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Sunday, June 30, 2013


I decided to just go for it. I've drawn a lot of feathers. But you get to a point where you just have to actually stitch feathers to get reasonably good  at stitching them, so for the last few days, that is what I have been doing. I'm 3/4 around the border of the first, somewhat wonky, log cabin. And here is what that looks like.

I keep reminding myself that this is a practice piece. I don't have to actually make anything out of it. I could just date it on a label and put it on a shelf and look at it in a year or two to recognize how far I've gotten.

And maybe that is what I'll do with both of these log cabin blocks. Just recognize that you have to actually stitch miles of thread to get where I want to get.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Free Motion Quilting Progress - June 28, 2013

I've managed to sit down at the sewing machine several times in the last few days, and I feel like I'm making progress on the two log cabin blocks I made to practice free motion quilting on. I've been working on the concentric rings of the traditional block and just finished the final one before the border.

I've seen people doing groups of free motion patterns in an area just merging into one another without putting in dividing lines, and I wondered how that would look in the green ring. I like how this turned out; I like it a lot.

There are a couple of things I learned. Some of the designs look a lot better than others, especially Paisley and the various leaf patterns. That is because I've done quite a bit of Paisley before, and I've done leaf patterns several times before as well. I also noticed that the last group of circles I did were a lot better than the first group, and the various ecohing patterns I did were better as I went along as well.

The next thing I'm going to be practicing is feathers. I've done feathers before, but not recently and not a lot of them.
I've been doing a few things differently as far as the drawing the patterns both to practice them and to make a record of what I'm learning. One is that I've put a small pad next to my computer, and I'm drawing out Leah Day's designs while I'm watching her sew, both on the Craftsy Classes and on her web site.

Although I don't have any of them here on this group of drawings, I've also done that on the DVD classes from Sharon Schamber where she demonstrates her method of doing feathers. Those classes will disappear in a couple of days, so I knew I needed to actually try out her feather methods at least in a drawing so I would understand how she does what she does.

One of the problems with when the Sharon Schamber DVD classes were first available and when the 2012 FMQ Clallenge at SewCalGirl was first published is that I wasn't ready to learn what was being taught when the information became available. I'm ready now. So I'm scrambling with the Sharon Schamber information and I intend to pretend it is January 2012 pretty soon, and go back to the 2012 tutorials.

But one thing that every teacher has pointed out is absolutely true. Practice, practice, practice and you will get better. I'm also beginning to get ideas for how to quilt some of the real projects that I've got rolled up on cardboard tubes and swimming noodles. I rolled them up so they won't develop creases from being folded. I know I want to do a lot more of that method that I used in the green ring and I think it would be just the thing to do in the Coin quilt. And I am wondering what a group of trailing lines of leaves would look like on the whole cloth quilt I've got sandwiched and sitting wrapped around a noodle (the cardboard tubes were not big enough). I think I might find myself getting a lot of practice on stippling if I do the trailing lines of leaves because they will need something that reads as background stippling if I do those.  Need to think about that.

Take care all.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

She's gone

I have no idea what happened to the morning dove that was nesting on my front porch. But the nest has been empty for about a week now. It wasn't a great place for a bird that is as scared of the world as morning doves tend to be. Occasionally someone came in or went out, or delivered a package to my door.

There are a bunch of morning doves in the area right now. I literally almost ran one over this morning coming home from the chiropractor. She wouldn't take flight and get out of the road. They are really stupid birds.

I never realized that morning doves lived in this part of the country. I knew pigeons in the Northeast. But I saw my first dove in California, so that is where I thought they lived.

Anyway, she has abandoned the nest so I really need to get it down from my porch.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I haven't been doing much sewing the last week. Bunches of reasons why, but I finally did get to the sewing machine this morning. And that is really weird because it is Sunday, and I'm going to have to get ready for church. I've started going to the second service and that has been making a lot of changes in my life.

One reason that I wasn't sewing is that I was having a hard time figuring out how to turn the corner on Leah Day's Comic Trees. I really like this filler design, It doesn't really matter if you have a hard time with it because it isn't supposed to be perfectly formed. And I'll admit it is very fast to do as well. The corner I did turn isn't all that wonderful, but it really isn't bad either.

I kept drawing, and drawing and drawing. I watched the segment on the Craftsy class a couple of times as well. And finally I decided to just go for it this morning.

