Thursday, January 31, 2013

Celebration of the Arts

I'm pretty excited about this weekend at my church.  We're known among Central District Mennonite churches for our bi-annual Mennonite Arts Weekend, but this year off we're having a Celebration of the Arts to celebrate our own artists within the church, young and old.  Yesterday several of us hung lots of artwork and prepared a boutique.  Saturday there will be four workshops, a dinner, and a talent show.  Sunday morning's worship will focus on the arts.

It's gratifying in the planning that lots of people seem pretty excited about this, have wanted it for awhile in an off year.  I don't know whether this is something we'll do bi-annually or whether this is the first and only, but the support among members has been amazing.  It helps that sometimes our church is thought of as the "Arts Church."

The picture at the top has nothing to do with the weekend, it's just a block from a quilt I'm working on.  For a baby girl, if you couldn't tell.

Yesterday's "taking the kids to school story."  The new dog had chewed on one of Aaron's much-loved brown Merrell shoes, which have seen six months of daily wear.  His mom texted me, asking me to tell him that there would be another pair, perhaps in black or blue this time.  He was dismayed, afraid that there wouldn't be any available in brown.  Like I've said before, the kid is a traditionalist.       

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Quilt for a January Baby

This baby quilt is a gift, so I'll just show you a peek.  It's asymetrical, with the pieced part at the bottom right. 

Since it's for a January baby, I was able to use the fabric I so loved when I bought it a couple of months ago as a one-piece backing.

It's that kind of January day that's such a gift, when we get a break from the cold weather.  I dropped off the kids at school in hooded sweatshirt jackets but I noticed that the other kids had on their winter coats.  Oh, dear.  But, it's supposed to be 70 degrees.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Borrowed Pictures

Two borrowed pictures today.  The top one is Sarah's Hot Chocolate 10K Run on Saturday.  She's the second runner in black, aqua shoes.  She finished fifth of eighty-one in her age group, with a pace of 7.59 per mile.  Her goal was to finish under eight minutes in a race, so now she'll need a new goal.

Above is the newly named Maggie May, the newest member of the Lockhart family.  She's part border collie and is settling in well, seems to be a very sweet dog.   

When I was taking the kids to school this morning, we saw a border collie out walking, half running, really.  Her face was almost the same as Maggie's, just a little smaller. 

Once we dropped Nora off, I drove on to Garden Montisorri and told Aaron the story of Christmas Every Day, which both Sarah and Steph loved when they were little.  About a little girl who wished for Christmas every day and who got her wish.  Aaron loved the story, we talked about the living room getting too full of presents, getting in the car every morning for Christmas traveling, saying "Take it, you horrid old thing," after days of giving presents, having a belly ache from Christmas food day after day.  He picked up on the idea that there would be no Easter, no birthdays, etc.  Fun.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

McTavishing Update

I think I'm starting to get this.  I'm using it to quilt a baby quilt (grand baby quilt) for my friend Bev.  Probably 80% finished. 

What's working for me:
* make the swoops very swoopy
* not all the echos need to come all the way to a point, it's better to taper and end up a little before the point
* don't stop in the middle of a line, just keep going.  It's better to have the line in not quite the right place than to have it a little jagged because of starting and stopping

The quilting in the picture was done at the 40% finished point, and I can tell a difference between then and now.  I've used an entire prewound bobbin to this point.  There was a time, at around the 50% finished point when I started to despair that I'd never get it right, but I'm feeling better now.

I love the book I ordered but can't watch the dvd on my computer because it's older (5 years old) and doesn't have the software to play DVD's.  I'll just try on my DVD player instead.  Something to watch in the evening.  I find myself very low energy by the time evening comes.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Corn Pudding and McTavishing

Thanks, Mike, for fixing my oven.  I got to a certain point and wimped out with the repair.  Now I have a 350 degree oven and corn pudding.  Lovely.

With Mike came the new family dog, now named Maggie.  She's a very sweet border collie mix, a re-adopt, and none of the family can figure out why anyone would take her back.  And why it took five months for the re-adopt.

I'm working on a new kind of free motion, McTavishing, mentioned in Leah Day's blog.  Why did I not come across this before?  It's a very quick fill, and once I get it mastered, will be ever so pretty.  I ordered a book, Mastering the Art of McTavishing, that comes with a DVD and I'm excited about opening it.

