31 October 2017

Spooky Flakes

I have to share the pumpkin my niece Lindsay carved. She's the same talented artist who drew my avatar.

Perhaps I should also share the badge I earned for walking Charity Miles over the weekend as well. These jack-o-lanterns have got nothing on my niece's handwork, huh?

Happy Halloween!

30 October 2017

Snowflake Monday

Until I began trying to create a Dragon's Eye Snowflake, I never knew dragon eye colors had meaning!

Generally speaking, orange and red mean hungry and/or angry. Reddish yellow means time for battle. Green means tranquility, blue and purple mean love and devotion, and green is content.

So this is a dragon you could bring home to meet your parents.

And this is a good time to RUN!!!

Happy Halloween!

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 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread in up to 5 colors, 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

Dragon's Eye Snowflake Instructions

With black or dragon pupil color, ch 12.

Row 1: 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 11 ch. Do not turn.

Round 2: 2 sc in same ch as final sc of Row 1; working along bottom of sc, 1 sc in next sc, 1 hdc in each of next 2 sc, 1 dc in each of next 3 sc, 1 hdc in each of next 2 sc, 1 sc in next sc, 2 sc in next sc; sl st in starting sc; bind off.

Round 3: With right side of work facing you and with dark red or dark iris color, 1 dc in middle sc of 3/sc eye pupil end, * ch 2, sk next st, 1 sc in next st, ch 2, sk next st, 1 dc in next st, ch 3, 1 dc in same st; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last dc of final repeat; sl st in starting dc; bind off.

Round 4: With right side of work facing you and with red or medium iris color, 3 dc in ch 3 tip of eye bottom, 1 dc in next sc, 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 3 dc in same sp, [1 dc in next sc, 1 dc in next ch 3 sp, 1 tr in same sp, 1 dtr in same sp, ch 3, 1 dtr in same sp, 1 tr in same sp, 1 dc in same sp] 2 times, 1 dc in next sc, 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 3 dc in same sp, [1 dc in next sc, 1 dc in next ch 3 sp, 1 tr in same sp, 1 dtr in same sp, ch 3, 1 dtr in same sp, 1 tr in same sp, 1 dc in same sp] 2 times, 1 dc in next sc, 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3; sl st in starting dc; bind off.

Round 5: With right side of work facing you and with orange or light iris color, 3 dc in ch 3 tip of eye bottom, * 1 dc in next gap between 3 dc and 1 dc, ch 3, 1 dc in next gap between 1 dc and 3 dc, 3 dc in next ch 3 tip, ch 3, 3 dc in same tip; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last 3 dc of final repeat; sl st in starting dc; bind off.

Round 6: With right side of work facing you and with gray, green, white or dragon hide color, 3 dc in ch 3 tip of eye bottom, * ch 3, 1 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 3 dc in next ch 3 tip, ch 3, 3 dc in same sp; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last 3 dc and last ch 3 of final repeat; ch 1, 1 dc in starting dc to form 6th ch 3 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 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc over post of dc directly below, * ch 3, 1 sc in 3rd ch from hook (picot made), in next ch 3 sp work 1 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc, in next ch 3 sp work 1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc, ch 3, 1 sc in 3rd ch from hook (picot made), 3 dc in next ch 3 tip, ch 9, sl st in 5th ch from hook, 1 sc in next ch, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, 1 tr in next ch (picot point made), 3 dc in same ch 3 tip; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last 3 dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2; 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 snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

26 October 2017


One of the boy quilts I hope to finish by Thanksgiving or Christmas will require confidence and a steady hand. I'm planning to draw theme characters on each block, then free-motion quilt them.

I've had this idea three times before, but I chickened out each time because my free-motion quilting skills are so weak. Especially with the super lightweight and cheap small-arm domestic sewing machine I'm using right now!

I've always been intimidated by my grandiose FMQ design ideas because not only am I my own worst critic, but I am terrified the recipient will look too closely at the stitching and value the quilt less because it's not perfect.

