30 June 2016

Hearts of Gold

I had just survived one of my most difficult days in at least a decade, and the quilt block for the very next day was "Be Still My Heart."

The office where I work provides breakfast on Fridays. That day when I arrived, I found heart-shaped donuts. I was a good girl and didn't eat a donut, but I was a naughty girl and started yet another quilt when I got home. Yes, I did! No regrets!

"Be Still My Heart" is the perfect Block a Day pattern for cycling season. Super simple with just two charm squares and a 5.5-inch square in each of two more colors. This particular block also is a treat for me because the very first quilt I ever pieced more than 20 years ago was made from pinwheel blocks.

I whipped out my first block for this new project that night after work and an evening training ride using leftovers from the sunny citrus Collared Lizard wall quilt project.

Inspired by wonderful comments from friends and co-workers who didn't know the Colorworks Concepts panel I'd just turned into a flimsy wasn't pieced by me, I decided to piece my own rainbow gradient sampler because how else would I find "Hearts of Gold" without a rainbow?

I've been able to complete at least one block every night after work and usually after a training ride except for the night we stayed over in Fort Collins while volunteering for this year's two-day Colorado/Wyoming National Multiple Sclerosis 150-mile ride. In preparation for our night away from my sewing machine, I completed two blocks, and I finished three the night we returned home. I'm staying ahead of the official Block a Day count!

I picked a half-price Artisan Spirit Shimmer for the hearts because the gold metallic really appealed to me. I'm considering doing the machine applique work with solid white thread to create a high-contrast border between the hearts and the blocks.

The blocks are made almost entirely of Kona solids leftovers from assorted projects. The exception to the rule was my very own collection of Kona greens because I didn't have enough shades and because I have been hoping for at least a year now to one day buy at least 10 different greens. I bought 12. My stash already included 2. Now I have enough colors for a fabric salad!!! Woohoo!

I'd picked up 10 Kona blues about 18 months ago for a specific project and decided upon receiving the hues in the mail to make my own gradient panel for which to practice free-motion quilting. Last year, I'd done the same thing with Kona purples. Greens were next on the list. I hope to repeat the process with pinks sometime in the future, and then, after I finish at least 10 WIPs (we'll see if I can really hold out that long), I'd like to get at least 10 red rock canyon tones between orange and red for yet another project I've had in my head for at least 12 years. I've already picked out the colors for that one!

The most frustrating part of this project was piecing perfectly matched points that are eventually going to be covered up with hearts. Dang it!

Just like I'm doing my own take on "Be Still My Heart", I'm also doing my own half-square triangle (HST) thing. The first time I tried making HSTs the "modern" way (several months ago) by drawing a diagonal line down a pair of squares, sewing 1/4 inch parallel on each side of the line, then cutting on the drawn line, I felt so snowed under with that extra step of drawing lines, especially in a project such as this. To me, drawing all those lines is a cumbersome step. For this project, I cut triangles after cutting squares, then sewed the HSTs along the diagonal lines. In my opinion, this technique saves SO much time for a triangle-heavy project.

The most fulfilling part of this project is I can work on whatever color block I want every night. With no set layout in mind and a rainbow of scraps beckoning to be included, I could replace memories of my lousy day with bright, sunny hues or bask in the harmonies of cool tones, which have always been my favorite colors with which to work. The reds aren't as fun as all the other colors because I'm not that fond of red in my projects, but mixing what few reds I have with pinks and purples is energizing. Funny how a color called Cardinal can bring pinks to life and a color called Poppy can make purples sing. Almost makes me want to buy a yard each of Crimson, Wine and Ruby...

One day, perhaps after I retire, I'm going to buy about 100 yards of plain Kona white and dye all my own fabric gradients, like I've done in the past with thread, for fabrics in every shade of the rainbow. Well, maybe not so much red, but tons of blue, purple and green!

I love the process of playing with colors as I build these blocks. I'm discovering lots of color combinations I'd like to explore in future projects.

I was hoping to have all my blocks done by today so I could share them here, but I still have to make about 11 more. I'm not doing bad, though, 19 days into the project. Perhaps after the coming three-day weekend, I can begin the applique work, and then get busy trying to match corners as I assemble the flimsy.

And this is my 2,000th blog post!!! Can you believe it?!?

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

29 June 2016

Jackpot Wednesday

Far too awesome a day in Waterton Canyon to keep silent. These photos actually occurred on a Saturday, not a Wednesday, but Wednesdays are when I post huge collections of eye candy. And boy, was this ever a sweet treat!

