31 May 2017

Wordless Wednesday


30 May 2017

Belated Snowflake Monday

Retouched Snowflake Rock and Tulip

As I type this pattern, I am contemplating giving up crochet for a few weeks. Some heavy photoshopping in March has left me with mouse elbow, similar to tennis elbow and probably not that much different from knitter's elbow or crocheter's elbow.

I used to get this every November during the Makeover Madness project. I'd spend around 78 hours retouching, and I'd be sore for a month or more afterward. I typically wasn't riding my bike too much then because, well, because of winter.

This time, I'm trying to get ready for Ride the Rockies, and this tender elbow is driving me mad! I've invested in vertical mice (ergonomic for all future mousing), I've been massaging the tender joints, I quit sleeping with my arm under my pillow, and I'm icing instead of heating. I've done (almost) everything I'm supposed to do, and I'm making progress, but riding is still difficult, and I'm at the point I really have to starting building miles and consecutive days in the saddle to be ready in June.

The doctor says if it hurts, don't do it. Crocheting is beginning to hurt. I'm stocked up for a few weeks in advance, so I might not miss any crocheted Snowflake Mondays, but I do have a couple of non-crochet snowflake ideas churning in my head, just in case and just for fun.

Today's pattern was inspired by an impromptu Easter egg covering I whipped up for my little granddaughter. I wish I could be there to see her open her package of 60 filled Easter eggs and three crochet-covered Easter eggs. I bet I'd fill a memory card. And then I'd want to spend hours photoshopping...

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!

Finished Size: 5.5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, 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

Retouched Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 5 (counts as 1 dc and ch 3), [1 dc in ring, ch 3] 5 times, omitting last 2 ch of final repeat; 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 5 to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc over post of dc directly below, [3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 3 dc in same sp] 5 times; 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.

Round 3: 1 sc over post of dc directly below, [ch 9, 1 sc in next ch 3 sp] 5 times; ch 4, 1 trtr in starting sc to form 6th ch 9 sp of Round.

Round 4: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc over post of trtr directly below, [ch 5, 3 dc in next ch 9 sp, ch 3, 3 dc in same sp] 5 times; 3 dc in next ch 9 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.

Round 5: 1 sc over post of dc directly below, [ch 7, 1 sc in next ch 5 sp, ch 7, 1 sc in same sp, ch 7, 1 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 7, 1 sc in same sp] 6 times, omitting last 4 ch and last sc of final repeat; 1 tr in starting sc to form 12th ch 7 loop of Round.

Round 6: Ch 6 (counts as 1 tr and ch 3), 1 dc over post of tr directly below, [ch 3, 3 dc in next ch 7 loop, ch 3, 3 dc in same loop, ch 3, 1 dc in next ch 7 loop, ch 3, 1 trtr in same loop, ch 5, 1 trtr in same loop, ch 3, 1 dc in same loop] 5 times; ch 3, 3 dc in next ch 7 loop, ch 3, 3 dc in same loop, ch 3, 1 dc in next ch 7 loop, ch 3, 1 tr in same loop, ch 2, 1 tr in 3rd ch of starting ch 6 to form 5th ch 5 tip 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 7: Ch 6 (counts as 1 tr and ch 3), 1 dc over post of tr directly below, [1 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 1 dc in same sp, ch 5, sk next ch 3 sp, 1 sc in next ch 3 tip, ch 5, 1 sc in same tip, ch 5, sk next ch 3 sp, 1 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 1 dc in same sp, 1 tr in next ch 5 tip, ch 5, 1 tr in same tip, ch 3, 1 dc in same tip] 5 times, omitting last ch 3 and last dc of final repeat; sl st in 3rd ch of starting ch 6; 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.

29 May 2017

Quilt of Valor

One of my new year's resolutions was to finish my Quilt of Valor by Memorial Day. Mission accomplished! I finished the binding late last night.

Today is Memorial Day, and the purpose behind the day means something to me. So, today's snowflake pattern will be shared tomorrow. The snowflake is not red, white and blue, so it can wait. My latest quilt finish, however, cannot wait until Tuesday.

This quilt began with one of my Spoonflower panels, created from manipulated fireworks photos from a Fourth of July trip to Dillon Reservoir many years ago. I'd wanted to turn the photos into a quilt one day. The rainbow version was finished two years ago and presented as a Christmas gift to one of my dear nieces.

I decided the red and blue version of the Spoonflower fabric would be an ideal Quilt of Valor to send to my blogging friend Alycia, who regularly reports on Colorado QoV donation presentations. And now she's starting an Instagram QoF inspiration link-up! (First one this Wednesday...) How cool is that!?!

