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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Using a Basting Gun

Recently I purchased a basting gun. A woman from my guild had demonstrated its use, and said the magic words "it takes so much less time..."

I have a terrible time basting my quilts together! It once took me three hours to baste a 4' x 4' quilt! Every time we baste stuff together at the guild, I seem to keep up well enough, yet everyone is surprised to hear how long it takes me when I'm alone.

The basting gun fires tiny plastic tags through the layers of the quilt. They look like the tags that hold the prices onto garments you buy in the store, except they are only 1/4 of an inch long.

Some of the women in the guild still prefer to baste by hand, since they can stretch the backing tight and tape it to a table. With the gun, you can't do that, since you have to put a grid under the area being basted, so the basting is perhaps a little looser than most of them are accustomed to.

Well, it went together like a dream. Twenty minutes from start to finish, just over 100 darts went in and my quilt was basted and ready for action.

But taking it out - that was quite a different matter!

One hundred darts went in, but it seemed like thousands when it came to taking them out! And to add insult to injury, my backing fabric was a molleton, and about twenty of the darts had simply slipped inside the quilt, so I was only able to remove half the dart! I'm sure the other halves will eventually work themselves loose, and the recipients of this particular quilt will simply find it odd that I hadn't thought to remove these things...

Next time, I'll be more precise in my placement. Go in straight lines instead of going "pow! pow! pow!" willy-nilly!

And there still remains the problem of finding the removal tool: Nobody seems to stock it! It looks like a seam ripper with two long sides, or a cuticle pusher with a slot in the middle. I came uncomfortably close to snipping my fabric when removing the darts and am now looking high and low to find this remover tool. Funny that the quilt supply shops will sell the gun, the barbs, the grid, and replacement needles, but not the tool to remove the darts!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Remains of the Quilting Classes

About four years ago, I was away from my job due to a severe depression. While I was recovering, I started quilting. One day I decided it would be a good idea to try and interest teenagers or pre-teens in quilting.

A girlfriend of mine happened to be a teacher in an elementary school around the corner from me. Budgets for the arts had of course been slashed, but for most of one year I got to take my friend's class once a week for an hour and try to get them interested in quilting. I had time, I had a friend to help me, I was chock full of ideas and enthusiasm.

Here in Quebec the curriculum is what they call "integrated" - has nothing to do with the color of the students... It means that in English class you learn your science vocabulary, in social studies you do mathematical trends, basically you try to integrate every subject into every other subject. The way life is.

We decided the quilts the children would make would be related to their social studies curriculum. That year the children were learning about the Inuit, so they made little 8x8 quilts with scenes depicting Inuit life.

I showed overheads and slides and movies to them, going back to the earliest know examples of quilting (ancient Egypt). I taught them "guy" stuff - like quilted armor. They learned to convert centimeters to inches, because the biggest quilt suppliers are in the States and you have to work in inches or at least know what they are - that meant they learned about market size. Once, when I was handing out small frames they needed to assemble, one girl asked me how did you know which part of the frame went into which part, and we even had a quick discussion of "male" and "female" adaptors. Half the class giggled, half the class shrieked "EEEEEW!" So I shook my head in amazement that one could even integrate sex education into the quilting class!

I had a friend come in and show off neat stuff. I brought samples in for them to see. I made them kits... oh, those kits nearly killed me!

Every student received a personalized bag with:

a piece of cloth with pre-marked half-inch lines for them to practise basting on
a piece of cloth with pre-marked quarter-inch lines for them to practise their actual quilting stitiches on
pre-cut backing, batting, and top pieces
a piece of paper with a basting needle, a quilting needle, and ten pins inserted
enough binding to finish the piece
a needle threader and cutter
floss holders wound with basting thread and quilting thread

They'd come up and select which appliqués they wanted to put in their scene. While they struggled to thread their needles, I'd hand around samples for them to look at, I'd talk about the different types of quilts and show pictures. Some of the children were faster at picking it up, because they had more developed motor skills. So we talked about how people develop at different rates, and those who finished early turned and helped the ones who were having difficulty - that's called "peer teaching."

At the end of each class they would receive a vocabulary sheet with the words they had heard in that particular session, and would give the definition in their own words. "Resolution, knit, abstract, mosaic, optical illusion, tessellation, fibre, sinew, stippling, half-square triangles... These are just a few of the terms we got through, and you can see we drew on science, photography, and math, among other subjects, to help them understand quilting.

