Knitting/quilting update and some holiday cheer.

December 10, 2020 – I have been both knitting and quilting away, as the days get shorter, the evenings longer. We usually watch one program in the evenings, and have made our way through the latest seasons of The Crown, The Great British Baking Show (including the holiday edition with the Derry Girls), and The Queen’s Gambit. Some of these require full attention, but the Baking show is pretty relaxed, so I can get a lot of knitting in.

I finished my Dissent Socks and another Ridge Washcloth.

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Dissent Socks, pattern by Tiina Kuu

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Ridge Washcloth, pattern by Hannah Maier

I joined the AdventureGnome Mystery KnitALong, and am also making one of her earlier released gnome patterns, just a little knitting on these every day.

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Adventure Gnome, pattern by Sarah Schira

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Here We Gnome Again, pattern by Sarah Schira

I am making good progress on socks and a hat that are holiday gifts.

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Rafa’s Hat, pattern by Joji Locatelli; Artists Garden Socks, pattern by Tif Neilan

And I finished the quilting on the Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt. I just need to add the binding.

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Holiday Cheer – My knitting group, which has become an online knitting group during the pandemic, cleverly set up a holiday exchange, beginning last summer. Three of the 15 members collected twenty 10 gram mini-skeins of leftover fingering weight yarn from each member, and set up what were were promised as a Solstice Surprise, Advent Calendar, Hanukkah Miracles, or Pagan Pockets (to be ecumenical about it). They really outdid themselves, and we have been assured that they had a lot of fun doing it – despite having to collaborate remotely. I was expecting a bag with twenty balls of yarn, but instead was presented with this magnificent gift -bearing banner. Gifts in pockets, and ribbons with tied-on but hidden yarn balls. It has been so much fun to open one every day and see what my surprise is. I believe the plan is to save the banner and fabric squares for reuse in future years – so it is also a wonderful, reusable item. I am so grateful to these knitters, who I get to see twice a week on knit chat meetups, for helping  to pass the pandemic time so productively and supportively.

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My yarn “Solstice Surprise” banner.

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10 days of surprises, so far!

I have noticed lots of cheerful decorations around the neighborhood on my walks. We lit candles for the first night of Hanukkah tonite, joining our son remotely. Our Christmas tree is up and lighted – I have yet to unpack the ornaments – that will be next.

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Giant ornaments

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Lawn reindeer

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Roof reindeer

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Star Wars heroes

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Porch nutcrackers

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A beautiful sunset –

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reflected in the window.

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Menorah

Today, the first Covid vaccine was approved – we can begin to hope for the end of the pandemic – that is probably the most uplifting thought of all!

Breathing (and quilting!) again…

November 11th, 2020 – Well yeah!!! Biden and Harris won the election! We will have a new administration in January! Action will be taken on the pandemic, on climate change, on humanitarian treatment of every person, with intelligent, informed, common sense in decision making.

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And, our new vice president Kamala Harris represents the breaking of the glass ceiling for so many underrepresented and often abused populations of people! What joy!

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Halloween was  celebrated in a subdued way.

My neighborhood trees have gone through their beautiful color change cycle. Just today I walked through red, yellow and orange paved sidewalks. Rain is turning leaf piles to mush. The city clean up trucks are coming tomorrow.

For me, now that I know that our current president will be replaced by someone with decency, I can feel my stress levels decreasing. So many events this year involving breath – the coronavirus, the smoke from wildfires, the political morass…I am beginning to breathe more freely again!

Another thing I can do again has to do with my crafting. I love quilting and sewing, but for me it is a different sort of creativity than knitting. And for me, all the stress of the past four years has found its best relief in knitting. I am grateful, and I will keep on knitting. But on Friday night, when my son told me I really did have reason to be optimistic, I got the notion to pull out a languishing quilt top. Quilting is a different creation process to knitting, and not nearly as immediately satisfying as picking up needles and frantically knitting until I calm down a bit. I have already basted the quilt, and am making decisions about thread and pattern, so soon will be stitching.

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Plaid Rectangle Charms quilt

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I finished my Rio Calina scarf (Cat Bordhi).

