Sunday 27 November 2016

Quilting with Metallic Thread

When I took my machine quilting course, as part of the course I tried various threads and vaious needles for quilting. In the picture below of one of my practice pieses, you can see that I was able to quilt my name and other doodlings in purple metallic thread. 
I intended to use the same thread to quilt my purple Christmas tree skirt. And since I had been successful in the sample above, I didn't anticipate any problems. I was wrong. The thread broke repeatedly. I tried different needles, adjusted the tension, reduced the speed on my sewing machine and changed the bobbin thread to polyester (I had been using Aurifil cotton 50 weight). I even tried sewing with two threads; one metallic and one cotton. That was messy. Nothing worked continuously. As a last resort, I wound the metallic thread onto the bobbin and used polyester thread on the top and stitched with the quilt facedown. Of course, this necessitated unpinning all of my pin-basting and moving the pins to the back side of the quilt. But I was finally successful. 
I have numerous spools of purple thread, in both cotton and polyester, so I could have easily switched to a non-metallic. But I had the metallic purple and I wanted to use it. It adds a little bling to the tree skirt. Next time, I'll just know from the start to use the metallic in the bobbin. However, I'm still puzzled as to why I was able to use it successfully previously. <shrug>
Up next: binding. Next problem: how to bind that tiny little circle in the middle of the tree skirt...

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Bring on the Snow!

Actually, that title probably sounds a little more enthusiastic than I am. I could live without winter, gladly. But I just got brand new winter tires installed on my truck. From our early snowfall in October, I already have a small shovel, an old pair of Sorels and an extra toque and mitts in the truck, so I'm about as ready for winter as I'm going to be. Except that I could use a few more bags of kitty litter or sand in the back. I just wish this great country of Canada had been founded somewhere warm. But then I suppose we might not have developed the great character we have. 😊
I didn't do any crafting or blogging last night. Instead I did shopping and handyman work. I shopped at Walmart and Canadian Tire for a few things. Back when my daughter made her aborted attempt to paint the front of my house, she removed my house numbers and the hand rail for my front steps. I haven't seen the house numbers or the screws for attaching the handrail since. Last time I asked her for them (which was not the first time), she replied, "Oh I thought I gave them back to you." In other words, she doesn't know where they are either. So I decided that I'd better buy some new ones. Haven't put them up yet. It's rather cold out there, and the sun sets so early that it's already getting dark by the time I get home. Kind of hard to feel motivated...
While I was at Walmart, I say the wall organizers for brooms and mops. I finally decided it was time to spend the money and the time and get something done about all of my brooms, mops, etc. that kept falling over and getting in the way. 
So that's what I spent last evening doing. Feels so good to have all of this stuff up out of the way. This is in my laundry room. Next spring, hopefully, I will get one put up in my garden shed as well, for all of my garden tools. 
One of the things I wrote in my gratitude book last night that I am thankful for is "power drills and the ability to use them." There was a time in my life when the thought of using power tools was rather scary to me. They can do a lot of damage in a short period of time. But as a single homeowner, I had to get over that and have since used a circular saw and a chain saw in addition to my two drills. I'm really thankful that I don't have to wait around for someone to do these things for me. 
I haven't really done much crafting this evening either. Trying to prep the batting and backing for the Christmas tree skirt, but feeling rather unmotivated. I think it's the lack of sunshine. Alberta is normally a sunny province, but I won't be surprised if we set some kind of record for sunless days this year.  But I was able to get this quilt hung, finally.
It got kind of bunched up and wrinkled while waiting to be hung on the wall. If it doesn't straighten out from hanging, I might have to take it down and iron it. I don't really want to do that, though. This fabric has that shiny, plastic-y coating that stinks when you iron it and I'm sure the fumes are not healthy for me to be inhaling. I should have put a third tab on this quilt for hanging. Without that clothespin, it would be sagging in the middle. When I've got nothing better to do, I might take it down and add another tab. I think I might use leftover fabric from this quilt to redo the cushion in this chair as well. 
As I was considering my projects, I realized I haven't shared my dishcloths. I've been wanting to do something as welcome gifts for new people that have moved into my neighbourhood. I decided to give each a crocheted or knitted dishcloth and a quilted hot pot holder. I had a big ball of yellow handicrafter cotton, so decided to make these sunshine dishcloths.
The pattern came from this book: 

