29 November 2013

Happy Dance

Cottonwood and Aspen Yellows

Another "use it or lose it" vacation day, and another quilt square done!

I doubt the quilt will be ready to ship before Christmas, so I may have to convert it into a birthday present, but I'm now two-thirds done with the Leaf Me Alone quilt top. I was surprise how quickly this block went together, even though I procrastinated off and on throughout the day because yellow just doesn't do much for me in sewing.

As I measured and cut pieces for this block, I cut the orange pieces, too, for the next block. It will go together even more quickly with all the cutting already done. Then I will have to do the purple square, and purple is SO fun to work with, I may be able to do two squares in one day.

Leaf Me Alone detail

One of the distractions I faced while trying to get this square done was my new thread caddy. I do not have a sewing studio or even a sewing room. My sewing machine is in the bedroom, right next to a very big window, to take advantage of as much daylight as possible while I work. Yes, I kept my thread on the floor next to the simple, inexpensive rolling desk that has held my sewing machine for at least 20 years now.

working thread stash

The blue spools have been on the floor like this ever since I began working on Snowflake Heartburn again about three years ago. And yes, that's my sewing trash can. I indeed do put thread scraps and tiny fragments of fabric too small to work with in a Broncos cup.

Snowflake Heartburn thread options

totally tweaked

Now, my working thread collection is organized and much more attractive! And perhaps we won't be stumbling over rolling thread spools anymore. Ha ha!

eye candy

Thanks to winter's paralyzing grip last week, my dye pots froze, so no new yarn colors. But a summer and autumn full of dyeing resulted in a backlog of hanks needing attention. First, I untangled 24 hanks and rolled them into balls. Then I caked them. Every last one.

Mission: Nearly Accomplished. Eleven more hanks to detangle...

What a mess!

Making Progress

Hue Shift Replenishments

19 done, 4 to go

The hand-dyed snowflake batik dress is ready to wear just in time for the holidays, too! I had cut the pieces for the dress last summer, and then The Lizard attempted to help me hold the panels and about 120 snowflakes on the ground outside in the sun during my first attempt at solar printing on fabric. The wind decided to join the party once I got everything just where I wanted it.

Needless to say, my first attempt at solar printing on fabric was not a success. The supposed-to-be blue dress pieces had the appearance of expensive handpaint, but no white snowflake patterns, and the final color was more green than I'd anticipated or wanted.

Solar-dyed Fabric

So last month, on my last forced day off, I tried batiking by hand with wax for the first time. After hand-painting about 20 snowflakes each on the front and the back of the dress with melted wax, I did a quick stinky indigo dip, and I couldn't wait to finish this dress and wear it. I love the color I achieved by overdyeing teal with indigo!

teal and denim snowstorm

denim dip

partial snowflake

I finally finished the hem and attached the facings this week on my second forced day off. It was after 10 p.m. when I finished the machine sewing, so I didn't get the facings tacked down. I do that by hand.

I really wanted to wear this dress the day before Thanksgiving. It's not the first time I've worn a dress to work before I've finished tacking down the facings! And it was worth it. All my co-workers (and my husband!) love the dress and much as I do!

(Oh, and I dyed the turtleneck over the weekend, too. This wasn't natural dyeing; I used commercial dye and was trying to get bright lime green, like the yarn above, which was successful. I'm kind of glad most of the color in the turtleneck washed out because I think the seriously dated Ocean Mist green, which is still a favorite hue of mine even though it's decades out of style, is much more attractive than a loud neon would have been!)

hand-dyed coordinates

one of the most successful snowflake imprints

28 November 2013

I am Thankful

Orange Day

I made this list of things I was most thankful for one winter when I just couldn't fight depression setting in that year. The list worked then, and it still makes me smile now.

1. The Lizard
2. Inner peace, faith
3. Having Colorado and Utah in my backyard
4. Paw prints in the snow
5. Bobbing tufts of purple on July/August summits

sky pilot, with Gemini Peaks in the background

6. The ability, endurance and determination to pedal all the way up Highway 5 again
7. Steady employment
8. Golden, red and orange leaves that rustle in the breeze
9. Pink, purple and crimson clouds
10. Friends

Golden Horn reflects in upper Ice Lake

11. Crystal clear reflections on high altitude lakes
12. West Elk raspberries and Weminuche strawberries
13. Bugling elk, chirping marmots, screeching raptors, sheep banging heads, trickling tiny waterfalls, clucking ptarmigans
14. Camera batteries that don't die during once-in-a-lifetime shots
15. Coyotes that play with their food


16. Pink noses on white martens
17. 212,824 miles and still purring (NOW: 303,555)
18. Shoes and socks that don't wear blisters
19. Ibuprofen when they do
20. Sunbathing fluorescent lizards that skedaddle across red rock on their hind legs when startled

collared lizard in Rattlesnake Canyon, Colorado

21. Gaining Payne and No Payne in a day
22. Having access to 60 flights of stairs to climb at will
23. The chilling grip of the river around my ankles as soft, squishy algae and mud seep between my toes
24. Lilac along the South Platte bike path, fresh rain on mesquite, the rush of steam from a Thermos of chai or cinnamon tea atop a winter summit, and the skunk that didn't bust me when I inadvertently trespassed
25. Weekends

Barbed Ice

26 November 2013

Wordless Wednesday

The Boys are Back in Town

Yuck!  This grass tastes like dirt!

