Monday, January 31, 2011

New Block of the Month


Our local quilt shop (LQS) is having a block of the month program again this year.  I collected blocks another year as well, but then either they stopped doing it, or I did, or both.  But they are doing it again this year.  The label says it is Series #7 of the Thangles Block of the Month.  They give you fabric to make two 6" blocks each month for $1.  You have to take the finished blocks the following month to get the next set of blocks for $1. Otherwise you pay $2.  I like this plan, because it will keep me current. The blocks are then put together in a straight setting.  But if you want to enclose the blocks in star points, then you can buy the kit for the optional setting.

They had four different colorways to choose from, and I chose the Civil War ones.  I have decided to make the blocks, and use my own fabric for the star points.

Have you heard of Thangles?  I had a roll of triangle paper that I had purchased for a previous LQS project.  I think it was part of a class.  That paper comes in a roll, and has lines that you sew down and lines where you cut.  It makes it very easy to make a whole bunch of half square triangles at a time.  Thangles is a little bit different because (I think) it is designed to work with jelly rolls.  You know how you would need 2 7/8 fabric to make a 2 inch hst?  With Thangles, you can make 2 inch hsts out of 2 1/2 inch jelly roll, because the paper aligns the pieces so that the some of the little points are already cut off.


I don't normally make practice blocks, but since I had limited quantity of the Civil War fabric, so I did this time.  I am thinking one of the practice blocks will be for Ally's Christmas challenge.  The deadline is tonight for this month, which I won't be able to make, but maybe I will be early for next month.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Quilting Finished!


I am finished with quilting the Simply Squares quilt.  I need to trim and bind it. 

You can thank Zeus for my speedy progress on this quilt.  He leaves me alone to quilt, but when I am sitting on the couch watching tv, or even on the computer, he decides he wants attention.  He is very pushy, putting himself under your hand so you will pet him, or even whining.  He won't just sit next to you; he expects attention the whole time.  Now I have to get him to leave me alone when I am on the computer.  So far, I have been reading blogs, and doing other casual things, so it wasn't a big deal for me to pet him while I was on the computer.  But when I work from home, I am on the computer a lot, and I would prefer to not be interrupted when I am working.

I have been also teaching him the "Go to Bed" command.  I have this big pillow I got for him (the label said "dog bed" and fits perfectly in the crate which we returned). I figured that I could move the pillow to whatever room I wanted him to stay in.  It would be a good command when we needed him out of the way.  We had a couple of training sessions, and he didn't quite understand. He would lie down anywhere on the floor, but we were making progress.

When he was whining yesterday while I was on the computer, I said "go to bed", not really expecting him to do it, because I didn't think he understood the command.  He went straight to the couch, because that is where he sleeps when I am sleeping upstairs. He apparently understands the command, just didn't understand why I was calling the pillow "bed."   When I am downstairs, he generally sleeps in whatever room I am, although he will leave the room if that room isn't comfortable for him. 

I know he has been trained already, but I don't know what vocabulary has been used, so I think I am confusing him by using different words for different things.  Today, I asked him where his toy was, and he got it for me!  He doesn't do it every time, but that might be because he didn't want to play tug of war on a hardwood floor. 

I don't really want to play tug of war with him until he understands the "drop it" command.  I am having a hard time teaching it to him, because when I have the treats out, he drops the toy before I can say drop it.  He still doesn't understand "stand" either, because to him it probably means "come get your treat", and he doesn't understand that it has to do with a body position, even though I am reinforcing "sit" and "down" at the same time as I am teaching him "stand".

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Quilting Progress


Michele asked to see the family friendly quilting, and I am happy to oblige.  As you can see, I quilted an S shape on the left side.  Then, I turned the quilt around and finished out the figure 8 as shown on the right side.  Thank you Paula for the advice.  I am now finished with quilting all of the rows. I am now working on the columns.  There are fewer of them, but they are longer. It is turning out quite nicely.  Even though I could picture what I was doing in my mind, it is always a pleasant surprise when it comes out in real life.