Perhaps my Waterton rides are more appreciated now after 18 months of maintenance closure followed by another pair of unscheduled lengthy closures due to bear activity and unforeseen dam replacement. We find ourselves up in Waterton now every chance we get, because we never know when it will be closed again.

All this in a single ride!!! WOW!

I'd love to know the story behind this little field of domestic irises near the mouth of the canyon. I wonder if someone homesteaded there decades ago.

Last year during Ride the Rockies, I saw my first ever spiderwort near the summit of Hardscrabble Pass. I ordered seeds as soon as I identified them after I got home. I planted the seeds in my garden, and nothing came up. When I looked up spiderwort again, I worried I might have pulled the seedlings, thinking they were grass. So no spiderwort in my garden. Yet.

After 18 years of riding in Waterton, I finally discovered spiderwort may be found there, too! I can't tell you how tempted I was to take a plant home with me! But it wouldn't have survived the 90-degree ride in my jersey pocket. We went back the following day after church with the good camera, hoping to get a great macro shot of a spiderwort, but alas, they appear to be like 4 o'clocks, folding up in the heat of the afternoon. So I carried that heavy camera all the way up the canyon for nothing!

Actually, I reshot some of the flowers I'd shot on my Jackpot Saturday with the good camera because the little camera doesn't do so good on macro (closeup) photography. So it wasn't truly a total waste after all.

I've seen good floral displays in Waterton a couple of times, but the decent rain we've been receiving year has brought out a true wildflower season in the canyon, first time I've ever been able to witness!

The apple tree at the top of the canyon is sporting mini apples.

Meanwhile, the plethora of apple trees about five miles up the canyon seem to have been victim of a late-season freeze.

The wind made the water choppy and prevented some of the beautiful reflections we adore, but wildlife didn't seem to mind.

Babies are coming!!!

Cottonwood trees made portions of the canyon look like a snowstorm had hit.

The best part of the day was finding a mud puddle where butterflies were stopping en masse to fill their tanks.

I was contently shooting scores of butterflies when The Lizard approached.

"Deb, get over here."

I pointed down to the butterflies to let him know I had to get a few more shots.

More sternly, he called, "Deb! GET OVER HERE! NOW!"

Just about that time, another visitor approached from behind me. I looked over my shoulder, and couldn't stumble away behind The Lizard fast enough!!!

I think I'm going to have to design a quilt inspired by my take on an old Heart song: "See the bear and the butterfly, up in the air, they made me fly, bear and butterfly, no photo, she had to cry!"

28 June 2016


The Sunday school lesson a few weeks ago felt as if it was aimed right at me. So did all the talks (sermons) in Sacrament meeting. For that matter, even the Relief Society (women's class) lesson targeted me.

Everything that day was about forgiveness.

One of the most meaningful tidbits I'd heard that day was, "Why is it easier to forgive strangers and people we work with than members of our own family?"

I'd been chiding myself for a while because I was frustrated with a loved one who wasn't, in my opinion, fulfilling their responsibilities. I wasn't angry, but I was being rather tight-lipped with a specific person for fear of saying something I'd later regret.

This person could tell, too, that I wasn't happy, and had blasted me for "never letting go" and holding a grudge for forever.

I came out of church that day determined to stop judging the thorn in my side and to stop being upset that someone's choices were different than mine.

I worked really hard for four days to show a higher degree of love and acceptance.

And then my world unexpectedly and temporarily came to a complete and grisly standstill. Those Sunday messages may have prodded me to do something I knew I needed to do, but they were not about the person I'd been frustrated with at all. Not even close. Instead, those messages must have been God's warning that I was about to stumble back into the deepest, darkest hornet's nest of my life, and I'd better be ready.

When I got off work that night, I wanted to run a 10K. I knew it would destroy my back, but I didn't care.

When I got home, if I'd had a quart of Ben & Jerry's Phish Food, I'd have downed the whole carton in one sitting, all by myself. To heck with diets and cycling season. Fortunately, we don't keep ice cream in our fridge. There were a few Oreos leftover from my volunteer teaching assignment on Tuesday night, but I managed to stay out of the cookies.

Instead, The Lizard took a walk with me. We walked around the lake while the sky turned crimson red and lightning flashed about five or six miles away. We could see the bolts reflecting in the lake, and I didn't have my camera. I didn't care.

At the time, I kept trying to convince myself I didn't care about anything anywhere. But deep down inside, it was the exact opposite.

