Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

Did you notice anything about this quilt. No, not the fact that it doesn't have a binding on it.

Here, look closer.

No, not the irregular stitches and the noticeable stops and starts, what are you, the quilt police?

It has been free motion quilted. Yes, I did that. After about a year, I finally managed. All I did was put the plate to cover the feed dogs, changed my stitch length to 0, and put in the darning foot. I'm sure I did all those things before, but this time it worked. I even used the red thread that didn't work last time. It would have been nice to write something, (the preamble to the constitution, the pledge of allegiance, some interesting patriotic quote) using free motion quilting, but I decided to use a simple stitch for my debut.

I hope it is the start of many more free motion quilted things to come.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Yesterday, our project finished. It's been going on all month all day and almost all night. It is always so exciting to get the "No Work Available. Contact your supervisor" popup on the computer. Generally we finish the cleanup, take a little break, and then figure out what is needed for the next project, if there is another one.

There is one, and it has more flexible hours. I figured I would do the cleanup and get a nice long break for Memorial Day weekend. I could get an early start on the next project - get things ready, figure out what needs to be done, print out stuff, make a plan, get organized, etc., but not have to do any "real" thinking work until next week.

Seconds after the No Work Available popup showed up, my boss called me on the cell phone. He said, "good news, I know you don't have very much time before the deadline for the next project, so I got overtime authorized for you. It's okay for you to work this weekend, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, whatever you want, in order to get things done on time."

Gee, thanks.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Last night, as I was heading to bed, I remembered that I hadn't picked up my mail. I went back downstairs, got the mail from the mailbox. I planned to just leave it for me to look at in the morning, but there was a quilt magazine, American Patchwork & Quilting, August 2010 issue. August! I gave myself permission to flip through the pages quickly - not enough time to dream and plan and enjoy - but enough to know what is coming for me in the days ahead.

I must have been tired, because I did exactly that - flip through the pages quickly. I turned the last page, and there was a shock. It's my name! They've named a fabric line after me. I looked closer, and yep, still my name. Or is that steal my name? Come to think of it, when I was signing my posts, that might have been the font I used for my signature.

Please forgive the shadow. I dropped the camera at the quilt show last year, and flash pictures get the shadow.

Hmm, I wonder when the royalty checks will start coming in.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Right Handed Sewing Machine

Last year, when my nephew got sewed something for the first time, I had a thought. It didn't seem blog worthy, but since I don't have anything to say now, and I want to say something, I figure I might as well share it with you.

Back when the sewing machine was first invented, it was designed for right handed people. The wheel needed to be turned frequently to get the machine to work, it was designed so the right hand which needed to do most of the work would be near the part that needed the most work.

But now, let's face it, the right hand plays a supporting role, to hand fabric to the left hand which does most of the work. Sure, the right hand might turn a knob now and then, but for the most part, it is the left hand that is guiding the fabric and making sure the seams are sewn straight. You would think that new sewing machine models would turn the design so that the open space would be on the right side. Sewing machines today are designed for left handed people.

I'm not asking for a new invention, or a change of the old invention, because my left hand manages just fine, and I don't want to have to relearn stuff. My right hand needs a rest after all the blogs are read and the computer games are won.

But for people just starting out with a sewing machine, it seems to make sense. I think it would have been easier for my nephew to guide the fabric.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spiderweb Oh oh

Remember this beautiful spiderweb I made earlier in the month? See how beautiful it looks against the black of the office chair?

I got the bright idea that I could finish it up and give it as a gift to the math teacher who helped me figure out how to design the optical illusion quilt. The first decision I made was to applique it instead of trying to figure out the seams. This would also help add another layer on the back so the white would stay looking white. I sewed a piece of white fabric to it, all the way around right sides together. Cut a slit and turned it right side out. So far so good. It looked lovely. In fact, it looked so good, that I thought that maybe I should have added batting and made a multi sided quilt. I thought about adding a hanger and letting the quilt be without batting.

