30 April 2020

Thursday Thumb's Up

Finally! Some progress! Lots of new things going on, but old things in the works, too!

I made my Lavender Sunrise gradient five years ago this month, not having any idea what I would do with it. I just loved the Kona solids left over from other projects so much, I thought it would be cool to string a bunch of the best colors together and see what happens.

I also made a gradient wall panel with blue leftovers at about the same time, and I finished quilting it two years later.

I'd thought about doing a desert scene on the purple panel, and I also thought a peacock might be pretty awesome. When I sat down with the chalk earlier this week, the owl is what happened.

I've now sandwiched the layers, and the wall quilt is ready for quilting. I'm probably going to do free-motion quilting. Good thing it's not huge! I'd hoped to do it on the longarm, but Lizard's quilt is still hogging up that space.

I asked Lizard about seven weeks ago what he'd like to quilt on the back-to-back wide backings I'd put together for him years ago when I first started teaching him about quilting. I thought he'd want a lizard or a roadrunner, but he asked for an elephant, perhaps because, at the time, we still thought both of us might be able to do at least a few miles of some of our favorite organized cycling events this year. Typically, our first big event each year, other than a training trip to Moab, would be Elephant Rock. There are no Moab trips on the horizon now, and Roll Massif will announce on May 7 whether the June Elephant Rock weekend will be postponed. Even if it's not, I don't know if either of us would be ready to do even the shortest route.

Lizard's Parkinson's and December knee replacement had pretty much cleared our summer schedule, and the current worldwide situation is putting the final kibosh on everything for all cyclists.

Elephant Rock is kind of the equivalent of the official start to cycling season in Colorado, so a sentimental favorite for all cyclists. I have collected several jerseys and T-shirts I intend to make into a quilt one day. I think Lizard thought he could get in on the Elephant Rock quilting trend, too, when we first put this baby on the longarm. I may help him get started on it this weekend to nudge him along; I think he may be worried his tremors will cause him to ruin any project. I want to try to help him build confidence.

A jar of avocado pit dye and a jar of avocado skin dye sat in my living room window all winter long, baking in the sun. Last week I drained the dyes and stuck a hank of crochet thread in each. I wasn't sure what color I would get, if any, because both jars were third or fourth dip after a summer and autumn of extensive dyeing.

The colors of the two new balls of thread are not dark, but I really like them and how they fit in with the existing avocado hues from last summer.

Of course, finishing up the final avocado dyes made me yearn for more... And it isn't freezing at night anymore. Perfect time for tacos and burritos!!! And more avocado skin and pit dye! Both jars are on the porch, catching the afternoon sun every day. If we do get another cold burst (which typically happens every Mother's Day or later), I'll bring the jars in, then stick them back outside when the danger of freeze is gone. And in another month or so, I will have at least a couple more balls of freshly dyed crochet thread. I'm hoping for a couple of hanks of darker shades for a motif project I've been working on for an upcoming Snowflake Monday for about three months now.

It's not fiber, but it's just a little like quilting. I have a very hard time throwing out glass bottles that would look great as vases. Before Shelter in Place had begun, I had ordered a few mosaic tiles to see if I could do something fancy with some of the bottles. I've now finished my first two vases, and I think I've developed a whole new addiction.

Linking up with Alycia Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

28 April 2020

The Blues

I've struggled watching people I know and love (from a distance, and usually from social media) shrivel up and cease living due to fear. Or boredom. Or what they believe to be unconstitutional restrictions.

I want so badly to shout from the rooftops, "Seize every moment! Don't let a single second pass you by!"

I have felt as if I've been in my own little private makeshift quarantine for nearly two years now. Lizard had been growing more and more distant, his joyful and mischievous personality slipping away by the day. I remember wondering, initially, if he was falling out of love. I would ask him a question, and it seemed like it took forever for him to answer. If he did.

Then one May day in 2018 while riding up Waterton Canyon behind him, I noticed his balance was way off. Here's a guy who is poetry on a bicycle. He could balance completely motionless at stoplights 70 miles into a daylong ride between cities on a hot summer day. Yet pedaling, very slowly at that, up a super easy grade in one of our favorite places to ride, his bike was swaying, and his upper body looked as if 100 years or more had slapped him across the back.

