31 October 2013


the dye pot

the dye

the yarn

It's magic!

pumpkin- and cranberry-hued yarn

stir it up

pour in the yarn


the chef

creating a jack o'lantern from a dye pot

It worked!!!

29 October 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Primary Colors

Primary Colors from Autumn Leaves

Primary Colors from Autumn Leaves

Primary Colors from Autumn Leaves

Primary Colors from Autumn Leaves

Primary Colors from Autumn Leaves

Primary Colors from Autumn Leaves

Primary Colors from Autumn Leaves

Primary Colors from Autumn Leaves

Primary Colors from Autumn Leaves

In Stitches

Welcome to the Jungle

My goal a couple of months ago was to finish one WIP quilt this quarter. My overall goal was to have TWO quilts ready for next year's Denver National Quilt Festival -- far enough in advance I don't have to crank out the midnight oil to get something done on time.

Although it won't be for the Denver National Quilt Festival, I planned for Lizard Leftovers to be my next finish because the top is done and it's ready to quilt. It will grace our guest bed when done.

lizard leftovers

My plans changed when I learned my very dear sister-in-law would like to have Leaf Me Alone. (Donna, you have to stop reading now! Turn off your computer and go to work!)

I decided the quilt would be the perfect Christmas present for her.

Last week, I got an unexpected day off from work, and I decided to make it special. I decided to do as much quilting and sewing as I could and to try to top what I might have been able to accomplish on a Saturday.

First I pulled out Leaf Me Alone, which needed four more squares, I intended to do the yellow leaves next because yellow is my least favorite color to work with, and I wanted to get it over with. Unfortunately, I discovered I'm not well stocked in yellow fabric. I don't have two shades of yellow! (Yet... I did order another shade of yellow, plus another shade of orange.)

Orange was my next choice, and ouch! I didn't have two oranges, either!

So out came the reds.

I'm not a huge fan of red either (Busted! I favor cool colors over warm colors...), but holy cow, this new 26-inch by 26-inch square looks awesome. The green square could be my St. Patrick's leaves, and the red square could be my Valentine leaves! This third square was fun to do, and I enjoyed working with the two reds in my collection. Three down, three to go.

Oh, and I finished cutting out all the black strips for the remaining three blocks. That will make the next three blocks faster.

The Dress, and The Quilt-to-be

St. Patty's Block

Valentine Square

Instead of pulling out Lizard Leftovers after I finished the red Leaf Me Alone Square, I yearned to take a stab at creating my own batik. Snowflake batik, of course.

I had attempted solar dyeing on a pair cut dress panels of prepared for dyeing (PFD) fabric. Although I loved the splashy texture of the dye on the fabric, the finished fabric just wasn't what I expected. First off, I thought the dye would be bluer, not that anything is wrong with turquoise green. It just doesn't really epitomize the charisma of snowflakes, in my mind. Secondly, the snowflakes didn't make enough of an identifiable impression. What a letdown!

Solar-dyed Fabric

So I tried again by hand-painting wax snowflakes on the fabric, then briefly dipping the dress panels in my stinky indigo vat. I wore gloves, but one leaked. I was Blue Hand Luke for a few days...

The experiment, however, was a rousing success. I think I will have a new favorite dress when I finish hemming this!!!

Homemade Indigo Batik

Oh, oh, oh, and the technique works on T-shirts, too!!! I'm getting better and better at this batik stuff! I can't wait to try this process again.


Next, I decided it's high time I take a stab at the round robin quilt I began more than eight years ago, working name Square Robin.

I'd bought my first fat quarter packet to participate in an online row robin. I and four others in our to-be-assigned group would each make one row, then send our row and fabrics off to the next participant. Each of us, hailing from four countries and all over the United States, would make a row for five different quilts. At the end, each of us in the row robin (a round robin would be going on at the same time) would have a five-row quilt with five different personalities at the end of five or six months. I'd signed up for the international group because I thought the cost of mailing would be worth having a quilt with techniques from other countries as well as my own.

I bought my very first cutting board, my very first quilt ruler and my very first rotary cutter. I waited on pins and needles for the groups to be announced.

When the groups were posted, I searched the entire list, including the round robins. My name was nowhere to be found. I was beyond heartbroken.

I wrote the moderator and asked if there had been a mistake or if one group had not yet been posted.

