Sunday, August 31, 2008

Over 65 - Getting Crowded

Yesterday I counted the number of quilts -- FINISHED QUILTS -- still IN my house, IN use, etc. I am not counting those I've given away.

At my last quick count, there are over 65 DONE and in the closet, in a huge basket, hanging, folded in the linen closet upstairs, on the bed, downstairs in the extra closet, 2 on the dilapidated hide-a-bed, a bunch on the ladder DH made for me, 1 on the guest bed (hey, I never showed that one yet!). This number does NOT count the "#1 Gobsmackered Kaleidoscope" WIP near finished on my sewing table.

And ... on the other side of the Studio, my DH makes his boats. These are also accumulating, in our not-large house. He has 30 boats - He NEVER has UFOs, only has one WIP at a time - so disciplined! Each boat is 2-3 feet in length size. This one is a Rum Runner.
Sometimes I get to wishing we owned a larger house, but then there's more to keep tidy ... but maybe a large room for a long-arm ????

My mother would say, "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride", which always confused me, but now I finally understand. (I have always wanted to design a quilt with that title.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Licking my Wounds

Two weeks ago I signed up for an On-Line Class on HTML programming. I’ve wanted to take this class for years, but it was never offered locally. So, with encouragement from a friend, I became a student again. Previous on-site classes at this college were most enoyable and successful.

Since I am of an advanced age (uh hem!) I can take the 3-hour class for $39.00 – what a deal! I already own several HTML-related books, but you know, sometimes a person needs a push, an incentive, and signing up with a friend was the incentive to actually LEARN HTML. I knew I would miss the personal interaction with others.

I declined to take the prerequisite class “On Line Learning” ..I already know a thing or two, …said to myself … “hey, I’ve had a blog for 2 years, made a few changes to it, use various computer programs at work, and graduated in my 50s Cum Laude – I’m reasonably intelligent!”

Well, I’ll spare you the gory details – the HTML part is the easy part, but the computer interface with the college was the most exasperating experience I’ve ever encountered. My friend, as well as the instructor helped me all they could, but today, after 3 hours of failure, I sat here in TEARS, feeling stupid, inept, a failure, trying to find my way around instructions, the syllabus, my book that instructed me to download the files from the site, the site that told me to read the book, a site where I couldn’t maneuver to FIND the files, so many options, tools, files that did not open, reminders that I owed money (NOT!), passwords that did not work, suggestions to change browsers (that’s another whole 3 day problem!). And experiencing hot flashes every 20 minutes did NOT improve the situation!!!

I e-mailed the Instructor and thanked him and politely said “I quit.”

During these failed efforts to navigate, I had the most awful sense of de ja vu, remembering the only position I was fired from – something felt really similar to THAT job, a job where I was totally clueless as to what was needed, where there was neither training nor instruction. -- my gosh, just like one of those dreams we have occasionally!!!)

So, TEACHERS, suggestions? Is there anything you can tell me about learning styles that will get me past my feeling of failure? Quitting makes me feel awful!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Booty, Loot, and Stuff, for ME!

Saturday was promising to be a good day. Weather lovely, no big jobs to do - everyone happy. I had cleared out my sewing room enough to open up the back of my sewing table, in preparation for machine quilting. Then, Fons and Porter/Love of Quilting was on the TV, not a re-run, and (ta-ta-ta!) I was in charge of both the remote control AND the Lazy Boy.

Around noonish I put gas in my car, and was pleased the price/gallon had dropped a few cents more. Nice day, feeling good, zipped through the Dairy Queen for a 'feel-good' ice cream cone. Happiness and life is often made up of small pleasurable bits, isn't it?

When I arrived home, this mail what was waiting for me ... The box is from Patti of Quilting is my Passion for being the 50th person to comment to her post of July 14. And look at all this good stuff! A darling little Mary Engelbright tin sewing box, LOTS of fabric and a whole package of beautiful fallish FQs, a table-runner pattern, a bag of really sinfully sexy chocolates - which is not shown because I asked DH to hide it and dole them out to me one at a time. I am weak, I admit. Oh Patti, this is just too wonderful - thank you so much.

But wait, there's more. I also received my DVD from the Pajama Quilter but have not been able to watch it, because I've been busy looking for that bag of sinfully sexy chocolates.