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I made a tiny Mochimochi Gnome.

I have no delusions that our national way forward will be easy. Almost half of the nation voted for our country to stay on the same path. I believe that people are allowed to believe whatever they want, but there should be a wall that separates church and state. White supremacy is wrong.  I and more than 75 million other Americans, not to mention millions of global citizens, have been holding our breath these four years, knitting frenetically in my case, waiting to be able to breathe again. When all the law suits and the recounts and the lame attempts at coup are done, we will all be inhaling deeply, exhaling freely, back on the path of decency, with many long hills still to climb, but a worst scenario overcome.

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Two trails on Mt Hood –

7/6/2020 – Cloud Cap/Timberline Trail high point –

A favorite hike on the Timberline Trail along the high east edge of the mountain.

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Washington Cascades from the crest of the East Eliot Moraine.

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Eliot Glacier, Mt Hood under clouds.

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Cloud Cap shelter.

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 The clouds lifted while we walked south on the Timberline Trail.

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Crossing snow fields –

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with a view of the mountains.

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Timberline trail high point – 7350 feet.

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Hiking back north on the Timberline Trail along the edge of the sky.

We met this bird along the way:

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And lots of alpine flowers:

(Hike #51, 6 miles, 1650 feet)

7/10/2020 – Barlow Pass to Timberline on the PCT

A new trail for us on the south side of Mt Hood. The first three miles ascend steadily through lovely shaded forest on the gently graded Pacific Crest Trail. As we reached the junction with the Timberline Trail, blooming beargrass with Mt Hood beyond gave us a  breath taking trail moment – both stunning and unexpected! (Hike #52 for 2020!, 11 miles, 1750 feet)

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Barlow Pass Trailhead

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A new Wilderness Area for me.

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Beargrass in the forest.

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Beargrass in the upper meadows.

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Beargrass, and Mt Hood!

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Mt Jefferson and a faint glimpse of the Three Sisters to the south.

Zooming in on Mt Hood:

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Timberline Ski area on the left.

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Top of the mountain.

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Glaciers and crevasses.

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Tiny people walking around up there!

We walked along the Timberline Trail to where we could see Timberline Lodge from an overlook above the Salmon River.

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On our way back, we noticed a waterfall in the White River drainage.

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Knitting

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I finished a Rafa Hat to be gifted (Joji Locatelli, Malabrigo Arroyo Piedras).

Quilting!

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I actually pieced a quilt block, for a Local Quilt Shop raffle quilt.

Garden

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My husband finished making a table for the yard so he can eat breakfast in the garden.

4th of July moonrise

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From Camas, Washington – Columbia River, and alpenglow on Mt Hood.

 

Amish Rainbow Balloon Quilt

Quilt Story 4: Amish Rainbow Balloon, 1995

After taking several quilt classes, I was ready to create quilts on my own again. My youngest son, then age 2, was a big fan of both rainbows and hot air balloons. When I saw this fabric at Fabric Depot (my main source of fabric until it closed just last year), I bought a few yards and let it take me on another quilt journey.

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Rainbow Balloon, 36″ x 42″, Margaret Klute, 1995

I found instructions for the Sunshine and Shadow quilt in a library book about Amish quilts. I decided to make the stripes as rainbows, and spent a good long time choosing my rainbow fabrics. I assembled the six-stripe strata, then cut the triangles and sewed them to the background balloon fabric.  I decided to make the border and binding also reflect a diagonal rainbow.

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The red star fabric is still a favorite – wish I had more!

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Stitch in the ditch quilting, machine stitched binding.

I believe I used a rather thick polyester bat in this quilt, though I can’t remember exactly why just now. Maybe the little one said he wanted a thick quilt? It is quilted in the ditch around the blocks and triangles. My son was happy with the result.

Quilt Lessons: Nine Patch Quilt and more

Quilt Story 3: Nine Patch and other Daisy Kingdom class quilts, mid-1990’s

While finishing my Log Cabin quilt, I discovered the world of quilting resources available through library books, TV shows, and local classes. (This was still pre-internet!) In the mid 90’s, I took a series of classes at Daisy Kingdom, a fabric and creative sewing store near me in old town Portland, Oregon. The store was a wonderland of fabric and original design home sewing creations. I learned a variety of quilting skills from local quilt teachers in their upstairs classroom.

