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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Busy time of year

I hadn't realized that my most recent post dated from almost a month ago! But I know most of us are in the same situation: fully engulfed in preparations for the coming holidays. Some are dealing with unexpected complications, too, as I have been for the past couple of weeks — nothing serious, but frustrating nonetheless.

Today I was reading one of the blogs I follow, Amy's Freemotion Quilting Adventures, and what she wrote reminded me that I hadn't checked my stats in some time. I find it fascinating to see where the people are who are looking at my blog, and I thought you might enjoy seeing what I found.

It's small, I know, but look at all of the different areas that have access to the internet and, somehow, ended up looking at what I've posted! Naturally, the vast majority are from the U.S., given that this is where I live, but it flabbergasts me to see that people all over the world have visited. What a wonderful time we live in!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

There are so many things to be thankful for, beginning with family and friends and going right down the list. I hope everyone out there has a wonderful holiday weekend! I've been baking today, using my own grandmother's recipe for pumpkin pie, which always makes more filling than will fit into the pie shells. The two ramekins are the extra filling, which I'm sure will disappear almost as quickly as the pies. ;)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone — in and out of the U.S.!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Weekend fun

My very good quilting buddy, Phyl, invited me to go with her to attend an event hosted by the Bernina Connection in Phoenix. Coincidentally, one of the owners of that shop, Val, used to be my neighbor when I lived in Arizona, and our children were in school together. As always, Phyl and I had a wonderful time together, made even better by the presence in her home of her two standard poodles, Mollie and Katie, who are adorable and who make it easier not to miss my little Bisou. :)

Over the course of two days we attended *four* classes! We were pretty wiped out by the end of it, but it was a very good state of exhaustion. Such fun! All supplies for the classes, including a variety of Bernina machines, were provided, as well as lunch and a guest speaker each day. There was also a small vendor area, which you can see at the right. The red chair in front, as well as a small Bernina and a Koala cabinet were door prizes! The poster beside the chair was an illustration of a special quilt designed and created by Sarah Vedeler, who was our speaker on the second day.

What did we make? Four different projects! The first was the little blue zippered pouch in the photo to the left. It was the first time I'd ever used a serger/overlocker, and that was fun. Do you see the orange and green curved blocks there? Those are the beginning of a table runner that was the second class on the first day.

On the second day, we made the zippered vinyl project bag in black and white that's shown on the left, followed by the personalized matching double eyeglass case behind it. That case was done almost entirely in the hoop. I just have to finish up the binding on that one, though the table runner still has a lot of work to go. The project bag and zippered pouch are done.

You may also see a pattern called Quilted in Honor behind the curved blocks. That was a gift to all in attendance from Sarah Vedeler, and the black bag in the very back was the zippered tote each of us received from the Bernina Connection. Did I mention how much fun this was? I so appreciate Phyl for letting me attend with her!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What good is a bathtub?

I know that we've all bathed children and maybe pets in bathtubs, but really! After the children get to a certain age, I'd guess that most of us use the shower much more often than the bathtub, right? Why am I pondering this? Because a decent-sized black cloud was hovering over my house this past week. First there were complications when I wiped my hard drive clean of stuff that had accumulated for the past decade or so; the complications stemmed from a hardware conflict with a peripheral that had gone bad, but it took days of troubleshooting to figure that out. Whew!

No sooner was I finished with that and enjoying the fruits of my labors (a trimmed-down hard drive!), than the black cloud chortled and struck again. I have -- or had -- a tall bookcase in my sewing room. The bookcase was pretty much full of books, but what are you supposed to do with a bookcase, after all? At any rate, in the completely innocent process of removing a book for reference, the shelves collapsed. Naturally, my thumbs were caught between shelves, and books went tumbling all over the place. With my husband out of town (when else would something like this happen?*), I was faced with unloading the rest of the shelves alone, which I did. This is what the floor of my sewing room looks like now -- making it impossible to get to the closet where I keep most of my supplies.