The pros of this quilting design is
  • that it is easy.  It is a nice step up from straight stitching.  You can probably use a walking foot, depending on how big your block is, and not even need to free motion quilt it. 
  • Also, as mentioned before, there are no threads to hide, except for where I ran out of bobbin thread.
  • it yields a family friendly design.
  • Looks more impressive than straight stitching, but it really isn't any more work, and isn't harder.
  • Don't have to draw quilting lines
  • can practice getting an even stitch length
  • don't need to sew a straight line - stitch in the ditch is harder
  • The seams definitely have been quilted into flat submission
The cons is that
  • you are sewing only in one direction, which means you have to stop and adjust the sandwich and your hands regularly. Which is a pain if you don't have needle down on your machine
  • The stitches are closer where I was sewing slower to end in the needle down position.  Not sure if that means the intersections are sturdier (smaller stitches) or weaker (lots of holes in a small space).
  • not drawing quilting lines isn't as neat as drawing them on - if you wanted it neater, you could at least mark where you wanted the stitches to intersect
  • free motion quilting can yield uneven stitch length, depending on your expertise
Edited to add: Another con for this method is that since your sewing is directional, you will have times when the entire bulk of the quilt will have to be on the right side of where you are quilting. Of course, you don't have to leave all of it in the throat, you can move as much as you can behind the machine. Since I have a lap quilt, it isn't too bad, but I think a bed quilt would be much harder.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oprah's High Road


I turned on the television to watch the news, and managed to catch the very last part of Oprah's show. I only knew there was a secret, but not what the secret was. Later, I found out that Oprah's mother had given a baby for adoption, and had kept it a secret for all these years.

I didn't watch the show, so I don't know all the details or how she handled it, but what little bits I do know, makes me think she did an excellent job of taking the high road. I haven't had any issues lately where I have had to watch  my footing on the high road, but it seems like a good time to learn some lessons from Oprah for when I do.

Last night, I dreamed I wrote a post about what taking the high road means. I wrote a list of the ways we can learn from Oprah. Uggh, now I have to figure out what was on the list!

Openness.
I like that she aired the news on her show.  Trying to hide the truth doesn't really work, and by announcing the facts herself, she can avoid a lot of speculation and rumor.


Honesty
Not having watched the show, and not having researched her story, I don't know if there was complete honesty in the disclosure, but it seems like it was.  And by being open, she can keep her reputation as an honest person by not lying or hiding the truth.  And I think honesty is the best policy.

Sympathy
Although it does seem like she had some anger that her mother had kept this a secret, I think she does sympathize with her mother's situation at the time, and understands the adoption decision.

Gratitude
I am glad that she was willing to look at the silver lining, and was able to find it.

Focus
I'm not sure what the right word is for this, but I heard that her friends did not want her to air this secret.  I am glad she kept the focus on the people that mattered.  The mother and her new sister were obviously okay with the airing, since they were a part of it, and they are the ones who are a part of the story.  The other, peripheral, people, are important and can certainly give advice, but their feedback should not be weighed as highly as the people who are a part of the story.  The others have had their turn in their own stories, and probably will in the future.

Listening
She asked questions and listened to the answer.  She didn't assume to know the answers to the questions and for her family members. In the questions I did hear her ask, she asked open ended questions, and did not seem to be leading them.   I know some of this was for the show, and to facilitate the forum of the show, but hopefully, she did the same in real life.
 
Poise

Managing the situation with calm and dignity instead of throwing accusations and joining the argument is a big part of taking the high road, and I think Oprah has done that as well, at least in public.

What does taking the high road mean to you?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chit-chat


My daughter has a tendency to forget her credit card at school when she comes home, but somehow she never forgets the lists of the things that she wants to buy while she is here.  She needed school supplies for an art class she is taking.  I believe it is her only elective, since all the other classes went for her double major. It turns out that the art teacher has been to Japan, and he wants to teach them some calligraphy using Kanji words. She'll have fun with it, I'm sure.  So even her art class will help advance her East Asian studies.

