The flag

The day we got married the first time (really, how many people get to say that...) Rob bought a rainbow flag to fly in front of the house to celebrate.  I tell the story here

The short version is that when he went to pick up the flag, the city wanted it to fly over city hall.  And, he gave it to them and they flew it for weeks after, to commemorate the special day in Austin.  He bought a smaller version that we flew in front of the house.

Rob had given up on ever seeing the original flag.  It had been a while and the guy said he would try to get it back to us.  But people get busy. 

It came in the mail yesterday. 

The flag.  Pictures of it flying.  And, a letter from the man at the city. 

We are seeing it as an affirmation of our marriage that the universe saw fit to send this flag back to us.  (course, all the kissing and hugging ain't hurting that affirmation any, either.)

We haven't even had a chance to fly it yet.  But, you can bet it will be in front of our house, soon. 

Everybody have a great day. 

We woke to no water pressure and a ten inch jet of water shooting out of the curb, in front of the next door neighbor's house.  Yay, us!  Very early showers that took forever to rinse off the soap.  But, we are clean...now they can turn the water off if they want.



Blocking, the last step

First, I really didn't mention it, but this quilt was quilted on a vintage machine.  I quilted it on Lorene, my Singer 401.  This machine belonged to the Mother of a friend and when she passed, the friend wanted the machine to go to someone that would use it.  And, I do.  It's a great machine.  Lots of power.  This one has lots of miles on it and was used to sew for the public.  But, it's still a great machine.  I'm not a huge fan of the drop in bobbin.  I'm old fashioned and I like a bobbin case.  This one makes a sound as the thread passes around the bobbin and hits a tension spring that keeps the bobbin case in place.  I shouldn't even mention it because I've gotten it worked out til it's just a whisper.  But, I still know it's there.

So, when the quilt was finished, it still had blue washout pen all in it, even though I had spritzed it as I went to remove as much as I could.  That had to be washed out thoroughly and the quilt needed to be made wet so it could be blocked. 

Let's talk about which quilts should be blocked.  Blocking is hard and tedious work, so you don't do it on all quilts.  I do it on show quilts, and on wall hangings, and sometimes on a gift quilt.  I do not block bed quilts or lap quilts or utility quilts.  These quilts are to be used and laundered and I'm not going to block repeatedly.  So, blocking is for quilts that won't be used and laundered a lot.  Or to make a quilt extra pretty before someone special receives it.

Our washing machine is one of those new fangled water saving models, which is great for the average load of laundry, but sometimes I just need a large tub full of water to soak something in and the machine isn't great at that.  So, I soaked it in the kitchen sink, rolling and refolding it often so it all got equally wet.  I drained it in the sink, then mashed it.  Never wring!  Mash the water out.  When I got all I could there, I laid it flat on two towels and rolled them up and walked on it, mashing the water out. 

It took four towels, using them two at a time.  Sometimes, if I'm working something larger, I'll need to use a utility quilt that can be thrown in the dryer. 

  • Then, I pin it to the carpet.  I lay a sheet down because that helps wick moisture from the back of the quilt outward where it can evaporate.  Also, there are air pockets formed where the carpet fibers don't touch the sheet.  That also helps with evaporation.  I use two rulers when I block.  We have a moisture blocking pad under our carpet.  That has a plastic coating on the top and I don't want to puncture that and ruin the water resistance, so I only pin into the burlap backing of the carpet. 

The square ruler goes inside the binding.  That one squares the quilt.  I use the longer ruler on the outside.  That one helps me measure the length of each side and keep the outside edge straight and true.  And,  I pin.  And, I pin.   And, I pin some more.  I go around the quilt twice.  The first time, I'm pinning about every six inches.  This is just to stretch the quilt and get it to size.  I WILL have to go around the quilt again and re-pin, so no need to put too many pins in that will have to be moved later.  This is not about straight lines, either.  I get straight as I can, but the edge looks scalloped when I'm done.  Measure on the diagonal from corner to corner.  If the quilt is square, these measurements will be equal.  Just because all four corners are square doesn't mean that quilt is going to hang square on the wall, (I don't understand why four square corners and four straight lines wouldn't be a square, but trust me, it happens) so this diagonal measurement is very important. 

The second time around, I'm using that long ruler again to true up the edges.  This is when the edges need to be perfectly straight and the corners true.  And, this time, the pins go in every two to three inches.  On a large quilt, that can take hundreds of pins. 