So what's the problem, you ask? It isn't all of the books! Enter the bathtubs -- both of them. 

I decided to get the bookcase completely out of the room so I wouldn't have to look at its bare bones, so I started sliding it across the floor. It's taller than the door frame -- but you knew that was coming, didn't you? Okay, push it back into the middle of what's left of the floor and tip it onto its side before resuming the slide. It couldn't make the tight turn through my laundry room into the garage, where I planned to stash it for now, so I slid it out my front door, down the sidewalk, around in front of the garage and inside. Good news: I didn't even ding my car in the process! 

The new bookcase should be delivered in a few days -- delivery was a must, since my husband's truck is out of town with him. ;) 

*Little disasters like this one only occur when my husband isn't home; it's a Law of Nature. To illustrate:

1. There was the time that the doorknob fell off of the back door at 6:00PM and a replacement had a much larger "thing" that had to go through the door. I drilled with a small drill bit (didn't have a gigantic one) for hours. 

2. Oh, and there was the time lightning hit the house and the evaporative cooler wouldn't turn off.  Wearing coats in July does seem a bit odd, but I finally found the right circuit breaker. It only took a few weeks for the ceiling to dry out and be repaired.

3. Then there was the time the plumber forced water through a vent in the roof in order to unplug a sink -- and made it "rain" all over my computer and desk. The insurance adjuster and I ended up on a first-name basis.

Those are just the highlights. Life can really be interesting. Sometimes a sense of humor can help. Eventually. ;)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Progress on two fronts

I've said before that I have a Mac computer. I've had Macs almost from the time they were introduced, and I haven't done a clean installation of a new operating system in at least ten years. As a result, there's lots of extra "stuff" hiding in various places on my hard drive -- stuff I no longer need or use. Given that, I decided it was high time to do a clean installation of Yosemite, the newest OS, on my Mac. Ouch! It's so much easier just to upgrade! I've been moving things, reinstalling things, discovering that data doesn't always just copy easily but must be exported, etc., etc. So far, I've been working on it for a day and a half, and I may have finished the worst of it at this point. I'm waiting for a couple of tech support replies, and I may still reinstall a couple of apps I haven't yet decided are vital, but the majority of the work is past.

While waiting for some things to copy/export/import, I did a little quilting on my current project. Here's what I'm doing at the moment, though of course there's still quite a bit to finish. This is a Drunkard's Path variation, and I'm quilting a lot of my much-loved feathers. I used oriental prints for this, and the quilting so far is with a lovely soft metallic gold thread.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Back from Houston

Gosh! It's been a month since I've written a post — time really does fly sometimes. I returned home last night from a wonderful trip to the Houston Quilt Festival, which was celebrating its 40th anniversary. I know there are photos all over the web of the glorious quilts; I have to admit that I didn't take any myself. I decided this year simply to enjoy the quilts, rather than trying to get good photos.

While I was there, I took a half-day class from Jenny Lyon, whose blog I've been enjoying. The class was very good, and Jenny herself is really upbeat and encouraging. The class was well worth attending. :)

My quilting buddy Phyl and I roomed together, ogled the quilts, and drooled in the vendors' booths. What did I buy, you ask? The first thing was Philippa Naylor's new book, Appliqué Mastery. Philippa is a phenomenal teacher, but she wasn't offering anything I hadn't already taken during the time I was there. The book, though, will serve to remind me of things I'd had in her appliqué class, as well as things I hadn't known.

After that, a few of the things I was specifically looking for weren't available or had sold out by the time I found where they'd been. However, I did "discover" a new-to-me booth, l'Atelier d'Isabelle, where I bought a wool felt kit to make an adorable flower pin cushion. Isn't it cute? I also found some buttons that I may be able to use on a sweater I'm making. In other places I found some threads I needed, refill chalks for my Bohin pencils, and a couple of rulers designed for use in free-motion work on domestic machines. Fun!