One boy was a holy terror most of the time because he was mildly autistic, for which reason my teacher friend had a class helper. Another friend used to come with me some days, so were were usually 4 adults amongst these 30 children. But I could have kissed that annoying autistic boy the day I showed pictures of Sashiko work on Japanese Fishermen's coats. I talked about the utilitarian practicality of sewing layers of cloth together, how it came from having to spin and weave every piece of cloth you owned. And this young boy put up his hand and asked "Did they know it would come out so beautiful?" I could have cried.

Some of the funny things we adults noticed over the course of this year, and the next when I took on two classes, was that the boys seemed more interested than the girls! It also helped that one class was doing the Vikings - so there were lots of swords and armor in those scenes!

It was fun. It was exhausting! I'd walk out of each class totally drained, shaking my head and proclaiming teachers are worth every penny of their salaries, and then some!

All this comes to mind today because I'm cleaning out my "extra" bedroom, and the children's pieces and the remnants of their kits were there, waiting for me to take the pins and needles out of the papers and put their 8x8 squares together on a background so the school can hang them up for other children to see. Yes, I'm a little late! I had to return to work, then I left my husband and moved twice... I'm just getting around to it now.

But I still had a few laughs as I took the kits apart and salvaged what I could. You'd be amazed how bent a tiny quilting needle can get in the hands of an eleven-year-old! And they were always losing their needles - it averaged out to five per child. Yet I came across one paper with nine needles in it! Whatever was that child doing, I wondered - just trying to be annoying by stealing the other kid's needles?!

I can't take up a task like that again, but I'm glad I did those three classes. I think my proudest moment came when a young boy showed me how he had repaired his torn jeans by himself. He had asked his mother to fix them, and she had replied that she didn't know how to sew. Then he realized he had learned how to sew - so he fixed them himself. It was atrocious, but he was pleased with the results, and I was so proud I could have popped!

I don't know if any of those children will grow up to be quilters, but they all seemed to have more or less a good time making their pieces, and I have wonderful memories.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Broken Threads

My guild, this year, is going to have an event, just for our members, where we bring in our first quilts to show and talk about.

I have several "first" quilts. I have the first quilt I ever started, which was for my Mother, and thereby hangs a tale...

I have a small wallhanging I made, while I was also making my Mom's quilt, which was the first project I ever completed. It only took me about two days, I was proud of it because it's a Celtic Knot and I didn't have a pattern... Plus, I did machine stippling all over and it's perfect, and it was the first time I'd ever dropped a feed dog...

And I have another wallhanging I did, for my Father, again, done during the period I was also making my Mom's quilt. This wallhanging was a very sentimental and poignant project for me, because the subject was my grandparents' country home, where I spent every summer of my childhood, and then some.

I knew nothing about quilts when I designed any of these items, I simply forged ahead. The wallhanging for my dad, entitled "Glengar Cottage" had me sobbing almost every time I worked on it - not because of the work, but because of the memories.

It's not a particularly beautiful wallhanging, and it's not even clear what all the items are that are on it. To go with it, I made a booklet, describing each section and what it meant.

There is a representation of the house, as I knew it. When I was busy talking to my dad, he told me how the place used to look, when he was younger, because he grew up there. But I did it as I remembered it. You saw the outside of the house from the west side. There was a kitchen off the main section, a porch behind that, and grandpa's workshop behind that. To the right was the 100 year-old maple tree, which I thought of as "my" tree, because my swing was in it. It was two fat bristly ropes and a plank of wood, and I spent hours of every day in that swing, imagining all sorts of things.

Then I made what I now know are called "thread paintings" of all the particular little things I remembered or loved about that house.

There was the doorstep - a piece of cement, with the Canadian Air Force logo carefully etched into it, and the latin phrase, "Per Ardua ad Astra" - "Through adversity to the stars" - the motto of the Air Force, at least back when my grandpa and father made that particular front step.

My hammock. It had a metal frame, and it swung. It was made of bright red canvas with white rope fringe, and the pillow was attached to it. It smelled so musty - years and years of being pulled into the house because of rain, or being left out in the rain, rolled up in a ball and put in a corner or behind the couch... Nowadays nobody would let a kid near anything like that! Eew! Mold!

Well, I loved that hammock. I napped it in every sunny day. From the swing to the hammock...

Then out to pick wild strawberries, or draw water from the well...

