Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Patience may be overrated

My mother banned me from her sewing machine when I was a teenager. That may sound a bit harsh to a community of sewers, but my Taurean Moon gives me a bit of a temper. And my Sun and Mars combination give an added ooomph to that. I've come a long way in the past 40 years or so with managing my temper, but the other day I was so tempted to pick up my sewing machine and throw it through the window that I haven't done much in the way of quilting this week. We're currently not on speaking terms but I imagine that will end soon - it always does.
We're still working out the tension issues. I pulled out all of my flower pattern Free Motion Quilting because tension was too tight and causing the ugly appearance of my bobbin thread. So I readjusted my tension knob while sewing a test strip until I thought I had it right and started FMQ again. And it was right for a few seconds. Then the thread snarled on the backing and jammed. Once I calmed down, I got out my test strip and sewed while readjusting the tension again. I just can't get it "perfect". I can still see just a little of the bobbin thread on top, but not all the time. If I move my knob one iota, I get the snarls on the bottom again. Seeing bobbin thread on top is preferable to having my top thread on the bottom, but I'm not happy with it. Maybe I should just invisible thread. (Too bad I just ordered half a dozen spools of pretty Sulky blendables for top stitching.)
Everyone else in Canada and the US seem to be experiencing flooding this year, why not us? May was such a wet month. Our river doesn't normally overflow its banks, but it happens every few years. This is one of those years. The price you pay for living right on the river. My house is halfway up the big hill. We just have to worry about mudslides. :-) The municipal park is next to the river in a very beautiful setting. Large sections of it were under water yesterday. It'll eventually drain with no lasting damage, but our big annual summertime event is happening in a couple of weeks and they aren't going to be able to hold it in the park, unfortunately.
New Moon coming up tomorrow, June 1, at 11 Gemini. Gemini is all about travel - either physical travel or mental travel through the realm of ideas. Gemini also rules the hands, so when ideas and hands connect, all sorts of creative things get accomplished. Tomorrow's New Moon is trine Saturn, which makes it more focussed and productive. Otherwise, ideas can get scattered and lost.The Twins represent Gemini, and duplicate and mirror images are favoured this month, and blues, grays and greens are the predominant colours.
Until next time,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Baby steps

I don't mind rain. I love the way it smells in the grass and on the dirt. I love waking up to the sound of rain hitting the roof. I love seeing raindrops clinging to leaves and flowers.

But I also love the sunshine and being able to work outside without getting all muddy. And I don't like the way the rain makes the weeds grow faster! I've barely managed to keep the dandelions and thistles under control in the front yard (I pull my weeds), but the wild grasses and other miscellaneous weeds are growing like wildfire now.

happy honeybee on a horse chestnut blossom
lily of the valley in my garden
expired tulips
not one of mine, ellie mae is a frequent visitor in my backyard
don't think the birds are looking for a bath right now
always one of my favourite flowers, bleeding hearts
I've finished ripping out all of the freemotion sewing in my latest lap quilt. Gave me lots of time to examine my stitching and see just how bad it was. It looks okay if I keep it to a flowing motion, like stippling, but stopping and starting again (as in making points) is my downfall. More practice. I think Rusty and Ginger need a few more quilted mats.

Sew Sisters in Toronto is having a big 25 per cent off sale today and tomorrow. If that link doesn't work, there's another one near the bottom of this page, lower right. I've ordered from them before and am quite happy with their service and the quality of their merchandise. I ordered some black and white fabric for my yin yang quilt and also some Sulky blendable thread (because some day I will figure out this thing they call freemotion and it will no longer terrify me).

