Thursday, December 11, 2014

How To Use Up Odd Thread

I'm making progress on the S-charm quilt.  I limit my machine quilting sessions to a half-hour or so because this quilt is very heavy and after that amount of time I start getting sloppy.  I would like to improve my machine quilting skills so I am concentrating more on my stitches and technique.  I would like to use this as practice and not just get it over with like many of my other quilts.  It seems that once I get to the actual quilting, I'm either on a deadline or just sick of the quilt and rush to get it complete.

I decided to go through my thread drawer and use up some of those odd threads I have.  Some time back (at least 15 years) I won a bundle of machine embroidery threads.  I have tried them a few times over the years, but I've never found a project well suited to their use.  This scrappy quilt seems to be a good candidate.  I'd like to use up a few of the spools, especially the variegated thread which is not something I am used to using.  The spools aren't large enough to cover the quilting of an entire quilt, so this is perfect.  I did find that some of the thread was breaking easily.  I had recently listened to an episode of Within a Quarter Inch where she interviewed Cristy Fincher.  She mentioned soaking machine sewing thread in clear sewing machine oil to give longer life to the thread and lubricate the machine while you are sewing.  I thought about this while I was sewing but (since I was on a roll) didn't want to stop to take the time. Then I remembered that I had a bottle of Sewer's Aid in my drawer.  This was recommended in a machine quilting class I had taken.  I put a line of that on  the spool, let it sit for a few minutes and it solved my breaking problem.  And it's not as messy as an entire spool of thread dipped in a vat of oil.

And I'm making more progress on the Polish Eagle, too.  I am done with the neck and body will move onto the wings next.  I think the neck is the most heavily embellished part of the bird.  I was debating putting this away for a bit to start on some socks for a Christmas present, but I'm enjoying this so much that I don't want to do that.  So, my MIL will get something else this year.

But, I did take some time to make this minion for DD for Christmas.  He's about 5" tall.  I think she'll like him.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Naming of Quilts is a Difficult Matter

I don't think I'm particularly good at naming quilts.  As a matter of fact, I often don't name my finished creations unless they are going into a show and it requests a name.  But I do often ponder the name of a quilt while I work on it.

Lately, I've been trying to limit myself to two active projects - one by hand and one by machine.  I just finished putting together a top which is a second generation UFO.  The center blocks of this hexie quilt were bought for my husbands grandmother by my mother-in-law.  Laura made most of her quilts by hand and this was to be a hand piecing project for her.  After her death, My MIL gave me all of Laura's UFOs.  I started working on this because I wanted something mindless to machine stitch.  I wondered if I could get reasonably good results in machine piecing a hexagon quilt.  I got the top completed yesterday.

My results in machine piecing were OK.  I think the largest problem is that I rotary cut the brown attachment pieces and they are not entirely accurate.  The flowers are about 8" across, so the size wasn't an issue in piecing and the flowers themselves ironed out reasonably flat.  However, there are lots of less than flat pieces between the flowers.  I was hoping it would iron out.  Now I'm hoping it will be better once quilted and washed.

I can't say that I'm fond of this.  The picture makes it look a little nicer than I think it is.  My thoughts for names while I was working on it included "The Ugly Quilt", "Learning Experience", "What Was I Thinking?", "What a Waste of Time", and others that were even less flattering.  This is now ironed, folded and hanging in the closet until I decide what to do about borders and how to quilt it.  I'm open to suggestions.  This will be a good excuse for machine quilting practice.

I decided that I had done quite enough on the hand quilted charity quilt.  I sort of felt guilty for taking to the guild unfinished, but somebody eagerly picked it up and agreed to do the binding. That made me feel better.  So that's off my list.

I'm making progress on the eagle quilt.  Some of those grey areas are pretty small.  I'm working on it sort of systematically to get the outside edges all sewn down so I can trim away the red backing beneath the white before I applique all the grey in the center.  I work on it most every evening and have learned to put it down if I start getting frustrated.

And, this is my next machine project.

