Needles and a Pen » Knitting, Sewing, and Nursing School

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  • Welcome to my blog!

    Hi! I'm Traci. I'm a nursing student and CNA who loves quilting, knitting, cross stitch, Project Life scrapbooking, and the great outdoors. In my pre-scrubs life, I owned Real Photography, and you can still see my old wedding and portrait photography site here .

    I great big puffy heart *love* comments, so please let me know you visited! I try to always reply!

the one where we all had flashbacks to the Waldo Canyon Fire

It always annoys me how people want to tell THEIR story when something stressful happens instead of just telling THE story.  No one cares about your take on it–we just want to know what happened on the macro level.  No one cares that you were making macaroni and cheese when aliens invaded your town–WE JUST WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE ALIEN INVASION.   It’s self-indulgent and annoying to tell the play-by-play and makes it seem more dramatic than it actually was.  But suck it–my yard was on fire and I’m going to tell my side of the story, including all the irrelevant-to-anyone-but-me details.  So there, everyone being annoyed by this retelling (which is mostly me).

This morning as the kids and I were getting ready there was an annoying alarm quietly going off.  We couldn’t figure out where it was coming from until I realized it was the ancient looking fire alarm in our hallway.  I turned it off, made a mental note to check the battery but probably just buy a newer one for that spot (we have newer ones elsewhere) and carried on with our day.

This afternoon I was putting Ellie down for her nap while the boy from next door mowed our lawn.  He was mowing down a section that we only do twice a year, so he’d been at it for some time.  I successfully put Ellie down and came into the office and was writing a REALLY funny Facebook post when I heard a muffled frantic knocking.  Figuring it was the neighbor kids wanting to play with Ellie, I was taking my sweet time about going downstairs when I heard the neighbor boy run through the downstairs calling “Miss Traci, there’s a FIRE!”  Not really believing that this was emergency-level fire, I asked where it was.  My fire alarms weren’t going off.  (Of course they weren’t–apparently they run 6 hours fast.)  “Outside!  My lawn mower is on fire!”  I ran outside and saw his mom on the phone.  Double checked that she was calling 911 (she was).  Looked around for the fire and finally spotted it around the back side of the house.

Now, a small yard fire is slightly scary on about the same level as a big dog.  Unless you are from Colorado Springs and recently watched 300 houses burn in the Waldo Canyon Fire.  And then a small yard fire is scary on the same level as a raging inferno. I kept thinking ‘that’s probably not a big deal’ but when our neighbor asked if I wanted to start getting things out of my house I thought “do I want to be the person who overreacts and puts a bunch of stuff in her car and feels silly later or the person who thinks it’s not going to be a big deal and is then burned alive?”  Not really a tough call.

The neighbor’s dad was fighting the fire with buckets of water, his wife wrapped up her call with the dispatch (who had told us not to go all Little House on the Prairie and go out there with quilts [I’d totally been making a mental list of least favorite quilts to use]), and the fire was a circle about 10 feet.  I got Ellie, moved her to a house farther from the fire where the older kids would watch her, and grabbed our business files, business server, and camera bags (we have a wedding Saturday) and tossed them in my car (that’s right clients, you were the first people I thought of after Ellie).  At this point the wind had picked up and the fire was starting to spread faster.  Logically I knew that the closely-mown portion of the yard surrounding the house and the fact that the firemen were on their way meant that the odds of my house going up in smoke were pretty low.  But I still didn’t want to be that person taking pictures instead of doing something more productive, though what really I could do other than unwind my garden hose and stand around watching from a safe distance with too much adrenaline I didn’t really know.

I knew from Nic’s tumble down the stairs that the wait time for emergency services is excruciatingly long.  It’s about 10 minutes, but it’s 10 minutes where you are either watching a fire spread in your yard or 10 minutes where your husband is bleeding from the head and can’t answer any questions coherently.  It’s a long time.  This is to me the crazy part of the story.  Just as the fire started to really get going, a tree moving truck came down our road.  Our small residential dirt road where we saw no other cars for this entire drama.  A tree moving truck with on-board water and a hose.  They stopped, asked if they can help, our neighbor (who was inhaling about a year’s worth of smoke in his efforts to slow the fire) said “yes!” and they drove over and helped him put water down on the fire.  The dispatch had told our neighbor not to try to put out the fire ourselves.  But unlike the dispatch agent who told me not to apply a tourniquet to Nic’s neck when he was bleeding from the head, this advice was hard for them to listen to.  There’s a fire.  If someone shows up with a big tank of water and a hose, you’re probably going to use it.