Then I put my shape on top of the gray fabric. The teacher is a big fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes (football team), and the spiderweb kinda looks like an O (for Ohio State University), so I could make a block O quilt without infringing with any copyright issues. It looks much better against black than gray, so I added a black flange around the O for contrast. The plan is / was to applique a buckeye leaf over the whole thing at the end.

Then I ruined it. I decided on straight line quilting to keep things simple, following the hexagon shape. I have this metal thing that can be attached to the foot, that helps guide the size of the seams. It doesn't fit on the walking foot, so I attached it to a regular foot. It caused shirring. A smart person would have stopped at the first sign of shirring, but I kept on sewing. I don't know, I think I thought it wouldn't be that bad, or that the next seam wouldn't have shirring problems. The sad thing is that I think I've had this problem before. Just didn't learn from it the last time around. Hopefully it takes this time.

Now I have to unsew, and decide whether to try again, or move on to another plan.

Friday, May 21, 2010


I was getting ready for work yesterday when I glanced at my window and thought that something was just not right. I pulled the curtain, and saw that it was very foggy outside. My first thought was you. I thought I should run out and take pictures and share the weirdness with you.

But I was getting ready for work, and I don't have camera time built into the schedule. When I went outside, the pull to stop and take pictures was even stronger, but I had to resist because I didn't want to be late. But I remembered that I had a camera in my bag, and figured I would try to sneak a few pictures in for you during my commute. I got in the car and drove a ways, and all the never ending lights I usually stop at were green. Here I am wishing for a red light just for you.

Finally I managed to get this pic for you. Oops, light is about to change.

And when I got to work, I took a few more. All those green lights got me to work early.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Weekend Update

Twice already, we have hosted a Japanese student through my daughter's high school's student exchange program. Last week, my daughter sent me an email that she wanted to participate again this year. Last year's program was canceled due to flu concerns.

I decided that maybe I should forgo another quilting marathon and do some spring cleaning. I had originally thought I would wait until this project at work is finished, but the program starts right when this project ends.

I have to admit that I think I got more cleaning done in each of my quilting marathons than I did this weekend. Fitting in some cleaning in a quilting marathon is pretty easy. Fitting in cleaning during a cleaning marathon, not so much. Of course it didn't help that I found this book on the library's website while I was looking for something else.

In The Fortune Quilt, a quiltmaker makes quilts that are waiting for a particular recipient she hasn't met yet. When she meets them, she gives them the quilt, along with their fortune. Seems like it could be a series, but it isn't. The fortune and quilt is given to this woman whose life is about to change drastically. The quiltmaker stays in the story, as a supporting role. It's a witty book. It isn't what you would expect from a fictional book about quilts, because most of then tend to be more politically correct. In this one, there is cursing, a Wiccan, a gay couple, a transgendered person, etc. I really enjoyed the book.

I want to order more books by Lani Diane Rich, but I think I'd better wait until I've done some serious cleaning.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Review: Money Answer Book

"Personal finance is 80% behavior and only 20% head knowledge" according to the quote on the back of the book. The Money Answer Book by Dave Ramsey helps you gain the 20% knowledge and helps you work on your 80% behavior so you can straighten out your finances. It's a small book, 170 pages, which is formatted in short, bite-sized question and answer sections, and very easy to read language. Taking care of money isn't hard, but you do have to be willing to make the effort.

It is a good beginner book for people who haven't focused on their finances, and need to start from the basics. He creates guiding principles that should work for most people, so that there is a framework upon which to base your financial actions. The rest of the chapters contain more details, even though there isn't in depth detail on any particular topic.

Since the book is for everyone, and not customized it to the individual, it does have some advice that might not be as sound for each person. For example, he says to pay off your smallest debt first. This way there is a win, and you can see progress. Personally, I don't need the small win, and paying off the highest interest rate loan would pay off all the debt faster. Some people are able to see the long term effects (and are geeky enough to create spreadsheets to see how many months they are shaving off the loan.) But paying off debt is a good thing, no matter the order, and depending on the size of your small loan, having one less debt to keep track of could help too, especially if it prevents the possibility of another late fee.