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Nine Patch quilt, 38″ x 50″, by Margaret Klute, 1994

Nine Patch: In the Beginning Quilting class, the teacher helped us find a focus fabric and two complementary fabrics, and then make a basic nine patch quilt. I chose this musical print, as my young son was particularly fond of musical instruments. We learned about value as a key to fabric selection and placement, also strip cutting and piecing, sewing accurate seam allowances, and many tips and tricks about assembly, basting, quilting and binding.

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In the Hand Quilting class I learned about pattern transfer, and stitching techniques.

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Hand Quilted Wallhanging, 16″ x 16″, by Margaret Klute, 1996

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The project for the Appliqué class was this small heart appliqué quilt. I chose to set the hearts with scraps of the same fabrics, and then hand quilted the wall hanging.

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Heart Appliqué Wallhanging, 15″ x 15″, by Margaret Klute, 1995

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In the Foundation Piecing class I learned to make stitch and flip blocks on tearaway foundation or paper. I turned my little blocks  (two to three inches wide) into Christmas tree ornaments by blanket stitching them together with gold metallic thread.

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Foundation Paper Pieced Christmas Ornaments, by Margaret Klute, 1990’s

I learned precision piecing skills while taking the Feathered Star Table Runner class. I also learned later the cruel lesson of not prewashing fabric. The red fabric has bled into the background, despite the use of color catchers in the washing machine.

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Feathered Star Table Runner, 15.5″ x 45″, by Margaret Klute, 1995

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Photo taken before the table runner was washed.

Some of the projects took me years to finish. I don’t remember the teacher’s names, but I know that I was lucky to have such a wonderful resource available to me. I was so excited at the time to be immersing myself in quilting. Although Daisy Kingdom is long since gone as a business, its legacy lives on in many creations by former customers like me.

And just for fun: I still have these items in my stash purchased from Daisy Kingdom way back then that are waiting for inspiration and time. Mary Englebreit and Elinor Peace Bailey were two of the Daisy Kingdom fabric designers.

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Mary Englebreit panels

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Elinor Peace Bailey fabric and panel

(outro music by Joni Mitchell: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til its gone!”)

Log Cabin Quilt

Quilt Story 2: Log Cabin Quilt, 1976-1993

After finishing my first quilt, the Sunflower Sue quilt, I wanted to make another quilt. I was home for a couple of weeks during my first year of college, and saw a Log Cabin quilt in one of my mother’s magazines – McCalls, maybe. This was 1976, the bicentennial, and a period of revival of quilting in the national zeitgeist. The magazine quilt had a log cabin center, a piano key border, and was very scrappy. I made construction paper copies of the templates printed in the back of the magazine, and raided my Mom’s and neighbor Sally’s scrap fabric boxes again. Over the next year or so I cut out with scissors up to three log sets of different sizes from each fabric. I may have sewn one or two blocks together at this time, but mostly I left them stashed for the next few years as college activities took over my time.

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I still have the original templates with my pattern files.

One summer (1982?) I was staying in San Francisco with Danny (future husband) while he was in medical school. I pulled out my log cabin strips and sewed them into blocks, one block a day. When I tried to put the blocks together, I realized that they weren’t exactly square – there was up to a half inch difference in some of the blocks, due to both inaccurate cutting out with scissors and templates, and variably estimated quarter inch seam allowances. So that was a problem waiting to be solved. The blocks got tucked away again for a few years while I finished grad school, got married, moved to the Portland, Oregon area, and had our first child. My poor baby was rather colicky, so poor us, it was nearly impossible to imagine leaving him with a babysitter. At this point, we realized we might never leave the house again so we bought a television and VCR to watch movies in the evening. We hadn’t had a TV for years. One day, while home with the baby I noticed a quilting program on the Public Television channel. I watched in fascination while Eleanor Burns of Quilt in A Day started slicing up fabric with what looked like pizza cutter. Squaring up blocks! Based on my son’s age, this would have been 1990 or 1991. I was amazed, enchanted, and immediately called the number on my screen to order a rotary cutter, a mat, and acrylic rulers!

