Monday, January 30, 2012
Not a stitch has been sewn. I've been cleaning house, washing and changing bedding--ooh I love a bed with clean fresh sheets!
If you thought the life of a traveling quilter was glamorous, think again! Rewarding yes---all the way down to my very clean finger nails thanks to a sink full of sudsy hot water and a mop bucket.
I've had a Monday date with none other than Mr. Clean himself. :-)
Usually when I go traveling by car, I’ll take either the Bernina, the Janome or the Featherweight. It depends what kind of work I'm doing -- whether I'm string piecing, paper piecing, precision piecing, or just crumbing along. Is the project big or small? I choose whichever accommodates the project, and what fits the amount of time I think I'll have to actually sew in the hotel room.
One of the hard things with hotel rooms is sewing surfaces ---usually desktop work stations are set up for laptop work, and by the time you put the machine on top of the desk, the chair won’t raise high enough for you to sit comfortably at the machine --- and you find yourself wearing your shoulders up to your ears….this is NOT GOOD!
In the past when DRIVING I’ve taken my Sew Ezi table and set up..putting the machine at perfect height and pieced myself into oblivion while watching reruns of NCIS and loving it.
Remember THIS POST on “Hotel Quilting” from a trip to Chatanooga, Tennesse? It was tight quarters, but I made it work!
And THIS POST from a trip to Alabama shows the BEST quilting room in a hotel I ever had! We could have had a whole retreat in here!
I’ve bought sew-ezi inserts for both the Bernina and the Janome --- but I was wondering what I could do to take the Blue Wizard with me this time.
It won’t fit the cut out area. It sets down too low….but….what if I leave it in its extension table…and just pop out the wooden knob legs?
The machine is in its table…the table rests on top of the opening in the Sew Ezi. The sewing height is perfect…and I’m a happy camper!
If I put some of that rubber "waffle weave" shelf liner between the wood table and the sew ezi surface, nothing slides or slips....it's steady.
At this point, I think all systems are go for my trip up to PA and MD!
I need to spend some time today and tomorrow kitting some stuff up. I’m not sure what I want to do on the borders for MIdnight Flight, but I can grab the stuff I need for Floribunda and finally make a dent in that --- AND. It would be pretty easy to kit up the fabrics I need to make a “Brother’s Choice” version of Sister’s choice – that’s been on the drawing board for a while now.
I’m pumped…road trip with a machine! Stops at antique malls ---just do me a favor and keep the weather mild!
PS – if you have a question on the wooden table, I ordered them a long time ago on Ebay from a guy who we’ve been unable to reach. I was told he may have passed away, so I don’t have any further info on the extension tables for these vintage babies. I was lucky enough to get one for a full size machine, like the one above….and one for a 3/4 size machine, like my Singer Spartan ((Which really also should be let out to sew a bit too!)). There might be someone else making them, but I don’t have the info.
Remember that whole thing I said about not dealing with change well? It doesn’t only apply to sewing machines, cars, furniture and other household objects --- it applies to things like new TV’s and the fact that there are so many remotes in the living room that I won’t watch TV in there because I can’t figure the dumb things out! Supposedly it’s easy….but it’s not familiar to me and I get frustrated so I either watch what is already on, or I leave the room. Forget about trying to figure it out myself when no one else is home because I get so dang frustrated I end up leaving the room anyway!
Books are easy! You just open them!
Kindles are fairly easy --- you turn it on…..
The phone is fairly easy….but it did take me a while to figure it out.
One of the things we did before 2011 ran out was to buy me a new desktop computer because the video card on the other one was dying, it wasn’t worth putting more money into – things were getting obsolete ((Sounds a lot like the sewing machine….I know!)) and and the video card showed every DVD that I put in there with a sickly green cast.
The new desktop computer has sat in its box waiting for me to finish writing the new book manuscript because I had programs on there that I really didn’t want to HAVE to reinstall. This weekend --- it was time to plug in the new computer and I already WANT the old one back, even if it is giving my DVDs a sickly green look….there are programs I can’t get to install at all, like my Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 It works great on my laptop that is less than a year old and is also windows 7 – why won’t it upload onto the new puter? I have no idea. This is the kind of thing I hate! So I’m trying to edit photos in Picasa, which I don’t find as friendly ((Or familiar – and that is my problem)) and my blog post is a bit late this morning because of that…
EVERYTHING needs to be reinstalled, and its going to take a while, but I know eventually I’ll figure THIS computer out too.
So this brings us to what I did yesterday ----I pieced a gazillion more ((No, only really 140)) more 4-patches to go around the border of the Winston Ways quilt. I sewed them on all the Blue Wizard ---and for now I’m happy to be re-bonding with THIS machine!