There have been a lot of things going on in my life. We are making progress with the chiropractic readjusting of both my back and my knee. The knee doesn't hurt all that much anymore, but the upper leg does because we are moving things and muscles that haven't worked for years, decades, and possibly my entire life, are being worked. And it all makes me very tired. Too tired to do much but sit in my recliner and try very hard to walk a minimum number of steps every day to keep myself in motion at least a little.

I use a pedometer. The normal number of steps start at 6000. Normal people who are pushing it try for 10,000 a day. I am trying to set a floor at 4000+ and don't always make it on a bad day.

Not sure what I'm going to be putting on the second side of that border. It was supposed to be another Leah Day pattern with a corner, but I think I'll do something else with it instead.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Working On My Projects

I've been working on a couple of projects the last few days. I ordered beading thread and needles from Amazon. The needles weren't the right kind, but that was OK. I realized I could use smaller embroidery needles. It turned out that although I've bought beads in the past, I didn't really have much of a pallet. But that also was OK in the end.

I've thought about beading on cloth for a long time, but I've never actually done any. I decided this piece needed something. I'm not sure the beads were what it needed. From a few feet away you can't even see them, but as you get closer suddenly they are there, adding complexity. There is another area that could be beaded, but I don't think I'm going to do any more of it. Time to give it some kind of binding technique, probably a zigzag edge. And some way to hang it up. I think it is light enough for a thread hook to catch on a nail in the wall.

I guess it is time to declare it finished.

 I've done more FMQ designs on the first of these log cabin blocks and one more section on the second one.

I'm going to put something more elaborate in the larger blue rectangle on the first one, but I don't know what yet. And feathers of some kind on both of them in the grey borders.

I've been watching Leah Day's Craftsy class today and I've got ideas for several patterns for the second block.

It is possible to see how much better my stitching is from early parts of these projects to later parts, which is exactly why I am doing them.

Practice, practice, practice.

Not easy to do when sitting at the computer or at the sewing machine has to be done in 26 minute bits. Any more than that and I have trouble getting up and walking.

Take care all.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Free Motion Update - June 14, 2013

I've been practicing free motion quilting this week. I also have changed the gadgets I use to free motion. I've used gloves and I tried out pieces of shelf lining. I hated the gloves although they did work, because my hands felt weird in them and I was constantly taking them off and putting them back on again. The shelf lining system worked pretty well. One advantage was that my hands weren't all that close to the needle. I freak out every time Leah Day stitches close to her hands in her videos. I've stitched through a finger, and have no desire to do that again.

But I saw Sharon Schamber using something called a halo on her video classes at The Quilt Show, and I decided I wanted to try it out too. Years ago I had bought something like it, but not as good a product, so I found it in the drawer it had been sitting in for about 15 years, unopened, and I tried it out. Not too bad, but it was obvious to me that the halo would be better because it was a circle and sat closer to the fabric.

I went to Amazon and I ordered it. It arrived about a week ago. I liked it. A lot. My hands are well away from the needle, but the halo makes the fabric sandwich stay together and stay flat.

Sharon uses a Supreme Slider and so does Leah Day. I decided I wanted to try that as well. It is very expensive, and I knew I needed to buy the larger size because I have an oversized slide in table. I bit the bullet and decided to do that too. It arrived yesterday.

The UPS guy scared the morning dove off her nest, but he did ring the bell this time, so I was able to get the box from the front porch while she was gone. She got back before the rain came, so it was all good.

I generally do not try to sew after dark, but I had to try the new setup and I didn't want to wait. At this point I've used this setup twice, and I'm happy with it. I think my table was slippery enough that I'm not seeing the huge difference some people see when they first get the slider, but I am seeing good results and more control with the combination of the slider and the halo.

Take care all.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Warm Water

Last month the big project was to replace my water heater and install a water softener. I had a 75 gallon water heater and even when there were two of us living here that was way too much. It wasn't a particularly efficient one either. It kept going on for no good reason to reheat the same water over and over again.

It was replaced with a tankless water heater. I love my new water heater which gives me water that can not run out even when I have company filling bathtubs and doing laundry and loads in the dishwasher all on the same night. And I love my soft water. The haze that has been over everything is slowing disappearing, and it won't be coming back.

The third thing that was installed was a recirculating pump. The runs from the water heater to the sinks are all very long. It used to take as much as 2 or 3 minutes, by the clock, to get warm water out of a faucet in this house. I would turn it on and walk away from the sink. That has changed.

It has taken the better part of a month for it to change, but that isn't the fault of the equipment. It was originally set up for a family that is away from the house all day. I then tried 9 am to 9 pm. At that point I began to have hot water when I needed it, but I'd literally leave the dishes in the sink if it was before 9 or after 9.