Here's the recipe for the corn pudding:
1 box Jiffy Cornbread
1 stick butter (low fat margarine sticks works fine)
1 cup sour cream (fat free works fine)
2 eggs
1 can creamed corn

Turn the oven to 350 degrees and place an 8 x 8 pan with the stick of butter in the oven.  Mix together everything else.  When the butter is melted, add it to the mixture, leaving the pan coated.  Add the mixture to the pan and return it to the oven.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the mixture is firm.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pink Baby Quilt

The current theme for our baby quilt group is pieced strips with a bit of applique.  One of the members is appliquing cats, another hearts, but I chose circles.  The strips are supposed to be vertical, but I sewed mine together in jelly roll race fashion without any advance planning and ended up with the horizontal orientation.  The quilt also ended up too skinny, so I trimmed some off the bottom and added sashings at the sides.

I pulled pinks from my stash and cut them in 2 1/4" strips.  Some started as yardage and their strips were the width of the fabric.  Some were leftover pieces or fat quarters and their strips were shorter.  The back is a combination of four fabrics, and the binding is pieced.

One nice part is that my pile of pink fabrics is now shorter since I didn't buy any fabrics for this quilt.  I talked briefly earlier this year about using what I have in my stash, not really too serious about it, but maybe I should make it a goal.  Not to only use fabrics I have, but to end up the year with less fabric than I started out with.  I can do that.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nora's New Quilt

Nora was sick over the weekend, and needed one more recovery day yesterday.  It seems like everybody is getting sick this winter.  However, the people who say they wish we had one good hard frost to make the germs go away are getting their wish this week.  I don't subscribe to that theory.

The kids always like to make quilts at my house, and it's much easier if there is only one at a time.  In the top picture, Nora is cutting out some fabric fused with Wonder Under so she can fuse her name and a few designs.  Above, she's choosing some fabric.  There is plenty to choose from at my house.

Then the actual quilting.  This was her first time with this machine, and it's pretty amazing teaching the technology to kids.  She instantly got how to find the stitches in the various menus and the concept that some of the menus have additional pages.  She also asked about the "heart" that opens the window to combine stitches.  Lots of us older people stumble over that, but she understood right away how it worked and flipped through the menus to combine a bow, heart, and star.

She stitched around the quilt and was pretty darn happy.  Me, too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Inauguration Day

I'm thinking this morning about the inauguration yesterday.  I read a few comments about the inappropriateness of spending so much money on this event when people are hungry.  This was expanded upon by the thought that it is especially unnecessary to have such a big day for a second term. 

Duly noted.  These are good points.

I come out from a different perspective.  I think that our divided country needs a celebration from time to time.  Needs to hear our national songs sung when we're concentrating on them, not just before a sporting event.  Needs to hear poetry.  Needs to hear words of hope for social change.  To see past presidents, our elder statesmen, and think of the leadership they continue to exhibit and their work that goes on. 

Needs to think fondly of our friends who made the trip to Washington.  Needs to feel a sense of history. Maybe, even, once in four years, needs to admire how the White House children have grown into young women and see for the first time the First Lady's ball gown that we will see from now on at the Smithsonian.  Needs to recognize that, as in so many families, there's a grandmother helping out behind the scenes. 

I admire the conservatives among us who, for this one day, were mostly quiet, realizing that this day is about every one of us together, not our politics.  I admire Mitch McConnell, on this one day, for using the word "civility."

I think this day is important.     

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Thing One and Thing Two, Viking Diamond and Free Motion

Back to my resolution about free motion quilting.  Not stippling, I know that, but the other pretty things.

I'm remembering taking a college math class as an adult.  That means that I paid attention, really paid attention.  And what the professor said was, "If you're just learning how to solve a problem, do it again and again."  Not the same problem, but one like it.  The whole page full.  And then, what none of us wanted to hear, "There are no short cuts."

Same for free motion.  If you want to learn it, do your new pattern again and again.  And, like those math problems, there are no short cuts.  That's thing one.

Now for thing two.  Thread.  A couple of years ago (I told you I recycled this resolution) I was taking a free motion workshop from a teacher I really admire.  I looked forward to that workshop, and I happily bought the recommended 50-wt cotton thread.  I could just imagine having a whole box of new thread, because who doesn't like new thread.

But, here's the thing.  My machine didn't behave well that day.  The tension was off, my stitches weren't pretty, and I wasn't happy.  The woman beside me had a Viking also, a Sapphire, which is a computerized machine like mine but sewing only.  Her machine stitched beautifully.  Why wouldn't mine?

I went home and worked some more with the same results.  I stewed.  And, finally, what I remembered was this:  my machine is an embroidery machine as well as a sewing machine. 