After assembling and attaching the checkerboard boarder I spent a bit of time digging through my stash of blues to find something that would work for the outer border. HOW many different blues were there to choose from? I have more blue than anything else in my stash, but do you think I could find something I “really” liked? Nope! This was my best choice, a piece I’ve had for quite a while and I wasn’t sure if there was going to be enough of it to do the job…
I barely made it! This is all that is left of that long length of border….a piece about 4.5” X 11” or so….so I’ll slice that down and have a 2” strip and a 2.5” strip to add to the pre-cut strip bins.
The digging didn’t stop with the blue border! I needed a backing! Blues and turquoises, what can I clean out? The two side panels were one length of yardage split down the center….but the two center pieces? Look closer!
I don’t know if you can even tell from this pic, but the two center blues are Millenium fabrics, circa 1998! The tone on tone one above the gold 2000s looks like blue corks to me…whatever…it’s got a purpose and it’s going to be a back!
So I guess I’ll be spending today uploading and re-installing all my favorite programs that I use on a daily basis. Change is sure a pain, isn’t it? Oh, Picasa…..I’m not sure that I will ever like you as well as my photoshop ----why can’t I get this to install?!
PS--- the one thing I notice immediately is that my pictures are TOO LARGE coming from Picasa, when I can't just choose the size I want them by inch and pixels. UGH! Sorry to blast you with huge ones....this is not turning out to be user friendly!
Sunday, January 29, 2012
I’m pretty well embarrassed that it took me til this morning to get through opening the mail.
Mostly I was avoiding the bills that were in there….invoices, contracts, etc --- and knowing that replies couldn’t go out until Monday, I left the pile to sit until I had time to open each and every little thing…but I should have jumped on it sooner!
This has been, hands down, the most fun birthday I’ve ever had! Thank you so much for thinking of me and stuffing my mailbox with such wonderful goodies!
There are too many people to thank. I don’t want this to be a roll call of who sent what ---but the array of cards has cheered my soul!
My hope is that if you sent something, you will recognize it here amidst its friends! There were some great funny ones, and some hand made beauties, and of course cards with quilt themes…love them all!
And there were so many blocks that the table top could not contain the array….so I laid them out in the kitchen!
These blocks will be combined with the other blocks I showed earlier, and yes, I WILL have a 50th birthday quilt! It might take me a long time….kind of like that millenium fabric still hanging around --- do I have the whole decade to make myself a 50th quilt? :cD
This cracked me up….it’s an “over the hill” doll! LOL!!! She came in a box packed with wonderful scraps of all colors and kinds!
Another friend knows how to pack a small box well…these strips were rolled and folded and packed ever so tight!
A friend send a lovely lavender smelling pincushion! Isn’t this adorable? And I love the smell of lavender – the whole BOX it came in smells good now!
She also included a block with our pictures in it….yep, THIS goes in the 50th quilt too!
Here’s a sweet teenie tiny hexagon block……might applique this down to a square and include it in the quilt too!
Thank you so much everyone, for making my birthday SEW SPECIAL!
As for the post about my dying Bernie yesterday ---I want to say this. We all love our machines for various reasons. Machines are like cars --- we all drive different ones and what fits one person is not necessarily going to be what another person likes. I tend to get really attached to inanimate objects that are a part of my every day life.
So to me, as crazy as it sounds --being told it was time for a "new" one was like saying....."Sorry your dog died, but you can get a new one". I know it's silly ----but I'm that attached.
And I want to EMPHASIZE that *I* was the sole responsible one for running Bernie into the ground -- it had nothing to do with the skills of the technician. She's fabulous. Sometimes things are either beyond repair, or it becomes a money pit to keep putting funds into a machine that will continue to have problems due to aging circuit boards.
When I was little --- my dad traded in our old Corvair --- for a VOLVO. And I hated that car, and I cried and I cried and I cried…((I may have been about 8 or 9)) because I don’t do “different” very well. Never have. When mom got rid of the old ugly colonial style sofa in favor of a newer more comfortable model --- I cried then too. Familiarity is my comfort zone.
All day yesterday I kept telling myself that no matter how much I loved my Bernina 1080, it was never going to love me back. It was just a machine. But so much of my life has gone into that machine..it’s been my haven, my confidant ---my friend. Even if in reality it was just a machine. And that is why I am having such a hard time letting go.
It isn’t about what I can or can’t afford. It’s the feeling I get when I sew on it. Any new machine is going to feel like a stranger, and it is going to take a long time for me to consider a new machine as a friend.
