Service call

Last night, when I was finishing my MIL's quilt, my Bernina (Evelyn) was making a turrible racket. So, this morning, I gave her a good service.

Now, this view is why I love my Evelyn so much. All steel inside. Like my vintage machines, she has no belts inside. The only belt connects the motor to the drive shaft. Consequently, when she needs oil, she is sure to let me know.

First thing I found was this felting of threads under the needle plate cover. Gross. And, I pride myself on how clean I keep my machines, but there it was, nonetheless. If you don't remove the needle plate cover and clear this out periodically, you will have to have your machine serviced more often.

And, here's another little ball of lint starting to form. Bad lint. Bad.

But, after a few well placed drops of oil and a reset of the tension on both my bobbin cases (one for piecing and one for quilting) she was all ready for another 5000 yards of quilting thread.

Between service calls, I only need to oil the hook race and I do that with every bobbin change. One drop keeps her purring along.

After that, I finished a Linus quilt for April with a foldover binding and now we're off to do a wee bit of shopping. Right. Rob's going to spend his birthday money and I need a quilt back and some screws for that cabinet with the National machine in it. And, now that I have all my pins out of quilts, it's time to pin baste something. I need to quilt. I want to quilt. And, it's already getting too hot to be outside in the afternoons, so all yard work has to be done early.

Take care and have a great Saturday. "Make sumpin' purty."



Follow, Thread, Tension, Report Card

That's today's agenda.

Follow: How many of my followers are also following The FMQ Challenge? If you're not, I'd really recommend it. This is a group of brave quilters who have committed to FMQ for 14 consecutive days. It is so much fun. Some of the quilters are quite accomplished and some are beginners and I'm so enjoying watching their progress. If you don't FMQ but you want to, this is a very encouraging site to follow.

Thread: I've been thinking about thread lately as I'm quilting more and more tops, especially with my commitment to a Linus quilt each month. My thoughts on thread are that I don't necessarily have to use the same color in the top and bobbin, but I do have to use threads of the same weight. I can't balance tension consistently between threads of different weights. I know people whose machines will do this, but mine is not one. I'm finishing a Linus quilt where I used a lime green thread in the top and a gold thread in the bobbin. The green thread was regular 70 weight polyester sewing thread, common brand, available anywhere, and the bottom was 50 weight cotton. I started with the tension set perfectly so that none of the green thread showed on the back and none of the yellow on the top. About half way through the quilting, that somehow changed and the green thread started to show on the yellow quilt back. I didn't keep checking that as I quilted and now the back of the quilt looks fuzzy from the bits of green thread showing. Oh, well. It was a lesson learned long ago that I chose to overlook and it came back to bite me.

Tension: So, how do I set the tension on my sewing machines? And, with 10 sewing machines, that's a lot of tension to set. I load the top and bobbin with two different colors of 50 weight cotton thread. 50 wt cotton is what I sew with most often, for piecing and for quilting. I can get huge spools of coats and clark for three or four dollars with a coupon at JoAnns. I keep at least two cones of neutral out for piecing all the time. I set the top tension to the middle. On my old Singers, that's halfway between 4 and 5. Same for my Pfaff. And, my Bernina has a line. Then, I adjust the bobbin tension until I get a perfect stitch. Once a year, I will do this when I service and clean my machines. Other than that, I don't adjust the bobbin tension. Any tension adjustments are made to the top tension. Make sure you're using the right size bobbin for your machine. For years, I was plagued with tension problems on my Bernina because I was using a class 15 and should have been using a class 15J. Who knew? And, when the repairman told me the first time, all I heard was the 15 and because that's what I was using, I blew him off. The next time he told me, it registered.

Report card: Sydney got all A's except in Spanish and there she got a B. Our joy was unmatched. We had the same choir in that sang at the Royal Wedding this morning and released white doves. And, gave her back her straightening and curling irons. Hey, just because she's smart doesn't mean she shouldn't be pretty, right?

Have a great Friday. I'm going to try very hard to leave early today and go home and mark the borders on the MIL quilt. I need that finished so I can move on to quilt something else.



West of Paris

Okay, so that's the newest working name for this quilt. I designed it to feature 8 fat quarters from the Pom Pom de Paris collection from Moda. I rarely buy more than a couple of fabrics from any collection, so when I found that I had, without planning it, picked up 8 fats from this collection at a booth at a quilt show, I knew something special had to be done with them.

I saw a braided border on a quilt in a magazine and thought "I can do that", so using Bonnie Hunter's assembly instructions for the Texas Braid Quilt in Adventures with Leaders and Enders, I set out to do this. I kept thinking what I wanted to do in the center that would feature the floweriest of the fat quarters. I came up with something very simple that I can quilt on, and then added the borders and squares to cut down on the size of pieces I'd have to cut from the fats. Then, I added the first of the narrow gold borders that really tied everything together as I kept building. Then came the braided border that was so simple that it got routine to chain piece them. The rest of the narrow borders are meant to stabilize the braided borders. All the braided border edges are bias and all you have to do is look at it hard to get it to stretch...especially the 200" outer edge before the last gold border was added. The large bricks fit nicely between the two braided borders to give me a great place to quilt. I intend to fill that with feathers. The wider borders on the top and bottom ended me at 60x72, which is more than comfortable for a lap quilt and plenty big enough to snuggle a grandkid under. This quilt is going to be a gift and I can hardly wait to get started quilting it. I plan to quilt the devil out of it, stopping just short of making it too stiff to snuggle.

This whole quilt was pieced on the machine I rewired last weekend. And, thanks to Joe, who sent a comment on that post that I should try researching under National Rotary Sewing machine and I found my machine! Thanks, again, Joe. This morning, for the first time in the 20 years I've owned her, she's actually threaded correctly and the tension discs are engaged.

I talked a big game recently about the wrong side of a quilt top, so I thought I'd show the wrong side of this one. I confess that this is a good one. They aren't all this clean and well pressed. In part, I think that raveling was helped by how fast I made the quilt. It seems that quilts that hang around for a long time tend to ravel before I pin baste them.

I also wanted to share pictures of this storm cloud that came up the other day. It was beautiful and fascinating to watch. It was like a mushroom cloud, boiling and building and growing. We stood outside and watched and traffic kept slowing down to see what we were staring at and photographing. But, we didn't get a drop of rain out of it.

Okay, just one more announcement. It's Rob's birthday! Happy Birthday, Dear! It's also my niece, Abbie's birthday and Eyore's birthday. So, happy birthday to all! And, many more!



When children eat

When I was little (good grief, here he goes again. must be wednesday.). When I was little, I was skinny. So was my sister. We didn't eat much. We didn't eat enough. Not because there wasn't food. There was plenty offered to us. But, for some reason, we wouldn't eat it. And, I know my Mom cooked good tasting food, so why we were this way remains a mystery. Our pediatrician said "they'll eat when they're hungry". But, our parents said we had to eat at mealtime.

