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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.


Monday, March 30, 2009

A finished quilt.... finally

This quilt seemed to take forever to finish. It wasn't the quilt that was the problem... it was my time. Every time I thought I could get back on the machine to do the quilting something came up to keep me away from the machine.

You will probably recognize the designs from this one. The customer wanted the same designs I did on her other quilt not long ago. There is a feather on the border and a leafy design on the inside border.

A flower and curl design on some of the blocks.

A different flower and curl on these blocks.

A leafy vine on these blocks.

I have the next two loaded onto the machine. I can't get started on them just yet though. I have some blood tests scheduled at the clinic this morning. I don't want to get into a quilting rhythm and forget about the time. I can't have my morning coffee which is a bummer! I'm not much good in the morning until I've gotten some caffine in me.

We never made it to the cemetaries over the weekend. My brother didn't think it was a good idea for us to be walking around in the rain (storms) so we have postponed our trip for another time. Next time we are planning on going a little further and include my SIL so she can visit the graves of her parents.

I will have to set the star quilt aside.... again. Hopefully for only a few days though because I really want to get that one finished. The reason I have to set it aside is that I was looking through my waiting work and realized I have two contest quilt tops that have a deadline looming. These belong to a lady that lives in South Carolina. I have to get these finished and shipped off to her in time to take pictures and send in her entry forms.
Looks like I won't be going to Paducah this year. Too many quilts still behind schedule for me to get away. Not enough money in my budget either. Bailing out my kids has cleaned the savings account again. Kids are more important than spending time at a quilt show.
Quick inexpensive lightbox

Ok, you don't use a light box very often. When you really need one you don't have it. You can't justify spending the money for something you might use once or twice a year? (Or every few years.)

Here's a quick solution. Find a cabinet drawer. This one happens to be at the end of my intake table.

You don't even have to empty the drawer. This one holds some of my templates and rulers but you could use a kitchen cabinet drawer as well.

For this light box you will need a piece of plexiglass large enough to go past the sides of the drawer. This is the plexiglass that I used to use when doing pantograph quilting from the freehand side of my machine. You will also need a small light as well. This light happens to be one I had.... can't remember for what purpose though. I remember buying it on the discount table of the hardware. I think it may have been an idea I had for getting more light over my kitchen sink at some point in time.

This works great for a temporary light box.

Oh yes, and it is the right height for pulling up a chair if I plan to be there very long.

The biggest drawback to using a drawer is where to put the excess part of a quilt you are not working on. If you are in the kitchen the counter can hold the excess.... but clean the counter off first.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A quilter's thought about house insulation

I was going through my things again trying to get it into some semblance of order when I came across this. It's a book I started writing sometime about 1982. Never got it finished though. Anyway, I had told a friend that I had been writing about being frugal long before this current crisis started and here's one of the notebooks.

This is the pages where I planned the chapters. As you can see I had made a lot of notes.

At the time, I was living without utilities (no gas or lights) most of the time; because, I simply couldn't afford utilities on my limited budget. I would write things out in a notepad then go to the library to type it on an electric typewriter. That's what we used back then.

Here are a few of the drawings I had done to illustrate the book. This one is about using an inner tube to make hot water for a shower.  Of course you had to have a very private place to shower or else wash the clothes you had on at the same time as you showered.  Has anyone seen a tire inner tube lately?  Hmm... showing my age here aren't I?

This illustration I drew is about baking cakes or cornbread on the grill.

This illustration is about keeping cool when the temperature reaches 100 but you can't turn on the fan or air conditioner.

This illustration is for when you only have a couple of pieces of charcoal left but you still need to feed the kids.

This one is maximizing the amount of light you get from a lamp or a candle using aluminum foil covering cardboard.

This one is washing clothes when you can't turn on the washer.

This one is how you make one bag of ice last a week to keep your cold foods cold.

I spent a few minutes going down memory lane. I thought it might be interesting to share one of the chapters of the book. It's understanding the importance of insulation. I hope you find it as humorous as I intended for it to read. I updated it a little so it fits today's economy a little better.

