Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kite Flying

This post will be a little out of the ordinary for me. It's about kite flying.  

While crafting is my passion in life, kite flying is my son's.  When we mention flying kites to people for the first time, I'm sure they have visions in their minds of small, diamond-shaped kites that you have to run with in order for them to fly.  Not so for us.  We learned to fly from a wonderful man named Blaize, otherwise known locally as The Kite Man. He takes kite flying seriously, but in a fun way  :)

Between Blaize and my son, Cade, they likely own about 400 kites, and yes, half of those are at our house  :)  We have bins of kites, piles of kites, and 3-D kites hanging from the basement ceiling.  We fly using kite crankers, hoop winders, and fishing rods.  And we fly them high.  My personal line goes 1000', and so does Cade's.  But Blaize has a line that is 4000' - it's too heavy for me to even use!  We often also fly more than one kite on a single line - a little risky, but so much fun.

This fall, we'd like to invite our fellow local homeschoolers out to fly kites with us.  It's really fun, and you'll learn so much - you'll learn about wind speed and direction, wind layers, wind shadows, distances, knot tying, and we are even starting to make our own kites, which involves measuring, shapes, and angles.  But first, you can just have fun flying, the learning will happen all by itself  :)

We like to "dress up" a kite using ribbon streamers on the sides.  The type and length of tail you use depends on many factors including wind speed and type of kite.  This kite is almost a stunt kite and so needs lots of tail to keep it steady in the sky.

Have you ever seen a boat fly?  This Go Fly a Kite pirate ship looks a little unreal up amongst the clouds.

 Cade, with his largest box kite - it doesn't seem that long ago that he could stand inside it!
 The rainbow duster bi-plane, with moving propeller.
 The Solaris kite is one of my favourites, even though we almost always need to pull it up using a steady delta kite - unless we fly in the steadier winter winds but that gets a little cold for me :)
 The Sunset Diamond is absolutely beautiful when the sun hits it from behind, causing it to glow.

And finally, our fabulous 9' Delta kite.  If the wind was too strong, this kite would lift you off the ground!  We only fly it in lighter winds, when other kites, with less wingspan, won't fly.  It's wonderful to watch it climb high in the sky, and once, it even flew in the clouds  :)

That terrible yellow quilt.

Okay, so I decided to make a modern-looking quilt.  You know, the kind with white in it.  I don't normally use white.  But this time, I thought I would make something that actually photographed well.  You see, I like to make quilts with little contrast, scrappy style.  This type of quilt, while looking gorgeous in real life, and being absolutely snuggly to live with, often doesn't photograph well.  Okay, so it might photograph well if I would work on my photography skills, or get some better equipment, or take a photo when the moon and sun are out at the same time while squirrels dance around (or some other thing that needs to happen in order to get the perfect shot), but I have trouble getting a good picture sometimes.

I decide to make a yellow a white quilt.  I love yellow and it's my son's favourite colour, always has been.  When he was 2 he was angry because he wished the whole world were yellow!  Moreover, yellow and white would make a beautiful, fresh-looking quilt that would photograph well.

Now, when you look at the photos, you will see that, indeed, it did photograph pretty well.  Again, if I would take more time to set up the shot and stage it better, it would be better.  But, hey, I'm pretty happy I actually got the quilt and the camera in the same spot to even take the pictures, so I'm happy enough.

But getting to these good photos was a long road.  Suffice it to say that I made every mistake possible while making this quilt:  I didn't measure the white strips so it turned out wonky and I didn't press the yellow strips inward (because that was more difficult and I got lazy) so the seams show a bit through the white (remember, I don't usually use white and so, I don't usually have this problem).  

This quilt was hanging on my banister rail for months, quietly telling me that even though it wasn't perfect, it deserved to be quilted.  I kept answering that I wasn't so sure.  Maybe I shouldn't bother throwing good fabric after bad by adding batting and backing and all that time and effort to quilt it if it wasn't going to be presentable anyway.

But this past Thursday, my husband and son went to the movies and left me alone for the afternoon.  (What?  Alone time?  What do I do with that?  We homeschool and my husband works from home 2 days a week so I'm never alone.)  My husband says, "You should do something fun with that time."  Yes, he is good to me.  I decided to quilt the terrible yellow quilt, as I had come to call it.

How could I have known it would turn out so well?  I guess I have to chalk it up to using white.

Oh, and if you ever need an all-over free motion quilting pattern, this one is super easy, super fast, and super pretty!  Just do a teardrop, echo it a few times, then do a wavy line around it, echo that a few times, and move on.  If you ever quilt yourself in a corner (no, I *never* do that), put another teardrop there, echo it, and make your way out around the waves to a clear spot.  Easy peasy  :)

Piles and Piles of Magazines

Those who know me well know that I have been decluttering my house for over ten years now.  When my son (now 11) was a baby, I joined Flylady ( - I can honestly say that Flylady changed my life!  All those things that naturally organized people know about how to keep a house clear of stuff, I don't.  I am naturally a bit messy and I love collecting things that I know I can make into something else someday - I know I'm not alone  ;)

So, as I was cleaning a bit in my sewing room, I glanced over at my bookshelf and saw stacks of magazines - magazines that I bought and looked at and then promptly put in with the others in the stacks.  Granted, I occasionally take a few out, re-read a few articles, and I might even bookmark a quilt or two that I would like to make someday (again with that word!), but for the most part, they just sit on the shelves looking pretty (and they do look pretty!).

But, let's face it, I have been quilting for 22 years now (33 if you count the little doll quilt I made with my grandmother when I was 8), and I really don't need basic quilt-making directions anymore, and I can usually figure out the math on basic, geometric quilt patterns (I love making quilts with squares and rectangles mostly anyway).  So, I don't need piles and piles of magazines laying around.  Add Pinterst to the mix, and I don't often even look at magazines for inspiration anymore.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I will still buy magazines when they catch my eye.  And a friend recently gave me the premiere issue of Quilty and I quite like it - and it's going in the keep pile  :)  I am actually keeping many of the more recent magazines.  But that still left a pile of older magazines that I didn't want anymore.  I really didn't want to recycle them - heck, they cost close to $10 each (and no, I refuse to do the math that would tell me exactly how much I have spent on magazines in the past 20 years!).  I could freecycle them or donate them to the local seniors' centre and I know they would be enjoyed by others.

But they are my magazines and what I really felt like doing with them was crafting!  Free craft supplies are always a good thing.  So, off to YouTube to find what I could make with magazines.

I discovered magazine reeds!  And I'm completely, totally addicted.  You see craft magazines (there were also some scrapbooking magazines in there) have wonderful colours in them that make great reeds.  After having our flooring in the first floor done this spring, I was loathe to put back up the boring art I had on the walls before.  I needed something new.  I though, why couldn't I make something, for free, and hang it up?

  So, I started rolling the pages.  It actually took a long time.  But, oh, how fun!  My son started making some, too, and we spent a rainy Friday afternoon quite nicely in the sewing room, rolling paper.

Arrange them in a pleasing order, add some ribbon, and, voila!, free wall art!

Of course, some of the pages aren't very exciting at all, with all that print - so I collaged.  The background on this one is just columns of print from the magazines, and then I cut circles from some scrapbooking paper (yet another craft supply I have far too much of!) and collaged them on, too.  Then I took a black permanent fine-liner and doodled a bit - super fun!

Really, what more can I ask of my magazines?  I enjoyed them for what they were, then I enjoyed them again for what I could make with them, and now I can enjoy them on the wall.  Life really doesn't get much better than cut and paste, does it?   ;)