So, according to family lore, my Mom went to the pediatrician and said "Give me a prescription for the yuckiest, thickest, worst tasting vitamins you can." And, he did. And, they came in a huge brown pharmacy bottle, that was as big as a man's shoe and was kept in the fridge, where the black, thick vitamins would get even thicker because of the cold.

Every meal, my sister and I had a choice. We could eat the meal...or we could take a big tablespoon of the vitamins.

As far as I can remember, only four tablespoons of those vitamins were ever administered.

At some point, my sister found peanut butter and was allowed to eat that and I found the wonder of good, thick, brown gravy and biscuits. Later, I went from a size slim to a size husky. Now I know how those two things are related.

A few years later, we were at my Aunt and Uncle's farm, where my Uncle Roy raised cows. Not a lot of cows, just a few in a pasture behind the house. Out in one of his pens was a huge red square tub with a lid on it. The lid had a wheel fitted into it for the cows to lick and they would lick the wheel and it would turn in the tub and be coated with thick, black vitamins that smelled exactly like those vitamins that we were given the choice to take.

Occasionally, I get to remind my Mom that when we were little, she gave us cow vitamins to make us eat and we all have a good laugh.

Times have changed and people have changed and I do not advocate cow vitamins to get children to eat. And, apparently my Mother has changed because one of the things she wrote to me recently was about my little neice and how they "can't get her to" eat.

Okay, so any sentence that begins with "we can't get a 6 year old to ________" (fill in the blank) just cracks me the heck up. Not because I think it's funny. I don't. I think it's very sad for a child to be in charge. That's too much responsibility for a child to be saddled with and from my own parenting experience with Sydney, I can tell you that I believe she is much happier now that she doesn't have to bear that burden anymore.

When she came to us, she was used to being in charge. She had been taught what it took to be in charge and we were not prepared. We thought we were prepared. We thought taking in a kid that was past diapers and formula and crying at being dropped at school was going to be a piece of cake. All we'd have to worry about was school. But, if you've followed my blog for long, you know that we got a real lesson in parenting after she got here. We didn't know how to be parents. We expected The Brady Bunch and we got Dennis the Menace, except the antics weren't funny. And, as much as being with us gave Sydney space to learn how to be a child, it also forced us to learn how to be parents. And, it taught us to be a better couple. As we learned how to talk to her, we learned how to talk to one another.

So, why do I laugh when I hear that adults can't get children to do things? Because some of our experiences with Sydney were hilarious. For one, Sydney was not taught to eat good. She grew up on pizza, McDonald's, sodas and junk. We don't eat like that and while she was more than willing to give that up (she vows she will never eat McD's again), she was not willing to eat like we eat. She did not eat from the food group Green. But, we do eat from the food group green. And, in order to eat with us, she had to change.

One night, she refused to eat broccoli. Now, broccoli is one of my favorite green vegetables and her not eating it was not an option. So, I did the old "you can't get up from the table until you eat your broccoli." And, she sat there. Arms crossed. Angry look.

I did the dishes and Rob and I watched TV and she sat there. When bedtime came, I brushed my teeth and got a book and a glass of water and came back to table and sat down. I had settled in for the long siege and she knew it. She hesitated for a few minutes and then she ate that cold broccoli and just watching her and knowing how bad that must be, made me gag a bit. But I didn't stop her. She ate every bite of it, went to the shower and then to bed. We didn't make a big deal about it. We don't need to celebrate our victories with her because that means celebrating her losses and there's no need for that.

Later, after many servings, she told me she liked broccoli.

Since that night, she's eaten a lot of different green vegetables and we had a similar scene over zucchini, but it only lasted about 5 minutes, and she complains about cabbage, but only me buying it, never me cooking it. And, when I decided that one night a week, the family was going to have a vegetarian dinner, she didn't bat an eye.

So, what pointers would I share if I stuck my nose in other people's business? If you're going to take a stand, take it on a Friday night so you don't have to surrender for school the next day. If more than one person is raising a child; and let's face it, few children are raised by just one person; they all have to agree to a unified front. No one can cave and no one can push because they become the weakest link. And...

Never give up. Never surrender.

Children have enough to worry about. Running a family is just too much.

Take care. Have a great Way Back Wednesday.



Plump peaches and big talk about another quilt

This is block 4 of Simply Delicious, all finished. I really enjoy this work, but after I finished this block, I was kind of burned out. I didn't photograph it, even though it's been done for over 2 weeks. I was just tired of applique.

So, I switched my finger work to a couple of other projects that I can do while I watch TV and spend time with the family and I started a new quilt. There's nothing like a new quilt to chase the blues away.

The new quilt is one that I designed myself to use some quarters of Pom Pom de Paris from Moda. This fabric is so not me. I think I'd had too many coffees when we went to the quilt show a few weeks ago and I picked up these quarters. I don't do many florals and when I tried to find other fabrics in my stash to go with them, I drew up a big zilch, so that meant I had to go shopping for some flowery blenders. I replaced the blue in the pic below with a light silver blue and added another pink, another yellow and another green. I think it's taken about 14 quarter yards of well matched fabric and a yard and a half of a gold to tie it all together.

I am too close to finished piecing to share a pic now, but it won't be but a day or two. I'm on the last two borders.

On a different note, my little neice is going to a hospital for tests this afternoon, so if you have some spare thoughts, I'd really appreciate it. I don't think it's serious. I suspect that it's what she eats, or maybe what she doesn't eat. At least that's what I have my fingers crossed for.

Take care and have a great Tuesday. Lane


Another walk through the garden

I've been trying to do a picture walk through the garden about the 24th of the month each month. February and March. Now, it's April and the garden is really coming into its own.

There are several first time bloomers this year. This trumpet vine is a first timer. I bought this last year and it didn't do so well, so it stayed kind of in the back. But, this year, it's certainly making up for it.

This is the kitchen garden after a good weed. I pulled the snowpeas yesterday and put in carrots. The snowpeas gave us enough for one meal. Oh, well. Snowpeas are not my forte, apparently. This bed is full of tomatoes and lemon trees, potatoes, a pepper and a rose. Everything I'll need to cook.

This is the daylily bed with cannas and elephant ears that will hold it through the hot summer after the lilies have finished their bloom. Lots of scapes. I hope that translates to lots of bloom.

Another first time bloomer. This is a native that just loves the sun. They grow everywhere around here and make these 8 foot stalks covered with these waxy blooms. A great show for this early part of the year.

And, this little Louisiana iris has made its first bloom this year. I hope it will do more and more. I don't quite know where this came from. I know I had some yellow LA iris that I haven't seen bloom in years and now I have a purple. I love the unpredictability.

The other end of the daylily bed.

And, my sitting area. Now, with all the time I had that I could have sat out here this weekend, you'd think I would have made it. But, alas, I stayed inside and played with my sewing machines and we watched the whole series of Harry Potter movies released so far. But, I did sneak out here a few times to work in the yard...in the peace and the quiet.

