Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Time to Tie

We didn't quite meet the deadline we'd hoped for finishing my daughter's quilt.  But, we worked hard on it when we could.  We cut and cut, spent hours figuring out an arrangement on the loft floor, and row by row we sewed them together.  She worked from one end and I worked from the other with two sewing machines whirring away on the studio work table.  We had just enough squares left over to do a little something for the back to make it cute on both sides (I'll show that later).  Then, she had to leave for school.

I worked on the back side last week and made an oops!  Uh oh!  I cut a little too much on one section. I'm not sure what happened.  But, I think, I'll be able to make it work.  I tweeked it a bit yesterday and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to make it work out okay when it's time for the binding.

Today, I finished layering the two sides with the batting, lining it up as perfect as I could, and pinning it.  Then, I pulled out the quilt stand from my studio closet.  My mom bought it at her church rummage sale a few years ago for a really cheap price...maybe $5.  I used it once but it's been a while.    So, I wasn't quite sure how it was supposed to go together.  I dumped out all the pieces on the floor and scratched my head.  Hmmmm?  But, I got the legs put together and eventually figured out the rest.

This is the only bit of directions that it came with...a small line drawing on the side of the box...

I got the quilt on the stand and ready to tie.

Next came the decision of which thread to use for tying the quilt together.  The knots are going on the back side...where the little polka dots are.  It looked green until I tried to find a color match of thread or yarn for tying it.  There weren't even any sewing threads that came close.  I bought the three best options I could find and brought them home to have a better look and decide.

The embroidery floss was the best match for the polka dot side.  But, I worry it might not stay securely tied because of it's smooth/shiny finish.  The crochet thread was too green and might be too smooth too.  So, I went with the Sugar N Cream.  The color is a pretty good match for both sides and I think the knots should stay together better with the more textured cotton.  I'm splitting the four ply into two and it's working pretty well.  I'm alternating between making stitches from the top and cutting and leaving the ends on the bottom side, and then laying underneath to tie the knots and trim the ends.  It's much easier on my back to go back and forth.

I'm seeing the light at the end of this quilting adventure and I really do think it'll be done soon.  I can't wait to have it finished, folded, and ready to give to her.  She's really excited and I think it's going to look great in her apartment bedroom.  I think she'll feel lots of love when she looks at it and she'll have great memories from working on it together.  I know I will.  :-)

Hiking Devil's Slide

When my husband arrived home from work last Thursday evening, he asked if I'd like to go for a hike or something on Friday. He had a rare day of no meetings and thought it would be a great opportunity to take a day off and spend time together. What a sweetie! And, what a great thing for him to have a day off!

The weather finally started cooling down last week which made hiking a comfortable possibility. We quickly decided on a trail in the San Jacinto Mountains near Idyllwild, called, "Devil's Slide". We got up early Friday morning, had a good breakfast, loaded our day packs and drove up the mountain.  We made a stop at the Idyllwild ranger station for a permit for that trail and a wilderness parking pass.

It was a beautiful day!  The sky was blue with some desert clouds building in the distance.  I think the temperature was in the 70's to low 80's.  The humidity made it seem warmer, especially in the sun, but after the heat we've had the past few weeks, it was really nice!

There were interesting and beautiful things to see right from the start of the trail.
Check out this twisty tree.  I wonder what makes some trees do this?

Here's the whole tree.  It's dead but still standing strong and beautiful.

We saw another one later that day...

 Gorgeous blue sky!  And, more dead trees...but...the color and texture is beautiful!

So are the lines and shapes.  Strong and pretty!

This one looks like a dragon.  Click on it to make it larger and check out the scary looking head!

Little babies...trees of the future.

Hubby found a ring of bark on the trail, cleared out the center, and put it on my wrist.  A bracelet!
It was strong enough that it stayed on all day and didn't break when I took it off.  

The trail was two and a half miles long with 1700 feet of elevation gain.  It was a very good workout!

The terrain varied from smooth dirt, roots, rocks, steep drop-offs along the side,
and a couple of muddy sections.

There were a few sections that leveled out...slightly.  But, most of the trip up was just that, UP.
Lots of climbing!  There were some switchback sections that climbed pretty quickly.

At one point, we looked down and saw four sections below us.  I couldn't get a good
picture though because of all the trees.  But, here are two shots of some of them.

The steep climb made for a quickly changing view when we looked down the mountain and into the distance.  We started below the level of "Suicide Rock" (on the right side of the photo) but quickly climbed to a point that it was straight across from us.

And, in a very short time, we were above it and much farther away.  There was a marine layer over the valley that was slowly burning off and, even farther away, we could see clouds over the ocean.  What an incredible view it must be on a crystal clear day!

There aren't many flowers right now.  But, I did spot a few...like some Indian Paintbrush...

Some teeny, tiny flowers...

I think this might be Buck Brush...

Ranger's Buttons!  So cute!

We saw a few berries.  I think this is a Gooseberry.  Wicked!  Even the stems!  Hubby lifted a leaf out of the way so I could take a photo and it pierced his finger.  Ouch!

The above photo and the one below are from the same bush.  I love the colors in the one below.

More thorns!

We saw lots of lizards darting around and jumping from rock to rock.
Some were laying around, enjoying the sunshine.  They even posed for pictures!

So cute!

Now, I have more photos to use for sculpting lizards in my ceramics class.
Hubby is taking the class with me this semester.  :-)

We kept seeing tiny fur balls darting across the trail so fast that we couldn't get a good look at them.
We assumed they were chipmunks but weren't sure until this one actually sat still for a moment.

