31 October 2016

Snowflake Monday


I've spoken out many times on this blog about the battle against depression, multiple sclerosis and cancer, particularly breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

I have avoided politics because politics and crochet or politics and photography or politics and just plain life in general do not play well together.

Volunteering in a political campaign this last couple of months for the first time in my life has thrust me so far outside my comfort zone, some mornings I'm not even sure I'm still me when I awake. I simply cannot wait until next week is over so I can crawl back beneath my crocheted rock and be my quiet, shy and invisible little self again. Hmmm... there's a bit of a creative inspiration in that statement. I may have to tackle that next month!!!


beneath a frozen rock

So please know that the only reason I'm treading the water here today is I believe as strongly about this year's presidential election as I have felt about any of the other battles I have fought, privately or with friends or even just by riding my bike or writing a pattern.

One of the arguments I keep getting from main candidate supporters is that my candidate entered the race so late. "Wait until 2020," they say. Too late to change anything. Can't be done in such a short amount of time.

I got to meet my candidate in person last Tuesday. During my train ride home from work the day before, with just 24 hours before the town hall, I got an idea for a snowflake. I thought it would be a cool gift, plus an awesome pattern today with some pretty cool modifications.

I furiously began crocheting, and I blocked and pinned the starch-soaked prototype and embellishments before I went to bed that night, then carefully unpinned it and assembled the pieces before I went to work. The glue on the snowflake was not dry when I had to leave, so I packed the plastic-wrapped snowflake inside the center of a quilting magazine, hoping it would survive the train trip to work the day of the town hall because I would have to leave work a few minutes early and go directly to the town hall to be there in time to get a (really good) seat.

At lunch, I removed the snowflake and strung it, then put it back in the quilting magazine for safe keeping during the drive to the town hall. My husband picked me up after work, and we proudly presented the undamaged and totally dry snowflake to my favorite presidential candidate at the town hall.


(For those who want to know, he thanked me, said I'm very creative and then thanked me for all the memes I've created for the campaign. I didn't know the vice presidential candidate was going to be there, too, or I would have made a snowflake for her, also, and I told her as much.)

The next day's commute and that night, I worked furiously on a Pink October version of the snowflake, even though the last day of October is today. The next two days of train commuting and part of the day on Saturday, I worked furiously on a Halloween version of the snowflake.

Everything was so last-minute!

Should I have waited until next September to make the second two snowflakes because it was the end of the month? Should I have waited four years to make a patriotic snowflake because the time is too short?

MORAL OF THE STORY: If I had waited, we wouldn't have today's patterns. Some people may not churn them out tonight because they don't have time. But some crocheters will answer the challenge and have them ready before the clock strikes midnight. Some people, including me, will continue making Pink October snowflakes because it doesn't matter how short the time is or what month it is when you know someone with breast cancer. You want to do all you can to try to bring joy into the life of that person while you have the time. You want to give them a reason to be strong, have hope and believe in the future.


My favorite presidential candidate jumped into the race after the conventions because he was horrified by our choices this year and because NO ONE ELSE WOULD. A whole committee tried to get someone with a bigger name. No one else had the guts. My favorite candidate knew lots of other people across the country felt the same way he did, so he decided to take the chance. If he hadn't, we'd have just the two choices and some other third-party candidates who don't quite fit my personal taste for various reasons. My favorite candidate wanted to give Americans a better choice and a reason to believe in the future.

I'm voting for a presidential candidate this year (instead of against a candidate) because there is one candidate I can feel proud of and whom I trust. Without this particular candidate, I was going to skip over the presidential portion of my ballot altogether because I couldn't, in good conscience, vote for either of the main two at all.

In my opinion, my favorite candidate is not late at all. He's right on time.

And now I'll step down off my soap box and present today's patterns. I've included the political version of the snowflake because many crocheters who've seen it asked for the pattern and requested I get it done "SOON!!!"

Happy Halloween! Hope your Pink October has been spectacular!

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: 4.75 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread in two colors, 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

NOTE: For the pink versions of this snowflake, I used white or light pink for Color A and darker pink or gradient pink for Color B. For the Halloween versions of this snowflake, I used black or purple for Color A and lime green or orange/variegated orange for Color B. For the birthday/anniversary version of this snowflake, I used white for Color A and Turquoise for color B. For the campaign/patriotic version of this snowflake, I used white for Color A and navy blue for Color B.