I made thread paintings of those strawberries, the well and bucket, the pot-bellied stove, the mice that were rampant, the groundhogs that lived nearby, whip-or-wills, jigsaw puzzles, the waist-high grasses, the old piano, the hen house...

All the thread paintings circled the depiction of the house. I did a family tree, right along the top edge of the quilt. And in the corners I put log-cabin sections of the Dewar tartan.

Well, it isn't a particularly organized quilt, but I put my soul into it. And spent a ton of money getting it down to my dad and stepmom - they live in Louisiana - by special delivery on a Christmas Eve. And they both wept, looking at it. My Stepmom said how many memories it was bringing back, what a treasure I had given them. I had made a sleeve for the back, so all they had to do was get a dowel through it and put two nails in the wall to hang it up.

I approached the topic of borrowing it back very gingerly, because I knew it gave my ailing stepmom so much joy to see it. Nevertheless, I did take a deep breath and ask my dad if he would lend it back to me for this particular event, and he said,

"Oh sure. If I can find it."


And today, two weeks after I first made the request, he said, "I still haven't found your quilt. I know I put it somewhere, I remember doing something specific with it, I just don't remember what..."

My stomach did a few flips. It's still doing them, if I think about it at all.

I want to say, "How could you? How could you lose it?" But I think I know.

Because I've inherited my father's short temper. I know, when I want to clean up, I don't always put things which I find in my way at the time where I should put them. I shove them somewhere. I'm pretty sure this is what's happened to my quilt. He wanted to move furniture around, which meant the wallhanging was being obscured by a piece of furniture, and he took it down and rolled or folded it up and put it away somewhere "safe", till he could "get around to" putting it back up...

Now, I'm only 52, and I know that "somewhere safe" means you'll never find it again, and I also know that people almost NEVER "get around to it." Dad is nearing 80 years of age, and he's more disorganized that I am. We'll be very lucky if it hasn't been put in the bottom of a plastic bag to go to Goodwill, or some such fate.

I love my dad very much, but I don't get along with him. He's never been a patient man, and he's gotten a lot worse since leaving his sixties behind him. We don't see eye-to-eye about politics, religion, television, children, movies, books... Actually, about the only thing we have still in common is our shared experience of that house in the country!

His memory is going - not of things long ago, but his short-term memory. Like threads breaking, worn out with use, exposure to sunlight, chemicals... I can see him failing, as I see myself failing.

I made that quilt to hold together the memories of three generations of people who lived in that country home. I hope it isn't lost.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You Rip What You Sew...

I am taking a break from quilting to write this blog, even though I've only been quilting for about fifteen minutes. That was long enough to complete a pattern on the quilt I'm doing for a customer.

A near-perfect pattern.

Most of you quilters have heard why no quilt can be perfect: It's an Amish saying. "Only God is perfect." That's why the Amish (in theory) deliberately put a mistake in each quilt they make.

I've never had to try to put in a mistake... Is there anybody out there who has had to? Please answer!

Anyway, this was a near-perfect rendition of the pattern I've been doing on this current quilt. It's an "L" shape on each of the corners of the blocks. I've often forgotten to turn right or left as I've been sewing and gone on to sew parallel lines, and then had to stop and rip them out.

I've started too far away from the blocks' edges, and had to stop and rip out the sewing.

I've put the lines too close together, or too far apart, or both in the same "L" shape...

I've crossed previous stitching lines, when they're supposed to be concentric...

I MADE myself sit down to quilt today, even though there's laundry to do, shopping to do, cleaning to do... But this quilt is due at the end of September, and that's simply not far enough away for my liking, permanent procrastinator that I am.

I took my time, I lined everything up. I sewed the first line and saw it was too far away from the edge, and I ripped it out, repositioned and sewed again...

And everything worked "like clockwork", as the saying goes. I kept up my "personal tension" (held my breath) while working on it. It went quickly, smoothly. It went without surprises.

By the last line, I was experiencing something I rarely get these days - the simple pleasure of quilting, enjoying the process, relaxing.

Feeling like I'd finally "gotten the hang of it."

I heaved a deep, contented sigh, and allowed myself a brief moment to admire the work just before moving on to the next corner...

... and saw the mistake.

I'd done it in the wrong color thread.

Like, the SERIOUSLY wrong color. Blues and greens and yellows, when the thread I was supposed to be using was in reds and oranges.

I've re-threaded now with the CORRECT color thread... but I keep wondering, WHY???!!!

