Thursday, May 19, 2016

Movin' Along

This week I completed steps on a couple projects.

This hand appliqué design was given to us at last Saturday's Central Florida MQG meeting. Beth, our program presenter, designed it à la Carolyn Friedlander. Beth demonstrated several appliqué techniques, but I opted to appliqué mine using my favorite back-basting method. Are you impressed that I fussy-cut Australia in the circle? This is the first time I position the country right side up! You see, I decoupaged the same fabric on my desk (see it to the left of the knob?) and Susan (from Australia) pointed out that I'd positioned it upside down! Then, she allowed that Australia is, after all, "down under." :-)

My "Building Fun" quilt top is complete, so far. The quilt top is 41" X 53" at this point, and the pattern calls for another 3-inch border. I'm still unsure whether I want to add it. I like this quilt, though I'd hoped it would look less child-like. I'll probably give it to a child.

Speaking of child... our six year-old grandson, Tay, who's a kindergartner, participated in a special event at an Overland Park, Kansas high school. The 2016 graduating seniors held a graduation event last Friday morning, and in attendance as special guests were selected kindergarteners from the elementary schools that feed into the high school. Tay was chosen to represent his elementary school because his big sis, Celina, is a junior this year, and next year little brother Aesa will represent the same elementary school for Celina's senior class.

Anyway, they put the kindergarteners on stage, in front of the seniors, and asked each one of them a question about being in kindergarten. Tay was asked what advice he would give to seniors, and his response was, "Stay out of trouble." Good job, Tay!

I can't believe he's going to be among the class of 2028! That sounds like the distant future, doesn't it?

And speaking of graduations, Aesa celebrated his pre-school graduation. Adorable.

I haven't mentioned Hogan lately, but he's doing well!

He has completely surprised us - and our neighbors who know him - by making a full recovery from his December bout with a serious subcutaneous skin infection and bronchitis, compounded by a large lump on his chest that was identified after surgery as soft tissue sarcoma. The vet said she couldn't remove all the sarcoma because it was so invasive, so we expected Hogan's slow decline. Such is not the case! He's been almost acting like a pup again, running around with his dog pals, briskly walking, and insisting on us playing with toys with him each evening. You wouldn't guess he's 12-1/2 years old.

This pic simply shows the odd behavior he's displayed for years... tucking his head under something for security. He does this often, sometimes against a table leg, or my knee, or alongside my hip when I'm sitting on the floor with him. He's awfully precious to us.

Most of the week I've been quilting. Dr. Q.'s quilt is coming along nicely and I expect to finish by Friday. Five spirals of various sizes and overlaps were quilted first, and I'm now custom quilting to fill in the rest of the open areas.

My Pfaff Grand Quilter is mostly working well for quilting. I've had ten unexpected thread breaks on this quilt - does that seem like a lot? - but the skipped stitches are fewer. I talked with a Tampa Bernina/Pfaff dealer for about 25 minutes and he gave me three suggestions for preventing skipped stitches. The two I've tried are: 1) set the machine speed on slow, and then quilt with the pedal to the metal. That seems to be a steadier quilting speed than setting the machine on high speed and trying to keep the foot control speed in the middle range; and 2) use a size 90 jeans needle. When I put in the jeans needle, I immediately had more skipped stitches, so I lowered the needle about 2mm, and screwed it in tight. Better now. His third suggestion is to quilt with cotton batting. That will be in the next quilt.

Today, on my way home in the golf cart from doing Line Dancing for Exercise, I saw this turtle just walking down the sidewalk. I parked the golf cart so I could take a picture. It's a very big Florida softshell turtle! Ugly too, isn't it?
I had just walked back to my golf cart when she decided she needed to cross the street. Yikes. I pulled into the golf cart lane to block traffic, and waved my arm to get carts and cars to slow down. Fortunately, another walker with whom I'd chatted about the turtle, called Community Watch. The Community Watch vehicle arrived almost right away with red lights flashing! Hopefully the turtle was moved to a nearby pond. I've been told this time of year is mating/nesting season.

I'm definitely not in Iowa anymore! Linda

Friday, May 13, 2016

E-Book Giveaway

This giveaway is closed. The winning number, chosen by Random Number Generator is: 
Congratulations Beth! - blue_dragonfly5

It's Friday the 13th, and it could be your lucky day! I'm hosting a giveaway and I couldn't be more happy to share this one - a quilting book.

Fellow domestic machine quilter, Christa Watson (author of Machine Quilting With Style) has written another quilting book, and in my opinion, it's a must-own. That's because it's written from two quilting perspectives: Christa's as a domestic machine quilter; and Angela Walters', as a longarm quilter. This makes the book a winner whether you domestic machine quilt or longarm quilt!

Not only is it an ingenious idea to write a book like this - sort of a "he said; she said," though this is  "she said; she said" - but the book layout is inspired!