On a large quilt, I will often square up each of the four quarters of the quilt just like this.  I stretch out the long center lines and pin them down, then square the quarters off that. 

And, then I put a fan on the quilt and let it blow the water away.  You really need a dry day for this.  We happened to have one on Sunday and this quilt dried in about four hours.  It has a hobbs heirloom wool batting and all the fabrics are cotton except the quilting thread, which was monofilament. 

And, here it is in its new spot in the dining room.  We moved the china cabinet to make space to hang it.  We even pulled out a different set of dishes to show it off.   

Everybody have a great Wednesday. 



I wonder what he thinks now....

First, before wondering what Rob thinks, I made this feathered star block this weekend.  On a whim. The scraps have been in a basket next to my machine for a while and I just picked it up and went for it.  I have an idea for where this is going, but no commitment yet.  The is a project that can go as far as the red and white scraps I have will take it...

About a year and a half ago, Rob contacted me about a Bernina machine he and my mentor had found in Goodwill.  The machine and cabinet were $40 and did I want it and when I wrote back and said yes, he said good because he'd already bought it.  It's a Bernina 817.  Lots of these were used in classrooms.  Seems to be a good machine.  Basic.  Six stitch patterns.  Strong. 

It didn't really fit in the cabinet it was in, and the cabinet was in pretty bad shape, so that went back to goodwill.  But, the machine stayed.  The machine made a horrible noise.  Turned out that the belt was so tight that the machine couldn't operate.  And, it might never have been oiled.  EVER!  I spent a day or so working on it and got it to work...sorta.  At least I thought I had.

The other night, Rob came into the studio to watch some TV with me while I worked on a new tablecloth.  I was hemming it with this machine.  And, it was making a terrible racket.  And, I couldn't figure out why.  It was very distracting during the show we were watching and I wondered if he was still glad he found this machine and brought it home for me.  And, I felt a little embarrassed...he doesn't come in the studio to watch TV often and I was a distraction...but we all got through it.  And, yesterday, I started working on the machine again.  The belt was too tight again and I'm wondering if that came from using it, setting the belt tension while the belt was warm, then when it cooled it was too tight.  I reset the belt while it was cold and then I started oiling the machine again.  And, I worked on it as long as I could.  Then, I started again this morning.  Now, it's just purring along.  It's not as quiet as it was when it was new.  But, it's a good solid quiet machine for piecing.  I'll have to let you know how it quilts. 

Now, I'm going to pull out a different machine to do some decorative stitching.  Off to...well, I'd like to say sew...but it's really work.  That blessed pastime that pays the bills.



It's a Girl!

Okay, yeah, that title is intentionally misleading, but you'll get why I chose it.

Rob came to me and asked me to make a quilt for a co-worker.  She was due in like three weeks.  I wish there was an emoticon for the face I made.  We went to JoAnn's and picked a lovely focus fabric with tree branches on it.  The baby's room was decorated in a nature theme, so that was perfect.  We came home and I washed the fabric and cut the pieces and assembled the top.  And Rob came home and told me the lady was expecting a girl...

So, this quilt wasn't right anymore.  So, back to JoAnn's and we bought the same tree branch fabric in green and I pieced the exact same pattern in green, quilted it, and sent it.  We missed the delivery, but it was on her desk when she came back to work.

That left us with this lovely blue top that I pulled out the weekend Rob and Syd went to the coast and finished.  I put a lot of special little efforts into this quilt and I thought I'd show them off.  First, all the tree branches move in the same direction, so there is a definite "up" to the quilt. 

Second, I quilted this template into the center block, then echoed it at a quarter inch out. 

But, then, I used different elements of the template to fill all the smaller pieces.  Maybe I used a corner, or a point, or a curve.  But, they all came from this template, except the flower shapes that are in the brown squares.  For that, I pulled another template. 

In the large background sections around the stars, I used a half of the template. 

And, in the flying geese, I used just one of the corner points. 

When it came time to bind the quilt, I was trying to select a binding fabric.  I wanted to use one of the blues.  But, when I talked to Rob about that, he talked about how it's a distraction when a binding is made of one of the fabrics used in a pieced border, unless that is planned out very well.  And, I didn't.  He suggested I bind in the brown, but I didn't have enough of that, so I decided to do a Magic Binding.  

