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Monday, November 26, 2012

Working on my UFOs

I've made progress on two UFOs this week. I've got the Cross Quilt bound. All that is left is to put a partial sleeve on the back so I can use a hanger I own.

 I decided to bind the quilt totally by machine using a technique that is new to me. So here it is sewn to the back of the quilt.

 And here are front and back photos of the blanket stitch I used to attach the binding to the front. Most of the mitered corners turned out great.

As expected the front turned out nicer than the back, but the back wasn't bad. I'll use this system again. I do understand why some people using this system like a slightly narrower strip for the binding. I cut mine 2 1/2, but if I do this again, I'll try a 2 1/4 strip and see if that works out better.

I know that people use other decorative stitches on their bindings when they sew it all on by hand. I am going to try out some other stitches.

But the next experiment in binding will be a bit different than this one. And I will need a 2 1/2 inch strip for that one.

My blue art quilt has been sitting on the cork board for a very long time while I worked on free motion quilting projects. I just didn't know what to do with it.

I've been going upstairs to my attic storeroom and looking around and I found four doilies I'd made when we lived in California. I'd never done anything with them and I suddenly thought they might look good on this project.

I'm not sure which pair I will put on the project. I like the idea of one in white and one in blue. I know I'm going to be doing more decorative stitches on what is now going to be the background of the project. And I think I'll quilt it before I put the doilies on the project. I expect there will be a bunch of hand stitching and maybe some beadwork on this as well.

I also found two boxes of thread, and a box of buttons upstairs. I'd forgotten about them totally. They are old, but not ancient. I dumped the bobbins because they were for a machine I no longer own. And I got rid of the thread that was intended only for surgers. I no longer own a surger.

 The top box is mainly normal sewing cotton. The bottom is mostly metallic threads from a manufacturer that I haven't seen lately. I remember that brand as being a pretty good one to machine sew with, but I'll have to try it out before I actually use any of it on a project. I'll keep them separate from the new thread I've bought over the last year.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christmas at my house

I've put up the door wreath and I've put up the tree, and I have a few other things decorated.

I put the wreath together with some bulbs that were shiny and some that were not and a big red bow. I got a wreath box to keep it in and it came out of the box looking pretty amazing and brand new.  The door is a dark, dull red, so I picked silver tinsel for the wreath so it would show up. Works pretty well I think.

The tree wasn't quite finished when I took this picture. I've found a way to get the star higher up on the top branch. It is too weak to take the tree top angel that I made years ago.

This is just a little 4 foot tree sitting on top of a box. I can't manage one of the big trees on my own anymore.

 I've got the mantle dressed up with some things that no longer fit on the tree, and some things that never were put on it in the first place. I bought the Santa head in Las Vegas in the 90s. The tree top angel was made when I lived in Rochester. It was the only time I did punch needle embroidery. I'm not sure when I got the salt shakers, but the ceramic gift box was a gift I received when we lived in California.
Take care all.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The day after Thanksgiving

I planned on writing this on Thanksgiving, but the day got away from me. I went to friends for dinner and had a great time there.

And basically that is what this is. An update on where I am.

Joe died on August 1st, but he was gone from me a lot earlier than that, so I began the grieving process even before I placed him in a nursing home. I had no choice about the nursing home. My experience is that most nursing home placements of dementia patients occur during a crisis. His was not an exception. The day before we went to the hospital, he took off. He got away from me after close to 2 hours of my putting my body between him and the door. I could no longer keep him safe, and I could no longer keep me safe. At the hospital the ER nurse made the call. I could not take him home. It would not be safe.

Many widows come home from the funeral and are suddenly alone in the house. I had that experience when Joe was still alive, but in a nursing home. My daughter and I had supper at a restaurant, and she got into her car and went home. I went home and suddenly, after 5 days of too much to do and no time to think, it was all done. And now what? Some of my grieving started then.

Some of it started after Joe's November 2010 crisis. He was never the same after that crisis. From then on he was bed ridden and his language skills started the fast slide to no words at all. In March 2012 he had an even worse crisis. Up until that time even if he couldn't talk to me, he did know I was there if he was awake. He mostly wasn't awake when came to visit him, but occasionally he was. Starting in March 2012 he did not know I was there when I was standing right next to him.

Each of those times I went deeper into grief, and started working out what I actually was feeling. The practical aspects of becoming a widow were also done so early that there was nothing left to do once Joe died in August 2012.

So right now, even though it has only been a few months, I'm pretty far along in the grief process. I've started rebuilding my life. This blog was part of that. There is going to be a lot more daily life and a lot more quilting here than grief stuff. But I know that one of the things I am thankful for is that when I needed to pay attention to my grief, I did pay attention. One thing I know is that if you try to stuff it down, it does not go away. It just gets worse.

Take care all.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Time to Bind

I've finished the last section of the machine quilting on the bed scarf, so now it is time to bind it. And I've pulled out two other projects because it is time to bind those too.

