30 May 2014
29 May 2014
A long time ago in a galaxy far away, in another time and life, I began a quillow fabric stash because I was raising a pair of adopted special needs kids with futon beds they loved piling high with quillows.
The best part of their individual quillow collections was I could easily bribe them into making their beds each day because it was so easy for them to fold up the mini quilts and tuck them inside the pillow pockets.
Then, as all fairy tales do, the happy story came to an early end. Both kids took permanent unauthorized field trips and set out to find a different way of life. One hopped across the country to find birth parents and discover why he was better off in an adoptive home. A painful lesson for him, but a satisfying phone call for me to hear regret for choices made and gratitude for the life that was saved. The other took off because the older one did, and she always had to do whatever he did. She didn't have a family to find across the country, so she explored housing options that required no commitment. An adventure for sure until the first winter set in, when she decided maybe a home wasn't such a bad thing after all.
The kids' quillows were carefully cleaned and donated to family services. The beds were donated to missionaries and a family facing the eminent loss of a parent to cancer.
Many unused cheater quilt panels lurked in the dark corners of my closet until they were packed away in boxes and moved to a smaller abode, where they were not taken out from hiding for many years. It was just too painful to look at them, much less decide what to do with them.
Then tragedy struck in another community, and Project Linus needed quilts, particularly quilts for children. Fires had ravaged the hillsides of a city on the other side of the United States, and one of the tiny tots I had babysat when I was but a teen myself was among the families evacuated. She had a family of her own now, and they lost everything. I had no second thoughts whatsoever sending quilts once intended for my own little ones to a community of strangers. I felt emotionally invested in the burned-out homes I'd never visited or seen thanks to a chance connection.
Out came the quilt panels, and in two nights, I pieced 18 quilt tops. I provided coordinating backing for many of the 18 flimsies. Women at church tied the quilts during the next two Saturdays, and off the finished quilts went with the prayerful hope of brightening the darkened lives of others.
My often overwhelming stash shrunk quite a bit that year. I've never regretted giving up something that once spurred such pleasant memories, then morphed into heartbreaking tears. Memories of those quilt tops bring great joy and satisfaction now.
Sometimes, things happen for a reason. I believe clearance fabric that fell so easily into my budget-strained path while my eyes were bigger than my sewing schedule was destined to be used to help someone in need. Not necessarily the children I thought they would go to, but children who might need and appreciate them just the same.
27 May 2014
A couple of weeks ago, I sent my friend Ruthie her first ever jelly rolls for her birthday. She watched a couple of tutorials on YouTube and got quite fired up about making a quilt in a weekend.
I've always wondered if it could be done, too.
So we challenged each other. Could we finish a quilt top in a weekend???
I haven't had a chance to connect with her yet, so I don't know how her project is moving along, but mine was a blast.
I stopped on the way home from work Friday to pick up a cheap jelly roll.
The next day, rain, lightning, hail and yet another tornado warning squelched our plans for big, long rides to prepare for upcoming charity cycling events. So after about 20 minutes of figuring out a color scheme, I sat down to the sewing machine.
The first thing I learned is cheap jelly rolls might not necessarily be worth the price. Mine were not cut entirely straight, and when I finished piecing all the strips, some bowed toward the end. I lost a little more length than planned trying to square up my project. And I didn't get it perfectly square the first time around.
I loved the striping pattern and the visual effect, but I wanted something more. I lopped off a triangle on the lower left corner, then cut a triangle of white to insert. I chopped off the tip of the white triangle and used it as a pattern to fussy cut another triangle from the portion I'd cut away.
This looked awesome!
It needed something else, and I had a plan before I even began cutting. Although the temptation to applique lizards always lurks, the fabric seemed tropical in flavor and was calling out sea turtle to me.
I drew various-sized turtles on scrap paper, then cut them from the colorful triangle remnant. I played around with placement and decided the quilt top still needed something more. I pulled out the white fabric again and cut two more turtles.
This project gave me the opportunity to try out the 505 spray about which I'd recently read. I'd never considered using a basting spray due to fear of it jamming up my sewing machine. The 505 supposedly didn't come with complications, and it would make piecing my Lizard Toes so much easier if it was indeed a good product. I ordered a can from Amazon and used it for the first time on the turtles.
I am very happy to report this stuff worked well for me!
I did not watch the clock while I was working on the quilt top, but I estimate it took about three hours to piece the strips. I pressed the seams as I went.
The triangles probably took an additional half hour or so.
Drawing and cutting the turtles took another hour. Stitching them on after spray basting went fairly quickly, and I'm anxious to try the spray on the applique lizards next time I get a chance to sit down at the sewing machine.
I finished this flimsy in a day, and it was nice because I was also able to make homemade almond milk, homemade sugarless brownies using the okara from the almond milk, weed my garden and pluck about 100 bachelor buttons because we don't want them to spread next year more than they already unintentionally spread last year.
The bachelor buttons are going in a dye pot as they reach full bloom, but I also snapped a fun photo of a small collection before I dunked them this time.
Although the quilt top went quickly, I realize I would not have been able to devote so much time to it if not for the three-day weekend, if the sun had been shining or if we were doing Ride the Rockies this year.
Another thing I learned from this project is I prefer to cut my own strips rather than buying precut, particularly cheap precut. I like to make my own combinations rather than settle for what someone else picked and what hundreds of others are using in potentially identical manner. I realize this will add at least another day to any jelly roll quilt I do in the future, but the resulting quilt will be more unique if I cut my own strips.