Wanna butt heads?

Hey, Cutie, wanna find a quiet place for just the two of us?

Who goes there?!?

Getting a little close, aren't you?

Are you looking at me?

Smells So Sweet

Bighorn Pride

Slow Color

summer of color

My first stab at natural dyeing this year was accomplished stove-top. I simmered curly dock/sorrel in a cheap department store pot for a couple of hours, then strained the juice and simmered yarn for another couple of hours.

My wool yarn felted slightly, which means it stuck together in some places and had to be gently pulled apart at the end of the process. It doesn't have the greatest texture, and it has no sheen, but that might be because it was cheap yarn when I bought it.

The cotton yarn had a nice color and texture, but the color seriously faded as the yarn dried. I've since learned it's more difficult to get cotton yarn to take color in natural dyeing, and perhaps that's the reason I've focused more on cotton than wool during this learning journey and experimental adventure. I thrive on challenge. I love being able to do what someone says I can't.

What color will it be this time???

My second attempt at natural dyeing was with alfalfa, which was growing abundantly all over my backyard, thanks to my inability to pay attention to any gardening in 2012 due to back injury.

The color on both the wool and the cotton wasn't what I hoped or expected, but the wool was not as felted, and the cotton held the color just a bit better than my first time around.

This trend continued throughout the summer. Each subsequent wool skein turned out a little softer and more useable than the last, and nearly every cotton skein had a bit more color.

bindweed dip

The stove-top method took a lot of time and energy. The dye pot temperature had to be monitored constantly. Having the stove on all day on a very hot summer day was not not my idea of a relaxing weekend at home.

I decided to try solar dyeing.

The process gradually went from about six hours to three weeks or more. This is SLOW color!

But I like the solar process much, much better!

My solar process makes use of huge plastic jars that would be thrown away at work and glass spaghetti sauce jars at home that I've been saving for forever. Solar dyeing allows me to have a life while pigment is fermenting or setting. The dye doesn't get too hot. There is no time limit. And the sun coming through my solar dye pots every morning is a wonderful sight to wake up to.

dye glass window

During the summer and fall, I did have to watch for mold. Sometimes the odor of fermenting weeds is not so pleasant. And the wind has a way of repeatedly ripping jar tops out of my hands at the most inopportune moment.

But solar dyeing, particularly with plant matter that would otherwise be thrown away, has become a way of life for me. Some dyers dye only in summer and fall. That's when the plants grow. Winter is reserved for making things with the fiber because nothing is growing.

I live in a world of bark, pine cones and fallen leaves. The grocery store has spices and colorful vegetables. I had thought I would be able to keep solar dyeing throughout the winter. I can knit and crochet on the train. I thought my only hurdle would be figuring out a way to keep dye-ready yarn in stock without going broke.

I hadn't considered what cold spells might do to my dye pots. I've since learned to leave some breathing room in glass jars when the temperature doesn't crawl above 12 degrees for three days straight.

Pits Stop

Bottomless Pits

Cracked Madder

25 November 2013

Snowflake Monday

Christmas in Paris Snowflake

One of my co-workers has decorated her condo entirely (even the restrooms!) with a pink French theme. This snowflake is a Christmas gift for her.

Christmas in Paris Snowflake detail

How's this for super cool? I should get my friend some pink wire.
I think she'd like to try to do this, even though the instructions are in Japanese.
The photo tutorial is universal.

These gloves are great, too! I think they'd be fairly easy to duplicate.

More Eiffel awesomeness.

Another one.

Incredible. (Scroll down.)

Of toothpicks. (Scroll down.)

How sweet!

Mmmm. Might have to get one of these, too...

Eiffel Tower Charm

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!

Christmas in Paris Snowflake

Finished Size: 6 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, one charm, 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

Christmas in Paris Snowflake Instructions

String charm onto thread. Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc and ch 1), * 1 dc in ring, ch 1; repeat from * around 10 times for a total of 12 ch 1 sp; 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.
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: * 3 sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 6, sk next ch 1 sp; repeat from * around 4 times; 3 sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 3, 1 tr in starting sc to form 6th ch 6 sp of Round.

Round 3: * Ch 2, 1 dc over post of tr just made (or in same sp on succeeding repeats), 1 tr in same sp, 1 dtr in same sp, ch 19, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, [ch 3, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook] 2 times (tri-picot tip made) (pull charm up prior to middle sc picot and catch in sc), ch 1, working back down ch sk tri-picot tip and next ch, 1 sc in next ch, ch 2, sk next 2 ch, 1 sc in next ch, [ch 1, sk next ch, 1 hdc in next ch] 2 times, [ch 1, sk next ch, 1 dc in next ch] 2 times, sk next 3 ch, 1 dtr in next ch, ch 2, working behind dtr just made, 1 dtr back in 1st of 3 skipped chains (cross dtr made), 1 trtr in next ch 6 sp in main body of snowflake, 1 dtr in same sp, 1 tr in same sp, 1 dc in same sp, ch 2, sl st in same sp; repeat from * around 5 times; 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.