My kit
Yesterday, though, I ran across something I'd somehow missed before: a British stand selling a foot specifically made for ruler work on domestic machines, including the Bernina! Eureka! This will be so much easier than the #9 foot I modified with O-rings! The foot came as a "kit" with a slider mat and a ruler, but I already had the slider mat. The very nice vendor added another ruler to the kit instead, and took off a bit from the price. There's a YouTube channel showing how some of the rulers work, too.

Above, you can see the foot, with its #75 shank licensed from Bernina, and the two rulers. The straight line one is included in the kit, and then I chose the curved one for making circles and clamshells. The foot actually fits right into those channels, and then you scoot the ruler along or swivel it around to continue on. On the left you can see how the foot looks on the machine.

I've just finished a tiny amount of "play" with the foot and a "normal" free-motion ruler, as well as with the special rulers that came with the foot, and I think I'm in love. LOL! The lines to the right are made with a normal FM ruler, and the ones to the left are done with the ruler included in the kit.

Now to catch up on the laundry! ;)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Parcel Pullover Sweater

This design by Carol Feller caught my eye some time ago, and I found some yarn I liked for it and went to work. :) The yarn is Malabrigo Rios, in the Solis color. It's a gorgeous yarn!

 I'd only done cables once before, and those were on some rather small fingerless mitts, so this was more of a challenge. There are three cables on the body of the sweater, as well as two more on the sleeves. At the right, you can see the pair of cables on the right side of the front.

And at the left, you can see all three body cables, which are repeated on the back.

Each sleeve has two cables. From these photos, I think you can see that the cables aren't the same style as are usually seen, and they are graduated in length. It's a very interesting pattern!

I actually finished the knitting a couple of weeks ago, but I'd been waiting for my husband to be away so I could block the pullover on the kitchen table without messing up our meals; we have a very small home with little room for spreading out. LOL! However, his plans changed, and he didn't go away as originally planned. I've blocked the sweater on the bed instead, turned on the overhead fan to help things along, and am hoping it will be done before someone wants to sleep there. ;)

Friday, September 26, 2014


The sun behind the clouds
We're under a flash flood watch right now as a huge storm rolls in. It hasn't hit our area quite yet, but we have some spectacular skies while we wait. We really need the water, but getting it all at once is always a bit nerve-wracking. Here are a couple more photos:
More clouds
Rain in the distance

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Puppy Love

Yesterday I finished the hand work I was doing the other day when I posted. :) Remember these blocks, begun during a visit from my quilting buddy? The quilt is now finished, though it ended up being too wide (23" x 37") for the wall I'd hoped to hang it on. Drat. Oh well.

The "problem" was that the cocker puppy, which I simply had to use, of course, because of our own cocker, Bisou, was a horizontal block instead of the vertical blocks of the schnauzer and lab puppies.

That lab was in memory of Dexter, a lab/chow mix we used to have and who was the sweetest guy you could imagine.

I used the schnauzer in order to have more than two dogs on the quilt; my sister had a schnauzer, and we also had friends with schnauzers, so that was logical choice.  Once I had all of the blocks finished, they seemed to need a border, so I used the embroidered paw prints for that; they were in the pattern set.

All of the quilting, including the straight lines, was done free motion to facilitate the frequent switching of directions that was necessary. Naturally, I also added the corded piping I like so much next to the binding.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hand work

Gosh, I hadn't realized how much time had slipped by since my last post! I've had a few distractions to keep me busy, though, the most important of which was getting ready for my husband's surgery to mend his torn meniscus. Ouch! But he's doing well at this point, thank goodness.

Another "distraction" has been the installation of our solar panels. Now we're just waiting for everything to be activated.