The Magic Binding is made up of two strips, so I cut a narrow strip of brown and a narrow strip of blue and sewed them together to create the binding.  I did that in WOF sections, then joined the sections with a diagonal seam.  What it gave me was a dark brown flange along the edge of the binding that separates the blue in the pieced border from the same blue in the binding.  It worked great, even though I only enjoyed half the magic.  I actually hand sewed the binding to the front of the quilt so I wouldn't have that extra line of stitching that showed on the back that they talk about in the tutorial. 

Another thing I did for the first time was to sew the unfinished edge of the sleeve into the binding.  That was a neat trick.  It meant I only had to sew the sleeve along one long edge, instead of along both long edges.  The sleeve isn't as easily removable as my others, but then I've never found a need to remove a sleeve from a quilt.  So, who cares?

Anyway, it looks great with the new blue curtains in the dining room, but there's not really a place in there to display it.  So, it will hopefully help bring the blue of the dining room into our brown living room.  This weekend, I will wash it to make sure I have all the blue washout pen out of it, and then I will block it square.  That will take an hour or so to pin down to the floor, exactly square and stretched to its real proportions.  But, it is soooooo worth it in the end.  It is always the last step before I enter a quilt in a show...just that little finishing touch.  I haven't done a post on blocking in a while, so maybe I'll post pictures of this one pinned out and how I do it.

Everybody have a great Friday!  I intend to get back to some hand quilting this weekend.  And, I have a miniature started that I need to move forward.  Rob has asked for another quilt for a friend.  And, I have a quilt that I'm making to donate for next year's Guild show to the boutique.  A busy quilting boy is definitely a happy quilting boy.



A lovely wedding gift

Rob and I received a lovely wedding gift this weekend.  A friend from the guild and the bee I was in made us a quilt to commemorate our special wedding day on July 4.

She used photos from the day in front of the capital, tiered like a wedding cake on a red, white and blue background.  She appliqued our names at the top and the date at the bottom.

She said that a card commemorating our day "wouldn't be good enough for that special day!" 

Thanks so much L.  It's lovely and we will hang it to commemorate our special day.  Thanks so much for thinking of us in such a creative way!

Married life is a change.  I know it shouldn't be.  But, it is.  And, for Rob and I, it's been a positive change.  A very positive change.  But, it's work.  Hard work.  Last night, Sydney and I were doing dishes and she said something along the lines of I don't get it.  You two got married and suddenly got closer.  You're spending all this time locked in your room laughing.  And, my response was that she was so lucky that her parents found a second wind in their relationship and chose to be closer rather than drift apart.  And, if she wasn't sure about how cool that was, she could ask her friends.

Of course, her typical teenage response was that her friends with divorced parents say it's really easy to play them against one another and get whatever they want.

But, I could tell, she knows it's special.  I can tell that she has an appreciation for watching us interact and watching us get closer. 

Everybody have a great Wednesday. 



Another shirt?

I haven't tried to make a shirt since last October when I got on my last garment making rift and drew out my own custom pattern and made an orange one with sleeves that were too short.  (Crap!)

But, I have several pieces of shirting, just waiting to be turned into shirts and so I pulled one down for some inspiration and gave it another go.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?  I even did the fancy stuff like embroidering my name in the collar stand and my monogram in the cuff. 

Anyway, after a week of very intensive work, I ended up with a garment. 

That almost fits.

I need to take some size out of the side seams.  But, I'm getting closer and closer.  One day I'll have a pattern that truly fits me.  And, it will be great.  At least the shoulders and sleeves fit.  And, the collar too.  I've lost a little weight since the shirt pattern was drawn.  That made the excess I added around the middle more of a thing to be dealt with than it was a perfect fit.  The other mistake I made was the buttons on the front are slightly too large.  I picked a 5/8" button and I need to remember that I want 1/2" buttons.  And nothing larger.  Anyway, I wore it last Monday and it worked great.  So, there's another successful shirt made.  I'm ready to make another one, just to tweak the pattern.

I wonder if there's such a thing as bad electricity.  We seem to be having fits with things that run on electricity going haywire this summer.

The fridge was on the fritz.  Two repair visits...well, three because they had to come back the day they installed the parts because something was loose and vibrating and making a terrible loud sound.  But, it's all back in order now.  The ice maker is working, the fridge is working.  The freezer is working.  Yay!

