Saturday, October 30, 2010

Scraps and hooks and needles

I'm finally back with a little more information about our crocheting and knitting for charity project.

It's quite simple really. If you are a crafter of yarns, you have a stash of scraps. Some yarns might be better than others for this project, but I don't think it is really going to matter what yarn you use. The charm of the final afghan is the "patchwork" design. Each block, different from the next, is a wonderful representation of the people who work together to construct and give the gift of warmth and comfort.

Rather than print out patterns and instructions, I'll simply ask you to visit the web site of the Warm Up America foundation. (Just click on this link.) Basically, do whatever you would like to do, just as long as you can make it turn out to be seven inches by nine inches.

There is a tip offered on this page: Cut a 7"x9" cardboard template to use for sizing your blocks. It is a little easier to use than a tape measure or ruler.

Here is my first block made from some scrap yarn I've had in my closet for many years. It is going to be so good to get rid of it and know that it is going to a good cause.
This is just your basic double crochet. I did find it a bit tricky to get the size (7"x9") correct. When I used the hook size the pattern recommended, (G) my block was too large. This particular yarn, though a medium weight, seems a little stiff and on the bulkier side. It is an inexpensive yarn and has a tendency to "untwist" as I work with it. Switching to a smaller hook had me grabbing only one or two plies of the yarn, which was VERY annoying to me. It slowed my progress and I didn't like that either. So...I went back to the  G hook and made my foundation chain shorter. (I made fewer chain stitches.) I stitched until my block was as close to 9" as possible. It is not exact, but thankfully knit and crochet blocks, when pieced together, can be scrunched or stretched just a little.

I'll stitch several of these and then send them to my new friend Carrie who is eager to piece them all together with her blocks and any others that volunteers send her way. She will also be responsible for the donation of the afghan when it is complete.

Please head over to Carrie's blog for any other details pertaining to the crochet / knit group. (Knitted blocks can be attached to crocheted blocks and included in the same afghan.) Leave her a comment telling her that you want to participate and she will see to it that you know where you can mail your completed blocks. Thanks so much to Carrie for heading up this project! What a blessing you are.

As winter begins to creep into our lives, let's put the garden trowels, beach balls, and butterfly nets away--(Okay, so who actually spends their summers catching butterflies? But you know what I mean.) and let's drag out our fabrics and yarns and do something for somebody who might not have life quite as good as we do.

Two last notes--if you have a favorite charity that could use one of our quilts or afghans, please let me know with a comment here. Red Cross, Ronald McDonald House, favorite retirement center, Crisis Pregnancy Center, homeless shelter, .... You tell us where you would like to see our donations go!
And PLEASE join us any way you would like. Donate supplies or finished blocks and ask your friends to join in on the fun! Our groups are very small at the moment but we would love to see them grow!

Now, off to the sewing machine. Or should I pick up the hook? Decisions decisions decisions!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010


It has been a really REALLY long time since I have done a "word" post. So excuse me while I take a little break from the charity projects to post a word for today. I just felt the need.

Today's word: Discombobulated--to be confused or disconcerted; upset; frustrated.

Go ahead and look it up. You'll probably find my picture.

It has been one of those days. Oh don't pretend you don't have them. You want to wash your face so you turn on the water then pour a big blob of detangle hair conditioner in your hand. Ugh. And since that didn't turn out so well, you decide to brush your teeth. *Squirt* There's a long ribbon of toothpaste now on your comb. You say to yourself--I DID already put sugar in my coffee, didn't I? Or did I? You go into the next room and can't remember why you are there. And maybe you should have checked to make sure your T-shirt wasn't on backwards before you walked out the door.

So maybe I'm the only one whose brain (and life) feels like it has just gone through a spin cycle and then tumbled dry. I know why I'm like this. It's stress. You thought it was because I OD'ed on fabric and yarn lint didn't you? I'm not saying I have my addictions under control, but I can handle my crafts! Okay!?!

We've been home a good two months now and you know how I get...I told God I wasn't going to get all worried and panicky this time. And I've done better. Really I have. But today was meltdown day!