Cypher Snowflake Instructions

With Color A, make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in ring, * ch 3, 2 dc in ring; repeat from * 4 times; ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round. Pull magic ring tight.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc over post of dc directly below, * 3 dc in next ch 3 tip, ch 3, 3 dc in same tip; repeat from * around 4 times; 3 dc in next ch 3 tip, ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.

Round 3: 1 sc over post of dc directly below, ch 7, * 1 sc in next ch 3 tip, ch 7; repeat from * around 4 times; sl st in starting sc.

Round 4: Sl st into next ch, ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 12 dc in same ch 7 sp, 13 dc in each of next 5 ch 7 sp; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2; bind off. Weave in ends.

Round 5: With Color B, 1 sc in the 1st dc of any 13/dc group; 1 sc in each sc around for a total of 78 sc; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Round 6: With Color A, 1 dc in one of the sc above 1st dc of any 13/dc group, 1 dc in same sc, * 1 dc in each of next 11 sc, 2 dc in each of next 2 sc; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last 2 dc of final repeat for a total of 90 dc; sl st in starting dc.
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 7: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc in same dc as sl st, ch 3 (or 5 or 7 or 10, depending upon desired length of snowflake points), * 3 dc in next dc, ch 5, sk next 6 dc, 1 sc in next dc, ch 5, sk next 6 dc, 3 dc in next dc, ch 3 (or 5 or 7 or 10, to match first snowflake point); repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last 3 dc and last ch 3 (or 5 or 7 or 10) of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2; bind off. Weave in ends.


Cypher Snowflake Embellishment Instructions

Pink Ribbon

NOTE: A small piece of pink ribbon may be used instead of a crocheted ribbon.

With pink thread, ch 23.

Row 1: 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 7 ch, 2 sc in each of next 2 sc, 1 sc in each of next 2 sc, 2 sc in each of next 2 sc, 1 sc in each of next 8 sc. Bind off. Weave in ends. Shape, block and stiffen using same method as snowflake. After snowflake and ribbon have dried, attach ribbon to center of flake and allow to dry thoroughly.


Boo

For B, with orange thread, ch 10.

Row 1: 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 8 ch; ch 8, turn.

Row 2:Sk first 4 sc, 1 sc in next sc, ch 8, sk next 3 sc, sl st in next sc (this is your joining sc on next Round), ch 1, turn.

Row 3. 2 sc in each of next 8 ch for a total of 16 sc, sk next joining sc, 2 sc in each of next 8 ch; sl st in base of B. Bind off. Weave in ends.

For O (make 2), with orange thread, ch 24; taking care not to twist ch, sl st in starting ch to form a ring.

Row 1: 2 sc in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 6 ch, 2 sc in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch, 2 sc in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 6 ch, 2 sc in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch; sl st in starting sc. Bind off. Weave in ends.

For exclamation point period, with orange thread, 6 sc in magic ring; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

For exclamation point, with orange thread, ch 12.

Row 1: 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch, 1 hdc in each of next 3 ch, 1 sc in each of next 3 ch, sl st in next ch; bind off. Weave in ends.

Row 1: 2 sc in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 6 ch, 2 sc in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch, 2 sc in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 6 ch, 2 sc in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch; sl st in starting sc. Bind off. Weave in ends.

Shape, block and stiffen letters and exclamation point using same method as snowflake. (Period probably doesn't need to be stiffened.) After snowflake and Boo! have dried, attach Boo! to center of flake with glue and allow to dry thoroughly.


Pumpkin Smiley

To make the eyes, with orange thread, ch 7.

Row 1: Yo 2 times and draw up loop through 5th ch from hook, yo and draw through 2 loops on hook 2 times, [yo 2 times and draw up loop through next ch and yo draw through 2 loops on hook 2 times] 2 times (tr dec made); bind off. Weave in ends.

To make the pumpkin smile, with orange thread, ch 16.

Row 1: Sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in next ch, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch, 1 hdc in each of next 2 ch, 1 dc in each of next 3 ch, 1 hdc in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch, sl st in each of next 2 ch; bind off. Weave in ends.

Shape, block and stiffen using same method as snowflake. After snowflake and smiley face have dried, attach face to center of flake with glue and allow to dry thoroughly.


50

To make the 5, with turquoise or gold thread, ch 29.

Row 1: 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of the next 4 ch, 3 sc in next ch, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch, 3 sc in next ch, 2 sc in next ch, dec 1 across next 2 ch (pull up a loop in each of next 2 ch, yo and pull through all 3 loops on hook) 9 times; bind off. Weave in ends.

