15 February 2019

Friday Fortius

14 February 2019

Quilter's Block


Moda Blockheads 2's Block 19, Rocky Road to California, is the last block-of-the-week I got to make before making my way to California for my parents' 50th anniversary last October. By the time we returned to Colorado, my day job had become overwhelming, and I worked overtime every single night all the way through the end of 2018. Every weekend that autumn quarter, I would vow to try to catch up with the rest of the Blockheads, but every single weekend, I had to attend to other home priorities that couldn't be done during the week because of all the overtime.

Last week, I finished my first machine-quilted WIP (Butterfly Collage) since March 31 (Blue Scrappy Block a Day)!!! (I finished hand-quilting Leaf Me Alone on New Year's Eve, and that was the only WIP finish I had for nine whole months.)

Now that I've finished the second-biggest procrastination on my WIP list, I get to bang my head again!!! I was 23 weeks behind, I was down to 15 blocks behind for one whole day, and now I'm back up to 16 blocks behind. Yet I am so excited to be a Blockhead again!!!


I decided to pick up right where I left off and make the blocks in order. First up was Block 20, Go Fish, which didn't really fit into my blue snowflake theme. Initially, I thought I might make wrapped candy, converting the fish to tails on both ends like salt water taffy, but during our drive to California, I came up with the idea of ornaments. I love this block so much, I can see making an entire quilt with this theme. I'm storing that idea in the vast collection of quilts I'd like to make one day.


Block 21, Circle and Star, was an easy one for me. I finished it in less than one hour. (Because the snowflake was already made and blocked, of course.)


I didn't notice that the next instruction sheet in my pile was an alternate block, and I really liked the pattern. A huge plus was the room in the center for a snowflake appliqué. So Block 21 is another double in my growing finished block collection. (My pineapple blocks are tripled!)


I didn't really plan to do my own interpretation of Block 22, Economy Path, but while I was cutting the tiny little 1"x1.5" strips from my tiny scrap pile, I noticed the black and white graph on the instruction sheet, which suddenly jumped out at me like a coloring page, and the design I came up with screamed to be made. I could not resist. I had (and still have) plenty of tiny little scraps for this interpretation. This is another block I love so much, I'd like to do an entire quilt, perhaps even with selvedges!


Block 23, Broken Windows, is yet another block I adore. How many times can I get away with saying I'd love an entire quilt with this theme? Just maybe not on such a tiny scale. Ha ha! I already have a box of (larger) HSTs made up, ready and waiting to be made into something...


Block 24, Kaleidoscope, was just plain fun!


Block 25, Oshkosh Star, has just about the tiniest flying geese I have ever made! Blockheads definitely is pushing me outside of my comfort zone, but I like it. In my mind, I'm getting ready for a Dear Jane one day...




I wasn't sure if I should appliqué the snowflake I made specifically for this block because, to me, the flake overpowers the star. My sweet Lizard agreed, so I think I'm going to not use the snowflake on this block. I'm sure it will fit on another block!


I modified Block 26, Churn Dash Surprise, just a tad because I noticed while making the Oshkosh Star I haven't made many predominantly light blocks for this project. Crocheted white snowflakes don't show up as well on light fabric, so I pulled one of the snowflake motifs from the tree skirt panel I've yet to complete for the centerpiece. Cutting up another of the tree panel snowflakes made me a little braver for the next block...


Block 27, Climbing Mountains, pulled all kinds of heart strings because I love to climb mountains, both on foot and on my bicycle. Plus, I'm going to be climbing a huge pile of HST leftovers one day, and this block gave me a very good idea of what I'm in for...




Last year I put together more than 500 HSTs made of leftovers from various projects over the last three or four years. They are stored neatly in a box right now, but I expect to add more once I finish the Blockheads project and three other quilts I hope to finish by the end of this quarter. (Blockheads will not be done by the end of this quarter, but the end of the block patterns is coming up, and I still have blue snowflake fabric leftovers to use up; why not more HSTs? Might even try some pieced triangles because I've seen some that look phenomenal.)

Block 27 definitely did not come out too bad, in my point of view, but it did take a while. Most of the other blocks above were finished in a night, and some were doubles, two in one night. Mountain Climbing took four nights!


I wanted to make a triangle from each fabric in my 22-year collection/obsession. The pattern called for 64 blocks. When I got done slicing the triangles and began configuring block placement, I learned I don't have 64 snowflake fabrics! I had to make about seven more blocks, and then when I began sewing, I turned up about four more blocks shy! I was laying them out in too small a space, and I didn't realize I had crowded the early rows to fit all the blocks and then didn't crowd the final few rows and was at least one block short on each of the last four rows.

So plenty of duplicate triangles exist, plus, there were three or four fabrics I didn't have big enough scraps from which to cut 2 7/8-inch blocks. So this final block for this week doesn't have one of each fabric, but I still like it.

