August 27, 2008

Thread storage in an A-Frame

I live in a A-Frame house. I love it because it is different and that suits me, but think about the shape of the walls for a minute... All of the outer walls are angled like / or \. The walls that form the inside structure at the center of the house are straight, but we have a lot of bookcases and it didn't take long to run out of wall space.

In my quilt room storage space was of particular concern because sewists have a lot of small bits that need to be handy. Something that is tucked away in the back of a closet might as well still be at the store for all the use we will get out of it. So here is my solution for my 100% cotton thread.

We literally framed it with varnished oak strips 1-3/4" deep by 3/4" thick in a narrow area between the two closets. I think thread is beautiful and I enjoy seeing all the colors there and it's never a problem knowing what thread might need to be restocked, I can see at a glance. If you were really handy you could put a glass front or door on it for dust; what I did was get an 1/8 of a yard of the light plastic that is sold on big rolls at fabric stores. I cut it down into strips and wrapped each spool. Those cling strips are expensive at the quilt stores, dirt cheap if you make your own and it really doesn't take any time at all.

If you have sheet rock walls you can actually cut out the sheet rock between two 2x4's (beware of wiring and stay from knee to eyeball height so you don't interfere with wires running across the top or bottom of the space) and make inset shelves. I did that when we put in my office. I'll show my 'hanging out' system next.

Today's Blessings:
Fog in the firs
Woodpeckers and their funny flight patterns

August 24, 2008

Last Baskets I Promise~

Ok, I'm done thinking and am now assembling sections. I think if you scroll down the page to some of my first ideas you'll find this setting is a vast improvement!

I've used my handy-dandy seam ripper numerous times, for the sashing neutral I'm using the back side of the fabric and I keep forgetting, and I told myself I wasn't going to worry about which way the vines were going, but then I couldn't stand it so resewed the ones that weren't heading NE or NW. I do love the little circle effect in the nine-patch basket feet.

If my calculations are correct I still need 67 more basket blocks... so it will be awhile until you see this quilt again.

Sunday Gratefulness:

Surprise mail treats this week
Good progress on the below mentioned candlewicking project
3 day weekend to look forward to

August 23, 2008


Once upon a time I thought I'd have children so I always saved my empty thread spools for them to play with. One day after about 30 years of this I looked at all those spools and realized I was never going to have children, and no ones kids would even be interested in such an old fashion slow fashion concept anyway. I sorted out over 200 empty plastic spools and filed them in the round bin outside, but I couldn't bear to just pitch all the wooden ones I'd emptied over the years. So here they sit, waiting for a second life. I doubt they find one with me, I don't like doing small projects like bags and table runners so something that involved spools would probably bore me to death. Yet they stay...waiting patiently to be repurposed. And each time I drop an empty spool in the trash basket I think of these lonely ones.

I think today's thread manufacturers are missing a good marketing tool by using such boring white plastic spools. Surely they can do better than that? Although the snap lock caps are a good thing...

Weekend blessings:
Beans, cucumbers, summer squash
Good health
Good friends
Anticipatory Pleasures

August 19, 2008

I Think I'm Getting Closer

What would I do without a working wall? It is the major player in my think tank. Not too sure about the square in the center of the blocks that now make up the feet of the baskets, that space looks weird when I pull them off. This setting looks far better than any of those posted previously though.

I made my working wall out of the entire west wall in my quilt room. I bought acoustical tiles (those white tiles you see on the ceiling of every classroom and café) and glued them to the wall which makes it a pinable surface and then covered the tiles with flannel. I love it and it has certainly improved the visual quality of my work. Oddly enough, I am not able to find any of these tiles in the home improvement stores any longer, I've been looking for some to make the same type of working wall in our RV.

Midweek blessings:
Light bulbs

August 17, 2008

Snippets Anyone?

Anyone care to guess the size of this piece?
It is is late afternoon in an adobe courtyard. To me it was a throw-away item of little value; I was really just experimenting with my hand dyes. I gave it to my friend Elle and she had it framed and what a difference it made.