Every page related to longarm quilting is color-coded turquoise-blue to indicate that this is what Angela has to say about it.

Every page related to sit-down (domestic) machine quilting is color-coded melon orange to indicate what Christa has to say about it.

How clever! After learning about their tools and tips in pages 4 though 16...  

... the book continues with 10 quilt patterns! It's picture heavy with close-ups of how each quilter chose to make and quilt those 10 patterns. The designs, and instruction for them continue all the way to page 138. With so much visual content, a quilter will never be at a loss for inspiration.

I'm a fan of spiral quilting, even though it can be physically demanding shoving a big quilt through a small harp. But once you get started, the quilting doesn't require much thought, and the texture is wonderful. So I was happy to see that Christa shared spiral quilting on her "Exploding Star" quilt.

With such good photos and suggestions throughout, the book really struck a chord with me. You can imagine that I was honored when Christa invited me to review the book for her, and offer a giveaway.

One winner will receive an electronic version of The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting so the giveaway is open internationally.

You have until Sunday, May 15, 6 pm Eastern time, to enter.

In a comment just tell me if you're a domestic or longarm quilter, and be sure I have a way to reach you if you win. Many of you are "noreply-commenter" which means I do not have your email address to tell you when you win. If you don't know for sure, add your email address!

However, if you can't wait until Sunday, or would just like to have a print version to hold in your hot little quilting hands, then order directly from Martingale Publishing here.

Or head to Amazon for a discounted price here.
Or get a signed copy from Christa here.
Or get a signed copy from Angela here.

Options, options, options! Good luck! This giveaway is closed. The winner was chosen May 15 at 6 pm Central time. Linda

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Modern Retreat

From last Thursday through Sunday I retreated with 20 other quilters from the Central Florida MQG. It was a wonderful time! This is what our sewing room looked like.

For the first time ever on a retreat - and I swear I've been on at least 40 of them - I took along paraphernalia to do free motion quilting. This is my pre-trip pile that includes two sewing machines, and three tables!

I'm tired of having a stack of quilt tops waiting to be quilted, so retreat put me a long way toward catching up. If you're following my Pfaff Grand Quilter quilting saga - skipped stitches and breaking threads - the machine continued to do that on retreat, though not quite as frequently. Frustrating though, nonetheless.

First I quilted "Cartwheels Quilt," a foundation paper-pieced pattern by Lee of FreshlyPieced. I'll be teaching this project in the Beyond First Time Quiltmaking class that begins Monday, September 26. Registrations for this two week workshop are now open at the Lifelong Learning College. I'll also be teaching domestic machine quilting.

I spent most of Monday taking pictures of the process for sewing binding to the Cartwheels quilt. While I typically would have chosen the gray background (Widescreen) fabric for binding, the photos are needed for a binding tutorial. Aqua and pink fabrics as binding show up better in contrast to the backing color.

Cartwheels has a single layer of Quilter's Dream Poly, and is quilted with Aurifil 50-weight thread.

Machine-sewn mitered corners
I also began quilting The Rebel quilt, a pattern by Libs Elliott. Oh how I love this one! This 72" X 72" quilt is destined as a gift for my cardio-vascular doctor. He's taken such excellent care of me with PAD, and atrial fibrillation, and is going through his own very difficult business problems, so this is the least I can do to show my appreciation for his medical skill and attentiveness.

After quilting three large spirals on it, I decided to take a break so as to put it up on my home design wall to assess where the rest of the quilting design is headed.

The last project I worked on at retreat was this "Building Fun" quilt by Geta Grama. Each castle block is fast to sew, once all the fabrics have been chosen. Background fabric is white Widescreen, and all the colors are Blueberry Park... still a favorite collection. Three more castles to go!

Our guild is booked for Luther Springs again next year during the same time frame. I'll be there, and hopefully will accomplish as much as I did this time. In any case, it's sure to be fun! Especially if I can spend it with these same good friends:

From the top left: Laura, Debbie, Diane, Jamie, Judi, Cindy, Kathy, Kelly, and Lynne
From the bottom left: Monique, Mel, Janice (AKA Mamasita), Karen E., Linda T., Dee, Karen T., Jill, Carol, Sue, Lora, and me! Linda

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Home Again

Since April 15, we've been away, driving to and from Kansas City to visit family. We kept busy while there, taking care of grandsons while their mom was away, and visiting various family members - my dad, my sister, and nephews and their families. I also had a lovely catch-up over coffee at Starbucks with (no longer blogging)-quilter-friend Carla. I also appreciated worshipping in a Lutheran church, and the following Sunday, worshipping at Methodist Church of the Resurrection - a church that feels much like Lutheran Church of Hope (West Des Moines) that I miss so very much. They're both led by dynamic, inspirational pastors.