At literally the very last second, I pulled the center snowflake fabric block and inserted a solid block because I had one the right size and because I decided after four nights of piecing one block, it needed a snowflake appliqué. I didn't ask anyone whether I should do it. I didn't wonder how it would look. I just made the executive decision and did it quickly so I couldn't change my mind.

Now, it's one of the things I love best about the block! It is different than all the other Blockhead #27s, even though I tried to stay fairly true to the original pattern.

I kept telling myself that as soon as I finished Mountain Climbing, I could make myself another dress for Valentine's Day. I got off work late again the next night, so the dress got started, but then the next day, the next Moda Blockheads pattern was released, and, well, the dress isn't done yet.


I also finished cutting out the next butterfly dress skirt panels!!! I just need to figure out what fabric to use for the bodice now! I'm strongly leaning toward a solid color with a crocheted butterfly appliqué. At least the skirt is ready to be stitched!

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

12 February 2019

Making Progress


In 2012, long before Lizard was diagnosed with Parkinson's, I'd been given a helpful head's-up by a blogging friend. I had gone over the handlebars on my bike, breaking my wrist and damaging a camera and lens. I didn't realize until after completing Ride the Rockies three months later that I'd managed to re-injure my back in the process. But hey! I made it through Ride the Rockies!!!

The doctor took me off my bike for three more months (the broken wrist and cast kept me off the bike for six weeks while I should have been training heavily for Ride the Rockies). It was the second time in my life I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to ride again, the first being after emergency back surgery in 2003, and I was super depressed, as well as in demoralizing pain.

At the time, the prognosis was indecisive. I may feel better with time, but I may need surgery again, which wasn't an appetizing thought at all. The surgery likely would result in a loss of mobility that might be worse than what the crushed disc was already causing.

My friend Chris, who had been battling a diagnosis of her own, told me many people will not understand the discomfort they cannot see and do not themselves feel. She had often been told, "Well, you don't look sick..." She told me not to let what other people don't see or understand get in the way of doing my best with whatever I could.

She also told me about the spoon theory... Each day, you have X number of spoons. If you use up all your spoons in the first half of the day, you won't have any spoons left in the last half of the day, and the day's end will be more difficult. More discouraging. More intolerable.


Later, I was telling that philosophy to another friend who also faces daily challenges, and she said she likes to use matches in that theory instead of spoons. She said if you light all your matches before you go to bed at night, you won't have enough power to make it through the end of the day. It's all about rationing what you do have to get through each day as successfully as you can.


Fortunately, my supply of spoons, or matches, whichever illustrates the difficulties better, increased over time, and my days are still improving.

For Lizard, however, since he was diagnosed with Parkinson's last August, we've been trying to determine the right balance and number of spoons or matches he has available each day. One of the most difficult lessons to learn so far has been that not every day will be a good day. He won't have a set number of spoons or matches on any given day. The challenges don't end there.

Lizard has faced co-workers and acquaintances who say things like, "I'm tired at the end of the day, too. It's not as big a deal as you think."

Lizard will be first to tell you there are two kinds of tired. There's the breed of tired after pedaling 120 miles over three high elevation mountain passes. That's the good kind of tired. Then there's the "no energy" tired he fights every day, sometimes every hour, with Parkinson's. The tired that doesn't go away, the tired no amount of medication or exercise can fix. The variety of tired that doesn't make you feel like you've just accomplished something extraordinary.


One of the adjustments we've had to make is a new stationary bicycle trainer. My trainer holds my bike steady. I can crochet or knit or even do an upper body aerobic workout while I pedal, and it's not going to send me into the wall or onto the floor. The yarn can get tangled up in the gears if I'm not careful, though...

Lizard's indoor cycling trainer was rollers. I always thought watching him on the rollers was like bicycle poetry. He was so smooth and so balanced! Last year, that changed, and tremors (temporarily) robbed him of the sport he enjoys most.


Once he and his medication were a bit stabilized, Lizard made the decision on his own to get a trainer like mine so he can ride again in winter without risking injury. He researched the different brands and varieties. He picked one of the top-rated trainers (which also carries a lifetime warranty!!!).

We were standing in line at the recreational sports store, waiting to pay for his new trainer, when a man approached and criticized our choice of trainer. "You need rollers!"

I wasn't about to tell a total stranger our health history, but I also didn't want to be as rude as I felt this man was being. We told him we had researched the trainers, and this was the one we had chosen.

After leaving the store (after stomaching a few more indirect insults for selecting the $300 model over the $1,200 model, which doesn't have a lifetime warranty), Lizard and I talked about how this man made us feel.

We shouldn't have to wear our diagnosis on our sleeves. We shouldn't have to explain our personal choices. And we don't have a real good aftertaste for that particular store or even the brand that was being pushed on us.

