Firefighter’s Drive

Firefighter Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

I feel exceptionally lucky to be able to sit here at my desk today, writing this post.  As you have probably heard, last week California was burning to ashes.  After working in the garden last Sunday morning, we spent a quiet day at home since my broken toes are still healing.  As we were getting ready for bed, the wind started howling around us.  I had an umbrella shading one of our gardenias.  We went outside to remove it and then we smelled it, that all too familiar wildfire smell in the air.

 

Firefighter Embroidery Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

We went to sleep wondering where the fire was.  Next morning, as I sat down to work, I noticed the sun.

I started reading the news, and shock took over me.  While sleeping Napa got lucky, the same wind that we heard the night before spread the fire across the mountains to the West and ravaged the city of Santa Rosa.

 

Northern California Wildfire Napa County | Whims And Fancies

 

This was the view just outside my window

 

I love fire.  I make excellent campfires, BUT I also have great respect for fire, a reverence if you will.  

Having lived in southern California where October is wildfire season, wildfires themselves are not new to me.  I have gotten ready for evacuation once before.  We have seen smoky skies and  burning hills more times than I care to remember.  We have camped under a red sun looming overhead, but it’s different.  Seeing this right outside our home still makes me very nervous.

 

Northern California Wildfire Sun | Whims And Fancies

 

 

Tuesday, as I saw smoke growing on the west side where the fire was closest to our home, I started packing.  Soon thereafter we got notification that the very north end of our street had received evacuation orders.  A young man wearing a particle mask was going from door to door, making sure we were aware of the notice.

 

Napa California Wildfire Sunlight | Whims And Fancies

Charlie has taken the colour of Quinacridone Gold from the wildfire sunlight

 

The hardest part is that if you do need to evacuate, you don’t know what you will come back to.  I started with the kitties’ supplies, their boxes, food.  Then came the necessary items for us and after that, a box of would-be-nice-to-save things.  On Wednesday, I packed a few more things ignoring the throbbing in my broken toes.  Whole place reduced to 2 boxes.

 

Napa California Wildfire Map | Whims And Fancies

Fire burning on both sides

 

All of us are ever so thankful to our First Responders.   They worked around the clock, shift after shift, 80 hours straight without any sleep to keep the fires away from us.   When the wind died down they made progress, only for the wind to return again the next day.

We got help.  All the neighbouring states, and states as far away as Florida, South Carolina, Indiana, New York and Alaska came to our rescue.  13 states in total.  We also got help from Canada and Australia.  The National Guard, police, firefighters – everyone pitched in stop the insatiable fire from raging across the state.  Our heroes!!

 

Thank You First Responders! Firefighter Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

 

Our city was saved thanks to these wonderful people. After multiple wind advisories, we finally got a respite on Saturday. On Sunday the evacuation orders were also lifted for our Northern neighbour, the city of Calistoga, our usual weekend haunt.  A bit of blue sky even showed up. The streets were still quite empty, but signs of life were returning slowly: A couple of children playing outside, a group of teenagers walking together, a few open restaurants.

 

Elsewhere however, others didn’t fare as well.  First Responders saved quite a few homes, but a great many were destroyed.  Nothing was left of entire neighbourhoods except for fireplace chimneys and foundations. 

I learned that the line between the destroyed and the saved homes was called the Line of Sorrow.

 

Love Our First Responders! Firefighter Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

 

Everyone showed extraordinary compassion.  That’s the thing about humanity.  We saw the worst of it last week, and we also keep on seeing the best of it alongside.

Well wishes continued to pour in.  Neighbours checked on each other like the young man who came by our place, while people offered their places to the evacuees.  Multiple animal rescue areas opened up for both large and small animals.  These are only a few examples.  The number of volunteers and donations in goods were at max capacity.

Businesses started collecting donations, and we gladly stepped up.  However, I wanted to do a bit more.