I convinced him to make an appointment with his family practitioner, who did a bunch of blood work and sent my beloved for an MRI. We went to Moab before we had results. Moab probably is Lizard's favorite place in the whole world, and he was absolutely miserable. We had perfect weather, yet he didn't feel like riding. This just was not like him.

Something definitely was wrong.

In June of 2018, we were sent to a neurologist. It takes about two months to get in to see one for a first visit in Colorado. For two months, we made plans because we thought it was ALS. We thought we had, at best, 18 months. We were going to sell the house, buy an RV, then visit family while we could.

That time right now makes this Shelter in Place feel like a picnic. We are so blessed it was just Parkinson's, even though it is an aggressive strain, and Lizard is progressing more rapidly than we would like. After a total knee replacement in December and a procedure to break up scar tissue in February, he's learning to ride his bike again, and he's even trying to teach himself how to work on bikes again.

He may never reach the level he was back in 2017 again, but he's doing the best he can every day. It's no joyride, for sure. As his tremors increasingly prevent him from being able to perform everyday tasks like buttoning his shirt, tying his shoes or reading his favorite magazine (because printed words often begin "exploding" when he tries to focus more than about five minutes), it's all I can do to not break down in tears in front of him.

When he tells me he's a lemon, I always respond with, "No, you're a peach!" But deep down inside, it's killing me because I know how hard he's battling discouragement.

It would be so awesome to take off to the mountains every weekend, but he can hardly stand more than about five minutes in the car due to restless legs. So we do not venture far. Because of his surgery and February procedure, I'm trying to shield him from germ exposure. So I've felt as if I've been on lockdown since December. I don't like it, but I'm not going to waste any precious time mourning the lifestyle we've lost.

One of my friends recently quoted C.S. Lewis, and it took me back to post-Columbine. My kids were terrified to go to school back then, and there were days when the whole world seemed to have changed so radically overnight. I built my first webpage ever, called it the DebWeb, and posted a photo of a blooming columbine with my then-favorite quote: "Are you afraid of dying? Or are you afraid to live?"

Here's C.S. Lewis' take back in 1948:

"In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented; and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors — anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

"This is the first point to be made; and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies [a microbe can do that] but they need not dominate our minds."

We do not have to break social distancing rules by lifting a pint with our friends. At least not in the same room or even in the same building. (And my pint probably will be a lot different than theirs... mine would be fresh hibiscus lemonade!) We can be social in so many different ways now that were not available back before I was born. To me, this is all about attitude.

We don't have to live this quarantine in fear. We are all going to die one day. Nothing will stop that. Our reunion with our loved ones who passed before us will make our deaths a very joyous occasion. I personally am looking forward to seeing my sister and my brother again, and I imagine my grandmother is going to swoop us all up in the biggest hug any of us have ever experienced.

We can stop being afraid. We can cherish loved ones and friends; we can be kind to others; we can spread joy instead of fear.

We can live every moment as if it is our last. We can't afford not to! We never know when it will be the last moment for us or for someone we love. We never know when someone we love will begin slowly slipping away without leaving. Please, don't waste a single minute you could be spending loving someone or bringing joy to another.

Make. Every. Minute. Count.

27 April 2020

Snowflake Monday

You've heard of PT Barnum and PT Cruiser. It is my pleasure to introduce you to PT Snowflake!

PT was designed in total during a physical therapy appointment of my husband, Lizard. I'm so thankful he has been able to continue in PT during the last six weeks, and I'm thankful I have been able to go into the PT session with him. I'm thankful we have an awesome physical therapist, and I'm thankful the office has stayed open, following all cleanliness protocols, this entire time.

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: 4 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

Special Stitches

Beginning Cluster Stitch (beg cl st): Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), [yo and draw up loop, yo and draw through 2 loops on hook] 2 times, yo and draw through all 3 loops on hook.

Cluster Stitch (cl st): [yo and draw up loop, yo and draw through 2 loops on hook] 3 times, yo and draw through all 4 loops on hook.