This would be a good book to gift to a newly married couple, or to a young person just starting out life on their own. Even if they don't read the whole book, they could get enough questions answered without having to admit to anyone that they don't know something.

I got the book for free from Thomas Nelson publishers in exchange for an unbiased review.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Park of Roses Photos

I finally got a chance to upload my photos to my computer and a chance to look at them. There were about 200 - good thing I don't have to pay for film and developing!

The Park of Roses is in Columbus, Ohio, on the north side of the city, not too far from Ohio State University. "Not too far" is by tourists standards. They are not both on the same exit on the freeway - it is just when we go to the park, we generally also go to the campus. It was a lovely, slightly cool day, and a great day for a walk.

The roses were growing but were not in bloom yet. This is just one of many sections.

We took many pictures of this rose, the only one we found in bloom. We found two or three more after we saw this one.

There weren't a lot of people in the park, but there were several others who had their cameras out. One girl was getting her senior pictures taken in a late 70's, early 80's outfit.

There are woods to walk through. The water in the creek was low.

When we got back to the rose park side, we saw lots of heirloom roses that were in bloom.

We drove down High Street to see what had changed since our last visit, and came across an Oriental grocery store. They had great stuff, including fresh garlic at much better prices than the grocery stores.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quiltathon 2 Update

I'm sure you were all waiting with baited breath to find out whether I was able to increase the number of quilts I worked on this past weekend compared to the weekend before. Let's see, let's count them.

1. Lizard Quilts for Kids - I added the other two inner borders
2. Spiderweb - I created a plan for finishing it, and got out the supplies I needed
3. Sports Quilts for Kids - I added the other two inner borders
4. Monkeys Quilts for Kids - I put the top together - need to add borders
5. Moldy Cheese and Crackers - I added the last border
6. Rail Fence - I used this as my Leaders and Enders
7. Optical Illusion - I didn't do anything on this quilt this week
8. Flag - when I was looking at the leftover strips from spiderweb sample, they looked awfully familiar. I decided to use them up to make a flag. I'm not really starting a new project - it was already started last week, I just didn't know it yet.
9. Album Quilt - stayed in the drawer
10. Jane Stickle Quilt - I pulled out fabric, but I didn't do anything else on it

I think overall, it means I did 7 this weekend, but since I did 7 last weekend too, I didn't add to the count.

because it was Mother's Day and we went to the Park of Roses and an Oriental grocery store.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend and a wonderful Mother's Day.

I spent some of my time cleaning, but decided to devote the rest of the weekend to quilting.

You see, last weekend, when I told my blog readers that I worked on six quilts at a time, they were not impressed.

Mrs. Goodneedle said: Only six?
Barb said: Six projects? is that all

It's a tough crowd, but I aim to please, so this weekend, I am trying to see if I can top my six projects. I am going to have to be careful though to not add too many, because I have a feeling the same crowd will turn on me and call the men in the white coats, and being quilters, will know to ask that the padded cell is not padded with fabric.

There was an easy addition, the leaders and enders rail fence quilt. The next addition is also easy, it is the quilt on my header. It uses the right color thread, and the blocks have been complaining about feeling used. And the third will be a Jane Stickle block.

Will I be able to do it? Tune in tomorrow, or whenever I write my next post.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


When I asked my mother to make some low-salt, wheat-free frozen dinners for me to pack for lunch, it came with free delivery. She has the keys to my house, so she will put the food in my freezer or refrigerator. While she is here, she also washes the dishes and cleans the sink. One day she said she noticed ants outside my house. She put some ant traps outside that I think is food that kills the queen. Lately, she has been cleaning out my kitchen cabinets, and taking out food that has expired. She even found a can from 2006! I don't know how that could have happened. No wonder I was running out of room in my cabinets. Anyway, my kitchen is cleaner now than it has been in a while.

