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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.


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Special message to my local customers and friends:

I'm in the process of cleaning out one of my quilting storage rooms to make a bedroom for visiting grandkids this summer. There used to be some customers who would pick up boxes of scrap batting to be used in charity quilts. I think it was called the Cuddle Quilt Project or something similar. I do remember the group was in another county. I can't remember who it was that would pick up the batting though.

If any of my local customers are reading this blog and knows the contact person for that group or any other group willing to use this scrap batting please contact me. It would have to be someone willing to pick it up since I don't have a car.

Some of it has been pieced together and some is large enough for crib size quilts but mostly it's still long strips. I have far more than I can piece together and use myself.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Some mornings when I wake I take a few minutes to open my front door and stand outside on the porch. I think of it as early morning meditation before starting my day. Its very quiet and peaceful that time of morning. A quiet time when the neighborhood doesn't seem so bad. The late people have finally gone inside to bed and the early people haven't come out yet. I don't usually turn on the porch light because it would change the quiet mood.

Yesterday morning was one of the days I went outside. The air was just right for a spring morning. I stood there for a moment when suddenly I felt stinging all over my legs. Scared me. I went back inside (where there was light) to see what the heck was going on.

Eeeeeeeek! Ants! All over my slacks; inside and out. Hundreds of them! Biting or stinging me. I hurriedly took off my slacks, left them by the front door, and ran for the shower. Geeze... those things didn't want to let go even in water. Plenty of soap took care of them though.

Here's a couple of pictures to show you what I mean..... If the pictures aren't good... sorry... but I wasn't going to get any closer to take better pictures. I used the zoom to get the best pictures I could.

This is their annual migration and dividing of the nest as you can see from the ones with wings in this picture.

This migration will take place each morning for about a week then they will be gone until this time next year. The ants are only active at early morning. They start a couple of hours before daylight and continue until a couple of hours after the sun is up.

It took me over an hour to sweep up or step on all the ants inside the front door and the path I took running for the shower. I looked out the door this morning (with the porch light on) and they are there again. Thanks..... but no early meditation for me this morning.

Later in the day my daughter took me to the grocery. I bought my usual 6 months of stock up items. I usually go in March and September for the stock up trips. I held off until now instead of going in March hoping to save money.

Geeze..... I'm starting to hate these trips! I keep getting a big sticker shock. I thought I had trimmed my list down in order to save some money. Didn't happen. I spent just as much for far less than I did a few months ago. I guess it was a good thing I had trimmed down the list or I would have spent more than my budget would allow.

I wanted to buy a stand up mixer with bowl, a double boiler pot, some loaf pans, and a cookie sheet. Nope, can't afford those this trip. Maybe next trip. I did look at the cost. I hope to put these in my budget for the fall trip. If the economy gets a little better about that time.... well I can wish can't I?

I also passed on getting any fresh vegetables and fruits this time. I'll miss the apples and the bananas most of all. I always like to make fresh banana bread and apple pies after my grocery trips. I wanted to buy a couple of green pepper plants too but I couldn't afford those. I didn't go anywhere near the garden plants so I wouldn't be tempted to spend for what I can't afford.

Gee... I'm starting to sound like a pity me person. Not true! I'm just recording the trip in my journal for the grands and great grands to read someday. For them all the high gas problems and economy woes will be a part of history. I enjoy reading my grandmother's journal from just after WWll when there was rationing. Maybe someday descendants of mine will enjoy reading my journals about these economic times too.

Ok, I have a busy day ahead of me. All those groceries have to be put away somewhere..... but where? I also have a quilt on the machine to get started on and the baby will be here in just a few minutes. Time for me to stop journaling and go do some work.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I don't have any pictures of finished quilts today. I did get one quilt done on Thursday but it left here before I could take one of it.

The baby was sick on Friday. She has a virus infection with a fever and stuffy nose. She's too little to blow her nose so I stayed close enough to help her when she had trouble breathing. Needless to say I didn't get any work finished. She was more important.

