30 April 2021

Friday Funny

We recently had to invest in a new toilet plunger. It's bad enough when the toilet backs up, but when your plunger picks that exact time to give out... Well, thank heavens for humor to lift us out of the mire and prevent potty mouth. (PS: I did not buy THIS plunger.)

29 April 2021

12 More Toes and a Change of Heart

As I began laying out the finished Lizard Toes blocks (on the guest bed because I have no floor surface big enough except our driveway, and can't quite leave a flimsy outside overnight!!!), I realized my original plan of 6 blocks by 8 blocks didn't need to be quite as long and really needed at least one more row in width to fit our master bed. Good thing I had to lay this baby out on a bed before I began putting the blocks together! I do not need another large quilt that doesn't fit a bed!

I decided I could add one more block and make the quilt 7 blocks by 7 blocks, effectively 7 feet by 7 feet. It was difficult to select which color to use for the 49th block background because I have SO many amazing green batiks. I opted to use a piece from the (smaller pieces) stash box instead of the folded fabric stash in an effort to use up scraps. I actually had a piece big enough and had to trim off only a couple of inches on one side and a very small slice on a second side.

The first few appliqué blocks back in 2014 were done with YLI thread in the Alaskan Twilight and Seamist colorways I'd bought at my first Denver National Quilt Festival. I'd never seen fancy quilting thread before then! The zigzag stitch I'm using, of course, made quick work of the first actual quilting thread I'd ever owned, and my starting colors didn't necessarily look as perfect on every block anyway. My thread stash grew over the years, and I used King Tut De Nile and Arabian Nights and Signature Spring Grass and Aqua Waters on the blocks I finished this month. Now I'm going to have to restock at least a couple of shades because I've nearly finished off a few of my favorites!

All 48 original Lizard Toes blocks are made from leftovers. I wanted my 49th block to be from scraps, too, even though it will be different than any of the 48 paired blocks. Each original block pair includes one solid and one batik, making 24 opposites. (Although I discovered as I began putting the blocks together I'd made a mistake, but I'll get to that in a minute.) The 49th block will be unique because both the background fabric and the solid fabric do not appear in any of the other 48 blocks.

The color for the 49th lizard was difficult to choose because I have many purple, blue and green solid scraps that work well with the batik background I selected. I must strongly favor the cool rainbow color spectrum because that's what composes most of my scraps!!! I narrowed my choices down to three favorites, one each from the cool hues, and asked Lizard which he likes best. He should have a say, since the finished quilt will be covering him, too.

After having me audition the three samples three times each, he picked the same blue I was leaning toward. Made the choice so much simpler! Great minds think alike!

I'd been trying to complete a quilt block a day every day since the beginning of April. The lizards helped me stay ahead both times I took a break – once to use up my mountain of selvedges for a crocheted rug and once for taxes (gag!!!!!!!!!!) – because I had so much fun with the appliqué process, I could do four in one sitting! I did not feel that way at all, however, years ago when I was cutting out the individual lizards.

When I first began this project back in 2014, my intent was to put the paired blocks together. It was exciting to arrange finished blocks on the floor each time I finished a new pair.

When I picked this project back up as my hopefully April WIP finish, I decided I want the blocks to be random instead of paired. I wish I'd used a more diverse assortment of solids when I chopped up these blocks and lizards, but I was using leftovers I had back then. There were fewer colors in my leftovers to pick from then. That means some of the solids bump up to each other now, but they were doing that when I was doing the paired layout, too, so I tried really, really hard not to stress about it.

I wanted to make sure I didn't have to rip out any blocks accidentally sewn together in the wrong orientation this time (a mistake I make almost every single block quilt I make), so I marked the bottom left corner of each block with a pin to make sure the lizards weren't dancing in the wrong direction when I began sewing. Nevertheless, the final layout took a long time because I kept moving blocks around (and therefore pins, too...) so they wouldn't touch similar blocks, and even as I assembled the final quadrant of the flimsy, I was still moving blocks and wishing I hadn't already finished sewing the first three block segments together.

I also wish now I had placed a layer of batting beneath each lizard. But perhaps I can simulate that when I begin the quilting.

When I first made the decision to add one more block, I planned to put it smack dab in the center because the colors would stand out. By the time I finished the appliqué, though, I decided I would like it better off-center. It's funny how I've become totally anti-center over the years. Too much art class back in the '70s, I guess! So now the unique block is right next to the very center block, and that's one block I did not move around at all!

Words cannot describe the joy that washed over me as I finished the final block!!! (Yes, I finished the 49th block before I finished six other blocks... because I liked the colors of the 49th block SO much!) A total of 588 toes!!! Finished!!! It may be a while before I ever cut out another lizard for appliqué!

