30 October 2015

Friday Funny

31 Days of Willow

how NASA carves pumpkins

Halloween humor (had to post a new link here because the old one is gone)

pet costumes

I love the pixelated lady costume! The little green army men aren't bad, either. Oh, and the Ewoks!!!
(You have to wait for this one to load because it was gone, too, and the WayBack machine takes a few minutes.)

Dress up your computer.

Bad Halloween Cakes (Oh, but how the TP cake make me giggle!)

Good Halloween Cakes

29 October 2015

The Return, er, um, the Borrowing...


Back in June, I ran a Friday Funny based on a real life news story that, in my opinion, was really, really funny, thanks to the wonderful reader comments.

If you're in need of a good laugh or two, you may step back in time and enjoy that post all over again here.

This month, the "discoverer" of those skeletons felt he didn't get the attention he deserved for his find, so he returned to the Colorado River, rescued his, I mean, THE skeletons and posed them on his porch in Parker (AZ, not CO) as a Halloween decoration. He says he'll return what has become a "really neat attraction," according to Chris Chambers of the Buckskin Fire Department, after Día de Muertos.

Just in time for Halloween and Day of the Dead, readers have had a heyday once again!

"Somebody should've flushed while he was was down there." - Indiscriminate

"Guy plants skeletons, discovers them, didn't get famous, gets mad..." - Halldrice

"In related news: Martin Sholl declared biggest baby on the planet." - CurtS

"Aw, poor baby! I'm sure mommy still wuvs her precious widdle Martin." - Jaded Idealist

"What? He didn't get a movie deal? That's outrageous. Hollywood must be asleep." - Susan

"Those were left by Grateful Divers after Jerry died in '95." - Ben

"And people like this are bottling our valuable air to use it in scuba tanks." - Steve

"Next, the real owner will take them off Sholl's balcony." - RUKiddin

"I didn't know five-year-olds could get diving licenses." - Mic

"Those two skeletons were marking the spot where Martin Sholl hid his stash. Sheriff really was doing him a favor by keeping his name secret." - Spirit of Charles Martel

"Can't blame him. Everyone needs friends to come over sometimes, and Sholl's options are no doubt a bit limited." - turtlewannabe

"10 to 1 he tries to sell them on eBay." - Jaded Idealist

"Apparently, possession is whine tenths of the law." - Mock Arena

"I was at the Grand Canyon once and the media failed to mention it; I was crushed, but I didn't fill in the canyon." - thebest

"It takes a backbone or two to stand up to the media and come off like an idiot." - Mike

"He also was angry he didn't get credit for discovering the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon and spicy buffalo wings." - DavidR

"Obammy will be calling for the skeletons to register to vote. Sholl better get them back in the water soon." - top

"They are smoking way toooo much in Colorado already." - guy

"What was he expecting, the key to the city, a parade, bards to compose verses about him? OK then...
Sir Martin, Sir Martin, he's not so humble, Sir Martin.
When anonymity reared it's ugly head,
he took the skeletons and fled,
Sir Martin whined, Sir Martin moaned,
because he found some plastic bones,
but they didn't put his name in lights
and now he's claiming salvage rights, Sir Martin!" - Misha

"Calista Flockhart and Lara Flynn Boyle were under water?" - Laura

"Is this guy a Kardashian?" - Rick

"Is this really newsworthy? - R. David

fright night

27 October 2015

Mission Accomplished

Nearly a year ago, a co-worker asked if I would repair a tablecloth her grandmother had made. A lifetime ago.

I didn't really want to do it. I knew it would be difficult to match the thread (and I informed her of this) and the tension. I knew the existing thread might be brittle. I knew it would take time, patience and eyesight.

I had other deadlines and obligations underway.

She said no rush.

Without my heart really in it but wanting to do something kind for another human being, I agreed to do what I could as soon as I had the time. I told my co-worker it might be a year before I could get to it. She didn't mind.

For the last ten months, that discolored tablecloth has nagged me endlessly. Yes, it has a voice, and it speaks guilt. Eloquently. It also speaks loyalty and honor.

My grandmother taught me to crochet. She was a master of thread crochet. We used to tea-stain crochet thread together. I have so few of the things she made. Because of that, I felt duty-bound to help someone else who has a treasure from her grandmother.