The moderator apologized over and over and over again. She had inadvertently left my name off the list. She promised I could participate in the next one, which would be in six or seven months.

big round robin block

I decided not to wait, but to start my own round robin, or, well, my Square Robin. The plan was to do a new round every six months or every year, and each round would reflect my growth as a quilter. I made a 23-inch by 23-inch rail fence square using every color in my fat quarter packet, and then I put the quilt center away.

Six months later, I was dating the man of my dreams, The Lizard, and there was no time for or thoughts of quilting, other than a quilt for him for his birthday, which finally was finished about four years later. Because seven months after we began dating, I was forced to undergo emergency back surgery to remove a dime-sized bone chip that had become embedded in my sciatic nerve. I didn't sew much for a very long time. Sewing hurt too much. Sitting hurt too much.

Last summer, I joined a quarterly quilting WIP challenge on Ravelry because I have too many unfinished quilts on our quilt rack. I didn't finish any of the projects on my list last quarter because there just wasn't time for sewing.

Now that cycling season has been brought to somewhat of an end by winterish weather and the nights are getting longer and longer, I have a little more time for big projects. I didn't finish the next round on my round robin quilt on my unexpected day off, but I did make significant progress.

Square Robin Progress

If I had worked on this quilt the year after I started it, the next round would have been mariner's compass-themed because that's where I invested my limited quilting time that year. I never did perfect the skill, so I don't mind so much that a mariner's compass may not appear in this quilt. I'd rather it be flawless when I do it.

If I had worked on this quilt the following year, the next round would have been applique. I could do that without sitting upright, and I could even do it with my legs propped up.

If I had worked on this quilt the year after that, the next round would have been log cabin. I love the look and the versatility of log cabin inspiration, and the technique is rampant in my WIPs. Right now, I think I'll never get tired of log cabin variations.

When I began working on Square Robin again last week, I seriously considered doing applique for the next round because the center is so busy. I decided to do uneven borders with a multicolor hand-dye so the quilt will be rectangle instead of square.

My current fascination is French braid, and the greens in my stash jumped out at me when I decided braids would be the perfect next round for the quilt. My quilting taste has changed dramatically since I began this quilt. I now yearn for off-center, and when I was trying to decide what to do next, every idea I thought of incorporated some asymmetrical aspect. I plan to do one more strip of French braid for one side of the quilt, then another solid border all the way around. I don't know yet what I will do after that.

When I picture what the quilt might have looked like had I finished it four years after I started it, I'm really glad I waited. I plan to not work on it again for at least another quarter, but this round is so much fun, I can't guaranty I will be able to resist the urge to pull it out again before Christmas!

Learning to Quilt in Photoshop

28 October 2013

Snowflake Monday

Sunrise on the South Platte

NOTE: Formal fundraising on Snowcatcher has been paused. I haven't had time to create a new snowflake pattern booklet, and we don't know if or when we will be able to participate in organized charity rides again. If things favorably change, I will announce such in a new Snowflake Monday blog post. In the meantime, the previous eight booklets are still available, and I will do my best to respond to requests for them in a timely manner.

My MS-150 fundraising came to an early end in 2013 when the Colorado/Wyoming Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society closed out its books for the year on October 1. Typically, registration for the next year's ride is in December for High Rollers and Premium Pedalers. The organization notified me they might be ready for registration for next year's ride a little earlier than that.

October and November typically are the months when I receive the most donations in exchange for the current year's snowflake pattern booklet. This year, the fundraising site isn't open yet, so I expected a lot of disappointed and/or frustrated crocheters who waited until snowflake season to make their donations or who have just been introduced to my website.

I recently received an email from the National (not state!) Multiple Sclerosis Society IT department notifying me a donation was made in another state via that state's chapter. The donor had asked their own state organization to track me down so they could get their snowflake booklet.

The IT department had indeed tracked me down, and my 2015 account was credited with the donation from another state's chapter!!!

About the same time this was transpiring, another crocheter contacted me to find out if there was any way to make the donation now so she could begin working on her Christmas gift list. Yes, my chapter allowed donations in my name even though registration was not opened!

So, even though registration may not be open for another couple of months (although I hope it is sooner), I had two donations toward 2015!

The early bird gets the snowflake!

