Thursday, March 30, 2023

March OMG: Traffic on Safari Progress!

In March my OMG was to just get organized ... to pick up a project that I couldn't call a UFO because, well, I had never started it! I really just wanted to look at the pattern, look at all the fabric I had bought, and figure out what all the pieces were for. 

Here's where I started the month:

Having my kitchen table back as a workspace meant I was able to spread out, get organized, cut strips, and even start stitching strips. In fact, I am thrilled to report that all my blocks are actually cut!

It will come as no surprise that my OMG for next month will be to lay out the blocks... but I'll save that for another day. I'm really happy to have some some quilting during National Quilt Month! (Which, I know for a lot of OMGers, is every month...)

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts and Stories from the Sewing Room with the idea that we can just focus on one task and make progress. You can see how everyone did in their March projects on the Finish Party page! Or choose an OMG project of your own and join us in April. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Delphian Cornflower Stitch-a-Long, part 3

Hi everyone! I can't believe it's been three weeks since our last check in... but I'm happy to say that I have a lot done. In fact, it's happy dance time!

Here's where I was last time, working on a traditional cross stitch pattern in a gorgeous kit from Avlea Folk Embroidery

And here's where I am now -- I just finished all the stitching!

I love this pattern, and the fabric, too:

I'm not sure how I'll finish it, but I think I will turn it into a pillow for a good friend. I think it will match her new couch! 

Now, what's next, I hear you asking. Well, first I want to make sure this stitching gets made into something, rather than go into the "stitched but not finished" box in the basement. 

Then I want to work on a project that I tore out of a stitching magazine in December 2000. No, that's not a typo. I tore out this pattern and had it in a folder for more than two decades. Last year I bought the fabric (which is, in real life, a midnight rather than a royal blue) and made sure I had all the floss.  

My plan is to stitch this and then put it into a cushion cover that I can put over my existing cushions come Christmas time. I like the idea that I'm finally going to work on a project that I have thought about since 2000. 

And speaking of projects, don't forget to check out the amazing projects my fellow stitchers are working on -- I love seeing what they're working on! Avis, Claire, Gun, Christina, KathyMargaret, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Sharon, Daisy, AJCathie, LindaHelenConnieCindy, and Mary Margaret.

Monday, March 13, 2023

13x13 March edition

My friend Suzanne chose the February project, Glowing Pumpkin from the Mill Hill "Painted Pumpkins" ornament series. A nice contrast with the colorful Persian Pumpkin kit I made in January, Glowing Pumpkin is classic black and orange:

I liked that so much that I've chosen another black and orange ornament, Enchanted Moon

It's fun to have a different shape, having done a lot of pumpkins so far. 

As usual, I'll check back in on April 13 to share my finished piece, as well as my next project. Maybe I'll even go nutty next month and do a different sort of project! Of course, I really do love these little Mill Hill kits. 

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Delphian Cornflower Stitch-a-Long, part 2

Hi everyone! This is the odd case where it feels like I can't believe it has ONLY been three weeks since our last check-in. In the interim I started a new job that -- even though it makes my brain tired every night because I'm learning so many new things -- I really like. It's my first time starting a new gig fully remote so I'm trying to spend extra time with my new teammates; in my first week I had 11 hours of 1:1 meetings, plus a couple of group meetings. For an introvert like me, that has also been exhausting, but I know that relationships matter, possibly more so in a remote working environment! 

Last time I had chosen my next project: a traditional cross stitch pattern in a gorgeous kit from Avlea Folk Embroidery

As I said then, the materials are a joy to stitch. I have struggled with evenweave in the past, but this is an absolute dream. 

I thought with the new job I would have less time to stitch, but I forgot that I was taking three days off in my second week (!!!) on a quiet getaway with my husband for his birthday. We spent three nights in a deluxe cabin at Cama Beach Resort on beautiful Saratoga Passage in Puget Sound. "Deluxe" means "you get your own bathroom and shower", but the little cabins are pretty rustic, if very cozy. In the summer they are booked months in advance, but mid-week in the late winter, it's super quiet. Apart from the windstorm, of course. 

It was so cold that we spent most of the time with the heater turned up high, watching the shore and listening to audiobooks while I stitched. As such, well, I got quite a bit done: 

There's more red and coral highlights in the blue flowers, plus gold and light green accents on the greenery left to stitch. It's such a delight to get into a rhythm with the repeating patterns -- you know, like when you are knitting or crocheting and you "get" the pattern and don't need to follow along so closely? 

I already want to make something else of hers, though I don't know what. And, of course, I'm trying not to acquire MORE things to stitch... But perhaps I'll reward myself with another one of her kits (or a pattern and some ground cloth) if I keep moving forward on all the other projects I want to complete this year!

And speaking of all the other projects, don't forget to check out the amazing projects my fellow stitchers are working on -- I love seeing what they're working on! Avis, Claire, Gun, Christina, KathyMargaret, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Sharon, Daisy, AJCathie, LindaHelenConnieCindy, and Mary Margaret.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

March OMG: Traffic on Safari

In January 2020, while traveling for a 5K, I stopped in at a local quilt shop. I don't let myself do that all that often as I could spend the rest of my life quilting and probably not get through the fabric in my stash. But I thought I would go in, pick up a fat quarter or two, and head out. 

