16 July 2019


Snowbow is helping me send birthday wishes to my family and friends this year. I snapped photos of Snowbow with each of the grands (I thought) back in February, fully intending to make each grandkid a Snowbow birthday card. (Most of the kids would rather have an actual Snowbow instead of a photo, though!!! They loved that little bear!!!)

I have so many grandkids, I can't keep track! Three of them escaped the photo shoot, and I didn't figure that out until I began making the cards.

Initially, I thought I could just Photoshop my little bear into other photos I'd snapped of the three missing kiddos, but after the first paste-up, I decided I'll try again next year, maybe, and do something different this year.

Last year, it was a struggle to send each paper card because I didn't initially keep track of who got what. My bad. I didn't want to send the same card twice to one family.

When I turned 6, I got identical greeting cards from both of my grandmothers, who lived more than 800 miles apart. It was really cool, and I still have those ballerina cards today. But both cards were personally addressed to me, not to me and someone else in my family, and I knew both my grandmas remembered how much I loved ballet. They both looked for something special to send me.

I've always thought if my sister and I had received identical cards (which NEVER happened), someone must have bought a stack of identical cards on sale and didn't care if what they sent was special or meaningful. I don't want to be "that grandparent." I want each of my grands to know they are unique to me. I don't ever want them to think I rushed through a gift- or card-shopping trip.

I decided to create all 16 (which now has become 19!!!) individual cards at one time, then all I have to do is mail them before each birthday. The whole year is done, no duplicates, and all I have to do sign them, put a stamp on them and remember to stick them in the mail!

I have so many bighorn photos, I decided sheep would be the best starting point. One family lives on a farm. Plus, it's really fun for me to write captions for some of the photos. Unless I am trying to write 16 (or 19) different rhyming verses!

Some of the photos almost write their own laugh lines. After about the tenth card, though, writing verses grew a little more challenging. Ever start feeling like your brain is scrambled??? That's how I felt!

Once done, however, I felt as if I'd climbed a 14er! The first few cards have already been sent and enjoyed now, and the remainder are labeled and ready to be mailed when the time is right.

Hearing from the kids how much they love their cards (and spinning some really good tall tales when they ask how I got so close) is one of my favorite experiences in life. (I always confess I have a really good telephoto lens after making their eyes pop out of their heads with stories of being sniffed by a bighorn.) (I did have a bighorn poke its head in my car window once when I stopped to shoot a roadside photo without getting out of the car...) (Oh, and then there was the time one came up behind me and really did sniff me - and scare the daylights out of me - while I was preoccupied shooting one of its kin...) (Well, and they really love the smell of my sweat on my bicycle handlebars...)

Every once in a while, I wonder what I'll use next year, or the year after that. I'm worried I will run out of themed photos as well as humored rhyme.

Perhaps I'll have to make another trip to South Dakota and hit all those dinosaur museums. Kids LOVE dinosaurs!

Or, I could just go back to bears...

15 July 2019

Snowflake Monday

I've often said I'm not into yellow snowflakes. I was making rainbow "dinosaur eggs" for the grands for Easter, and I couldn't skip yellow now, could I? I tried to make this flake look a bit like the sun or a sunflower so it could have a reason for being yellow besides, well, you know. The flake on the rock is going to fade to white in time anyway, right?

Some dinosaurs may have been yellow. We may never know. Scientists are beginning to believe dinosaurs may have had pigment! Here’s an interesting story about a study regarding pigment found in dino fuzz. Here’s another fascinating piece on dinosaur hues.

Today’s snowflake name is not derived from a dinosaur, but it is inspired by an imaginary creature. Can you figure out the teaser?

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: 3 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

Harvest Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

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

Round 2: Ch 12 (counts as 1 dc and ch 10), [sk next dc, 1 dc in next dc, ch 10] 5 times, omitting last 2 ch of final repeat; 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 10 sp of Round.

Round 3: Ch 1 (counts as 1 sc), [in next ch 10 sp work 1 sc, 1 hdc, 6 dc, ch 3, 6 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc] 6 times, omitting last sc of final repeat; sl st in starting ch; 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.

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.

12 July 2019

Friday Funny

Yes, this video is a repeat here, but it still makes me laugh, and the above video is by Charlie's dad. Plus, I learned the 2016 video attracted the attention of Sylvester Stallone!!!

11 July 2019

My Dyeing Days

Avocado Pit Dyes, Second Day

These are my avocado pit dye jars on Day 2.

These are my avocado pit dye jars after two weeks! I am going to have some mighty nice yarn and T-shirts!

We frequently add avocados to our meals, and last weekend I decided I should go ahead and prepare a jar of avocado skin dye so you can see how it's done and the range of color possible. (Fingers crossed...) I cleaned one avocado skin thoroughly, then tore it in to tiny pieces and put them into a clean dye jar (not a canning jar).

I poured in about two tablespoons of ammonia, then filled the jar nearly to the top with rain water. I put on a lid and shook slightly, then placed the jar with the avocado pit jars.

After just one day in the sun and with only one peel, the dye was super dark! I've now added one more skin, and I have two more skins I will add as soon as we eat the avocados. I will let this jar sun bake all summer long. Jars should be gently agitated every couple of days or so to prevent mold from forming. If it does form on the top layer, put on a mask and gloves, open the jar, use a non-food spoon to scrape off the mold and discard it in the toilet, in the garbage or in the compost or garden (not in a food garden). This mixture can affect the colors of blooming hibiscus, delphiniums and hydrangeas.