That day, I'd been asked to write a victim impact statement (VIS) on behalf of my family. Typically victim advocates try to give families at least 30 days' notice, 90 days if they can. We were given one week.

I collected my family's thoughts, and I researched the heck out of victim impact statements by others. I researched the law in several states. I tried to learn as much as I could so I could write the best VIS possible. I learned some states give more rights to the criminal than the victims. Some states edit what the families of the victims say. My family was lucky, if you could call it that. The state where the crime was committed had passed a Victim's Bill of Rights in 2009, and what we had to say would be heard. The decision would be affected by what we had gone through.

Some parole boards seemed to have grown calloused by and numb from eons of what they must consider whiny victim statements demanding justice decades after the actual crime was committed.

My family had been deeply hurt, not once, but twice. It's been a very bitter pill to swallow for 25 years now. 25 years. A quarter of a century, and yet, that day, talking about it again, it was as if it had happened just minutes before. The wounds were fresh again, and the pain... oh, my gosh, the pain. I thought my own pain had healed. I thought I had forgiven. Rehashing the scene forced everyone in the family, including me, to relive the nightmare. I discovered during my interviews that some members of my family still have very strong feelings about what happened.

Rare is the day when someone in my family isn't sorrowful or despondent because of memories of that fateful day.

My family chose me to write the VIS because I'm the writer. They think I'm the one who can keep my cool under duress. They trusted me to convince the parole board to deny the request.

My family was spared the research and hours of tinkering with VIS words and sentences with a looming deadline and a hyperactive work schedule, trying to make sure everything was just right. They weren't able to put the crime completely out of their heads though – some have never been able to put it completely out of their heads. Some wounds never fully heal. Yet they didn't have to relive it one word at a time via a computer keyboard, so they didn't understand my purpose or my words in my first draft. Not all of my family shares my faith, so they couldn't comprehend the ground upon which I was struggling to stand.

Struggling. I don't know that the word "struggling" even begins to describe what I went through in trying to compose a statement that encompasses the feelings of my family as well as my own and ultimately would become part of an official transcript that will be kept on record until time ends. A statement that would reflect my family's experience forever. A statement I would one day have to explain to God, face to face. Although I was not and am not in favor of parole, I tried to be compassionate, and I wanted to show that we, my family, are not being vengeful in our request.

Suddenly the blame and the anger wasn't aimed at the inmate anymore. It was directed at me.

I've long understood people grieve at their own pace and must climb their own stairway to healing. I've known for many years some members of my family have suffered far more than I have. I was somewhat insulated. I didn't live in the town or even the state where the crime was committed. I wasn't surrounded with the daily newscasts during the trial. I was able to keep living, even though something inside of me had died that day. I was far from pain-free, but the distance in miles served as a shield, protecting me from daily salt in the wound.

As I walked around the lake with the person I love the most, I felt the love I needed. He listened to everything I said. He held me when I cried. He tried not to tell me what to do. He was angry with my family for putting me in this position, but he also knew I had initially felt honored to be the one to represent my family. He knew he couldn't make the pain go away, so he just listened and tried to be my friend.

He continually reminds me of Someone Else who also loves me unconditionally and who also walks with me through my deepest sorrows and my exuberant joy. The One who would expect me to forgive... not only the person who committed the crime, but my family for misdirecting their anger. He expects me to be an example to my family and to help them progress in their own individual journeys.

When The Lizard and I got back home, I did an internet search for songs about forgiveness, and the one above is the one that helped me most in the coming days as I rewrote, resubmitted and reconnected with my family. My family was much more comfortable with my second (and final) draft. After the ordeal, my beloved husband and I took a ride up Waterton Canyon, a most healing ride. Photos will be featured tomorrow.

Now that this ugly experience is behind me, I intend to keep forgiving. The final line of the last verse of Matthew West's song is something I'm hoping I can embrace and live for the rest of my life.

The prisoner I free may be me.

27 June 2016

Mandala Monday

Blocked Free to Be Mandala

I'd finished crocheting a couple of snowflake rocks aboard the commuter train when I started what I thought would be a red, white and blue snowflake. It turned into a mandala instead, and I really like it!

