Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Where Have I Been?? Long TIme, No Blog

I can't believe I haven't posted in a while.  I guess the saying is true, time flies when you're having fun.  I've been busy!  I'm sure you have been busy too.  I'm getting ready to start the final quarter of my full time employment and starting up the first quarter of my new post-retirement employment.  Overlapping jobs can be stressful, but in a fun way!

Last week I started working at one of our local quilt shops.  About 30 years ago (gasp!) I worked as the mangaer of one of the big chain fabric stores for about two years.  I remember that at first it was so much fun, but later, when the schedule got hard to do because everyone wanted to be off at the same time, and when the shipments came and the guy just pushed them to the end of the truck, I wasn't having so much fun.  And Christmas!!  Retail at Christmastime can be a drag when you have to do it full time.

This new job will be a lot less crazy!  It's just a few hours a couple of times a week.  I have no desire to run a store anymore.  I just need the opportunity to get out of the house once in a while, and see people in a fun atmosphere.  And, you know, be with fabric and stuff.  Ha ha!

Of course I have so many other things I want to do, things I need to do, that full time work keeps me from doing....
Like my two quilt guilds, and my volunteer treasurer job at church, and then there are all the sewing, knitting, crafting projets I have started and the ones I haven't started...

If I live to be 100 I could still have UFOs!  (That's a scary thought!!)

But someone told me that when it's time to retire, you'll know.  I kinda feel that the end has come for my full time job.  I will miss all the people I interact with on a weekly basis.  But goodnes, the red tape is getting to be too much.  Processes try my patience.  Five or six years ago, there was going to be a committee to improve processes and remove some of the red tape.  Nothing really changed. 

And my body is rebelling at times.  My elbows and shoulders sometimes creak.  The arthritis in my hands makes life interesting many, many mornings.  Thank goodness for aspirin and Aspercream (which by the way has no aspirin in it so why do they call it Aspercream??).

I plan to have lots of replacement activities to do during my so-called retirement.  I think I'd prefer to think of it as Phase 2.

And sew on...

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Flying -- or Flying?

The days are flying by... three weeks until Easter, and three and a half months until I retire!  Meanwhile back at the ranch -- ha ha!

Things are nuts.  Two weeks ago I was not motivated to do anything special and work was a little slow.  Of course I knew it was the calm before the storm.

I'm still working on my UFO finish plan.  Yesterday I completed a table topper that was languishing and at the beginning of the week I finished a sweater that I started in January.  So something old and something new.

Finish!  Except to sew in the zipper...
Last night I sewed the binding on this!
Work is heating up.  It must be spring.  And within the last 36 hours my presence has been requested at two multiple-day meetings, one in Charlotte NC the week before Easter, and one in Austin TX the week AFTER.

Good thing I'm not being expected to cook Easter dinner this year!

Now I have to think about clothes for a while.  First, something to wear in warm Charlotte and warmer Austin.  With layers for those hotel conference rooms in Austin.  Then something for Easter Sunday church, and something for an August wedding.  Of course I'm hoping that I lose 30 or 35 pounds before the wedding.  I know... big job.

Maybe when I'm in Charlotte I can revisit Mary Jo's Cloth World!

So much to do, so little time.

Sew on...

Monday, March 5, 2018

Quilt Shows

The Winter Quilt Show in West Bend was last weekend.  Some friends and I went up on Saturday.  It's a very nice show held at the Washington County Fair Grounds once a year.  There were more than 100 quilts entered in the show, someone said 107 and someone else said 109. 

And the vendors!!  There were several dozen quilt shops and fabric vendors, plus some specialty vendors like a long arm machine seller and someone selling goats milk soap and honey. 

Here's the web site if you're interested:  Winter Quilt Show  You can look at the winning quilts from prior years, and this year's winning quilts will be posted there later.  (Note:  It took so long to finish this post they're probably there now.

