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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Glasses

Yesterday I went to pick up my finished glasses.

I still can't see. This is so frustrating! In the left lens I can see perfectly. In the right lens I can't see a thing. Looking through both together it's a blurry mess. The glasses were checked with the prescription and they are the way it was written. So first thing tomorrow morning I will call for an appointment with the eye doctor again. Maybe he can see where the problem is. One thing is for sure, I'm not giving up! I've paid far too much money to not be able to see properly. If these don't get fixed right.....I will bug everyone to death until they are fixed. Other people get glasses that work so why shouldn't I?

So after picking up the glasses my daughter took me to buy a new camera.

I also got a tri-pod for it.

I consider a camera and tri-pod a necessary piece of equipment....if....I plan to enter contests. Almost all contests require photos on disk as part of the entry these days. Owning a digital camera is the easiest way to be sure the pictures are good, instantly. So the next thing I have to do is figure out why my computer can't put photos on the disks. I have a new cd burner but it doesn't work right.

I also bought printer ink for my computer printer. I saw them on sale 15% off, plus I had $3 coupon off each one. This should keep me supplied for awhile.

Ok, enough for now....I'm going to spend a little while catching up with what is going on in the MQR ring then do some cleaning.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Backs of art quilts?

Today I have a camera. I borrowed one for a little while. It doesn't take really great pictures but you can still see what I'm talking about in my posts.

I’ve had a desire to enter an art quilt contest for awhile now. I’m finally at a point where I believe I’m ready to enter one piece into one art contest to see what happens.

I’m starting to doubt my abilities. I've worked on this one piece using lots of shiny threads and contour quilting. The front of the piece looks really nice. I’m only showing one small section of the front for now. I’m so proud of how it looks. It’s my first piece using a combination of thread and fabric to create the look I wanted.

Some might call it thread painting while others might call it thread fusion. Regardless of what it is called, I love creating this way! I believe this style of machine quilting really shows that stitching the layers together is really art too.

Another view.

The stitching on the back looks horrible! It has pokies, flat lining, nests, eye lashes, railroad tracks, and loopies all over it. All the bad stitching that machine quilters get! See….

I didn’t realize my machine tension was out of whack. Which is why I was ranting and raving in the last post. And; the reason I simply had to borrow a camera to show the problems. I have stitched the majority of it already. I knew I had to stop working on it and do a customer quilt. When I zipped the piece off to put a customer quilt on the machine I noticed the bad stitching. Thank goodness it wasn’t a customer quilt!
There is far too much quilting on there to pick it out. I’m not even sure I could achieve the same look a second time. I can’t start all over to create the same one again because it’s made from an out of date upholstery sample. No way to replace the fabric.

So now I’m wondering if I am right. The quilting on the back doesn’t matter in an art quilt? I’ve always thought it didn’t; but, after reading some art quilter blogs I’m beginning to have doubts. I will still finish the piece and enter it just to see what happens. Maybe the judge will send me a critique with the answer to my question which is….. Does the stitching on the back of an art quilt really matter?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Constant battle with tensions

Over and over I read of people with quilting machines having trouble getting really good stitches. There is flat lining, loopies, eyelashes, railroad tracks, pokies, snapping, fraying, lint build up, and all manors of problems. It’s a constant battle for me too. So why is this???

I mean really, these are supposed to be industrial machines. We pay thousands of dollars for them. Yet, we have this constant battle getting a really good stitch. We get the same problems no matter what brand machine we own.

I can’t help but wonder if the bedding manufacturing companies have the same battle with their machines? Do you think a bedding manufacturer is allowing such down time while the person running the machines tries to figure out where the problem is with the tensions? Do comforters or bedspreads show up in stores with pokies or eyelashes or railroad tracks? Does pre-quilted fabric show up in fabric stores with these problems?

I guess you can tell I’ve been having tension problems because of my ranting. I bought the TOWA gauge which is no help. More wasted money on a dust catcher item. I did solve the problem by thoroughly cleaning and oiling everything. I even took apart and cleaned the bobbin case. For now, it seems to be giving me a decent stitch again. I’ve put cleaning and oiling the machine on my calendar as a regular scheduled maintenance. Maybe if I have it scheduled I can prevent tension problems happening quite so often.