I tried to imagine myself in a sales position, which I must confess I would fail miserably because I am not a sales person at all. I tried to visualize an encounter with a customer who selected something different than what I was supposed to be selling. Visions of fast food restaurants played through my mind... suggestive selling, which I have always hated and still hate with a passion.

I told Lizard that if I were to see someone standing in a cash register line with a bicycle trainer, even if I was supposed to be selling a different trainer, my approach would be more akin to, "Wow, so you're into cycling, too?" rather than berating them for choosing something different than what I would choose. But I guess that's why I'm not in retail. I could never survive that world!

Now Lizard can train again in winter, and he's enjoying the new equipment. He even told me he likes being able to move his hands around while he's on the new trainer. Maybe I can teach him to crochet on the bike... Well, it's the thought that counts!


We are still researching everything we can to find ways to better deal with and manage Parkinson's. One day in December, I learned art therapy is sometimes very helpful for people with tremors. I read the article to Lizard, and he began coloring the very next day. Within two or three days, he said the fine detail really was helping him control the tremors because it forces him to concentrate on his right hand, which is more affected than his left hand right now. Within a couple of weeks, he was determined to one day create his own coloring books, and perhaps create a whole line of them for other people fighting Parkinson's. Now, is that positive thinking, or what?!?


Diet is another thing we've been steadily working to improve. Turns out the Mediterranean diet is best not just for everyone, but especially for people with neurological disorders. I'd been keeping pretty much to a Mediterranean diet since long before it ever became a thing, or at least a defined thing. Lizard had mostly gone along for the ride ever since we met... his weakness is bacon.

So now he's fully converted to turkey bacon, and my non-seafood lover is now eating fish at least once a week. (Cod in particular has shown health benefits for people suffering from Alzheimer's, dementia and Parkinson's.) I had to make the seafood change in my life back when I was training for my first Ride the Rockies in 2003. I was vegetarian at the time, and I was experiencing some serious bonking, which means inadequate nutrients to fuel such an active lifestyle. Nuts and beans were not enough protein to replenish what I was burning each day. I HATED fish! But I learned to like it so I could keep riding. It was easy for me to teach Lizard to slowly, carefully and constructively incorporate seafood into his diet.


Now he's doing some Mediterranean diet research of his own, and he says he'd like to become a Mediterranean chef!

He bowled me over on our second date when he fed me homemade chicken enchiladas. Now he's winning me all over again with his quinoa salads and whole grain pastas!






Life moves a little bit slower at our place these days. But that's okay. We're enjoying taking time to smell the flowers. Even in winter.

We'll never give up. Parkinson's is a progressive thing, and it's still progressing. Like Michael J. Fox, we hope for a cure, and hopefully in our lifetime. In the meantime, we're trying to make our lifetime the best it can be. Goal Number One!

11 February 2019

Snowflake Monday

2019 Heartflakes

This was the 10th of 11 red snowflakes for my niece Layla. There will be more red snowflakes patterns for the next 5 or so weeks, but they are out of order because I wanted to use the heartflake patterns I designed for Layla before Valentine's Day.

I've grown pretty tired of white snowflakes a few times in the last 9 years of writing patterns. But never as tired as I became of red snowflakes in January! Red is just not my color, and I'm very glad to put all shades of red away until July 4!!!

I must have been very tired when I originally wrote this pattern because when I was testing it, oh, my heavens, was it ever littered with booboos! I even left off the entire second half of the tree spokes on the final round! The end of the first Round read, "Don't pull magic ring too tight tight." Must have been uptight that night!

While trying to work out the bugs, I came up with a second variation of the pattern I like just as much (if not more) as what I sent to Layla. So I’m including both patterns here. Happy Valentine's Day!

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: 7 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, 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

Change of Heart Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 4 dc in ring, take loop off hook, insert hook through 2nd ch of starting ch 2 and replace loop on hook, pull loop through ch (popcorn stitch made), * ch 3, 1 dc in ring, ch 3, 5 dc in ring, take loop off hook, insert hook through top loop of 1st dc and replace loop on hook, pull loop through top of 1st dc (popcorn stitch made); repeat from * 4 times; ch 3, 1 dc in ring, ch 1, 1 dc in top of starting popcorn to form 12th ch 3 sp of Round. Don't pull magic circle too tight.
Note: Adding picots to the tips and binding off here makes a cute tiny snowflake.


Round 2: 1 sc over post of dc directly below, [ch 3, 1 sc in next ch 3 sp] 11 times; ch 1, 1 dc in starting sc to form 12th ch 3 sp of Round.