I chose not to add the sunglasses or the smile. The pattern has the sun's rays get gradually smaller. I decided to make them all one size, and therefore have fewer of them. I like how they turned out. 
I originally bought the above pattern book because I liked the maple leaf dishcloth and was hoping to make one as a Christmas gift for each of my colleagues at work. 
However, there are a couple of the nurses that already give hand-made dishcloths for Christmas gifts. And I decided it's a little too labour-intensive for the number I would have to make. Especially when I've got so many other projects to get caught up on. 
I then decided to see if I could make a dishcloth on a knitting loom and bought this ebook from Leisure Arts:
I think the patterns look great. There's a good variety of different dishcloths to make, which I'm pleased with. I don't like making the same boring old dishcloth with just straight knitting over and over. However, I am not happy with the loom-knitting instructions and, while there are videos you can access online on Leisure Arts, they didn't really answer the questions I was asking. I hoped to be able to use a long loom, but usually you cross the yarn back and forth on a long loom. That wouldn't have worked for these patterns. You would have to work the stitches on each peg around the loom, not across it. I found the pegs too close together for this type of knitting and changed to a round loom, where it worked better. But I felt that the instructions to work a couple of rows with scrap yarn were rather ridiculuous. Once you were finished to the other end, you would then remove the scrap yarn (which was a lot of work) and put the stitches back on the pegs and finish it off. I'm not sure why the author found this necessary and why she didn't just work the pattern with the project yarn and then finish the edge with crochet... I'm no expert at loom-knitting, but this seemed like just a waste of valuable time. Loom knitting with a worsted weight (4) yarn also makes quite a loose-weave project and the instructions say to just wash it and it will tighten up. Really, I don't want to have to prewash every dishcloth I make. Fortunately, however, this book includes instructions for how to do each dishcloth with regular knitting or the knook. Since I do like the variety of patterns in this book, I will likely try some with knitting needles. I have yet to try a knook. That might be in my future. Here's the one dishcloth I made so far, already prewashed. 
Sorry, it's hard to see the pattern in this picture, but I'm not very good at keeping my place in a knitting pattern anyway. So, it's far from perfect. 😏 Like the orange maple leaf above, this was made from Cotton Rich yarn. It's not a great quality yarn - I bought it in the dollar store. It's rather inconsistent. The orange wasn't too bad, but the blue was rather horrible. There were several loose ends that I had to work into the project. And the dye was uneven. It's also not as heavy as Bernat Handicrafter and you can certainly tell the difference in quality when you compare the sunshine dishcloths, made of Handicrafter, with the other two made of Cotton Rich. 
Now I still need to make the hot pot holders. And it's well past my bedtime, so that's all for tonight. 