In one of her classes, she has to speak Japanese.  Basically, she and her friend talk while the professor sits and makes sure they are speaking in Japanese.  When I met him, he told me that he has learned a lot about me through these conversations.  Scary!  This weekend, she wanted to know how to translate "neurotic" in Japanese.  I am hoping she doesn't find out, in case she wanted to use it in reference to me. Thank goodness she isn't taking that class anymore.


The newest member of our household is having trouble navigating our hardwood and tile floors.  Those things are much more slippery than I imagined!  I have scattered some rugs on the floors for warmth as well as traction, but I am especially worried about the steps, because they can lead to dangerous falls. I went to a home improvement store where everyone was very helpful, but the young man who was helping me with the slippery steps condition didn't quite get that I don't want indoor/outdoor sandpaper stickies on my hardwood floors inside my house. It wasn't his fault though, because the store probably didn't have a better solution.  They didn't sell carpet treads.




I did find some online here, and these Carpet Stair Treads - Black and Beige Scroll Border should do the trick. Add that to the list of what it costs to own a dog. And a fence. And a new pair of tennis shoes.  He thoroughly licked my shoes clean inside and out while I was out with my daughter.  I think I should be able to hire him out for that service. Maybe that will help offset my credit card bills.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shame




Paula gave me the idea to quilt figure eights instead of just loops, which I thought was an excellent idea.  I was thinking about not using it though, because I had already quilted several rows of the Simply Squares quilt, and I think consistency will look better than changing plans midway.

Then I was reading a blog where the blogger was tired of making more blocks, and trying to decide whether to stop and make the quilt as it was, or make more blocks to make it larger as she had intended.  My advice to her was to make the blocks, unless that would stop her from finishing the quilt at all.  Generally when someone looks at my quilts, they don't know the circumstances that they were made in, so they will look at the quilt as a measure of my skill level.  And combining easy squares with bad quilting, is well, just lazy. Especially since I know a better way.

Yesterday, I quilted a row of S's, then turned it around, and quilted a row of S's over them to make a figure 8.  It looks really good, neat enough for the modern quilters, even.  This means that all of the loose threads will be at the ends, and there will be no threads to bury. I decided to continue with those instead of my original stitching.  I could add them both on the seams and in the centers to create the look that I was originally going for, but I have decided for now that I will just make them on the seams.  The blocks are small, and don't need that much quilting, and I want to make sure I don't run out of the brown thread.  I'll decide for sure when I am done with the seams. 

Yesterday, I ripped out the rows and rows of bad quilting.  Since my stitch length is not even, there were some parts that were easy to rip, and some parts that are very very hard. I am hoping that the busy fabric will hide anything I missed, although I do plan to go over it one more time to see what else I can rip.  Unbasting would probably help, but that is just going too far.

Back to quilting!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Progress on Simply Squares


I know that most people would have made this quilt in a day, and shown you the finished product in one post - "Look what I made today."  But that's not how I operate - working on a few minutes a day.  In order to save you some impatience, you will be happy to know that not only has the quilt been sandwiched already, but I have even started quilting it.

The change in my horoscope sign must be good for me, because the free motion quilting is working just fine. I even forgot to cover the feed dogs and change the stitch length.  Just changed the foot and started sewing. No thread throwup.  Nice!

I love all the different quilting trends out there, and I love combining them.  I am using basic squares from the modern quilt movement.  Just let the fabric do the work.  Matching corners on squares is easy.  Then I am using quilting methods from the liberated quilters.  No need to mark the design, just have a plan and wing it! 


The safety pins I am using for basting only get in the way on blocks that will really show the quilting, which is normal for me, and I am not expecting perfection, so it is all good. If  you have any complaints about my quilting, please see my setup above.  The machine does not have a needle down position, has a small throat, and is held up by masking tape, which I think is a step down from electrical tape.   I am making ovals, to create a four petal flower pattern. With the busy fabric, and dim lighting, and safety pins, it is hard to make sure I line the petals well , and I didn't, so now I'm not lining them up for the rest of the quilt.