I had her take a picture of it awhile back to help me remember that until a piece if finished we shouldn't judge it. It might just be spectacular, or it might be a spectacular failure but if we invest the time in something we owe it to ourselves to finish what we started, otherwise our time has no value at all.

If you have a complicated scene you'd like to turn into a quilt but don't want to piece it I'd highly recommend this technique; it's way fun and it's fast, how can you beat that?

Sunday Gratitudes:
My in-laws
Two flat tires, both right at destination rather than on the freeway
A cool breeze

August 14, 2008

Colonial Knot Stitch or How Not To Be A Klutz

Remember back a week or so ago I was looking for colored Candlewicking thread? That seems a doomed quest so I've been experimenting today with embroidery floss. My first lesson learned is my stamped work is stamped too close together to do the blooming technique I wanted, as I need to be able to snip between each dot and let the thread bloom in the wash.

So I'm going with my second choice, a Colonial Knot. I looked at a couple of explanation sites with diagrams and my mind just would not grasp the instructions; further Googling found this wonderful place Needle'nThread ~ What a delightful resource, she has a complete video library of embroidery stitches that you can play over and over (ahem) until you get it. What an amazing tool our computers are. Twenty years ago I felt so disconnected from other quilters, today in my inbox is a treasure trove of mail from quilters all over the world I could ask for help or share a discovery with. Like this one... And I have several dozen perfect colonial knots on my sample piece to prove it.

Midweek Blessings:
Digital Cameras
Energy Star Washing Machines

August 13, 2008

Frog Stitching

It comes to all of us; if we sew, eventually we must unsew. I have two seam rippers, probably a record of some sort, because most stitchers have multiple rippers. The aqua handled one I've had since ?1965? as a guess. It was on the supply list for my first machine sewing class. How it's managed to not get lost is a mystery to me. It has been relegated to special duty, I use it to take buttons off of worn out clothes.

My real workhorse seam ripper is a palm size 4" X 1.5" Wahl battery operated trimmer I picked up years ago at Sally Beauty Supply. They were $11.00 then. if they still carry them who knows what the price is now, but I expect any small trimmer will work. If you've got one of those torture devices marketed as Epi Lady try it, it might work fine. Separate the two pieces of fabric so you can see the first thread in the seam and then just lightly lay the running clipper blades on the seam thread. Don't Push, let the clipper do the work, you can unsew a mile of stitches in zip time. Added benefit is one side of the fabric will have one long thread you can pull away, the loops on the other side are nearly non-existent.

Gratitudes for the day:

My bone china Under Gardener coffee mug
My new sewing machine fits in the table recess where the old machine was (that is more along the lines of a miracle...)
On-line friends of long standing

August 11, 2008

The Pain Of It All

Yes I did. Buy a new machine at the Seattle show that is, the Janome 6600P with the industrial/professional grade body and huge harp area. Great show price, $1200.00. What I didn't do was take my MemoryCraft 9000 to trade in. I got to thinking in the hours before we left that I'd be bananas to sell that machine, it is absolute perfection except for machine quilting big quilts. So I made the decision to sell my two featherweights instead.

I got the celery one out this morning and photographed it...uuummmm, the special smell when you open a sweet clean featherweight case, who could describe it? I'll bring the black one home from the farm this weekend and do the same with it. It will be a wrench to let them go, but hey, I'm a FlyLady graduate and what purpose is served by owning something I don't use? They will go a long way toward replacing the funds spent on the new one and in a year or so I won't even sob out loud when I think of the poor gone babies...

In the mean time I'm requiring myself to weed the entire garden before I pull the 6600P out of the box. How's that for I am woman hear me roar will power? I love to have things to look forward too...

August 10, 2008

Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks.

I've just been to the big APNQ Pacific Northwest bi-annual quilt show in Seattle. Where I saw nary a sewing tattoo. I think there were nearly 1000 quilts, that's not a typo...1000 quilts and believe it or not I didn't take one picture, too busy gawking! Having been quilting steadily since 1970 (I'm not ancient, I started young *G*) sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking I've tried everything and I sort of tune out of the quilting world. I always return refreshed and renewed and shortly there-after find something I haven't tried yet which improves my work.