A quilter's understanding of home insulation
(SPEW ALERT! Put down the coffee before reading)

Even though insulation is one of the most important (and boring) issues of the day, many people just don't know how it actually works. I certainly don't. I have read dozens of articles in how to books and searched numerous online sites about how to insulate and weatherstrip my home. I found that they are all full of terms I don't understand; like this, "when caulking your windows, be sure to put a one-eighth-inch bead of polyvinyl-butylacetate caulking between the jamb and the main soffitt, adjacent to the eave cornace, taking care not to dislodge the...."
Now I've looked at my windows and I cannot for the life of me locate any of those things. All I have in my windows are pieces of wood and poisonous spiders. I don't have the vaguest idea where to put the caulk. This is a problem because, as you have noticed, caulking guns are designed so that as soon as you pick them up the caulk starts oozing out. It keeps oozing out until there is none left. This is a clever ploy by the manufacturers to keep themselves employed when everyone else is getting layed off.
Well anyway, I end up standing outside the window looking for the eave cornace with caulk oozing onto my sandle clad feet. I finally give up, spear some caulk on the spiders, and go inside.
So I thought, as a public service, I would explain home insulation in layman's terms. Layman's terms is a secrete code for.... "words that any idiot can understand". I will use a handy question and answer format... that's where I make up the questions then answer them too. Sort of like talking to myself. Heck, it's a lot easier than answering real questions.
Question: How does insulation work?
Answer: Try this little experiment. Make yourself a good stiff gin and tonic. Be sure to put in plenty of ice. Now drink it quickly. Notice how cold the glass feels? Now make yourself another stiff gin and tonic.... only this time wrap a paper towel around the glass before you drink it quickly. Notice how much warmer your hand feels? Even your stomach feels warmer, doesn't it? Try this experiment a few more times and you will have all kinds of insight into insulation. It also works fairly well on the wall street crisis or the middle east crisis too.
Question: What type of insulation should I buy?
Answer: Definitely do not buy synthetic insulation which comes in all the pretty pastel colors. Synthetic pastel colors might work in a quilt but is not for good insulation. It's harsh and scratchy and leaves you covered with prickly little thingies that will never come off as long as you live. I suggest you buy insulation that is naturally soft and washable and can be dyed to match the colors of your home's decor. Cotton is always a good choice.
Question: What is "R-value"?
Answer: Nobody knows. It's just one of those terms the professional insulation guys make up and toss around to confuse the heck out of us laymen. They get paid more for using big words. "Relative humidity" is another example of those terms.
Question: What about blown-in insulation?
Answer: Hmm... blown in insulation is fine.... if you don't mind the taste of insulation in your mouth and wads of spit covered insulation all over the place.
Question: How much insulation do I need?
Answer: The equilivant of about 5000 yards of quilting fabric worth.
Question: How does the energy tax credit work?
Answer: As I read the law, if you sincerely believe in conserving energy, you can deduct all the money you spend on anything. Go back and do the drink test again... it will help you understand the tax credit much better.
Well that's enough clear, step by step information to get you started on insulating your home. If you have any further questions write them on a three by five card and lay it on the work table of your quilting room. Can't find the table? In that case the bottom of a fabric crumbs drawer will do fine.

Does it work?

With the economy being the way it is people are looking for alternative uses for traditional items. I thought I might start posting about some of the things I try or have tried in the past.

This is one of them. A few weeks ago, I was having a poor signal from my tv. I thought maybe it was because of the new digital on an old tv. Well after some research I came across this helpful hint. I didn't bookmark the site so I'm not exactly where I read it.

The hint is..... if there is a poor signal on a tv that is stacked on top of a vcr.... there might be a fight between signals on the two devices causing both to give off poor signals. To separate the two put a piece of aluminum foil between. This should break up the fight. So I tried it. So far.... so good. I get a much better quality picture.
A part of this hint is a very old one. Back in the days before cable people used rabbit ear antennas or had one on the roof, aluminum foil was used to "boost" the signal. Some said it worked but others said it was just wishful thinking. I was a believer and had aluminum foil on the ends of the rabbit ears.
I'd be interested to know if others try this and whether it works for them or not.
It wasn't too bad

My doctor appointment was at 8:30. I was there at 8:15. I sat in the waiting room until 11:00. Was called to sit in the exam room. I sat there until 12:20. Doctor came in and was there for about 10 minutes. I was given some new prescriptions and sent to the lab. I was out of there by 12:50. Prescriptions are filled at the pharmacy in the building but wouldn't be ready until 2:00. I decided to visit the thrift store across the street while I waited.

I ended up getting two pairs of summer pants, two shirts, a roasting pot, and a set of coffee cups for my daughter. I realized when I was at my daughter's house last weekend that she didn't have any coffee cups for my coffee. It's just not right to drink coffee from a glass.... know what I mean? I had thought I might find a mug or two but this was a really lucky find. These match her dishes perfectly. I do love the blue enamel ware cooking pots. I wish I could find more of them at the thrift store but either people don't donate them or I'm just not there at the right time.

