10 December 2019

Snow day!

Lizard and I have been walking each morning prior to me boarding the train for work. We've had several little storms already this season, and each time, I wished I could take pictures in the snow and of the snow and flakes instead of going to work. I always dread the moment I have to head for the train.

Two days before Thanksgiving, my dreams for this year came true! We got a full-fledged snowstorm!!! Almost everything in the Denver metro area closed for the entire day! Yay!

Snow was actually accumulating!  The wind was howling. I wondered if the birds would be able to get to their food without a little human assistance.

Yes, indeed, they sure could!

We enjoyed watching the birds feed on the store-bought seeds as well as leftovers from my garden until it warmed up enough for me to try to shoot some snowflakes.

At 9 degrees, my gloved fingers didn't make it too long. 58 photos, to be precise.

I got 20 acceptable photos out of the 58! Not too bad!

Then it came time to shovel. No one in the neighborhood had shoveled early in the morning. Why should they? It was still coming down, about two inches per hour, and all the schools were closed.

I dropped my template in a sheltered area with no wind near the back door and was shocked to see only a foot. I had guessed the accumulation atop the car looked to be about 16 inches.

I measured again in the driveway before we began flinging all the white stuff into the garden. Do we quilters know our stuff or what?!?

09 December 2019

Snowflake Monday

I've been working on bookmarks for my grands for Christmas. I'm not even halfway done yet. There are no patterns for the bookmarks. I'm making these up as I go, and I don't have time to write patterns.

I did, however, wonder if I could make a snowflake bookmark via the same concept. I plan to include two extra bookmarks in each package in an effort to make sure everyone gets a bookmark they like. No arguing over who gets which animal! The leftovers can be bookmarks for the parents. I think one of the moms would enjoy a snowflake bookmark! (I'm pretty sure the other mom would prefer an owl, so it's in the works.)

Today's pattern has not been tested. There is no tutorial, and I'm not planning to do one in the near future. To me, the pattern is pretty simple and straight forward. No parts to sew together. Minimal ends to weave in. Those who have never made tiny amigurumi might struggle a bit with the 6-single-crochet-around tubes, however.

I made a 7-inch version of this flake with worsted cotton yarn and a size H hook. I stiffened the very 3D flake with Mod Podge. Lizard loves this version! It is indeed very different compared to the lacy snowflakes I've been making for a decade!

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: 3 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


Popcorn Stitch (pc)

Work 5 dc in designated st, take loop off hook, insert hook through top loop of 1st dc and replace loop on hook, pull loop through top of 1st dc.

Tubular Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: [Pc in ring, ch 3] 6 times, omitting last 2 ch of final repeat; 1 dc in top of starting pc to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round. 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: [Ch 10, 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook while keeping ch behind work, begin tube around chain with 1 sc in each of 6 sc. Using butt of crochet hook, poke end of tube into shape. Continue working around and around tube as instructed, with ch in the center of tube, until tube reaches main body of flake. 1 sc in each of 6 sc around; 1 dtr in next sc, 1 sc in each of next 2 sc, 1 dtr in next sc, (dtrs form short picots) 1 sc in each sc around 21 times, ch 4, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in next ch, 2 sc in next ch (leaf picot made), 1 sc in each of next 3 tube sc, ch 4, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in next ch, 2 sc in next ch (leaf picot made), 1 sc each sc around 21 times, sl st in next ch 3 sp] 6 times.
NOTE: For bookmark, on final repeat I chained 60 instead of 10, then after finishing spoke as instructed, continued working 1 sc in each sc around until bookmark spoke measured 6.5 inches.

Round 3 : [Working behind next tube spoke, 2 sc in next ch sp between tubes] 6 times; sl st in starting sc; 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 snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

05 December 2019

Citrus Whip

I had no idea when I took photos of citrus slices 11 years ago the photos would one day become fabric and then one day much further down the road become a finished quilt.

I also had no idea when I began quilting Citrus Whip, a top I finished a little more than two years ago, lemon would be the predominant flavor of the project beneath the needle of my now five-month-old HQ Simply Sixteen. But I guess that's what happens when work keeps you away from a new piece of technology you are trying so hard to master.

This is my second quilt on Ringo the Longarm. I'm getting better at guiding the machine, but I need to work with it more than an hour or so every three or four weeks to gain proficiency. I had to watch the online tension videos all over again to learn how to adjust things after my second rats' nest. Oh, how I hate rats' nests!!! But learning opportunity, right? And a half-hour session with Hack the Seam Ripper counts as a workout, right? (Just realized I called them birds' nests the first time around. Funny how the more often it happens, the worse the analogy becomes.)

While finishing my first longarm quilt, Welcome to the Jungle, last quarter, I discovered not only the tension struggles, but the far edges of the quilt kept getting caught underneath the body of the quilt, and I literally spent more time picking out stitches than quilting.

So Lizard bought a big fat dowel I could wrap the far edge of quilts in progress around to prevent them from sliding under the quilt as I work. We looked up the attachment and nixed buying it for now because we're still paying for Ringo, we ran up the credit card to attend an out-of-state funeral last month, and Lizard will be getting a new knee next week. The dowel is a bit bulky and awkward because it expresses free motion of its own, but it's keeping the edges of quilts in progress from doubling up and saving me from unwanted sessions with Hack the Seam Ripper.