This Sunday my daughter changed how the settings were set up. I am up between 5:30 and 11:30 most days. I decided 5 to Midnight was the way to go. I rinsed my toothbrush with hot water for the first time in 9 years on Sunday night. I did it again Monday morning. Such luxury to wash one's hands in warm water.

Take care all.

Monday, June 10, 2013

My New Housemate

I've got a new housemate. A morning dove has built a nest on the column on my porch. It is a great place for a nest if you are a morning dove. I rarely go in and out the front door. Basically I get deliveries there, and the massage therapist comes in that way once a week. I never wanted that kind of nest, but now that she is there and sitting on eggs, and it is almost certainly that she is sitting on eggs because she is there all the time, she stays until the babies are born and have flown away. Then I'll get someone to take it down.

She can handle me opening the door so I can let air into the house. Opening the screen door is another thing. She will fly away, but she comes right back once things get quiet. My daughter wanted to see if she could see how many eggs once when she flew away, but we weren't quick enough.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Free Motion Quilting - June 6, 2013

When you are first learning free motion you spend a lot of time thinking, and drawing and if you are lucky watching videos of other people doing free motion quilting. And you learn a lot. But I think there comes a time when you just have to stop all of that and sit down at the sewing machine and do it.

 So that is what I did yesterday and today. I pulled out an old project that I'd put aside because I just did not know what I wanted to happen with it, and I wasn't too happy with where it was. And I sat down and put some free motion quilting into the areas that didn't have anything in them.

I did some spirals. I did some pebbles and I did a kind of foundation pattern that involved putting down a line of lose spirals and echoing them. That last one came from the Craftsy class I'm taking. I also have Leah Day's book of the first 365 patterns from her web site. Mine looks a lot different from hers not just in quality, but also because the line of spirals is a line, and it isn't being stitched into a square.

I don't think this is quite finished. There are a couple of spots on the top and bottom that need some stitching. It might become a pillow, or it just might never become anything except the practice piece it is.

Next up are the two log cabin blocks. Again, I think I need to just go for it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Grief Update

This is the time of the third anniversary of when it became obvious that I could not keep Joe at home with me. I'm still twitchy over the fact that it is almost 9 pm, and it is still light outside. I've lived in places further north where it is still light in June and July at 10 pm. And I've lived in places further south where it gets dark a lot earlier in the Summer than it does here, but also doesn't get dark as early in the Winter.

Still during that last month at home, the light affected my life, and the way I could take care of Joe. He would get very tired around 8 pm and need to go to bed. But during that last month he almost always woke up an hour later, and got dressed for the new day and came to find me at the other side of the house. Getting him to get undressed and back into bed got harder and harder during that month, but if I had not succeeded I would not have gotten any sleep at all.

He also got more and more agitated as the afternoon progressed. During the last week, just keeping him in the house became almost impossible until on the last full day he was home he got past me and went outside, without shoes, to "go home." He didn't recognize where we lived as home anymore. He hadn't known who I was for a couple of years by that point.

He was in the hospital over the July 4th Weekend in 2010, and placed during the weekend. He was placed because an ER nurse recognized that it was no longer safe for him to be home with me. Not safe for him. Not safe for me either.

He went to a very good nursing home. You have heard stories about nursing homes. Hear this one about a nursing home that did an excellent job of taking care of my husband for the last two years of his life. There is no way I could have done what they did. He actually got away from them once too. It took 6 people to gently talk him back into the building, into an elevator, and up to the locked dementia floor. He spent several days trying to get out of that floor, but it wasn't possible for someone with dementia. The difference was that they could let him try until he got tired of trying.

I know they were gentle when they talked him back into the building because I saw them do it with a different patient. I know there were 6 people involved because one of those people told me how many there were.

Within a week he was walking up and down the halls 20 to 24 hours a day until he would collapse in exhaustion. Then they would put him to bed. They could let that happen because when their working day was over they could go home and go to sleep. At home I would not have had that option.

After I placed Joe, I spent two weeks dealing with sleep deprivation. I decided that if two weeks of lots of extra sleep and lots of extra just taking care of myself weren't enough, I'd go to the doctor, but right on schedule my eyes and my body began to stop hurting.

This was also when the grief started. All caregivers grieve the loss of parts of their lives while they are caregiving. They lose friends, and even the possibility of friends. They lose the couple thing. They lose all of the stuff they planed to do which can't be done anymore. But once Joe was placed, there no longer was any question that it was all going to be over, and final, and quite soon.

The surprising thing was just how long it all took.

Take care all.