I realized a few weeks (or was it months) ago that my clothing was starting to look a bit ragged. I rarely think of buying myself clothes. As long as my clothes are clean and my body is covered, I don't pay much attention to what I'm wearing. Maybe because I'm not much for simply "looking" while shopping. I like to get in then get out of stores as quickly as possible. Unless of course I'm looking at fabrics or the latest quilting gadgets.

Another thing that bothers me is that when I buy brand new clothing they fit somewhat ok until I wash them. I don't like paying good money for something I will only get to wear once before it shrinks or goes wonky. At least by getting things from the thrift store they have already been washed. I don't have to worry about shrinking or wonky looking clothes. I do wash them again before I will wear them.

When I got home I found a message from Bethany (a blog reader) explaining how to fix this problem star quilt with the small center. Thank you Bethany! I can't work on it this weekend but hopefully I can get it done this coming week.

Some people would say.... why bother to fix it? Well it's like this. Memory quilts are especially dear to my heart. There is just something about them that compels me to finish them for the one who has passed away. I also enjoy the look on the face of the loved one when they see it finished for the first time. Many get tears in their eyes which really fills my heart with pride. Not for myself; but, for the one who didn't finish the quilt before it was too late. At last it is finished and there to be enjoyed by those left behind. This is when I can almost hear an angel whisper in my ear..... thank you.

My brother should be here pretty soon to pick me up. We are visiting cemetaries where my sons, my husband, and our father are buried. The first cemetary where one of my sons and my husband is buried is a little over two hours away so that's the first one we will go to. We will make a circle to the other cemetaries before heading back here. It should be a very pleasant, although sad, day.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Set aside for awhile.... and still a puzzler

This top was brought to me back last fall. It was in pieces. The star points were already made by hand. All I was to do was set it with the corners and side triangles and quilt it. When I put it on the machine the fullness was way, way, way too much to quilt out. Almost a full star point fullness. In other words I could fold up one complete star point before it actually was straight on the machine. The owner agreed to let me set it aside until spring. Spring is here and now it's time to get this one done. Done is good.

This one has me really stumped as to how to quilt it. It looks pretty good just laying on the table. The fullness is not too noticeable.

This is one corner where I have pulled it into straight. That's about a 8 inch fold.

This is the opposite side with it pulled into straight. Another 8 inch fold.

The main problem seems to be in the center and not around the outside. I'm not getting paid to take the whole thing apart, re cut the pieces, piece it all over again, and then quilt it too. Besides, it was made by the owner's mother who has passed away. This is the last quilt she was working on when she passed. If I remake the top it will not be her work, it will be mine. I have to keep her work for the memories. There isn't anymore fabric either.
I'm wondering if I can take the stitching out of the center pieces to relieve the tightness and maybe make a new center? I can do that much if it would work. I have a small piece of fabric in my stash that closely matches the corner fabric that I could use to make a new center. Anyone have any suggestions?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Moving right along

I have this quilt on the machine. I got it all stabilized and started doing some of the quilting on the blocks.

At the end of the workday I sat down with my schedule calendar. I was trying to figure out how close I am to getting caught up. At first glance I thought I was really close. Oh gee whiz.... I found some obligations I had forgotten about. So it seems that I won't be back on schedule just yet. Maybe by the end of April?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Productive day

This is the next finished quilt. It's all about sports.

So I did a sport theme for the quilting. This is the first border.

The second border.

The third border.

And the fourth border. The extra lines all over the designs are quilter's chalk.

The pieced blocks got line dancing.

The inside border got flying geese. There could be geese flying over a ball field of clover.... right? The clover is on the sashing.

I got the next quilt ready and onto the machine. Started working on it; but, I realized I would be fighting the machine again. That means a bit of lint someplace. It also occurred to me I will be gone this weekend. Friday, a doctor appointment that could take all day. Saturday, going to the cemetary to visit my sons and my father. Sunday, going to visit Mom in the nursing home.

Rather than just track down one piece of lint to keep quilting, I decided to go ahead and do the thorough cleaning of the machine and table. Hmm.... I don't want anyone thinking I don't take good care of my machine. I do clean the bobbin area at every bobbin change. Not thoroughly, just a general cleaning. I oil my machine regularly too. The cleaning I'm talking about doing is the not so routine cleaning. The taking apart everything, clean really well, and put it all back together again cleaning.
I have a problem with black dust dots. On the table the dust dots look white but on other things they look black.... like these dust dots on this cabinet.