We spent the morning hours viewing the quilts that were entered.  Some of them were just spectacular.  Since this is a local show, there were just a few that had me scratching my head and asking "what was the maker thinking?"

You may ask, how does a quilt like this get displayed in a quilt show?  ...as I did once.  The answer is that this show is not Juried.

A juried show by definition has entries submitted to a panel or jury, and the jury decided if it's in or out.  There will be requirements, you must submit ahead of the show, and you may not be accepted.  They tend to have minimum skill standards although sometimes the quilts entered are a maker's first effort.  Usually they will ask for a photo of your entry, and sometimes they want to see it in person before they 'admit' it. 

A non-juried show may have you submit an entry form, but they will not always require you to submit your quilt before the day.  Beginners probably should start out with a non-juried show.  You can find out a lot about how your quilt will be displayed and received.  There may or may not be judges. 

Winners might be selected by viewer votes or a committee depending upon the show.  There may be prizes.  There might be feedback from a judging panel.  Any level skill might be accepted, and may or may not be put in category by skill - i.e. beginner, intermediate, expert.

The Winter Quilt Show is non-juried.  The categories are advertised ahead of the show.  You fill out an application, submit it, and if you're accepted (based on whatever the organizers decided, it might be space in this show) you bring it or have it there on Friday to hang it.

The quilt with the most votes was to win $100, with $50 for second place and $50 for the youth winner.  Voting was to end near the end of the show and we didn't stay all day so I don't know who won.  I only took a few photos, I was too busy being awed!

I cannot wait for the next couple of shows coming up this weekend!  There are two very close to me in Waukesha County - at the Expo Center and in Mukwonago, and one in Green Bay that looks like a good one but it's too far to drive with the rest of the things I must do. 

If you haven't been to a quilt show, you should go!  You may be amazed at what you will see.

And buy...

Sew on!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Another Finish!

Appropo of nothing, this is post number 526.  In case you were counting... lol!

Yesterday after church and a short nap on the couch, I went down to the sewing room.  Having spent Saturday morning with the Quilty Ladies at church, I was inspired to do some actual work, plus I had a bag that contained three backs that need to be pieced to make them larger.

I didn't do that, but I did pull out two things from the pile of UFOs that threatens to topple over when a strong breeze is created.

I had a small quilt layered and ready for quilting.  I have said I do not enjoy the quilting process enough that everyone's probably tired of hearing it.  My friend Suzi quilts so much and so well, and I admire her talent so much... and I know I will never in a gazillion years be half as good as she is at it.  But I do want to get over the aversion enough to do my own small projects.

Suzi suggested thinking in terms of small zones - that is, quilting a block at a time, or a column or area.  I seem to be better at swirls than at stippling, and there's only so much you can do with stitching straight lines.  So I decided that this little quilt was just the thing to start on.

Thinking in terms of small areas made it less intimidating.  I quilted each block with swirls, with white thread in the top and blue in the bottom.  I tried to fill each block before going into the next block, but I did let the swirls overlap the seams.

Some areas are better than others.  One thing I could not do was find a pair of quilting gloves.  I improvised with rubber fingers but it's just not the same.  My elbow hurts a little today from not gripping right.  I'm sure I'll find the two pair I have just as soon as I buy a new pair.

My swirls are not even or smooth.  Sometimes I just made waves to get back to where I wanted to be.  It was a learning experience.  I am improving.  Practice, practice, practice!

After I had done all the blocks I switched over to blue thread in the top to quilt the border.  I had a spool of King Tut from Superior Threads.  It's supposed to be relatively lintless, and I did not find a ball of fuzz on the shank like I had with the white spool.  I think the white was Gutterman.  The spool was empty and I tossed it, and the trash is already gone today.  (Yes, he IS that OCD...)

So one more finish!  I made aqua binding and finished it after dinner. 

The other finish was a top that had been waiting for its outside border for a while.  That one will go to the church quilt group next month to be added to their pile.