And, I think, that when the feed teeth are down, the machine expects rayon thread in the top, very smooth thread, just like it gets when I embroider.  That's what it's made for, that's how it's calibrated.  Since that time, I've used rayon for the top thread for free motion, along with a prewound polyester bobbin, and things were instantly better.  Tension is wonderful. 

The plain blue is the top and the pattern is the bottom.  There are no skipped threads, no eyelashes.  No blue thread showing on the bottom, no white thread showing on the top.  The things that can be improved are in my own stitching.  I can be happy.  I won't get the joy of buying all those new threads, but I'll have pretty quilting with a nice, soft shine.  Once I do all the practicing.  I love my machine.   

Friday, January 18, 2013

Baby Quilt from Modern Designs

For the quilts turned in this month, the baby quilt group  is working on a design from Modern Designs for Classic Quilts, with authors from Cincinnati.  How fun is that?

What I've learned from making this quilt:  when the striped fabric is printed a little crooked, line up with the stripes, not with the straight of grain.  The end.

Last night when I was, or trying to, bake cornbread, the oven wouldn't heat past 220 degrees.  I tried just keeping the cornbread in for several hours in hopes of saving it - I really wanted cornbread - but there was no saving.  Examination revealed a broken oven heating element.  I ordered another one this morning and we'll see how fixing it works.  You Tube can be pretty darn amazing.  And while I'm in there - about six weeks ago I was replacing the oven light and broke it off at the socket.  I've been lazy about turning off the electricity and trying to get it out, but now I can do two repairs at once.

One of my goals for this year, of course, is less procrastination - just do it.  Many times I've wished my oven light worked but did nothing about it.  Wishing isn't getting any light.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Winter Pillow

When Carrye and I last visited Cabin Arts, I loved this light blue linen with tucks every half inch or so and knew that I wanted to make a winter pillow.  I used Clear 'n Melt to smooth the surface for the embroidery, along with cut-away stabilizer.  Design by Embroidery Library.

I've had the piping fabric in my stash for years, probably got it at WalMart back in my small town days.  It had a block-y snow print and was very stiff with goodness knows what kind of sizing and glitter.  What was I thinking?  A time or two I'd glanced at it and considered throwing it away, but that half yard was perfect for this bias piping.  Does that mean never throw fabric away? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013



Lunch today at Myra's Dionysus on Calhoun Street in Cincinnati.  One of my favorite quirky little places.

The "stuff" in the lower left is baba ganoush.  The top right is a vegetable salad and under the tomato is baked tofu.

And now, back home, it's time to get back to work again.  The potholder I made as a gift was delivered and the tree from yesterday's post has a nest with a dove.  Also delivered.  I have a pair of pants to alter, but not right now.

I'm thinking I'll cut out a baby quilt for a precious little one born last week.     

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Free Motion Practice


Free motion practice for today:

This worship banner is a team project, and I was in charge of stitching down the tree and roots.  At first I was thinking of using a little zig zag but quickly realized that all those roots would require lots of turning a very large piece of fabric.  So, free motion it was.

After lots of time and almost a full bobbin later, I've had lots and lots of practice in outlining the roots and tree and pears.  I used a tear-away stabilizer on the roots, but the tree had less stitching and the backing was pretty firm, so I skipped it there.  Thread was Sulky 40-wt rayon and a pre-wound bobbin. 

The really nice thing about a team project is that tomorrow I'm handing it off.  :) 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Free Motion Quilting With Newer Vikings

One of my goals for the year is to do better and different free motion.   Actually, I think this is a recycled goal, but that's ok.  So I was delighted to find a class by Leah Day on sale.  I'd admired the class before, but the "sale" thing helped me to push the button.

Along with that, I decided to check out Leah's blog and her new project.  All good. I'm enjoying both of them.  Leah's really awesome - creative, a good teacher, a good writer .

Except . . . I got the chance once again to try to figure out the "feed teeth up" free motion that Leah and lots of other people talk about.  With the stitch length set to 0.  And I think that I've concluded what I should have just figured out before, I don't think that works with my beloved Viking embroidery/sewing machines.  They just aren't made that way. 

The upgraded Diamond, above, has the little clover icon, middle of the third row from the bottom.  That drops the feed teeth and offers a pop-up with floating or spring action foot.  And that's the way it works and the way it's meant to be.  Feed teeth up, and they just grab, whether or not the stitch length is set at 0.