But reading all the comments helped me to see that I can have an older mechanical machine as my travel machine…I need something I can bang around and take with me. And maybe, just maybe, I can have a machine with bells and whistles at home where I can enjoy them without worrying that taking a fancy machine on the road is going to be a danger to the machine.
I never meant to upset anyone by posting what I did --- machine owners are fiercely loyal to their brands, just as we are our cars, our appliances, or anything else that work well for us.
And maybe --- the fact that I don’t do change well, and am fiercely loyal to my friends --- is why I tend to keep them around my whole life as well. They mean THAT much to me.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Here is Midnight Flight all laid out--and I continue to piece on the Blue Wizard machine!!
PS--the blogger app for phone makes updating easy--as long as the message is short and I only do one picture :-/
How do you explain away the utmost sadness that you can feel over the need to retire a well loved much used machine --- to back-up only status?
I bought my first and only-to-date Bernina machine, my 1080, in 1994. It cost me what I thought was an arm and a leg at the time—it was about $1,300. and I thought there would be a divorce involved as well.
But something happened the moment I started sewing on that machine and discovered things like needle up/down –heel tap feature on the foot pedal that has become indispensible -- a walking food that put on bindings straight and true, and a feed dog system that I have never found on any other machine out there, and I’ve owned quite a few. My piecing is NEVER as good on any machine as it is on that Bernina.
Over the years I’ve been pulled and persuaded that this Pfaff with it’s “always connected” walking foot would give me more accurate piecing. That machine and I did not bond well.
I had a Viking 500 that was “okay” as a back up machine…..my friend had it and loved it and said it could do ANYTHING. It was okay, but it wasn’t a Bernina. That machine now lives with my mom, who loves it and uses it.
I found myself talked into a Janome 6500p because of the larger throat space and the knee lift and the thread cutter, but that machine has been relegated to be my paper piecing and string piecing machine….no matter what I try, I just can’t get that machine to sew like the Bernina does.
I have more vintage machines than I care to count --- the only rooms that don’t have a machine nearby in this house would be the kitchen, Jeff’s bedroom, the master bedroom and the bathrooms –there are THREE machines set up in the guest room!
Each machine I love for its quirks and character and history. And yes, I posted about my Blue Wizard machine this morning and the great job it does ----
But still. This Bernina has been my best friend and my confidant over 16 years and has the hard worn scars to prove it!
So --- I have a choice. I can upgrade. But then I have to replace all the feet, and get ANOTHER plexiglass table to fit a newer Bernina. Or I can wait and see if I can find another one just like this 1080 on ebay, that won’t come with a warranty ---and older machines that have been run as hard as mine has may end up with the same demise – a motor blowing carbon, and the places where the motor is attached to the machine being worn away by use and vibration over the years making it impossible to secure a new motor to this machine….her screws have eroded away the screw holes ((I don’t know how to say this technically)) She still makes a beautiful stitch……but without advance notice, she is on the brink of just going kerplunk, never to sew again.
Once something starts to go on her circuit boards….it will be all over!
And then I start thinking about maybe wanting a mechanical Bernina machine – NOT a computerized one….I’ve poked around on ebay, but again you never know what condition the machine is REALLY in if you buy it from someone out of your area without a store front.
All I know is…NOTHING sews like a Bernina. NOTHING. And if you haven’t spent 16 years on one, you probably won’t understand what that means……
My mind is really thinking of finding an older Bernina that is just “mechanical” and not computerized at all ----If you sew on a Bernina 1008, or another "mechanical" Bernina will you leave a comment about your likes/dislikes please?
I expect to feel like I’m getting away with something I shouldn’t when I spend time on a Carribean Cruise in November, or in Southern California or in Florida during January……but it’s been SO WARM here in North Carolina that SPRING THINGS are growing right out of the ground!
I took a walk with Sadie yesterday around the neighborhood…wearing a short sleeved tee shirt with a simple denim shirt thrown over it and I was almost TOO WARM--
Do you see these little iris shoots? They are coming up too early! Oh I hope we don’t get one of our usual February Ice Blasts and kill everything…it’s too soon too soon too soon!
This is a shot of the forsythia bushes that line the bridge that crosses our creek….their buds are plainly visible and close to bursting open. I can’t wait for that delightful abundance of bright yellow ---but this usually doesn’t happen until well AFTER Valentine’s day! The forsythia is the first thing to bloom around here and that is what signals to me that spring has finally arrived. I don’t want any February ice mess to take these away either!
Maybe I should feel more positive. Maybe I should relax a bit and just take this beautiful weather in stride…..fit in all the fresh air walks that I can…..but in the back of my mind this voice keeps saying that it’s too early for the worst of winter to be over yet.