Now that I've reestablished my sense of accomplishment, I'll go back to piecing quilt backs.  

Sew on!!

Friday, February 16, 2018

TGIF! And A Finish

I love Fridays.  I only work half a day for one thing.  Another reason is Friday Night Sewing at my aunt's house.  The only time that's not a joy is if the weather is really cold, and I have to come home via a cold walk to the street to get into my cold car.  Which eventually warms up, but in the meantime -- brrrr!

We usually all wear red on Fridays in honor of The Troops.  We have family who have served or are serving in the military, and we thank them for their service.

This week in keeping with the weekday themes people seem to be doing of matching a word to the first letter of the day, I'm posting a Friday Finish. 

I'm following up on my resolution and I hope it can be fun!

I'm talking about my green lace sweater. I feel like I've knit the equivalent of two sweaters due to my inability to follow the very simple lace pattern... LOL!  When I finally set stitch markers every two lace patterns I thought I'd solved it, but even that didn't help.  I'm hopeless.

It's finally complete.  Sleeve progress was just as slow as the rest of it.  I knit the first sleeve twice, and had to completely rip it back at the point where it was about 4 inches long.  Each inch is five rows, each column of the lace pattern is seven stitches and there are 10 of them.  That's 1,400 stitches.  Then I had to pull out two rows, un-knitting each stitch so I didn't lose the yarn overs.  Oh don't tell me I don't know how to have fun!

Once the first sleeve was done, the second had to match.  Duh.  I tried counting the patterns and thought I had it just exactly right, then I knit the cuff and bound off, only to find that the first sleeve was about 3/4 of an inch longer.


This is the original sleeve cuff design.  I changed it, see below.

I have no idea why the Inspector hadn't told me that while it was happening.

She kept her advice to herself...

Once it was done, and I had tried it on, I decided that the garter stitch cuffs were too bulky and made me look like the Michelin Man.  That was 2 inches of cuff, so approximately 700 stitches.  Each.

Off the came, and I knitted a small ribbed cuff instead.  Now it just needs a good soak and blocking. 

Finished is better than perfect, right?
I skipped the buttonholes because I want to use one of those scarf fasteners instead of buttons.  I hope the sleeves are not too bulky when I actually wear it.  They are not going to fit inside of most of my coats, but it will make a nice spring/fall jacket alternative.

Too bad it's not red...

If you're interested in the pattern, it's February Lady Sweater and it's free on ravelry.com.

And thanks to a few blogs I read including Patchwork Times by Judy Laquidara in Texas, I have some 'replacement' yarn coming via UPS some time next week.  She would have to remind me that Eat-Sleep-Knit dot com was having a sale.  The rest is history.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Knit on...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Quilt Guild This Week - The Topic Was Rulers

At our local Quilt Guild this week, one of our members gave a demonstration of projects she made with the specialty rulers and templates that she had in her collection.  You know, the drawer or box or pile everyone has of those notions that seemed so vital when we bought them... we all have them.

Linda did a super job of showing us how (and in some cases how not) to use more than a dozen rulers and templates for actual projects.  I lost count as to how many there were in total.  Some she said she loved, some not so much, but I have to say she did a beautiful job on the projects!

I own this ruler and I do use it.
One we probably all have is a Flying Goose (or Geese) template/ruler.  I have at least two of them.  The one I have does only two sizes.  Linda had that one plus another that does maybe 8 sizes. 

There were a couple of things she showed that I would never have imagined, like a quilt block made from a 2.5 inch strip using the tool you use to trim your binding ends.  The arrangement of the blocks makes it look like ribbons running down the quilt.
Image may not be the exact
one she used but this is
the right shape.
That made me think about my own personal pile of rulers and templates.  I hate to admit it but it's bigger than a bread box!