While working on Welcome to the Jungle, I also realized I can't do the outer six to eight inches of any quilt unless I specifically cut bigger edges on quilt sandwiches, providing space to clamp down and secure the quilt. I've never been a fan of the fabric and batting borders required for longarming because of the waste (even though I use up any squaring-up clippings as amigurumi stuffing). I've heard I can sew strips on two edges to give me something to clamp down, and I may cut up some heavy duty denim for that specific purpose one day, but for now, I'm finishing up the edges on my domestic sewing machine. I'm kind of enjoying keeping my free-motion skills from getting too rusty, and I do enjoy sewing, so it's not a hardship to me.

The center of Citrus Whip is made of four fat quarters I had printed at Spoonflower. The quilt wasn't quite big enough for a lap, so I added the solid Kona Cream on the top and bottom, then used some solid Kona scraps to formulate the triangle wedges on the top and bottom to add just a few more inches in length.

Those triangles were just enough for me to clamp so I could draw freehand citrus slices in the plain Cream section near the top and bottom borders. I'm tickled grapefruit pink with how great they turned out, even though they are not perfect. This was a design I'd had in my head ever since I finished the four fat quarter panels in the center of the quilt. I am really happy I was able to pull off a design I saw in my head two years ago!

I quilted the bottom half of the citrus slices in about two hours one night after work early in November, and I didn't get a chance to finish the top fruit slices until the four-day weekend. I had so many skipped stitches and broken threads I almost gave up. I ran out of bobbin thread right before reaching the border slices, and after watching the instructional videos again and properly adjusting the tension for the first time ever, I experienced my first perfect stitching on Ringo. I wanted to celebrate! It works!!! It works!!!

When the machine was delivered back in July, it was skipping stitches, so the salesman/trainer took it back to the shop, which sent it back to the factory for adjustments, and we didn't have it back at home until about August. I was really worried we were going to have to send it back for another month or so, and I didn't want to lose Ringo for that long again! I really wanted to be able to use it during the Thanksgiving break.

The border slices took about an hour to finish on Sunday night, and in another hour, I'd finished free-motion quilting the edges and a couple of citrus corners I hadn't been able to do on Ringo due to size limitations. I cut out and prepared the binding from the only Kona solid of the four colors I used for the top and the backing from my stash that was big enough for a quilt binding.

On Monday night, I found several scraps of all four of the solids I'd intended to use in the binding but had forgotten about. I decided to add a couple of inches of each to what I'd already prepared, and in about two more hours, the binding was done. Tuesday night I buried all the hundreds of thread ends from all the breakage, took a few photos and threw the finished quilt in the wash.

Citrus Whip is destined for one of my new but not infant grands - three more of the kiddos came into my life this year (six more I hope to add to the collection one day), and that means they get quilts. I'm also trying to finish up two more quilts for a new nephew and a new niece due early next year. So four more quilts to finish before Christmas, if I can squeeze in enough sewing and quilting time!

Linking up with Alycia Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

03 December 2019

Giving Machines

I am extremely fortunate to live in an area where Giving Machines are available. In this third year of the global Light the World charity program, ten machines are in key locations throughout the world, including downtown Denver, just a few blocks from where I work. The ribbon-cutting or unveiling was scheduled for a week ago today, but a huge snow storm pushed the opening to yesterday. However, the machines were in place and ready to receive donations last Wednesday, after we dug out from all the snow, and I deliberately took a detour to work so I could check out these amazing machines. Long lines formed on Friday after Thanksgiving. How cool is that?!?

It is my understanding the first machine was put in place during the Christmas season in Utah in 2017. One hundred percent of donations went directly to the charities being served. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints built and maintained the machine and provided volunteers to staff the locations and to answer questions. It was a pilot program. The Church hoped it would catch on, but no one really knew for sure what would happen. What could happen. What DID happen...

That first year, 23,000 people donated more than $500,000 to global and local charities such as Eye Care 4 Kids (which provided 2,000 eye exams for children, some of whom had never been seen by a doctor), CARE International (which provided personal hygiene products and 2,400 goats and 7,800 chickens to families in third world countries; the goats provide milk and cheese, and chickens provide protein, meat and eggs to the families), and Utah Food Bank (which provided 294,000 meals to indigent families throughout Utah).

Last year, five vending machines in more diverse locations (in addition to Utah were Arizona, New York, London and the Philippines) raised $2.3 million for charities such as CARE, Eye Care 4 Kids, WaterAid, Water for People and the Utah Refugee Connection. Do you see a pattern here??? People WANT to do good things. And this is a good thing, and it's GROWING!!!

This year, there are ten locations! Just imagine the good that will be done this year because people have the opportunity to make a difference in the world rather than buying things they don't really need. Global charities this year include CWS Global, UNICEF, WaterAid and Water for People, as well as local charities in each of the ten locations, which include last year's locations plus Hawaii, California, Nevada and Colorado.

Colorado charities being supported this year include Black Child Development Institute, Catholic Charities of Denver, Mile High Ministries and Rose Andom Center.

I've been anti-Black Friday almost from the beginning because to me, that's just not what Christmas is about at all. I've always favored gifts from the heart or handmade when giving or receiving during Christmas. Well, at least since I was too old to wish for an Easy Bake Oven or a Spirograph set.

To me, the Giving Machine opportunities make the world just sparkle. People really do want to make things better, and this is a great way to do it!

The Giving Machines are a variety of churches and charities working together to achieve magnificent goals. The Giving Machines erase lines drawn in the sand and celebrate what we all have in common. This is people helping people, and we are all people.

I love that Giving Machines are in Denver this year, but I can't even imagine what it will be like next year if, say, they have 20 locations. What if it grows even beyond that? What if more people get caught up in Lighting the World, and we actually Light the World and make it better not just for ourselves, but for people all over the world?

Isn't that the best Christmas gift any of us could give or receive?

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