We traveled to KC to help our daughter celebrate her April 20, 40th birthday. I find is simply amazing that we have a 40 year-old! She didn't want her picture taken because she was feeling a little under-the-weather, but here's the Twinkie cake I baked and decorated... if you want to call that decorating! A candle for every five years.

Aesa (age 5) and Tay (age 6) practiced riding their bikes without training wheels. This is the day both of them mastered it. 

Dan and I spent a day with each grandson, pulling them out of school/pre-school to play board games, eat lunch out, and visit Uncle Evan's pet store. Last week, Evan celebrated five years in business. If you're ever in Olathe, Kansas, be sure to stop at Olathe Pet Shop. He sells all sorts of birds, reptiles, and fish, and pet paraphernalia. No dogs or cats.

Hedgehogs may be a quilt design craze, but have you ever seen one in person? Or considered it for a house pet? Evan took a hedgehog out of the cage for Aesa to touch. 

When Tay was at the pet shop, he wanted to hold the critters... 

...including handling the live bug he fed to the hedgehog!

Tay with a baby lizard...

... a snake...

 ... and a baby tortoise. As well, Tay fed a live worm to a sting ray. Maybe there's a pet shop job in Tay's future!

Our activities with Celina were tame by comparison. We took her out of school for a long lunch, and delivered her back to school after a stop for Caribou coffee. Bapa played some of his favorite oldies music for her on his iPad.

After the boys' Saturday morning's soccer and football games, we took them to Louisburg's (Kansas) Cedar Cove Feline Sanctuary.

It's another worthwhile place to visit, and especially entertaining if you're there during the 4 pm feeding time. 

I need to include this family picture of my dad when he was recently in Austin, Texas, visiting our son, DIL, and two grandsons. Austin and LJ are only two of Dad's nine great-grandchildren.  

Though I did a little sewing at Jill's house - shortening Tay's football jersey, and mending a seam in a favorite stuffed dinosaur - during two days of car time each way, I occupied myself with English paper piecing. Six more Spinning Wheels are pieced to add to the 11 previously pieced.

On the way to KC, we spent the night in Paducah (a week before AQS QuiltWeek), so I had a chance to go to Hancock's of Paducah. I looked for and found most of the Kaufman Kona solid colors needed in the 2017 QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge. I hand-washed the blues - Ocean, Hyacinth, and Ultra Marine - and I'm glad I did! The color catcher on the left shows the bleed. Same goes for the yellow picked up by the color catcher when I washed Citrus by itself. Yarrow, Pink, White, and Silver didn't appear to bleed. 

A must-stop in KC is KC Modern Makers. I love Elizabeth's shop! She stocks a wonderful assortment of modern quilting cottons, as well as other fabric types - denims, jerseys, bottom weight, home dec. These knits will be sewn into tops. I was delighted to find that she sells Superior needles. This is the brand that's been recommended to me, to see if it keeps my Pfaff from skipping stitches while quilting with a double batt. 

It's nice to be home again... in the heat... 90-degrees today. While it's always wonderful to share life with family, there's something to be said for sleeping in your own (king-sized) bed, and selfishly managing your own time. But... I truly miss this family very much... a grandmother's perpetual conundrum. Linda

Friday, April 22, 2016

Quilters, and The Villages Views

These are some of the students who were in my March "Beyond First Time Quiltmaking" class. They learned machine appliqué to make a "Candy Pop" quilt from Christa Watson's book Machine Quilting With Style. 
After Beyond classes, I taught another Free Motion Quilting workshop.

For students'  first free motion quilting, I suggest they write their name and date on their fat quarter-sized quilt sandwich. 

That information is good for documenting improvements in the future.

I'll teach at the Lifelong Learning College again in September. For more information, click on the "Teaching Schedule" tab at the top of this blog.

A recent finish is this 11-1/2" X 13" mini. It's improv, hand-appliqué, domestic machine quilted. 
The shapes were scissor-cut from solid fabrics - no drawing. Then needle-turn appliquéd to the Kona Ash background. Oval spiral quilting is a nice change from circles.

For the first time, I faced a quilt. It makes a nice finish for the right quilt top. I like that I could leave openings for hanging with a wooden dowel. Backing fabric is "Good Neighbors" by Amanda Jean of CrazyMomQuilts, purchased at Connecting Threads.

I'm leaving you with views of a new area on the south side of The Villages. This is the Sharon Rose Wiechans Preserve where we can enjoy a lovely spring walk, and see wildlife - maybe even an alligator.

That's a wooden boardwalk across the wetlands.

Beyond the preserve, hundreds of new homes are being built.
The Villages continues to grow. The last count I heard was 110,000 people. Did you know there are more than 1,000 quilters in Quilting Guild of The Villages?! Central Florida MQG has 52 quilters.

Dan and I continue to agree that we made a good decision moving here... coming up on four years ago. Where does the time go?! Linda


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