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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Retirement Looming

Nine working days left - *gasp!* Nine days to freedom! Nine days till I can finally get quilting again!

My psyche did the *flip* about a month ago - what am I doing here (at work)? Am I having any lasting impact? Like a quilt that will last 100 years, lasting?

Or will my job be posted online before my obituary?

The call of the quilt, and the knitting, and the painting, simply got louder than anything I was doing for pay.

And we've celebrated the upcoming change by buying a new trailer and a new car to pull it!

Retirement can't loom fast enough!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Two Thirds!

Good morning! This is me writing my blog on a projection of a keyboard, while having my morning coffee, which is where I usually have most if my ideas for the day, promptly forgotten once coffee is over!

Of course, I can’t think of a single thing to say now...

And isn’t that often the way with life? We wish and wish for things, then when we have them, we forget to use them, or don’t bother to use them.

Here I am, all set up with a great big quilting floor stand, and a section of a room for sewing in. But is my Cousin’s quilt getting done? Not here! I have to go out with it, take it, and all my paraphernalia, to my friend’s Atelier Fiber Arts, and quilt there.

But human nature/laziness notwithstanding, the quilt is 2/3 completed! Yes, the hand-quilted queen sized quilt might actually get done this calendar year! I don’t know who will be more surprised - me, or my Cousin!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Vacation day 1

I'm off work now for twelve beautiful days in a row!

This morning, at five o'clock, when Boyfriend got up to face his workday, we chatted a bit, then got on to the topic of my plans for the day.

I said I was hoping to get some quilting done.

Boyfriend thought a moment (I could see the wheels turning), then said "Ok, and then how about putting away your stuff in the basement family room, dusting the downstairs, and straightening up your sewing room?"

He was attempting to get back at me for interfering with his plans for his days off, you see! Very cute!

Except that my list is always longer. I didn't say it then, but I'm saying it now:

Is that before or after I clean the bathroom, vacuum, empty and re-load the dishwasher, mow the front and back lawns after picking up the dog poop, wash, dry, fold and put away the laundry, wash the kitchen floor and some of the cupboard doors?

And after lunch...?

There are three of us living together now. A couple of weeks ago I put my foot down about cooking dinner. See, if I make a dinner, it's wholesome and nutritious, and takes into account the fact that these two diabetic men shouldn't have too many carbs. I plan what I'm going to make, I shop for what is needed or make a list for one of the guys to pick the stuff up, and I start cooking early enough that we're not eating at eight at night.

If they "cook," it's Harvey's or Miss Italia, or Benny's.

So we are trying out a new system, suggested by my Beautiful Daughter, called GoodFood.

There are 7 days in a week. We order in one of those days. That leaves six days, divided between three people: i.e. - we each have to make dinner two days a week.

So, since we get three GoodFood dinners a week, we each only have to come up with ONE meal per week out of our own brains.

We've finished one week, and it was more or less a success. I had to go out Tuesday night, so the men decided to go to Harvey's.

I really am a ball and chain in their way! They really don't care if they live or die, nor how young!

Ahem. I digress.

Today's jobs are well begun. The first load is through the washer and the upstairs has been vacuumed. Hubby says the lawn doesn't need mowing, so that lets him off the hook. It does need mowing, so lucky me, I get to do that as well, despite the fact that there are three of us living here, and I mow the lawn every week, and do all the vacuuming.

Now, there are lots of stressors in life, and most of them we can't change. Apparently, I can't get Hubby to understand the need for mowing and vacuuming. These have been bones of contention between us for over two decades, and I guess I just have to learn not to react in anger.


No, no, Debbie, "don't be negative" one of my BEST FRIENDS said to me last weekend!

Everyone blames me, because I get angry! I squawk. It's "blame the victim" time all over again! "Oh - you married a man who doesn't cook, doesn't clean, and doesn't do yard work? Your fault! You left him once, you knew what you were getting into when you went back, why are you yowling now?"

To be fair, it was accept his invitation or go live in a car.

At any rate, I simply can't go on like this. I've got to learn how to vacuum, scrub, mow and whatever...without getting angry.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Success at Warp, machine quilting and free-motion

Keeping track of warp and weft worked wonders for my quilt!

All the rows were absolutely painless to stitch together, since they were being sewn along the WEFT - the ever-so-slightly stretchy part of the fabric weave. I've never had rows go together so easily!

And there the joy began to fade...

Sandwiching this lap quilt, I damaged nerves in a couple of fingers, so I'm obviously doing something wrong there. But I dutifully did verticle, horizontal, and both diagonals, despite an e x t r e m e boredom with the process and a flaming desire to get AT it on the machine!

Came the day, I made myself attach the walking foot too. I don't know how you feel about the walking foot, but I absolutely hate using it. Nevertheless, reason prevailed over passion and I hooked it up. I had even used chalk lines to mark my diagonals! I've NEVER behaved myself so well!

That's when things went rapidly downhill.