Round 3: 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 next ch 3 sp] 5 times; 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round.
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 4: 1 sc over post of dc directly below, [ch 5, 1 sc in next gap between 3/dc groups, ch 5, 1 sc in next ch 3 tip, ch 5, 1 sc in same tip] 5 times; ch 5, 1 sc in next gap between 3 dc groups, ch 5, 1 sc in next ch 3 tip, ch 2, 1 tr in starting sc.
NOTE: Binding off here makes a cute little snowflake.


Round 5: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 3 dc over post of tr directly below, [1 sc in next ch 5 sp, ch 5, 1 sc in next ch 5 sp, 7 dc in next ch 5 tip] 6 times, omitting last 4 dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 6: Ch 3 (counts as 1 tall dc), 2 dc in same ch as sl st, [1 dc in next dc, 1 hdc in next dc, 1 sc in next dc, ch 7, sk over next ch 5, 1 sc I next dc, 1 hdc in next dc, 1 dc in next dc, 3 dc in next dc, ch 3, 3 dc in same dc] 6 times, omitting last 3 dc and last ch 3 of final repeat; ch 1, 1 dc in 3rd ch of starting ch 3 for form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.

Round 7: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc over post of dc directly below, [1 dc in each of next 4 dc, 1 hdc in next hdc, 1 sc in next sc, ch 9, sk over next ch 7, 1 sc in next sc, 1 hdc in next hdc, 1 dc in each of next 4 dc, 3 dc in next ch 3 tip, ch 8, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 4 ch, ch 6, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 3 ch, ch 5, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch, ch 7, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch, ch 4, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook and in next ch, 1 dc in top half of next dc, 1 dc in bottom of same dc, sl st around ch (heart picot made), working back down spoke sl st in next ch, ch 4, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch, sl st in next ch on spoke, ch 5, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 3 ch, sl st in next ch on spoke, ch 6, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 5 ch, 3 dc in same ch 3 tip] 6 times, omitting last 3 dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2; bind off. Weave in ends.
NOTE: For best results, work heart picot in linked dc to prevent holey hearts.


Change of Heart Snowflake Variation Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 4 dc in ring, take loop off hook, insert hook through 2nd ch of starting ch 2 and replace loop on hook, pull loop through ch (popcorn stitch made), * ch 3, 1 dc in ring, ch 3, 5 dc in ring, take loop off hook, insert hook through top loop of 1st dc and replace loop on hook, pull loop through top of 1st dc (popcorn stitch made); repeat from * 4 times; ch 3, 1 dc in ring, ch 1, 1 dc in top of starting popcorn to form 12th ch 3 sp of Round. Don't pull magic circle too tight.

Round 2: 1 sc over post of dc directly below, [ch 3, 1 sc in next ch 3 sp] 11 times; ch 1, 1 dc in starting sc to form 12th ch 3 sp of Round.

Round 3: 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 next ch 3 sp] 5 times; 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round.
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 4: 1 sc over post of dc directly below, [ch 5, 1 sc in next gap between 3/dc groups, ch 5, 1 sc in next ch 3 tip, ch 5, 1 sc in same tip] 5 times; ch 5, 1 sc in next gap between 3 dc groups, ch 5, 1 sc in next ch 3 tip, ch 2, 1 tr in starting sc.

Round 5: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 3 dc over post of tr directly below, [1 sc in next ch 5 sp, ch 5, 1 sc in next ch 5 sp, 7 dc in next ch 5 tip] 6 times, omitting last 4 dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 6: Ch 3 (counts as 1 tall dc), 2 dc in same ch as sl st, [1 dc in next dc and in each of next 2 dc, ch 3, sk over next ch 5, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc, 3 dc in next dc, ch 3, 3 dc in same dc] 6 times, omitting last 3 dc and last ch 3 of final repeat; ch 1, 1 dc in 3rd ch of starting ch 3 for form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.

Round 7: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc over post of dc directly below, [1 dc in each of next 6 dc, ch 7, 1 sc; tightly over Round 6 and Round 5 ch 3 sp below, ch 7, 1 dc in each of next 6 dc, 3 dc in next ch 3 tip, ch 8, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 4 ch, ch 6, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 3 ch, ch 5, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch, ch 7, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch, ch 4, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook and in next ch, 1 dc in top half of next dc, 1 dc in bottom of same dc, sl st around ch (heart picot made), working back down spoke sl st in next ch, ch 4, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 2 ch, sl st in next ch on spoke, ch 5, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 3 ch, sl st in next ch on spoke, ch 6, sl st in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 5 ch, 3 dc in same ch 3 tip] 6 times, omitting last 3 dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2; bind off. Weave in ends.
NOTE: For best results, work heart picot in linked dc to prevent holey hearts.

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

08 February 2019

Friday Fun

I couldn't help but play a little in Photoshop after the recent lunar eclipse. It was fun rediscovering some of the digital art I created in the past, too!

































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