All winter I've been worried about my drive up to Pennsylvania for my visit with the Le Tort Quilt Guild in Carlisle PA for Feb 3rd-5th! And after that I'm headed over to the Annapolis Quilt Guild in MD for a workshop and trunk show with them on Feb 6th. All along I've told them that the driving trip is weather-pending because you never know what weather will do in PA or MD in Feb -- I need it to stay nice enough to drive! It looks like I should be great on the way up...lets hope that it will be safe for my drive home too.
High temps today? Perfectly 61 degrees. Brisk sweater weather, just the way I like it. And I’ll be driving in the bright morning sunshine to go over to Sew Original to pick up my Bernina from Miss Lisa who has given her the once over --- she’s ready to sew a million more miles!
Since Bernina has been gone for her tune-up, I’ve been playing with my vintage machines. My featherweight went with me to Florida, and the stitch wasn’t quite right. Betty told me that there is a guy who retired from 35 years of sewing machine servicing right in the mobile home park where I was staying, and now he just works on the older mechanical machines as a “hobby” and would I like him to tune me up? SURE!!
She spins like a top now and I am so grateful! I don’t know what I would do if she stopped working or if something went really wrong with her. And he didn’t charge me a penny! ((Not to mention that he really loved the paint job on her!))
Being a lover of vintage machines, I told him about my blue wizard ---the 1950’s Japanese knock off of a Singer class 15 machine. I hadn’t sewn on this one for a while, and when I got home, I set the machine up and continued to work on my Midnight Flight quilt ----why had I waited so long to sew again on this beauty? She hums like a dream, has more POWER than my featherweight for fast sewing, and has the BEST stitch! I also love this machine because it takes a FULL SIZE Bobbin...so I don't have to change it nearly as often as the tiny featherweight ones.
And since I’ve done so much sewing on this quilt on this machine, I just might decide to finish the top on this machine ---
Oh, and that pink light? Ikea. best task light available! And only around $10. Much better light than those bendable bright lights that have to be attached to your machine with hooks. It comes in a clip on version also, which would clamp right on to the machine table…so the next time I head to Ikea, I’m going to pick up an extra one!
Yesterday I was able to go from THIS to THIS:
It’s coming along! Remember when I spun all those seams for the 4 patches for the Winston Ways quilt and it took FOREVER but was so WORTH IT?! Same thing with these. I spun all these 4 patch seams while at our retreat at Camp Dogwood in early January with the Bee girls, and when it came to sewing these block halves together, things just nested like they were meant to be! It IS worth it! You just have to be sure that all your seams are spinning the same direction. This little hint should explain more and help you!
Also on the agenda for today…..
A whole pile of birthday mail!! My day was so crazy yesterday getting back into the swing of being home that I didn’t attack this pile….I saved it for the weekend! What do YOU think is in here?! I better go find out --- it’s like waiting for Christmas!
Oh – and if you have a chance to go see One for the Money, The Stephanie Plum movie based on the funny books by Janet Evanovich, GO! DH and I went last night and loved it….Debbie Reynolds is hilarious as Gramma Mazur, the guy that plays Joe Morelli is terrific --- the only one I was not sure of was the guy that played Ranger. I didn’t think he was “dark, handsome and mysterious” enough….nor did he linger on the word "Baaaaabbbbe” the way he did in my mind in the novels --- I also pictured someone with a much thicker Hispanic accent --- but he was good! Could be MY imagination was run amuck during the novels and it tainted my own view. Oh. Lula! HILARIOUS! This is going to be a good series of movies, I can’t wait for the next one!
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Friday, January 27, 2012
I’ve still got Florida on the brain! That state has SO much history that most of us do not know! Looking for the fountain of youth? It was said it could be found there! Ponce De Leon landed in what is now known as St Augustine in 1513. Wow!
I remember a trip down to Key West in the early 1990s --- we drove and drove and drove and thought we’d see so much --- but all you see basically is the greenery that grows between the southbound and northbound lanes of traffic --- and short glimpses of water through the trees and brush….
This novel caught my eye because of a house tour we did while on Key West --- I love old house tours! And this one had a Widow’s Walk up top that you could walk around, much like the wives and lovers of captains past ---looking for ships returning from sea, many of them never to be seen again.
Why? Because those waters were treacherous and many ships found themselves run aground on rocks ---salvaging the remains and contents of these ships was one of Key West’s biggest businesses! And this is where the story comes in…
Windswept is free today in the Amazon Kindle Store and has received a 5 star rating! That’s good enough for me to click it. It was still free for me, so be sure to double check before clicking that it is still free for you too.