Hopefully when I am finished putting in all the petals, it won't look like tails, or pictures that belong in the bathroom or online in places that aren't family friendly.  I have this worry every time I free motion quilt anything, especially ovals.  I don't mention it, because I don't want you to think about things, if you aren't already thinking about them.  I'm sure Freud would have some things to say about it.  Do you worry about things like that?  I've never seen it mentioned in other blogs, so maybe I am the only one. I'm sure Freud would have something to say about that too.  What do you do to prevent your ovals from turning into things that have ratings with X's in them?

Once you answer my questions, please zap yourself with that thought erasing light, because I don't want you to think those kinds of things when you see any of my quilts.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wordle




Lauren did a Wordle, so I decided to do another one for my blog. It is designed to make the more frequently used words bigger.  As you can see, one particular word remained bigger than the rest.   If you squint and try really hard, you will notice that quilt is are there on the left side, quilting is there somewhere in the jumble, daughter is close to the top left, and book is on the right side.  And a teeny-tiny fabric at the bottom.

Apparently, this, my quilting blog, hasn't talked about quilts or quilting much this year. To be fair though, there must be a limit to the number of posts they go back, since I couldn't talk about that big word until this year.

You'll notice that I am not using that word in this post at all, (in case I want to do that Wordle thing again later).  You will also notice that the topic of this post is that word itself and not what the word represents.

In quilting news, the backing for the Simply Squares quilt has been put together and pressed.  The batting is ready.  Time for sandwiching the quilt.  The little quilt for the quilt swap is also finished, and I am about to email the photos to Kate now.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Innocent


See how sweet and innocent that dog looks? And clean? Did you notice clean?  We gave the dog a bath. This meant this was his first time upstairs.   He was afraid of going upstairs, and then wouldn't get into the bath.  He was so scared, he wouldn't eat the treats.  He had to be carried into the bathtub.  He handled the bath okay - he loves to be petted.  Then he jumped out of the tub because we weren't quick enough with the towel. I used a medicated shampoo for dry skin, so he doesn't smell good, but he is sooo very soft. Very very soft and fluffy.

And now he thinks he can come upstairs whenever he wants.  I have hardwood floors, even on the steps, and he doesn't have much traction, but he does okay.  He is always startling me when I am upstairs because I am not expecting him.

And if that wasn't enough adventure, my daughter's friend came over.  She has a dog, and Zeus just loved her.  She lets him lick her face, something we don't do. He had a great time moving from between the three of us to get petted.  Then we decided it was time to let him out.  I've let him out once before without his leash, and he handled that just fine.  I don't have a fence yet, but he is a well behaved dog and does come when called.  We let him out again without the leash, and he bolted.  I called for him, but it didn't work. 

We had a panic, and I decided to I take the car to follow our regular walking path.  The girls decided to look for him in the alley.  I went back home, to see if the girls had found him.  They hadn't. 

We decided to try again, again with me driving, and them looking on foot. The girls went out. As I was about to go to my car,  I heard a bark, and wasn't sure it was him, but I decided to call again.  Yelling out loud in the neighborhood, bothering the neighbors and drawing attention to my predicament, isn't something I like to do, but desperate circumstances called for it.  It turns out that my daughter had seen him, and was chasing him, and he ran straight to the yard, and when I called him, he went right in the house! 

Yes, we learned our lesson.  Always take him out on a leash. And get a fence ASAP!

In quilting news, I am piecing the backing for the Simply Squares quilt.  Zeus did try to get on the fabric when I set it on the floor to see where and how much fabric I had to add, but I told him to get off, and he behaved and stayed off of the fabric.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Observations about Owning a Dog


As most of you know, I got a dog early this year.  If you would have told my family members that very same day if I would ever get a dog, they would have told you, no way, that would never happen.  But it did happen, and Michele said I could talk about him all I want. So if you don't want to hear about the dog, go blame her!

So, how has my life changed since I got the dog?