By the time the fire department showed up the fire was almost out.  (If you want to see a bunch of really depressed firemen, call and tell them you have a brush fire in your yard with wind picking up fast and then have a couple of civilians put it out before they get there.  They never even got to use THEIR hoses when there were actual flames.)  So a public thank you to God for that tree moving truck.  It was amazing.  Total burning bush moment but in reverse.

Once the fire department showed up I felt okay about getting my camera out and snapping some shots.  The smoke picture was taken by a neighbor after the tree moving truck showed up (it’s hiding behind the bush)–the brown looking section is all tall happy fire grass, the green is the shorter section.  She also took the group huddle shot which I like because we have an awesome group of neighbors and we all do pool together in an emergency!

And so, the moral of the story…if your fire alarm goes off for no reason, be on the look out for smoke at some point that day.  It might not be old and crazy–it might just be clairvoyant.

Jessica - I laughed at the mental image of disappointed firemen, because you are SO RIGHT. Chris is on the FD here and he will stop the second he gets a fire page and rush out the door. Firemen are really just legal pyromaniacs.

Glad everything worked out and the fire was a relatively small one. I am surprised they told you not to try and put it out though!

Lisa - I enjoyed your storytelling almost as much as your story. :)

Glad all is safe and sound!

Your Mom and Dad - “Peed my pants at the last sentence.” ~ Dad
“Laughed and cried. And thanked GOD!” ~ Mom
You are the best writer we know. This is chapter one of your book.

Ellie’s Snow White dress

We will be going to Disney World soon and while there we’ll be attending the Princess Breakfast at the castle.  Ellie is going to be soooooo excited, but all the rest of us are very excited about it, too!  I’ve heard that princess attire is the norm for this breakfast, and knew I’d want to make her dress, but struggled for a while to figure out just what I wanted to do.  Between etsy and pinterest I got a pretty good idea, and then I just bought a ton of tulle (16 years to be exact), some satin, and hoped for the best!  The skirt has three gathered layers–the bottom two a plain $0.99 a yard light yellow tulle, the top a gold sparkle ‘fancy’ tulle (I’m a big spender at $5 a yard).  The sparkles are divine and sadly don’t show up in these pics so you’ll just have to believe me (or come visit my house and see all the ‘leftover magic’ on the floor).

A big thanks to my friend Beth for being there in the early stages of the birth process and for her help in gathering and also preventing me from talking out loud to the imaginary Tim Gunn in my head (“I’m worried about you, Traci”  “Shut UP, Tim Gunn!”).  I LOVE THE WAY IT TURNED OUT.  From the split in the back that shows the plain lighter yellow to the way Ellie is all but swallowed up in the ephemeral goodness of tulle, I want one for me!

(PS–excuse the after nap hair.  We brushed it, but it’s at a crazy stage.)

Laura - She looks lovely! I wish it was Tim Gunn in my head-I hear my mom!!! Way worse, trust me! Have fun at Disney!

multi-tasker tote

Anna Maria Horner came to my guild a couple of weeks ago but I wasn’t able to attend her talk or class (at first because we had camping plans, and then because instead of camping I was dying of scarlet fever had a raging case of strep throat).  To make myself feel better about the whole business I made a multi-tasker tot (without the benefit of the class).  Let me tell you, there were moments where I was very sad not to have a class for this one.  I think  it was step 8 where I had to bring in a ringer to figure out what in the heck was going on (my ringer was Nic, and we got it done).

This is the part where I tell you that I was inspired by the patchwork nursery versery print to use a bunch of different fabrics in this one.  That part is a lie.  I was inspired by the price of the nursery versery prints not to buy any more of them than entirely necessary, and then I had to punt with what I had on hand that coordinated and was big enough after washing/shrinking.  I’m pretty sad that the lining ends up showing up on the outside of the bag (you fold over the top of the bag to create the strap casing), but I’ll get over it.  😛  The orange polka dot straps and pink floral lining are both from Children at Play.