Overall it was a fun and inspiring project. I was so tempted to make it into another dress instead of a quilt top when I finished piecing the strips! I plan to make at least two more strip quilts because it is fun and fast, and I've already got strips cut for one.
Until I decide what to use for the backing, this quilt top is hanging on the bedroom wall, and I just love looking at it! The bright colors and the swimming turtles make me happy!
Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict here and Crazy Mom Quilts here.
26 May 2014
Cogaroo Crafts recently used one of my snowflake patterns to put the finishing touch on her rendition of Elsa's castle. She said she'd love for me to design a snowflake based on Elsa's snowflake.
We don’t have cable or streaming internet, so the movie "Frozen" completely got by me. How this particular flick escaped my attention when everyone knows I'm addicted to snowflakes is beyond me. But such is the case.
We ordered the movie a couple of weeks ago. We went to Moab the following week to escape snowstorm Zephyr and celebrate an anniversary. When we returned, most of our Colorado snow had melted, and "Frozen" was waiting in our mailbox.
When I first ordered it, I thought, "If we don't like it, we can give it to our four-year-old neighbor. She loves Disney princesses."
She won't be getting our copy, though. We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the movie and the music! AND THE SNOWFLAKES!!! (We did tell her she could borrow it whenever she'd like. Turns out she loves the movie, too.)
Right after we finished watching "Frozen" for the first time, The Lizard commented, "Makes me look forward to winter again!"
Even though I am very ready for wildflowers and long bicycle rides, he's right. "Frozen" made us both fall in love with the magic of winter all over again!
After watching all the "Let It Go" music videos in all the different languages, The Lizard went straight to the computer and looked up the "Frozen" snowflakes to inspire me to get right to work making them.
I have my work cut out for me. But that's not a complaint.
We also found some lovely paper snowflakes inspired by the movie, but by golly, they are four-sided!!!
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: 5.5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 8 crochet hook, 12 beads (I used size 3mm and 6 mm), 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, rust-proof stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line
True Love Snowflake Instructions
String 12 beads on thread. Make magic ring.
Round 1: * 2 sc in ring, ch 10, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 5 ch, ch 3; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc. Pull magic circle tight, but leave opening big enough to allow stitches inside it to lay flat.
Round 2: * 3 sc in next ch 3 sp, working up spoke 1 sc in each of next 2 sc, 1 hdc in each of next 2 sc, 1 dc in each of next 2 sc, ch 3, 2 dc in ch 1 tip of spoke, ch 3, 2 dc in same sp, ch 3, working back down spoke 1 dc in each of next 2 sc, 1 hdc in each of next 2 sc, 1 sc in each of next 2 sc, 3 sc in next ch 3 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 11 (counts as 1 tr and ch 8), sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch (1st spoke made), ch 14, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch (2nd spoke made), 1 dc in ch before 1st spoke, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 sc in next ch, sl st in next ch, sl st in next ch, * ch 2, working up next main spoke 1 sc in each of next 2 dc, 2 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 sc in last sc made, 1 sc in same ch 3 sp, ch 7, pull up bead and work chain catching bead, ch 1, sk 3 ch just made and sl st in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch, 1 hdc in each of next 2 ch, 2 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 7, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch, ch 4, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in next ch, 1 sc in top of next dc, 1 dc in bottom of same dc, sl st in next ch (heart tip made), sl st in next ch, 2 sc in same ch 3 sp, ch 7, pull up bead and work ch catching bead, ch 1, sk 3 ch just made and sl st in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch, 1 hdc in each of next 2 ch, 2 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 sc in last sc made, 1 sc in same ch 3 sp, 1 sc in each of next 2 dc, ch 2, [1 tr in joint gap between 2 2/sc groups, ch 8, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch (1st spoke made), ch 14, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch (2nd spoke made), 1 dc in ch before 1st spoke, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 sc in next ch, sl st in next ch, sl st in top of tr]; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last [ ] sequence of final repeat; sl st in 3rd ch of starting ch 11; 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.
23 May 2014
22 May 2014
While Zephyr was dumping 10 inches of snow on my emerging garden, The Lizard and I trekked west, where we expected warm desert weather and awesome mountain bike riding conditions.
What we got instead was torrential downpours, high winds and chilly temperatures.
Yet the desert wildflowers know what time of year it is, and they did not disappoint.
Flash flooding throughout canyon country created short-lived waterfalls and red muddy creeks and streams.
We didn't get to ride as planned, but we enjoyed every minute of red rock heaven. My dear, sweet husband says a bad day is when I don't shoot 600 shots. I had good days all extended weekend long!
My only regret is failing to shoot the canyon spouts that spit out the running water like red paint tubes under pressure. Some of my blue flowers were flat on the ground when we returned home, thanks the weight of the snow, but they'd have been that way even if I'd stayed home. I clipped them and stuck them in an Elephant Rock water bottle, where they delight me all evening after the sun sets.
I've had the time of my life
Though I've been here many times before
Yes, I swear it's all new
And I owe it all to you
Because I've had the time of my life
We've opened every magic door
Finding smiles in all we do
And I owe it all to you
(My apologies to Franke Previte, who wrote the more familiar lyrics.)
20 May 2014
Just when we thought spring had finally arrived, we got another taste of winter. These shots are not with the new macro extension tube; the sun was peeking over the horizon and melting the overnight graupel faster than I could shoot, so I just used the macro lens that was on the camera. Thank heavens this particular freeze didn't last long. But...
We got snow again the day after Mother's Day! The day after it's supposed to be good for planting at our elevation!!!
The pincushion buds these icy crystals pummeled did survive the storm...