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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Getting Ready for Sandy

Last year I lost power for 4 or 5 days twice. The first time was a hurricane. The second was a freak snow storm in October. The power company has done a lot of tree trimming and has taken down large trees in the older community that my power has to go to so it can get to me. Most of my newer community has power that is totally underground. But Phase One, where I live, is only underground on our side of the creek.

So I have hope that I will weather the coming storm with my power on all the way. But just in case...

I've been charging everything I can think of that has batteries that can be charged. I have a laptop that I don't normally use, but which I can take to the library if I have to to tell friends in other parts of the country that I am OK. I have two Kindles. I charged up the old black and white one and made sure I had some new books on it just in case. It can go for days without charging if I don't have the WiFi on. I've fully charged my cell phone which I almost never use, and I will do that again some time Monday afternoon. I've checked the batteries on the two lanterns and that I have more batteries just in case. The emergency lights are plugged into the walls.

I really think I've got it all handled.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Back to Quilting

I've been quilting the last couple of days. I have gotten better enough that I felt up to sitting at the machine. The class project which is both a Work in Progress and an UnFinished Object has gotten to the point where I am going to put it aside once more. Almost all of the quilting is done except for the corner stones, and if I push ahead now, I'll do something just to get it done.

This time the color is almost right, but those borders are purple, not blue.

This detail photo is a pretty good one. I chose to do a pale beige on white for a reason. When I started I did not want to be able to actually see the stitches, just the texture. And I got the look I was looking for.

I also learned a huge amount about Free Motion Quilting doing this project. I wouldn't be as unhappy if my stitches showed at this point.

I did the class project for one very important reason. I needed to learn the things that were being taught in that Craftsy class, and also some of the other places I visit regularly. The borders, for example, are more from Leah Day's ongoing class on Free Motion than anything else. And the background pattern is as much from her Paisley design as from the one I learned in Ann Peterson's class. I also wanted to get good enough to quilt another UnFinished Object, the Bed Scarf I made a few months ago and only partly quilted.

Here is a good photo of one block on the bed scarf. I had multiple reasons why I wasn't quilting it.  I had no idea what to do with it, for one thing. And I certainly did not have the skills to even make an attempt. I'm pretty sure I know what I am going to do now, however.

I'm going to stitch in the ditch, with invisible thread and my walking foot all around all of the colored pieces in each block. I stitched in the ditch with white thread all around the sashing and white borders. But I don't want white thread anywhere near the colored pieces. The invisible thread will secure the blocks to the batting and backing, but it won't show.

I'm going to use a variation of the leaf border I did in the class project in the white sashing and borders and the same Flowing Lines border that I did in the class project in the large outside print border. I'm not sure what if anything I'll be doing in the white areas of the blocks, but I've got time to decide at a later point. Once all of the areas of a quilt are stabilized with stitching in the ditch it is possible to to Free Motion Quilting anywhere.

When all of the quilting is finished here and in the class project, I've got three UFOs to bind and I've decided I'll do them all one after the other with the bed scarf last.

Take care all.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I've enjoyed solving Sudoku puzzles for years, but lately I've been playing with other puzzles that are related to Sudoku, but are different. But I've recently begun reading books on solving Sudoku and I am back loving the basic Sudoku puzzle again.

The first book was HOW TO SOLVE SUDOKU: a Step by Step Guide by Robin J. Wilson. It was a free Kindle book when I got it from Amazon, but probably isn't anymore. I gave it 4 stars at Amazon because it did what it said it was going to do, but didn't go quite far enough. Most of what it taught I already knew, but I hadn't thought of doing what I was doing as a strategy and a process. The book is very clear and well written and if you are a beginning I suggest you get it.

The second book, which I am only about 1/3 through at this time is SUDOKU SECRETS by Amanda Ainsley. The writing in this book is not as clear as in Wilson's book, but if you work at it, you can learn what she has to teach. This is a much more advanced book. And that is its problem. Amanda Ainsley works too hard. She gets into the advanced problem solving without going through enough of a process to put in the easily solvable numerals. She doesn't seem to have a good starting strategy.

What I've discovered is that I can do all but the most advanced puzzles with a combination of all of Wilson's book, and just a hint of Ainsley's.

I start out by scanning the puzzle to see if I can easily figure out where a number ought to go. Frequently I'm not sure exactly, but can choose between two positions in a box using the information in the columns and rows. If I know that a number has to be in one of two or three positions in a line (either all in one column or all in one row) in a box I'll mark those boxes with small numbers.

My daughter once pointed out that sometimes people do crossword puzzles in ink, but everyone does Sudoku in pencil with an eraser handy. That is because the more difficult the puzzle the more you are going to be putting little numbers in a position on the grid. The little numbers allow you to see what the possibilities are for each position in a Sudoku puzzle.

The reason I say that Amanda Ainsley works too hard when she is solving puzzles is that it looks like the first thing she does is fill in all those little numbers. I generally have more than half the puzzle solved before I have to do that to get the rest of the puzzle done. And I rarely need to fill all of them in to finish a puzzle.

