Monday, October 20, 2014

Quilting Problems

Last week I started quilting my bias tape challenge quilt. Now I've made a mess of it, and I've been stewing about what to do.

What happened is that I began quilting, outlining the basic shapes with straight-line quilting to get everything stabilized. At first I used my free motion foot to quilt, but then decided I would have prettier stitches if I used my walking foot. That's when disaster happened.

Recently, my walking foot and machine were serviced to figure out why the foot wouldn't "walk." The tech figured out that the top pressure wasn't tightened down. I suspect the walking foot itself was oiled/greased.

So as I was quilting, twisting the quilt to make a turn, it bunched under the back of the walking foot smearing grease on the white Kona. By the time I realized it, the damage was done. Since then I have thoroughly wiped out the bottom inside of the walking foot.

From a distance, the grease doesn't look so bad, but a judge would certainly see it - if this quilt even gets into a show! The red arrows are pointing at them.

I've tried all sorts of things to remove the marks, testing on the edge of the quilt top where there's also a grease smear. I've used Zout, Dawn dishwashing liquid, lighter fluid, and bleach. I'm hesitant to do anything more. What makes removal even more difficult is that the quilt is already quilted, so I can't just spot-clean the quilt top.

You can guess that I've been very upset - even sleepless - because of this. What's worse is that it isn't the first time I've had a problem when attempting to make a show quilt! My first experience was marking a quilt design using a Sharpie to draw on Glad Press and Seal, and last year I had a problem with FriXion pens - which I no longer use to mark quilting designs. You'd think I'd learn to be more careful.

Because I've been off quilting, recovering from my procedure, I've been thinking about my options. This might be a possibility - a cover-up with more newsprint bias tape. But honestly, I don't like how it changes the overall design.

Is there an ink or paint that would cover it up. Maybe a dense quilting design?

Often, I tell my beginner quiltmaking students that if they make a mistake or encounter a problem, they should look at it as an opportunity to make the quilt even better. I need to heed my own advice, especially since I like how the rest of the quilt is looking. Linda

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Not Discouraged

Well that didn't take long! In less than three hours, I used up all of my "yarn ball" of fabric scraps to crochet this oval rug. Amanda's tutorial makes a rectangle-shaped rug, but after chatting with a couple knowledgeable crocheters in my Happy Stitchers group, I opted to make mine oval.
20" X 30"
Lucky for me, I found a size P crochet hook in the Happy Stitchers' stash of donated needlework items, so I got it for free. To make an oval rug, chain 20 stitches. Then single-crocheted into one side of each chain. At the end, stitch three single crochets in one chain. Keep going with single crochets to reach the opposite end. Stitch three single crochets again. Continue to single crochet into each stitch, randomly adding a chain stitch to allow for the convex curve at each end. Really, it was that easy!

I can't say that the rug is perfectly oval, but I don't care. I love the colors! After a wash, I think it will ease into shape. The rug will likely be put to use in the laundry room, or in front of the guest room sink.

Oranges in the neighbor's back yard tree.
Health Update
For those of you who have been so kind as to ask after me since my balloon and re-stent procedure (for severe peripheral artery disease) on Friday... I feel perfectly fine! The procedure went very well, and I have had zero pain or discomfort. Gosh, I'm not even showing signs of bruising as I have after previous procedures.

What was unexpected was the extent of the blockage in my left femoral artery. The ultrasound showed a 1 cm blockage when in fact it was 80% blocked at the top of the 8" stent, and 90% blocked in the middle and bottom of the stent. No wonder my calf ached, for lack of oxygen, whenever I line danced! It seems the mesh stent has been gathering floating plaque. This time the doc put a 6" solid stent inside the mesh stent. It's gotta work, right?

While "in the area" the doc also peeped down my right femoral artery, the one with a 6" mesh stent. Not surprisingly, it's beginning to collect plaque too. (I've begun to notice it.) So, when I return to the doc this week, for my follow-up appointment, we're going to discuss when I'll be having my right leg ballooned and re-stented. You can be sure I'm not happy about any of this, but if we happen upon a permanent fix, I'll be tickled.

This is all causing me to think of my word for 2014.

In the big scheme of life, this is a temporary and fixable problem. While it's certainly not pleasant, and is always inconvenient - Really? No sewing machine for two days?! - I am reminded that others face much greater pain and challenges. From my perspective, my problems are very small.

God's Word always comforts.
Deuteronomy 31:8 - The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (NIV)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pin-Basting and Book Listening

My bias tape appliqué quilt top is complete. It doesn't come close to resembling the design I began with, but here it is in it's uber-pinned glory. Several quilters who saw pictures on IG commented about the abundance of pins. Yes, I used a lot. In fact I used every safety pin I had available! It was important to me to keep those four layers very secure as I'm quilting. 

The finished quilt will be somewhere around 64" X 72". 

I've begun quilting. It took quite a bit of wrangling to make eight passes from top to bottom, stabilizing on both sides of the newsprint strip, and echoing the zig-zag. 

Now I'm getting into the more fun, freehand quilting part.

During pin-basting and quilting time, and while vacuuming and folding laundry, I tuck my iPhone into my back pocket, put in my earbuds, and listen to an audiobook. I listen to books more often than I read a print book. My audio books come from the local public library; I download them through Overdrive. 

My latest listens have been totally captivating! I highly recommend them. The books are a trilogy beginning with The Selection, by Kiera Cass, published in 2012 by HarperTeen. I guess that says a lot about the kind of books I enjoy! Light and entertaining reading. Not surprisingly, I also thoroughly enjoyed the Harry Potter series, the Twilight series, and Hunger Games series.

The Selection plot is a combination of story lines very similar to Twilight and Hunger Games. The main character, America Singer (yes, that's her name) faces challenges and choices in a competitive, yet romantic, environment.  

The second book is The Elite, followed by The One. I was fortunate to get the first two books right away, but was crushed to learn that the library doesn't have the third book in audiobook format. Really?! Now I'm on a wait list for a print copy.

Last Saturday was a special day for my husband. With much help from a neighbor, including months of challenging research, Dan was accepted and officially inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution. Documentation requirements are rigid, so that makes his honor a pretty big deal. I'm very proud of him!
Dan, on the left.
Anticipating my balloon/stent procedure this coming Friday, and being unable to use my sewing machine for several days afterward, I have prepped a resting time project. I've sewn together dozens of one-inch scrap strips to make this fabric "yarn ball." I plan to crochet a rag rug according to Amanda Jean's tutorial at Crazy Mom Quilts.  

Thanks for everyone's well-wishes with that procedure. If I haven't replied to your comments made on my previous blog posts, it's because you're a "no-reply" commenter. More and more of you seem to be no-reply, so without your email address, I can't send my personal thanks. Still, I do say thank you! Linda

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Working with Bias Tape and Quilting

It's been nice to have sewing room time, but with several projects on my to-do list - two with deadlines - I find it difficult to know which project to work on next! My medical procedure, to have my left femoral artery ballooned and another stent inserted, is next Friday, October 17. I've got to manage my sewing time wisely since I won't be able to use my sewing machine for several days following the procedure.

So, primarily, I've been working on the MQG's bias tape challenge.

In my last post, I showed a couple pictures of how it's progressing, and I will do the same again so you can see how it's changing. It's very telling about how I create that I cannot stick with a plan... or rather, I should say, I don't have a plan at all!

After settling on the squares-on-point and rings design, I decided the colors were a bit boring - only yellows, oranges, and aquas. I added a little hot pink, and like the pop that this color gives.  

But then I changed it again (above, see the whole square of pink that's now a partial bit of pink), and am still not done adding that color.

Most of the bias tape is appliquéd now, using Aurifil in the same color as the fabric. And I have also very carefully cut away the excess fabric on the back, so the quilt top won't be too heavy or stiff.

Teaching quilting classes has also taken time, as I finished up Beyond First Time Quiltmaking last week. On Wednesday I led an all-day Free Motion Quilting workshop for 16 quilters.

I'm always happy to hear students make positive comments at the end of their first quilting experience, even if during the process their frustrations are verbal! I completely understand how awkward it is to learn to manipulate fabric under a moving needle. As I tell them, learning free motion quilting is all about attitude and determination. You can do it, if you're willing to put some effort into it. I suggest practicing at least ten minutes a day.

Our nine month-old grandson, LJ - doll that he is - has been spending much of his time trying to keep up with big brother, Austin. Though LJ has been standing for several weeks, this week he graduated to pushing a walker. We're predicting he's going to be taking off on his own very soon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Different Stuff

I've begun to create a project to enter in the Panasonic Bias Tape Appliqué Challenge at QuiltCon 2015.  

As I've mentioned before, designing isn't my strong suit. But I know the elements of modern quilting, and I'm trying to incorporate a couple of them into my design. I've already been through several iterations of this design, beginning with what I came up with on EQ7.

You can see how it has evolved. 

Even now, after changing a few aspects, I'm not satisfied, and wish I'd done something different.