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I still have these original Quilt in a Day tools.

I squared up my blocks! I played with the layout, finally deciding on a color wash/barn raising setting, with the light and dark value halves of blocks creating concentric squares.

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Log Cabin, 1993, 66″ x 86″, by Margaret Klute

Around this time we moved to our current home in Portland, and I remember laying the blocks out, piecing them, then going to the nearby Fabricland store to buy border and backing fabric and batting. I basted with safety pins, as modeled by Eleanor Burns, and then I minimally quilted the quilt by machine stitching in the ditch along the block seams.

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Upper left

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Upper right

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Lower left

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Lower right

I made the binding by pulling the backing fabric to the front.

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The backing was turned to the front and machine stitched down to create the binding.

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Close up of hand stitched signature.

I was very happy with the final quilt. I had used a thin cotton batting this time, so the quilting was easier. I learned by my experience, and by watching Eleanor Burns, the importance of consistent seam allowances. I still loved the idea of scrappy quilts, but I was beginning to get the concept of controlling the color palette. My next quilts would be made from a more limited fabric selection, with guidance from taking a few classes and using pattern books.

The Log Cabin quilt kept us warm for many years, and I was able to retire the now worn Sunbonnet Sue quilt. These two quilts share many fabrics in common, so I was able to continue to enjoy the scraps from my past as I used this quilt.

 

Two wildlife refuges, Indian Heaven, and trying to keep up with fall colors, Sept-Oct 2019

It has been a busy couple of weeks – a quilt show, a fiber festival, hikes at two wildlife refuges and Indian Heaven Wilderness. Meanwhile, the Mac hard drive is off at the Genius repair shop. I am learning blog work-arounds via iPad.

Friday, September 27 – I attended the Northwest Quilt Expo, admired all the quilts and photographed many. This vintage Tile Friendship Quilt (circa 1900, maker unknown) from the Latimer Quilt Museum, was very interesting. Seemingly random shapes are appliquéd to a plain background, each signed by a different maker in true Friendship Quilt style. It looks very modern, but it is old and entirely hand stitched!

I bought a few fat eighths to add to a batik quilt in my mental UFO list.

Sunday, September 29 -I visited the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, Oregon, just long enough to buy a lighter weight spindle and more fiber to practice drop spinning.

Then we went to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, our first visit there, and walked around the perimeter. Not many birds have arrived yet, but there are great overlooks and a nice winter trail for future visits. (Hike#44, 3.6 miles)

Great Blue Heron

Hawthorne berries

Looking across the refuge – soon this will be flooded with water and birds.

Great Blue Heron on the return trail.

Saturday, October 5 – We went to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington during their season closing bird fest. We walked the Kiwa Trail and part of the newly opened Carty Lake trail, and also went inside the Chinook Plankhouse to look around. (Hike#45, 3.2 miles)

Turtles

Sand Hill Cranes

Sand Hill Cranes in flight.

Great Horned Owl

Carty Lake

Chinook plank house

Inside the plankhouse.

Chinook Salmon trap

Sunday, October 6 – We joined friends for a hike in Indian Heaven Wilderness – from the East Crater trailhead to Junction and Lemei Lakes. Late fall colors, thawed mushrooms and blueberries, very pretty. (Hike#46, 8.8 miles, 1000 feet)

East Crater beyond one of many small lakes along the trail.

Junction Lake

Lemei Rock

Lemei Lake

Neighborhood walks – Meanwhile, in Northeast Portland, the days grow shorter, the light angles lower, the leaves more colorful.

Katsura trees

Sumac

Neighborhood witches hunting…

More witches…

Ash trees reflected in nearby windows.

Rain chain shadows

Knitting – I am making progress on my Meris cardigan….