I have a problem with finishing projects and making them useful, or hanging them up on the wall, or whatever. The three projects that need to be bound are the Cross Quilt, the Class Project Quilt and the Bed Scarf.

I finished quilting the Cross Quilt in July. It was intended to be a practice piece, but it turned out so well, I decided to actually finish it off. I'm not sure which end is up on this thing. If I put a label and a sleeve on it, I'm going to have to decide.

I put the Class Project Quilt aside on purpose because I finally felt confident enough to actually work on the Bed Scarf. I know which end is up on this project. It also needs to be bound, have a sleeve and a label.

So that is what I'm going to be doing for the next few days. Binding first. I'll work out the new method I've chosen on the Cross Quilt first.

Labels are an issue. I've got a bunch of stuff in the house that needs labels. I know that quilts should be labeled so the world will know who made them should they survive. Or just so the family knows what to do with them. But I've never done it. And I'm not at all sure if I will do it this time either.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Almost Finished

The bed scarf is almost finished. One more small section to quilt and then I get to bind it and finally put it on the bed.

I'm taking Leah Day's Craftsy course. All of the quilting patterns on the border are her patterns. Either from the course or from her blog. Quilting the borders has been so much fun.

The only way to see the stitching is to look at the back side. I put paisley in the two short borders. Looking at it from here it almost looks like a funky feather design.

The long borders are half flowing lines and half shell pattern from the Craftsy class.

I chose to do the borders in a purple thread so it would blend with the lilac fabric. Which is a good thing. In the strong contrast of the purple thread against white fabric the wobbling is pretty obvious. But truly, that isn't all that important. What is important is that I actually did the quilting. This is only my second good sized project, after all.

I also figured out why there are only supposed to be 3 repeats of the quarter circle. When you sew the last one, you have to stop and reposition your hands. And that means a jog almost every time.

There is a reason that the small scale patterns are somewhat easier to do on a small home machine. And that is the whole bit about just how far you can go without repositioning one's hands.

Wouldn't it be funny if the real reason we are beginning to see so much heavy quilting on the show quilts is that it is easier to do that scale than the bigger scale of bed quilts on a home machine?

I've got several other projects waiting in the wings. Some are started and some are just thoughts. Not sure which I'm doing next.

It might be a few more days before this is totally finished, bound and on the bed. But I am getting there.

Take care.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Making Progress

I managed to quilt twice yesterday and today. That is not easy. I can only quilt for a while because the current project, although not the size of a full sized quilt, is pretty big compared to what I've quilted before. And tugging it around makes my arms hurt. But I'm so happy with how it is turning out.

There are 5 blocks. The photo shows two unquilted blocks and one that is quilted. I'm more than half way through the center section. I like how it is coming out.

This closeup of two of the quilted blocks shows how it will look when it is finished. I like the leaves in the borders a lot. Not as happy with the loop 'd loop around the stars in the block. I won't do that again. But it does what I hoped it would do. It puts the piecework in focus.

This is the current practice square. I like how it looks. I might make myself a new mug rug out of it. The part that is already quilted is the right size for something like that.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quilting Again, Finally

The problem with a storm like Sandy is that you spend 3 days getting ready for it. Laundry, for one thing, took a couple of days. I did some shopping to get ready too, but had to be careful because I knew a power outage would be likely. And I was so stressed I didn't quilt during those 3 days.

And then there were the 6 days of power outage that I blogged about in the post just before this one. I didn't quilt during those 6 days either. And then there were 3 days, or so, when I was cleaning up from camping out in my house. I didn't quilt then either. But two days ago, I did finally get to the machine to work on the bed scarf.

I finally finished the stitch in the ditch on the blocks on this project. I did it with my walking foot, invisible threat in the needle and white thread in the bobbin. I will never do it this way again.

Leah Day does do some stitch in the ditch on blocks, but she free motions it. And I might try that on another project.

I did figure out how not to man-handle the quilt every time I started another patch by the time I was doing the last block. Basically you need to choose where you are going very carefully.

The next step is to start the free motion. I know what I plan on doing in the white borders and sashing. A rather free form running leaf pattern in white. And I know what I plan on doing in the large borders. I'm doing to use Leah Day's Flowing Lines in purple thread. I've just ordered the thread and it is likely to be here in a week. I might do some quilting in the white areas around the pieced star as well. It will all depend.

Just before both the quilting and the blogging closed down because of Sandy, I took some pictures of some of my unfinished projects with the intention of blogging about them all.

The bed scarf is there, and also a small cross quilt that needs binding. I made that as a practice piece, and I'll use it to practice my binding before I bind the bed scarf. And there are a bunch of blocks I made, mostly from the Civil War block class at Craftsy. I stopped when the blocks got just a tad too advanced for my actual skills, and made a few more blocks from EQ to to some skill building.

I think I know what I will end up doing with most of the blocks, and maybe a few more that I will tackle. I'm taking Leah Day's Craftsy class on quilting. She is working with the blocks from the free BOM at Craftsy. I never made any of those blocks, but I might make up a few of them and then try Leah Day's methods of quilting on a real quilt.