However, I have been doing some quilting in all of that. :) In fact, I'm now starting the hand work on a machine appliquéd/embroidered quilt begun almost two months ago. Once the binding and hanging sleeve are finished, I'll make a label and go on to the next project on the list. LOL! Doing the hand work is very relaxing, especially with a little pot of tea to enjoy at the same time. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quilting with my granddaughter

My seven-year-old granddaughter wanted to make a cushion for her bed, so she spent today with me. She'd already picked out the colors she wanted, and I pulled fabrics from my stash and cut them from the layout I'd done in EQ7 (for the Mac!) so we'd be sure to finish in the one day. She requested yellow and white, and we added some purple, her favorite color. She pieced the log cabin variation sitting with me in the chair for supervision, and then she had fun with the walking foot for the quilting. The addition of an overlapped back made the quilt into a cushion cover.

Here's my happy granddaughter with her accomplishment. She loves my Bernina! ;)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fun with machine appliqué

My quilting buddy from Phoenix has been spending a few days here with me, and we had a project in mind to keep us busy and out of trouble. ;) We used our embroidery modules to appliqué some adorable puppies from this pattern.

They're so cute that we've been oohing and awwing at every step! I chose three pups to begin with, but I really had trouble making up my mind — except for the cocker spaniel puppy, of course, since our Bisou likes the same play position. LOL!

These three blocks are all that I have finished at this point, but I'll have to decide how I want to put them together and what other motifs to add to make everything fit together.

Edit: My quilting buddy has just posted photos of her Mixed Mutts dogs, too! Here's where you can find them.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Quick baby gift

A young couple we know has just had a first baby, an adorable little boy. :) I needed to whip up a quick baby gift, and Craftsy published this cute pattern for a bib. It was quite easy to make, though I did make one modification: I put a layer of vinyl in between the front and back layers so that liquids wouldn't soak through and get the baby or his clothes wet. Having the vinyl between the layers did, however, make the bib more difficult to turn right side out, but I think it will have been worth it. Oh, and I decided to make the owl slightly cross-eyed; he was cuter that way. ;)

Here's the back of the bib, with baseball-themed fabric for a baseball-oriented family. I had the fabric in my stash, and it seemed perfect for this! :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Modified machine foot

I've been reading Amy's Free Motion Adventures for a while now. She has some wonderful tutorials for free motion quilting, but she also has a wonderful foot for her sewing machine. It's just like the ones you see on long arm machines, but it fits her domestic machine and makes using rulers on that machine much easier. You see, the problem with using rulers on most domestic machines is that the free motion foot will slide far too easily under the ruler, leaving the operator subject to broken needles, machine timing problems, and even injury. Unfortunately, much as I love my Bernina, no similar long arm-style foot is available for it. I've tried doing some ruler work anyway, and it was very stressful as I tightened up all of my muscles in the attempt to keep everything safe and working correctly.  Ouch!

A recent post to a Yahoo group, however, got my mind working. What if I found something I could attach somehow to my #9 foot, which is the one that I'd most likely want to modify? A trip to my local home improvement stores netted me what I hoped would work. I already had a #9 foot, of course. But I bought some rubber O-rings and some Super Glue and then came home and pondered whether I really thought it would work. That took several days. ;)

Finally, though, I decided I'd give it a try. I put a thin ring of glue around the top of the foot and used a wooden skewer to nudge and tap the O-ring into position, letting it dry for about 30 minutes to be very sure it was secure. Hmmm. Not tall enough. I added another O-ring and let that dry. See the result? The angle of the photo makes it look like the O-rings are skewed, but they really aren't, I promise.

Okay, now that it looked to be the right thickness, all that was left was to give it a try with the curved cross-hatching ruler I'd tried to use previously. The ruler is from this site, and I think I will have to get another — straight this time — from them.

I need lots more practice, obviously, but I really think the modified foot is going to be very helpful! I did a quick trial on a diagonal half of the drawn square here, and the added height on the foot really made a difference in how relaxed I was as I stitched.