An hour later I walked out with fabric for a queen-size quilt. 

I fell in love with Moda Fabrics "Safari Life" fabric collection -- now difficult to find online. The lions and giraffes make me smile and reminded me of our time in Africa. So I bought two jelly roll packs and some other fabric to make up the 51 strips I needed, plus more dark fabric for contrast, and a bunch of green fabric that I thought would look great instead of the white background. 

And then? Then it went into the basement. 

When I transitioned to full-time work from home I took over the kitchen table as my desk. For several months, I never even put away my desk at weekends -- so I lost the space I would normally use for crafting. 

Weirdly, it took getting laid off in December and starting a new, permanently remote job in February for me to carve out an office space in my basement. As a result, I now can work on crafts at my kitchen table again! 

My OMG for February is to look at all the strips and fabric and figure out just what I wanted to do where. There are a couple of extra pieces that I purchased that I don't remember why. Then I'll cut out the narrow background strips, the background sashing, and even the binding strips, as well as the strips from the larger cuts. If I get really crazy, I'll stitch the background/dark contrast strip sets and maybe even the colorful strip sets. I mean, it is National Quilt Month and all that. 

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts and Stories from the Sewing Room; you can see all the monthly projects on the March Link-up Page.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Jekyll Island Half Marathon race report


When I plan trips to races, I often look at holiday weekends -- even for a long trip, getting an extra day off helps. So I had originally heard about the Jekyll Island Marathon in late 2021 and considered it for 2022 as it's always on MLK weekend. But I didn't get my act together in time... which turned out to be a good thing, because the race had to be cancelled at the last minute because a storm damaged a lot of trees on the course. 

When I started planning this trip, I proposed a long weekend in Georgia and then home. Wil said, "If we're going that far, why wouldn't we spend time at Disney World?" He gets me, you see. 

We flew to Jacksonville, Florida, stayed one night near the airport, and then picked up a rental car and drove up to Jekyll Island. 

We checked in to our hotel, then walked over to pick up our race packets. There were a couple of Maniacs there, and a 50 Stater or two, which is always nice. The next morning we were up with the sun, literally:

We walked the short distance to the race start, and joined the shivering throng. See, it was really cold -- AGAIN. We listened to the course talk -- a LOT of directions and we just hoped the course would be well marked. Happy to say that it was!

We would be running out along the main road to the northern end of the island and a little ways back, then turning on to one of the many bike paths and making our way back to the finish.

The course -- well, the entire island, really -- was flat as a pancake. But it was also very, very pretty. We knew that we wouldn't run much -- I think we ran the first mile before setting in to a brisk walk. It was a really pretty, mellow morning. 

Though the roads weren't fully closed, there was very little traffic that early on a Sunday morning. 

Not knowing the island -- and not really knowing the map, it came as something of a surprise when we turned off the road and onto the bike path.  This is when this race got really, really pretty. 

At the 7 mile mark we turned left toward the Clam Creek Picnic Area, heading to the northern edge of the island. You can just see the fishing pier to the left as we turned to head to the northernmost point. 

Along the way we hit an area where dunes were encroaching on the trail -- so as always we laughed that it was a trail run. 

Eventually we turned south, getting back on the road -- well, this time, the sidewalk -- for a few miles. We were really just walking steadily at this point, and had that weird experience of passing people who were run/walking. We'd catch up with someone walking, they would start running for a few yards, and then we would catch up to them again when they started walking. After 3 or 4 times, they would often just "give up" and fall behind us. 

After a while we reached the bike path along the shore line. I was happy to be almost done because my knee was bothering me a little. 

The finish line was in a grassy area by the shops "downtown" -- with a nice finish chute and arch. As usual, we held hands and took off running. Always nice to finish strong, eh?

The announcer even gave us a shout out for coming from so far away. 

We milled around a bit, snacking on crisps, chugging water, and cheering for other finishers. We thought about getting a drink at the nearby pub, but they didn't open when the sign said they would so we went to the market, picked up a couple of drinks, and headed back to our lovely hotel. 

It wasn't a great performance -- we strolled most of it -- but it was a really nice way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday morning, and, of course, to pick up state number 43!

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Revolution Run Half Marathon race report

I started my 50 states half marathon project a long time ago. I used to make lists of races I wanted to run in my remaining states, and plot out ways to maximize my travel -- especially if I could tie it to a work event and get the airfare paid for. 

One of my long-time dream races was the Revolution Run, which was usually run on New Year's Day. Why this race? Well, it's in Utah... but more importantly, it's an INDOOR half marathon. The race is held on the running track at the Utah Olympic Oval, a 4-lane, 442-meter track around the speedskating track and open skate ice sheets. Best of all, it's always 63-65 degrees in there. Perfect running conditions. Insane, right?