I went to a LAFTA (Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists) meeting last Thursday. One of the nice ladies, Marilyn, went with me. We were ‘supposed’ to meet at my house so I could ride with her. My mother had been taken to the hospital earlier in the day because her sugar count was out of whack. She had sneaked and eaten some candy that she is not supposed to have. When a diabetic gets their sugar out of whack, it’s kind of like they are drunk. My mother is also very combative when this happens. So I spent most of the afternoon signing papers and making sure Mom doesn’t hurt someone or herself while they work to get her sugar under control.

I didn’t realize how much time had gone by until about 5 pm when I realize I should be at home waiting for Marilyn to pick me up for the LAFTA meeting. I don’t have Marilyn’s phone number with me to call her. There wasn’t enough time to catch a bus home. So all I could do was go on to the meeting and hope she met me there. I tell the nurses that I have to leave, tell them I will check with them by phone later, and leave. Thank goodness when Marilyn realizes I’m not home she goes on to the meeting. I’m there waiting and very apologetic. I keep getting myself into these embarrassing situations! Yes, I know, it couldn’t be helped. None the less it is embarrassing for me when something like this happens.

I had planned to explain to the LAFTA group why I hadn’t been to a meeting for over a year but changed my mind. When standing in front of the group I realized no one there would have cared any way. So I just showed a couple of pieces of my work and sat down. I think it will be hard for me to get back into the routine of attending the meetings after such a long time away.

Hmm…I think I hear my quilting machine calling my name. It must be time for my work day to begin.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Are there enough toppers?

Hmm… what has been happening the last few days? Well, I went to get my new glasses but the place was closed. I didn’t realize they would be closed on Saturdays. I thought surely they would be open on a day when most people would be off from work. Guess they like being off on the weekends too.

Today it appears my glasses will have to wait a bit longer now. I’ve had some tension problems with my machine. I bought a TOWA gauge thinking it would help. It did help me figure out that my bobbin case is bent. So there is another expense. The gauge cost nearly $80 with shipping. A new bobbin case will be $39 plus shipping. It’s also time for me to place another order for batting. That will be another couple of hundred dollars plus shipping. Yes, I guess the glasses will have to wait. The purchases to keep quilting are never ending in this business.

I did talk to the lady interested in starting a machine quilting business. The one question all people interested in going into the trade asks is ‘are there enough customers for another machine quilter’? How can I answer that? I believe there are plenty of toppers for many quilters in one area but who can say about the future?

My own personal belief is that when machine quilting professionals stop trying to be the ‘only’ machine quilter things will become much better in this profession. No ‘one’ machine quilter can do them all. Yes, a machine quilter can draw in more customers and work longer hours with more stress; but, is it worth it? Is it worth all the heartache trying to be an ‘exclusive’ machine quilter in one area?

Honestly, I would hate being the only machine quilter in my area! I really like knowing that others in my area love the art of stitching quilt layers together too. Yes, there are those going into the profession only for the money. These are not true machine quilters. They are business people looking to make a profit. A really true machine quilting professional goes into the business because of their love for stitching quilt layers together. They have a love for the finishing of quilts with pretty designs.

Machine quilting professionals should take some hints from the toppers. Just look at all the sharing and camaraderie they have. The take classes together, they visit quilt shows together, they have guilds, they have show and tell, they share techniques with each other, and they freely share in all kinds of ways. I’ve never seen a topper trying to become the “exclusive” topper in their area, have you? So with this said, are there enough toppers for another machine quilter in an area? I believe there are, but who knows for sure?

Tomorrow the whole quilt industry may shut down because no one wants to piece tops anymore or we could have a national shortage of fabric and walk around in paper bags or something.

Ok, I’m off to do some organizing planning while I wait for a new bobbin case to get ordered and delivered.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Boring Posts

Without pictures my posts don't seem to draw my attention. I post but it isn't something I look forward to regularly. I need my glasses much more than I need a camera.

I have been really busy. I'm finishing a customer quilt every couple of days. The money I earn through the Christmas season will help me through next year. I've made several phone calls to get as many of the Christmas quilts brought to me as I can. With the tops here already I can work non-stop straight through the holidays.

Summer is when people think about outdoor activities instead of quilts. Yard work and vacations are more important than creating quilts. The weather is cool this morning which will remind people to get those quilt ufo's out and finished. Machine quilters can expect several phone calls in the next month from people wanting their tops quilted before the holiday.

There is a lady coming by Thursday to talk to me about the business of machine quilting. She is considering buying a machine and becoming a machine quilter. Talking to me is part of her researching the market. I do love it when I can tell newbies about the business of machine quilting. All too often a person believes buying a machine automatically means they will earn lots of money quilting for others right away.