Back to the quilt show. In a big juried show we are treated to the best of the best, but even in the best there are better and not so better quilts. It's usually the detail that is the downfall and often that detail is bindings. The outer edges wobble a bit or the corners aren't sharp, or the inner binding seams make an occasional rogue jump. If you are on dial up this won't help much, but bookmark Sharon Schamber's YouTube. I don't know the woman from Adam, I have no vested interest in what she does, but she's got a great technique for doing binding. I thought mine were perfect until I watched all three 'binding the angel' tapes and I can see at least 4 different ways I can now do it better. These aren't fancy-smanchy videos, there is one camera and Sharon, but the beauty is in the details. And there are currently 59 videos she's done. Wonder what I'll learn tomorrow?

Sunday Gratitudes:

old friends and new friends
(((my computer))) what a tool for learning!
Smilies that make me laugh

August 8, 2008

Tats anyone?

Last night when I was combing Google images trying to find some pictures of my old long gone sewing machines I ran across this machine tattoo.

Later I was reading some information on Karen McTavish the long arm quilter and unearthed this beautiful feather motif. She's got one on both arms.

So this morning I Goggled some more, and found this temporary tattoo 'Born To Quilt' at Block Party

Here is a Prim one for the folky quilters
From graphics by Sheryl's Originals

Don't Quit Your Day Job offers this bird spool and needle...

Who knew? I don't want a tattoo, I've seen what they look like 30 years down the road on fat old women...but it sure is a fun subject to explore!

Friday Blessings:
Going to the APNQ show this weekend
Kindling for the winter fires is nearly finished
A good night's sleep, quite a rarity

August 7, 2008

Sewing Machines and Memory Lane

I'm thinking about a new sewing machine, have been for most of this year. Today I got to thinking about the sewing machines I've had and all the pleasure they've given. My very first machine work was done in high school Home Economics, I think they were Singer, probably so in the 1965-69 era. They were all in cabinets and rather than a foot pedal they had a knee operated lever.

In 1967 a neighbor sold me her mechanical New Home portable for $25.00. I immediately began making most of my school clothes and things for my little sister. I used that machine steadily until the early 80's. I got a $400.00 bonus at work and treated myself to a new New Home. Hokey Smokes it even had a zig zag stitch! I literally wore that machine out, it got to the point where sewing was just a swear fest and not much more. At the time there was an ad on TV where someone was so mad they started throwing their furniture out the window. I envisioned doing that with my poor worn out machine so many times...

I started paying attention to the televised sewing shows. They all had a different sewing machine so I made a list of every single feature I liked, and started saving my moolah. Once a month when I went to Portland for supplies for my salon I'd spend an hour or more at Montavilla Sewing Center and poor luckless Brent would walk me through another brand of sewing machine. I test drove every top of the line machine there is I think. I'd take my own fabric scraps to sew on and test techniques on...ever notice all the shops offer you stiff fabric to run under the presser foot? Of course it shows the stitches off to perfection but I don't sew with stiff fabric, hence my own samples.

And so it went for about 6 months. I'd pretty much decided on the Janome (they bought out the New Home brand) MemoryCraft 9000 by then but I was still saving my pennies. One day during a terrible wind storm I came as close as you can to being crushed by a falling fir tree and live to tell the tale. I was kind of shocky for a couple of days, and I decided life is short and then you die and I went to Portland and bought my machine.

Oh the bliss. I must have sewed a million miles on my MC9000 by now, it has been good and faithful, but the day has come when it doesn't do what I need a sewing machine to do. It has a very small harp area (the space between the needle works and the post on the right) which makes machine quilting very laborious. So I'm once again in the market for a new machine. Will it be a Janome/New Home? Probably...

Oddly enough I also got both my black and celery Featherweights at Montavilla, very reasonably. They'd been traded in...someone, like me, looking to upgrade. And back to that knee operated lever in home ec, when the sewing machine world was all agog about the invention of the knee lever needle lift mechanism I found old habits die hard. My MC9000 came with one, and try as I might I could not retrain my mind to knee lever=needle lift. My brain said knee lever=go faster. And nothing would happen. I finally decided it was a pat head/rub tummy thing and just put it away for good.