21 November 2013

All Kinds of Flakes

I'm always looking for inspiration for snowflakes, and my readers and I have found a treasure trove. The snowflake above was inspired by this.

Geeky snowflakes galore!

Zombie Snowflake

Skullflake Tutorial. (If you're into skulls, there's a whole year's worth of skull tutorials on this site.)

Tulsa Gent tipped me off to these beauties.

Bet this would work with Epsom salts, too.

snowflakes made from recycled cardboard tubes

more cardboard tube (five-point) snowflakes (easily convert to six-point)

six-pointers from cardboard tubes

Gorgeous tatted snowflakes.

origami snowflakes

clothespin snowflake

puzzle snowflakes

spoon snowflake

Holy macaroni!

recycled cup snowflake frames

salt dough and melted bead suncatcher snowflakes

bottle bottom snowflakes

My husband loves aircraft.

folded and cut paper... INCREDIBLE

cardboard and yarn snowflakes

polymer clay tutorial

salt dough ornaments

snowflake eggs

what to do with punched paper snowflakes

super cute paper snowflake box

Part I and Part II of embroidered felt snowflake ornament tutorial (but SIX sides, not eight!)

Puffy Paint Snowflakes

snowflake ballerinas

cotton swab snowflakes

Star Wars snowflakes

six-sided paper snowflakes

giant popsicle stick snowflakes

Zipper Pull Snowflake Ornament

Pasta Snowflakes (in Russian, but the pictures tell the story)

video tutorial for making golf tee snowflakes (I'd make them with six sides, not eight)

snowflake slime

twig snowflakes

yarn twig snowflakes

tortilla snowflakes here, here and here

3D snowflakes

humorous snowflake cake

origami snowflake tutorial

snowflakes from old books

Kit Cameo's amazing snowflake gallery

Free-motion quilting snowflake tutorial

Wouldn't this be cute with a snowflake instead of a doily???

Scroll down for a great way to gift snowflakes.

An incredible collection of beaded snowflakes.

cereal box snowflakes

Wouldn't this be cool in crochet?!?

Wowsa!!! (first window)

Another spectacular Christmas window

snowflake wreath

vintage snowflakes

felt snowflakes

glow-in-the-dark 50-state snowflake quilt

plastic bottle bottoms

recycled CD snowflake mosaic

junk mail snowflake gift toppers

snowflake tree

beaded snowflake garland

Russian beaded snowflake

Part I and Part II of polymer clay snowflake and ornament tutorial

snowflake quilt block

paper and lace snowflakes

easy glue snowflakes (but snowflakes have 6 sides, not 8)

I bet this could be done with recycled things like cups...

puzzling (the faces further down the page are cute, too)

how to shoot snowflakes

I'd love to do this with a bicycle wheel, Lizard!

more free crochet snowflake patterns

even more free crochet snowflake patterns

Not snowflakes, but very snowflake-ish!

Oh, what fun!!!

hang me

Too funny!!!

Oh, do these ever make me want to start drawing again!

Okay, maybe I WILL start drawing again!!!

I'm going to try dreamcatchers like this with snowflakes instead of doilies!

No-stiffening-required snowflake suggestions.

Felt Snowflake Banner

How to Draw an Exotic Snowflake

Stunning Redwork Snowflake Patterns

Glue Gun Snowflake Window Clings

Paper Snowflake Trees

Lighted Snowflake Canvas

Snowflake-blowing Polar Bear

Quilled Aluminum Snowflakes

Snowflake String Art

Snowflake Crafts for Kids

WOW! She's making a snowflake a day in 2015... with a new baby!!!

Leah Day's beautiful machine-embroidered snowflakes

I LOVE it! A recipe for indoor snowball fights!!! Watch out, Lizard!!! ;)

Live Snowflake Weather Cam at Alta Ski Area in Utah!

The Koch Snowflake

Another Snowflake Addict

National Geographic Snowflake Puzzle

(four-sided) Game of Thrones Snowflakes

another snowflake generator

another one

Catch a Snowflake Game

Machine-embroidered snowflakes

Disney Links

"Frozen" snowflake matching game

Elsa's Snowflake Ornament

"Frozen" Snowflake Maze

Olaf & Marshmallow Snowflake Maze

Elsa & Anna Snowflake Maze

Queen Clarion Snowflake Tiara

"Frozen" Paper Snowflake Templates


Frozen-inspired Snowflake Pendant

Frozen-inspired paper snowflakes

Snowflake Photography

Alexey Kljatov's snowflake photography

Don Komarechka's snowflake photography

Kenneth Libbrecht's snowflake photography and science

Karla Jean Booth's snowflake photography

Snowflake Bentley

Andrew Osokin's macro photography features some unusual snowflake crystals.

Holly Greene's snowflake photography

Michael Peres' snowflake photography

Mark Cassino's snowflake photography

Linden Gledhill's snowflake photography

Stuart J. Hall's snowflake photography

Electron Microscope Snowflake Photos

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