Why did I take up this blasted hobby? Why did I turn it into a business? Why do I keep making these stupid mistakes? Why do I make mistakes, different ones, at each step of every single process? I solve one problem and create three more!

This was supposed to be something I enjoy!

Well, if it was MY quilt, I'd just leave the wrong thread in. But it's not, so now I'm going to go and do some more "Frog-Stitch."

Rip-it. Rip-it. Rip-it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Geometrically Challenged

Hello, I'm Geometrically Challenged. Pleased to meet you.

Today's latest blooper: Loading the quilting stand

I have what's officially known as a "short-arm" quilting stand. It's twelve feet wide - that's not the short part. The "short" part is the throat depth of my sewing machine.

Say what?

The distance between the needle and the back of the machine's arm - where it goes "bump" against the quilt. Not being a lottery winner, independently wealthy, or an heiress, I didn't have $25K to fork out for an APQS Millennium machine, which has a 25-inch throat depth.

That means a Millennium owner can quilt 12 feet wide by 25 inches forward & back, before having to roll the quilt into a new position.

I, on the other hand, have a scant six inches.

No snickering.

A "short-arm" quilting machine works the same way a "long-arm" quilting machine works. It's just that you have to roll your quilt forward every six inches, less by the time you're at the end of the quilt, because the roll has by then gotten quite thick.

Almost, you could say, as thick as me.

Tonight I began by carefully laying out the backing and top against each other to make sure of what the borders would be. Then I carefully pinned the backing to the lead fabric which is attached to the rollers. I was so please with myself that I was finally able to do this on my bed, meaning it would be much easier to make sure the fabric was straight and not pulled.

I got the backing all rolled up, put the roll on the stand, pinned the leading edge to the take-up roll, and began to pin and roll the quilt top in the same manner. Remembering that I had to put the batting in the middle, I left the rolled top on the bed and carefully pinned the the leading edge of the batting over my backing.

But it struck me that something just wasn't right.

I looked, and thought, while I sucked on my pins and kept on pinning.

Then it hit me.

I'd put the backing on right side UP. This meant that, had I begun quilting, the seamy underside of the backing would have been the side that showed, while the nice colors would have been on the inside.


Moving past the expletives, tears, and phone calls to Great Quilting Friend... (who once again accused me of being in a rush... Sorry to disappoint, I did this calmly, slowly, and very very carefully. I just did it WRONG.)

I eventually found myself back on the bed, pinning and rolling the backing up, this time with the RIGHT SIDE DOWN.


Geometry. It was always the most difficult branch of math for me.

With 20/20 hindsight, becoming a quilter is possibly the stupidest move I've ever made. Had I taken up architecture or civil engineering, there would have been computers to check the geometry for me, spit my calculations back in my face, stop me from putting the aluminum siding on the inside of the house, the hardwood flooring on the roof, the garage on the side of the house opposite the driveway...

But here in the quiet privacy of my apartment, I'm free to make loads of mistakes, with no witness save my kitty, Bijou.
And while she enjoyed her little romp over the backing - twice! - she's just a kitty, and couldn't possibly know what a mistake I was making.

The scary part is...

I've done it before. And didn't learn my lesson.

My Great Quilting Friend assured me I'd learn my lesson this time.

I only hope she's right. I wish I could have told her I'd been in a frantic rush - that, at least, could have hidden a bit of my shame. No, it took me over an hour to do this completely inside out, and I very nearly quilted it that way, too! Slowly, methodically, carefully...

Quilting just doesn't get any scarier than this!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Business as usual

Well, I moved. Hubby faithfully took my quilting machine apart and put it back together for me. In my one-room basement apartment, oddly enough it doesn't look like such a monster. (It's a big one-room!) My first quilt is up on the stand, I've already had to take stitches out - it seems to be business as usual.

My "business" has been on my mind lately. I used to give an accountant all my papers (in a pattern box) and let her figure out how much money I made or lost, but now that I've moved out on my own again, I can no longer afford that luxury.

I've been spending several weeks whining about how I'm a lousy bookkeeper - which is true - and saying I'll just have to close the business, it doesn't make any money, I have no time to build a website and HAVE an online store. yada yada yada...

But this morning I decided I'm going to Revenu Quebec and asking THEM what tax forms actually need to be filled out, in my specific case, and I'm going to give it the old college try. If I can file my 2007 taxes myself, I'm gonna keep the business open and work on the web site and try once again to make a go of this thing.

