welcome to the Jungle has wide quilt backing on the back and no seams.)

bandana cut

This is the first full-sized quilt I've completely finished since Dancing Lizards! This is the first time I've ever free-motion-quilted an entire full-sized quilt!

This quilt is not destined for competition, but boy did I ever fall in love all over again when I finished the new quilt sandwich! And then I fell in love yet again when I placed this new quilt sandwich on the new quilt frame The Lizard built for me in February. (I helped sand the boards.)

I'd been using too-small, warped, unfinished splintery and knotty pine boards ever since I inherited my grandmother's quilting, crocheting and tatting stash back in 1979. The new quilt frame is sturdy 1x3-inch oak, carefully selected by The Lizard with minimal knot holes and NO warping. He stapled leftovers from Welcome to the Jungle's quilt-sized quilt backing (cut into strips by me) along the top according to instructions he found on the internet. I'd never pinned a quilt to fabric strips stapled onto boards until Lizard Leftovers, and I'll never go back to thumbtacks again now. This new frame makes basting SO much simpler and so much more fun. And NO MORE SPLINTERS!!!!!

the old quilt frame
The Old Quilt Frame with Welcome to the Jungle

Stage II of New Quilting Frame
Sanding the New Quilt Frame

Stage III of New Quilting Frame
Making Fabric Strips for the New Quilt Frame

Stage IV of New Quilting Frame
Stapling Fabric Strips to the New Quilt Frame

The New Quilting Frame
The New Quilt Frame with Lizard Leftovers

It took about six hours all together to baste Lizard Leftovers. Quilting took nearly eight hours. Binding, mostly by hand, took another six hours. Clearing last summer's naturally and solar-dyed yarn from the spare bed took an hour. Now how long will it take for all that hand-dyed yarn to find its way back to the spare bed?!?

Linking up with Devoted Quilter for her first TGIFF and Confessions of a Fabric Addict's "Can I Get a Whoop Whoop."

Hand-dyed Stash

The Clean Spare Bedroom

Lizard Leftover Roll

sewing machine lizard art

mini lizard

Leftover Lizards in Red Rock Country

My Favorite Lizards

Lizard Love

A Wee Bit Windy
A Wee Bit Windy

My Lizards
All in The Lizard Family

Lizard Leftovers
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