The last three days I've spent a good bit of time in prayer. Seeking and sighing, hallowing and hoping, begging, and bargaining, wailing and wallowing. Storms have blown across the country and still, here we sit. Undeployed. Hubby has called the deployment office twice to make sure they know he is ready to go, but he's not been the lucky guy yet. The fact that he is doing a little contracting work on the side helps, but if we could have had a decent living doing that, we wouldn't have started this Dashing and Bold adventure in the first place.

Today, after I'd been on my knees a while, making sure God knew how frustrated I feel, I walked across the yard and the Spirit told me just to give thanks. So I started thanking God for everything I could see, hear, and feel. At that moment the mail carrier pulled up to my box across the street.

"It's here," I heard in my spirit. I knew what "it" was.

I started not to walk across the street. I thought maybe if I just left "it" in the box...I don't know...maybe someone would come flying down the street too fast, lose control, smash into our mailbox and "it" would be knocked out and blown away.

After a short mental wrestling match with myself I went ahead and walked to the box. Sure enough, there "it" was. The hospital bill. (I don't think I told you that my daughter spent a couple of nights in the hospital recently.) It's amazing how much a bag of salt water costs these days! Not to mention a nuclear medicine test, X-rays, CT scans, sonograms,...

My kid is an adult now, but there is no way she can pay a bill like this. And you know what parents do when even their adult child falls apart--they do everything they can to sweep up the pieces. (This particular kid has a knack of falling apart when our broom has lost it bristles.)

With head hanging low I drug my feet back across the street and up the steps into my RV. I decided to do a little blog hopping to take my mind off my troubles. I brought up one of my favorites that I've not read in a while, and before the page was finished loading, this song gushed from my little speakers like a sudden summer downpour. (Read the words carefully.)


From discombobulated  to meltdown in a matter of a few hours. It's probably a good thing that I cry instead of drink because I tied on a good one! Eventually I was able to dry my face, blow my nose and soon a precious friend from another state started a text conversation. Somewhere in it she reminded me to be thankful in all circumstances. (I think that's what we, on  a good spiritual day, call confirmation.) On a discombobulated meltdown day, it's a reason to grab another Kleenex. 

Confirmation is a sweet sweet thing. It's God's way of showing us that He is listening when we pray. And He does care about our struggles.

While we were still texting, my daughter called the hospital to discuss her inability to pay the bill. The lady on the other end told her that, because of her low income, she had qualified for one of the hospital's benevolence programs. They just happened to mail the bill the day before they qualified her. (Somebody get me another tissue!)

I'm kinda dense sometimes and I don't always listen well, especially when I'm so discombobulated. But now I get it! When the Spirit spoke earlier, I heard two totally unrelated sentences. But what He really said was, "Just give thanks (COMMA) it's here."
(Excuse me a minute while I wipe the droplets off my granny glasses.)

We still sit here undeployed and wondering why. Every circumstance in my life is not as I would like. But these trying circumstances will never change who I forever am in Christ. So I give thanks. It never crosses my mind to turn my back on Him. Instead I draw closer to Him in these times. So I pray...

Give me joy, give me peace, give me the chance to be free. Give me anything that brings You glory. I know there will be days when this life brings me pain, but if that's what it takes...
And I give thanks.

What a day!

I just found a gnat in my Kool Aid and the pepper shaker in the microwave! Ugh.

I think I should go now. My discombobulated ears hear a tub of hot water and lavender bubbles calling.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quilters unite

For this project you really don't have to know how to quilt. If you know how to sew, just a little bit, it will be easy and fun. It is a "quilt as you go" process. Now that I think about it, you don't even need to know how to sew! Keep reading.

The goal is for each person to complete as many squares (or steps) as they want to, then send them to me to sew together into the finished quilt. (If any group member is just dying to compile and complete the quilt, I won't fight you for the job.) :) The person that completes the quilt will be responsible for sending it into the Warm Up America Foundation or to the organization we decide to donate to. (We can discuss that later.)

 I'm in the middle of making a quilt right now so I took a few pictures that I hope will help explain the process. I must put in a disclaimer here. I did not "invent" or design this method or pattern. My sister taught me how to do it and she saw it in a quilting magazine somewhere. I wish I knew the publication so I could give proper credit. If the designer of this pattern happens upon my blog, please do not sue me for breaking copyright laws. I'm not selling this idea nor am I selling any quilts.