So imagine my surprise when I came downstairs for breakfast and found an ant on my kitchen counter. I killed it, thinking everything was fine, but there was another one, and another one. And another one. Then I saw the millions that were in the sink. Aargh! It's an invasion! I was afraid to go into my kitchen this morning, but I think I've taken care of the problem.

The photo was taken by my nephew during our walk on Easter. The one I took was too blurry to use.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Have you seen Helen's prayer flag challenge? It looks and sounds fabulous, and I am going to do it. After all, when you are working on 6 quilts, what's one more. It is small, and it will be 1/7th of what I'm working on. Each additional quilt is proportionately easier.

I made a sample of my optical illusion quilt. I made the rows the same size, because it would take up less fabric and I didn't want to take up valuable time figuring out what size to make each row. I probably should have practiced so I could figure out how I wanted to do it. I made the angles 60 degrees instead of 6 degrees, because I thought all of my rulers had that marking. Turns out that only one of them did, and it was a small one. I am pretty sure I have a bigger ruler with a 60 degree marking, but I decided I would rather not waste time looking for it, so I had to finagle the small ruler on the big ruler, and I kept having to relearn how to turn the ruler so that the angle mark was at the right place for me to cut the angle right. Hopefully that practice will make it easier on the real thing. I didn't add seam allowance, but I found out that I didn't have to.

I pressed all the rows at the end when I made the sample, and I think I will fingerpress first, or maybe I will press each row as I sew it, because it is hard to make everything turn the right way when they are such tiny pieces. Or maybe I should use a smaller iron. I didn't pin the pieces together and found out that I really didn't need to. I probably will pin once in a while just to keep the pieces straight, but I definitely won't be piecing each seam like I was originally planning.

Oh yeah, and it turns out that my sample illusion quilt looks exactly like a spider web quilt. I knew there was a word I was thinking off when I was trying to describe it, saying that it was like a bargello or trip around the world, only with trapezoids. I am going to finish off this sample and make a small wall hanging out of it. And when I am finished with it and the optical illusion quilt, I will be able to check off "make spiderweb quilt" off my to-do list, even though when I thought of a spiderweb quilt, I was thinking of making it scrappy.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Quilting Retreat

I decided to work on just in time inventory at work. I need to prepare packets for the supervisors, but if I work fast enough, I will be able to stay a step ahead of the supervisors, and have each packet ready when they are ready for it. This means I will be really busy tomorrow. It will be extra stress, because I am not used to cutting it that close. I hope my allergies give me a break.

But it also means that I can take the weekend off!

I didn't plan any of it, but it turned out to be a nice quilting retreat weekend. It rained, so I couldn't mow the lawn. And my mother has been providing regular meals, so I don't have to prepare lunches either!

I sat at the sewing machine, and sewed the rows together for the last Quilts for Kids. Since the iron is upstairs, I decided to set it aside, and figure out what else needed sewn. I added the two inner border sides on the other Quilts for Kids quilt. And then the same thing to the next one. Set those aside for pressing.

Then I started sewing strips for the sample of the optical illusion quilt. Maybe if I work it in, in between all the other quilts, the Quilt Police won't notice that I started yet another quilt. Set that aside for pressing.

I then worked on adding the revised borders for the Moldy Cheese and Crackers quilt. It isn't easy to do that one, since I already have that one sandwiched and part of it quilted, but I had already done the unsewing, so I just needed to add the borders. Each quilt wound up being a leader and ender. Is it possible to just sew assembly line? Yes it is, if you work on five quilts at a time.

I thought about making a Dear Jane block, but I thought you would have thought I have really gone off the deep end. That, and the fabric needs to be washed, and if I wash that, I would have to do the laundry!

It was good timing for the Cheese and Crackers quilt though, because it turns out that Lori is starting another quilt.

As I was pressing my parts and pieces, I also pressed the fabric for the Optical Illusion quilt. That makes 6 quilts I was working on, but I won't tell anyone if you won't.