On the other hand, I'm unlikely to get much practice with the more advanced concepts if I keep finishing the puzzles before I try the advanced strategies.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Not Feeling Great

I've been down with something, not sure exactly what, for a couple of days. It is pretty minor, so it is probably just a cold. Just enough to keep me off the computer most of the time, which is why there are no blogs this week. But here I am with an update to my project.

Just before I got sick I did the borders on my class project quilt. The inner border is what was supposed to be there, a double leaf pattern. The outer border was supposed to be a very elaborate lace border. Frankly, I'm not up to something that extensive at this point, and I didn't like it enough to even try.

Instead, I did a border design from Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project. I think it is a very interesting design and it fits the quilt a lot better than I originally thought it would.

It is a funny thing about photographs from a small point and shoot camera and color. The quilt is actually white and purple. The white in this photo is close to accurate. But the purple looks blue.

On this photo, and all the others I took today, the white looks yellow, but the purple border is pretty close to the actual color.

You can see the traveling double leaf pattern pretty clearly in this photo along with a different section of the flowing line outer border.

I've started the echo quilting on all of the feathers and flowers in the body of the quilt. After I finish that I'll be doing the background quilting to make the whole thing pop.

I haven't gone around the dragonfly yet, or the big middle leaves and its flower, but I have done the rest of it.

I'll be quilting again as soon as I feel a bit better.

I'm getting close to finishing this up and that feels pretty good.

This project did just what I hoped it would do. It stretched my skills and I've hit a new level. I've got a major unfinished project I want to quilt and I'm feeling almost ready to do it now.

I'll be linking this to Leah day's Free Motion Quilting Project blog because I've finally gotten to the point where I can follow what she is doing on the project at least some of the time.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Making Progress

I've been working on the class project for my free motion class at Craftsy every day. The embellishments on the large elements are now all done. I decided not to put them into the large plume. I've quilted the inner border and I'm now working on the outer border. I ran out of bobbin thread half way through the first side of the outer border, but I can pick up where I left off later today or early tomorrow.

 This is what it looks like right now. When I finish the borders and the corner blocks, I'll be doing some all over quilting in between the elements to make them pop.

I especially enjoyed doing the dragonfly up in the corner. I don't think any of the detail photos I took will show it. Maybe next time around.

You can see it a bit better in the detail photo. I really am pretty happy with how it is turning out.

You can see the leaf border in the detail photo below. Those were fun to do and went pretty quickly too.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Artist's Way

I'm about to start another round of THE ARTIST'S WAY. I've finished the introductions and I'm into the chapter on the basic tools, which are Morning Pages and Artist's Dates.

I've had a very easy time with Morning Pages. I have journaled for decades, but in several different ways. Both on computer and by hand. So moving to a by hand, in the recliner, first thing in the morning, with a cup of coffee method was pretty easy. I do my three pages and then I work through one or two books. Right now those books are GRIEVING GOD'S WAY by Margaret Brownley and THE ARTIST'S WAY by Julia Cameron.

GRIEVING GOD'S WAY is just two pages a day, a very easy read. Mostly common sense but putting a focus on one thing a day is a good way to deal with grief. I decided I liked the book pretty quickly, and I know I like it even better now that I'm about 1/3 through it.

I've done THE ARTIST'S WAY once before. I always knew I'd come back and do it again. This book, and this system is all about unblocking creativity, and I'm hoping for uncovering another layer of whatever is blocking me. The system works. I'm quilting. I'm blogging. But I'm still not drawing or painting. And I don't spend as much time on quilting as I would like to.

The problem with the last round of THE ARTIST'S WAY was Artist's Dates. This time I started a list. I made a list of what I knew about and then went online. I now have 3 pages a lot of which do not require that I leave the house. That can be a very good thing in a Pennsylvanian winter.

Now, back to the sewing machine. I'm working my way through embellishments on the major motifs right now. Pictures to come for a later post.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Showing Up and Computers

I've started THE ARTIST'S WAY by Julia Cameron again. I've been working my way through Introductions and haven't gotten to the meat of the book. The edition I have is THE COMPLETE ARTIST'S WAY and includes two more books, so in addition to the Introduction to the book, there was also an Introduction to the edition.

One of the things I gleaned from this morning's reading was Showing Up. And the author has a point. If  you don't show up on the page, writing won't get done. That goes for the sewing machine and quilting, the computer and blogging, and to the table with the paints for painting. So I showed up at the sewing machine and I got a rather big stint done. I've embellished all but one plume on the quilt. so I turned on the computer because I was going to show up for this blog and the computer would not turn on.

As you can tell from the fact that you are reading this sentence, it all worked out. I turned it off again and walked away, and came back to find that had worked and turned it on again and this time it booted up properly.

I have no idea why it didn't boot up properly the last time, but from watching it this time, I certainly gave it more than enough time. What I do know is that I've spent the last hour doing silly stuff, like Solitaire games, to just calm down.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Another Update

I have finished the last of the large objects in the class project for the Craftsy class Beyond Basic Machine Quilting.

One thing I've learned is that I should have just gone ahead and done it the first time I was doing the class. Instead I did bits and pieces of what was being taught in other projects.

I believe the next step will be to embellish some, or all of the flowers and leaves and feathers.