Yesterday I let the machine sit idle while I tackled this room.... AGAIN! This is where everything lands until I have time to sort it all out.

There is more in this room than just fabrics. There is clothes someone gave me that fit. I still need to clean out the clothes from my closet that don't fit anymore before these can go in there. I think I've lost about 70 lbs. I also have some Christmas toys for the grands, a bin full of family photos and stuff, a couple of small tables I want to paint, some boxes I save for sending customers their quilt or to turn into nice storage boxes, etc, etc.

There is plenty of things under my design walls too.

Here it is. This is looking into the closet.

Here's a view of the room after I sorted it all out. The view into the closet.

And the view into the room.

The clothes that were too big have gone to the thrift store and new smaller ones took their place in my bedroom closet. Christmas gifts are wrapped and stored in another room. Boxes are either broken down and stored or setting in the kitchen waiting for me to make them prettier. Fabrics are sorted and folded. WIPs and PIGs are back in the right place. Batting scraps and some scrap fabrics were picked up by a charity group. Tshirt backs have been sorted into colors and stored ready for making into rugs. The tables are on the porch waiting for me to paint. So, everything is cleaned out and ready for me to start tossing things in there again because I don't take the time to sort.

On another note.... just about everyone who knows me personally can tell you that I am a very giving person. It's the main reason I do so much for charity and share by posting to my helpful hints blog. I will share new techniques I'm creating or let people see what quilt I am working on for myself. Last week my giving nature decided to bite me on the butt. What happened is very personal and definitely not something I plan to tell all over the internet or talk about with customers or friends. It's happened before and believe me... those bites on the butt are very painful.

I have decided it will be best if I keep my WIPs, PIGs, and new techniques hidden from view until after they have been finished. If it be a contest quilt I'm working on it will not be shown until it's actually in the contest. If I'm working on a new piecing technique I will not let it be seen until I've had a chance to perfect it. I'd like to be the one teaching it.

I moved all my current quilt projects out of my studio and into another room so they can't be seen by anyone coming into my home. I will only take them out when no one will be here but me. I'm keeping all posts to the helpful hints blogs as drafts until I've had the chance to get the most use out of them before sharing.

If anyone is tempted to email and ask what happened..... DON'T. I will not answer. If you want to send a note of encouragement..... PLEASE DO! Happy notes are most welcome right now.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sometimes the answer is no. You know how a kid will want something and ask the parents for it... they beg and plead... they act like it will be the end of the world if we don't give it to them.... they try to wear us down by begging over and over again so we will give in.... but because we are the parents.... we must say no sometimes and be firm about it. That's how it is for me wishing and wanting to get a new computer so I can create portrait quilts. I make my desires known to the wish fairy.... sometimes she says no. I beg and plead with more wishes..... but she stays firm and says no.

After thinking about it and repeating my mantra all day yesterday..... I realize it's probably best that I don't get a new computer right now. If I had a new one I would want to be creating instead of working. Creating is maybe money..... but the tops I have in my studio ready to be quilted are sure money.

You ever hear the saying..... your eyes were bigger than your stomach? That's the way it is for me and the portrait quilts. My desire is much bigger than my wallet. Besides, if I got started creating those quilts I'm sure I would be spending money on printer ink and printer paper and fabrics and other such things instead of saving for the needed repairs for my house. Yup, fate and the wish fairy sometimes have better wisdom than I do.

So on to a more pleasant post.... NaNa bought baby Jewell a new swing. Something to keep her occupied when she is bored. Oh, and check out the big hair on such a small baby.

This is her right after I put it together and tried her in it. Looks like she is thinking.... hmmm, what is this thing? Oooo..... a new toy on it too.....

I'm not really sure... but I'll give it a try. Let me give NaNa a half grin....

It kinda feels like NaNa's lap.... Ok, I'll give NaNa a big bubbly kiss..... (she is making kissing noises these days)

YUP, feels just like NaNa when she rocks me..... If I just turn a little this way.... and get really comfortable.... and hug my bear... I can take a nap. Swinging doesn't take long for her to go to sleep.