All year long, I've been attempting to defeat that attitude. Finished is more important than perfect. I chant it like a mantra sometimes while I'm free-motion quilting!

One of the benefits of trying to finish so many quilts by a specific deadline this year is forcing myself to free-motion quilt even when I know I can't be perfect.

Today's quilt was the perfect practice canvas to force my ostrich head out of the sand!

The quilt top was created with blue texture leftovers from other projects, including other quilts upon which I'd intended to draw and FMQ characters. When this quarter's Ravelry challenge began on October 1, I was still one block shy of being able to piece the top, so that's what I called the project. One Block Shy.

When I began striping and swirling the individual blocks, I thought I could call the quilt FMQ Sampler. That's what many other quilters call such a project.

After I finished quilting the border, which effort was a better workout on my arms than all the combined physical therapy exercises and stretches I've learned and performed this year to combat mouse elbow, I decided the best name for this quilt is Brave. I think that's a more kid-friendly name, too.

Although the next two quilts I work on may be simple line quilting just to finish them up in a hurry, I think I'm a little bit better prepared now for Lava Beds, for which I've got some pretty wild ideas. I will probably end up saving that one for last so I can spend a little more time on it. At the rate I'm going, I think I'll be able to finish four of the remaining five boy quilts in one week each. That puts me solidly at one week before Thanksgiving. The Lizard will have to work almost every day of the four-day break I get, so I can finish up the BIG project that long weekend.

And then I get to make a dress for me to reward myself for finishing 15 quilts before Christmas!!! (And then a quilt from the leftovers!!!!!!)

Back to today's charming finish, the free-motion quilting most definitely is not perfect, but I do have a couple of favorite blocks in this one of which I'm extremely proud. I also just love the blue textures.

I cut up 12-inch blocks for this one, and I have enough 12-inch blocks left to create another quilt at some point, perhaps incorporating a blue Moda Grunge as the unifying fabric in a double disappearing nine patch. The idea causes my quilt yearning to drool!

Once I finished piecing the dozen blocks in this top, it wasn't quite big enough, so I cut three-inch strips and crafted yet another striped fabric that may have been suitable for boy quilt top, but instead, I cut three-inch block stripes for a pieced border. I deliberately used three-inch strips in this project in the hopes I'd have enough solid strip leftovers to create the binding. And it worked! I had to cut only two more three-inch strips!

I also still have a 26x40 block of the striped fabric I can use in a future project. Oh, will that be fun!!! Ideas are percolating!

This quilt made me very thankful blue is my favorite color. All four of the finished boy quilts for my 15 Quilts for Christmas project are blues. I'm ready for some rainbow colors, but five more boy quilts come first. One of the unfinished quilts is blue...

I used a single piece of bluish gray swirl on the back instead of piecing all my blue leftovers just to save time. Now that it's done, I really like the way the free-motion quilting looks on the back.

When I began binding this quilt, I could see I was cutting it really close on bobbin thread. I took a HUGE chance I'd have enough to finish without having to wind one more bobbin.

The thread ran out eight inches from the finish. It also left a nasty rat's nest on the back that took nearly half an hour to unravel.

I began winding another bobbin, and the spool ran out!!!

I searched all my thread spools for another dark blue. Nothing. Not even close. It was nearly 11 o'clock at night, so there would be no trips to the fabric store. Actually, that's a good thing because I hate going there. I always spend more than I intend, and the checkout line has been up to an hour long in the past. Lizard and I had decided from now on we're just going to order thread online.

But I wanted to finish this baby without having to wait a week for a spool of thread!!!

On a lark, I went through The Lizard's bobbin box, and I found a 1/3rd full bobbin of dark blue!

I reached the finish line without shopping!!!

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

24 October 2017

Making Lemonade

Now that wee early daylight has waned, it's too dark for me to walk along the riverwalk before catching the train to work, I sometimes will ride to work with The Lizard if I can wake on time.

