23 January 2020

Eye Candy

21 January 2020

Dance in the Rain

I'd been feeling just a tad sorry for myself because it seemed like all I did was work full time, be a full-time caregiver, struggle with technology (trying to set up new irascible smartphones), and sleep. When I could sleep.

Christmas gifts were late. I had no time to sew, quilt, design or crochet. I barely had time to write in my journal each night. It's dark when I go to work in the mornings, and it's dark before I get off in the evenings. I'd lost most of the unedited photos I'd taken in the last two years. We were starting over on a new year of health insurance deductibles. There had been a handful of deaths, two in the extended family. And I still can't get rid of the aphids on my indoor pepper plants.


Then I (belatedly) read Roger Allen's blog post about living intentionally. I stopped to ponder for a few minutes if I was guilty of simply existing when I could have been living intentionally.

One of the first eye-opening revelations I realized when I stopped to look back at me in the last few weeks was Lizard's life. He got a brand new knee for Christmas. But brand new doesn't mean everything works as good as new right away.

In late December and all January mornings when I could walk on the greenway before boarding the train for work, I could. Even if only for five or ten minutes. Lizard could not.

When I couldn't sleep at night, it wasn't because of pain. If only Lizard could have had nights so easy.

When I mourned because I couldn't do the things I wanted to do, I forgot I was serving someone very important to me every single day. Lizard was unable to return the favor for a long time. (He is making dinner for us by himself for the first time since surgery as I type this post!)

After Lizard began to heal from the surgery a bit and grow in independence, I knew the day will come when I can do other things. Lizard still is not sure if he will be able to do all the things he could do before the surgery.

When I had moments I just needed a breath of fresh air at home, I could step out on the porch for a few minutes. At work, I couldn't step outside, but I could step away from the computer for a minute or two. For two weeks, Lizard had no such luxury. Now he's healing, and he's able to move around independently, but he still can't come and go when and where he pleases. Tremendous pain hasn't evaporated, either.

When I get discouraged because it feels as if things will never change, I can (although I sometimes forget to) make lemonade from my lemons. Try to make the best of my situation and look forward to a bright future.

Lizard has had many days in the past two months when he was not sure he will fully recover from surgery. Even if he is able to drive and get on a bike somewhere down the road, the Parkinson's is not going to heal. It is not going to go away. And there is a likelihood it will get worse.

When Lizard gets discouraged and fearful things will never get better, he tries to remember Linda Olson, who lost three limbs as a young mother many years ago and then in 2015 was diagnosed with Parkinson's. As if she didn't already have enough trauma!!! She tries to maintain a cheerful outlook and has never stopped going and doing. Lizard wants to tackle life with the same gusto.

Kind of makes my woes seem a little piddly.

Time to pick myself up, dust myself off and sing a happy tune.

20 January 2020

Snowflake Monday

Today's pattern is a primer for next week's pattern. Both patterns have an unusual start, which I have done before in the distant past, and I thought a photo tutorial of how to achieve this type of snowflake might be a great way to kick off the new year. Today's pattern also is a great simple flake to demonstrate how pinning can totally change the personality of the snowflake.

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 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

Primer Snowflake Instructions

Round 1: [Ch 10, 1 dc in 8th ch from hook, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 sc in next ch (petal made)] 6 times; sl st in starting ch (same ch as 1st 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 2: Ch 4 (counts as 1 tr and ch 1), [3 sc in next petal loop, ch 20, 1 sc in 10th ch from hook, ch 10, 3 sc in same petal loop, ch 1, 1 tr in next gap between petals] 6 times, omitting last tr of final repeat; sl st in 3rd ch of starting ch 4; 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.

16 January 2020

Can't Stop Dyeing

heavenly avocado skin dye

It wasn't how I needed to spend a Saturday afternoon, but it was the first Saturday afternoon I had to myself in several months, and by golly, I'm dyeing to spend it!!!