And, this last one is the long side bed. Not much for color this time of year. This shady bed will come into its own in the hot summer, when the other beds are just trying to stay alive.

Rob's big job this weekend was repairing the deck so we should be able to get a few more years out of it before the inevitable replacement. But, every year we can spend a few dollars instead of a bunch of dollars is a good year, huh?

Okay, that's it for us. I've come up with a new pattern and almost finished the quilt. I've also been trying to FMQ for a few mintutes every day, but I kind of got stuck for ideas on my MIL's quilt. But, that gave me the time to get a Linus quilt bound. I really need to schedule a drop-off and get them out of the house so I'll have more storage room!

Oh, and you know my mentor that I'm always talking about but haven't seen in over a year? Well, I decided it was time for a handwritten card, including an offer to come help her get her machine out of the attic, where it's been for over a year, if that's what it took. Well, I heard back from her this morning. Hopefully, we'll at least meet for lunch soon.

Take care and have a great Monday. Lane


Bringing an old girl up to par

About 20 years ago, I went with a friend to an auction. We walked through the stuff and I didn't even see this sewing machine, but when it came up for bidding, I couldn't help myself and I think I paid $25 for it.

But, I could never figure out how to thread it or anything about it until I started tinkering with vintage machines. Then, when I could thread it and get it to make a stitch, I was afraid to use it because the wiring was so old and stiff and had been repaired and taped in several places.

It was time for a rewire. I bought my wire from Sewclassic and it came in on Thursday. Since that is the family's night to cook, I got started.

I took out all the old wire, but didn't think to take pictures. I marked where each wire came into the junction box. The only thing I couldn't get to was the motor, and I'm not sure what I could have done there anyway. But, without any information about the machine, I wasn't ready to take apart the drive shaft for fear I'd never get it back together again and that was the only way I was getting the motor out.

First came the light.

And, then everything came into the junction box. Every wire end had to be soldered.

Here's the junction box back together. The wire to the foot pedal runs through the machine and out the bottom, so there's only one plug in the junction. Boy, I'll tell you, taking that old pedal apart and connecting new wires to it was really (no, really!) interesting. Then, after I'd made my connections, I realized that part of the pedal needed to be threaded onto the wire first. Then, when I'd made my connections, I realized another part of the pedal needed to be threaded on the wire first. THEN, I got the pedal wired again, because we all know that third time is the charm.

Here's the back, with the new power cord wired into the old plug.

She looks great except for a bit of gold on her center medallion that I wiped off trying to clean her up 25 years ago.

One day, I'll figure out more about her and try to get a manual. I think she was made by the White Sewing Machine company...at least she looks like a white. She threads funny, different than any other vintage machine I've ever seen. And, there's no needle stop when inserting a new needle, so the needle will go way up in the needle clamp, but if it's all the way in, she won't make a stitch (don't ask me how I know or how frustrated I got on Friday when she wouldn't sew), but if you pull the needle out part way, she sews like a dream and is very, very quiet. She has a click that I'm trying to find and if I do, she could become my primary piecing machine, even though she does have griest feet.

Take care and have a wonderful Easter! Lane


A new leaf

I've been diligently quilting my MIL's quilt. I'm calling it Topsy's New Home or Topsy's New Community. But, that's just a working title. I got hours and hours of ditch work done and then I did all the invisible thread meandering in the sky to imitate wind. And, then I started on the sashing.

And, I started ripping out.

And, I quilted, and I ripped. And, I could not be happy. I even pulled Rob in, hoping he would disagree with me. But, alas he thought the same thing I did. It just was not working.

So, I went out in search of a new pattern. First, I went to one of my saved standbys, http://www.forestquilting.com/motifsfree/motifsfree_pg4.html, but I didn't really feel feathers. So, I tried http://www.thisbe.org/cheryl/Patterns.html and went down to the quilting motifs and checked out Designs by Vickie. There was some great stuff there. And, I checked out Patsy Thompson and found exactly what I was looking for in the flowers section.

First, I doodled it. I doodled it during a meeting and I doodled it while I was waiting for Sydney at the dentists office. I doodled it over some notes from the office and after my first photo, realized there were phone numbers in the picture. That could get me in trouble.

And, then I practiced it on my practice sandwich, keeping in mind that I was working along a narrow sashing.

And, then I quilted my new leaves into the quilt.

And, below is what I took out. It looks nice, but it's too busy. And, if you go back up to my practice sandwich, there's a line of ferns and flowers at the top that I tried and pulled the other day. If I filled the space like I needed to, both were overpowering and the lines were too regimented and drew attention away from the piecing. Not what I want to do. But, the more random leafy pattern above fills it in perfectly. Not too much. Just enough.

So, a word about ripping out quilting. Normally, when I pull thread, I try to pull the longest length of thread I can, slipping out the stitches until the thread breaks. That is a fine way to pull straight line stitching with the seam ripper. But, when I pull quilting that way, I invariably pull a single thread from the fabric and end up with a white line. Don't want that. So, instead, I cut every second or third stitch from the top and then flip it over and pull all the boobin thread out. I get a clean pull every time and if there's a spot where I paused and stitches built up, I can pull the thread from the back through those stitches instead of digging them out with a seam ripper to cut them. Below is what it looks like after you've cut every other stitch.

Okay. That's it for me today. Except one more word of advice. If you're going to FMQ, buy seam rippers every time they're on sale. I probably own 15 and yet I can never find one when I need it. I think Gremlins use them for manicures.



The concordance

Recognize that word? I certainly do. The concordance is the part at the back of the Bible where you can look up words and find verses that contain those words. Rob didn't recognize the word, but when we needed a verse last night, he knew to hand the Bible to me.

I spent years and years and years doing Bible drills, where we competed to see who could find the verse first. We would stand in rank, Bibles under our arms and someone would call out military style commands (present arms meant hold your Bible out in front of you) and a scripture reference and we'd all scramble to find the verse. I also remember once that a friend named Mark and I challenged one another to see who could read the Bible the fastest. I don't know if we actually finished. I think maybe our determination ended before the Bible did.

I grew up in the Southern Baptist Church, surrounded by very good people. At least I remember them that way, like most of us remember the people from our childhood. Ultimately, as an adult, I chose a different set of beliefs than those I had as a child, but my beliefs are still heavily based on what I learned in the church, except there's less judgment after life and more being generous during life.

Anyway, last night, we were writing an Easter card to Rob's Mom and Sydney couldn't think of anything to write. Rob suggested some Easter appropriate scripture would be appreciated by his Mom and might bring a tear to her eye. And, it probably will. It probably would bring a tear to my Mom's eye, too. But, the shock of it might just as easily bring on a heart attack.