Monday 21 November 2016

Christmas Movies and Crochet

Watched another Christmas movie last night. I rarely sit idle when I'm watching television. I generally have a crochet hook or knitting needles in my hands. I've been working on a ruana for my daughter. It's the Around-Town Ruana, a free pattern from Red Heart. It's worked in three different yarns and you don't cut them when you get to the end of a row and switch to the next colour. You just leave it hanging and pick it up again the next time you get to the end of that row. That's why you can see all of the yarn stretched across the picture. 
I think I'm on row 42 and there are 73 on each half. It's a really easy project to pick up as it's just single crochets and chains. I don't have a picture of my ruana. I made the Savvy Ruana for myself, but I still have to finish the "fur" collar.
Another project that's easy to pick up and work on is my temperature change afghan. I call mine Spiralling Temperatures.
It's straight double crochet. The only complicated thing is remembering when to increase to keep the circle flat. I'm way behind, not yet finished August, partly due to the fact that I was in Ontario for two weeks twice this year and this project doesn't travel well. I have 11 (7 oz) balls of yarn and one 16 oz ball. Of course, that weight was at the beginning of the year, but there's still plenty of yarn left. I keep it in a tote whose top I drilled holes in to keep the yarn organized.
Can you imagine trying to fit that into your luggage? Do you think I could convince the airline that it's a medical device since I crochet for "therapy?" 😆 Here's my colour card.
I'm hoping to never have to use black. That's why you won't see it in the bin above. Plus the fact that I couldn't fit any more yarn in there. I'm using the daily maximum temperature and fortunately, I haven't had to use much purple either. (Even though it's my favourite colour, I'd rather not have those temperatures). However, we don't know what this winter will bring. I debated on whether to use only the colours from where I live or use the temperatures for where I was vacationing for that section of yarn. Initially, I was just going to go with the temperatures at home, but then I decided to use the temperatures from where I was visiting. That way it would be an afghan of my year and not my town's. 
After work today, I picked up a new push brooom. I have a corner lot with sidewalk on two sides of my property, plus a double wide driveway, the deck and the sidewalk between the deck and the garage. Even with a push brooom, that was a lot of work. I should have used the leaf blower. It would have done a better and quicker job. But at least I had some exercise. When I came in, I finished the top for my tree skirt. 
After all that exercise sweeping the snow, I don't have the energy to sort out the backing and batting for this project and then pin-baste it. That will have to wait for another evening. 

Sunday 20 November 2016

Snow Overnight

Got snow yesterday and overnight, but it didn't amount to much. However, I didn't get out the snowblower or even a broom. I was determined to get Damian's bed and some other stuff of my daughter's over to my ex-husband's place, where she's now living. Though I bought the bed, it was specifically for Damian - a nice low height for a preschooler and I don't need another bed around my house. I have a queen for myself, plus a double and two twins (day bed and pop-up bed under the daybed) for guests, so I wanted the extra bed out of my house. There's still a lot of her and Damian's stuff here that I will need to haul there, but it's a start. I'd like to get it all out soon, so I can move rooms back the way they were before Sophia and Damian lived with me, tidy up, clean up and decorate for Christmas. 
So after rounding up all of the stuff I rounded up, loading it up on the pickup truck and hauling it to my ex's place and unloading it again, I knew I wouldn't have the reserve time or energy to do the snow. I think I'll get myself a new push broom. It's not much snow so not worth getting the snowblower out, but a little heavy to use the leafblower. 
With that all to do today, plus a phone call with one of my sisters, I have yet to do any crafting. Or cooking, for that matter. However, I did get some more work done on my tree skirt last evening. 
It's almost there. I found my sewing machine needles for using with metallic thread as I want to use a metallic purple for the quilting part. I think I have some purple metallic thread somewhere. 
I also watched my first Christmas movie of the season last night: Christmas at Castlebury Hall
This has become my favourite Christmas movie. It's a light-hearted romance with a feel-good story line. Movies like It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol have good messages, but the storylines are kind of dark and heavy for a Christmas movie, in my opinion. Holiday Inn I don't particularly care for at all. The deceit and manipulation don't sit well with me. Of course I like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Grinch that Stole Christmas (original animated version). They're always fun and also have good messages, but of course are geared to the younger audience. Just saw the newer version of The Grinch and wasn't too impressed - oh, I watched that before Castlebury Hall, so I guess that was my first this season. Have no desire to see it again next year. There are others I enjoy watching, but for all around favourite, it's Castlebury Hall. If you haven't seen it, check it out.
This morning I spread the Bluenose II quilt top on my bed and snapped a photo to post on facebook so that Cindy could see what her quilt is going to look like. 
I like it, but I'm thinking it would look much better with a blue bedskirt than with my purple one. 😊
Now I'm going to be lazy and have a toasted tomato sandwich for supper. If my avocadoes are ripe, I'll add avocado as well. 