I actually started the first portion of this project a couple of weeks ago. I'd brought in five of my avocado pit and skin dyes in September prior to our first frost, hoping if they stewed a bit longer, I could eke more color from them. Some of these jars have provided four or five dips already.

My amaryllises are going nuts and all beginning to bloom, and I didn't have window space for the dyes anymore. Those cumbersome jars had to go.

So I wound four hanks of crochet thread and strained every last one of the jars. The fifth and darkest dye jar got a pair of cotton socks about a month ago, when I first started pulling the amaryllises out of the basement, one by one, one each week so the staggered blooms would last as long as I could make them. I poured the sock jar contents into my dye pot, which I left on the floor in the garage. I can't solar dye outside anymore because the jars would freeze every single night. There have been days when the dyes wouldn't have thawed in the sun because our highs have been in the 'teens. (We've also had a few unseasonable 60s, and boy, are those refreshing!)

I let the thread soak in the dyes in the jars on the floor in the kitchen for a whole week. Each night when I got home from work, I nuked each jar in the microwave for one minute. I totally forgot about the socks until last weekend. The socks had survived the deep freeze cycle, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Saturday, I strained the socks and the threads so I could reclaim my garage and kitchen floors.

The thread colors aren't as dark as I'd hoped, but I LOVE the new earthy shades, especially that pastel pink!

And check out the socks!!! Oh, my! Perhaps I should let some thread in avocado dye freeze in the garage a couple of times to see what happens!

I was so tickled with the range of colors, even though the threads are so pastel, I couldn't contain my curiosity any longer. Four of the avocados I bought about a month ago had a lot of visible red hue in the skin. Surely these skins would produce some awesome reds or pinks, right?

I typically do not save skins during the winter because I don't know if they would produce color after being frozen, like what I get from the pits after five months in the freezer. And I don't have window space to solar soak the skins while the amaryllises are craving sunshine. These red-toned avocados, however, presented more temptation than I could resist. Surely I could make space for just one little jar...

This is four avocado skins. They've soaked in the window in the sun for just about three weeks. I wound one more hank of crochet thread and strained the new avocado skin dye, then just about floated out of the atmosphere when I saw the color on the thread!!!

I'm going to let this thread soak for another week. I don't know if the final color will be this rich, but oh, can I dream!

If I do get such rich color from this batch of skins, I think I will buy a bunch more avocados and try to make another batch of dye after the amaryllises are done, and perhaps I can darken up my avocado dress next summer!!! Oh, how heavenly that would be!!!

While I was cleaning up the avocado dye mess, I decided I should go ahead and discard the first set of professional dyes I mixed, perhaps ten years ago. They've been patiently waiting to be used in the basement all this time. I learned after the first couple of dye sessions that professional dyes weaken with age and that my bottles probably wouldn't produce any lasting color after about three months. But I couldn't bring myself to throw them out. They were all very small bottles, the one-ounce travel bottles available in grocery and department stores.

As I began to collect the very aged dyes, I decided it wouldn't hurt to try using them. If the colors don't stick, no big deal; I can overdye. I dug out a PFD remnant from my snow-dyeing days and then decided a pair of socks might be fun, too. I mordanted the cotton in soda ash with salt, then laid out the dyeables on the rocks in the backyard and squirted away.

I then nuked the fabric and socks for 30 seconds, then laid them out in the basement. I didn't have any idea what they would look like after washing, but perhaps it would be a fun little waste of time.

I opened the washer expecting to find such pastel colors, they could pass as white. I am SO glad I didn't just toss the dyes! I'm so glad I gave them the chance to show their stuff! The greens and blues are pretty pale, but this turned out far better than I expected!

I then decided I could make room on one window sill for a few small dye jars. I wound eight more hanks of crochet thread, then prepared my little stackable plastic ice cream jars with a rainbow of colors.

These will get to soak for a week, also. I'm hoping for more gradients to replace what I've almost used up. I love crocheting with gradient or variegated thread I've dyed myself and watching the color changes between stitches. One of my favorite things to do on the commuter train!

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