"A fresh historical romance that depicts a trade that often goes unmentioned. Salvaging wrecks takes on an exciting dimension courtesy of Ms. Thomason's pen. A little bit of sugar and a little bit of spice mix well to make Windswept' a worthwhile read." --Amy Wilson, The Literary Times Magazine
"Cynthia Thomason once again brings readers a fast-paced story filled with characters so finely drawn they become a part of your life, as you share in their struggles and triumphs. Windswept' brings old Key West and its inhabitants to life, as Jacob and Nora battle greed, judgement, lies and tragedy to find a safe harbor for their love." -- DanaRae Pomeroy, CompuServe Romance Reviews
"Romance, intrigue and family secrets are elements that keep Windswept' so exciting. The characterizations are vivid, and the tense conflict keeps the reader alert. Ms. Thomason has a unique writing style that sparks the reader's emotions in every scene. Windswept' leaves me anxiously anticipating her next book." -- Rendezvous Magazine
Well bred Virginia beauty Nora Seabrook longs for a life of excitement. She finds that and more when her father is appointed newest Federal judge in Key West.
The day she arrives on the island paradise, Nora finds herself toppling from the gangway into the murky waters of Key West Harbor. She is rescued by the bold and brazen Jacob Proctor, owner of the island's most profitable ship wrecking company and the man her father accuses of the most wicked of sins. Jacob knows his is trouble from the moment he pulls the judge's daughter from the harbor.
Nora Seabrook is the last woman he should be involved with. Plus a legacy of pain from his past prevents him from marrying any woman. But the stubborn Nora won't be sent away. Stowing on board the Dover Cloud, Nora travels with Jacob to a clandestine island where he becomes vulnerable to his enemies and the love that is destined to be theirs. Two cultures collide in this sexy and exciting romance.
"A fresh Caribbean breeze of a romance." Four stars... the Detroit Free Press.
Enjoy your Friday evening! I think the plans here are for dinner and a movie….sounds good to me!
Which means I slept in, which means this is a late blog post! You can pretty much tell when I’m home because I didn’t write a post the night before to go live early in the morning like I do if I’m out on a trip and have to leave early to teach a class…THOSE posts I write at night before going to bed so I don’t have to get up extra early in the morning to write!
TODAY – is NOT a teaching day…it’s a JAMMIE day! Or at least a comfy clothes day. I woke up about 8:30, took a shower…had my breakfast and I’ve spent the last little bit going through my photos to figure out what to write about!
I have a new love –AIRPLANE PHOTOS!! The only hard part is they have you turn all electronic devices OFF during the first 10 minutes of the flight, and the last 10 minutes of the flight so most of the time it means you are going to MISS being able to take a phone pic of what you are wanting to get upon take off or landing…
((Just putting it in airplane mode is not good enough, they want everything with an on/off button turned completely off and stowed for the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of the flight, so you can't photograph take off and landing with an electronic device.))
But 10 minutes into the flight…the “ding ding” rang and the flight attendant announced “You may now use your approved portable electronics….” And I hit that power-on button and begged that phone to hurry up and boot on! THIS is the picture I got as we flew along the Florida Gulf Coast heading North. The clouds were puffy --- the water that magnificent blue/green, the sand on the shore! What I couldn’t capture was the first 10 minutes where the water was so clear you could see straight to the bottom. I could see boats making their way out to sea, white specks in that turquoise, their wakes plainly visible from the air.
Our second workshop was My Blue Heaven ---we had a full fun group! However, I think the Canadian Contingency was feeling their lack of sleep over the excitement of the past several days and were much more quiet ((Notice I’m not saying WORN OUT!)) But much quilt shop hopping and class taking and shopping and eating out and sleeping in hotel rooms can wear a body out – ask me how I know!
I had a wonderful surprise at the Trunk Show that night..a couple of them actually! Seems they had arranged for a “Blast from my past” to come up and introduce me! I had no idea what was going on…I was sitting in the front row, she came from the back….
Ellen and I were in the Devine Quilters Guild ((Only called Devine because we met on Devine Street! LOL!)) and she now lives in Sarasota! It was wonderful to touch base with her. If you’ve ever visited Columbia South Carolina, and visited a shop called Carolina Quilter, then you have probably met Ellen. She retied a few years back and moved to Florida and is loving life down there!
The birthday bash continues! Unbeknownst to me, this poster was passed around for all class members to sign and the whole poster fit in my suitcase for display in my studio! What a riot! I had NO IDEA this is what everyone was signing….I was too busy to pay attention!
What happens at the beach stays at the beach! LOL!!
It was a great trip and these ladies were just fabulous! Thank you to the Venice Quilters Guild for making my 50th such a fun and memorable time!