Now, on with the how-to.

Naturally this is going to be a scrappy quilt since we are all in different places using different fabrics. "Scrappy" is what makes it so charming, right? (100% cotton works best but if you have some blend scraps and don't want to buy something else, they will work.)

Please wash, dry, and iron (if needed) your fabric before you begin. First you are going to need to cut your fabric into 4 1/2" squares. For each quilt block you will need two white squares and two squares of other colors. (4 squares in 3 different colors) (With our next quilt we might just try any light and any dark colors, but for this one, let's stick with white as our base, okay?)
Sew one white square to one colored square. Then sew another white square to one of the other colored squares. Press the seams toward the colored side.
Now lay your pieces out so the white squares are opposite each other.
Next, flip one two-square piece over onto the other so right sides are together. (In this photo, the floral print will be on top of the white square that is above it, and its attached white square will be on top of the pink.)(Clear as mud?)

Now you will sew along one long edge and up both short edges. Make sure that your seams match up along the long edge. If they don't, then when the block is finished it won't look right in the middle. (Hang with me here--it will make sense in a minute.)
Can you see my seams? Down the left, across the bottom, and up the right side. I have basically formed a rectangular pocket.

Okay, now comes a little tricky part. Bring the stitched sides together, as shown, and make sure your seams are lying in opposite directions so they are butted. (Turning all seams toward the colored squares will make this easier.) Again, line your seams up perfectly so it will look right when it is finished.
Pin it together so it doesn't shift during stitching.
Beginning at one corner, stitch across to about 1/2" past the center seam. Backstitch. Stitch from the other corner toward the center for about 1/2". Backstitch again. This will leave about a 3" opening for turning. (In this photo, I will not stitch between the two pins on the right--this will be my opening. The rest of it will be stitched up.

I forgot to photograph the next step, but...trim the corners and turn the block right side out. (Hint: The corners will be on the bias so be careful when turning so you don't stretch them all out of shape. Voice of experience here.) I use a wooden cuticle stick to help turn them. A knitting needle will work too. Using a pin to help pull out the corners on the outside is helpful. Try to get them as sharp as possible without stretching.

You will press it out flat, making sure that you line up the seams on both sides as closely as possible. It should look like this.
See how nicely the points meet up in the middle? If you don't have your seams lined up and butting good when you sew the "pocket" your points won't match up on the finished block. I like to pin through my seams and the center before I press it to make sure it is square and both sides will be aligned the same. After pressing, your block should measure about 5 5/8". It will look the same on both sides which makes this quilt "reversible."

Oh, don't forget that opening where we turned it. You need to press that so that it looks like it is stitched. We'll sew it up in a little while.

Now for the batting. You will need to cut your batting the size of the block. (should be 5 5/8") Fold or roll the batting and insert it into the opening in the block.
 Spread the batting to the edges and corners of the block. A pencil eraser or wooden cuticle stick will help in the process. Make sure the batting is smooth, flat, and all the way to the edges of the block.

Now it is time to hand stitch the opening closed. (I'm hoping you know how to do this. If not, let me know.)
Once the opening is stitched, the block is ready to be quilted. I chose to do my quilting on the machine because I'm lazy and I want things to get done quickly. And because I've never done any hand quilting and I was not in the mood to try to learn how. If you are really into doing your quilting by hand, then go for it. If you do it on the machine, a walking foot will help keep it all from shifting. You can choose any quilting motif, just make sure some of it goes all the way to the edges to hold the batting in place. I stitched along the seam lines and then parallel to the seams with 5/8" spacing.
Now the block is finished and ready to assemble. You will mail your finished blocks to me. I will combine all the blocks and sew them together by hand to finish the quilt.
In this picture, all my blocks are not quilted but I've placed them just so you can have an idea how the quilt will look when it is finished.

 More about batting:
I've labored over this in my mind. There are just shy of a gillion different kinds of batting out there. This quilt needs a thin firm batting. 100% cotton would be best. I'm currently using a poly batting because my sister started me on this project and she just happened to have some thin poly scraps on hand. I didn't have enough so I went to the store and couldn't find exactly the same batting so I bought something "close". I then decided I wanted my quilt a little bigger so I needed still more batting and went back to the store...ended up coming home with some batting that was again, "close" but not exactly the same. So, my quilt is going to have three different kinds of batting in it. They each are minutely different in thickness and texture and body.