It's my hope I can explain that buying a machine does not automatically make them a machine quilter any more than buying a domestic machine will make them a tailor. Or buying a piano will automatically make them a concert pianist. There will be lots and lots of practice and learning required. Also, there has to be a desire too. Without the desire to learn there can't be a talent. Unless, of course, there is a natural talent already there like in a prodigy.

Ok, I can't think of anymore to say right now. I'm going to read some blogs before starting my day's work.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Suggestions needed asap!!

I had a lady request that I make a quilt for her. The lady is loosing her hair in clumps due to an illness. She plans to shave it all off instead of waiting for it to fall out a little at a time. Her hair is black and about 4 or 5 inches long.

She wants her hair put into the quilt in some way. I’ve always been able to put almost anything into a quilt but this one really has me stumped! I need suggestions!

I had suggested the hair be encased in plastic which I could then sew like it was just a different type of fabric. She doesn’t like the idea of the plastic.

I suggested the hair be glued to fabric then sewed into the quilt. She doesn’t mind this. I’m not sure what type of glue to use that will be washable.

She wants a traditional quilt pattern with very little visible motion in the design. The size is going to be a queen. It will hang on a wall with the length side to side instead of top to bottom.

Does anyone have any suggestions for putting her hair into the quilt????

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Getting new glasses, yea!

It’s hard to believe that it’s already into September. September 1st marks the official beginning of my machine quilting Christmas rush. It’s the time when I get the most calls for tops to be quilted for others. My waiting list is filled to the max during the rush.

For the next three months my time will be steadily at the quilting machine earning as much as I can for the coming year’s expenses. It could be compared to the harvest done by farmers in the fall. The cash crops are sold so the money can be banked for expenses the following year.

I hope to have these dollar store glasses off my forehead in about two weeks. Yea! One of the nice ladies was kind enough to take me to an eye doctor yesterday. This was a really big help to me. I didn’t have to be trying to cross a busy highway to catch a city bus with dilated eyes.

I don’t have insurance to cover the cost of exams or glasses so I only had the exam so far. I will be taking the prescription to get the glasses made in a couple of weeks. It will take me about that much time to earn the extra money to pay for them.

I have been working on some art quilts as well as continuing to quilt tops for my customers. I also started a top using more of my string blocks too. It will be for the nursing home where my mother is staying. I wish I could show a picture but I still don’t have a camera. That will wait for awhile. I told my daughter that’s what I want for Xmas this year….a new camera.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A quiet week

Since the families with all the bad kids have moved away it is really quiet in my neighborhood! I can actually sit on the porch and enjoy an evening again.

I’ve been working on several projects. It just doesn’t feel right to work on something and not be able to take a picture to show. Also; all the quilt tops I’ve quilted for others that don’t get a picture taken before leaving here makes me sad. I didn’t get a chance to shop for a camera as I had thought I would.

I have an eye doctor appointment Friday. I have a ride so I don’t have to catch a bus with dilated eyes. I will have to pay for that visit before buying a camera. Hopefully I will have enough left over to pay for glasses too. I will finally be able to get these dollar store glasses off my forehead. I can buy a camera later.

I sent an email to Jamie Wallen asking if he plans to teach a thread fusion class at Paducah or Nashville or create a DVD for those of us who can’t go to far away places. So far he hasn’t answered my email. He may be away teaching so it may take awhile before I get an answer. I wish he had finished telling me about his house! He started but was interrupted. Now my curiosity for the rest of the story keeps popping into my mind.

I worked on my 2008 guild challenge and a piece for the Mayor’s 2008 Derby brunch at Farnsley Moorman House. I’m still searching for fabric for the 2008 Art for Animals quilt. I may make another quilt for the city dog pound to raffle too. The dog pound and art for the animals (humane society) are two separate things. I’m still trying to decide what quilt to enter in Form not Function. Of course, without a camera I can’t enter at all. Quilts are juried in by photos first.

I finished piecing and quilted a string quilt for the nursing home my mother lives in. I sent it by UPS instead of trying to find a ride out there. I should have another one made before my next visit to Mom.

Over the weekend I realized my house is starting to look like a garage again. I have things stacked up all over the place which doesn’t sit right with me. I plan to use a couple of weekends in the near future sorting and organizing again. When things start getting stacked up; I realize that the way I have it organized ISN’T WORKING. If it were working it wouldn’t be stacked up everywhere. In organizing what isn’t working needs to be changed.

Can anyone tell me what the little tools on my side bar mean?