Our first obstacle was finding a Bible. Rob was the only one of us who knew where to find one. That will disappoint my Mom to no end, but it will probably please her to know that the one he did find was the one my parents sent him right after we got together (don't go there.) But, trying to figure out where to find one reminded me of a Preacher joke.

One day, the preacher stopped by to visit a family. After a nice visitation, the preacher suggested prayer and the reading of scripture. The mother agreed; "oh, yes. Jimmy, go to Mama's bedroom and get that most precious book, that most blessed book. Your Mama's favorite book." Jimmy looked confused for a second and then ran to his parent's bedroom and came back with a very satisfied look on his face and the Sears and Roebuck Catalog.

Okay, back to our story in progress, Rob handed the Bible to me with high expectations. I think he was kind of disappointed when I opened it because a) no bright light, resonating with the sound of angel song shone down upon my head and b) no lightening struck me dead. But, I'll tell you, all those years of Bible training kicked in and within 4 mintues, I had found the verse, checked it against three other references to see if any contained better wording, and was handing the Bible to Sydney so she could copy from it. All the training for those Bible drills was well ingrained.

Oddly, the Bible has been on my mind since I heard a story on NPR about the King James Version; how it came about and that it was going out of style and being replaced by new translations. Somehow, that's sad to me and I'm not real sure why. I guess I have nostalgia for the old fire and brimstone teachings and strict rules. And, while I don't refer to the King James version much in everyday life, there is still a lot of it that became a part of me (tho Leviticus clearly didn't take).

I wish I could relate the wonder of all the youth camps and Bible studies that I felt. It was a magical time in my life. But, time moved on and I began to realize that, despite the beattitudes, it was the greedy who were inheriting the earth and no one was listening to the peacemakers, and blessed are the well educated. But, also, blessed are those that see the needs of others and try to do something about it. Blessed are those that feel an obligation to help those less fortunate. And, blessed are the teachers and parents that pass those beliefs on to the next generation by example.

I'm glad that I have those strong beliefs from my childhood, and I believe that I am passing them along. I just have my own way of doing it now. Less judgment, condemnation and brimstone and more handing cash out the car window to the homeless.

Take care and have a great Way Back Wednesday. Lane


FMQ, FHQ and a winner

First, I wanted to say that the video and the positive response it received are very much appreciated. Rob and I had fun doing it and I'm sure we'll do it again. Maybe I'll even get really brave and let him film my face while I talk. Then, you'd get to see me blush.

I heard from some beginners to FMQ and wanted to share a step that I've talked about in my blog before, but didn't really mention in the posts about FMQ. I didn't start out doing FHQ (free hand quilting). I started out doing marked FMQ.

FMQ, or free motion quilting just means bypassing the feed dogs on the machine and using your hands to move the quilt sandwich. That way, you can get the stitch wherever you want it, without having to turn the quilt. All free hand quilting (FHQ) is free motion, but not all free motion (FMQ) has to be free hand.

What if you didn't have to decide where to put the shape you're going to draw and could skip straight to getting the stitches where they need to be. No worry about perfect curves or impossible straight lines. You wouldn't have to decide whether to go left or go right in order to get that flower to form? You can do that with marked free motion quilting.

The tracing below is not something I could do free hand. And, if I did, it wouldn't be something I'd want to show anybody. I traced it from a holiday gift bag that my friend shared with me. There is a continuous cord that moves from light to light and the lights are similar enough to be recognizable. I know where everything needs to go and all I'll have to focus on is getting the needle to go down where I want it to and making my stitch length even. And, if I don't like something about the original, I can use one of those big pink erasers and make it go away. I'm just waiting until they make a seam ripper that works as good as those big pink erasers.

I'll copy this original to a piece of tear away paper by needle punching it and pin the copy to my quilt sandwich and lickety split, I'll have lights. Then, I can fill in between them with background filler to make them stand out. My fabric is dark, and my thread is going to be a few shades lighter, so the background will be lighter than the string of lights. I hope.

So, on to the giveaway. According to Microsoft Excel, =randbetween(1,27), the winner of the Harriet Hargrave book is HAPPY COTTAGE QUILTER!!!! I'm now following her blog and if you go visit, I think you'll see why after reading just a couple of posts.

Okay, so that's it for me. Hurry through your work day and let's get home to quilt. Take care. Lane


The back of the story

If you caught my previous post, I shared my favorite tools and tips for free motion quilting. But, there are two things I didn't cover.

First is the quilt top. Oh, just any old top will do. Except that quilters don't just make any old quilt top, do we? We make fabulous quilt tops and we don't want to mess them up with bad quilting. I'm going to talk more about what makes a good quilt top. It's not all points that match (which I'm not so good at) and color selection (which I rely on Rob for).

Part of a good quilt top is what you don't see. Look at the wrong side of your quilt top. What do your seam allowances look like? Are they pressed every whichaway? Or, are they all pressed flat and turned the same way? Are they turned up at one end and down at the other, making a twist somewhere in between that will be a bump, later?

After you've got all your seams going one way (some seam ripping may be required. don't be afraid.) and the top is ironed flat, it's time to press the wrong side. I'm not talking about ironing the wrong side. Ironing is what we do with the front of the quilt top, back and forth, sliding the iron over until the wrinkles are gone. The back of the quilt top should be pressed. That means setting the iron down and picking it up. There is no sliding it around. I learned this long ago on Alex Anderson's Simply Quilts. There was a guest that talked about the difference between ironing and pressing and I gave it a try and it worked fabulously, so I recommend it.

Press those seam lines down and you won't get stuck on one later. And, they won't roll up under your quilting foot. Yes, that can happen, even when you think they're secure, if they don't lay flat, they'll migrate from one side of the seam to the other and roll up as they make that transition. That makes a bump in an otherwise flat finished quilt. The other thing about the wrong side is threads. Are there threads hanging all over your quilt back. If there are, I recommend that you work all the seam lines with a scissor and trim those back. Because, invariably, after you've sandwiched your quilt, there will be a single black thread that will find its way between your white fabric and your white batting and once it's quilted in, there's not much you can do about it. Except see it every time you look at your quilt.

I'll confess that I was late to the thread trimming party. I made some really messy quilts. And, I looked with envy at the wrong side of my mentor's quilt tops, which were as much a work of art as the fronts. Because of how she handles her fabric before she makes the first cut, and the way she handles it thereafter, she doesn't end up with threads that hang on the back. Me, I try, but I generally have to trim threads before I sandwich the batting.

Okay, so that's my thoughts for the day. I started quilting my MIL's quilt yesterday. Lot's of ditchwork (I hate the ditchwork, but it is necessary) and meandering. I haven't done much meandering and was surprised how much more stressful it was than quilting shapes. With large shapes, I just draw, but with meandering, I have to make it look random. I'm not so good at random.

And, I'm still painting the kitchen. That may become a perpetual project as slow as I'm going.