Saturday 19 November 2016

Who Can We Trust?

Recently I looked at a review for a quilting book I was considering purchasing. The author of the review stated that there were no instructions for a certain section of one of the quilts and so she just had to figure it out for herself. That would be incredibly frustrating. It made me think twice about whether or not I actually wanted to buy the book. If there were problems with the instructions for this one quilt, how do I know that there aren't similar problems throughout the book.
I have been working on a knitted afghan from a book I own. In the picture, it shows the pattern throughout the afghan, but the instructions indicate that you are to work 8 rows in the pattern followed by 4 rows of knitting. I don't want the bands of knitting in between the rows of pattern. I want it like it is in the picture. So I'm skipping the 4 rows of knitting. 
Many patterns have errors and inaccuracies. After all the authors are just human. Most patterns have errata published after the fact. You can often find them online. But if you've tried and struggled with a pattern, only to give up in frustration and then later to find the errata, it can be quite aggravating. It can result in lost time, lost yarn and therefore lost money. 
But ultimately, how important are these things in the light of eternity? Yes, it can cause frustration and aggravation. And it's certainly wise to check out the reviews on a product/pattern before we purchase or try it in order to avoid these annoyances. But it's far more important that we find who or what we can trust in the spiritual realm, which will determine our eternal destiny. This is not something we should leave to chance. It's one thing to hope that a new pattern designer had pattern testers evaluate their instructions to verify their accuracy. It's quite another to just hope that your source of spiritual truth is trustworthy. Especially if that source is just another erring - and sinful - human being. We all make mistakes - sometimes inadvertently, sometimes calculating and deliberate. And we need a source to verify whether another human being is presenting spiritual truth.
So who or what is the pattern tester to determine the veracity of truth? The Bible says in Isaiah 8:20, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Or, as the New Living Translation puts it, "Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark." And John 17:7 states, "Thy word is truth." God's word, the Bible, is the guide by which we should test all teachings. If a teaching contradicts His word, it's "darkness," as Isaiah 8:20 says. Psalm 119:105 tells us, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." The Bible is a trustworthy light on our pathway to peace, to heaven, to Jesus. And there is no errata for that Pattern. 
May God guide you on the pathway to truth.
For more information on this topic, see Is There Anything Left You Can Trust?