1.  I have to make space for the dog's things.  I wasn't expecting that, and I still haven't found a good place to put all the stuff.  The food, the toys, the treats, the medicine, the leash.  All of these things take up space.

2.  Cleaning has changed.  I thought I would have to clean a lot more with the dog, because he would get into things and chew them if I didn't have them out of his way.  He leaves things alone, so that isn't a problem.  Although I am not a neat freak, I had this idea that "dogs are dirty." With his incision, I couldn't bathe him. So I vacuum more, and brush him a lot so he doesn't shed as much.  And I wash my hands a lot.  I am relaxing more, after a conversation with my sister-in-law, who is much more relaxed.  She said, "So what if the dog has an accident / illness. Just clean it up, just like you would clean up a baby's accident/ illness."  Zeus spit up all over the house when he had his kennel cough, so all my floors and carpets are no longer in "almost new" condition.  And he (and I) brings mud in the house, since we go out frequently.  We are cleaning the floors and mopping more. I have to clean more often (the dust bunnies are gone), but the house isn't really cleaner, especially anything higher than the dog can reach.

3.  I am learning all sorts of new things. Like how to train a dog and not misdirecting him.  I am working on adding stand to his list of commands he understands, even though he hasn't completely mastered down yet.  And also working on getting him to understand he has to keep doing that until released.  He isn't the kind of dog that will offer different things until you get what you want.  He will just stare at you if he doesn't understand or doesn't want to do what you want.  He is getting past the honeymoon stage, so he pulls on the leash more when walking, and is starting to ask for what he wants now, by whining.   I don't like the whining, so I have to figure out how to make him ask nicely.  Especially the bathroom thing. I don't know how to tell whether he has to use the bathroom, or whether he is bored and wants attention.

4.  I have to make more decisions now.  In order to train Zeus, I have to figure out what I want. Some things are easy, but others are harder.  Is it all right for him to climb on the couch?  Can he jump on people if they are okay with it and ask him to?  My daughter and nephew are giving him lessons which are inconsistent with what I am teaching, but my methods will turn him into a couch potato, and I do want him to do energetic things.

5.  Schedule. I have to keep a more consistent schedule, and can't simply sleep and wake up when I please. No more midnight genealogy surfing.   One of the dogs next door can jump his fence, and I try to go out when they are inside.  Plus Zeus expects certain things at certain times. Yes, I am also working on not maneuvering my schedule around the dog, but making the dog fit around my schedule. I've made this mistake with boyfriends, and hopefully by practicing with Zeus I will learn to do this better.

6. I have found more uses for the internet. I can type in "coughing dog" on you tube, and figure out the dog has kennel cough by watching the video of another dog with the illness. I can search for whatever my question is, and there seems to be lots of answers, which is nice, because I can choose which ones fit my personality and way of training.

7. I am spending a lot more money. Not just on the dog, but the reason I stay away from stores is because it is too easy to pick up a few other things because they are useful and inexpensive. The trip to the store for the $12 Kong (recommended by just about everyone and shown in the picture) set me back about $112. Sure I "needed" everything I got, but ouch.

8.  We have more company now.  I am hoping this isn't a temporary increase, just to meet the dog, but more permanent, play with the dog, increase.  We have to clean more for this too, but I am enjoying the dog and the company.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: Love at Last Sight



Love at Last Sight: Thirty Days to Grow and Deepen Your Closest Relationships by Kerry and Chris Shook reminds us that while love at first sight is important, it is really the ongoing relationships that matter. What you do with and for your loved ones on a day to day basis is more important.  In 30 chapters, this book outlines steps to take in 30 days to develop a closer relationship with the people you care about. What I loved about this book is that it isn't just about romantic relationships. You don't even have to be having a problem with the other person, you just have to want to get closer to them. You can develop a closer relationship with a parent, a child, a friend, a sibling, or anyone else that you want to get closer.