The kid scored well on a math practice test yesterday. I am sooooo happy. I'm not sure how much more 7th grade math I could handle. Now we're back to working on Spanish full time and Math as required. We will make it to 8th grade. We will! And, we got her hair cut on Saturday. She looks SO GOOD! And, she finally found somebody to cut her hair that she wants to go back to see. So far, it's been random, whoever was there when we got there. But, now we might do appts. She's growing up fast. Seemed like it was really slow and now, she's taken off.

Have a great Monday. Lane


Free-motion quilting post 2

This is the second post. If you haven't seen the quilting video, you might want to check it out first. So, I couldn't get pictures to post into that post. But, I wanted to show what I meant when I said I wasn't using my thumbs right. See how I lay my hands out? Having my thumbs like that keeps the fabric taut and I don't get that ridge of fabric in front of the foot that you see in the video.

Last tool. My favorite quilting book. I have other books with patterns and books that talk about how to make feathers or fill space with free hand free motion quilting. But, the best book for the mechanics of quilting in my opinion is Heirloom Machine Quilting by Harriet Hargrave. I am not knockin' anybody when I say this. Every book on quilting has it's place and I also use Leah's site as a resource for new background filler patterns and ideas. But, Harriet's book is a reference for me. If I can't figure it out, there's no need for me to go searching. I just pull out the book. I thought I had the old version, so when I ran into a copy of the revised edition in Half Price Books last sunday, I snatched it up. Imagine my surprise when I got home and realized I already had the revised edition. So, as part of my first free motion quilting video post, I'm going to give away the extra copy.

You have to comment or email before I get up on Tuesday morning. I'll randomly pick from the comments and let you know on Tuesday who won. But, nothin's really free. In your comment or your email, you have to tell me whether you free motion quilt and if you do, what you love about it. And if you don't, why you don't. I'm betting that if you don't, when you read your reason, you'll laugh at it and give free motion quilting a try. Let me know if you already have a copy of this book and want to be left out of the drawing.

Have a great Weekend. I'm off to do some cutting. My leader/ender project needs red squares and I've been cutting hexes. I want to sit in the swing today and sew.



Free-motion Quilting

This post could just as easily be called "If at first you don't succeed..."

I'm going to have to break it into two posts. The first is the video. The second is the giveaway.

A couple of things need explainin'.

As I quilt, it looks like there's a ridge of loose fabric in front of my foot. That's also from being distracted. I usually hold the fabric very taut between my hands and use my thumbs to pull it. And, speaking of hands, the other post will have a picture of how I hold my hands as it isn't very clear in the video.

Okay, so the tools. I'm plugging tools, but I'm also going to share where they came from. Well, except the gloves. One of us must have thrown my gloves away a couple of months ago. Either that, or when I asked to have them laundered, they got ruined and no one would tell me. I've replaced with a glove that is a nice stand in and is certainly less expensive. But, I will be buying a new pair of the white gloves. And, here's why. I can thread a needle in the white gloves and I can't in the yellow. I have to take both yellow gloves off to be able. You can see me struggle with thread in the video when I start to quilt. They are "stickier" and won't release the thread, so after I finally struggle the thread through the eye, it pulls back when I move my hand. Leah Day at the Free Motion Quilting Project sells them as a kit with the supreme slider and the bobbin washers. This is not my first time to share Leah's site. As a non-paid, non-attorney spokesperson, I feel good sharing sites where I'm happy to shop.

Bobbin washers. Why do I use two? There's nothing in any instructions that I've seen that recommends more than one at a time. But, two fills my bobbin case better. The bobbin lays flush with the outside of the bobbin case when I use two. That means it's well seated inside the hook race. With one washer, it kind of sits back in the case by just a hair's width. And, that hair's width is room for a bobbin to wobble in and that wobble is what gave me "bird's nests" on the back.

The foot. The foot was a very expensive foot. And, it has proven to be worth each and every penny. Save money on fabric and thread. Spend money on good tools.

Sewing machine. I got my machine from my mentor. She sold it to me at about two-thirds of what it was worth at the time. But, now, when I find one on ebay, the "what it's worth" has doubled. So, I can recommend that it is a true workhorse and it is very quiet. I need to be able to hear TV when I quilt and I can with this machine. It was well taken care of before I got it and I take excellent care of it and expect it to last all the time I need. My point here is that it doesn't take a fancy new expensive machine to quilt. But, it does take a good machine that's quiet and powerful and and won't overheat. Some of the old straight stitch machines are plenty powerful and plenty quiet. But, beware that the old pedals get hot, but not really the motors. You can replace the pedal, but I decided I'd rather keep my Grandmother's pedal than quilt on that machine. Anyway, you'll want a large throat on a machine. The throat is the space between the needle and the tower, height and width because you're inserting a rolled up quilt in that space. If you're going to quilt a bed quilt on a domestic machine, you're going to need a thin bat and a large throat.

The other features I love on my Bernina 930 are a knee lift and needle down. The knee lift lets me raise and lower the presser foot without using my hands. And, needle down means I can drop the needle as an anchor into the quilt before I let go with my hands. On this machine, needle down is accomplished by pressing the pedal with my heel instead of my toe.

Okay, so if you've made it this far, then you deserve a chance to find out which quilting book is my favorite. But, you'll have to check out the next post. Lane

Iris instead

Okay, I've teased a couple of you with the promise of a video of me quilting. Tease, tease, tease.

Last night, Rob and I filmed it and for a first try, I'm very happy. Getting it uploaded has been another experience altogether. I kicked it off last night and it failed due to technical difficulties. I kicked it off again this morning at 5am and it still isn't finished. Okay. I'm flexible and as proud as I am of it, I can wait until tomorrow. I can. I can. I can I can I can!

So, I'll share a funny production story from the video shoot. Rob was my producer-director-cameraman-best boy and I'd told him what I wanted, where the camera should be aimed, what I was going to do and that no matter what, we were only going to take two shoots...we are such perfectionists that I worried that without that, we'd be at it all night. Anyway, we shot the first part about the tools. It went Great! Then, we shot the second part, where I quilt. I was on. It went perfect. I covered everything I wanted to cover with a minimum of "uhm..." Rob did closeups as I went through my schpiel. Unfortunately, the closeups of my quilting didn't work out too well as there were lots of blurry spots. I watched in horror because I was never going to be able to say all that again. I just knew it. He asked if I wanted to shoot it again and, primadonna that I am, I whined noooooo and went to the bedroom. I spent about 5 minutes building up my confidence again, came out of the bedroom and asked if we could shoot it again. He'd left the camera set up and ready. Guess he knew I'd be out. And, I sewed for a couple of minutes to bring me back into my zen. And, we did a second shoot that was as good as the first. He edited the tools and the quilting parts together for me and we were ready to go. And, the router crapped out at bedtime. No point in waiting for the router to reset and kicking the upload off again.

So, instead of quilting video (and a giveaway!) I'm showing you iris from the backyard.