 

Firefighter Quilt Pattern / Firefighter Embroidery Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

Firefighter Quilt Pattern on Etsy and Craftsy

Firefighter Embroidery Pattern on Etsy and Craftsy

 

So, on Monday, I started drawing these Firefighter pictures.  That was followed by creating the pattern and writing the pattern file, testing and making the block, along with making the necessary edits, all in the last 3 days.  Every time I wanted to stop and rest, I kept myself going thinking about the firefighters who didn’t give up.

 

Firefighter Quilt Pattern

It is my 12″ Firefighter quilt pattern.  I included instructions to make the block without fire for easier piecing.  I am sure any child or adult who gets wide eyed by firetrucks will love it!

I would really love it if you purchase this pattern from my Etsy and Craftsy shops.

 

Firefighter Embroidery Pattern

For those of you who want to do a bit of hand sewing, I have a Firefighter embroidery pattern for you too.  Sadly, I ran out of time to stitch a sample, but the pattern is colour coded and has suggested stitches.  You can get that from my Etsy and Craftsy shops too.

 

I will donate all proceeds from both patterns to the Firefighters Fund. 

 

Heroes are not born, they are made.

 

Lets help these heroes a little further.

Thank You!!
-Soma

 

I am linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page. Please pay a visit to some of them, they are a lot of fun!

 

Scottish Penguin Glen

Scottish Penguin In A Kilt Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

On Monday I sat down very decisively to work on something happy.  Meet the newest member of my penguin fold – a little Scottish penguin named Glen.  When I shared the initial sketch, Kris asked what a penguin keeps in his sporran.  As I was sewing, I thought of a little story.

 

Glen had always loved wearing his kilt, but the other little penguins made fun of him.  Instead of changing himself to fit in with the others, he spent his days roaming the hills and dales alone, having his own adventures.  Although he was happy to go about on his own,  he sometimes wished he had a friend with him.  During one of his excursions, he found a new hill.  As he walked up the hill slowly – he was a little penguin after all – it started getting colder and darker.  Rain clouds covered the sun and very soon, strong gusts of wind started blowing him all over the place. 

 

Scotland | Whims And Fancies

 

He hurried up the hillside and found an old broken ruin there.  The hill was in a remote area and the entrances to the ruin were all overgrown with brambles.  He took a little knife out of his sporran to clear a path so he could get in without spoiling his clothes.  As he was cutting the brambles, something pink plopped down along with a few Thistle flowers.  He loved Thistle.  When he bent down to pick up the flowers and put them in his little sporran, he found a small pink stone among them.  By this time, big raindrops had started pelting down on him.  He hurried into the ruin to sit inside a big stone fireplace.  There he sat, thumbing the stone and looking at the sky, waiting for the rain to let up a little.

 

Penguin Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

Little Penguin Polaris on Etsy and Craftsy

 

A flash of lightning, and he suddenly found himself elsewhere, facing two other penguins.  One was dressed in woolens and the other in Viking clothing.  They were as surprised to see him as he was them.  After a little awkward introduction, Glen learned their names were Polaris and Olaf.  He also found out that they had been lonely penguins too, before they met each other. Polaris loved his matching woolens, he had quite a few sets.

 

 

Viking Penguin Olaf on Etsy and Craftsy

 

As for Olaf, not only did he love his Viking clothes, he also insisted on having horns on his helmet even though he was told Viking helmets didn’t have horns.  He thought the horns made him look very mighty and formidable.  They both welcomed Glen with open arms.

 

Scotland Thistle | Whims And Fancies

 

Polaris gave Glen a little snowflake that sparkled in the moonlight.  Olaf gave him a little fire-stone which glowed in the dark.  Glen remembered the thistles in his sporran and gave each of his new friends a thistle.  He showed them his pink stone too.  All three wondered if rain and thunder somehow activated the stone and if there were more penguins like them.   For now though, they were delighted to have found each other.  Sometimes you just have to look a little farther to find what you are looking for.

 

The photos were taken by me in Scotland.  I took the photo of the Thistles in the mountains standing outside, buffeted by wind gusts of 40 – 50 mph.  It was quite a difficult task, and I feel like I brought a little Scottish spirit home with me captured in that photo.