To make the 0, with turquoise or gold thread, ch 22. Taking care not to twist chain, sl st into 1st ch to form ring

Row 1: 1 sc in each of next 8 ch, 2 sc in next ch, 1 sc in next ch, 2 sc in next ch, 1 sc in each of next 8 ch, 2 sc in next ch, 1 sc in next ch, 2 sc in next ch, sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Shape, block and stiffen using same method as snowflake. After snowflake and numbers have dried, attach numbers to center of flake with glue and allow to dry thoroughly.


Logo

NOTE: Some people have asked what the star and bar on the logo mean. My favorite candidate said they represent the Stars and Stripes of our flag.

For M, with navy blue thread, ch 29.

Row 1: 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 5 ch, 3 sc in next ch, 1 sc in each of next 5 sc, draw up loop in each of next 4 ch, yo and draw through all 5 loops on hook (dec and bottom point of M made), 1 sc in each of next 5 ch, 3 sc in next ch, 1 sc in each of next 6 ch. Bind off. Weave in ends. Shape, block and stiffen using same method as snowflake.

For star, with red thread, make magic ring.

Row 1: * 1 sc in ring, ch 3, sl st in 3rd ch from hook; repeat from * 4 times; sl st in starting sc. Bind off. Weave in ends. Shape, block and stiffen using same method as snowflake.

For stripe, with red thread, ch 7.

Row 1: 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 5 ch. Bind off. Weave in ends. Shape, block and stiffen using same method as snowflake. After snowflake and embellishments have dried, attach embellishments to center of flake with glue and allow to dry thoroughly.

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.

27 October 2016

Piecing Peacefully


I had this crazy goal to finish 15 quilts by Christmas, 7 of which I wanted to get done by Thanksgiving. I wanted to be able to deliver 7 of the Christmas gifts in person in November. Cheaper than postage, and more fun to see the reaction, too.

That was before I volunteered to be a volunteer. Note to self: NEVER volunteer for a political campaign when you have Christmas presents to finish. Two completely incompatible goals!!!

I've since scaled back my goal, doing just half of the kiddos this year and the rest next year. The cousins will all still be little ones next Christmas. I thought I might still be able to finish 7 quilts by Thanksgiving if I did one a week. Ha! Fat chance!

Now there's doubt the Thanksgiving trip will happen, so perhaps I might still be able to get 7 quilts completely done in time to mail for Christmas. I think I might actually have seven tops ready to sandwich now, although only one would be suitable for a boy, and three boys are on the list.


The first newly finished top came together after three weeks of too much time on the computer after work each night. I used three Kona Gray Area charm packs to create a 32" x 40" top, then decided it wasn't quite big enough. I added a 2.5-inch Kona Silver border, bringing the top to 36" x 44". I have enough silver yardage left, I think, for the back and binding. Or should I add one more round of half-square triangles??? Decisions, decisions, decisions!


Next came another of my Spoonflower fat quarters, designed based on "Hearts of Gold." I put a 3-inch border of red Kona around the fat quarter before traveling to the Pacific Northwest for the Deception Pass Classic in September.


I had a plan that included more heart applique when I started this one, but by the time we got back from Washington, I didn't like the red anymore at all. I had enough Kona leftovers from other projects to make a rainbow border, I thought, so I did that instead. I just barely had enough of the purple. I have a short strip less than 2 inches wide now!




I don't know what to do for the backing yet, but I think a magenta or bright pink binding might look pretty sharp.

After all the bright quilt tops I've been working on this year, I'm beginning to crave pastels. But no more new quilts until I finish at least 5 WIPs!!! Maybe...

Every once in a while, I get to crochet on the train on the way to or from work. My adopted daughter called about a week ago and asked for Yoda hat for her daughter's Halloween costume. I told her I wasn't sure I could get it done in time and then didn't post pictures of it anywhere so I could surprise her when I mailed it two days later.


She surprised me two days later with a picture of Kathy in the hat!


I've also been working on snowflakes again, after a month or so hiatus. I whipped this baby up the day before we got to meet Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn in person!


After an overnight stiffening session, the snowflake wasn't quite dry before I had to leave for work the next morning. So I packed it inside a quilting magazine, hoping that would keep it safe until I got to work, and then it got to spend the day at the office with me and all the Pink October snowflakes and pink tree decorating my desk.




That night, patriotic snowflake got a new home!