I had made a vest with this very same motif, a pattern in my grandmother's stash, when I was still a teen. I still have that vest and can still fit into it!

Last month, my packed schedule opened up just a tad, and I decided to get that tablecloth done and out of the way once and for all so it wouldn't nag me anymore.

I noticed for the first time three of the 144 motifs were worked with a different thread, as well as the edging. I wondered if it had been fixed once before because the cream-colored thread seemed stronger than the eggshell-colored thread.

The first step for my repairs would be tea-staining some thread in an attempt to match the eggshell color as close as possible. I believe the tablecloth has been aged by, among other thread sins, cigarette smoke. I don't have any of that on hand and don't want any, so I hoped tea might suffice.

One by one, I began making the repairs, beginning with the easiest fixes first, not because I wanted to save the most difficult for last, but to make sure I knew what I was doing before I attacked the biggest wounds.

As I suspected, each time I attempted to bind off the new thread, the old thread would break again. I can't even tell you how many times I had to rip my fixes back and work them again to make the cover more ground. Three times, I was in tears.

Patience and (spectacled) eyesight persevered until the very end, however, and the tablecloth is back home now with its rightful owner, who promises to keep it safe from any further damage.

Good thing, because I will never, ever do that again!

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

26 October 2015

Snowflake Monday

Last Minute Snowflake, First Version

I've had a couple of requests lately for easier, faster snowflakes. Today's pattern has been sitting around a few years because I thought it was too easy, too simple. Perhaps it's just perfect for the final week of Breast Cancer Awareness month as well as a quick project for the busy Christmas season.

While testing the pattern, I dressed up the snowflake to make it just a little fancier. Both options are provided here.

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

Last Minute Snowflake, Second Version

Finished Size: 3.5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, school glue (make sure it is water soluble), water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Last Minute Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc in ring, * ch 3, 3 dc in ring; repeat from * around 4 times for a total of 6 3/dc groups; ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round. Don't pull magic ring too tight.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc in same sp, 1 hdc in same sp, * 1 hdc in next sp, 3 dc in same sp, ch 3, 3 dc in same sp, 1 hdc in same sp; repeat from * around 4 times; 1 hdc in next sp, 3 dc in same sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
NOTE: Binding off here makes a cute little 1.5-inch snowflake.

Mini Last Minute Snowflake

Round 3: 1 sc in same sp, * ch 10, 1 sc in next sp; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last sc of final repeat; sl st in starting 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.

Version 1, Round 4: * 2 sc in next ch 10 sp, 2 hdc in same sp, 2 dc in same sp, 2 tr in same sp, ch 3, 2 tr in same sp, 2 dc in same sp, 2 hdc in same sp, 2 sc in same sp; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Version 2, Round 4: * 2 sc in next ch 10 sp, 2 hdc in same sp, 2 dc in same sp, 2 tr in same sp, ch 3, sl st in 3rd ch from hook, 2 tr in same sp, 2 dc in same sp, 2 hdc in same sp, 2 sc in same sp, ch 6, 1 sc in 5th ch from hook, ch 6, sl st in sc, ch 5, sl st in sc, ch 1; repeat from * around 5 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.

Mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture. 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.

Last Minute Snowflake, Second Version

22 October 2015

Finish, finish, finish!

Pool Party for Heart Strings, NOT finished yet

While I'm still madly rushing to try to finish my next quilt, The Lizard has been plugging away. Four finishes in a row, one each week!

First came a yard each of Slate Stonehenge Gradations, which the Lizard picked out himself. (I've been in love with Blue Planet Gradations since they were first announced months ago.) He thought he was in love with his second quilt, made of lizard bandanna and quilt leftovers, but that's before he got his hands on the new fabric. He thinks this is his new favorite now.

This has been my favorite of his quilts to photograph so far. I just love how the fabrics harmonize with autumn colors. The quilt was not without heartaches, though. Halfway through the quilt, The Lizard had to take a break because my 33-year old sewing machine bit the dust while I was quilting a straight seam on Skins.

I was making good progress on my WIP when something inside the top of the machine, near the wheel, popped. LOUD. Everything instantly jammed. I didn't try to force it for fear of making it worse. I assumed my Viking Husqvarna was finished.

We took it in to the only authorized Viking Husqvarna shop in the Denver metro, and I explained what had happened. The sewing machine shop employee's eyes nearly popped out of her head.