My Spoonflower panel was nowhere near large enough to meet the size requirements, so two years ago I added strip borders of the patriotic fabric I have collected for more than two dozen years. I used to use some of this stuff to make fun little summer outfits for my adopted kiddos...

The red, white and blue borders really made my Spoonflower panel pop.

The Lizard helped me assemble the layers, but he didn't want me to spray the 505 in the house while it was storming outside and the windows were closed. He actually doesn't want me spraying it in the house anymore and would prefer we do that on the driveway, so it was time to try something new. I love using the quilt frame he built for me, but I don't always have the time to set it up, assemble the layers, then thread baste, and I definitely don't have time right now to hand quilt, although I might pick back up another WIP during Ride the Rockies to finish the hand quilting during down time, yes, of which I expect to have an abundance...

I had tried pin basting one time only many years ago, when I still lived in a tiny apartment. I was making a full-size quilt and didn't have enough floor or table space to work effectively, and the nasty experience left such a sour taste in my memory, I have never tried it again. That is, until after watching Rob Appell's quilting basics video a few weeks ago with The Lizard. I thought the whole Man Sewing series would be a great way for The Lizard to get back into quilting, and it turned out I like the videos as much as my husband does.

I pinned the layers one night last week, and pin-basting went much smoother with a space large enough to lay the quilt out flat and pull all the layers tight.

I'd also recently watched Leah Day's "Quilting BIG Quilts on a Small Machine" because, let's face it, this is one huge quilt, measuring 58x66, and I was never confident I could do it. I had toyed with sending the monster to a long arm quilter for two years because I was so intimidated by putting such a large quilt in my little domestic machine.

I began quilting last week, doing just straight lines on my 1983 Viking Husqvarna, using Leah's technique rather than rolling, as I have done in the past with smaller quilts. I was nearly done, just two quilting lines from the edge, when another loud pop emanated from the top of the sewing machine. From that point on, I began having more and more difficulty getting the machine to stitch in even a borderline acceptable fashion.

Devastation does not even begin to tell the story. This exact problem had occurred twice before, and the last time, two years ago, the part was no longer available. The repairman used epoxy to adhere the broken pieces. The sewing machine shop gave me a one-year warranty on the machine, but only three months on the epoxy. We never expected the machine to last this long. But I couldn't believe it was giving out on me during such an important quilt. And what would I do now? Medical bills the last six weeks have completely drained us. There is no more water left in the well.

I walked over to the computer to write in my journal while I tried to decide what to do next. I mean, other than cry...

The computer faces the big picture window looking out over my raised-bed flower garden and bird feeders. A hummingbird was zooming around the hummingbird feeder in circles and had apparently caught a glimpse of my motion. She hovered, staring in my direction for a moment before taking another sip. I quickly but quietly moved to the bedroom to grab my camera, and I noticed mama tree swallow peeking out of the birdhouse right outside the bedroom window.

I didn't get a photo of the hummingbird, and I may have to make payments on a new machine, but these two choice sights left me smiling as I debated options in my electronic journal.

After The Lizard got home from work, I took a break so he could take me to the sewing machine dealer to see how much the replacement machine I'd picked out two years ago will cost now. We didn't even bother to take in the Viking Husqvarna because I'm pretty sure it can't be fixed. We found out we could get a small trade-in allowance. I decided I would give it a try one more time to determine if I want to keep it as a backup or do some spring cleaning and get rid of it. We briefly considered buying another $84 department store sewing machine like the one we bought two years ago while the Viking Husqvarna was in the shop. My husband uses it, and I've recently begun practicing free-motion quilting with it because I was able to purchase an open toe quilting foot for it. I actually like quilting with it, but the throat is way too narrow for quilts, in my opinion.

Nothing in the department store had a wider throat, so the Pfaff is still on the wish list, but with a couple of doubts I know I can't change. It is SO difficult to consider spending the same amount of money I spent on my Viking Husqvarna 34 years ago for a new and improved all-automatic machine that has many desirable features, including a much longer throat AND an open toe quilting foot, when the new machine has a mere one-year warranty. I can buy three more years for an extra couple hundred. It just seems so wrong to put that kind of money into a machine that most assuredly is not going to give me anywhere near 34 years of service.

The saleswoman kept chirping away at how easy the parts are to get a year or two from now because they will keep making them. I didn't bother telling her I was still able to get a part for my machine when it was 30 years old, or that my dinosaur had included a 25-year warranty.

It's so sad to accept that things today are just not built the way they once were. No one builds things now to last 25 years. Dealers want you to replace everything every couple of years to keep the income coming.

