29 April 2014

Wordless Wednesday


You. Are. Trespassing.




raining lavender hues in Washington state

We have some awesome lavender plans this year, so I'm somewhat lavender-brained right now.

Typically, we send flowers to our moms for Mother's Day. This year, we wanted to do something a little different. My first thought was a lavender gift basket. I did a couple of internet searches and was fairly disappointed with some of what came up. Most notable was a selection of offerings from a major online retailer, some of which seemed satisfactory but overpriced, not including delivery, and a few that totally baffled intelligence.

Had I not recently discovered via a humorous but pointed post by piquant rhymer Pat Hatt that not all product reviews are to be trusted, I might have fallen for a gift basket or two.

One particular product had an even number of positive and negative reviews. Nothing in the middle.

From: "Guys, this is the way to go! You can't go wrong with this! My wife loved it!"

To: "I would never give it as a present - well, maybe if they priced it at $5.00 and it was a Secret Santa gift!"

What gives?!? How could the reviews be so polar?!?

Pat Hatt's little complaint helped me realize the positive reviews likely were not only paid, but copied and pasted.

Sheesh! So what's a daughter (or son) to do???

baby lavender

I've been trying to grow lavender in my garden for five years now, and not a single plant survived the winter until this year. Some didn't even survive the summer droughts, and they're supposed to be drough tolerant! I bought four different varieties of lavender plants last summer, and three of them are growing back now!!! Yippee! Colorado's winters (and/or wind) might be a little too tough for one variety, which I can't specifically identify just yet, but of course, was the most fragrant and the most prolific during the summer months.

One of my co-workers also grows lavender with more success than I. She's at a lower elevation, and I don't think she has the winds we do. She said to give my stragglers a chance because some varieties do take longer to kick in, particularly if we've had a brutal winter. I wouldn't say our winter was necessarily brutal, but the winds certainly were. And I've read one of the ways to protect outdoor lavender during the winter is to shield the plants from the wind. That presents a perplexing challenge for next winter.

Meanwhile, before the winter set in, I dried some of my beautiful lavender (and rosemary and mint) last fall, and I made potpouri that was a huge hit at the office craft fair I participated in last December. I still have a few potpouri bottles left...

lavender love

A co-worker makes homemade soap. She had some lavender-scented!

While visiting The Wave last January, we received a gift of homemade lavender moisturizing lotion and bath salts from one of the hotels where we stayed. Oh, did this ever get me thinking about things I might be able to do with lavender!

I can crochet lavender baskets. I can make lavender basket filling with my husband's paper shredder. I can make lavender washcloths and scent them with lavender oil. I have more than my fair share of lavender-hued flower photos from last-year's garden. I can make card pouches to match! I can make all kinds of fun lavender things! And I can custom pick a few fun lavender offerings at the grocery store or the health food store.

Heck with prepackaged mail-order! I've giving one-of-a-kind lavender baskets this year!!! Lovender baskets. Made with love.

This is what The Lizard saw when he dropped me off at the train one day after I came up with this idea.

basket start

This is what he saw that evening when he picked me up from the train station.

my first crocheted basket in many years

"You MADE that?!?" he admiringly exclaimed as his eyes popped open. Wow. Is this guy awesome or what?!? I guess I haven't made any crocheted baskets since I've met him...

I lined the basket bottoms with (crochet-covered) recycled plastic wrap around recycled cardboard to give the baskets support and strength. As a result, they are strong enough to carry lavender barbecue sauce, lavender candles, lavender lotion, lavender shampoo, lavender bath salts and a blevy of homemade lavender stuff.

Lizard Mom Basket

lavender-hued greeting cards from my garden photographs

Snowcatcher Mom Basket

These baskets, in my biased opinion, are better than anything I could have bought online!

lavender mint

Mom's New Favorite

fade to lavender

purple spring

One for me!

28 April 2014

Snowflake Monday

Wiggle Baby Blanket Diagram

Earlier this year, one of my co-workers bought yarn for a baby afghan she'd made in the past, but then couldn't find her pattern. She asked if I could find the 20-year-old instructions somewhere.

We found two used books with wiggle crochet baby afghan patterns, but there was no way to see if the patterns were the right ones without buying the books. We found an address for the designer of the pattern, and my co-worker wrote to her but heard nothing back. We contacted the company that originally published the pattern, but they didn’t have patterns that old in stock.

With time running out before the birth of the baby my friend wanted to work up the afghan for, I offered to graph the wiggles for her. She said she knew how to do the lattice foundation, and she remembered how to do the wiggle stitch. She just needed "a map."

She bought graph paper for me the very next day! And oh, am I having fun graphing again! It's something I did a long time ago, and I welcome the chance to renew my skills and spark my creativity.

I had never used the wiggle stitch for anything, but during the process of graphing the baby afghan for my co-worker, I kept imagining snowflake patterns incorporating the wiggle stitch.

Wiggle Snowflake
Wiggle Snowflake Made With Bre-Aly Thread Called "Winter"

This is my first foray into what I hope might one day become a collection of wiggly 3D snowflakes.

Wiggle Snowflake Rock

Wiggle Snowflake Rock

EXCITING UPDATE! The baby was born Friday, May 9, and my friend mailed this the following week! Obviously, mom and dad are Dallas Cowboy fans...