I'm making preparations to machine quilt my first Kaleidoscope - the one that is pretty wild. It's larger than the last one posted. Pushing, mashing, pulling a quilt through the harp in my machine, even though it's a generous 10 inches, is still tedious and not simple, so this time I decided to experiment. After sandwiching, spraying and pinning the quilt, I loaded water soluble thread on top and bobbin and ran huge basting stitches (dogs down) on the quilt, from side to side. Maybe this is pointless, but I WAS able to get the pins out and didn't have to worry about hitting them, and I feel the quilt is more stable with the basting. The spool of dissolving thread is only 300 yards, and was $6.95, and I had leftover thread.

One issue I am having is that my quilting thread is light in some areas, looking a lot like the basting thread, so I really have to concentrate - it's easy to lose my way with machine quilting this method, when my eyes are so close to the stitches. You can see the vertical stitches which are the soluble thread. It simply melts when doused with water. And, as I said, it's an experiment. Also, my machine quilting thread is different than the last very nice one and does not 'lay in the fabric' as nicely.

And lastly, one of the frequent visitors to our deck, looking lovely and fine, with stunning colored plumage.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My new Best-Favorite - Kaleidoscope #2 -- DONE

(Am I the only one that likes to review my OWN blog to look at my projects? Today I spent at least 2 hours, reviewing older blog photos, taking pride in my own projects.)

I am pleased with this one - for the colors and values. Quilting design? not sure but at some point, a person MUST stop considering all the possibilities and MUST make a decision. It wasn't easy to decide on a quilting design for the top. After watching my DVD, feeling very brave and strong, I decided on using this version of "Innies and Outies" ! You may remember, I use a DSM.

That particular pattern is really GREAT on a 9 x 12 inch sample (oh yes, I made an entire book of samples, per her suggestion!), but it takes on a different personality when used on an entire quilt. And ... when you go IN a spiral type of configuration, you must leave enough room for an OUT -- no problem on a 9 x 12 inch sample, but when the harp on your machine is about 10 inches (considered generous!), your INNIE has to be very large, so you have enough room for the OUTIE - oh yes, backward, when you can't see, does present logistical issues. One must depend on one's memory, or follow the existing line, and echo that. There is a lot of 'fluffing' and readjusting, to eliminate drag, and one really wants to make each curve in one action, without stopping and starting - difficult (not impossible) in a limited space. I would have preferred a more open-spaced design, but THAT would require larger configurations, more difficult. Miraculously, no puckers, and not too many glitches, and I only crossed over a line 3 times, getting 'lost', always on the same hard-to-see fabric.

I used a 2-ply thread, a tan and cream blend, that seemed the best choice for all these colors. The border is a viney/leafy, dried grassy pattern, open and airy. I did not quilt the light narrow border, although did stitch-in-the-ditch with invisible thread to hold it down neatly.

We quilters should devise a special award for our DHs or other volunteers who offer (agreeably) to be the "Quilt Holder." Colors are fairly close to accurate.
I believe I've said this is an EASY quilt to make. I used Margaret Dohaney 45 degree Kaleidoscope Ruler which (when I bought it 8 years ago) even came with this particular pattern. If you make it, PLEASE let me see how yours turned out. This is a very FUN quilt! It finishes about 62" x 62".

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Simple is good -- Checkers

This project was posted unquilted a while ago, but it's now beautifully quilted by Anita of Prairie Creations, a friend and fellow guild member. Isn't it gorgeous? There is a simple grid in the center and various leaves, vines, dragonflies, butterflies quilted around the border. This is a large quilt, approx. 90 x 105 inches. It's now bound and only lacks a label.

A while ago, ONE OF YOU asked on YOUR blog, "What's on YOUR bed?", I kinda cringed when I looked at how sad my current quilt looked after 10 years of use, and abuse. When cool days return, this new "Checkers" will be on my bed.

If you look closely, you will see it is simply 4-patches and pinwheels - how easy is that? But the pinwheels DO have a determined direction, so if you choose to make this one, look closely. I believe any colors would work, as long as they are lights and darks. My palette is the same as I usually love, I call them 'foresty colors' - muted greens, browns, deep eggplant, melon, etc.

There are 4 bright blue pinwheels that at first, didn't 'go', but in fact, are now playing an important role in the quilt.

The inspiration for this quilt came from one of my books, and a Better Homes and Gardens photo, and Bonnie at

This was such an easy yet effective project, I might just make another smaller one for Project Linus, using some of my leftover kids prints!

Quilt Police

Despite my best efforts, I cannot figure why my OWN photos will not co-operate. You're going to have to use your imagination. This gal on the left looks a lot better than my subject matter.

