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Friday, January 24, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mac!

Today the Mac computer turns 30 years old — I can hardly believe it, especially since I've had Macs for about 28 of those years. The photo here is of a Mac Plus, which is what I had then. The very first Mac wasn't as powerful as this one. LOL!

Why did I decide on a Mac, rather than the more common IBM-types of the day? There were a couple of reasons. First, I was teaching French in those days, and typing in French required special software on the IBM clones; on the Mac, foreign-language support was built right in. And then, who could resist that adorable little trashcan for getting rid of things you no longer needed? ;)

I became pretty proficient on my Mac Plus, with the result that my school district sent me to tech training so I could do repairs in our small town, eliminating the need to send machines away to be fixed. I worked on Apple IIs right up through the Macs that came along. Because I'd learned how to do that, I was able to upgrade the RAM on my Mac from 1MG to a whopping 4MG — the maximum possible!

My first hard drive was 20MG, and I explained to my husband that I'd never need anything larger, because who could possibly fill up something that big? Oops. No one could have guessed that we'd be dealing in gigabytes and terabytes now.

I'm still a "Mac person" all these years later; I'm on my eighth or ninth Mac (I can't remember exactly!) now — a Retina MacBook Pro — and have added iPhones and iPads along the way. A few years ago I even convinced my husband, who isn't interested in technology, to get his own Mac.

Happy birthday, Mac!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Great class!

Friday I was lucky enough to have been able to take a free-motion quilting class from Cindy Needham. She's most famous for her quilts made from old linens, and we saw lots of those at Thursday evening's guild meeting — they're drop-dead gorgeous! But linens aren't something I have hanging around my little house, and I'm always interested in learning more techniques in machine quilting, so that's what I opted to take.

The class was wonderful, and all the more so because it was a small group, so we had plenty of individualized attention from Cindy. :) She brought dozens and dozens of spools of different threads from the Superior company, whose threads and needles are definitely among my favorites. She also provided a quilt sandwich for us to practice on, so we we able to make our own attempts at what she was showing us.

We spent the morning working on different feathered motifs, a few of which you can see in this photo of half of my sample sandwich:

The afternoon dealt with background filler motifs, and I've barely begun adding some of those in this photo:
Feathers and backgrounds

In this last photo, you can probably see the difference it makes when the backgrounds are added. Those feathers really pop out when the background is "mashed down". ;)
Contrasting feathers with and without background quilting

I'm having such fun deciding which background to put in various areas and watching the feathers come to life!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Unexpected gift

Sometimes people are just so awfully nice! One of the ladies in the quilt group I belong to gave me a Christmas gift today, completely unexpectedly. (Aren't those the best kind?) Look what she gave me:

Aren't they beautiful? I love scissors and have more than a few pairs, but these are just flat gorgeous. In fact, they look so nice on their blue velvet bed that I have a hard time thinking of storing them anywhere else. :) Those little ones will be so handy, whether snipping threads on binding or doing other handwork; and the larger pair is that handy "utility" size that will be perfect for all sorts of trimming and tweaking. I'm just delighted with them!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Head Start

Let me give you a little "history" so you'll know what the background of this story is. Some years ago (eleven, to be exact) I made the little panel quilt on the left as an Advent calendar for my grandchildren. Since that time it has hung in my home from early December on, and my grandchildren have visited to get candy from the little pockets. This year, however, two of my grandsons moved away, and I decided to send the Advent calendar with them so they'd have a little of their tradition to take with them to a strange place. These two were the ones who'd stopped by most often to get candy from it, so it seemed the right thing to do.

Still, that left three grandchildren here in town with no Advent calendar at all. Uh-oh … that's not fair! So I scoured the internet for another panel that I thought would be good, keeping in mind that one of these grandchildren is about to turn 15 now. "Cutesy" didn't quite seem as appropriate as it had before. I got lucky and found a panel with scenes of Bethlehem — and that one felt right! The complication (you knew there had to be one, right?) was that the only one I could find was damaged. One top corner with beautiful gold scrollwork was chopped off. Okay, what could I do about that? I originally thought to add a fussy-cut motif to both corners to camouflage the problem, but I ended up cutting off both corners instead; the fussy-cuts just looked out of place. Instead, I added corded piping around all six sides, then attached a navy border, followed by more corded piping and the binding.

The label will follow soon, but here is a close-up of a few of the pockets, where you can see a smaller version of what should have been in the corners of the panel.

So now you understand why I titled this post "Head Start", right? I simply had to get this finished right away before I forgot, so I'm ahead on next year's Christmas preparations! LOL!