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

Unblocked Free to Be Mandala

Finished Size: 4 inches across
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread in three colors, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Here are the colors I used for the patriotic version:

Color A: blue
Color B: red
Main Color: white

Free to Be Mandala Instructions

With Color A, make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 11 dc in ring, sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2; bind off. Weave in ends. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: With Main Color, 2 sc in each dc around for a total of 24 sc; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Round 3: With Color B, 1 dc in each sc around; sl st in starting dc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Round 4: With Main Color, 2 sc in each dc around for a total of 48 dc; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Round 5: With Color A, * 1 dc in any sc (or next sc on repeats), ch 2, sk next sc; repeat from * around 23 times for a total of 24 dc; slip st in starting dc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Round 6: With Main Color, 2 sc in each ch 2 sp around for a total of 48 sc; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.
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 7: With Color B, * 1 dc over Round 6 sc into top of any Color A dc (or next Color A dc on repeats), ch 3; repeat from * around 23 times for a total of 24 dc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Round 8: With Main Color, 3 sc in each ch 3 sp around for a total of 72 sc; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Round 9: With Color A, * 5 dc over Round 8 sc into any Color B dc (or next Color B dc on repeats), remove hook from loop and insert in 1st dc of 5/dc group, insert hook back through loop of 5th dc and pull through 1st dc (popcorn stitch made), 1 dc in each of the next 6 sc; repeat from * around 11 times; st st in top of starting popcorn st; bind off. Weave in ends.

Round 10: With Main Color, 1 sc in each dc and popcorn stitch around; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Round 11: With Color B, * 5 dc over Round 10 sc into top of any Color A popcorn (or next Color A popcorn on repeats), remove hook from loop and insert in 1st dc of 5/dc group, insert hook back through loop of 5th dc and pull through 1st dc (popcorn stitch made), 1 dc in same sc, 1 dc in each of the next 7 sc; repeat from * around 11 times; st st in top of starting popcorn st; bind off. Weave in ends.

Round 12: With Main Color, * 1 sc in 2nd dc immediately left of any popcorn st, 1 sc in each of next 2 dc, in next dc work 1 hdc, 1 sc and 1 hdc, 1 sc in each of next 3 sc, sk next 2 dc; 1 sc in next sc; repeat from * around 11 times, omitting last sc of final repeat; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: To stiffen or shape mandala without stiffening, tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin mandala to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

To shape mandala without stiffening, spray lightly with water and allow to dry thoroughly.

To stiffen mandala, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint mandala with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow mandala to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel mandala from wax paper or plastic wrap.

To hang mandala, attach 10-inch clear thread loop to one point, weaving in ends. Use loop to hang. Note that extended exposure to direct sunlight will fade thread colors.

24 June 2016

Friday Fun

Just what we need when the mercury climbs up near the triple-digit zone...

23 June 2016


Lizard Doodles

I recently read a humorous commentary on the youthful art exploits of someone not quite as old as me. The author was poking fun at one of the first computerized drawing programs available to the public. At a young age, the artist in training scribbled in Microsoft Paint, then used the paint bucket to fill in the scribbles with color.

"We all did it!" the author proclaimed.

My kids did it on a Mac. I never did. Not as a child, anyway.

I chuckled when I read that commentary because the first time I was allowed to scribble and fill in the scribbles with color, there were no computers! I did it with crayons on paper. I sometimes even did it on the wall or on the furniture. Yes, in fact, I did. I even color-coded Grandma's ivory piano keys with felt tip pens so I could remember where to put my fingers when playing my favorite song, "Bibbity Bobbity Boo" from Cinderella, or some such catchy little age-appropriate ditty.

Oh, how I loved the brilliant colors of felt tip pens. And this was back when felt tip pens rarely came in packages of more than six or twelve. I'd have been in heaven with the awesome 48-color sets available now!

The Lizard doodles just like I used to!

As a teen, I loved to doodle with felt tip pens. The pens moved so smoothly. I would draw a little scribble with one color, then change to another color and outline my little scribble, then change to another color and outline the outline... I'd keep going until I filled the paper with a rainbow of pen lines.

Maybe that's why I am so attracted to Hawaiian quilting.

Hawaiian Quilting

I also liked to draw thick and hard on top of the clear plastic crayon box (I don't remember seeing gigantic boxes of 64 dreamy colors until I was a teenager, and I likely would have gone into color overload if the monster boxes had been available way back then, too), then cover my drawing with glue, which I would peel from the plastic after it dried and hang in the window to let the sun come through the pretty pastel colors.

And that's how a future snowflake designer became hopelessly addicted to prismatic danglies.

rainbow generators

Now I've taken to drawing with my sewing machine. In some ways, free-motion quilting feels a bit like the scribbles I used to do as a child. Reminiscing of my youthful art exploits brings back warm memories. Today's scribbling literally has the power to warm!

my first attempt at free-motion quilting
Related Posts with Thumbnails