Bur first, I have to press it, layer and baste it.  I'm hoping Thursday will be rainy and cold.  It's my plan to baste then.  Otherwise I'll feel obligated to spend time outside moving leaves from all over the yard to a big pile at the back of the property.  Good exercise, but boring.  At least I get to catch up with quilting podcasts while I rake.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Finish (almost) and a Start

I have finished the hand quilting on the charity quilt.  I stretched it out on my bed for this picture, and realized just how large it is.  It easily covers my full-sized bed, and would probably work just as well on a queen.  It is not yet bound, and I've been mulling over whether I want to do it or not.  I'm leaning towards not.  I don't know if my guild has somebody in charge of the charity quilts yet.  I don't mind hand sewing bindings, but I really don't enjoy making the binding or putting it on by machine.  Also, to be totally honest, I'm being selfish and want to work on more of my own stuff.

Speaking of which, this is my new project.  The guild's challenge this year is "Something Fowl".  I had an idea to do a wall hanging for my living room using some of the birds we see frequenting the feeder, but the instructions explicitly exclude song birds.  I pondered doing some shore bird, or owl, then thought of the Polish Coat of Arms and decided I could do that in a Hawaiian applique style.  This is the picture I'm starting with:

And this is what I've got so far.  There will be 3 shades of grey for the details and 2 shades of gold.  Some of the interior details will be done with grey quilting.  I have all the colors with the exception of the middle shade of grey.  I have some fabrics that are OK, but too close in color to the darkest grey. I haven't decided whether I need to go shopping, or try to lighten the fabric I have with bleach.

Some of the details will be small and I'm nervous about that, but I'm taking it one step at a time and doing the outline of the figure first.  I think it will look amazing if I can get it all right.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Rattle Can Hedgehog

This is what I've been up to since the last posting ...

We went out to a local county fair.  We hadn't been to this one before and I wanted to go because they had a demolition derby going on one night. (There, I let my red-neck side show just a bit.)  Since I hadn't been to this fair before I didn't know what to expect.  It was on the small side, but had a terrific raptor show with over a dozen birds on display and live falcon demonstrations.  I had seen Kitty Tolson Carroll before and she puts on a very interesting show.

Another surprise I had at the show was a quilt display.  I guess I should have expected this since there were other normal displays from local county fairs such as flowers, fruits and vegetables and livestock.  This quilt caught my eye.  It had beautiful workmanship and was just adorable.

I'm making progress on hand quilting the charity quilt and machine piecing the GFG.  I'm finally done quilting all the blocks and am now working on the borders.

I've put together the flowers in half rows.  Now it't time to put together four sections then chunk the four sections together into the top.  But first I have to press all the half rows.  Since it's 90 degrees out today, that will have to wait a while.  It's still going along, and I'm still not in love with it.

As for the title of this post, this is what happens when you're have having a conversation in a car buffeted with wind noise.  We were driving and DH noticed a car with a rather poorly done paint and remarked that it must be a rattle can paint job.  DD replied from the back seat "Rattle Can Hedgehog?"  We think it would make a great band name.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quilt Show Pictures

On Sunday I visited the Mancuso World Quilt Show New England XII in Manchester NH.  This is a wonderful show because of the international entries.  It's fun to see beautiful quilts from all over the globe.  Here are some pictures of quilts that I found interesting.

This is the most amazing depiction of fireworks that I've ever seen.  All done with threadwork.

I believe these two tree quilts were done by the same quilter.

Beautiful colors and interesting setting.

I love the combination of piecing and  applique and the setting/sashing between the blocks.

Beautiful applique quilt in a limited palette.

And a lot of (what I think are) Mary Simon quilts.

There were quite a few quilts from an applique society.  It was a feast for the eyes and very inspiring.

There were a few black and white quilts in the show.  I don't think I've ever seen a black and white applique quilt before, though.

 I find that I'm really drawn to these orange and blue quilts lately.  I like the color combination.

It was a beautiful show.  I hope you enjoyed my little piece of it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Beach Days Make Me Happy

Thursday was a beautiful day, and we planned a bike trip out to Cape Ann to see the water and eat sea food.  Every now and then I get restless and want to go to the ocean.  We only live about 30 miles from the ocean (as the crow flies), but don't get there as often as I'd like.  Life's obligations always seem to have priority, and DH isn't as big a fan as I am.  I don't have to actually touch the water.  Just seeing it and smelling the air is enough to satisfy the urge.

We traveled through Beverly, Rockport, Gloucester, Essex, Ipswich and other beautiful coastal towns, stopped for lunch at The Lobster Pool and watched a lobster boat pick up his catch.

OK, now I'm feeling calm and have had my ocean fix.  Life is good.

Let's catch up on what I've been doing quilt wise.

