Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I’d rather be sewing

11June28cats I’m in love!

My new sewing machine is an inspiration. I feel like I’m working with a partner rather than fighting with an obstinate mule. I’m still picking out lots of stitches and going through needles like never before as I figure this gal out… I’m not new to computers by any stretch, but this is the first computerized sewing machine I've ever had.It takes a bit of getting used to through lots of playtime.

Last night I cut the binding for my lap quilt, cut out the templates for a Christmas Tree skirt (yes, Christmas), and finished picking out the stitches on a table mat from last year so I can re-do the free motion on the Horizon (broke a needle on that project this morning). I’ll take pictures when I have something worth showing.

There were a lot of features on the machine that I thought I'd be using a lot, but the 150 different stitches weren't among them. So what was the first thing I sewed when I got it set up? Yeah, I played with the fancy stitches.

11June28Ginger Rusty and Ginger can park themselves on top of the machine and watch me sew now and it doesn't interrupt my work like it did with the old machine where they were sitting right on the thread. They like it.

Have I mentioned there’s a New Moon at 9 Cancer along with a partial solar eclipse coming up on July 1? Happy Canada Day to my fellow countrypersons! Cancereans are known for being family-oriented homebodies. If you know a Cancerean quilter, you may not see much of them for the next few weeks. And if you do, tread lightly because Pluto and Saturn are weighing heavily on their shoulders. Cancer is ruled by the Moon and favours all domestic crafts. It’s a good time to create a quilt with or for family members – perhaps a memory quilt. Pearl, silver, light gray and pale pastels are Cancerean colours. Watery themes are favoured.

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

She’s here, she’s here!

11June21thequeen My new sewing machine arrived today! Ain’t she a beauty? What a wonderful way to celebrate the Summer Solstice. And I was only planning to dance around naked in the backyard – now I can sew all night!

This is entirely my next door neighbour’s fault. Last Monday Judy wanted to drive into Kamloops (big city to our little town) and hit the fabric stores, maybe drop into one of the sewing machine dealers and play with their toys products. I’ve had my eye on the Janome Horizon since last August. Just haven’t been able to afford to buy it before now. I still wasn’t ready to buy it just yet but after spending about an hour with our saleslady and the machine, Judy sez ‘will you give us a deal on two?’

Two? Where’d that come from? ‘Of course’, sez the saleslady. And she quoted a price that I absolutely could not refuse - $1,999 each, with the 19x45 sewing tables tossed in for free. I bought the rolling tote as well and she gave me a sweet deal on that, plus threw in some extra feet for both of us. How wonderful is that? Somebody somewhere else may have gotten a better deal, but we were both very, very happy. Judy has already been sewing on hers and is in love. I haven’t had a chance to turn it on yet – I’ve been too busy putting together the tote and then the table. Now I have to read the manual to remember how it operates. But it’s all good.

11June21table This morning I finished the free motion on the lap quilt I’m working on and was going to do a little finish work on the interior of the quilt. The though of shoving it all through the tiny little 5-inch throat was making me cringe – until I remembered that I had a brand new sewing machine coming tonight with am 11-inch throat. Oh, what joy!

Now, back to the manual so I can get some sewing done before I have to go to bed. It might be a late night, tonight.

Until next time,

Monday, June 20, 2011

Best laid plans…

I’m trying something new tonight – I’m using Windows Live Writer to create and post my blog. Fingers crossed that it will turn out well and not eat everything I’ve ever posted here. I just couldn’t live with Blogger’s templates anymore. My posts never came out looking like they were supposed to and it was frustrating. So, here’s hoping.

11June20ginger In my last post, I promised a surprise. Well… The surprise is, it didn’t come when it was supposed to. And it still hasn’t arrived. I bought a new sewing machine last week. Bought and paid for, but the store has to order them in because they don’t carry them in stock. I’ve been planning to buy a new machine since last year, but I was waiting for personal finances to get straightened around so I could start putting money aside for it. Hopefully they’ll order it soon and it will be here in the next few days.

Until then, I’m still sewing along with my little Janome 344 LE. It’s not a bad machine, it was just never meant for what I’m trying to do with it. My free motion is getting better. Still not good, but the front and back tension looks just about equal and my stitching is a bit more consistent than it used to be. I’m about a third of the way through the border on the lap quilt. I’m working on it tonight, but decided to take a break – my circles were starting to get sharp edges and I was forgetting how to make a five-pointed star.

11June20rodeo It was rodeo weekend here this past weekend. We didn’t have rodeos where I grew up back east. Never saw one until I moved out west and had to go attend one as part of my job. I didn’t like them. That was 26 years ago. I still wouldn’t go to them if it wasn’t job-related, but getting a good rodeo picture is a challenge, and I enjoy that. Some time over the last few years I’ve even come to enjoy the rodeos. Just a little bit.

Midsummer’s Eve is tomorrow, so make sure you stay up late to watch for fairies. Stand under the bridalwreath bush or check among the thyme – I’m told they like to play in there. Also known as the Summer Solstice, the Sun reaches it highest position in the sky for the entire year and we have the longest day of the year. After that, I’m afraid we’re heading back to winter! The Sun enters the sign of Capricorn tomorrow (the 21st) around 10:20 am here in British Columbia. It has nothing to do with the Solstice, but Mars has just entered into Gemini and knocks into high gear all the things associated with Gemini – communication, short distance travel (vacation, anyone?), and brothers and sisters.

Well, back to quilting. Happy fairy spotting!