Time to go practice. Until next time,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Opposites attract

Ginger sez, Life is good
It rained all morning and all evening yesterday - my only (almost) day off. Cold, too. Sounds like it was raining all over Canada. I had plans for outside work yesterday. I don't mind working outside in the rain. I love rain. But the soil in the front yard has finally been raked evenly and I don't want to disturb it when it's wet.
And I can't cut the grass in the backyard either. We're having a backyard party this coming  weekend, so I need to get some work done there. This weekend is a "long weekend" in Canada - May 23 is (Queen) Victoria Day and also traditionally the weekend that gardeners across Canada plant their gardens (there are no other optimists like gardeners). It's also usually a bit on the chilly side. The public swimming pool opens every year on this weekend, and while the outdoor pool is filled with happy, noisy children, the pool staff are usually wearing parkas and shivering on the pool deck.

Next weekend we're planning a cozy fire in our backyard fire pit. So it would be nice to get the grass cut, and the accumulated mess from last Fall cleaned up. It's amazing how fast the weeds grow. The pasture of dandelions in the backyard have already flowered and gone to seed. It's ot fair how they can go through an entire reproduction cycle and it's barely warm enough to be outside.
The May/June issue of McCall's Quilting has a fabulous yin/yang pattern by Toby Lischko that I just have to make. I've never done curved seams before, and I'm going to have to start collecting black and white fabric, but even before I saw this pattern, I was planning a Yin/Yang quilt in my head. I can't make it right away, but it just fast tracked up my priority list.
Just need to finish the current quilt I'm working on - still ripping out stitches - and then hopefully make a skirt for our Christmas tree and maybe even finish off all of those Christmas presents I started a couple of years ago. After that, we'll see.
Until next time,

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Out it goes

Ginger still loves to be in physical contact with her brother, Rusty
So much for my free motion quilting. I had my lap quilt over 2/3 done but I just wasn't loving it, and I had the usual tension problems in my stitching whenever I change directions. I always listen to  that little voice in the back of my head, and the voice told me to take it all out. I'll try another design - probably back to my boring old stippling which, at least, I'm usually sort of good at.

The Bartlett Pear in our backyard is in full bloom
On the plus side, I got to experiment with a new pattern. Maybe someday soon I'll try it again.

The weather was nice last week, so I spent most of my free time out in the yard. There's so much to do and so little time to do it, in between work and good weather. I tore up the front lawn in 2008 because I couldn't stand it anymore - it was on a slope so I struggled each week to cut it, and it was full of weeds. The little sidewalk was crooked and twisted and the handmade retaining wall along the driveway was impossible to maintain. Anyway, three years later and I'm still working on it. It's much too long a story to recount here, but I'm getting it done my own way.

There's a Full Moon coming up Tues., May 17 at 26 Scorpio. Joint finances will come to a head so address those issues before Tuesday when they're likely to explode into a huge issue. Mercury, Venus and Mars are in the beginnings of Taurus so watch that spending on pretty pieces of artwork and home decorations. I'm not saying that spending on those things is bad, just stick to your budget.

Until next time,

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Learn as you Quilt

Fabricland opened a new store in Kamloops a few weeks ago, and I managed the time off work to get in there over Easter. I bought a few things, including thread.

Fabricland isn't a quilt shop but it carries standard 100 per cent polyester Gutermann thread which I like as an all purpose thread. So I bought a small selection of different thread for my latest project - including a nice purple top stitch to stand out against the black fabric. And some 40 wt. Coats and Clarke caught my eye because it was on sale (buy 1, get 2 free - who can resist?)
OMG! All that cat hair!
I finished my stitch in the ditch earlier in the week so I was ready (or not) for some free motion. I loaded the top stitch Gutermann (looked like a 30 wt.) and put in a new Schmetz top stitch 80/12 needle, although I had a heck of a time threading it - then took a couple of practice runs to get the tension right. But the thread just refused to go through the needle .
Finally I gave up on the Gutermann and put in my new spool of purple Coats and Clarke (100 per cent trilobal polyester) and away we went! Until my (very small) bobbin ran out a while later, and then it was way past my bedtime, anyway.