Or these black dust dots on the floor.

The black dust dots get onto the bottom of my shoes and are carried all over the house. Here are some that ended up on my bathroom floor. I dust mop the studio floor two or three times a day but these dust dots re appear like magic. The floors in the other rooms don't get dust mopped as often. Heck, in the time it would take to dust mop all the floors, I can get a whole lot of quilting done. Besides..... who's gonna see the other rooms but furkid Dylan and me?

I get started cleaning the machine. I find bits of lint under here. I remove the pointer holder and clean it really good.

I find lint and threads wound behind a couple of wheels. All the wheels get removed, cleaned, and put back on.

The table.... geeze, how long has this been here? Ok, only since the begnning of xmas season... but that's too long. I move everything from under the table, get down on the floor, and start cleaning.

Aaaah.... that's much better.

Hmm... can't have a clean table with dirty velcro now can I?

The velcro gets cleaned when I'm cleaning the rest of the table. Much better now.

The bobbin area is cleaned more thoroughly than the regular day to day routine. I take the cover off and get to all the tiny hidden areas.
What I save for last is the dirtiest job of all. Cleaning the tracks and the bed. Wiping the bed off is not a big deal but just look at all the teeth and placement marks. It takes time to clean all these with a q-tip.

The tracks and wheels get this really awful black residue on them. I clean the tracks and wheels with crome polish and tissues. See what I get? Just looking at the tracks they seem clean enough but geeze..... clean them with crome polish and you'll see they aren't so clean after all.

That's where the black dust dots come from. Dust from the tracks that somehow finds it's way onto everything else in the room.... especially the floor.

I never got around to removing the leaders to wash them. It would take too much time. Down time for the sake of clean leaders is not something I have right now. Maybe this is something I can get done this weekend since I probably won't get much quilting done.
So why is it so difficult for me to find time to clean the table more often? Well, it seems when I'm running really far behind schedule customers don't want to hear me say..... "I couldn't finish your quilt by the deadline because I had to clean the machine table." I delay the task as long as I can. I only stop for the thorough cleaning when it's causing many quilting problems.

Oh geeze.... look at the time.... I'm loosing quilting time sitting here type-talking.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What a day!

First, here is the next finished quilt. It's already been picked up by the owner. This is the one that had me stumped about what to quilt on it. The owner was happy with the design I did. Whew. I always worry until I hear they are happy with the design.

I did stitch in the ditch around the stars then meandered in the background to make the stars pop out.

I did line dancing in the row squares and a leafy.... hmm.... feathery.... hmm... ribbony? Oh well it's what you see. Did this in pieced squares.

Then did this spiky leaf design on the sashing. It compliments the spikes of the stars.

I had the next quilt on the machine just a working away. I finished the starting row and then quilted the first part going down the sides.... nope, that's not gonna work. It needed something different so I stopped to pick it out so I could do something else.
I start quilting the newer design and suddenly I start getting breaking threads and bad tension. Every inch or two the thread breaks and the tension looks awful. So I spend the next couple of hours trying to fix the problem. Well DUH! It dawns on me what the problem is..... the felt tension disk is dirty. I take apart the tension assembly to clean it. See what I mean?

I start to put it back together...... well dang it! I don't have any more clean felt disks. I swear I had a whole dozen not long ago. Hmm.... just when did I order those last? I look it up and realized these were ordered a year ago. Well no wonder I'm out. I order more and turn the one I have over so I can keep quilting until the new ones arrive. It's a temporary fix but should last for at least two or three days so I can keep quilting.
I've lost nearly a whole day of quilting time. I plan to work a couple of hours later than usual to make up for the lost time. Nope, didn't happen. I got a phone call from Alaska. I'm not going to miss the opportunity to talk with all my grandkids up there! They tell me that they are ok. The volcano is dropping some ash over their place but not enough to harm anything yet. If it gets bad enough they will go stay with relatives in the village for awhile. My great-grandkids are growing fast.
After the phone call its much too late in the day to go back to working so I quit for the day. I've lost my momentum. I go to the computer and start writing some posts which keeps me busy until bedtime.
Today I hope things go a little more smoothly. This weekend I'm going to clean the Gammill and table from top to bottom.... thoroughly! Not just the bobbin area. It's long past due. While I'm cleaning I'll make some notes of things I need to order.
I hear my machine calling me so it's time to get to work.