My iris are a study in patience. I don't know where the first one came from, but right after we got together, Rob and I took a spring vacation to Boston and the Bostonians were clearing the overgrown iris out of their public gardens and throwing them on the compost heap. We collected as many as we could pack in a box, cut the tops off and flew them home in our luggage. Clearly pre-2001.

Since then, I've moved them around and moved them around and watched them die and fed them and watched what was left start to thrive and last year, I got my first bloom. Just one.

But, this year, they're finally starting to give me a good show. I don't seem to have managed to keep any of the yellow ones alive, but the purple ones are finally starting to do their thing.

Okay, ever the optimist, I'm going to invite you back tomorrow for a bit of the old vid of me quilting. And, I'm going to give away an extra copy of my favorite quilting book that I found in half price books last week. You're gonna want to come back just to see which book it is.

Take care and have a great Friday. Lane


Quilts to celebrate weddings

In 2008, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. And, my boss got married. No need to come up with two quilt patterns, right? And, there's not much chance that either couple will ever see the other couple's quilt. This is what I came up with. The background is all neutral squares and a border and the two rings were paper pieced and are made up of two inch sections, double wedding ring style, and then appliqued to the quilt top. The rings are linked together like links in a chain. One ring was left open to accomplish that and the join is hidden behind where the other ring crosses over it. The pictures above and below are my parent's quilt. This was the second of the two quilts that I made and I was much braver on the quilting on this one. The background is a morning glory applique pattern that I traced onto the background of the quilt and quilted in. This two pictures below are my boss's quilt. The quilting is much more linear, but, like my parent's quilt, their names are quilted in the top border and their wedding date is quilted in the bottom border. All this quilting was marked with a blue washout pen and you can see some residue in the bottom picture. IThese pictures were taken before I washed the quilt. I spritz the ink out as I go with a spray bottle. When I stop for the night, I spritz where I've already quilted so the ink is gone the next day. That lets me see any mistakes that are going to show while I can still fix them and it reassures me that the ink is actually going to come out before I get the quilt finished. I have a fear that I will mark a quilt and forget and iron it and that heat makes the ink permanent. Actually, I have that fear because I've done it. But, that's another blog post.

Take care and have a great Thursday. I spent half the morning thinking it was Friday and the other half crying because it wasn't Friday.




Last night, Sydney's choir practiced for the competition on Friday. It was a full dress rehearsal in their long black dresses and strings of "pearls" and fancy hair. Whenever I see the choir sing, I'm always drawn to one girl who is "differently"-abled.

She only stands out because of her inability to stand still. The expression on her face makes it look like it is painful to stand for as long as the other girls do and they put a chair off to the side for her to rest in if they have to stand too long.

Now, I describe her as differently-abled because she has the face of a cherub and long beautiful hair and excels in some of her classes. This morning, I asked Sydney about her. I was careful how I asked because I wanted to know what Sydney thought, not change her thinking...unless I needed to, based on what I heard. Sydney's description was that she has a beautiful voice, but does have trouble walking and also lapses into what sounded like a fugue state ("she goes into her own head and her face goes blank and she stops working") that the teachers recognize and only have to tap her on the shoulder to bring her attention back to the classroom. The girl lives with her Grandmother and I saw the Grandmother pick her up last night. We'd seen the Grandmother in the audience because she was sitting with a boy, about 8 years old, who also had developmental issues.

Okay, a Grandmother that will take in one child is a great thing, but a Grandmother that will take in two, doesn't need to perform a miracle to gain sainthood in my book.

All this took me back to my youth and a boy that I'll call "Wayne" because I can't remember his name (and I am ashamed that I can't remember, but the most recent part of this story is 30 years ago, so that explains why). Like so many other people in my life, "Wayne" was part of the passing parade of people that have had an effect on my life and is still part of my life and how I feel about those that are different.

I think that Wayne had Muscular Dystrophy. I seem to remember that he was in some of the local spots for the MDS telethon. From the waist up, Wayne was a regular guy, with an attactive face and very broad shoulders. From the waist down, he was a mass of steel braces, leather belts, and crutches. And, when he walked, there was a clickety-clack/slide, clickety-clack/slide, clickety-clack/slide in a regular rhythm as the crutches moved forward and then his feet caught up.

I remember Wayne from church. He lived with an Aunt. I never knew the circumstances of that, but seem to remember it being discussed, when I was much too young to understand what it meant, that his parents were not up to the challenge of raising him, but his Aunt was. She was one of those wonderful, quiet, southern women who never had a cross word to say, had joyful and frequent laughter, was devoted to God, lead my Mother's Sunday school class and was loved by all who knew her.

She brought Wayne to church and I remember him being there almost every Sunday, but although he was only a few years older than me, I don't remember him ever being involved in the church youth group, like so many of us were. If I had to guess why, I'd say that he only came when extended a special invitation and that those invitations were only extended to assuage someone's guilty conscience. I don't think I need to explain that guilty conscience. I suspect that every one of us has felt, at some point, guilty about the luck that made us "normal".

Anyway, he was a regular church goer and we could always tell when he'd arrived. Clickety-clack/slide, Clickety-clack/slide down the aisle to a pew near the front where his Aunt and her "older lady" peers sat. When he sat, there was a sharp snap as he released the locks on his steel braces so he could sit. After church, there would be the sharp snap as he locked the braces so that he could stand, followed by Clickety-clack/slide, clickety-clack/slide, clickety-clack/slide as he moved out of the church and to his car that had the "cool hand controls".

A few years later, I was living in my first apartment and had a great job as the supervisor of cashiers at a new grocery store. I remember showing up for my first day, long before the store opened, and behind me, I heard the Clickety-clack/slide, clickety-clack/slide and turned to find Wayne. He had been hired as the store's bookkeeper.

Every day, clickety-clack/slide, clickety-clack/slide as he made his way into the store. Then, he had to heave himself up the two steps into the store's office that looked out on the checkstands. This took varying amounts of time. Sometimes, he was spry and with very little effort, he would be in his rolling office chair and begin counting the cash and distributing it into tills for my cashiers to use. He had very muscular arms from those crutches and would sit in the chair and push himself from place to place, using the counter top and the big steel safe as handles to push and pull himself around. And, at the end of the day, there would be the snap as he locked the braces and then the much more difficult task of getting himself down those two steps and out the door; clickety-clack/slide, clickety-clack/slide, clickety-clack. That's the only time I ever remember him needing help and it seemed that one or the other of the store managers always managed to be there when it was time for Wayne to leave, just in case. And, I can remember a couple of times that he needed that help and I also remember that not one of us ever acted like it was help, anymore than we would have if anyone else had tripped or stumbled and needed an extra arm for balance.

