19 June 2018

Back in the Saddle Again

Although I miss participating in organized rides, I'm sure having the time of my life riding for fun!

I don't have to meet any deadlines (other than being to work on time), and if the winds is howling, I don't have to ride if I don't feel like it. Riding is just plain fun this year!

My goal this year is to become a cyclist again. I had to start over after physical therapy last year and build up from a mile or two, even though I wanted to pedal 50 miles first day back on my bike.

I'm up to 30 miles now, and I don't know if I'll be able to go beyond that, but there is SO much I can do in 30 miles!!!

I can ride to work, and Bike to Work day is next week! I did half the ride over the weekend, and most of the construction that hampered me the last three or four years is finished!

I can ride up and down Waterton, probably my favorite ride. Close. Fun. Easy. Wildlife. Water. Bighorn. Need I say more???

On a recent very hot ride up Waterton with the Lizard, I pulled my my homemade refrigerator pickles from my jersey pocket to beat the 95 degrees, and I thought the degrees had beat my snack! I forgot I'd packaged the first resealable bag with brown napkins inside a second bag to keep the vinegar off my jersey! My initial thought was, "Ick! I'm not eating that!" Lizard's first thought was, "Why did you bring baby poop???" (The pickles were fine, and I enjoyed them, every bite!)

I can ride up Deer Creek Canyon, which I have not attempted yet this year, but it's a good climb. I can ride Vail Pass, which I also have not attempted yet this year, and it's a great climb in thin air. It probably will be the most important training I do this year, just to make sure I can still ride with less oxygen!

I can ride along the greenway. On a workday when I can't get up into the mountains, the greenway is the next best thing.

On Day 2 of Ride the Rockies, I was riding along the greenway, enjoying the wildflowers, the cool breeze, the sound of the river and many different species of wetland birds, taking way too many photos, chancing being late for work. I kept seeing chalk messages on the bike path with "RTR" directions. Ride the Rockies was about 120 miles away, pedaling from Breckenridge to Edwards... I confess, I felt as if I was riding my own personal Ride the Rockies!

Finally, I realized this RTR was for the Run the River, a foot race that occurred the previous day. Well, RtR will always mean something else to me, and I had no problem pretending!

I can ride all the way around Chatfield Reservoir, which has been under heavy duty reconstruction, I think due in part to the floods a few years back. The new road on the west side of the lake is higher, I assume above the flood plain, and it has a bike lane on both sides all the way to the paddle board ponds!!! I assume the east side of the road will be redone, too, so for now no bike lane on that half, but if I ride early in the morning, I shouldn't have to contend with too much traffic.

I love Chatfield for the sunrises, the wildlife and the dam. The dam is one of the best climbs in my neck of the plains meet foothills without going up in the foothills. The dam also has a one-mile road along the top, closed to traffic, that I've enjoyed many times over the years, but it was a bumpy ride more suitable to a mountain bike than a road bike, thanks to all the goat head stickers and pavement cracks.

Not anymore! The new road along the top of the dam is OUTSTANDING! I've noticed far more cyclists on it than ever, now that the pavement is brand new and smooth! No stickers, and every once in a while, I even get to hear the lovely song of a meadowlark!

On a recent Chatfield ride with my deer, sweet hubby, we encountered my first kingfisher ever. I wasn't able to get a photo, but I had no idea how many different noises they can make. I got into a shouting match with it, trying to imitate each of its calls, one after another, until it finally blasted a rattle I couldn't duplicate. It clearly won the contest and continued to rattle proudly. Show off!

My crowning Chatfield achievement, though, came last weekend when I was able to climb the dam with the same speed and vigor of 2011, my second year of training for the climb of Pikes Peak (which I did not successfully finish).

I had to work my way back up to being able to ride uphill at all after emergency back surgery in 2004 and the arthritic side effects that linger even this day. In 2010, I missed the summit of Pikes Peak, a timed event, by less than a mile. I worked throughout the next 12 months to shave 30 minutes off my time, not knowing they had cut the official allotment by a full hour. I missed the Crags cutoff by less than five minutes. But I was in the best post-surgery shape of my life, and the next year was going to be my year.

In 2012, an unplanned Over-the-Bars Scar Club membership left me with a cast on my right/write hand and a crushed disc in my back. I've been trying to work my way back ever since, but was sidelined again last year with what I initially thought was mouse elbow... you know, too much Photoshopping on the computer, but turned out to be two collapsed discs in my neck.

After Saturday's climb, my fingers on my right hand were numb. That's not a good sign, ever. But I finished my ride before elbow pain could take me down. I'm still very slow, and Chatfield's dam is not a long climb. Nevertheless, I climbed the way I was climbing in 2011, and even if I can never get up to 70 miles in a day again, I am thankful and celebrating being back on my bike and being able to keep on trying, even with limitations.

My bike can take me so many places I can't get in a car and can't get to as fast on foot. My bike allows me the freedom to get from point A to point B under my own power, and I get pretty darned good gas mileage off a superfood salad and ice cold lemon/cucumber infused water!

18 June 2018

Snowflake Monday

When I designed my first Moda Blockhead snowflake for the center of a quilt block, I knew there would come a time (or two) (...or more) when a block would not be conducive to a snowflake. Didn't really expect that to happen on Week 2!