During the recent Convention I attended, the QUILT POLICE actually showed up! Yes, one, at least, does in fact, really exist!

She showed up, black shirt, with words Quilt Police across the shoulders, black slacks, and black boots. (There was the scrap of fabric stuck to her boot ala toilet paper!) huh??? She looked and talked stern!

She had official-looking emblems on her shoulders and front pocket.

She had threads on her shirt -- she might be a part-time quilter? She wore a jewelers headpiece so she could see quilts really close up. She wore one white glove.

She wore a whistle around her neck, a quilters ruler in her front pocket, and a long tape measure dragged along behind her. She carried a clipboard, labeled "Property of Quilt Police" and was writing tickets for infractions of ??? Payment was probably in FQs, but then I didn't get any citations!

She wore a real leather belt and holster, but in her holster, she had a giant magnifying glass, and she could whip it out like a gun, check quilts close up, flip it in the air, and catch it! She had a flashlight on that belt for closeup inspections! And she carried a large T-square to check quilt corners, but if you didn't pay attention to her, she thunked you on the butt!

Some participants of the Convention were very serious and cooperated fully, some ran the other way when they saw this Quilt Police coming their way, some laughed and went along with the guise, and one lady, shrunk in horror and FEAR when the Quilt Police ordered her to "come with me", and she responded "No, I can't go with you", until she realized the Quilt Police was guiding her to Freebies!

So, all of you, do your best work on your quilts, because the Quilt Police DO exist, at least out here in Western Nebraska!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Quilt Convention, and Kaleidoscope #2

I recently attended our State 4-day Quilt Convention, held in Chadron, Nebraska. We stayed in Student Dormitories. The facilities were excellent, cafeteria wonderful, attendance great, 54 classes available, and the summer heat in the upper 90s, was uhhhh… normal.

I will tell you about the 3 classes in which I participated.

The first was an all-day class with M’liss Rae Hawley, and we worked on a Kaleidoscope Quilt, based on her just-released book, M'Liss Rae Hawley's Scrappy Quilts: Let the Fabric Tell Your Story. The main part of her class was learning to sort our scrap fabrics, no matter what color, from light to dark VALUE. When using ALL fabrics, this is a bit more challenging than using fabrics in just one color family. I had already constructed a Kaleidoscope quilt (previously posted, see below) BEFORE the convention because as I pulled fabric in preparation for the class, I became sooooo inspired, the top was DONE before even receiving her brand-new book. But, fabrics on my too-early project, while quite acceptable, did NOT blend, which was the point of the entire exercise.

So YES, I did start another one (below) in her class, with better understanding of VALUE blending, from light to dark and visa versa.
All the fabrics are from my stash. I am very pleased with this second kaleidoscope. But I DO need to SHOP for the perfect border.

The second class (half-day) was “How to Improve your Hand Quilting Stitch” with Ami Simm. She brought 40 different battings with her, gave us each a size 10 Colonial-brand needle, and we each had a very short time to practice on each of those battings and rate them as to how we liked them. The sandwich was made of the same fabric top and bottom on each hoop, but with a different batting. It was not easy to give each sample more than a minute or two, but there were definitely differences. We rated them on a spreadsheet. When time was up (too soon!) she provided us the key – a wonderful tool! Some of us liked one and disliked the next, but the next person might be totally the opposite. We did NOT practice on bamboo, a new product on the market, but we DID try a Corn blend, which was OK. However, the instructions on the Corn blend said “Do not Iron.” I WILL take this information with me for the next shopping trip I make for batting.

I am almost totally convinced the variables have mostly to do with the batting, although heat and humidity, fabrics, and my own attitude also influence my stitches.

The third class was a trunk show given my a state teacher, Bonnie Kucera. What a great bunch of quilts, so unique in many ways, and most of them made with small – really small – pieces. What I liked best was that her fabrics were ‘regular’ (not the latest and greatest or most expensive) fabrics. In other words, she WAS using up the older stuff but THAT did not detract in the slightest.

Now, I knew Ami Simms has a humorous side to her personality, and looked forward to listening to her presentation during one evening dinner program. However, I was not prepared for her delightful skills as a comedienne. She had the almost-400 diners practically rolling on the floor with her stories! So much cackling and guffawing, and hooting from the audience! What fun. If you have the opportunity to hear her Life with Quilts presentation, I urge you to sign up.