Sunbonnet Sue Quilt

I started this blog two years ago with the goal of writing about my quilting. Instead, the blog has become more of a hiking and travel journal, with a side of crafting. Here, at last, is my first quilt story! It is a common lament in the quilt world that many quilts are unlabeled and their stories are lost to history. My first quilt story, which includes a bit of my history, is about my oldest, my first quilt.

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Sunbonnet Sue   68″ x 82″   by Margaret Klute 1975

Quilt Story 1: Sunbonnet Sue, 1975

My childhood best friend, Susan, moved from Minnesota to our neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley of southern California in the early 1960s. Her Mom, Sally, often gave us projects to keep us busy – everything from polishing their family’s antique whaling lamps and silver, to baking bread and cookies, to making candles, macrame and clothing.  Sally showed us how to make Sunbonnet Sue blocks when we were about 14 or 15 years old – this would have been about 1970 or 1971.

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The dress on this Sue was a scrap from a blouse I wore in high school.

We began by cutting templates out of construction paper. Then we raided our family’s overflowing scrap boxes for fabric.  Both of our moms sewed, and my sisters and I also made some of our own clothing.  We had fun choosing fabrics for the dress, bonnet, arm and shoe patches.  We sewed the pieces onto white background fabric, possibly from an old sheet, using an overcast hand appliqué stitch. We each created a stack of blocks but then lost momentum. My blocks sat in a drawer for a few years.

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In 1975 I wanted a warm quilt to take with me to college in northern California.  I made additional Sunbonnet Sues using scraps from recently made clothes, but did not have enough blocks for a bed-sized quilt.  I raided both families’ fabric stashes again and cut out 5 inch squares from a wide mix of scraps.  I sewed the squares together with half inch seam allowances, and determined a layout that would float the Sunbonnet Sue blocks between rows of patchwork.  I found a backing fabric at the discount fabric shop, and I also bought a roll of 2″ thick polyester batting.  I finagled a quilt sandwich with straight pins, and somehow managed to force the quilt under the foot of my Mom’s sturdy Kenmore sewing machine, stitching in the ditch around all the squares.  I found fabric for the binding, again from the scrap box, and attached it by hand.

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Backing fabric, which I always thought of as batik saw blades.

I brought the quilt with me to college and continued to use it for a good 20 years. I patched it and restitched much of the appliqué, and eventually the batting flattened down to about a quarter inch thick.

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Front binding close up. These fabrics include cotton, polyester, and wool; both prints and wovens; and light to heavy in weight. The edge of the middle faded pink spotted patch shows the bright original color along the seam allowance.

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The binding on the back was much wider, and hand stitched. I only added the signature recently!

Construction commentary: This quilt represents to me a big chunk of my youth – and also, I love the audacity of youth that this quilt reveals.  I finished Sunbonnet Sue in a way that made sense to me at the time. I remember thinking I didn’t need the full 5/8 inch seam allowance used for garment sewing – 1/2 inch should be plenty.  I also had  the idea that a patchwork quilt should not be made of new fabric, and should have as many different scrap fabrics as possible – though I did have the option to not use fabric that I didn’t like. There were no blogs or online tutorials – we had one Dover quilt book. I consulted my Mom, but she had never made a quilt, though she had made curtains, bed spreads and cushion covers as well as clothing. (She could also knit, crochet, tat, and change the oil and spark plugs and adjust the carburetor in an automobile engine while single handedly feeding and clothing nine children – but that’s a story for another day.) The wide seam allowances, thick batting and wide binding are not what I do today, but they worked to complete my quilt.

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The orange dress print is leftover from our Shasta travel trailer curtains. The streaky red, white and blue fabric reminds me that both tie-dye and pre-bicentennial patriotism were part of the pop culture of the time. The pink striped floral fabric is a pillow ticking weight fabric.

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The uppermost flowered patch, now needing a patch, was another favorite blouse fabric. The middle patch is an example of the psychedelic graphics of the time.