It gave me a little time to check on my tomato plants before going back to work. When I bought these plants they were only a couple of inches tall. Now they are about a foot tall. I hope one of these will provide shade for my porch as well as food as it matures. It's supposed to be a climbing cherry and should grow to about 6 foot tall. I'll post pictures of it now and then as it grows so you understand about the shade. The other is a yellow pear tomato. An old time variety. I didn't see a need for buying a special pot for these.... the bag works just fine. A few holes in the bottom for drainage is all that is needed.

Time to go to work now....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Another dream bites the dust.

Or as a friend once said.... another boulder is in the path I follow. I must take another direction, which will take me even longer to reach the goal. I'm not sure I have the strength in me to walk around this boulder or follow a new path.

My computer MUST be replaced. Unless I get a new computer I won't be able to create the patterns for the portrait quilts I want to make. My current computer doesn't have a slot for adding more memory. The current memory is not enough.... even after uninstalling almost everything I had on it.

Several years ago my computer was given to me when someone was upgrading to a new one. Instead of putting his old one into a landfill... he gave his old one to me. The windows version installed on it belongs to the old owner.... not me... so in effect it's considered pirated. Which means I can't install the service pack 2 that is required to run software for creating portrait quilt patterns.

The computer doctor offered to sell me another computer that would do what I needed... for only 600 dollars.... gee he might as well have asked for the moon. He said I could go onto the Dell website and get one for about 500 dollars and pay shipping.... again, asking for the moon.

When.... oh when.... will I stop torturing myself with this desire to create portraits in fabric!! Today as I work I will repeat a mantra..... stop torturing yourself.... give up the dream.... stop torturing yourself.... give up the dream...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Today's finished quilts. This one is crib size. It has bows on the solid blocks.

Little heart bears on the side triangles.

Flutterbys on the border.

Line dancing bows on the strippy blocks.

This one is a wall hanging.

Sometimes it's hard for me to see a continuous line path for the stitching so the quilt will have lots of stops and starts.

These pieces are very tiny.

Tiny pieces mean tiny designs. But... a leaf is a leaf and a feather is a feather no matter what size you draw it.

This is a much larger quilt. Can you believe this is the first quilt for this person? A really big challenge for a beginner. It has all the piecing of what I would consider advanced and difficult. I'm surprised at how well she pieced it for a first quilt.

In my opinion a beginner should not start with such difficult piecing. Most beginners don't understand the difficulty of working with bias. Almost every piece in this quilt has a bias edge. Bias is difficult to work with even for advanced toppers.

If this person does this well with a first quilt.... she will be a good one to watch as a show winner in the future.

See how well she did with the bias pieces of the center star? The very first one I did with side triangles wound up in the make something else out of it stash. Of course that was many, many years ago.

This one is a wall hanging.

Every strip has a different design on it.

With this quilt I was able to do some practicing of my border designs. I need more practice on the backtracking.

Near the end of the quilt I did kind of run out of different ideas. I may have to come up with some new ones and put them in my sketchbook just in case I get another one of these.

That's it for today. I may not post again for a few days. My computer is going back to the computer doctor today. This time to get more memory added. 512K just isn't enough anymore. I was told I could get it back by the end of the day.... but that rarely happens. There is always something to keep me from getting it back when they say.

This is the first step toward making the portrait quilts that I'm so anxious to create. The next step will be to save money for the picture cropping software. Then save for a new printer. One small step at a time.... will eventually get me to my goal. In the meantime, I best get into the studio and start on the next customer quilt.

Quilt show thoughts

I may have the answer about how a judge picks a quilt show winner. I tossed and turned all night.... dreaming I was in a tv guessing game. I was loosing because I kept giving the wrong answers. I just know I'm missing some important key issue about how to actually win a ribbon at one of the 'big show' competitions. It can't possibly be recognition by the judges of the work of a big name quilter so their quilts get higher scores!

I finally got up about 3:00 am to go look for one of my critique sheets. I just felt the answer was there in that sheet somewhere. This post is my attempt to put into words what I believe MIGHT be the way a judge chooses.... or doesn't choose... a quilt for a ribbon.

