Only when you can be extremely pliable and soft can you be extremely hard and strong. – Zen Proverb
With the few days remaining until election, I am doing everything I can to just breathe, have hope, and stay sane. It is so true, that the littlest of things can make one happy. Running across the amigurumi tutorials has save the day for me. This Japanese art form of knitting or crocheting small animals provides the outlet and positive energy I need at this time. Forming soft and pliable yarn into hand-sized animals makes me smile. There are so many tutorials, and I do appreciate how people are so generous in sharing their art. I found an easy-to-follow tutorial for making a ratóncito, little mouse. My sister, Emma, created a cute ratóncito as a character in one of her Pig in A Wig book series. I think little mice are cute…although not in a house. I rummaged through some of my craft bins, and some crochet rounds that my mother had made. There are over 90 of these tightly crafted circles. I am trying to think of how to make something with these rounds. The bin also contained a few balls of yarn that belonged to my mom. I pulled out a ball of mixed blue yarn, and started looking for some tutorials on how to make a bird. Stella’s Yarn Universe has a three part tutorial on making the cutest bird ever. The directions are clear and slow. I was doing pretty good with the bird until I got towards the end. The bird is supposed to be facing forward with a tail in the back. I realized that my bird no longer looked like the one in the tutorial. Once again, I had miscounted on the crochet stitches. Some of the yarn is very dark blue and it is difficult to see the stitches. I think that is where I counted incorrectly. My choices were to unravel all my work and start over; or revise the pattern by making up the rest of the pattern. I noticed that it would work out if I made the tail to go to the side, instead of the back. The tutorial gave directions for using crafting wire for making the legs. I did not have wire, so I made a nest instead. I had a fabric rope shallow bowl I had made for practice. I filled it up with yarn and thread pieces. There will be another attempt at making this bird as it is in the pattern. There is also a tutorial on making a tiny bird that I would like to try out. Just for practice, I made a daisy granny square. Granny squares can be made while I am watching TV or visiting with the Meemaws. As for the amigurumi, I have to crochet along with the video tutorial. Some people list a written free pattern. However, reading a pattern is not something I do well. If you are looking for something relaxing to do, I totally recommend crocheting amigurumi.
“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”―James Herriot
I just had to turn off tonight’s debate. Animals are better off. In order to stay positive amidst all this turmoil, I have been working on fun stuff in my sewing room. Thanks to Tierney, my interest in crocheting has been reawakened. My mother is the one who taught me how to crochet. Back in the ’70’s, she and I would sit together and work on our own projects. She was my Youtube. Mom would start me off by showing me the stitches. Then, she would periodically check my rows and count the stitches. I made booties for an aunt in a nursing home, shawls for my MIL, mini Christmas stockings for my students, and oodles of afghans. My crocheting career ended when I got carpal tunnel. Since it has been quite a few years since I picked up a hook, I have been watching quite a few tutorials. I thought it best to start small, so I began by making an animurumi owl. These crocheted animals are made with all single crochets, along with increase stitches. The tutorial by Bianca’s Crochet Place was very informative. The instructor had the right pace, and she explained each step. I have trouble counting my stitches, so the owl had one wing larger than the other. A little surgery was performed, and the owl now has two wings of the same size. I then tried to make an elephant amigurumi. This did not turn out well. My stitch counting was so bad, I had made a body twice the size of the model on the tutorial. Rather than start over on another elephant, I decided to make a bee! The tutorial, Hooked by Robin, is well paced and clear in instructions. This turned out much better than I expected. I messed up on the count at the end, but it turned out with a better stinger on the bee. I also learned about how to make a decrease stitch. Since I still wanted to make an elephant, I started looking for tutorials on making fabric toys. I found a great tutorial and free pattern from Birch Organice Fabric. There was enough fabric left over from my dragon quilt for me to use in making this elephant Making these animals sure helped to get my mind off this pandemic and election. Stay safe. Vote.
I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?John Lennon
A few weeks ago, I was looking for fabric and pattern ideas to make a dragon quilt for my granddaughter. In my opinion, the fabric was either too dark and fierce, or too juvenile. Thanks to my friend, Nancy, who suggested I try making a fabric collage dragon. Making a fabric collage quilt was on my Something to Try list. I sketched quite a few dragons in my art journal thinking that I could then draw into on a larger scale. After a few disappointing attemps, I thought of looking on Etsy. Bam! Jackie Cooper had a pattern for machine applique that was just perfect! The “Drago” pattern had great instructions. I added a second border to make this into a lap quilt size. It is perfect for my granddaughter to use in the book nook she has in her room. Joy, from Mesquite Bean, helped me choose the fabric online. She is absolutely the best and is so helpful. I consulted with my granddaughter to make sure I had her favorite colors included. (The quilt is a surprise for Christmas.) The fabric included some batik and Kaffe Fassett. I also threw in some of my Marcia Derse scraps. Choosing the right color and designs to fussy cut was the most fun part of this project. I spent one day playing with the fabric and making the different parts of the dragon. They were all fused and ready to sew on the second day. I think I have enough fabric to piece a colorful backing. Whenever I Zoom with my granddaughter, she shares the latest adventure of the dragons in the book series she is reading. I love hearing the excitement as she tells the stories. She has me believing in dragons.
