Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Pixel Quilt Update and More

For those of you who have been following my blog for awhile, you know that I was working on a pixel quilt of the Bluenose II. You may have been wondering whatever happened to it. Well, it was a WIP, then it became a UFO. Recently, it was upgraded again to a WIP and finally, finished. At least the pixel part is. 

I think pixel quilts are rather weird. They look so awesome from a distance. Look at the picture above: you can even see the reflection of the schooner shimmering in the water. But up close, it looks like a boring mish-mash of random squares of different coloured fabrics.
The closer you get the more indistinct the picture becomes.
Anyway, I am so happy it is finally finished. So mentally exhausting messing with all those tiny squares and trying to make sure they're in the right place. And tedious. The borders are on, the backing is seamed, the batting is cut, and I'm booked for time on the long arm on Friday, my scheduled day off. 
And this is a new long arm rental place. I started out at Sparrow Studioz, now called Sparrow Quilt Co. & Longarm Quilting Store. Not sure why the change in name, but whatever. That was $30/hour and that got to be quite expensive. Then I found out about a lady who would rent her machine for $75/day, regardless of the number of quilts. Tried that once - rather isolated rural location with a rather unkept yard containing numerous old buildings and vehicles and whatnot; very sloped, muddy driveway that I had to ascend in 4-wheel drive. Had to park on the slope (put the emergency brake on). The longarm machine was in a separate building that had no bathroom. Had to go through her bedroom to use the bathroom. I resolved not to drink any water for the duration of my time there so that I would not have to use the bathroom again. Mercifully, the machine broke down about 3/4 of the way through my quilt and I had to leave. Never to return. I even had one of my water bottles leak on one of the quilt tops and other supplies I brought along with me. All around, it was a rather negative experience. Meanwhile, my LQS started renting their machines for $35/quilt, any size quilt. That's a great option, but the machines are in a windowless basement with concrete floors - very hard on my already bad feet. And the only machine set up to use pantographs (my preferred method of longarm quilting) is the oldest and smallest in the worst location in the basement. You practically have to be a limbo dancer to get to the back of the machine to use a pantograph. I've used it once and I don't think it's been serviced (or even used) for quite some time. It didn't run very smoothly. But, until I can afford my own, it's still a reasonable option. I had never pursued longarm quilting at Central Sewing Machines as I had somehow gotten the impression that they had very limited availability for their rentals. I have since found out that's not quite true. While the studio is not available when they're running classes, it is available any other time that the store is open. And it's only $15/hour. So I finally bit the bullet and paid the $150 for their training, which includes 4 hours on the longarm. I expect I will likely use up that 4 hours when I quilt the Bluenose II. It was supposed to be a double, but it's quite a generous double. It could amply fit a queen as well. And, because this quilt has so many small pieces, I chose a relatively densely patterned pantograph. I will be so thrilled when this quilt if finally tout fini (all done). 
Meanwhile, I used the store credit I won at Johnson's Sewing Centre in their quilt challenge to purchase an extension table for my sewing machine. I have not yet been able to afford to buy a proper cabinet, so this extension table gives more workspace at the same level as the work area on the sewing machine. However, since it was significantly higher than the table, I have been experiencing neck, shoulder, arm and back pain related to the awkward posture I've had to sew in as a result. Today, I purchased this chair at Walmart.
Hopefully, it will resolve the problem. 
I have so many quilts that I need to make that I have resolved not to make any more spec quilts until I finish the ones I need to make for birthdays, babies, housewarmings, weddings. I use the term spec quilts, based on when my (now ex-)husband installed subflooring, mostly in new homes. Some of these homes were spec homes, that is they didn't have a buyer yet, but the builder was speculating that a buyer would come along. So, to me, a spec quilt would be one for which I didn't have a particular recipient or occasion in mind yet. Quilts like New York, New York
I plan to add a New York Beauty below the skyline.

Or Oriental Inspirations (or whatever I end up naming this quilt).
This is just one section of the quilt. 

I really have no idea who is going to end up with these two quilts. Even Stars Over Africa hasn't found a home yet.
So I'm hoping to resist the temptation to join any more Quilt-Alongs or BOMs or enter any more quilt challenges, until I've caught up with my current and overdue obligations: 
  • Jordon's high school graduation (he's now in his second year of university)
  • Judy's 65th birthday (she's now 67)
  • Nancy's 60th birthday (she's now 62)
  • Aiden's birth (about 7 months old)
  • Gregory's college graduation (this spring)
  • Janet's 60th birthday (September - this one is an afghan)
  • Bradley's housewarming (September)
  • Billy's wedding (September)
Here's Aiden's quilt so far.

It's a little more complex, so takes more effort and concentration.
And here's the most recent picture of Janet's afghan.

I just started working on Jordon's quilt. He's attending Western Michigan University and I was able to find an appropriate pattern. Brown and gold are the school colours and I will use them for the letters and the borders. Blue and orange are Jordon's favourite colours and they will be used for the background. 

There are two more babies due in the spring for which I should also make quilts or afghans. If one of them is a girl I still have Scrappy Shine.

My newest great nephew, Kenson, was just born last month and I was able to send Fractured Pinwheels, one of my spec quilts, as his gift. 

Somehow I would like to squeeze in Damian's Dinosaur quilt, hopefully for Christmas, if not before. Will this be the Christmas where I'll finally finish and be able to use the tree skirts (one quilted, one crocheted) that have been WIPs for ages? And, of course, I have numerous other WIPs/UFOs that I really need to complete before starting any more. I think maybe I have ADQD (Attention Deficit Quilting Disorder). "I will not start another project... Oh, look at that pretty fabric. That would look great in such-and-such a quilt..." 
Meanwhile, the bathroom scale was not giving me favourable information and I determined to start eating healthier again. Last week, I tried the Mixed Vegetable Coconut Curry from this cookbook. 
Here's the result on a bed of brown basmati rice:

I should have added a green salad to balance the colour. I enjoyed it, but not for a week or more. Next time I'll halve the recipe.
I pulled out this cookbook todayand made the Chick-E-Cheez Sauce. A rather funky vegan cheese sauce made with chickpea flour, but I really liked it. Yesterday after work I was able to pick up some pumpernickel bread and some fresh tomatoes, so I made my own version of Welsh Rarebit for lunch. 
This is what a vegan does with a steak knife. The raw tomatoes would have just been mashed up with a regular dinner knife.

Delish! Tomorrow I might try it on a baked potato and California vegetables. 
Did any of you do some moon-gazing this week with the "super moon" out? So beautiful. 

My picture is woefully inadequate to show its beauty. As a matter of fact, you may notice that my pictures have some grainy lines, plus the weird streak from the light in the pixel quilt picture (also in the moon picture when I tried to lighten it). My camera is over 10 years old, so it might be time for a new one. Also time for a new cell phone. I have been stubbornly clinging to my old flip phone, refusing to give it up until it dies. However, I was just notified by my provider that as of January 31, 2017, they will no longer be supporting that technology. <sigh> I guess it's time to catch up with technology and get a smart phone.