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A truce with my sewing machine

Keeping the kitchen safe from spiders
Not too much happening on the sewing machine at the moment, but the tension issues seem to have resolved themselves for the time being. I finished my stippling last week with only a few loose top threads and while I'm not totally happy with it, it's the best I can do right now. I could rip out all of the stitches - again - but I'll be working on the same quilt for the next 10 years. I had bought a different thread to do the border, but decided to take the easy way out and stick to the same brand of thread (different colour) and avoid further tension hassles.
Don't really like the stitches though. Wow, so what else is new? They're very uneven as usual. I'm still trying to get my hands and feet moving together, and that doesn't seem to happen too often. I haven't gotten too far with the border, so I am thinking of taking those stitches out and starting again.
Our town's annual classic car summer weekend
Speaking of tension, there's a Full Moon coming up tomorrow. Even people who know absolutely nothing about astrology usually recognize a Full Moon as being a day of stress, of tension, when people often collide. Full Moons happen once a month as the Moon and Sun stand opposite each other, unlike a New Moon where the Moon and Sun cozy up to each other in the same sign. The New Moon is a conjunction, the Full Moon is an opposition and this one involves the Moon at 15 Sagittarius and the Sun at 15 Gemini, the Ninth and Third Houses of the Zodiac. Watch for problems with long distance travel or arguments over philosophy and religion.
Most Sagittarians I know also love sports, and tomorrow night is the final game of the Stanley Cup series. (That's hockey, eh?) I'm glad I don't live in Vancouver.
I'll have much more fun stuff to share in my next blog, I promise.
Until next time,

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

More fun than a barrel of monkeys

It's been one of those days for as long as I can remember. As I sit at the computer writing this, my left foot is soaking in a plastic pail that used to hold kitty litter. Hot water and epsom salts with a couple of drops of lavender oil for an infected big toe. How the toe got infected, I have no idea - it wasn't cut, scratched or damaged by a toenail - but two days of soaking it has just about gotten rid of the redness and the soreness.
Ginger gets her licks in
Rusty sunbathing
Last night I was working on my quilt - one foot in the kitty litter pail and the other foot on the treadle. I thought it might help with the tension problems. It didn't. You know, Monday I thought I had it all sorted out. I finished quilting the inner square of the quilt and it wasn't too bad. Had a few spots left to do. All I did was turn it off. When I went to work on it the next day, back to the same old problems with thread loops on the back. What did I do? The only thing different was that Monday it was hot and sunny and Tuesday it was cold and raining. Do I have to become an expert meteorologist, too? Just kidding.
I loosened the tension by a hair. It looked pretty good, I was admiring how good the stitches were looking... Jammed. Ripped out the stitches and loosened it a little more. Hey, the next set of stitches looked even better. Pretty nice.... Bobbin ran out of thread. Ripped the stitches out again and loosened the tension just a little more because there were still thread loops on the back. Filled the bobbin, rethreaded the sewing machine and tried again. It worked. We're back to seeing bits of bobbin thread on the quilt top again. I'm hoping that will disappear as my quilting improves, if I live that long.
I should mention that I don't really take myself seriously, and I hope you don't either. When I whine I'm just mentally slapping myself. I'll blame this one on the Moon passing through the sign of Virgo from now until Friday. That means it's in my natal First House and makes everything about me!
And fabric! There was a deleriously happy side to yesterday as well as my fabric from Sew Sisters came! I really wasn't expecting it until after our current mail strike was over, but it just raced through the system and landed in our post office a lot sooner than expected. My postmistress was just as excited as I was because I usually open my fabric purchases right there so she can see them, also. Then we pet them for a while and hope no one else comes in.
Future Yin/Yang quilt
Future sparkly quilt
Future, ah, dragonfly quilt
Years of tension adjustment practice
I found some nice black and whites and so started collecting them to make a Yin/Yang pattern. Two opposite patterns of Silhouettes (Willow and Fans) by Ro Gregg for Northcott and an unidentified Chrysanthemum pattern. The rest were purchased with pure self indulgence - some liberally-dusted with gold glitter fabric from My Asian Garden - Ro Gregg again for Northcott (crests in brown, gold and raspberry, and leaves in turquoise); and some beautiful unidentified wide backing Japanese dragonflies in madder and indigo. And thread! Sulky Blendables, which Linda at The Quilted Pineapple has told me may give me more tension challenges. Aaaaaagh. Oh well. A life without challenges is pretty boring. Some challenges, however...

Well, now that the rain has stopped and it's sunny and hot again, we'll see how the quilting goes.

Until next time,

Friday, June 3, 2011

Time and Distance

Stop and smell the wonder old cabbage roses
In my case, time and distance don't have to be more than a couple of hours of sunshine and fresh air on the deck.

Schmetz Topstitch 80/12 and my clear crosshatch foot
I lugged my sewing machine over to my next door neighbour's a few nights ago and showed her my ugly FMQ stitches. She suggested I try a new needle, but I'd already done that. But, I had an old discarded needle with me, so I figured, a change is as good as a holiday, right? I put the old needle in and everything that followed just went slick as snot! The devil, you say!

Not great, but not bad
Well, d'uh. Why does the light always come on after the tantrum? The discarded needle was a Schmetz Topstitch 80/12 - the eye is bigger than the Schmetz Universal 80/12 that I had been using with this 40 wt. thread. I guess the larger thread was having trouble getting through the smaller eye. Ya think? The tension cleared up instantly.
I just wanted to quilt. Nobody told me that I'd have to become an expert on thread and needles as well!
Rusty being laid back - doesn't happen often

Enough whining. The quilt is finally getting quilted and the stitches don't look too bad. Now, if only I can get my hands and feet and head co-ordinated and moving in the same direction at the same speed at the same time...
Looks like I'll have plenty of time to practice before the new thread I ordered from Sew Sisters in Toronto arrives. Mail stike. :-(
Until next time,