The backing is actually violet, not the grey it looks like here
I looked up Gutermann "top stitch" on the internet.  Hmmmm. Heavy duty sewing. buttonholes. Hmmm. Maybe not the top stitch I just assumed it was.
I was quite-satisfied with my free motion this week. It's not beautiful or evenly spaced or consistent, but at this stage I'm just going for "stitches stay stitched, even when washed" and I think I've achieved that. Looking at the back of the quilt, I don't see any major problems (yet), and that's call for a celebration. Only washing will tell.
A Taurean Moon is very fortuitous for quilters, as it speaks to home crafts and getting them done, no matter how long it takes.
Favourite Taurus colours (ruled by Venus): Taurus colors are brown, russet, and turquoise. Vulnerable parts of the body are the neck, throat, shoulders, and upper torso. Stiff necks, sore throats, and earaches are common Taurean complaints. The emerald, a variety of the mineral beryl and as costly as a diamond, is the Taurus birthstone. The emerald's rich green color is suitably Taurean since it is the color of money, green pastures, and serenity. The emerald has a six-sided geometric form. Six is the number assigned to Venus which in turn, is the planetary ruler of Taurus. Flowers for Taurus are the rose (red), daisy, lily, and daffodil.
Until next time,

Monday, May 2, 2011

Patience is a virtue

Yikes! I never intended such a long time between posts. Don't know what happened, except that I had a few unexpected days off work around Easter and I suspect it threw me off my schedule. I can't wait for retirement when I can make up a new schedule - one that includes quilting and blogging whenever I want.
Rusty and Ginger hanging out at the water cooler

Also, I've been taking advantage of the good weather lately to work outside in the yard. Yesterday was glorious and much was accomplished. I planted my strawberries, pulled weeds. I took some of my flowers out of the greenhouse to plant before commen sense overtook me and I remembered it was only the first of May. Still enough cold weather in the next few days to kill tender flowers. Saw my first Calliope hummingbird of the season, as well as a couple of yellow-rumped warblers hopping from tree to tree. The hummingbirds are late, but it's still good to see them.
Snow still on what passes for a mountain in these parts
The Saskatoons are in bloom - also called Serviceberries in some places

I even had a Liberal candidate at my door last night (it's election day in Canada today). She didn't stay long once I told her I'd already voted in the advance poll last week, but at least she made the attempt to visit the constituents. I've only seen two of our five (or six?) candidates here since the election was called. It's a huge riding, and they all live in the larger cities in the southern part of it. The city voters usually determine the election's outcome, so the candidates don't really need to shmooze us folks in the small towns (although you never know), and they usually don't. We do have a local man who is running as a candidate, but he'd doing it in another riding. Go figure. Anyway, the polls are just about to close and the rest of the night will be spent in counting ballots and listening to election coverage.

I haven't done much at my sewing machine lately. The area is still a mess, but guilt finally overcame me today and when the cold, nasty winds picked up outside, I shoved the mess aside and started working on a quilt that has been waiting patiently for me, collecting cat hair as it sits folded over a dining room chair. Unfortunately, I don't have the same patience at the moment and I decided to take a break after a couple of really dumb mistakes. I'll get back to it later tonight.

I always start quilting by outlining certain shapes in the blocks - in this case, friendship stars. Stitch in the ditch is my own way of basting the quilt. Some call it stabilizing. Once that's done, I get out the fancy thread and ruin it all with my freemotion quilting. I need to practice more, but the best way to practice is just to do it. I need more small projects to practice on.

The quilt I'm working on is a lap quilt. Not a full sized quilt, but larger than what I've been working on lately. One of my biggest problems is getting all that material through that little 6-inch throat. If I'm not paying attention and constantly straightening everything out, my stitching gets all crammed in some areas and stretched in others. You need lots of patience.

One of the local ranches invited everyone to come and meet their goats
Ever wonder what a llama's tongue looks like? It seems that all creatures love to be touched
And the star of the day, their newest baby goat

But, New Moon in Taurus today. New Moons are great for starting (or re-starting) projects, and Taurus is a home-loving sign. Very patient, but boy, when they've had enough, Taureans can just blow their stack and it's like an atom bomb went off. But when they're patient, they can move mountains and accomplish great things. Let's use that thought for this month's quilting.

Until next time,