I used the MQX critique sheet since it was the most current one I have. It was also the quickest one to find in my stacks and stacks of papers. The MQX critique sheet gives us 12 chances to get 100 points. 12 questions with points from 1 to 10. Sort of like in school where the teacher gives a test for a possible 100 points but adds in a few bonus questions for extra credits just in case the student misses a question or two. The judge must assign a number of points instead of a verbal answer to each of the questions.

The first question on the MQX critique sheet is called Construction: Overall Impression. Imagine.... if you will.... the judge standing or sitting while quilts are paraded in front of them by the helpers. A secretary is taking notes as the judge voices their reaction in numbers. Secretaries are used so the judge doesn't have to take their eyes off the quilts. On a scale of 1 to 10 here are some possible reactions to their overall impression.

0. Oops! Wrong category.
1. It hurts my eyes, I can't look anymore!
2. Oh, no, not another one of those! I've seen a million of them.
3. Ok, this one does not hurt my eyes but I don't understand the design.
4. This is getting easier; although the quilt doesn't say anything to me.
5. Much better. It looks kind of nice.
6. Interesting design. Certainly different and well done.
7. This one really draws my attention. A new design. Maybe I should take a closer look.
8. Hmm... now that's really nice. A very unusual, compatible design. I want a second look.
9. Oh my goodness.... I wonder how she or he did that?
10. OH WOW! Eye candy! I can't take my eyes off it.... you can go ahead without me... I want to sit here and look longer. I'm in heaven!

So.... now the first round of judging is done. Each of the quilts have gone through and gotten a score on the first question. The quilts are paraded in front of the judges for 3 more rounds of competition. They are: design and color; top design and piecing; finished edge technique. Each time points are given based on the reaction as the quilt is viewed by the judge. It's sort of like when the girls parade in front of judges in a Miss America competition. All of the girls are very pretty and all have unique talents. It up to the judges to give points based on their reactions each time the girls parade through. (side note: I wonder why there isn't a Mr America contest?)

I'll skip going through an explanation of all the construction questions on the critique sheet. Instead let me try explaining my vision of what it must be like in the first round of the machine quilting competition questions. The sheet says Machine Quilting; Overall Impression. This could be what the judges are thinking as they answer for each quilt and say a number.

0. Oops! Wrong category.
1. Why did they leave so many places without quilting?
2. Oh no.... not more meandering!
3. I can see tension issues from way over here.
4. Just look at all those tiny thread tails at the stops and those large stitches at the starts.
5. Hmm... Interesting design. Why did they put fishes on a quilt made of flower fabrics?
6. This is better but the quilter should practice more for smooth curves and backtracking.
7. Good design choice. The quilting is balanced; it adds to the fabrics; its executed well.
8. Ooooo... now this is really nice. It's speaking to me to take a closer look.
9. Wow, this is very different. I can see it took a lot of effort to accomplish this design.
10. Wait! Don't take it away! I want to stay here and look for awhile. Does anyone know how this person accomplished this quilting technique? Make a note to find out who this person is.... after the judging.... and sign them as a teacher next year!

I'm only guessing here in my post. Surely the quilts don't parade through but rather the judge stands or sits in front of each quilt answering all the questions on the critique sheet before going to the next quilt. She or he probably voices the impression in a number while keeping the comments secretly held in their head. Unless it's a positive comment. You think maybe quilt judges are taught numbers to represent thoughts as a second language?

I don't believe the judges tally up the scores on the critique sheets either. I think it's left up to the secretary to do that. It keeps the judges from saying they want to change a quilt's score. Maybe that's why the scores are written in ink too. No erasers. But.... who is checking the addition done by the secretary? Does the secretary have a secretary?

At the end of all the viewing and scoring; the quilts with the most points are the ones who get the ribbons. I still have a mental picture of judges saying inny, menny, minny, mo as a tie breaker if there is more than one quilt with 120 points. Surely that can't be true though. There must be a tie breaker set of questions for the judges to use. There probably is also another round of competition to choose the best of show quilt. Using only the winners of all the categories.