Here is a series of photos to show the progress on the triangular area:
Doing the first angle of curves

The second angle

Finished — mistakes and all! LOL!
I'm so pleased with the foot I've modified that I'm not even upset at having a bit of Super Glue on a couple of fingertips! ;)

NOTE: Please see another option I found and showed here. This is even better!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Place for Everything

Remember this bag from about a year ago? I used it to take some quilting notions with me on the recent quilting cruise, and I've also used it for more local quilting events. However, it is limited in the size of things it will accommodate, so I decided to make its "big brother", the A Place for Everything Bag. It's a little easier to make than the smaller one, as Annie revised how to do the binding — the only really difficult part on the original. That's a carrying handle on the left (it's on the opposite side from the other bag), and it has double zipper pulls to open the bag.

This photo shows the difference in the size of the two bags. I think both will be really useful!

Opening this bag shows off the pages of pockets, as in the smaller version. However, these pockets, in a variety of sizes, have little gussets. That makes stashing bulkier items easier — think sewing machine feet, spools of thread, and that sort of thing.

Just as in the smaller bag, the pages are removable. There's a difference, though; the pages are constructed in pairs, so two pages come out at a time. See the different kinds of pockets I chose?

The directions for this pattern are clear, as usual with Annie's work, and she does suggest using a teflon-coated foot for the sewing machine. That makes sewing with the vinyl under the foot much easier. I like my #56 foot, since it gives very good visibility and even allows me to move the needle position when stitching the binding; that lets me keep more fabric over the feed dogs and have better control.

Near the end of making the bag, I had a lightbulb moment. ;) There were times when I had to stitch with the vinyl pockets next to the bed of the machine, rather than under the foot. That vinyl really sticks! But I have a silicon "sheet" that I use when doing free-motion quilting — what if I used that under the vinyl? Yes! It really stops the vinyl from sticking to the machine bed! My silicon sheet has a large cutout, allowing the feed dogs to work as intended, but some have only a needle hole. It would be an easy matter to cut out a larger opening, if you wanted to use this idea. :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

What was I thinking?

If you've been reading my blog for any time at all, you know that I really like the patterns I've bought from Annie. I liked her Hold Everything Bag so much that I bought all of the supplies necessary to make her more recent A Place for Everything Bag, This one is supposed to be easier to make, and it has gussets in the pockets to make storing things that aren't flat a little more doable.

The supplies had been sitting around for a little while, and it was time to begin. The first step, of course, is to cut out certain "chunks" of fabric and Soft and Stable. Some of those fabric pieces are then quilted to the Soft and Stable. I usually just do straight lines for this step, but this time I decided to do something else; the flowered motifs are all outlined in gold, so I decided to enhance this by outlining them in gold thread — just some of them, you understand, as there were an awful lot of flowers. I decided to outline only the white ones.

There are three pieces to quilt this way: one 7" x 39" (done!), one 28" x 23" (done!), and one 28" x 16" (still in progress). They take longer than I'd anticipated, and it's really hard to tell that the quilting is done. Drat! But the reverse side, which will show as the lining, does show it, so all is not lost. :) Today's project: finish that last piece! :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

River cruise — the end

Last year my husband and I visited Amsterdam before taking a cruise to the Norwegian fjords. At that time, I was pretty disappointed not to see any of the "traditional" windmills; these days they are all the modern style, which isn't nearly as picturesque — though I'm sure they're much more efficient. However, our last stop on this river cruise was in Kinderdijk (Netherlands), which has lots of the older windmills! Yay! So this post will be to show you something I'd been waiting for since last year. ;)

One after another, they were lined up for our "inspection". I loved it!

More …

And yet more …

Still more …

Everywhere we looked, there were these wonderful old windmills! The only down side to the day was that the weather, which had been so cooperative all during our cruise, was finally turning. Look at those grey skies! But the ship had umbrellas for us, so we didn't get too wet. :)

The next day was our marathon travel day, as we traveled for 24 hours before arriving home. Naturally, as soon as we'd plopped our luggage inside the front door, we raced to the car and went to get Bisou from where she'd been having the time of her life playing with the other dogs at the sitter's house! LOL! Here she is, recuperating from her playtime with a golden doodle. Our sitter is so good and sends us photos from time to time while we're away. :)