The first thing that happened was that the walking foot snagged on every single basting line. Even when I lifted the foot to its maximum. So, so much for all that nerve-damaging basting: who knows what will hold and what will slip now?

The actual stitching was fine. Exactly on the points. But basically, I do three or four lines and I'm looking around for something else to do. It might be more fun if I could use an ordinary foot, but then layers would probably slip.

The simple fact is, sewing on a home machine simply isn't as much fun as I thought it was!

Over the years I've gotten used to hand-quilting, which, while slow, lets you fix small errors as you come up on them, is emotionally soothing, and your basting stays put.

This process was not soothing.

On to practising the free-motion part that was going to be in the blank squares of my Irish Chain quilt.

I dutifully made a small sandwich to practise on and pounced the chalk outline of the Scotch Thistle pattern.

Now, I don't do free-motion the way most people are instructed to... Leah Day on the web had a great tutorial that tells you to a) leave your feed dogs where they are, b) reduce the pressure on the presser foot, and c) turn the stitch length to 0.

It works wonderfully. A little bit of practise and I had gone all the way around my thistle. Perfectly. The tension was balanced (you have to make it around an 8 for free motion) and everything worked perfectly.


Except I don't have a stitch regulator on my home machine, so some of the stitches are small, and others are larger. Don't get me wrong - they're all "in the ballpark!" They're not radically different from each other...

I held my piece up to examine it at close range, and heaved a heavy sigh. Years of hand-quilting have spoiled me. I like my stitches to all be the same size!

I suddenly had an image of the meeting room where I used to attend our quilt guild, filled with familiar faces of people who love quilting. I remember talking about my machine quilting and how much fun it was, and especially trying to convince the ladies to try some free-motion quilting.

I clearly remember how their faces all became polite, blank masks, and I remember wondering what was wrong with these people that they couldn't get excited about this process!

Ahem. Now I know. They like all their stitches to be the same length. They don't like their laborious basting to get ripped out as they're sewing. In hand-quilting, you have absolute control. With a home machine that doesn't have a stitch regulator, it's simply not perfect.

Good enough - to be sure! Nothing the uninitiated would see, only quilters would see the problems!

But not perfect.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Warp, Weft, Weeping and Wizardry

I'm starting a new quilt, a very simple pattern: a single Irish Chain.

That means alternating blocks of 9-patches and squares. In this case, my 9-patches finish at 6.5 inches, and I have 6.5-inch squares in white. The 9-patches are in mixed tones and patterns of yellows. This is for my other cousin, whose favourite color is yellow, and he's older than me, and I had to use something I could do quickly!

But this time I tried, really tried, to use my noggin. For a change.

I started off cutting my white 6.5-inch strips the easy way, how you get it from the store, folded cleanly with the selvages meeting...It's a white-on-white, and it's not floral, it's geometric. Rectangles and faint lines.

My first (easy) cut was less than satisfactory, however, as the lines in the fabric didn't line up with the cut edges I had so carefully measured.

That was when I made myself stop and consider the problem of warp and weft.

The warp fibers are the ones firmly attached to the ends of the loom, at the top and bottom, as it were. In cotton, there is virtually no stretch at all along the warp, because these threads are pulled tight, tight, tight.

The weft is the horizontal threads, pulled through with the shuttle. As the shuttle reaches one end, it is turned back to go the other way. This leaves a finished edge, originally called a "self-edge," now shortened to selvage.

There is a little give in the weft - in a line from selvage to selvage. A teensy, ever-so-small bit of give.
Cotton fabric, even the best quilting cotton, stretches a bit along the weft.

Now, as quilters, we are all concerned with controlling stretch. And when I started off quilting many moons ago, I made every effing mistake it was possible to make concerning stretching my fabric!

I ironed the bejeezuz out of it with steam - which served to set in plenty of distortion. I pinned it up the yin-yang, which created lumps and bumps. I didn't cut accurately, which meant none of my squares or triangles ever fit, and I sewed a generous 1/4 inch seam instead of a scant 1/4 seam, which meant I had no room at all to square things off.

None of my blocks lined up with each other, and I was in tears most of the time. Because I didn't understand how fabric stretches, and how to use that knowledge to my advantage.

So on this day,  I stopped cutting along the selvage (weft) of my fabric and took the time to open it up, turn it around, cut it into manageable-sized pieces and cut my 6.5 inch strips along the line of the warp.

And after that, I turned my strips over and drew a chalk line the length of that warp strip, so that when I cut it into squares, I'd be able to tell immediately which direction would stretch, and which direction wouldn't.

Now, when I go to sew my alternating blocks into rows, I will put my 9-patch up against the warp side of the square. Because I can tug at the 9-patch to make it fit the square, and the square isn't going to stretch vertically.

When I go to attach the rows, I will be using the faint stretch of the weft to compel the blocks to line up with each other at the seams.

In this way I am using the natural stretch to my advantage, for a change.

Pictures if it works!