Well anyway, this is how I view, with a little humor thrown in, the possible way quilts earn ribbons in a quilting show competition. Now that I have a better understanding about how judging might take place maybe I will have a better chance at getting a "big show" ribbon next year. It certainly won't hurt me to try.... again.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

More finished quilts. I've been working lots of overtime to try catching up on the work I'm behind on doing. Blogger does funny things when I download pictures. This is the last quilt finished. I only had to stitch around the embroidery since the rest of the quilting was already done by someone else.

I used mono thread.

This was the second quilt finished. I pulled out some of my older designs to use on this one.

A formal feather on the outside border, le lace on the inside border.

I don't know how to describe the stitching design on the blocks. They are a kind of flowery design.

Same thing in this one. The pictures should be click able to get a closer view.

This is the first one I finished. I wanted to do a golf ball and tee but they didn't look right when stitched. It kind of looked like wonky circles and pins. It was too many stops and starts too.

I opted to do generic designs of leaves and line dancing instead.

This shows the line dancing in the pieced stars.

I stitched a flying geese design on the middle border, leaves on the outside border, and a curl and leaf design on the inside border. I got the idea for the curl and leaf from the fabric used.

I have another small quilt up next. The small quilts give me a sense of accomplishment after a long week of one quilt only. I try to balance between a large difficult top and some smaller easier ones so that I don't get too frustrated with time getting away from me.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Well this quilt is finally finished. I started on it Saturday. Its one of those premarked quilts but the marking on this one was too faint for me to follow. The customer said it was ok to do a different design than was marked. In my opinion the pre marked tops don't have nearly enough quilting in them if I just follow the design. The designs are originally made for hand quilting.

I did a freehand flower design along the outside edge. Freehand feather near the center design.

A meander inside the circles. Stitch in the ditch around the appliqué.

Very small cross hatching in the center area.

Dime size small....

Here is a close up of the feathers and a view of the outside edge.

I have more of these to do. It's very hard to stay on a schedule of 2 or 3 quilts a week when I have several of these quilts that take a week each. These quilts have me waaaaaay behind schedule. I'm going to work on a couple of smaller, simpler tops before tackling another one of these. Maybe it will help me feel like I'm accomplishing something if I see a quilt finished in less than a week of work. It will help my budget too.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

More clothing quilting

Today's finished quilt. It's the clothing quilt I pieced several days ago. The design was the customer's idea. He likes simple designs.

Clothing quilts can be challenging because there is such a wide variety of fabrics.

A simple design needs simple quilting.

You can see how this quilt was created on my helpful hints blog. It's a great way for a quilter to go green! While creating this morning's post, I realized I don't have a quilt for my own bed. I create quilts all the time for my own bed.

As luck would have it.... everytime I finish a quilt I believe will be for my own bed.... there is a birthday or a wedding or a charity in need of a quilt..... so I give them the one intended for my own bed.... before I get the chance to sleep under it. This doesn't look good! A professional quilter should have at least one quilt on her own bed. Even my furkids have quilts of their own. I gotta start another one for my bed.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Today's finished quilt. The customer brought me the pattern directions for me to quilt just like it was in the instructions. It has meandering in the background behind the flower appliqué.

1 1/2 inch cross hatching on the border.

There wasn't any stitching done on the flower centers before it was brought to me so I did a tiny serpentine line around those and a stitch in the ditch around the petals like was in the directions.

I worked on this quilt instead of doing the binding on the Friday deadline quilt. I'll have to finish that one today for sure. I also have a very large pre marked top on the machine ready to go. My best guess it that it will take me about a week to get it quilted if I work at least 10 hours a day. It's very hard to stay on schedule when I get so many of these very large time consuming quilts in a row.

Maybe I should re work my waiting list and only put one quilt a week on it instead of 3 a week. It will mean a lot less income and a lot less to pay bills with.... but.... also a lot less deadline stress.