As I was laying out all the finished blocks, I was stunned to discover I'd made a mistake with one of the block pairs. I apparently liked the batik so much, I made both blocks identical. Had I noticed this before making the 49th block, I could have made that extra block with a solid background, and if I kept the twins far enough apart, no one would ever know I'd screwed up. Which got me thinking... Who is going to see this quilt??? Lizard, and me. It will be on our bed. It is not going on display anywhere except my blog. Who cares if I have ocean spray and periwinkle too close to each other in a couple of places?!? Who cares if I have three batiks pieced together without a solid in between? We both love this design, we both love the colors, and that's all that matters! If I don't point out the mistake when I finish the quilt, I bet no one will ever notice, even if they study the photo.

Even though I might have done things differently if I was just starting this quilt today, I am pleased with the final layout. I was excited but so intimidated to finally be ready to quilt! I thought I'd have to have to layer the quilt sandwich on the driveway, and that would require a good weather day. No wind, no rain, no snow. Not an easy order to fill in the Rocky Mountain foothills spring!

Upon finishing the fourth quadrant, I was being snarky and commented, out loud and to myself, that this project is equivalent to two baby quilts and two lap quilts, all joined together. I suddenly realized I could quilt them as quadrants, and then sew the quadrants together by hand! I actually enjoy quilt-as-you-go and love the hand-sewing. For the first time since I began this quilt in 2014, I wasn't intimidated by the size anymore!!! I don't have to procrastinate anymore! Each segment will fit perfectly on the longarm, and I might even be able to do something creative with the backing this way!

I'd purchased a huge chunk of wide Tahiti Dreams for the backing before discovering I could convert my old, ugly, skinny metal blinds that came with the house into state-of-the-art, modern and gorgeous Roman shades. I wasn't sure I'd have enough Tahiti Dreams left over after finishing this quilt to make matching shades for our large bedroom window. If I cut the wide backing into quarters and maybe even throw in a few off-center coordinating scraps (which would provide visual interest as well as use up even more scraps... YAY!!!), I might have enough of the wide backing for both the quilt back AND the Roman shades!!! Holy cow! This is brilliant! I'll never be afraid of a large quilt again!!! Unless it's already assembled... I have two large assembled WIPs, darn it!

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

27 April 2021

Eagle Eye

I've been having so much fun watching this eagle family this spring.

26 April 2021

Snowflake Monday

Last week I presented a slightly twisty snowflake and wondered if I could intentionally make it more twirly. This week, I stumbled across this Christmas 2012 gem I hadn't yet published.

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: 3.5 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

Pinwheel Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 17 dc in ring; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2. Don't pull magic ring too tight.

Round 2: [1 sc in same st, 1 hdc in next dc, 1 dc in next dc, 1 tr in same dc, ch 4, sl st in next dc] 6 times, omitting last sl st of final repeat; sl st in starting sc.

Round 3: [1 sc in same sc, 1 hdc in next hdc, 1 dc in next dc, 1 tr in next tr, 1 dtr in same tr, ch 10, sl st in next sc] 6 times.
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 4: [1 sc in same sc, 1 hdc in next hdc, 1 dc in next dc, 1 tr in next tr, 1 dtr in next dtr, ch 3, sl st in top of dtr, 15, sl st in next 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.

22 April 2021

Spicy Avocado

My most recent jar of avocado skin/pit dye didn't produce as vivid tones as I'd hoped. I think most of the avocado dyes I've been using through the winter are third and fourth dip. I did the freeze/thaw cycle on this dip because I've found the dyes seem to adhere better if I let them dry before I attempt to wash. Freezing overnight and then thawing also seems to richen the colors. We had two snow accumulations while I let the yarn dry.

I did get some lovely tone variation, but I'd like a little more depth. So, back in the dye jar this hank went, and I consolidated all of my brewing dye jars into that one jar. Some of those jars have been going since August. They may not have much pigment left, so I may have to give this hank a third soak, but for now, it looks pretty in the jar. It's on the porch now with two more hanks I started two and three weeks ago.

I started three new jars of avocado pit dye and one new jar of avocado skin dye. It's warm enough they can sit on the porch now, but I kept the fluid levels down just in case it does freeze overnight. I don't need any more broken Mason jars!

We had a record low of 13 degrees Monday night! Good thing it came with enough snow to blanket the flowers that have been fooled into spring! 13 degrees would have wiped them all out!

The jars survived. Thank heavens!

Lizard loves to watch when I start new avocado dye jars. The color deepens pretty quickly the first day, and he's amazed every time. He couldn't believe the starting hue while I was grinding up the pits in my thrift store blender. (Kitchenware should never be used for cooking once it's been used for dyeing, so I opt for super cheap dyeing tools by buying them used.) Lizard said the crushed avocado pits remind him of a good bowl of chili with cheese. The color is rather similar!

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

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