Friday 18 November 2016

So Disappointing

I was out the door a little past 7:30 this morning, on my way to Central Sewing Machines to finally quilt the Bluenose II pixel quilt. About 15 minutes from the store, my warning light came on with the message to add air to my left front tire. A little concerning since I had just been at the Kal Tire a couple of days ago to have them check the air in my tires. Did I have a leaky tire? What to do about it? I decided not to stop, but watched for a gas station so that I could stop on my way home to inflate the tire. However, I arrived at the store about 15 minutes before it opened, so I went back to the Petro Can I had spotted. I chose to overfill the tire in case it was leaking and hopefully it would stay inflated until I got back home. Unfortunately, the gas station was right on a very busy intersection, and there was no way I could go back the way I came because of medians and left turns, so I glanced at the map and left the gas station, turning right. And then another right, which took me through a light industrial section and I ended up making a wrong turn and got a tour of the neighbourhood that I hadn't planned on. Rechecked map and got myself going in the right direction and ended up back at Central Sewing 15-20 minutes after opening. I had wanted to get an early start on the quilt, so this was rather frustrating to me. 
According to the Bible, the Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday night. And at this time of year, that's pretty early, around 4:30. The hours of the Sabbath are sacred, so I don't quilt or do business on the Sabbath. So I wanted to make sure I got an early start on the quilt and finish up in plenty of time for the Sabbath to begin. As a matter of fact, on my way in, I was praying that the Lord would not allow the devil to keep me from finishing the quilt before the Sabbath began. 
I don't use a long arm quilting machine often enough to feel comfortable loading the quilt myself, so I asked for assistance. Unfortunately, the person who was assisting me was not a quilter and had just taken the training herself. She changed the needle for me and wound my first bobbin. I scratched my head over some of the things she did, and it seemed to be taking forever to get it loaded. Finally we had backing, batting and quilt top loaded on the frame. Then she left me, while I got the pantograph set up and then I was ready to begin, about 10:30. Not a good thing. This is a LARGE double quilt - actually large enough to fit a queen, and I was going to be quilting a rather dense pattern, so I was rather concerned about my time constraints. And, as it turned out, I was not ready to begin. When I started trying to baste the layers together, the machine wasn't cooperating at all. I couldn't pull the bobbin thread up, the needle got stuck and the thread broke. I went to get help and eventually we had to get someone who works in the store that actually owns one of these machines (HQ Avante), so she fiddled with it a bit and thought it might be my thread (Aurilux). She switched threads and still had problems. And then she finally noticed that the needle was in backwards! Switched the needle around and it seemed to be working fine, so we switched back to my thread and I tried again. Started to baste across the top but it kept skipping stitches. <sigh> By this time, it was 11:05. They had offered to allow me to leave the quilt on the machine if I didn't finish and come back Monday night when they're open until 8:30. But I had had more than enough frustration for one morning and decided to just take the quilt off the frame and leave. I really didn't want to drive back again on Monday night in the dark. I'm not fond of driving in the dark. 
So once again the pixel quilt is not finished. And I'm not sure how I'm going to get it finished. My scheduled days off always fall on a Friday, but I don't think I will try again to do a quilt on a Friday at this time of year. It's just cutting it to close to try and get it done before the Sabbath. And I have no more vacation to use until April, unless I borrow from next year's vacation. I've even used up my floating stat. I wish there was a longarm studio that was open on Sundays and then there wouldn't be a problem. Ultimately, I really need to get my own longarm machine. I just have to figure out how I'm going to afford it. And I need to de-clutter and finish the rest of the basement. In the meantime, I have found the Getting Started: HQ Avante videos on Youtube. Before I go next time, I intend to review them thoroughly and then I should be able to change the needle, wind the bobbin and load the quilt all on my own. One thing I will say about Central Sewing Machines, they actually clock you in on a time clock when you rent their machines, but you don't clock in until you're ready to sew. They don't charge you for the loading and set-up time. The other studio I rented at charged twice as much per hour and did include the loading/set-up time. Ouch! I could have saved a lot of money if I'd been renting at Central all along. 
All was not lost on my trip to the city, however. I was able to stop at McGavin's Bread Basket and pick up some Silver Hills bread. Silver Hills is my favourite bread. Made of all whole grains, mostly organic, it has body, it has texture, it has substance. Not like that doughy stuff you usually find at the grocery store, even the whole grain stuff. Silver Hills, however, does not usually come cheap. $4-5/loaf, or more, if you can find it. However, the stuff they sell at McGavin's Bread Basket is closer to the best before date, so they sell it cheaper. As in 10 loaves for $14.99 (or something like that), but you have to buy 10 loaves. No problem, I have a freezer. So I was really happy to make that stop as I was running low on bread. 
Next stop was Payless Shoes, where I was actually able to find a pair of shoes that fit me and were comfortable (till I wore them for the rest of the day, but that's me and my bad feet). Stopped at a mall for lunch and then hit the Fabricland and purchased some fabric to console myself after today's disappointment. 
First I found this panel. It has the Beautitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), Amazing Grace, the Prayer of Serenity, the Prayer of St. Francis and some mini panels that have Christian symbols on them. Not sure what I'll use the mini panels for. Some of them look like they're supposed to be bookmarks. I'm sure I'll figure out something. 
Next I found this train fabric. I took what was left on the bolt, less than two metres, I think.
While I was waiting in line at the cutting table, I spied this Stonehenge fabric. I'm not a big brown/beige fan, but my basement bathroom is beige and black and I thought this might make a nice wallhanging in there. Again, I bought what was left on the bolt.
All of the fabric I purchased was on sale, which makes me even happier. 
On my way back into town, I stopped at Walmart to pick up tahini and see if they had miso or umeboshi paste. Nada. Not even the tahini, at least not that I could find. 
And no more warning lights for my tire. It remained (over)inflated. 
The Sabbath has begun now, so I wish you all a happy Sabbath.