Last year, a friend arranged for three of us to have our own quilt retreat in Fayetteville, Texas. All along the way to our destination, we visited and shopped for fabric in the small towns. Holly Dee Quilts is a shop in Luling, Texas, owned by Denise Green. Her shop had a big selection of Marcia Derse fabric. I previously had purchased yardage of Derse’s Art History fabric and tucked it away until I could think of what I wanted to do with it. Denise had a curved log cabin quilt pattern made from Derse fabric on display. I loaded up on fat quarters, and went above my quilt retreat budget before I even got to a Fayetteville. The fabric came with the pattern for the log cabin quilt. The fabric was so beautiful, that I hesitated to start a project with it. I thought the log cabin was too traditional for the fabric. Since I had no clear plan, the fabric was placed in a bin. Recently, I was very interested in a quilt pattern that Mary posted on her blog. She had two beautiful finishes, using Kaffe Fassett, and a pattern by Free Spirit Fabrics, Carnival of Colors Pattern . This pattern is perfect for the Derse fabric. I followed the instructions for piecing the fabric, but I did not follow any sort of plan for placement of color or design. It was such a fun week, playing with the colors and designs of the fabric. P.S. Mary, thanks for sharing your two beautiful quilts and this pattern.
The San Antonio Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite places in town. Before Covid, I would frequently visit this beautiful place. At that time, the garden was undergoing major renovations. One of my Meemaw friends recently visited the gardens, and recommended that we meet there once again. Covid precautions are in place at the Gardens. It is a bit difficult talking and walking at a distance, while wearing masks, but we did it. And it was well worth it. The renovations are complete, and the gardens are more beautiful than ever. We were surrounded by autumn colors and natural designs. We saw the reddest, chubbiest Cardinals we have ever seen. I was able to capture two photos of Monarchs. At this time, the garden is having an exhibition of origami sculptures by Keven and Jennifer Box, and Robert J. Lang. The lifecycle of a butterfly sculpture was amazing. There was also one of a buffalo with a bird on it’s back. I could not get close enough for a photo on this one because the gardeners were working in the area. Hearing the “earth laugh in flowers” gave me a little more hope about getting through this seemingly never-ending pandemic and this troubled political time.
With a bucket of Lego, you can tell any story. You can build an airplane or a dragon or a pirate ship~ it’s whatever you can imagine. Christopher Miller
I know a boy who is going to be surprised on his birthday with the best gift ever. His dad just made him a Lego table. My son did a fantastic job on building this storage/play table. Last week, I enjoyed watching my grandson build with Legos. He is going to love this imagination station.
“When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam, may luck be yours on Halloween.”
Most of the quilts I have pieced have been my own design, or patterns that I get from friends, books, stores, or online. I think I have only made two quilts that came as a kit. Because of this pandemic, I am only shopping online for fabric. Thanks to the great people at Studio Stitch and Mesquite Bean, my virtual fabric shopping has been successful. Recently, I saw a kit from Prairie Grass Patterns, by April Rosenthal. The Midnight Magic kit came with two beautiful Halloween jelly rolls; background, binding, border, applique fabric; and laser cut lettering. The fabric is what sold me on this kit. The kit also had the triangle ruler for making hexagons. I have been wanting to make a hexagon quilt, so I purchased the kit. This pattern definitely was a challenge for me because of the seams. It was easy to nest the seams while piecing the triangles into hexagons. The headache came when I had to piece the hexagons together. There was no way, that I could find, to nest the seams. It was a bit of a struggle, but I ended up getting the seams to lay flat, even though they were not nested. Now that it is completed, I can say that I will not be making another hexagon quilt any time soon! Hoping you find luck, this Halloween. Stay safe.
I’m So Glad I Live in a World Where There Are Octobers. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
October, my favorite month, started off beautifully. Like Laura Bruno Lilly, I also took a reasonable and planned out visit with two of my sons, DIL’s, and four of my grandchildren. Time with my family nourished my soul and lifted my heart. I was a blubbering fool as I started my return trip home, but then I started tapping into the new special memories that were made this weekend. I now am re-energized and ready to proceed. The first thing on my agenda was to pick up my autumn quilt from my quilting friend, Linda Jennings. Fabric from Studio Stitch, in Greensboro, NC, was used for making this fun quilt. I used the Show Biz pattern that I had previously used in making the Halloween quilt for my granddaughter. The pattern is perfect for showcasing the crows shopping in the village on an autumn day. I named this quilt, Autumn in Crow-ville. The fabric for the backing was perfect because it filled with pumpkin recipes. This quilt definitely makes me feel happy that we ‘live in a world where there are Octobers.