Big blessings this week!
The kindness of strangers and the Marriott
Our new well filter is $75.00 rather than the $1500.00 we expected
Fun progress on my September secret
A mistake in my checking account math in my favor, goodie goodie gum drops~

August 5, 2008

Baby, It's Hot Outside~

Thanks for the suggestions about the baskets settings below, I've gotten some great insight both here and in my email in-box. In a few weeks I'll see what you all think about new choices.

The first week of August is typically the hottest week of the year here. Over 100 degrees isn't that common in the Pacific Northwest USA but we do get them. The current record for the first week of August is 107. So today's 90 degrees isn't worth fussing about except I'm too warm to sit under a quilt. But I love working with fabric and my quilt room is such a sanctuary for this is what I did today.

I'm working up a quilting alcove in our 5th Wheel RV we have parked up at our farm. I use the starch and press method of preparing appliqué and if I don't put down a piece of scrap muslin pretty soon my ironing board looks like to top of the photo. So I dug around in my stash pile inherited from a friend (so she can be quilting with me) and cut a piece of fabric about 3" bigger than the board, flipped the board over on it and ran a big basting stitch around the fabric edges, cinched it up, and eureka, Houston we have lift-off. A lovely fresh ironing board cover. You could staple the fabric down also, but you need the strength of Samson...

This is done in Rustic Meadows from RJR Fabrics. It looks like the morning sun coming through the trees outside the window of my quilt room. A great pick me up, some stash busted and enjoyed, and it will look great in the RV. This particular ironing board is one of those pressboard ones, made to be set up in small places. I cut the angled part off, leaving it about 12"X14". Treat yourself to a fresh cover, you are worth it. If you click on the blog photos they come up in a new page much larger.

Today's Blessings:
Snagging an emergency opening at the doctor's for one of my clients.
Lunch with my Rob
Really good news TWO days in a row!
Life is good as my friend Val says...

August 3, 2008

Basketing part 3

5 more setting ideas. I do like one of these~
Note the in-progress baskets at top of 8 :-)
edited to add that those baskets do NOT go with this quilt, they are part of the Eleanor Burns Grandmothers Flower Garden pattern with dimensional flowers. Sorry to confuse some of you!

Back Basketing

Ok, five different layouts for my five inch baskets from 1800's reproduction fabrics.

#1 is on point with side triangles of mixed neutrals, this was my original thought. The basket handle backgrounds are also mixed neutrals.

#2. Baskets on square, nothing between

#3. Baskets on point, nothing between. While there is light and dark play, to me the point of the baskets are lost, it is just fabric squares alternated with squares with an interesting squiggly effect. Every one of the appliqué handle squares takes about 1-1/2 hours. That's too much time invested for 'just a squiggly' effect.

#4. Baskets on square with 1 inch cornerstones and sashing. If I use these waste cornerstones they will actually end up being 1/2 inch corners and sashing. Pretty narrow, but surely not something you'd see every day...

#5. Same as above, only on-point setting. I like on-point blocks but in the case of these baskets they are only marginally more interesting as the basket handles look the same in either setting.

Sunday blessings:
My working wall
A leisurely cuppa coffee
Not a blessing: trying to get multiple pictures on blogger plus words, and not look like an idiot. What a PITA. This looks great in draft form, like carpola published.

August 2, 2008

Here A Chick Redux

The girls are growing! They are at 8-ish weeks now, losing all their baby feathers and starting to take on their adult colors. They get to go out to the orchard in the evenings and peck for bugs and grit and greens and generally exercise their independence. Last night I went down to tell them goodnight and found them huddled out under the rabbit hutch. Doing a little Dick Tracy work I found a giant cat with a tail as wide as a tree trunk lurking nearby, visions of drumsticks dancing in his head. I sent him on his way with a warning and a lecture, and a promise of a steep price to pay if I ever smelled chicken feathers on his breath. He flipped his tail at me when he got over to the other side of the fence so who knows if the lecture will stick.

I get a lot of this look now, I can see some old biddies in the making, I'll have to hop sharp to keep from getting a clucking to.

Fresh raspberries, all I can stuff in and then some
Hummingbirds and juncos
Lowered fuel prices