And hope like hell to get some quilting done in the meantime.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Machine-Quilter's Guide to Hand-Piecing

So... I was commissioned to do a baby quilt, and baby is expected by the end of February, so a couple of weeks ago I started making the pattern and cutting the fabric.

And piecing. Stars.

Not just any stars, mind you: hand-drawn, asymmetrical stars!

This is noteworthy for two reasons: One, I've never pieced stars before, and two, they're asymmetrical.

The most complex figures I'd ever pieced before this were triangles. And, let me tell you, I had PLENTY of problems with them! Needless to say, the stars did, in fact, produce their share of headaches, details to follow in a moment.

The fact that they're asymmetrical gave Hubby a mild heart attack, because he was doing his usual peering-at-me-from-around-the-corner, trying hard not to tell me what i was doing wrong... Unsuccessfully, I might add. He really can't help himself...

These stars aren't just mildly asymmetrical - they're WILDLY asymmetrical! Well, poor Hubby was thinking to himself, "Can't she SEE that they're the wrong shape?" and quaking in his boots, fearful of confronting me when he had plainly been told to BUTT OUT... So we had a good laugh afterwards, once he realized it was deliberate, and I realized just how stupid he really thinks I am...

Back to the piecing problems of the stars, then.

I'd seen how to do them on an episode of Fons 'n Porter, for once, paying attention. And good thing, too, since I accidentally erased the program and had to wing it! Even though they don't line up in traditional straight lines, it is possible to sew sections together which produce straight lines to connect the sections with. It took me a few tries, but I did figure out which sections would join properly.

All that was left was the actual sewing. Okay, quarter-inch foot on the machine, spider at the ready, careful now, go slow...

Okay, that didn't work...

On I progressed to pinning, which made matters worse. By the time I'd finished the first star, I'd undone it about seventeen times. I sat and stared at the sewing machine in blank despair, heaved a heavy sigh and tried the second star. I put in a call to my Quilting Pal, who did have a supply of freezer paper. I tried that, it stabilized the shapes beautifully, but it isn't meant to be sewn into the seams! And since the seams cross frequently, it defeats the purpose of stabilizing them if you're busy ripping out the stabilizer before sewing the next seam...

Out, freezer paper. In, Golden Threads Tracing Paper. Hmm. The seams are still inaccurate, for all that extra work.

More staring at the sewing machine.

Now an event happened which gave me the insight I was looking for. There was a quilting bee day for my guild - we put together six quilts for the community in one day. But during this day I had opportunity to watch other, more experienced quilters sew their quarter-inch seamlines - and got the surprise of my life.

My friend's machine had FOUR FEED DOGS touching the quarter-inch seam. Four!

I mentally pictured my machine. I had two feed dogs, and when sewing a quarter-inch seam, only the left-hand one touches the material! The right-hand one is outside the seam line!

Very quickly, two-and-two went together. In an earlier blog I mentioned that I have to hold my fabric an astonishing 13 degrees off-center in order to get a straight seam, and now I realize that on some other people's machines, the feed dogs stay in contact with the material at all times, even for a quarter-inch seam!

Woot woot, as they say!

So, FYI, the rest of my stars were hand-pieced, and everything lined up beautifully. I'm going back to my machine to figure out if I can change the fabric placement by moving the needle so both feed dogs can contact the fabric. But in the meantime?

In the meantime, all my fiddly-bits will be hand-sewn!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Fundamental Tool

I never in a million years thought I'd ever say these words: "I'm so glad I have a working iron and ironing board."

I have a tenuous relationship with irons. Without exception, after only a short time with me, I snag myself on the wires and they crash to the floor. A few falls like that, the steam stops coming out, or the temperature becomes uncontrollable, or it just won't work at all.

On average, I go through two to three irons a year. The rate of falling slowed briefly a couple of years ago when I bought an oversized and more sturdy ironing board. For a brief time thereafter my irons experienced fewer falls, since it was more difficult to topple the board.

But alas, not impossible.

I did enjoy a longer relationship with a Sunbeam cordless iron. By this time, I'd had Hubby remove the legs from the ironing board, so that it could only be used when placed on a table-top. Much less likely to fall. When I got the iron, I also insisted that a shelf be erected at the exact height of the ironing board/tabletop. This shelf was firmly attached in a shelving unit, and on that shelf I placed the charger for the iron. The power supply is screwed into the shelving unit, and the charger was plugged into the power supply. I even wrapped the power cord around the legs of the shelving unit so there was absolutely NO GIVE - not a single chance - that I'd somehow be able to drag the charger off the shelf. If and when I wanted to use the iron, I'd move the tabletop/ironing board over beside the charger and carefully rest the iron on it and turn it on.