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

25 October 2016

Dahlia Blues

Feb 16; how long will it take the blue dahlia to bloom???

About 18 or 19 months ago, I bought a box of "blue" dahlia tubers, knowing full well there is no such thing. I've become somewhat of a dahlia nut, and if it had only a fractal fraction of blue in certain light, that would be good enough for me. I expected the flowers might be on the lavender end of the spectrum; nothing wrong with that.

The blue dahlia emerges!

I planted it indoors in a pot and began documenting the growth about a month later because I thought it would make a great Wordless Wednesday to show the gorgeous "blue" blooms from start to finish.

Halfway through March

Dahlias can be stubborn little snots at 6,000 feet in elevation, especially when kept indoors. It never bloomed.

Reach for the Sky!

I kept it alive through the winter, then transplanted it and four new tubers to my garden well into June. I wanted to make sure they didn't get an overnight freeze. Dahlias don't do so well in the cold. I've never had outdoor dahlias make it through our harsh and brutal winters.

I thought I might get a head start on the "blue" dahlia because it was already nearly two feet tall when I put it outside. Unfortunately, it let me know it didn't like the dramatic change. I should have kept it on the porch, close to the house, for a few days, then gradually moved it out into the soil so it could adapt. It lost all its leaves in about two days, and I thought it was dead.

It began sprouting new leaves about the same time the other dahlias began sprouting. So I thought I might still get an early dahlia. It was so much taller than the other four plants!


All summer long, I paid dutiful attention to my dahlias, hoping they would be sporting gorgeous pink, purple, "blue" and multi-color flowers by the time we left for Washington State in September. Nope. The transplanted plant had three buds before we left. One of the new plants died before the end of July. One got too much shade, I think, from nearby towering Shasta daisies and is still growing strong to this day, but stands only about 12 inches high. No buds. Not a single one.

The remaining two new dahlias seemed to be healthy but didn't have any buds until we got back from the Deception Pass Classic, where I saw some really gorgeous dahlias. The Pacific Northwest has always displayed the most beautiful hydrangeas, fireweed and dahlias when we visit.






When we returned to Colorado, we learned we'd had a couple of chilly nights. Not freezing, just cold enough to turn the "blue" buds black. Once again, I thought the plant was dead. But it popped back and was sporting three brand new buds by the time we had what we expected to be our first freeze of the season in the beginning of October. The other two tall dahlias both had buds, too, and they were growing at a much faster rate than the "blue" buds! One bud was more than an inch across! We were going to have a true dinnerplate-size dahlia! I had no clue what color any of the flowers would be, and I was SO excited for those blossom babies!


We covered the dahlias (and the tomatoes) with T-shirts the night we expected our first hard freeze. Thankfully, the temperature dropped to only 40 that night, and the dahlia buds (and tomatoes) were fine!


We began a nightly cheering session for them, telling them we didn't know how many warms nights they could hold out. We verbally encouraged them every single day to open while they still had time!

They didn't listen.

Last Tuesday night, The low was expected to drop down to 24 degrees. YIKES! We covered the dahlias (and the tomatoes) again with MS-150 T-shirts from through the years. It was about time some of those old shirts got worn! We have quite a collection of them by now! I'm hoping to turn a bunch of them into a quilt one day. But for right now, they were going to protect my cold-shy plants. The overnight low for the rest of the week wasn't supposed to go under 40, so we just had to get them through that one night.


It didn't work. Boohoo! The tomatoes made it through the night, and I had a terrific fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella salad the next day. But the dahlias were black by the time I came home from work. They were gone. Done for the season.


I wanted to cry. I didn't even get to see what color they would have been. The Lizard suggested I grab a frozen blossom from each plant and bring them inside to put in a vase.


Unfortunately, there wasn't enough body left to the stems to give them nourishment. I went ahead and clipped the largest bud and one from the "blue" dahlia, then took them inside. The Lizard suggested I cut them open to see what color they would have been.


Green. That's all they were inside. Just green. Babies that didn't get to grow up and become bursts of petal sunshine.

Thankfully, the cosmos, marigolds, gerbera daisies and delphiniums laughed at the cold. They're still making me very, very happy every single morning.






My outdoor lavender made it through the deep freeze, and my brand new indoor lavender is helping us sleep a little better at night. All three varieties are gorgeous and smell even better than they look. We are so incredibly lucky to have an extra month of garden season this year!






Even though outside plants think it's still summer, a few particular inside plants know what time of year it really is, and boy, are they getting ready to put on a show!



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