End of rant.

Because the solid outer border of my Quilt of Valor is wider than the jelly roll-size strips of patriotic fabric and because they are around the very edge of the quilt, I thought perhaps I could do some more free-motion quilting with my husband's little Brother sewing machine. I did a google search for patriotic free-motion quilting designs and decided to try free-handing a stars and stripes design I saw for computerized machines, of which I do not own.

After the first couple of star attempts (and multiple re-dos to make the stars look less bloated or inebriated), I asked The Lizard if he thinks QoV recipients would mind receiving a quilt that isn't perfect. He said he would be thrilled to receive this quilt because it's made by hand, and the slight imperfections give it character, as well as increase the value because it's made by hand, not by machine.

"Um, this is done by machine," I reminded him.

"Well, you know what I mean; it's not mass-produced. It doesn't look machine-made, and I don't mean that in a bad way at all," he replied. "I would love it because it is one-of-a-kind, unique and handmade specially for me."

With a comment like that, how could I not proudly continue? I think my stars continued getting better and better after that.

I have to laugh now because I started out using the same black thread I'd used to quilt the center and the patriotic stripes, but after three tries at making a perfect star in black on black, I decided to use the same variegated blue I'd used to harmonize with the busy backing. After a couple more attempts with the lighter thread that showed so much more, I wondered if I should go back to black because it would be better if the wonky stars didn't show.

Lizard liked the lighter hue, so again, I kept going. After about an hour, with a bunch more re-dos, I finished the quilting of the largest quilt I've ever done by machine, and I'd done the hardest part on a tiny little $84 machine with no throat space! I stood back and admired the unbound quilt and decided it truly is perfect, even though it is not precise. I love it, and I hope the recipient will, too!

And take a look at the wide backing I used. I love this backing so much, I might reverse the quilt on my bed as often as I displayed the front, if the quilt were mine. If I ever see this wide faux denim on sale again, I'm going to stock up so I can use it on the back of more quilts. I absolutely adore this print!

Old Jeans Print

The binding is leftovers from a child's Halloween costume I made so many years ago, I can't even remember when.

As I attached the binding to the third side, I discovered a pleat in the backing, about three feet long. Once again, tears flowed freely. Daylight was fading. My opportunity to take daylight photos of the quilt before publishing my blog post today were fading rapidly.

But this quilt is going to someone who served our country, and it could even be a Wounded Warrior. I owe it to the recipient to do my best, and a pleat in the back is not my best. I had to take off nearly four feet of the binding, and then I had to rip out just over three feet of the free-motion quilting. I had to square up that side of the quilt again after I got done. Nearly an hour later, the quilt was done, and iPhone photos were all I could get Sunday night.

UPDATE: On Monday, Memorial Day, my sweet Lizard took me to Fort Logan after he got off work. The feelings we experienced there will last a lifetime. The cemetery also was the perfect backdrop for my Quilt of Valor.

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

25 May 2017

Eye Candy

Two years ago, I found a gorgeous little wisteria, approximately three years old, at my local nursery. Impulse buying has never been so powerful.

The little bush tree didn't flower last summer, and then it didn't make it through the winter. I've been looking for a new one. Without success, I might add. All the nurseries have sold out.

I looked online. The rainbow wisteria tunnel I found is real, but it's in Japan, not seeds you can buy on Amazon!

This reminded me of more obviously fake merchandise replete on the top online shopping destination.

But who am I to laugh?!? I make rainbow-hued snowflakes...

with hand-dyed thread...

I shoot rainbow-textured sunsets...

and even rainbow-charged marmots...

I crochet cereal marshmallow-hued lizards...

and mice...

and turtles...

and... flip flops???

Mostly, I crochet rainbow bears...

I just can't stop!

How I heart crocheted bears!

And I heart rainbow hearts, too!!!

While searching recently for motifs I crocheted back in about 2012 to use on some Mother's Day greeting cards, I came across the long-forgotten very first thread I ever tried dyeing in a rainbow. I used size 80 thread because I didn't want to waste any size 10 thread I use every week for snowflakes. If the smaller thread didn't turn out, it wouldn't be that big a loss. The thread came from someone's destash after their crocheting grandmother passed away.

I had tried dyeing another hank of size 20 crochet thread in the colors of fall aspens that day, too. That thread is all gone now. But the rainbow thread never got used. I suspect I was still fighting the necessity of wearing reading glasses to see small stitches back then.

Well, I'm not afraid to put on those glasses anymore. I think it's about time I create my own rainbow flowers that really do exist. I think they look even better than the fake ones on Amazon. Don't you?

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

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