I did go ahead and set my stitch length at 0, but really, I don't think it makes a difference with this machine.  Leah recommends the Supreme Slider, and I can see the benefit of that, but I'm going to get some clear vinyl first just to make sure.  And I'm sure that the gloves she recommends are great.  Now that I've gotten past the "feed teeth up" I'm looking forward to moving ahead.

I'll probably have more to say later about thead choices for the Viking machines, but one thing at a time. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sick Day

I had a sick little guy on Friday, although it was a sick-the-day-before little guy, not a currently-sick guy.  He drank Sprite and took Ibuprofin and we hoped for the best, which is what happened.

But here's the thing:  it was 61 degrees outside, on January 11.  It wasn't raining.  How long will it be until there is a warm, nonrainy day like that again?  Probably months.  So, I let him play outside.  He poked into a pumpkin with a table knife and found a wonderful orange color and not many seeds.  He watered.  He played pretend.  And not one of those things kept him from getting well.  I think they were good for his soul.

Of course, last time he had a sick day with me he was also getting better and we went to the Aquarium and he wore his pajamas and petted sharks.  Saw Scuba Santa and found all the reindeer.  But two times doesn't make a pattern of getting away with stuff at Gran B's, surely.

He even had a day off from his glasses, which he forgot at home, but that has nothing to do with me.     

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Generalist Sewist

I am still having trouble uploading photos, so today is a day for musing.

There seems to be a new term out there, at least new to me - Sewist.  When I first heard it, I thought it must surely be someone like me.  Someone who sews with a little of this technique and a little of that, etc., without being truly amazing in any.  A sewing generalist.  Good at embroidery, good at quilting, good at garmet-making, good at home dec sewing without focusing on any one.

Turns out that's not it.  It is a combination of "sewer" and "artist," an artist whose medium is fabric and/or fiber.  OK, still a little like me but a different meaning than I'd envisioned.  I think the problem is that I'm all over the place when it comes to sewing and I loved the idea of finding a home where I could fit.  A term that described my all-over-ism.

In a few weeks I'll be doing a workshop called "Sewists Get Their Choice," which is a good topic for me.  I want to be able to help others realize that they can be a sewist with choices.  If they don't like making clothes, artistic or otherwise, there are other ways to go.  If they don't want to get into their sewing machines in depth, they can do machine embroidery and have loads of fun and make some artistic things.  People do it every day.

Even within a medium, there are choices.  Some people like art quilting, some traditional, and there is a whole new group who do what's called "modern quilting," which is functional but not traditional piecing. 

For myself, I'm pretty sure I'll never narrow it down.  I'll never sit still long enough to be really good at one technique because I've really practiced it.  I'll always be a Generalist Sewist. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Felt Bag

I love this felt bag from Indygo Junction, pattern IJ910.  It's made from wool blend felt, at least in a perfect world, but I used a felt from my stash that may be a wool look-alike made from recycled soda bottles.  I guess it's not important because it's no longer listed on the JoAnn website.  I used a bright pink of the same type of felt for the lining.

My co-worker Lisa did the digitizing for the embroidered circles and I used 30-weight threads.  There is a circular sewing attachment available to make circles without an embroidery machine and I'll be trying that out.  I'm sure I'll like it, I don't think I've ever used a foot that I didn't like.  Which reminds me:  the edge/joining foot is wonderful for sewing the squares together.

I'll be doing a class on making this bag next month.  In the meantime, I know I'll make another one.  Using more of my stash.

I've seen lots of mention on blogs recently about resolutions for using fabric that's already in sewing rooms and closets.  I never thought much about that before, but maybe it's time.  Maybe.   

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Quilted Tree

I worked on this tree as a late holiday gift for my friend Carrye.  During our last shopping trip to Cabin Arts I picked up this star fabric, which has also backed a quilt.  This is an in-the-hoop design from Anita Goodesign Tree-mendous x 2.
All went well until I went to add the star, the very last thing, and added it to the wrong side, the blue fabric that had been the back.  So, the only thing to do at that point, other than take off the star, which would have meant a lot of ripping and possibly ruining, was to decide that the back become the front. 

I'm telling myself that I like the blue side better anyway, and I think I really do.

I've been having trouble uploading pictures to this blog the past few days and finally put them in a Picasa album.  Maybe that's the way it will be from now on.  I haven't seen anyone else complaining . . .guess it's just my computer. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone.

My tree is down, the outside lights are down.  All that remains now is to put the boxes in the attic.  I keep my tree lit from one end to the other, and I miss it.