Overall, I like the bag.  And I will definitely like it more in April than I do at the start of fall. 😛

Melissa - I agree with you on ALL counts! I’m so glad I was there with (a) the pattern designer, and (b) others who had made the bag in the past and could dumb it down for me. I’m not too bright when it comes to following patterns. :)
I made mine with some of Amy Butler’s Soul Blossom, and it’s very springy. I’m wishing I’d made mine with some Flea Market Fancy or Field Study, instead. The good news is, I can make another any time I want! :)

Suzanne - I love your candor and hope you like the bag much sooner than April. :-)

Gina - I love the little floral print peeking over the side. The Children at Play prints are perfect to combine with Nursery Versery!

Emily - This is so cute!!! The Country Mice in green is one of my favorite prints from this line!

Rachel at Stitched in Color - I’m glad you shared your process with choosing fabrics and making the bag. Bag making never goes easily for me! I see what you mean about it turning out quite springy. Sometimes it seems these collections release at opposite seasons =)


You’d be forgiven for assuming that I don’t actually quilt anymore!  But I actually have been quilting occasionally, I just keep forgetting to blog about it!

This farm fresh quilt was finished a couple of months ago, but I photographed it for the first time last night.  I didn’t edit the photos at all because I wanted to share just how crazy the light was last night at 5:00.  The smoke from the Waldo Canyon Fire was filtering the sunlight and it looked like gorgeous sunset 8pm light three hours early!

A couple of weeks ago I finished off this quilt top that is just waiting on quilting.  It’s a trip around the world, which I’ve wanted to make since I started quilting.  I don’t have any quilts without pink, and needed a ‘boy colors’ quilt for the studio.  I used the Eleanor Burns Quilt in a Day method in the full size and it was fantastic.  Now to piece the back and get this puppy quilted!

Currently in work is this very simple patchwork quilt from a fat 1/8th bundle of Loulouthi, inspired by this from Blue Elephant Stitches.


Sew Create It - Jane - Love that first quilt…you’ve used such beautiful fabrics! Can’t wait to see more of the “boy” quilt…blue is my favourite colour and I can tell this will be another beauty!

Audrey - Love you stuff! I love to quilt but I’ve only been doing it for a couple years and am mostly self taught. I’m curious what the Eleanor Burns Quilt in a Day method is. Though I never have a full day to quilt anymore I would love to know! Thank you!

nightgowns for Ellie

The thing about store bought kid’s pajamas is that they are not summer friendly.  In the attempt to keep kids from bursting into flame, they’ve created outfits that seem destined to keep kids miserable and sweaty.  Enter homemade children’s pajamas, where you don’t have to worry about pesky fireproof pajama laws and can use nice light cotton in super loose designs!  I made a dress-turned-nightgown for Ellie in February and fell in love with the idea, so now that the temps are in the triple digits I’ve made her four more.

I used the Sweet Little Dress pattern again, and on some of the nightgowns I’ve skipped the sleeve elastic for more of a flutter sleeve look.  For fabric I raided the stash for some old goodies–Children at Play in the front, then It’s a Hoot, what I think is from American Jane Snippets, and then an Anthology print.

Also keeping us cool this record-tying-temperature week (along with my shirts optional policy) is our new Zoku popsicle maker.  The kids are OBSESSED with popsicles, and so when I found a forgotten William Sonoma gift card in my wallet, I opted not to buy the mid-sized pot that we so desperately need, but a silly popsicle gadget that Will has been jonesing for instead.  (I am the essence of fiscal responsibility.)  It has been a huge fun giant hit and I predict that it will stay well in use!

For a month the first words out of Ellie’s mouth in the morning are “Popsicle, please, Mommy?”  And all day long the refrain of “Popsicle, please?” has bounced around our walls.  Thanks to the Zoku, for the last couple of days I’ve been able to say “Okay!” to breakfast popsicles (blueberries, greek yogurt, cream and agave nectar blended together and then granola dropped into the mix).  We’ve made/invented many delicious popsicles so far, including watermelon/basil/cucumber popsicles and rum-and-coke-sicles and armed with a couple of popsicle books I’m anxious to try some actual recipes this week!  Long live the popsicle!

Heather - It’s in the triple digits at your house?? Ummmmm, I did not know that. Can you please start on a nightgown for me to wear this weekend 😀 What are grown-ups suppose to do?

Traci - Knowing you, you’ll probably still need a hoodie and a blanket. 😀