Lizard typically has to be at work at 4 a.m. I don't have to be at work until 8. After I ride in with him, I sit in the nearby coffee shop and either make snowflakes, catch up on hand sewing, or take my laptop and access the internet via the free WiFi until it's time to catch a bus to the train, then take the train to work. Then Lizard picks me up after work. Trust me; it's a match made in heaven. I LOVE those few extra minutes I get with him!

The day before the KRACK attack news broke, I shot some wonderful autumn family portraits. Because I'm limiting my nighttime computer work in an attempt to eliminate the sleeplessness I've been battling for the last couple of years, it made perfect sense to edit the photos the next morning. I didn't know at the time any public WiFi would be dangerous or I never would have attempted to upload finished photos from there, but the shop didn't have an electrical outlet for me to plug in my computer. Perhaps it's fortunate for me the battery died before I could upload more than a couple of photos...

I looked at the clock, packed up all my stuff and rushed out to catch the bus. I missed it by about 30 seconds. The temperature was 40 degrees. I was wearing long sleeves but no coat and nothing reflective because I wasn't expecting to have to wait a half hour in the cold in the dark. I wasn't too happy.

But then the sky began exploding in the most gorgeous shades of pink, red, purple and orange! I'd have been SO bummed and annoyed if I'd had to watch that awesome sunrise from the inside of a bus, and I'd have been even more disappointed if I'd missed it. And yes, I would have known. Turns out almost every photographer in Colorado was shooting that very same sunrise and immediately sharing it on social media.

I was so thankful I missed my bus! Heck, I was even thankful my computer shut down!

The busy street corner wasn't the ideal location for shooting sunrise, but I found ways to make it pop on digital screens.

When I got to work, I learned about the KRACK attack, and I, along with many of my co-workers, went into panic attack. What would we do? It seemed the only safe thing to do from this point on would be to stay off the internet. My employer's headquarters even sent out a company-wide email later in the day requesting employees refrain from visiting any non-https website. This sounded bad!

I researched as many details about the threat as I could, then contacted our IT department to ask what I could do to stay safe, besides visiting only https sites (which I believe I have been trying to do since it became the secure standard). One of our IT employees made a personal visit to my desk to draw a map for me to help explain stuff I couldn't get my brain wrapped around, and soon, all my nearby co-workers had joined in because they were so concerned, too.

Bottom line, I researched virtual private network (VPN) service providers that night, purchased a two-year plan and had my own VPN installed on both our home computers and one of our two phones before I finished uploading the previous day's photos. (This entire process took several hours. Installation off WiFi is a hefty process, as all Windows updates must be installed first. We opt to do our own updates because we are not on the internet frequently and because we don't always have the bandwidth to run updates whenever they become available. Keeping everything updated is another key in internet security, but preventing internet expenses from trashing your budget is important, too. Also, it is critical to install VPN on every smart home appliance. Luckily, we are severely behind the times in that department.)

We're fully protected now, as well as we can be, anyway. I'm sharing this information, hoping it might help anyone else who might be worried about internet and specifically WiFi safety. The IT guy who talked to me said the only way to stay totally safe is to stay off the internet. Good thing I'm already on an internet diet! The VPN, however, should help.

Another awesome sunrise struck a few days later, and fortunately, Lizard and I were both armed and ready.

After the spectacular show, I received a message from my grown adopted son, with whom communication has been strained for more than a decade. He included a photo of the sunrise from his abode. He said it was my turn to share a photo. I sent him one of mine and told him how exciting it was that both of us were doing the same thing at the same time. We went back and forth a few times in delightful conversation. It felt like old times. I'm sure both of us long for that kind of connection. For the degree of love we shared electronically that day, spur of the moment, first time sharing sunrise photos since he was still in high school many, many moons ago.

Life altogether is a much better sunrise today after that beautiful exchange, and I hope we can keep communicating on this level.

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