Needless to say, it would be best to have one consistent batting in each block. So how can we accomplish that? I think we have two choices. 1.) We can decide what we want to use before we begin and make it our "standard". The only problem with that...what if we all can't find the "standard" in our store? Yes, buying it online is an option but shipping charges can sometimes make an otherwise affordable project unaffordable.
2.) Group members can make the blocks but not stuff or quilt them. I (or whoever is responsible for the final assembly) will take care of the batting, quilting, and assembly.

Let me know if you have any other ideas.

The greatest thing about this particular method is that any member can do as little or as much as she wants to do. For example, if you want to just purchase some fat quarters and send them to me, great. You are doing your part and will be a blessing! If you want to use up your scraps and cut them into 4 1/2" squares and send me the squares, that will be great to! Cutting the fabric is my least favorite part. ;) See, even if you don't sew--don't even own a sewing machine, you can be a part of this group. You can do what you can right where you are with what you have to change someone's life for the better. If you want to sew the squares together but don't want to mess with the turning....well, you get the idea.

At this moment, it seems we have a group of two who want to invest a little time and a little money and a lot of fun into the lives of others. If you are reading this and you want to take part, then comment and give me your contact information. If you know someone else who would like to help, PLEASE, spread the word. I'd love to have enough precious quilters to produce at least 4 quilts in a year. (Wouldn't 12 be great? But that might be pushing it.)

Penelope, let's get started.

(If you want to meet Penelope, the other quilter in the group, head on over to her blog. She has a nice one.)

Crocheters and knitters, drag out your yarn scraps and watch for my next post. I'll post some pattern instructions and we'll get started!

Thank you all for your help!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Let's make a difference

What will they say at your funeral? What will be etched on your headstone?

I'm not being morbid. I'm asking these questions of myself as well.

I recently celebrated (On second thought, I didn't exactly celebrate--it was more like suffered through.) another 40-something birthday. My hair looks a little whiter every day, and at some buffet restaurants the young little girls at the counter give me the senior discount without asking my age. I've got aches and pains that Aleve can't alleviate, and those squirrels that run around in my head get lost on a regular basis. Yeah, I'm aging, and I'm not going to live forever. Well, not on this planet anyway. Death is a natural part of life, and though I don't dwell on it or even think about it often, I do, from time to time, wonder...will I be remembered when I'm gone? If so, what will be my remembrance? What will they say at my funeral?

Will they say, "She was so DASHING and BOLD?" I hope so! I hope they will say that--and more. Much, much more.

I've never wanted fame. Most people have a hard time pronouncing my name, so I'm not expecting it to become a household word. What I do want--is to make a difference. I want to know that someone's life has been changed for the better because I existed. And the more lives that are changed, the better.

Over the last several months, my spirit has been impressed, almost obsessed, with the desire to give what I have and do what I can to bring about change in the lives of people. I'm not talking about change via the Obama way. I want to do it God's way.

I'm reading books, praying, seeking God's guidance, and I still don't feel like I've got a definitive plan. I don't see the whole picture and can't say with certainty what God has "called" me to do. But I know one thing for certain. I'm supposed to be doing what I can--today--every day--no matter where I am or what I have to work with, to change another person's life for the better and bring glory to God in the process.

Where am I today? Camped in my own back yard. (Not much dashing and bold going on here.)
What do I have to work with? (See my last post) My addiction: yarn and fabric, hooks, needles, a sewing machine, a little know-how, and a few broken hours of time.
What can I do with what I have where I am? Have you heard of Warm Up America?

Here it is in a nutshell. Knitters and crocheters from all over the country spend a small amount of time and money to knit or crochet a few (or even just one) 7"x9" rectangle. Those individual rectangles are joined together to make warm blankets which can be donated to homeless shelters, The Red Cross, women's shelters, etc. (Click on the link above and read all about it. Then come back here and finish reading.)

You know, because of my dashing and bold life, it is hard if not impossible for me to be involved in "group" type activities. Weekly or even monthly meetings? I might be here and I might not. Today I can make plans to attend a meeting tomorrow and before the meeting time I could be on the road three states away. Since nothing is impossible for God...