Thursday 17 November 2016

Back to My Purple Christmas Tree Skirt

I'm not sure when I started collecting purple Christmas tree decorations, but my goal was to have a white tree with purple decorations. Eventually I had enough decorations, but not the tree. One day in the post-Christmas sales in Canadian Tire, I found a frosted green tree that was on for a reasonable price. Since I had not been able to find a white one, I figured that might do and purchased it for use the following Christmas. It did look nice,
That tree topper just didn't want to work on top of this tree.

but that horrible flocking crumbled off the branches and got everywhere. It stuck to my slacks, it stuck to the cats. And I figured if I kept the tree for very many years, it would eventually be just a regular green tree, having lost all of its white flocking. 
The second year I used it more flocking, of course, came off, but my daughter and I both had terrible allergic reactions. Initially, we couldn't figure out what we were reacting to, especially since I don't rember reacting to the tree the first year I used it. But then I googled and found out that the flocking on these trees is an allergen. And I suppose time and/or exposure to air had deteriorated it to the point where more allergen was available to react to. Within 24-48 hours, we were fine, I assume because we were no longer disturbing the tree. However, it certainly gave use both cause for concern. 
That was last Christmas. This year I bought a white tree at Walmart. It's definitely not a luxury model, but who needs to pay hundreds of dollars on a Christmas tree? And I sold the allergen tree. 
Anyway, in collecting my purple decorations, I discovered that it was very difficult to find a purple tree skirt. So I determined to make my own. I started a few years ago, but other projects crowded it out as it was less important. But this year I am determined to have that purple tree skirt under my white tree. Here's my progress so far: 
It's called Log Cabin Courthouse Christmas Tree Skirt. You can't even find it online any more, and no wonder. It's not much of a pattern. I had to calculate the fabric requirements myself. The cutting instructions are for one block only and the other directions are pretty scanty. And it doesn't tell you how to make allowance for the tree trunk in the centre. I chose to add the setting triangles as I really didn't like the stairstep effect without them. There will be a total of 24 blocks and 8 setting triangles. It will be an uneven octagon when it's done. 
The biggest mistake I made was that I chose to include the shiny purplish fabric. It's not cotton, frays very easily and gets stretched out of shape much worse than cotton on the  bias. So my squares are pretty wonky. But it is only a Christmas tree skirt after all, and will be covered by presents for at least part of the season. 

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. 