 

Scottish Penguin Glen Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

Scottish Penguin Glen – Etsy and Craftsy

 

Glen doesn’t always like to wear his tie or his belt buckle.  So I included additional sections in the pattern for easier piecing without the tie and the belt buckle.

 

Since I always get asked about pattern links, here are links to all three penguin quilt patterns –

Scottish Penguin Glen – Etsy and CraftsyThe newest member!

Little Penguin Polaris – Etsy and Craftsy

Viking Penguin Olaf – on Etsy and Craftsy

 

Penguin Quilt Patterns | Whims And Fancies

 

They are a happy bunch, aren’t they!  I love them!

Have a crafty week,
-Soma

 

I am linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page.  Please pay a visit to some of them, they are a lot of fun!

 

Chasing The Shadow – Eclipse 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017 Diamond Ring | Whims And Fancies

 

Diamond Ring – heralding Totality

 

Today I want to share something with you that is extremely special to me – our eclipse journey which I started planning two years ago.  It was two years ago that I called the hotel in the tiny little town of John Day, Oregon to reserve a room for the two of us for last weekend.  John Day lay in the path of totality, so we wouldn’t have to drive any further once we got there to see the total solar eclipse.

 

 

Solar Eclipse 2017 Baily's Beads | Whims And Fancies

 

Baily’s Beads – Sunlight rushing in between moon’s craters

 

This was our first total solar eclipse.  I have photographed a couple of partial ones before, but those were nothing compared to the sun being completely obscured by the moon.  I knew I had to capture this event with my camera and telescope. 

So, on Friday afternoon we started our 592-mile / 10-hour journey northbound to chase the moon’s shadow for the first time in our lives.  We both love to drive, and the scenery was fabulous.  At any other time, I would have stopped and taken a LOT of photos along the way, but my mind was focused on one and only one thing this time.

 

Solar Eclipse 2017 Baily's Beads With Prominence | Whims And Fancies

 

Close up of Baily’s Beads – bright sunlight filtering through the rough edges of the craters on the moon

Solar Prominences – Activity on the solar surface shown in red

 

I knew going in that I would be able to either view and enjoy the eclipse or take photos.  I chose photos.  Totality would last only 2 minutes at our location and I had to finish taking a series of photos within that time.  Immediately after, the solar filter would need to be placed back in front of the telescope before the sun would emerge again, so my eyes and my optics would not be left permanently damaged.

 

Solar Eclipse 2017 Earthshine | Whims And Fancies

 

Couldn’t pass up a chance of capturing the lunar surface covering the sun

 

We spent Sunday at the hotel.  We were lucky enough to be able to park our car right in front of our room.  The car powered my telescope’s motorized mount so it could continue to track the sun once I had everything set up and aligned correctly.  We spent the morning making sure the setup worked from that location.  The afternoon was spent rehearsing the set of exposures I would be taking.

 

Solar Eclipse 2017 Totality | Whims And Fancies

 

Totality

 

One last rehearsal Monday morning and I was set.  I started watching and recording the partial eclipse from the very beginning.  As the moon proceeded to cover the majority of the sun, the light started dimming quite significantly and the temperature dropped noticeably as well.  I felt a chill in the air and we experienced late twilight in the middle of an otherwise very sunny morning.  

Right then, the alarm went off on the phone to tell us to remove the solar filter and start clicking.  The race against time had begun!  It felt like the two minutes were over even before the countdown started.  I didn’t get a chance to look up at the sky, but I also knew I would be very sad if I didn’t take the photos.

 

Art Supply Zipper Bag | Whims And Fancies

 

Needless to say, I didn’t get to paint or sew much.  Before the trip, I did manage to make a small bag using the yellow newspaper fabric that my dear friend Kris sent me.  I made it to carry my tiny little paint palette and my sketchbook.  Remember the round pencil cases I made in this Sketchbook 2017 post?  Now I have a matching art supply bag.  I took them with me, but unfortunately they stayed in my backpack.  I know one of the August sketchbook entries will be of the eclipse.