PT Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Beg cl st in ring, ch 10, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 5 ch, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, ch 1, [cl st in ring, ch 10, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 5 ch, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, ch 1) 5 times; sl st in beg cl st. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc and ch 1), [working up next spoke sk next dc and hdc, 1 sc in bottom of next sc, ch 1, sk next sc, 1 hdc in bottom of next sc, ch 1, sk next sc, 1 dc in bottom of next sc, ch 5, sk next sc, 1 sc in tip of spoke, ch 5, working back down spoke sk next sc, 1 dc in top of next sc (should be directly across from dc on opposite side of spoke), ch 1, sk next sc, 1 hdc in next sc, ch 1, sk next sc, 1 sc in next sc, ch 1, sk next hdc and dc, 1 dc in next cl st, ch 1] 6 times, omitting last dc and last ch of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
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 3: Beg cl st, [ch 1, in next ch 5 sp work (1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc, ch 3, 3 dc), in next ch 5 sp work 3 dc, ch 3, 1 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc) ch 1, sk next dc, hdc and sc, 1 cl st in next dc] 6 times, omitting last cl st of final repeat; sl st in beg cl st; 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.

23 April 2020


My state might be a week away from the end of Shelter in Place, but I'm still making masks like crazy.

If we are allowed to move about freely next week, we most likely will have to do it with masks. It was time to make masks for Lizard and for me.

I will be honest. I do not like wearing a mask. I will wear one when I am supposed to, but I am a true believer in fresh air therapy. In my opinion, non-sick people who are not in health care or related occupations will be healthier sans masks, as long as they practice social distancing and excellent hygiene.

However, many people do not feel safe without a mask, and I do not want to rock the boat. I just hope mask-wearers realize the homemade masks are not going to protect them from the teensy little germs that have been wreaking havoc worldwide. I got a kick out of the meme that says homemade masks in general aren't going to hold back germs any more than undies hold back the odor of flatulence when released.

I dug into my scrap boxes for masks for Lizard and I. Lizard's mask was a breeze. He also does not like wearing a mask. As a temporarily immune-compromised person due to recent surgery and procedures, he isn't going anywhere he would have to wear a mask. Now he has a mask if he needs it, but he hopefully will not have to make use of it in the next few weeks.

I had every intention of making a snowflake mask for me. But when I pulled out a piece of my own Spoonflower fabric, designed with butterflies I crocheted with thread I solar-dyed, I realized the remnant was almost big enough for a mask. So I made it big enough by piecing together some other remnants.

I couldn't believe how thick and tightly woven the Spoonflower fabric is! It feels sturdier than the pillowcase fabric I've been using for nurse masks.

Almost the instant I finished my mask, Lizard's former boss, who last year relocated to New York, where the numbers are really awful now, asked if I might make masks for her family. Five more masks were in the mail the next day.

I haven't been able to use the longarm because I loaded a quilt on it for Lizard about six weeks ago, but he hasn't felt up to quilting yet. So I did some piecing on a new project just to get back into the mood of sewing for fun again.

I made half-square triangles from a charm pack I snatched up sight-unseen when it went on clearance and then didn't like as much when I saw the prints. I've had an idea to make a half-square triangle quilt from that charm pack ever since I ordered the precuts I ended up not really liking. I finished sewing and pressing the squares, but now I can't decide what layout to use.

Linking up with Alycia Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

21 April 2020

The Bright Side

Being stuck/safe at home has some genuine benefits:

1. I get to take care of Lizard.

2. Lizard can sleep as long as he needs.

3. Peace.

4. A tank of gas lasts a whole month.

5. I don't have to stop watching wildlife when it's time to get on the train.

6. Never thought I'd ever say this, but I don't have to get on the train!

7. T-shirt & jeans every day.

8. I can work on my garden during my lunch hour. Which encourages snow.

9. I can go on a walk or short little bike ride with Lizard after I get off work. When the weather is warm enough, we can go on short walks before work.

10. Walking away from the computer screen and stretching a bit when my back begins to throb is so much easier.

11. More homemade meals!!!

12. Watching out my window. Every day. All. Day. Long. !!!

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