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!

Wiggle Snowflake

Finished Size: 4 inches to 6.5 inches from point to point, depending upon final round worked
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread in two colors, 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

Wiggle Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and ch 3), * 1 dc in ring, ch 3; repeat from * 4 times; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and ch 3), * 1 dc in next dc, ch 3, 1 dc in same dc, ch 3; repeat from * around 4 times; 1 dc in same ch as sl st at end of Round 1, ch 3; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 5.
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: Ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and ch 3), * 1 dc in next dc, ch 3, 1 dc in same dc, 1 dc in next dc, ch 3, 1 dc in same dc, ch 3; repeat from * around 4 times; 1 dc in next dc, ch 3, 1 dc in same dc, 1 dc in same ch as sl st at end of Round 2, ch 3; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 5.

Round 4: Ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and ch 3), * 1 dc in next dc, ch 3; repeat from * around 22 times for a total of 24 ch 3 spaces; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 5

Round 5: Ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and ch 3), * 1 dc in next dc, ch 3; repeat from * around 22 times for a total of 24 ch 3 spaces; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 5.

Round 6: * 3 sc in next ch 3 sp, 1 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 1 dc in same sp, 1 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 1 dc in same sp, ch 5, 1 dc in same sp, ch 3, 1 dc in same sp, 1 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 1 dc in same sp; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

NOTE: This pattern makes a lacy snowflake without the wiggles; just stop here, don't work the wiggles, stiffen, and you’re done!

Wiggle Snowflake

Edging Option II

Round 6: * 5 sc in next ch 3 sp, 1 sc in next ch 3 sp, 2 hdc in same sp, 2 dc in same sp, 2 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 5, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 sc in next ch, ch 7, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook and in next ch, 1 hdc in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in next ch, ch 5, 1 dc in 3rd ch from hook, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 sc in next ch, 2 dc in same ch 3 sp in main body of snowflake base, 2 dc in next ch 3 sp, 2 hdc in same sp, 1 sc in same sp; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Wiggle Snowflake

Edging Option III

Round 6: * 3 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, sl st in sc just worked (picot made), 2 sc in same sp, ch 3, sk next ch 3 sp, 1 dc in next dc, ch 3, 1 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 9, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, 1 sc in next ch, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, ch 4, 1 dc in same sp, ch 3, 1 dc in next dc, ch 3, sk next ch 3 sp; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Moogly has an excellent video tutorial for wiggle crochet in the round here. Tamara's Moogly blog is an excellent resource for all kinds of crochet.

Wiggles: Following the chart below, work 1 dc over each red ch 3 sp and 3 dc over each blue ch 3 sp or dc post. If desired, work a picot at the tip of each point by working 2 dc in tip space, ch 3, sl st in top of dc just worked (picot made), 1 dc in same sp. After working all 6 arms of snowflake, sl st in starting dc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Wiggle Snowflake Diagram
Click to Biggie Size

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.

Wiggle Snowflake

24 April 2014

One to Go

Orange Leaf Me Alone

I hoped I'd be able to crank out the final two blocks for Leaf Me Alone the next chance I had to spend more than an hour at the sewing machine. I'd already cut the pieces for the orange block, so I mistakenly thought I could whip out both blocks in one sitting.

"Sitting" being the key word, my most recent piecing session wasn't as long as I'd hoped. Of course, that could have something to do with my first 60-mile bicycle ride since last June the day before...

Nevertheless, I did finish a block; five down, one to go. Now I've reached the fun brainstorming portion of the project. Which blocks should be next to each other?

playin' with layouts

I think I'm going to stick with this layout; the final block will be purples. When it is done, hopefully next weekend, fun remains. Do I add a border? Do I add a border that takes another whole weekend? And then what do I do with the back???

half the leaf collection

the other half of the leaf collection

I have a small collection of leaf fabrics I could use to piece the back, perhaps even making the quilt reversible. But that, combined with the possibility of a creative border, which I'm leaning toward, might turn this May birthday quilt back into a Christmas quilt. I'd planned to send it off to my dear sister-in-law last December, but obviously, I didn't make that deadline.

Welcome to the Jungle

Because I want to continue practing my free-motion quilting before I begin actually quilting Wecome to the Jungle, I'm considering using plain black fabric on the back of Leaf Me Alone, and using thread colors to match the blocks when creating leaf motifs in the quilting, thereby still making the quilt reversible and forcing me to be as creative and neat as I can be when I quilt. This quilt won't be for competition or display because I plan to mail it off as soon as it's done, but it would be nice to pretend it's going to be in competition and try to make it good enough to be juried into a show.

the prettiest quilt label ever

embellishment bonus

Meanwhile, Pieces of Braid is going to the Denver National Quilt Festival next week, and my co-worker made the most beautiful label I've ever used on a quilt, using leftovers of the "sea" thread and the ocean mist fabric actually used in the quilt. This is my second-favorite quilt label ever, my favorite being the real, functional pocket I attached to the back of Colorado's Fourteeners.

The label on the back of my 14er quilt

Linking up with A Quilting Reader's Garden here, Confessions of a Fabric Addict here and Crazy Mom Quilts here.
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