For nearly a year I enjoyed a happy relationship with my Sunbeam cordless iron. Sure, it was heavy, since the charger heated up the soleplate, which held its heat by mass alone - no batteries inside the iron itself. It sprayed steam enthusiastically out the soleplate and kept me happily ironing away.

Well, almost. I do enjoy all the ironing I do, when I'm ironing clothing, which I do faithfully about twice a year, and I enjoy every minute of it.

Ironing for quilting though, can get a little tedious. The brain tends to balk at six meters of fabric to be ironed at one shot. And the day came when I didn't watch what I was doing just that little bit, and the iron did not land securely on the charger, but made a small dent in the hardwood floor. It was, alas, the beginning of the end for the little Sunbeam iron. It was never the same again. First, the steam didn't come out properly. Then it didn't get hot enough. Hubby took it apart and twiddled some bits, and then it scorched everything, including the ironing board cover, and gave one of my fingers a nasty burn, leading directly to me dropping it again, and the little Sunbeam was no more.

By this point, I was furious with myself for all the money I'd spent on irons. Hubby went out grocery shopping and came home with a little gift for me - an $8 iron.

Yes, you saw that right. Eight dollars, Canadian currency, for an electric steam iron.

It was the lightest iron I'd ever held. It heated up quicker than any iron I'd ever plugged in. It positively threw steam along its path, the most powerful jet of steam I'd even encountered.

Eight bucks. Hubby said we should just go back and buy a dozen!

Well, we didn't, of course. And, of course, something happened to my new, wonderful friend. But this time, it came in the form of a chemical attack.

I had occasion to be using a temporary spray adhesive to hold some pieces of a quilt together, some appliqué it was, I believe. And unnoticed by me, a teensy bit of overspray landed on my ironing board. The next time I attempted to iron a piece, it seemed to shrink as I was holding it, and when I lifted the iron, it was covered - COVERED - in some kind of sticky, fibrous mess.

Well, off I went to Fabricville the same day for a can of Hot Iron Cleaner. They didn't have any. This necessitated me ordering the stuff from my supplier. I had to wait.

In the meantime, I washed the ironing board cover and replaced it on the board.

Hubby in the meantime, tried alcohol, turpentine, acetone, non-acetone nail polish remover, and I think a small amount of muriatic acid, to no avail. Oh, and soap and water didn't work, either - at least, not after all that! He gave it a go with a razor. He tried it cold, heated at lot, heated a bit, and did succeed in getting the fibers to condense to a rather hard mass. But they remained firmly welded to the soleplate of the iron.

The grand day came at last when my can of goo remover arrived, and slowly but surely the hardened mass yielded up the ghost. Once more, my eight dollar iron was functional. Good thing too, because I had pieces to iron!

In the frantic rush to make Christmas gifts I was grabbing bits of fabric hither and thither, the iron steaming happily away. I reached at last for a bright bit of yellow, put the iron down on it securely, and watched in horror as it shrank before my startled eyes. "Noooooooooooooo......" I cried. Not again! I would have been thrilled to use the goo remover and proceed calmly, but in my pre-holiday rush, I'd managed to misplace it. I still can't find it. That's also why I can't give you the name, by the way...

This was the final straw. The iron was put away, the ironing board stripped of both cloth cover and pad. The yellow fabric was scrunched into a ball and pinned securely to a board so I would never again be tempted to iron it, just in case it was in fact the culprit all along.

Next payday, Hubby was forthwith dispatched to find me another eight dollar iron. And he did - almost. The price was now $9.99, but I was overjoyed. Taking no chances with overspray, underspray, or polyester masquerading as cotton. I used four thicknesses of cotton batting and poplin cotton for the cover. I traced the outline of the board, sewed the layers of batting together, made a tube around the poplin, threaded twill tape through it.... Five hours it took, but at the end of it, I had a VIRGIN ironing board and a BRAND-NEW iron.

Which tonight I very carefully used to flatten the fat quarters for a baby quilt due the end of February, holding my breath till I was finished, and sighing with relief. And said the words I never thought I'd hear from my lips, "Thank goodness I have a working iron and ironing board!"

Now if I can just keep the cat off it...