There were busy gray squirrels too.  Some of them had huge, fluffy tails.
I wasn't able to get any pictures of them.  But, I got a picture of this skinnier tailed squirrel
running around.  They all seemed quite busy getting ready for winter.

After a couple hours of hiking, we made it to the saddle junction.  I think the elevation is about 8,000 feet at this point.  There are lots of signs and trails that take off from this point.  Including, a trail that leads to Tahquitz Peak...the peak we went to last year but from a different side.

Even the famous Pacific Crest Trail runs through here.  A 2,663 mile trail that runs through the Cascade, Sierra, and other mountain ranges from the border of Canada to the border of Mexico.

At the saddle, we noticed strange things growing on the trunks of some trees.

Weird!  Creepy!

And, really big!

I also spotted this yellow growth.  The color is pretty but I wasn't about to touch it.  Eeeew!

From the saddle, we decided to follow one of the trails for a while and see where it lead.

The terrain started changing from mostly brown to partly green.

And, all of a sudden, we were surrounded by green fern.

The farther we walked, the greener it became and the fern got taller and taller.
It went from a few inches tall at the beginning to hip high further down the trail.

The clouds were getting bigger and gently drifting in front of the sun, giving us periods of shade.
It was gorgeous and magical up there.  I had no idea we'd find anything like this when we reached the saddle.  It was worth every steep step and all the heavy breathing and sweat!

We even came across a wet, boggy area.  I wonder if it's always there or if it was from the recent monsoon storms?  Either way, it's pretty cool and provides much needed water for the wildlife.

As we hiked back down, the clouds got thicker and darker but
we never heard any rumbling and they didn't seem to get any bigger or closer.

After our hike, we headed into the town of Idyllwild for a bite to eat.  We wanted to try a new place and decided on "Restaurant Gastronome".  They had outdoor seating under the pines with a terrific view of the mountain we had just climbed.  I had a delicious sandwich made with tender chicken on a soft, fluffy thin bread (I can't remember what they called it) with lettuce, tomato, purple onion and a yummy raspberry sauce.  Hubby had a delicious barbecue chicken wrap.  And, we had some ice cold beer.  The weather was wonderful, the food was delicious, and the company...there are no words to describe how wonderful he is!  I'm a very lucky girl!  Thanks, hubby, for a wonderful day!  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Colorful Fun

Just before our summer vacation, I popped into my local Michael's store in hopes of finding and buying a few new colors of Sugar N Cream yarn.  I found a soft, pretty blue, called "Robins Egg", and a happy, buttery yellow.  I packed them with some colors I already had and took them on vacation.  I thought it would be fun to make some chunky doilies for my daughter's new apartment.  I used some patterns I had in a little Leisure Arts booklet with a little improvising and came up with two beauties.  Here's the blue one.  I love how it turned out.  So pretty!  It reminds me of a snowflake...

Here's the buttery yellow one.  I used this pattern last Christmas to make a red one for a gift.  
I think I like it even more in yellow...

Before vacation, I had already started making things for my daughter and her apartment.  We had bought dishes and dishtowels for her one day and were so excited about it all that she decided to crochet some place mats to go with it.  She bought a great big skein of Handicrafter Cotton in a beautiful pinky/watermelon color.  She's made two, so far.  They're adorable!  I wanted to join in on the fun!  So, I made a dishcloth for her.

I used an H hook and made a simple, single crochet square.
I edged it with reverse single crochet.  It made a cute, twisted edge.

That was so much fun that I whipped up another one with a variegated blue skein that I had.
I'll either save this for a gift or use it myself.  

I made this orange one on vacation...

I made up a different edging for it.  I think it's pretty cute!  It's not this bright in person.
It's a softer, prettier, orange.

Sugar N Cream makes great dish cloths and it seemed like two put together would make a nice, thick hot pad.  So, I made one of those too!  I used two different colors, Mango and Tangerine,
to make it reversible and more fun.

I bound the two sides together with little white, triangle scallops.

Now, she has a few more useful and colorful things for her new apartment.   

They're all in softer, prettier colors than what they appear in pictures.  They go great with her white dish towels that have watermelon, pink and orange stripes in them.  And, it all looks great with the cute, watermelon place mats that she's making.  It also ties in with some of the colors in the quilt we're making...especially, the yellow, the blue, and the pinkish hues.  It's all so bright and cheery!  :-)

While I was having so much fun with Sugar N Cream, I decided to make a little case for my "peepers".  I call them that because I feel like I'm not old enough to need "readers" and "peepers" is more fun to say.  Although, I'm finding myself needing to use them more and more.  Sheesh!

I made a chain, single crocheted one row, and crocheted in the round so I wouldn't
have a seam to sew on the bottom or the sides.  I made a little button hole and stitched a
button on the inside so I could close it up and keep the "peepers" from falling out.
I topped it off with a row of reverse single crochet for a cute, twisty edge.

My "Peeper Pouch" is soft and thick enough to protect my glasses.  
The pouch makes it easier to find them too!  I love this turquoise color!

I still have a few skeins of Sugar N Cream, Handicrafter Cotton, and some other cotton worsted yarns in my stash.  But, these projects sure helped in de-stashing.  They also eliminated a lot of bright, cheery colors from my stash.  I'm kind of feeling some withdrawals.  I might "need" to buy some more!  Wink!