Wayne and I got to know one another sort of well while we worked together. We had the issue of going to the same church that kept us from being really close at work...neither of us wanted to do or say anything in the workplace that might be frowned upon in the church. We didn't talk about girls or what we did after work. I was a closeted gay person and I doubt that Wayne had ever been able to go too many places other than home, church and the store...this was around the time that all the laws about equal access were starting to be enforced and his crutches would have made it hard to go to most of the places that I took for granted. But I did find out how those really cool hand controls in his car worked. We shared many laughs about the things we had in common and the funny things that happened in our workdays. He helped out the cashiers when I was out and I helped him count money when we'd had particularly busy days and there was more cash than could be counted by one person.

I remember once that I did a truly stupid thing. We were extremely busy and I had taken a till so I could open a register to help out. One of the cashiers needed help and I sat my till on the register and walked away from it for just a second. But, as so often happens when I'm distracted, I was away for longer than I planned to be and I remember that when I helped my first customer, it was strange that there were only a couple of $20 bills in my till. I didn't think any more of it until a couple of days later, when Wayne said that my till came up a few hundred dollars off the other day. It must have been his mistake in counting the till before I got it and he wanted me to know what he'd assumed to be the problem in case anyone ever asked me. But, I knew in the back of my head where those dollars had gone. I was so young and had been so sheltered and did not know what people were really like. And, yet, I was kept out of trouble by a friend that went clickety-clack/slide, clickety-clack/slide.

It wasn't too long after, that the store owners brought in a new manager and our little happy store full of happy employees making happy repeat customers came crashing down under the heavy foot of a small man that wanted to feel big. Over time, all the managers left the store and eventually, the small man put them out of business by making everyone unhappy, including the customers.

But, I'll never forget how close all of us were while it was open. And, I'll never forget the friendship that developed between Wayne and me. And, I can still hear the sound of his walk in my head. Clickety-clack/slide, clickety-clack/slide.

Working with Wayne helped prepare me to take a job with the Association for Retarded Citizens. I no longer felt guilty about being "normal". And I was able to look beyond the differences and see the people that I worked with there. And, I still am able to look those that are different in the eye. And I think that in large part, it's because of the man that walked clickety-clack/slide, clickety-clack/slide. I don't know where he is now, but I know that a part of him is now a part of me.

clickety-clack/slide, clickety-clack/slide


P.S. Got an email about this not being very politically correct. I don't want to offend anyone with what I remember as a wonderful story. Please remember that this was 30 years ago. The times were not very politically correct for people that were different and it's people like "Wayne" and their advocates that helped change that for people like the girl in Sydney's choir. I wish I had always been as open as I am now. Unfortunately, I was not. So, while I don't want to offend anyone, that lack of political correctness is part of the story I want to tell. Wayne had a hard row to hoe and for a time, I was a friend of his. Good or bad, tha's how it was. PPS. Got an email from a Mom that made me cry. The story of her daughter is as inspirational to me as the one I told. Imagine a daughter that wanted to be a cheerleader and didn't let her wheelchair get in the way. Can you imagine what it took her to win the School Spirit award at graduation? Now, that's inspiration and while the Mom didn't take credit, that's raising a child right. My Mom also wrote and she remembered that Wayne's name was really Dewayne, so I got really close. Guess I don't have to worry about where my keys are for a while longer.


A concession

It is quite possible that I might have to concede that the quilting can make a quilt.

This poor quilt wasn't much to look at, but add some flowers and leaves in green thread and it starts to shine. It's like the lack of contrast that was working against me gave me a blank palette to quilt on.

It was so hard to pull this top out and quilt it because I was so disappointed in how it came out. I was so sure that I had a great idea to use a fabric I've had for 5+ years and to finally prove "Rick" wrong.

Rick works at the local JoAnn's and when I was a beginning quilter and building a stash, I was always on the lookout for cheap, high quality fabric. I'd been burned a few times on bad runs and test runs that had unexpected results...imagine 6 yards of fabric that, when washed, revealed a bad weave that pulled on the diagonal, so instead of 6 yards, I ended with about 4 yards usable.

Anyway, there were four or five bolts of very bright floral fabric and I was absolutely certain I could make beautiful quilts from it. I think I paid maybe a dollar a yard for it and I bought at least 12 yards total. Rick expressed great disbelief that I would ever be able to use such bright colors in quilts. I can remember it clearly; how I felt like he turned up his nose at my beautiful fabrics and then said "you must make very bright quilts." But, I was sure I could show him. Anyway, I tried to use it once and it was such a total disaster that I didn't try anything else for a long time. Then, I saw the perfect pattern for these fabrics. I could use them with other fabrics from my stash for Linus quilts and move these fabrics I didn't care for on to new homes. Unfortunately, I didn't select the other fabrics very well and I again ended up with tops I didn't care for. But, in both cases, the quilting has made a huge difference.

So, that just goes to show me, quilting can make an awful top beautiful.

Unfortunately, I learned long ago that it can also make a beautiful top awful.

I walk the middle ground.



Who's old?

This morning's blog was supposed to be titled "54 year old quilts." It was about my Grandmother's 54 year old Singer 15-91 that I'm using to quilt a Linus quilt. Cute story, cute pictures. Except I forgot to upload the pictures and after I took the picture, she started to skip stitches and I moved to my Bernina. That's okay. Don't really want to quilt on that machine anyway, even though she has perfect tension. Just not sure I want to put that kind of mileage on an older machine and I was nervous about that, so I kept stopping and oiling her. The Bernina just needs her hook race oiled...much easier to do between bobbins.

Anyway, I was listening to NPR this morning and they were running a story on aging, which runs right along with using an older machine to quilt, right? The premise of the story was that most older adults have a bit of memory loss, but the difference between those that show symptoms and those that don't may be related to how people deal with stress. Those that get up from a problem, shake themselves off, and move on have a statistically noticeable lower occurrence of the symptoms of significant memory loss. Those who are depressed and feel that the world is crushing down on them are more likely to display symptoms of severe memory loss.

The reason, as purported by the doctor, was that everyone had the capacity to accomodate some loss of memory and those that had used that capacity up by struggling with depression were less likely to be able to accomodate significant memory loss.

They likened memory to traffic. If a road is blocked, you can take sidestreets to get to your destination (memory). It takes longer, but you still get there. But, depression, medication, alcohol and mistreating the body tend to close up the sidestreets, so when you hit a roadblock, you're just stopped.

The commentator was a gerontologist that talked about his oldest patient. Helen is 109 and still lives on her own and remains active and connected to the world around her. There may be some genetics at work here, but the doctor cited her ability to shake things off and get on with life as the greatest contributing factor to her longevity and more importantly to me, her ability to stay connected. Apparently there hasn't been a "fountain of youth" for Helen, but rather "spunk" has kept her alive as she has faced a good bit of adversity in her life and each time that she's been knocked down, she's gotten right back up and moved on. No wallowing. No time for depression.