Take care all.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sandy - a Six Day Adventure

The power went off amid very high winds at 10:30 Monday night. We had a lot of rain in the Allentown area in Pennsylvania all day long. More than had been forecast. But once the hurricane hit New Jersey and started heading north and west, the winds got very hard.

When  the power goes off it gets dark. When the power goes off it gets cold too. So although I had power most of the day, I'm counting Monday as Day 1. Going to bed that night wasn't too bad. I had an extra blanket and my new electric blanket is heavier than the old one was, so I was OK. I just wore my heaviest pjs and a sweater and socks to bed.

Tuesday morning, Day 2, I continued to collect my emergency supplies. I had a fire starter. One of those gas ones that usually gets used for barbeque grills. And I have a gas stove. Last year I located one of those Melita one cup coffee units, and I had 5 filters. So I cut a slit in one of my Keurig cups, and put the coffee into the filter, and made coffee.

The problem with the fire starters is that they are intended for you to do it with two hands unless you are a very strong person. And I needed one hand to turn on the gas, but I did manage to get it on every morning with a lot of effort. I need to find a better way going forward.

We had a natural gas incident the previous week. That was also one day with no heat. We did have lights and they were done not long after dark. One advantage is that the UGI (gas company) repairman set up my fireplace so the remote would start it. I decided to see if it would work on Tuesday morning and it did. So I actually had some heat. The problem was that when the fireplace got too hot it would turn the heat off as a safety precaution.

Tuesday was when I discovered I had no phone service. The cell towers in my area were down for T-Mobil. That afternoon the rain stopped for a little while and I went across the street. There are 4 adults living in that house and I hoped one of them would have a phone that worked. They did, and I got a call out to my daughter that I was OK.

I took care of myself all of Tuesday including heating up a meal from the food that was defrosting in the freezer. Frankly the area had all kinds of road closures and I knew I needed to stay home. I own two lanterns and have several emergency lights that plug in. By the end of the night all the emergency lights had lost all their power and I was down to flashlights and the lanterns.

Wednesday morning, Day 3, I asked my neighbors to help me get my car out of the garage. I can close the door, but I can't open it without the garage door opener. Once the car was out I could get out of my immediate neighborhood. I had a doctor's appointment, but the doctor's doors were locked. It is very likely he didn't know his power was back on, or that he had taken the family to relatives because he had no power.

One of my neighbors came to see me on Wednesday and wanted to know why I hadn't come up to stay with her. Frankly it was warm enough in my house that being able to sleep in my own bed was a plus, but I accepted her invitation to a hot meal for supper. In fact I ate with her on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. She also took some of the stuff in my freezer to her house. So I lost some stuff, but not everything. I also got to make some phone calls to spread the news I was OK. My phone just wouldn't work and I gave up on it.

On Thursday, Day 4, I tried to find someplace to have a hot breakfast and ended up at McDonald's, where they were only taking cash, but at that point I had enough cash, so that was OK.

I also made two other stops. The Dollar Store where I got two LED candles and four LED tea lights. Don't laugh. The LED candles went on the floor against the wall and gave me night light level light between the living room and the front door. Two tea lights in the kitchen and two in the bathroom also provided night light level light. At $1 each they were a bargain because ALL of them lasted the rest of the week. I just might get more of them for the next time this happens.

The second stop was to Big Lots where I got a set of flannel sheets. The bed always was warm enough during the night, but when you first got in, it was cold. With the flannel sheets that was no longer true. It was another great buy. And I'm beginning to think I like flannel sheets for the entire winter.

Friday was Day 5. I knew a lot of people already had power so I took a chance and went to the library for their wifi. Their Internet connection kept throwing me out, so I couldn't do much, but did manage some emails to people who I knew were worrying about me.

I listened to radio quite a bit since it was my only way to get news. PPL, the electric company, said that 85% of their customer would have power by Friday night. I was all set up emotionally to be one of them and when it didn't happen, I was extremely disappointed. I learned later that they thought they had restored our power in the middle of the evening, but there was an additional problem they didn't know about.

I was back in the library on Saturday Morning, Day 6, when one of the other people there got a text from home telling him the power was on at his house. He lived very close to me so I took it for granted mine would be too. I went home and no, we didn't have power, so I went on to do a couple of errands. I'd run out of coffee filters, so I needed those. I bought some bananas and a muffin for breakfast for Sunday, went to Wendy's for lunch and then went home.

There were trucks on one of the streets on the way home, but no, my power was not on. I got on an extra sweater and got a blanket and just got into my recliner.

The power came back on at 1:16 on Saturday Afternoon, Day 6. Yes that is a weird time to remember, but I went directly to one of my clocks and set the time.

I've figured out a few things I need to do for the next time. I need a phone that works and I'm working on getting that. Not being able to make a call for 6 days was bad. I need more light sources for the long haul. At least one more large lantern and several smaller light sources so I'm not trying to live in a single pool of light. And I'm going to buy one pair of really warm pajamas.

Take care all