Monday 7 November 2016

The Bodley Quilt

When my youngest sister, Cindy, was quite small, she received a stuffed corduroy chicken as a gift. She promptly said it was ugly. Later when I asked her what she was going to call it, she said, "Bodley." Or at least that's what I thought she said. What she had actually said was "Ugly." But Bodley it was, and Bodley it remained. 
A couple of years ago, I thought I might make some quilts for the Bags of Love program and purchased a few quilt kits from the clearance section at Keepsake Quilting. However, I have a habit of thinking I can accomplish more than is realistically possible, and life intervened and I never did get involved in this program. Earlier this year, I wanted to start a new quilt and pulled out the Garden Walk quilt kit. The picture had looked reasonably nice online, but when I pulled the fabric out of the package, I thought it looked like it was left over from the late 60s/early 70s. It was cringe-worthy! I'm not a big fan of scrappy quilts, but at least if the fabric is pretty, the quilt might be tolerable. But this was a scrappy quilt using ugly fabric. Am I being too harsh? Well, remember this is just my opinion. And obviously some people must like this kind of fabric or it wouldn't be made. Different strokes for different folks, right? But it definitely isn't my taste. I found it hard to motivate myself to actually work on this quilt. 
As I was working on it, I couldn't help but wonder why it was called Garden Walk. I recognized that the blocks look like tiles that you might use in a walkway, but a walkway is not one big rectangle. I thought maybe it should be called Garden Patio instead. And then I got to thinking how I would make a Garden Walk quilt, using some Stonehenge fabric to make the tiles actually look like they were made from stone and having them meander through the quilt between blocks of floral fabric. Alas I was stuck using Penelope from Camelot Fabrics. And this is not a reflection on Camelot Fabrics, because they have some nice stuff. It's just that I don't particularly care for this fabric line. I kept looking at that "Camelot" on the selvedges and thinking how I should use that in the name of the quilt. King Arthur's Tiles? No, hopefully King Arthur wouldn't have such gaudy pink tiles. I googled because I really didn't know much of the Camelot story and found out that Queen Guinevere had cheated on King Arthur with his most trusted knight, Lancelot, inciting Arthur to go to war with Lancelot, which resulted in Arthur's death. I considered calling this quilt Lancelot's Tiles, but decided that conniving, manipulating adulteress deserved to have them named after her. And so this quilt became Queen Guinevere's Tiles. That's the title I put on the back. But to me it will always be the Bodley Quilt. Because Bodley it is and Bodley it will remain.

Using all of the fabric in the quilt construction, I discovered that I had 5 extra blocks. I used 4 to make a pillow pocket to turn this into a quillow.
And the 5th I used to make a decorative pillow. 
Quillow in the background, decorative pillow in front.
I decided I wanted to emphasize the tile-look of these blocks, and so used stitch in the ditch to outline each rectangle on my domestic machine. Then I followed the design in the fabric to quilt the border. Of course, that took much longer than doing it on the long arm and that meant I had that much longer to look at this quilt. I am so glad to have it finished and given away. This is the only quilt I've ever made that I felt this negative about. Unfortunately, I have at least one more "Bodley" quilt kit in my stash. But I have plans to remedy that one and make it more tolerable. Stay tuned...

Sunday 6 November 2016

Folding a Quillow

When I first "met" a quillow (a quilt that folds into a pillow), I discovered that it was easy enough to get the quilt out, but folding it back up and nesting it inside it's pillow pocket was another matter. Then, when I gifted a quillow, I found the recipient had the same issue.
So here, for present and future recipients are the directions, with pictures, on how to fold up a quillow.
1. Start by laying the quilt face up on the floor or other flat surface of sufficient size, with the pillow pocket face down on the end farthest from you.
2. Fold in each side of the quilt so that the fold lines up with the edge of the pillow pocket.
First one side...

and then the other.
3. Next, start a rolling fold from the end closest to you.
You want the first fold to be slightly smaller than the pillow pocket, as it will increase in bulk with each fold.
It may take 3 or 4 folds depending on the size of the pillow pocket, and the size of the quilt. The second last fold needs to line up with the bottom of the pillow pocket. 
The final fold should land the folded quilt directly on top of the pillow pocket. This can be a little tricky and you may find that you will have to refold to get this to happen. 
4. Reach inside of the pillow pocket and use whatever contortionist tricks you have to, to get the pillow pocket inverted over the quilt. Be cautious with this maneuver as the pillow pocket is only hand stitched on, and too much pressure can cause stitches to break. 
5. And there you go, you now have your quilt folded inside of the pillow. 

The big one is the quillow. The smaller one is just a decorative pillow made from a left over block. 
I originally found the directions on Craftsy from Patz in Suffolk. She also gives some tips on making a quillow. Here's the link: