Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Little Catch-Up

It's been a week since I posted, so I feel the need to say hi.

Thanks to each of you who commented in my last post, or texted, or emailed, to ask how my leg angiogram went last Friday. As expected, the doc found that the six inch-long stent in my femoral artery - that had been placed there 26 months ago - was blocked with plaque. Since I was mostly awake during the 20 minute procedure, over my head I watched the machine the doc used to balloon out the plaque. At my follow-up appointment on Wednesday, I learned that he also peeped down my left leg and says it's still looking clear (that leg was opened February 15). Suffice it to say that: procedure days are always long, like six hours or more; a few techs are getting to know me by name - "Weren't you in here a few weeks ago?" - and; I'll be forever grateful for the attentive care I receive from Dr. Q. I don't anticipate any problems with my legs for at least the rest of 2016. But, Dr. Q plans to monitor my carotid arteries and heart for plaque built-up which haven't been problematic like my legs have been. In late June I'll return for testing.

So! Getting down to more important things... While I recuperated from my angiogram, I worked on these 4-1/2" (side measurement) Spinning Wheel English paper-pieced blocks, making two more during my down time. I started this a while back after seeing a finished quilt made like, using EQ 7 to draft and print card stock papers. No surprise, this is a long-term project.

I also finished a quilt! No full view pictures to share yet because I want to get outdoors to take proper pictures, but this is the one I made with more than one thousand scrappy 2-1/2" squares. Here's a link to my EQ7 design for this free block. I haven't come up with a name for the quilt. Do you too find naming a quilt hard to do? It seems the more quilts I make, the more difficult it is to come up with a name.

The quilting shows up well because this is what double batting looks like. It's Quilter's Dream request loft poly with wool on top of that. Thread is gray 50-weight Prescencia that I received in a gift box from MassDrop. It might have been the thread that caused me fits as I was quilting. Every eight to ten inches or so, the thread broke. Though I changed the needle from an 80, then to a 90, and finally a 100, and adjusted the tension, and cleaned and oiled the machine (twice), the problem persisted, though became less frequent. Quilting in those circumstances about made me want to tear my hair out. It will be interesting to see how the next quilt goes as I plan to use different thread.

Oh! And my Canon S100 camera was returned to me today. That's why I was able to take the photos above. I'm tickled that it's working, but the fix wasn't free, as I hoped it would be. A sense part had broken. My options were to either fix it for $160, or buy a replacement camera for $335. I'm a smart girl, aren't I?

Friday, April 1 finds me teaching all day again. Ten students have registered for Free Motion Quilting through the Lifelong Learning College. I'm looking forward to seeing a few familiar faces, and imparting my love of quilting to all of them. Will let you know how it goes. Linda

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Quilters in Jacksonville

On Monday and Tuesday this week, I was with quilters from the All Star Quilter's Guild in Jacksonville, Florida. It was a wonderful experience for me.

The guild meets the third Monday of each month at 10 am, and this meeting found 91 members in attendance!

My 50-minute, 92-slide presentation about domestic machine quilting was followed by a trunk show of 14 of my quilts, and I think it went well. At least no one complained!

It was nice to revisit some of my "oldies," particularly Snowflake Medallion. That's the quilt that really set me on my free motion quilting adventure.

The quilt-holders didn't complain about holding up Scrap Vortex which weighs a ton - it's big, and has thousands of seams.

That afternoon, and again on Tuesday morning, I taught domestic machine quilting to 20 (maybe only 17 attended?) quilters. Since I this is the first time I've free motion quilting with a class of seasoned quilters - mostly new and newer quilters through The Lifelong Learning College - I discovered a difference not only in the level of student abilities, but in their expectations. 

While some of them have the same self-doubts about their capabilities - just as new quilters do - in general they seemed more determined to learn. They asked and remarked about their concerns, and I quickly learned that I needed to step up my game to keep ahead of their thoughtful questions. Teaching and sharing what I know was very rewarding!

The photo collage pictures were taken with my cell phone because after the presentation pictures were taken, my camera's telescopic lens wouldn't retract.

Since I use this camera all the time, I pursued the problem through the Canon website which revealed a common lens problem for my particular model and serial number.

So, even though the camera is out of warranty, all I need do is ship it to Newport News, Virginia, for a no-cost repair. Well, shipping it cost $26, but it's a better deal than having to buy a new camera... if this is the fix.

Anyway, it's good to be home again, after a whirlwind few days. As much as I enjoyed the trip and meeting super-nice quilters, I do wonder how in-demand quilting instructors do it. Preparations, and often being on the go is tiring. Maybe it's all about one's age.

Tomorrow - Good Friday - I have another leg angiogram. It's time to have my 70-80 percent plaque-blocked right leg femoral artery reopened. The visit to Dr. Q's cath lab for a procedure marks the eight time I've been there. Oh boy! I'm getting so close to ten reward points and that new toaster I've been promised! (Ha, ha.) Linda

Monday, March 21, 2016

Which Way? Finish

Which Way? is my latest finish. The quilt finished at 40" X 54" and will be donated to Project Linus.

The design was fun to make because I could use up lots of my 2-1/2" X 2-1/2" squares as well as stashed fabric. I was thrilled to find this perfect backing fabric in my cabinet. Score! From the back you can see that I walking-foot quilted the arrow. Then, each horizontal section is quilted with a different design using a matching thread color.

Batting is Dream Pink, Quilter's Dream's new select loft 80/20 blend. A purchase of this batt supports breast cancer research. So this is a donation quilt made with batting monies donated to research for a cure! Win, win!

I used my favorite "no tails binding" method to add edging that coordinates with each side.

Here's a bit of colorful mail that arrived all the way from the UK! My name was drawn in a blog giveaway by Leanne of SheCanQuilt. My prize is this scrap bundle from the famous Karen Lewis (notice that her name is Karen?!). Scrap fabrics are from her Blueberry Park collection.

I think this is hysterical.

But I guess only a quilter would appreciate it. Thanks, Kathy, for sharing it with me! Linda

Friday, March 18, 2016

Monofilament Thread Samples

That's for me! I'm 63 today.

I'm also boycotting Instagram today due to their proposed algorithm changes. (See previous post.)

So because I thrive on social media, you get an extra dose of me today! Ha, ha.

Today I'm preparing to go to Jacksonville to give a lecture and workshops to the All Star Quilters. The topic I'll speak and teach about is "Domestic Machine Quilting."

I'll give a Powerpoint (Keynote on a Mac) presentation about a domestic machine quilter's journey, show a dozen or so quilts, and then teach two half-day workshops.

Wanting to to provide thorough information, I recently collected spools of monofilament thread, also known as invisible thread, to quilt a test sampler.

These are the brands/types I compared:
I'd also like to add Superior and Sulky monofilament threads to my sample piece. 

With each monofilament thread, I used a different color of Aurifil 50-weight cotton thread in the bobbin. The quilt top fabric is a solid dark gray color. I thought it would show the threads more clearly, but it was difficult to photograph.

Beginning at the bottom... Aurifil. It sewed well and didn't require any tension adjustment. I like it.

Invisafil was a surprise. First, because it's such a fine thread. Really more like a thread than a fine nylon. Second, it has a silver transparency to it, rather than being clear. It's more shiny-visible than the other threads, but pretty. After using it, I learned that Invisafil is a 100-weight, cottonized-polyester, and that it comes in 60 colors! So perhaps it really isn't fair to consider it on the same level as other invisible threads. However, I do like it and would like to try other colors.

Sew-Art gave me the most tension problems. In the picture below, you can see the hot pink bobbin thread that pulled to the top, even after loosening the top tension to zero.

Transfil started well, but in a couple places the orange bobbin thread pulled to the top. I made adjustments to the top tension and a little later the bobbin thread appeared at the top again.

Wonder quilted beautifully. To be perfectly honest, I had only the smoke-colored version of this monofilament thread. It looks nice on that steel gray fabric.

Believe it or not, this is the solid lavender-colored backing. It too turned out to be a difficult color to photograph.

From the bottom up are Aurifil (purple) and Invisafil (green). Both look good.

Sew-Art (hot pink) and Transfil (orange). On the back, the tension problem with Sew-Art is apparent. The bobbin thread even feels stiff to the touch. Transfil looks very nice.

Transfil again (orange) and Wonder (blue). I like Wonder.

It's difficult to draw any firm conclusions except to say I probably won't again use Sew-Art brand. I could easily quilt with Aurifil, Invisafil, and Wonder. And I remain curious about Superior and Sulky. Linda

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Instagram Announces Changes

For those of you who read blogs only and are not on Instagram, you may be seeing more blog activity in the months ahead.

On March 15, Instagram announced that it's changing it's feed format from one that is chronological to one that is based on an algorithm. In plain terms it means that the pictures I see on my feed will no longer be in the order that my friends post them, but will be sorted by Instagram to be delivered to me in popularity order. Apparently this is how it's done on Facebook... a program I have intentionally never used.

Here's the New York Times article about Instagram's announcement.

Right now there's a great outcry among Instagram users.

Should the planned changes go through, many of us will leave Instagram and return to more frequent blogging as our social media outlet for quilting.

I thought I'd share this with my blog readers who are not on Instagram. In the upcoming months, your Bloglovin' and Feedly blog-reader programs may begin to "blow up!" Linda

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Garage Sale for Quilters

The last few days have been packed with activities - line dancing, teaching quilting, a Central Florida MQG executive committee meeting and general meeting, more line dancing, and a social media presentation given to Big Cypress Quilter... so much that I haven't had a moment to post about the quilter's garage sale I was part of last Saturday. 

The Garage Sale is an annual event hosted by Quilting Guild of The Villages. Only unfinished quilting and sewing related items such as fabric, patterns, books, kits, notions and the like, may be sold. The four hour sale was at a regional rec center where each of the 19 chapters of Quilting Guild of The Villages was permitted three tables. So, for a bargain price of $5, I got a table.

Initially, I thought I'd share a table with someone. Ha! After a couple evenings spent digging through the closet, shelves and containers in my sewing room, I realized I had more than one table's worth! It took hours to price everything. Batik, normally $12 a yard, began at $6 a yard; quilting cottons, normally $10 a yard, began at $5 a yard. I say "began" because most often each piece wasn't entirely intact, so I measured and priced only the complete parts. Any fabric beyond that was included at no extra charge. Even a $1 fat quarter was sometimes more than 18" X 21".

I put every batik I own into the sale. I just don't like them anymore. Pretty much any fabric that I haven't touch in the three and a half years I've lived in The Villages, is what went into bins and boxes to take to the garage sale.

This is my table full - and more! I brought along a portable table and set it at the end of the provided table!

Let me tell you... those batiks were a hot ticket! Only three small pieces and six fat quarters (dark colors) remained at the end of the sale.

The room got pretty crazy.

And at one point, my own table was several people deep. 

Sadly, among those visitors was at least one thief. I had only six patterns to sell (all marked half price), and one of them was the "Tuffet" pattern. I had decided that if it didn't sell, I would offer it here as a blog giveaway. Well, I waited on every customer and I'm sure it wasn't sold, nor was it among what was left at the end of the sale. Someone liked the pattern enough to just take it.

Still, I was thrilled with outcome of all this. Remember? My 2016 word of the year is "lighten." I'm accomplishing my goal, returning home with less than half of what I'd taken along. If I can find a place to store the large bin of fabric that remains, I might just do this again next year. Linda

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Retreat Action

Being away for four days and three nights on a quilt retreat is the optimum amount of time to devote to sewing, socializing, and perhaps eating a little too much. But I happily did that from March 1-4 in Sebring, Florida. We stayed at Kenilworth Lodge, using one of two ballrooms for our sewing space. This was my work station.

And this is the result of sitting at that work station for numerous hours. My "Rebel" quilt top, a pattern by Libs Elliott, is finished. Kaufman Kona colors used were: charcoal, steel, shadow, brick, ruby, orange, and curry. I could gaze at this for a long time, seeing different shapes within the shapes.

Rebel is 72" X 72", and took longer to piece than I thought it would. Perhaps that's because I found it a bit boring. If you're a quilter, you know the routine: 1) cut a square; 2) sew two squares together with two diagonal seams; 3) cut them apart; 4) press open half-square triangle blocks seams; 5) trim the block to size. I did that again and again. Truth be told, I'd do it all again for this colorful outcome. For now, it's being piled onto the stack of six quilt tops I now need to quilt!

My second project was to begin making "Cartwheel Quilt," a pattern by FreshlyPieced. I sewed nine of these 12-inch blocks. The prints (Blueberry Park and Mimosa, among others) and colors (aqua) are right up my alley. Background fabric is Widescreen by Carolyn Friedlander. In September I'll be teaching this project - foundation paper piecing - through the Lifelong Learning College.

Karen and I enjoyed retreating together. Not only are we good roomies, but we enjoy the same things... including wine. Most importantly, we both like to spend as much time as possible sewing! Most nights found us as the last or near the last to go to bed, and in the morning, the first or near the first to be at our sewing machines.

Karen completed her "Curve It Up" quilt top, a pattern by SewKindofWonderful. She, along with other quilters from our Big Cypress Quilters chapter, made these blocks in 2015 as a BOM. To finish her quilt top, Karen took time to make the curved-pieced border, and in my opinion, it was time well-spent. 

Turns out that when quilters are together, the best tips come up. The one that was most amazing at our retreat was learning that peroxide will remove a scorch from fabric. One of my quilter-friends tested it on her portable ironing pad, and it worked! Just spray the scorch, cover it with a clean, dry cloth, and press. Repeat. It took about four repetitions, but look at the difference!

What a nice bunch of quilters! Fourteen of us enjoyed one another's company, and I'm happy to have gotten to know them better.  
Big Cypress Quilters, March 3, 2016
And while I'm sharing people pictures, here's what appeared on the front page of Saturday's The Mix-South, a supplement to The Villages Daily Sun. I'm terribly proud of these students! Only one quilter didn't complete the course, and that's my best completion rate ever. As an instructor, it's very rewarding knowing that these women have now picked up this addictive hobby! 

One more thing... AQS Executive Director Bonnie Browning video interviewed Lora and me when we won third place for "Ad Libbing" at the show in Daytona Beach. Here's our interview on YouTube. Linda

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sewing Room Action

I had a surgical breast biopsy last week. Happily, yesterday pathology returned that the suspect tissue is scleroderma - a mass of scar tissue resulting from my lumpectomy and radiation in March 2013 - gosh, three years ago this month. Hurrah for no cancer.  Though the procedure slowed me down for a few days, I enjoyed sewing room action.

After sewing, unsewing and resewing, here's the Picket Fence quilt top in all it's 100" X 102" glory on our king-sized bed. Pin-basting's gonna be a bugger!

And this is "Which Way?" a 41" X 55" top that will be a Project Linus donation. It's a good pattern for using up 2-1/2" squares.

The free Moda pattern is here but take note! The full-size quilt photo and instructions are vastly different! I basically referred to the photo, and checked the instructions as needed.

These two quilts now bring my total of tops that Need To Be Quilted to five! Oh dear.

The weekend saw me doing lots of pin-basting. I rearranged my sewing room to use my hollow core doors as basting tables. Three tops are basted. 

And after taking Which Way? with me on our Central Florida MQG Sew-In on Saturday, it's now quilted - simple designs because a child really doesn't care - with binding in the works.

Quilting large quilts isn't a portable activity, so, as I head out this morning on a four day/three night quilt retreat in Sebring with 14 other quilters from Big Cypress Quilters, what is a quilter to do?!

You got it. Start another project.

These solids will become "Rebel," a modern quilt pattern by Libs Elliott.

To select colors for this quilt, I pulled out my newer Kona card with 271 colors, and my tin of Kaufman Kona color chips cut up from an old Kaufman Kona card.

While some quilters:
1) stick adhesive-backed magnets to the back of each chip to mount on a metal baking sheet;
2) or glue Velcro to the back of each chip to stick to Velcro strips,

I simply toss them into a tin. Until I take the time to organize these, this works fine.

I'm traveling on retreat with my friend (formerly an Iowan), Karen. (Have I ever mentioned how many Karens I know?! My address book shows14 Karens, and I know another another five Karens who aren't in my book!)

Karen and I will have a great time, and I expect to have lots to show for time spent focused on quilting. Linda


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