"I don't think this can be fixed," she said softly.

I knew that. I had been trying to emotionally brace myself for that possibility. So the news didn't bowl me over. We spent the next few minutes looking at all the machines on the showroom floor, assuming I would have to start saving up for new machine. I've been saving for a long-arm for quite a while now. This would push the long-arm off even further.

We found a sewing machine with more embroidery stitches than my machine has that we liked, even though everything now is all computerized and automatic. One salesperson made me want to punch some lights out with an answer to, "Can I set the pressure on the presser foot manually, or do I have to use what setting the machine picks?"

"Why on earth would you want to do that?" the salesperson asked. "We haven't had to set the presser foot pressure for at least 20 years!"

I had been trying to teach The Lizard sewing basics so he can one day piece and free-motion quilt with me. He wants to learn how to long-arm, too, just like me. So of course my machine would break and leave both of us hanging, right in the middle of lessons!

We drove to the closest department store and picked up a $99 machine just so we could keep sewing, especially since it might be a year before I could buy another sewing machine.

Both of us LOVE the new drop-in bobbin you can see while you sew. Both of us have run out of bobbin thread on my old machine more times than we care to admit. However, the new machine has a very small throat. It wouldn't easily be able to quilt with it.

The Lizard quickly took to it and finished up his Stonehenge blanket, and I crocheted a bunch of baby dresses (and sewed the skirt for one on the new machine).

Four weeks later, I got the call to pick up my machine!!!!!!!!!! It wasn't the perfect fix; the wheel had broken, and replacements are not available. They epoxied it and warrantied everything but the wheel for a full year. My 33-year-old machine now has a new one-year warranty!!! Well, except for the wheel. And epoxy lasts, what, 10 years?!? Ha ha!

With my machine back, both of us are able to sew together, at the same time. I started working on Heart Strings, which could work its way onto the cover of my next book (which was successfully registered for copyright last week!!!!!), and The Lizard finished his Gradations and then made a baby rag quilt, too.

Isn't that backing fabulous?!?

His fourth quilt presented yet another challenge. He decided sashing was needed for the Kitschy Kawaii charm squares because without, the blanket wouldn't be big enough. Together we selected some periwinkle Kona leftover from when I was trying to decide which solid color would best set off all the green batiks in Welcome to the Jungle.

The periwinkle didn't win, even though it looks pretty awesome. Lavender won, and periwinkle now is a perfect match for Kitschy Kawaii! I then found THE perfect backing, also periwinkle. Flannel with stockinette stitch print! Super soft, wonderfully warm, and eye-catchingly elegant!

The Lizard is still new to using a sewing machine, as well as piecing, so I sashed the charm squares for him. I ran out of periwinkle with only two strips to go!!! I ordered another yard, hoping the dye lot would match, since I'd bought that first periwinkle in February of 2013.

I couldn't have asked for a better match. I love periwinkle, so it's good to have fresh leftovers!!!

The Lizard's fifth quilt cemented the difficulty tradition in each of his quilts by being the most difficult project he's done yet because... he now hates minky and never, ever wants to use it again.

We'd bought a package of rainbow precuts and a package of black precuts because, even though cutting squares myself would not only give us more fabric to work with and be less-expensive to boot, I didn't want minky fuzz all over the house for the next several months. Fuzzballs come out of hiding every time the doorbell rings, every time you think you've cleaned the house and every time you put the vacuum cleaner or packing tape away.

We had 20 rainbow blocks in 10 colors and 20 black blocks. The Lizard laid out two rag quilts and finished the first one Saturday and the second one Sunday. I pieced scraps to make the rainbow cotton blocks for the front of the first one and cut color-coordinating kid prints leftover from when my kids were small for the second. Together we cut 10 black Kona blocks for each of the two minky rag quilts.

The two minky quilts are so incredibly soft and cuddly, but NEVER again! Fleece or flannel from now on! NO MORE MINKY!

Minky Quilt 1 Back

Minky Quilt 1 Front

Minky Quilt 2 Back

Minky Quilt 2 Front

The two WIPs I've been focusing on are coming along, but the only things I've finished (besides snowflakes) in the last couple of months are baby dresses. The first one began with a pattern but quickly morphed into a border design of my own, and each of the dresses that followed were patternless. Once I knew the neck size, baby dresses quickly became addictive.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.
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