I love the personal history of the fabric in this quilt – I see mine and my sisters’ and my friends’ childhood wardrobes, with many fond memories of people, place and time. I also love that this quilt reflects what I considered at the time to be the true spirit of patchwork quilting – making something from the scraps of both material and memories. This was during the early seventies anti-establishment/anti-war/back to the land movement, which defined the paths that I and a few of my siblings would choose as young adults.  We went to war protests, dug up our lawn to plant a garden, joined a food coop, and eventually moved out of the city to northern California or Oregon. Susan never finished her quilt, but during a visit a few years ago we enjoyed looking at all the fabrics and remembering when and where we wore them when we were young. I wish I had photos of us in some of the clothes, but alas, I do not. Just the patches in this well worn quilt.

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New Years Eve hike at Cape Horn, Washington; and Farewell 2018 (18-60)

Cape Horn, Washington 12/31/2018 (Hike #66 for 2018)

We started in the middle, hiked down to the Nancy Russell Overlook and a little beyond, then hiked back up and to the top viewpoints on Cape Horn. It was cold and a bit windy, but nice to be out in the bright sun as we bid farewell to 2018. 4miles, 500 feet.

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Trail to the Nancy Russell Overlook

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View from the Fallen Tree Overlook to the eastern gorge.

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Silverstar Mountain to the north.

Quilting-

I finished three quilts this year.

Knitting-

I knit 4005 yards in 10 projects according to my Ravelry project pages.

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Hiking –

I completed 66 hikes/adventures for a total mileage of 310 miles, and 47,315 feet elevation gained. The longest hike, the 12 mile Obsidian Trail in the Three Sisters Wilderness in Central Oregon was also my favorite hike of the year. The steepest hike was Phlox Point on Hardy Ridge in the Columbia River Gorge, Washington – 2200 feet elevation gain over the 8.2 mile trail. The hardest walk was my first lap around the neurosurgery ward at OHSU after my pituitary surgery. And my favorite of our hikes in the UK was The Lizard in Cornwall.

Books Read in 2018 –

93 total, which I keep track of on Goodreads. My favorite fiction book was  Gentleman in Moscow  by Amor Towles, and my favorite nonfiction book of the year was Becoming by Michele Obama.

Blog –

This is the 60th post for the year. I am glad I am keeping it up, but I may do something different with the format next year – still thinking about it. And I still owe three posts from our trip to southern England.

Poem –

from a poetry post in my neighborhood – a hope for the future….

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Fall Equinox, Indian Heaven, WA (18-41)

East Crater Trail, 9/23/18 (Hike #53)

Indian Heaven is a landscape of lakes, cinder cones, forests and meadows in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest southwest of Mt Adams. The Pacific Crest Trail runs right through the center of the Wilderness on its northward path through southern Washington state. There are abundant wild huckleberries in late summer. By fall, the huckleberry and other foliage display a vibrant spectrum of bright colors – reds, oranges, fuchsias, magentas, yellows, yellow oranges and yellow greens that stand out in sharp contrast to the forest and lake greens and browns, and the sky blue.

Last fall the Indian Heaven Wilderness was closed due to the East Crater Fire that occurred at the same time as the Eagle Creek Fire, so we are back this year after a 2 year absence.

Today we hiked the East Crater Trail to Junction Lake in the center of the wilderness area, then completed a loop that passed several lakes and followed the Pacific Crest Trail back south to Junction Lake.

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Red huckleberry bushes in the forest

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Layers of color

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Unnamed lake just east of East Crater – the burn from last year seen beyond and above.

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Top of East Crater

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Junction Lake

So much color in the meadows!

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Ripe huckleberries

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Amanita

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Dropping down to Lemei Lake where we had our lunch:

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Lunch view

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The southbound section of the Pacific Crest trail was more forested, with views through the trees of a couple of bigger lakes.

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Bear Lake

We passed Junction Lake again, then hiked back to the trailhead.

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Huckleberry and spirea

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Mountain Ash

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Huckleberry stump

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The last little lake on the trail out.

Our total for the day:  9.6 miles/1000 feet elevation.

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Panther Creek Falls

We made a quick stop on our drive home at this massive waterfall complex – there are three creeks that tumble together into the main branch of Panther Creek.

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Quilting

I went to the Northwest Quilt Expo in Portland and purchased some fabric for my next quilt project:

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