Perhaps that's because I watched Jacquie Gering's MQG webinar "Modern Quilting: Know It When You See It!" She made many excellent points about modern quilting, and - in my opinion - this should be a must-watch presentation for anyone who wants to understand "modern." (You have to be a member of the MQG to see it.)

Jacquie shared one visual that helps explain our quilting world. Due to copyright restrictions, I'm unable to share that photo. But, imagine a three-legged stool.

The seat is the huge community of quilters.
The legs are: 1) traditional quilters; 2) art quilters; and 3) modern quilters.

Each of us supports the quilting community in some way. Isn't that a great visual interpretation of what us quilters are all about?

Last week, Lora Douglas and I were interviewed by the local newspaper, The Daily Sun, about "Ad Libbing" our collaborative, blue ribbon-winning quilt at QuiltFest Jacksonville. The article appeared in today's newspaper. Though the reporter took lots of photos, and Lora and I sent pictures of the quilt and of us, none of them were used! How can an article about a quilt be published without a picture of it?!

Hey friends! Today begins Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a breast cancer statistic myself, since my diagnosis last year of invasive ductal carcinoma, and as a person with no risk factors for breast cancer, I am in the position to tell you, "Get a mammogram!" My BC was found early, and I was fortunate to need only a lumpectomy, and radiation. Now I'm taking Arimidex for five years to ensure the cancer doesn't return. If you can't remember when you had your last mammogram, then it's time to get one!

In another health update, I've learned that my left femoral artery is again blocked by plaque. Though the blockage is very small at 1 cm, I need another balloon procedure at the catheterization lab in Ocala. My doc will again push back the blockage and this time insert a 1 cm solid "spot stent." The rest of that artery has an eight inch-long mesh stent. To put it mildly, I'm less than pleased about this development since my last procedure, June 18, on the same arterial stent. This will be my fifth procedure since December. It also means that for several days afterward, I'm not to drive, use my sewing machine, or lift anything. Ergh.

My doctor asked for my cell phone number and punched it into his own cell phone. Does that tell you how well we're getting to know each other?!

He tells me that the upside of all this is that I'm finding these blockages early because I line dance several times a week. I felt the blockage - a burning ache in my left calf where the muscle was being deprived of blood. The doc will be able to clear out this small piece of plaque (re-stenosis) before it accumulates further.

Yep, it's all about the benefits of exercise - getting your blood pumping. In my case, that's line dancing. I love it! Here's my latest favorite song to dance to: "Stripes" by Brandy Clark. The lyrics are really cute and clever, so have a listen. Linda

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Away and Back

Being away from home for a week, on the heels of having company for a week, hasn't left time for sewing, let alone composing a blog post. So this post is mostly about my week in Kansas City, visiting our daughter and her family, and making a one-day trip to Iowa for a family wedding.  

In KC, not only did I get to spend time with my grandchildren, but I spent much of one day with my dear friend, Carla. Did you know we met through our blogs? She's Lollyquiltz. But now, after admiring the be autiful quilts and children's clothes she sews, and getting to know her well, I can't imagine not being friends. No trip to KC is complete without seeing her! 

We went to Modern Maker's a new quilt shop on West 12th Street, on the second floor of an old warehouse. Of course, we found fabrics to buy! I bought voile so I can make a couple tops using Jennifer Paganelli's new Sis Boom tank pattern, Tortola

And I spent time with family. As wonderful as it is to spend time with these two, it's impossible to get a decent picture of them. They're always on the move!

Tay, on the left, will be five years old on Sunday; Aesa will be four years old in November. 

Taking them out and about as I did, on several occasions - for breakfast, to Monkey Business, bowling, McDonalds, and the new Prairiefire Natural History Museum - I learned how frequently people mistake them for twins.

This was the best pose I could get, with the promise I'd take them into the Prairiefire Discovery Center.
L-R: Aesa and Tay

The main reason for my trip to the Midwest was to attend my nephew's September 20 wedding in West Des Moines. However briefly we could be together, this is my family - younger sister and brother, and our dad who's 84, and looking great!

While I was away, my friend and fellow quilt collaborator Lora, texted to say that our quilt, Ad Libbing won first place in the medium-size/duet category at QuiltFest Jacksonville (Florida)! What a marvelous surprise, especially from a show that predominantly displays traditional quilts! 
Ad Libbing, 71" X 71"
The Jacksonville quilt show opens today, Thursday, September 25  and runs through Saturday, the 27th. Lora and I haven't talked about the prize money yet, but I'm pretty sure we're splitting the $300 prize. :-)  Yay us! Linda


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