In 2022, because January 1 was a Sunday, the race was held on December 31 -- which just happens to be my birthday. So it seemed ideal to spend a weekend in Salt Lake City, run my first (and last?) indoor half marathon, and celebrate my birthday by picking up a new state. 

We flew from Seattle on the afternoon of December 30, arriving in SLC after dark. Overnight we got a lot of snow, which made us happy that I'd decided to use Lyft for all of our travel, but worried we wouldn't be able to get to the Oval. Silly me -- SLC gets snow all the time, so they are prepared for it, and we had no trouble getting to the Oval in plenty of time for the race. 

We walked in and -- though I guess I knew how big the space was -- I was AMAZED at how big the space was. I'm not sure these pictures do it justice. Here's the widest part of the track, along the "main straightaway". 

Here's one of the short sides of the oval, and you can see one of the two "ice sheets" -- the one that hockey games are played on. Just out of sight on the left edge are grandstands, which were occupied during much of our race by families cheering on hockey games. 

We picked up our shirts and bibs and timing chips, and were also given hand-held clickers so we could keep track of our own laps. The timing chips would also register each time we crossed the line, but this way we could always know how far we had gone. Well, sortof -- I kept forgetting to click my laps at first, and later on Wil forgot to click his, so we were often off by a lap or two. Because of the length of the course, we ran 49 laps to get our 13.1(+) miles.

The event hosts multiple distances -- a 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, and a "as far as you can go in the 4 hours" event. So there was a good-sized crowd when we started. 

This sign, on the back stretch, made me laugh every time. Runners must yield to Zamboni! Note that the Zamboni stayed on the infield during our event, so we never had to wait for it to pass. 

It wasn't too long before the 5K and 10K runners all finished their events. And we just kept going around and around. There were some entertainments to distract us -- a group of very fast short-track speedskaters were working out on one of the inner ice sheets; it was amazing to see them work together and just get faster and faster. And on the other ice sheet we could glimpse hockey games. 

At the 2 hour mark we were turned around so that we could run in the other direction -- better on our hips, you see. And that's about when the speedskaters showed up to practice on the big oval. Watching them whoosh past at incredible speeds was so cool. We weren't the only people who stopped to watch them!

I'm not going to lie, this race was boring and I was SO HAPPY when the race director called out that we were on our last lap. (I hadn't dared hope!) So we hustled around and crossed the finish line for the final time. 

I should point out that the race was nicely organized -- the timing was fine, the medals were nice, and the snack food at the one water stop was plentiful. Nothing to complain about at all! And it was fun, and weird, to run around and around and around indoors while the snow fell steadily outside. 

After the race we went to the Vertical Diner, a vegan restaurant, where we had incredibly good food and beer. A perfect way to celebrate my birthday and a job well done!

Revolution Run Half Marathon (really 13.23 miles)

3:29:45 (ouch!)

Friday, February 24, 2023

February OMG: Tablet Weaving Success!

In February my OMG was to warp my loom for my first tablet weaving project. The first step was easy: selecting a pattern and counting the number of lengths of each color of yarn. This pattern used 12 tablets and three colors, so I needed 30 strands of color A, 10 of color B, and 8 of color C, for a total of 48 strands (12 tablets x 4 strands each = 48 strands).

There are a lot of steps in warping -- marking your tablets the first time, cutting all the yarns, threading the tablets, and then getting them onto the loom, all while not tangling the yarns into knots. 

Of course I got my thread tangled up, but I was able to straighten everything out and get the yarn on the loom. (Eventually.)

Of course, I didn't take any pictures of what the warped loom looks like, so here's a screenshot from the course video:

Everything I had heard had said that the warping process was the hardest part of tablet weaving. Sure, there are complex patterns which required turning some tablets one way and some another, but this pattern was simple: turn the tablets 4 times forward, then turn them 4 times backward.  So I decided to give it a go. 

For the first 4 turns, you insert a toothpick each time to "lock" the weaving. After that, you pass the weft thread through after each turn.  And, suddenly, after only a few minutes, I had this: 

When I wove most of the available warp, I loosened up the loom and slid my completed band out of the way so I could keep making a longer band. 

I also realized, along the way, that I needed to keep track of which direction I was turning -- here's a point when I messed up the pattern my reversing it in the wrong spot. Still pretty cool to see what happens: 

One of the things I like most about this craft is that it has been done for centuries. There are loads of medieval illustrations of women tablet weaving. I note this in case you think this is an actual photo of me 😉

I kept working at it for a couple of hours, and eventually wove the entire band. Not bad when my OMG was simply to get the thread on the loom!

I plan to work on a more complicated pattern next, perhaps one with pieces that turn in opposite directions. Whatever I choose, I'm really thrilled with the result. It's definitely a first attempt -- my edges are uneven, as is my tension, but it's beautiful and I can't wait to make more. Thanks to OMG, I just might!

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts and Stories from the Sewing Room with the idea that we can just focus on one task and make progress. You can see how everyone did in their February projects on the Finish Party page! Or choose an OMG project of your own and join us in March.