So, looking introspectively, I can see where my reaction to the bumps in the road of life could indicate that I won't be able to find my keys in about two weeks. I wonder if it counts that AFTER I wallow around in my own worries for a while, I can pull myself up and do what needs to be done. But, only AFTER I wallow for a while.

And, I have to weigh what the gerentologist was saying with what I found in Saturday's fortune cookie; "47.5% of all statistics are made up on the spot."

Have a great day. And, hey, before you laugh at me for losing my keys, where's your wallet?



Three day weekend

I took Friday off. My boss is out of town for the month and has insisted that I take it easy. So I am.

I spent a huge chunk of hte day working on this. Even though it doesn't look it in this pic, I did work out the details of a gradual change in the size of the red strips. It's assembled to the shape of an S and I'm going to mount it to a solid beige background. We also picked up a golden tan backing for it. It's so big and heavy that the only place I can work on it is the living room floor.

Lots of echo quilting is planned for this and I'm trying to work out how to get maximum space from a bunch of sewing cabinets and dining tables that are grouped together in the center of my sewing room. I hope to be able to spread the whole thing out while I quilt on it.

I also got my April Linus quilt pin basted and ready to quilt. This one I'm going to quilt on the 15-91. But, I've lost that huge spool of green thread I planned to quilt it with.

And, I got this one pin basted. It's a housewarming gift for Rob's mother. She's just moved to a new community and we thought this would be perfect.

And, I have one more in the works that I can't talk about here because it's a gift for a reader.

I'm back to painting in the kitchen. I got most of the cabinets primed yesterday. Today, the pantry and some touch up. And, next week, new paint. I am ecstatic. It will be so nice. The paint we put in there 5 years ago has peeled terribly and even the primer looks better than the kitchen has looked in years. Poor Rob. He put so much effort into it and I cheaped out on the paint and bought the off brand and it just never got hard. Later, I get the new floor that's been out in the garage for over a year. I hope it will make it a nicer place to work and that I'll become inspired to cook again.

Take care. Have a great Sunday. Be careful and have fun.



My treatise on fear

Sometimes I wonder what makes a day a bad day. I think that the ladies refer to it as a bad hair day, when for no explicable reason, you're just in a bad mood. I'm bald as an egg on top and keep what I have on the sides clipped close, so I can't blame it on bad hair.

But, there has to be some explanation. Is it hormonal? Is it chemical? Is it something I ate that upset my digestion? Too much iron in my blood? Too little? Too much sugar, or salt, or a low bank balance?

Or is it the constant state of fear that we are forced to live our lives in.

But, what do we have to fear?

Well, the news right now is adult politicians acting like misbehaved children, a child being sprayed with pepper spray for misbehaving (can we flood the capital with pepper spray? and if we do, will it make the politicians behave?), the possibility that government might shut down (whatever that actually means), the stripping away of the right to a good public education, and the fact that the only people that can get a news bite are the ones with the stupidest things to say. Oh, and lest we forget the preacher that burned the koran and started an uprising AND DIDN'T GET ARRESTED FOR PUBLIC ENDANGERMENT because it was within his right to free expression. But, it isn't within my right to freely express my marriage because I'm a guy that loves another guy.

Idiocy, thy name is current affairs.

With all that on the news, how I am I supposed to tell my 13 year old that she needs to act more grown up and take responsibility for herself. What am I supposed to say when she wises up and responds that grownups don't have to act like grownups, so why should she?

And, then let's add to that the expectation that we save for our retirement as well as funding the promise of social security. And the way that we're being basically forced to put that money in the stockmarket so that we can be fleeced out of a third of our savings about every 10 years. Or, the fact that we can't sell our houses, even if we want to upgrade, and if we do sell, we can't get a new mortgage because the bankers took all the money out of the banks and gave it to themselves. Or the price of gasoline that changes without justification, except to put more money into the pockets of the speculators that already have almost all of the money.

So, if there's plenty of stuff to keep me living in fear and if fear puts me in a bad mood, then what determines whether a bad mood will result in a bad day? And, how are there days that aren't bad days.

I don't know. But, I am getting pretty sure about one thing. The reason we look back at the 50's and the 70's as the "good ole days" isn't because things were any better. I think it's because we thought we were invincible for a while then. And, we want to feel invincible again.

And, everywhere we turn, there's somebody trying to make us feel vulnerable and afraid.

So, I keep sewing and knitting, creating frantically in avoidance (sort of the opposite of Madame DeFarge who knitted, frantic with glee). And, I keep trying to pass down my values to the next generation.

Because I'd rather that my epitaph be that I created all the good I could, than for it to be that I tried to make myself feel better by making others feel worse.

And, those are my thoughts on why there is so much fear. In the words of Paul Harvey, "Good day".



Hey, Hey. Look where I am today.

My first little piece of "fancy" quilting is in the Wednesday quilt show from Jennifer at Forty-two quilts. Imagine my surprise when I scrolled down and saw a quilt from my friend Pauline, a fellow Texan, posted just below mine. She had shared the picture with me before, so I thought I was seeing a double, until I read that it was indeed the same quilt. We didn't even talk to one another before we submitted them to Jennifer. Ha!

Makes me wish I'd named this little quilt. This is a skill builder from 2009.

In 2007, my mentor sold me her mother's Bernina 930 and helped me go from a beginner to an advanced quilter in a very short time. She spent time helping me select fabrics for quilts, helping me learn skills and techniques for assembly, how to care for my stash and how to buy wisely so that I could shop the stash for years to come without fabrics that quickly go out of style. She helped me with color combination and we would meet and sew. She even sponsored me by providing most of the fabric for our Indian Orange Peel quilts that we haven't finished.

This little orange wholecloth was one of the first pieces I quilted on that machine. It is from one template. The template contains half the design. Two years after I did this one, I wanted to see how my machine quilting skills had developed and I created the yellow one above. It was the first thing I had quilted that was so complex.

Right now, I'm working on one of my mentor's UFO's that she gave me. She started it many years ago and when she shared it, she couldn't remember why she stopped working on it, but thought I might be able to use the leftover fabrics in my Linus quilts.

Phooey on that. I have plenty of fabric I can donate to Linus. I want to finish this. I've had it for at least two years, during which it has hung in my sewing room closet, WFS (waiting for skill) to complete it.

There was no pattern included and all she could remember is that it was supposed to be two circles, but I'm going to join them and make a figure 8. She had already assembled big chunks of it and I've assembled what you see in the upper left corner from "strata" that she had pieced. Now, I'll work on the lower right. And, then, I'll cut some new sections to go in the join so the transition won't be so obvious.

Life seems to have gotten in the way of quilting for my mentor. Last time we talked, her machine had been in the attic for almost a year and she hadn't sewn anything. And, unfortunately, I didn't keep following up and I didn't press to find out what was up. I think it might be time for a handwritten card...or maybe an email will do. Maybe one with a link to this post.

Okay, that's it for me today. Happy Wednesday everybody. Lane