I haven't posted a shot of the frog quilt.  I looked through my photos and didn't have one of the completed quilt, but here it is about to be basted.

I don't know why I have a problem taking a picture of completed quilts.

I did, however, take a picture of the kitten I knitted.  Say hello to Knitten, my official motorcycle mascot.

She rides in my tank bag and watches the view.  She got a little dirty on the trip to TN, but she had a good time and is now sporting a new pink bow.

I've been working on completing the hand quilting on a charity quilt for the guild.  It was donated by a member who was cleaning out her stash before she moved out west.  She must have started the hand quilting and decided not to finish, so I volunteered.  It't going well, and I'm nearing completion, but am anxious to get to some of my own projects.

And then there is this hexie project that I am doing by machine.  The black and patterned pieces were a UFO from my husband's grandmother.  I don't really like the project, but it was a mindless sewing task to pick up.  I am trying hard not to have a lot of UFOs or projects going at once, so I will try to finish this before going on to another machine project.

That being said, I made this little wallet one afternoon to give me something more fun to sew by machine than the hexies.  It's done, so not a UFO.

And that brings me up to date on crafty projects.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Trip Report, Part 2

Before we left Maggie Valley, we stopped at Wheels Through Time, a short walk down the street.  This is wonderful museum of American cars and motorcycles.  I've been through a lot of car and bike museums before, but this was less like a museum and more like walking through an organized garage of a successful collector.  There were cars and bikes and parts of bikes, and oil cans and racing suits and all sorts of transportation based stuff all over the place.  It also included one of the strangest two-seater bicycle I've ever seen.  I don't think this would be a comfortable ride.

We spent a few hours there, but I think it's a place I could visit again and again.

After the museum, we headed to Ashville.  We spent the next day touring the Biltmore.  This is an amazing house.  We took the self-guided tour through the building and spent the extra money to take the architect's tour.  This took us to a few more rooms on the upper level, including one that had the architect's model of the home.  Is also took us up to the roof and onto the catwalk of that front peak where we had terrific views and could see some of the gargoyles up close.

The Biltmore and grounds were beautiful, but I was a bit put off by the price of everything and the many extras they were suggesting you purchase at every turn.  I was glad to have visited once, but I think that's enough.

The day we visited the Biltmore was our anniversary, and the day before Father's day.  We have some friends who live in NC, and they came out to Ashville to visit with us.  We went out to dinner and then to the Highland brewery for after dinner beers and more conversation.  I love meeting up with old friends.  It's always as if time and distance evaporate and we take up where we left off when we last met.  The time with them was the highlight of our Ashville visit.

Our next stop was the trip was Johnson City, TN for the COG (Concours Owners' Group, which is the bike DH rides) rally, which was the main reason for this entire trip.

This was the 25th anniversary of the group and we had over 500 people in attendance from all over the US and a few from abroad (Holland).  Besides the people I know from this area (The northeast), I met folks from Chicago, Seattle, Florida and Colorado.  We took over the entire Holiday Inn in Johnson City and still had more in hotels a camp ground near by.  Kawasaki brought in a trailer with new biked for test rides.  This week just flew by.  We ate terrific BBQ, had shrimp and grits (a novelty for this northerner), vinegar pie and boiled peanuts from a road-side stand.  We visited a cavern, an animal sanctuary where they raised wolves and saw wolf puppies, watched an movie with one of the stars of the movie (The Lords of Flatbush with Perry King), saw lots of beautiful quilt blocks painted on barns, did a lot of riding and saw beautiful scenery, visited Davey Corckett's birhtplace, and even visited a quilt store.

All too soon the week was over and we were on the road again.  We traveled north through WV stopping at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine.
 We took a tour of what used to be a privately held coal mine and buildings that used to be in a coal camp, including a family house, an owner's house, a church, bachelor's camp and a school house.  It was a very well done museum.

Our next stop was the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston. This beautiful and huge building is no longer in use as a hospital.  It was bought by a private party and is being restored.  They hold tours that tall about it's fascinating history as well as some of the history of how mental health and other diseases were treated during it's history.    I wish we had more time to spend here.

As we traveled through PA we made stops at the Flight 93 memorial park (a very moving place), the oldest continually owned gas station in the states and a terrific tree house in Scranton.

Then we finally arrived home, safe and happy to sleep in my own bed.

It was a wonderful trip full of new experiences and new places.  We're already talking about our destination for next year's trip.