I see no reason why Dashing and Bold people can't get together on line and through good old fashioned snail mail to form a new Warm Up America group. Do I have any readers who knit, crochet, or quilt and would like to do something very small to bless someone who needs to feel the warmth of a blanket and God's love?
Or maybe some of you don't have a crafting addiction but would like to help by buying yarn or fabric, or by paying for some postage.

Won't you join me in this little thing? Please know--one person may not be able to do a lot, but a lot of people can do a little. Those little things, when combined and done for the glory of God, can change a life for the better. If you want to get involved, please leave a comment or click on the link in my menu bar to contact me. I'll need to know how to contact you. Let me know how you would like to help and I'll give you more details as our group comes together. (Even though the WUA web site offers only knit and crochet patterns, I have instructions for making individual quilt blocks that can be combined to make a nice quilt, so our group won't be limited to yarn only.)

I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Where are you and what do you have to work with? What will people say at your funeral?
I would like my marker to read--She made a difference.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

The projects

What in the world is wrong with me?
I'm like a cow on locoweed.

I can't stop myself! I can't seem to control myself. I'm doing needles,thread, hooks, yarn, scraps, patterns, how-to books and videos, scissors, paper, pictures, batting, more patterns..., and I'm constantly looking for something new to try--mixing my fixes!
I need HELP! Is there such a thing as Crafters Anonymous?

Hello, my name is Lavonda and I'm an addict--maybe. How do you know when your hobbies are out of control? I think I might be there.

 I've written before about how the changing fall weather always makes me uneasy even though fall is my favorite time of the year. In the fall my anxiety level is high, and I get that intuitive feeling that doom and gloom might be lurking around every corner. This fall is no exception. In fact, as we are "camped" here at home (fair weather is abundant across the country and no hurricanes have managed to make landfall) that uneasy feeling is running rampant and is easily justified. I am, after all, female. And for me, like most females, knowing that money is coming in at a steady and generous pace seems to help calm my fears and chase away the feelings of doom and gloom. (Can I get an AMEN?)

I know I'm hard to live with sometimes. Everyone is. But when there is no work and no paycheck and I have fall induced Eeyore syndrome, I can be VERY hard to live with. I'm surprised hubby didn't choked me long ago.

Aware of my fault, I  desire to try and change my perspective so that I won't drive my hubby quite so crazy. (I think that was something I decided to do in 2010.) Along with that, lately I have felt a direction to invest myself in the life of someone else. Now I know WHAT I need to do, the only problem is--I don't exactly know HOW to do it. I've been thinking about it...

I think I've got squirrels running around where most people have brains. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing, but I don't have just one squirrel--I have a BUNCH. And they are all running in different directions. (This post is proof.) Anyway---

My efforts to change my perspective and invest myself has thrown me into a crafting frenzy. I have a friend who said I just need a creative outlet. Maybe. Or maybe I'm just crazy. Either way, I have so many projects going at once that I can't decide what to do! The worst part is, all I can think about is starting another one!

Since we've been home, I've made three sets of scrubs for one of my kids, put together a scrap book for my mom that I should have done a year ago, started a quilt (I've never done any quilting before), crocheted a pomp-a-doodle scarf, and taught myself to knit. (I'm not good at it yet.) I've got a plastic canvas project I want to do for the granddaughters, (borrowed the pattern from my sister) at least a dozen sewing projects that I have fabric and or patterns for, yarn and pattern for a shawl I want to make, a crochet baby blanket in progress, a newly purchased quilt pattern for the second quilt I want to make though I've only begun the first,...I could go on.

And what about that photo project I started a while back? The one where I take a picture every day and post them all here on my blog. Speaking of blogs, hasn't it been over a month since I posted anything? Someone tell me: do I have a problem?

One thing's for sure. I have been successful in distracting myself from negative thinking. I've kept my little squirrels very busy, and my husband and I are still happily married. So can an addiction be a good thing? Can being out of control help one control what is usually beyond her control?

What's that you ask? You want my recipe for locoweed tea?
Sure, I'll get one of my squirrels to fetch it for you.

p.s. I'll be back later to discuss helping me "invest" in other lives. Right now I've got to go to church.