When Rob got home on Friday, the compressor unit outside was working, but the inside fan unit for the a/c was out.  He managed to find a repairman that would come on Friday night and HAD THE RIGHT PART.  So, by the time I got home, everything was working again.  He's a wonder.

Okay, so that's it for me today.  Everybody have a great Monday.  I finished several things over the weekend, and now that I can upload pics again (YAY!!!!) I can get back to sharing my world with you.



Knock, knock. Is there anybody in there?

Hey, all.  We are here.  And, we are fine.  Thanks so much for your notes of concern. 

Life changed more than I expected after marriage.  And, then school started and things changed again. 

Rob and I are enjoying something of a honeymoon, without leaving home.  At some point, about a month after we were married, I looked at him in an argument that we normally wouldn't have had and said "We're married.  I can't just tell you to leave anymore.  That's why this is important.". And, he looked me directly back in the eye and said "We're married.  I can't just pack up and go.  That's why this is important.". And, we found common ground. Sounds corny. But it was a big moment for us.

At some point after that, we started retreating to our bedroom every evening after dinner while the kid is throwing attitude about having to do dishes and we just sit on the bed together, laughing about our days and what's going on in our lives and talking... and flirting like teenagers.  And, confusing the hell out of one seventeen year old girl who has no idea what we are up to in there laughing so much.

Sydney is up to her normal school habits, despite the fact it's senior year.  But, we are taking a different approach... no more punishments, just the withholding of rewards.  What we were calling punishments were technically negative rewards.  (Giving her something is a reward, even if that something is a negative thing, like extra chores.). Now, we are withholding the little rewards that we normally extend, and separating things into needs and rewards... shampoo is a need, conditioner is a reward... and don't say I don't understand because I'm a man.  When I need leverage, I can go anywhere I want to and that was very effective. Razors and shaving lather are also rewards. So she will either keep her grades up or she will be very hairy and dried out. I'm good with her knowing that.  Shopping with the dads is a reward.  Can't turn in your homework, we will gladly spend that time alone. 

And, it worked. 

Nirti, the diabetic cat is doing well.  The vet still hopes to wean her off the insulin, so we are trying that again, and it's going well. 

Work is good.  I have a boss.  I haven't done any work for him yet, but I have a boss.  I'm technically doing work for two other people right now during the transition, but eventually I will work for the new boss. 

And I'm making new friends. Man friends. I didn't realize how much I missed having man friends. But I did. Gay married man friends. Men  to gripe about how dreadful the old ball and chain is. Okay there hasn't been much of that. We haven't been allowed to marry for long enough to complain about it yet. But we do talk about what it's like and how the whole legal aspect of it changed things. And how we are all maneuvering this marriage thing. And the constant has been that we've all had some variation of that conversation about not being able to just walk away because we are married now so we have to make this work. Nobody wants to be the first gay divorce. Its new territory for people that couldnt marry and I'm not the only one looking for people to talk to about it.

I was going to post last week, but I upgraded to windows 10 and can't get photos to post.  And, honestly, I don't have the time to deal with that right now.  Too many other things going on.  Life to be lived and that doesn't actually require computers right now.  Maybe I'll mess with that later.  But, honestly, I'm so totally sick of Microsoft, google and apple, I could easily go back to the abacus and a phone with a cord and not miss those big businesses one bit.  Well, maybe not literally, but if the CEO's of those three companies were coming here for dinner, Rob and I would eat steak... and they'd be offered peanut butter.

And crackers. No water to wash it down with.

Speaking if food, our fridge is out. I had to consolidate everything into our extra fridge that is normally for sodas. It wouldn't all fit. So this weekend, I ate. I made a turkey. And I ate and ate and gave some away and ate more turkey. When Sydney and Rob got home from their weekend at the coast, I fed them turkey. When I went to the store yesterday, I soecialized in things that don't need refrigeration and all this weeks menus are based on things that need to come out of the fridge. But we wasted a surprisingly small amount of food so I'm good. Most of what we lost happened when we first discovered that the fridge was too warm and things like condiments had to be tossed.

Anyway, that's my world. Summarized into a short package. Hopefully I'll be able to post pics soon. I'm working on a real cute quilt that i pieced a couple years ago and am just getting to quilt.

Hope you are all well too. Talk to you soon. Lane