Some of the steps are common sense, but when we get frustrated in a relationship, we have a tendency to forget the tools we already have to solve some of our relationship problems. And sometimes we don't make the effort to do the things we know we should be doing. This step-by-step program makes sure we don't skip the steps we think are "too hard." And the chapters convinced me that each step was worth doing.

This is a Christian book, and there are quotes from the Bible, as well as quotes from other sources in it.

I think 30 days is fast, especially with someone you don't see everyday. Some chapters may take you more time to digest and implement, but any step you take towards getting closer to a loved one is bound to reap rewards for both you and your loved one.


I really liked this book, and would recommend it.

I received this book for free from the publisher, Waterbrook Press, in exchange for an unbiased review.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Missed It


Wasn't it just yesterday when it was 10/10/10, and I was talking about finishing a quilt on that date, so I could add that to the label? Then it was 1/10/11 which is also an interesting date, and I thought it would be good to do the finishing touches on the swap quilt on that date, but then I realized that 1/11/11 was just the next day, and maybe that would be a better finish date. I am going to take the hand quilting stitches out of the heart and find some buttons or beads to put in them.  Then I got lazy, and well, another interesting date went by without a finish. Sigh. Maybe I should prepare now for November 1 (11/1/11).  If I finish it today, I am still going to put 1/11/11 on it, in honor of the date, since I did think about finishing it yesterday! 

Isn't that such an interesting tree in the picture?  Zeus is getting over his cough, and now I am trying to work with him to get over his separation anxiety.  He whines whenever I am out of the house, even if my daughter is home.  Luckily, it snowed yesterday, so as I kept coming in and going out for short periods of time to get him used to me doing so, I could shovel.  I am sure my gas bill will show how many times I did this.  He was fine as long as he had a bone to chew, but then he started whining again.  Today. I took him for a walk to tire him out first, but he still jumps every time I move.  I need to buy a Kong toy for him to chew, but that would involve me leaving the house!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Swap Quilt finished


I am almost finished with the quilt I am making for Kate's Another Little Quilt swap.  Just have to finish quilting the other two hearts.  It is stitched using embroidery floss.  I used jelly roll strips for the borders and the binding.  I don't really know how to quilt around the stitchery, and I think adding a few stitches in the hearts will be enough on this small quilt.  If not, the recipient is free to add whatever is necessary!

Edited to add:  The design for the stitchery is from a free block of the month pattern called Sentimental Journey that was offered by Raspberry Rabbit.  It is no longer available for free, but is available for sale. Thanks to Allie for finding the link for me.


Our new dog Zeus is doing fine. He has recovered from his fleas and whip worm, and is healing from his incision, but he has developed kennel cough. Poor guy, it is one thing after another. He is doing better now, and was very energetic on our walk this afternoon. I am learning quickly where all the many, many dogs live in the neighborhood. 

I am happy that we taught him the down command and he also sits and stays now while I put the food bowl down. Since we don't know how to train (except through lots of reading), we were excited that we got our first success. He might think he has to eat his treat in the down position, but I think he is getting over that as well.



Today in the mail, I got the just released book, Civil War Sewing Circle, The: Quilts and Sewing Accessories Inspired by the Era by Kathleen Tracy. Most of the patterns are simple, and range from small and large quilts. I like how there is information about the inspiration for each quilt, instead of just patterns. I look forward to reading the history and looking at the old pictures this evening.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Zeus


We got a dog!  We've never had a dog before so it is very different from our normal.  Since I don't have any dog experience, and am technically still afraid of most dogs, I wanted to get an older dog that was calm and behaved.  He has brown eyes but the red eye fix on the photo correcting software didn't work.  He is around three or four years old and has already been basically trained to sit and stay and walk calmly.  He had recently been neutered, so he is getting more energetic now than he was, but not in an obnoxious way. He had fleas and worms, but a trip to the vet has brought him some relief.  He had his last doses of several different medications today, but hopefully he won't need any more.

We are also getting more company now than before, as more people come to visit him.

In quilting news, I made a stitchery and have made the quilt top for Another Little Quilt Swap, just have to finish it, and send Kate a pic!