I've got a whole bunch of the Marti Michel templates that at first I thought were kind of an affectation... I avoided templates for years and years.  Then I saw Marti at Sewing Weekend giving a lecture about how quilting has evolved over the years.  She demonstrated some of the ways the templates actually save time in sewing by giving you accurate cuts.  Gotta love that. 
Linda showed us a runner she made
using a half hexie template.

Some of the templates I have get lots of use, and some of them, well, not so much.  I have a big hexagon that makes either full or half hexes.  I really need to get that one out for my next 'new' project.  I want to make one of the runners she showed us. 

But I do like the log cabin rulers.

Yes, there is a ruler for log cabin blocks, and yes, it does save time when you use it!

One of the things that always annoyed me about log cabin blocks was squaring them up.  And if you don't square every round, pretty soon your blocks get wavy on the outside edges and pretty soon you can have a bowl instead.
So if you do as Marti demonstrates, and cut all the pieces ahead of time, you can cut exactly the right sizes, match the ends, assembly line sew, and get accurate, flat blocks every time.  AND if you do as Marti recommended during her lecture and cut your strips lengthwise instead of across the grain, they'll be even more stable.

You know the problem when your borders expand as you sew them on?  The way the quilt police always teach has you measure the length of your quilt and cut the borders that size, then fit the quilt top to the borders.  When you're done, they are the same size and your quilt is square.

These rulers are on the same principle.  Then there's two on each ruler that, if you cut one side from the wider side and one from the narrower, you get a fat and skinny LC that makes your quilt block look curved while you sewed only straight lines.  I need to get one of those going.

Oh oh... two UFO finishes just lined up!*

One of the better things I've done with my rulers and templates is to put grippers on the backs so they don't slip when you use them with a rotary cutter.  I like these little TrueGrips.  I also like the film you can use on the back of the entire ruler.
I store my templates in a drawer along with my smaller rulers.  My big rulers go on the table or on the wall in one of these wooden slatted holders.  The medium rulers go on the wall to the left of my sewing machine and the big or long rulers go on the table at my cutting station.

I have been drooling over this shelf unit.  I'll have to hint when my birthday gets closer.

Linda summed up her presentation by saying the job is easier with the right tools and I agree.  And you cannot have too many tools.  I hear women say all the time 'I don't need another ruler'.  But you never, ever, ever hear a man say 'I don't need another screwdriver (drill, hammer, fishing lure, socket wrench, etc)'.  Trust me on this.

Sew on...
 *New Years resolution, finish one UFO for every new project started.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Bed Runner Project

My helper, the Inspector...
Project number two on the UFO list is a bed runner for my master bedroom.  I started it several years ago and it got set aside.  Mostly it's pieces of things left over from other red and white projects, but there are some intentionally created blocks that didn't tell me what they wanted to be, just that they needed to exist.

One section is some of the nine-patches that I love to make with little left over chunks of fabric cut into two inch squares.  You can do so much with nine patch units.  And they're restful and relaxing to sew.

The middle section is appliqued hearts.  They are very small hearts, so I didn't sew them down, I just stuck them on with Wonder Under and quilted them on the background.  They're alternated with four patch blocks made with 2.5 inch strips.  The bottom row is pinwheels and squares.

The runner had to be wide enough to hang over the sides of the mattress, so I filled it out with pieces of a pretty red on red print.  The back is a yard of Kaffe Fasset print that I got as a part of the drawing I won at Quiltagious in Mukwonago.

And I QUILTED it!!  Under the theory of 'finished is better than perfect', I did some echo quilting inside the seam lines of the four- and nine-patches, I X-d the solid blocks, and quilted around the outside of the hearts.  Then, getting comfortable with the sewing machine and a little wild and crazy, I put figure 8s in one of the borders.

I sewed on the binding, and now just have to stitch down the last four inches of binding to be DONE!


And back.
The runner ended up at 72 inches by 26 inches.  Just right to keep your feet warm on a cold Wisconsin winter night.

Two down... and I'm not saying how many to go.  LOL!

Sew on...