 

Solar Eclipse 2017 | Whims And Fancies

 

Total Solar Eclipse – Beginning To End

 

My husband helped me rehearse the photography sequence more than a dozen times, and talked to curious strangers while I was setting up my telescope so I could keep my concentration.  Most importantly, he sacrificed his viewing experience to remove and replace the solar filter on time, to call the photo settings out loud and to shine a red light on the camera so I could shoot uninterrupted. 

This was my first try at taking photos of totality and I really could not have done this without him.  I wish we had a few more seconds so he could have enjoyed it a bit longer. I owe him another eclipse journey.

 

I anticipated this for so long, now I am a bit sad that it’s over.  As happy as I am with the photos, I also wish that I spent time experiencing the totality with my own eyes.  Shakespeare said it best –  “For man is a giddy thing and this is my conclusion“.

Thank You for listening!
-Soma

 

I am also linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page.   They are fun to visit and great source for new inspirations.

 

A Day By The Ocean

Summer Sailboat Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

I took a break last week to catch my breath a little, and it was quite nice to be able to do that.  During that time I worked on a few hand sewing finishes.  The Summer Sailboat was amongst them.  I wanted to add to the paper pieced block with hand quilting.  Large fluffy clouds are always a favourite of mine and my husband.  I started there and added on as I went along with the quilting.

 

A couple of months ago, we went to the Point Reyes National Seashore.  We don’t live by the ocean, but it is a very nice day trip for us.  Sadly, we only go once every few years.  We had never been to Point Reyes before, and I needed to learn my new camera that I got earlier this year.  So we decided to drive out and make a day of it.  After having a delicious seafood lunch at one of the many small seaside towns en route, we arrived at Point Reyes.

 

Point Reyes, California | Whims And Fancies

 

It was a cool, windy day.  Although a bit hazy, you could still see the bay in the distance.

 

Point Reyes, California | Whims And Fancies

 

The colour of the water makes me think of glass.  I could have stood there forever, watching the water crashing into those rocks creating frothy white foam.   Different every time!

 

Point Reyes, California | Whims And Fancies

 

The call of the ocean.  I always feel a strong pull whenever I see the vast expanse of the sea, wondering what’s on the other side.

 

Point Reyes, California | Whims And Fancies

 

The ever-present stiff gale has bent all the trees, creating a canopy.

 

Point Reyes, California | Whims And Fancies

 

There are wonderful sitting grooves on the thick branches of this lovely tree.  Sitting in one of those was like being hugged by a tree.

 

Point Reyes, California | Whims And Fancies

 

The marine mist rolled in at the end of the day.  The contrasting white of the breaking waves against the blue-grey is beautiful.

 

Point Reyes, California | Whims And Fancies

 

I love the pale and soft pastel purple, peach and cream colours of sunsets even more than the bright ones, they feel very serene and peaceful to me.  It was time to head home.

 

This was the first outside trip for my new camera and it was a wonderful one at that.  I hope to create many more memories with it.

 

 

I set out to quilt the little wall hanging with that ocean blue colour in mind.

 

Summer Sailboat Quilt Pattern | Whims And Fancies

 

Summer Sailboat on Craftsy and Etsy

 

The finished Summer Sailboat quilted wall hanging.  There was another quilted square on the border, but it looked crowded, so I removed it in the end.  This one is my very first all hand-quilted finish.  I could have been done with it a bit sooner if I didn’t always get hung up on the stitch sizes being almost same all the time, but I am glad I took the time to work on it. 

 

The Summer Sailboat quilt pattern is on my Craftsy and Etsy shops should you wish to make one.  I hope you enjoyed the photos and my little finish.  I will tell you a bit more about this one and a couple of companion quilted wall hangings another day.

-Soma

 

I am also linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page.   They are fun to visit and great source for new inspirations.