The BH2 Block 2 – Buckeye Beauty – is an attractive block, but it doesn't really have room for a snowflake, unless I make four tiny snowflakes with size 40 crochet thread. Believe me, I was tempted!!!

I even toyed with the idea of making four of the 6.5-inch blocks with the same color on all four center corners and then appliquéing the snowflake over the seams. I fantasized about making all the components except those four center corners, then drafting and cutting a seamless block of one fabric for the center, making this block totally mine.

This block looks incredible when four are put together, and it's even better as a whole quilt full of colorful blocks.

However, one of the things I found most exciting about this year's Blockhead project is the varied block sizes, from 6.5 inches to 18 inches. Four 6.5-inch blocks would make a 12.5-inch block, and I don't want all the blocks to be 12.5 inches. I'd already be taking away a degree of the fun factor for me in just the second week. Plus, how awful a snowflake name would Buckeye be?!? YUCK!!!

Buck Eye... ha ha ha!!!

Long before the second Blockhead project kicked off, I'd dug out a couple of 12.5-inch blocks I thought I could throw into the mix in case there is a block I don't like. I expect that to happen eventually... I don't think I've ever liked EVERY block in EVERY sampler pattern I've undertaken.

The Dancing Diamonds block has been screaming out at me, and the block's name makes a magnificent snowflake moniker, too. Now, when the day comes I decide I want to do my own thing instead of the official BH2 block, I'm a week ahead of the game!

And if I end up liking all the BH2 blocks... I guess I have an orphan block perfectly suitable for another snowflake quilt. I don't think there is any such thing as enough snowflake quilts.

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: 2 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

Dancing Diamonds Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in ring, [ch 3, 2 dc in ring] 5 times; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2. Pull magic circle tight.
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 2: [In next ch 3 sp work 1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc, ch 7, sl st in 2nd ch from hook (picot made), ch 5, sk next 4 ch, sl st in next ch, 1 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc] 6 times; 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.

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict and My Quilt Infatuation.

14 June 2018

Leaf Me Alone!

This was another of my three-day weekend goals. Didn't finish by the end of Memorial Day Weekend, but I am making such good progress!

I had planned to quilt this monster by hand from the day, back in about 2007, when I first started it. When I went into WIP-finishing mode while trying to make quilts for all the kiddos in my extended family, the possibility of free-motion quilting it popped in and out of my head just so I could get it done. My sweet sister-in-law Donna had staked her claim on this one when I finished and posted the second block on my blog, and I've been promising her it would be a birthday or Christmas present ever since. Her birthday was in May, so it was a goal (once again) this quarter.

I couldn't find the leftovers panel I planned for the back; I had created a few more of the smaller blocks with leaves I'd not used in the original project. I suppose some day that will re-appear, and then I can make yet another quilt from the leftovers of a dress that is so old, it's actually yearning to find usefulness in the scrap pile now.

Rather than cut the dress up (just yet, may still one day), I used the leftovers from the backing for Cool Side of the Rainbow, which was a wide cut from the Cosmos black used in the Cool Side of the Rainbow. The colorful hand-stitching on the back looks so cool against the neutral Cosmos!

I searched my embroidery stash and found a nice collection of DMC perle cotton I'd bought on clearance many years ago. I had every color I'd need but purple, and I thought I'd be able to pick up the purple the next day on the way home from work. Turns out the reason the perle cotton was on clearance is the crafts shops I normally try to avoid because I can never escape spending only what I plan to spend had quit carrying DMC perle cotton. Wasted trip. BUT... get this... I didn't spend a dime!!! I think I must have shattered a world record!!!

I decided to start quilting, even though I didn't have the purple. After the first block, I absolutely LOVED the look of the pearly perle, and I was so glad I'd decided to do this by hand rather than by machine!

I looked online to see if I could order a purple perle cotton. I found some at three different places: Herrschners, Joanne's and DMC. I could go to Joanne's and save shipping costs, but I didn't want to take the chance I might waste gas and time because the color I need wasn't in stock, so I decided to order online. I wouldn't need the purple for a while, so there was time for it to be shipped.

Shipping at Herrschners was outrageous, and Joanne's (which also has a feature to check if it's available in a local store, and the color I wanted wasn't stocked anywhere in the Denver metro) wasn't that much better, although it was less. DMC had free shipping if I ordered more than I needed. This project was turning out so wonderful, I don't mind rebuilding my perle cotton stash. I ordered every shade that looked like it might include purple, plus a few that were just too gorgeous to pass by. I spent a whole $20. Well worth it, don't you think?!?

One of the coolest aspects of this project is quilting by hand, which is how my paternal grandmother quilted. Free-motion quilting had not been discovered back in the 50s and 60s, when she was an active quilter. I even have a collection of embroidery needles she used, and one from this package is what I am using to hand quilt Leaf Me Alone. My sister-in-law told me she has a leaf-themed quilt fashioned by my maternal grandmother, which also was quilted by hand.

I hit the halfway mark during our recent trip to Moab. I worked on the quilt in the car on the way to Moab, and I worked on it each evening, even though Moab was WAY too hot for a blanket on my lap!!! We won't even talk about how many times I accidentally stabbed myself in the bumpy car, but I did manage to keep the blood off the quilt.

I am thoroughly enjoying this process, but I think the next hand-quilted quilt will be in winter, when I need the extra warmth while I work!

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict and My Quilt Infatuation.
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