Now I'm going to share how I prepare red onion skins for dyeing. Some of my onions are from the grocery store or the farmer's market; some I grew in my own garden. The homegrown ones are pretty small, but very tasty. They also keep rabbits out of my raised-bed gardens. I need to plant red and green onions in my flower raised-bed garden because Mama bunny thinks it's her mansion...

I've been collecting the skins for about a year, and my bag weighs nearly a pound now!

I didn't store my skins in any special manner. I just kept them in a plastic bag. When I saved more than just the outer paper-like skin, I made sure those were dry (by setting them in the sun) before adding them to the bag. You get mold if you add moist onion skins to a bag of dry skins. Mold makes your natural dyes turn brown.

Purple onion skins can make your fingers turn purple. It washes off with soap.

I've added about a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar to my jar to help with color extraction. Vinegar is not a mordant, only an extractor, unless you are using wool yarn prepared for dyeing with Dharma's fiber reactive dyes (which are for cotton). Onion skins have tannins (a natural and safe mordant also found in wood, teas and coffees, among other sources), so they don't need a mordant.

Natural dyeing with onion skins is completely food safe, so you don't HAVE to have separate dyeing pots/jars/spoons. I use more than onions in natural dyeing, so I have tools specifically labeled for dyeing only. Even if I was dyeing just with onion skins, I think I'd still use separate tools just to make sure I'm not contaminating anything in the kitchen.

After pouring a wee bit of vinegar in my canning jar, I stuffed in as many onion skins as I could fit. In hindsight, I wish I'd done about half of the onion skins, so I probably will divide the onion skins and dye into another jar as soon as another dyeing jar frees up. Or when I buy a few more lids. Many of my existing lids are rusty, and I don't want the rust to taint these colors. Rust is good for browns, but I'm not trying to achieve browns this summer.

After the onion skins, I added rainwater. Distilled water or tap water also may be used. I love the hue shift I get when I use rain water to create the dye, then tap water to wash the dyed fabric or yarn. The pH levels of the different waters make fun color changes. Kids LOVE to see the magic of the hue shift.

(UPDATE: I bought more lids over the long holiday weekend, and I transferred the onion skin dye into a larger jar and added more rain water.)

Onion skin dyeing doesn't take all summer like avocado skins and pits and can even be done in a day or two, if desired. Atop the stove (no boiling, just simmering), it can be done in just a few hours. Longer makes stronger, though. The longer you steep, the better your color will be. I'll be ready to share how I dye with onion skins for my next natural dyeing post, which is scheduled for July 25.

If you are solar dyeing, gently agitate the jar every couple of days or so to prevent mold from forming. If mold forms on the top layer, put on a mask and gloves, open the jar, scrape off the mold and discard it in the toilet, in the garbage or in the compost or garden. If you don't like the smell of onions, don't take any huge whiffs while working with this dye.

While I was preparing my onion skin dye, I noticed a few of my black hollyhocks were beginning to bloom. I don't want seeds; my first year of hollyhock dyeing produced enough seeds to cover my entire neighborhood with a forest of hollyhock stalks. I've fought seedlings in my garden like weeds ever since. So I pulled off all the blossoms and prepared one more dye jar. Once again, I'm using rain water and about a tablespoon of vinegar. I'm using apple cider vinegar on this batch because I didn't have any more white vinegar. Although this is a first for me, I don't expect the apple cider vinegar to alter the dye color. Vinegar just extracts color from the dark petals.

Just one day and about six additional blooms later, my dye jar looks deep maroon. Lovely! I'm adding more blossoms each night as they open. The first two years I dyed with black hollyhocks, I waited for the flowers to curl up, then plucked them and put only twisted petals in my dye jars. I've since learned (from sunflowers and marigolds) that the tiny amount of green at the bottom of the flowers does not change the dye color, so I don't worry about peeling them off anymore.

I put the top on the jar, then gently agitated it. Color began seeping from the petals right away.

Hollyhock dye is another quickie. I don't have to let it cook in the sun all summer long. I'll be ready to dye with the first batch in two weeks. I likely will get about eight dips altogether throughout the summer because I plan to keep adding more blossoms as they open, and each dip will leave some pigment for another dip. Without adding more flowers, I could probably achieve some fantastic gradients. I may try to do that later in the summer as the flowers run out. This dye will present another pH-sensitive hue that will shift when dyed items are washed with tap water, and they can change back when washed with vinegar water. Another really fun project for kids!

If you are solar dyeing, gently agitate the jar every couple of days or so to prevent mold from forming. If mold forms on the top layer, put on a mask and gloves, open the jar, scrape off the mold and discard it in the toilet, in the garbage or in the compost or garden.

Just remember not to put any of these dyes in your mouth. It would taste pretty nasty. Wear clothes that can be stained. Wear gloves. Please wear a mask if you are sensitive to odors. Pour in an area where spills and potential stains won't matter. And please don't drink the dyes.

Did I mention these colorful liquids are not for drinking? Good. I thought so. Just had to make sure.

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

09 July 2019

Decade Dent

Yes, this has been a year of celebrations. Ten years ago tomorrow, Snowcatcher lept into the blogosphere. I had no idea back then it would become what it has. What a ride!

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