To obtain a pdf copy of my most recent pdf booklet, please make a charitable contribution of at least $10 to your choice of The Davis Phinney Foundation (which has a goal of making life better for people who have Parkinson's), or The Michael J. Fox Foundation (which has a goal of finding a cure).

Each time a donation is made, I receive an email notifying me of the donation, and I email the pdf booklet as a token of my gratitude. I try to respond to each donation on the day they are made. However, please bear in mind I am not always able to check email 24 hours a day, especially during the work week. If you make a donation and don't hear from me within three days, it's possible I did not receive notification. In that case, please notify me at flake at snowcatcherphotos dot com.

My previous pdf booklets are available also. I will send all eight of the old booklets to anyone who makes a donation of $40 or more, which is the equivalent of $5 per booklet. If you would like fewer than the whole set, please make sure I know which pdf booklets you want.

All donations to the Davis Phinney Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation are tax deductible.

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!

Early Bird Snowflake

Finished Size: 4.25 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 8 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

Early Bird Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 11 dc in ring; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2. Pull magic circle tight, but leave opening big enough to allow stitches inside it to lay flat.

Round 2: 1 sc in same ch, * ch 3, sk 1 dc, 1 sc in next dc; repeat from * around 4 times; ch 1, 1 dc in starting sc 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 3: 1 sc around post of dc just worked, * ch 14, 1 dc in 7th ch from hook and in next ch, 1 hdc in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch, ch 2, 1 sc in next ch 3 sp; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last sc of final repeat; sl st in starting sc.

Round 4: Ch 7 (counts as 1 dtr and ch 3), 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook (dc picot made), * 2 dtr in next ch 6 sp, 2 tr in same sp, 3 dc in same sp, ch 3, sl st in 3rd ch from hook (picot made), 3 dc in same sp, 2 tr in same sp, 2 dtr in same sp, ch 3, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook (dc picot made), 1 dtr in next sc in main body of snowflake, ch 3, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook (dc picot made); repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last picot and dtr of final repeat; sl st in 4th ch of starting ch 7; 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.

Early Bird Snowflake Bottle Cozy

25 October 2013

Friday Funny


Just the other day, The Lizard was saying we need one of these.

I would carry this.



Don't know if I'll actually make the dress, but I will buy the magazine!
(What a great Halloween costume!!!)


Oh, my!

Scroll down just a bit for Halloween costume inspiration...

Meat Cleaver Clutch

And to top off everything I've shared today, check out this link and see if it doesn't leave you feeling proud to be human and more in touch with your fellow mankind. (Thanks, Phil!)

24 October 2013

Leaves of Gold


I was tempted to give up on natural dyeing when my second batch came out nearly the same color as the first batch - yellow - even though the dye plants I used were dramatically different. As a result, I began learning all kinds of different ways to make what would be yellow yarn turn out NOT yellow.

Secretly, though, I longed to find out what I would get if I simmered aspen leaves. I'm not a big fan of yellow... until September and October. Then, yellow is everything. I cannot get enough photos. I cannot ever find enough leaves. I never get tired of or bored with autumn gold hunts.

Back in July, I accidentally got a sneak peak of what this autumn would harbor for me.

I could not wait until the leaves began to turn! Even though I was still experiencing uncontrollable wildflower withdrawals!

Weather did not cooperate.




The worst thing that can happen to aspen leaves during the season of change is lots of rain and/or snow, plus temperatures too cold at night for leaves to cling to trees. We got all of the above.

In many places, the leaves were stripped from the trees. In many places, the fallen leaves were buried by snow. In most places I've been this autumn, aspen leaves turned black or brown. Most of the fallen leaves I could collect were dried, black or brown. I didn't know how much pigment I could get from dried leaves. I decided to try solar steeping a jar of brown and black aspen leaves to see what I would get. It took five minutes to fill that jar.

Filling a jar with yellow leaves took six hours!

yellow and brown aspen leaves

It was not an easy year to attempt dyeing with aspen leaves, but I did it. And I got yellow!

fool's gold

golden as aspen

successful gold rush

aspen T-shirt magic

Works on T-shirts, too!

And then, because I am not a yellow person, I had to try overdying one gorgeous aspen yellow hank with indigo. Ooooooooh, la la!!!

green with envy
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