29 March 2019

Friday Funny

26 March 2019


Lizard and I attended a quilting/sewing/crafting expo over the weekend, hoping to pick up a new sewing/quilting machine with a bigger throat than the tiny little Brother I bought at a local department store when my prized Viking Husqvarna from about 1984ish gave out two years ago. Now that Lizard is retired, he is ready to try to start quilting again.

He was diagnosed with (an extremely aggressive form of) Parkinson's back in August, and one of the things he's been doing to try to help fight tremors is art therapy: coloring. (Sue Coccia's coloring books are phenomenal!) (Oh, and some of her designs have been printed on cotton fabric, too, and guess who is the proud owner of a batch?)

Lizard used to doodle all the time. He still does once in a while. Now he's hoping to design his own line of coloring books one day. Doodling helps him as much as coloring in tiny spaces. I have thoroughly believed for years now his doodling could be transferred into free-motion quilting.

I struggle with free-motion quilting because the throat of the Brother machine is so tiny. It took me years to work up the courage to use free-motion quilting on a quilt to be given away, and it seems like the day I finally decided I can free-motion quilt, my Viking Husqvarna bit the dust. Three times. Our local quilting shop was able to repair it twice. They couldn't find the necessary part the third time.

They offered us a pretty decent trade-in in 2017, considering my machine won't work at all now. But I just couldn't make the financial commitment to the new Viking Husqvarna, which was about three times the cost of the one I bought back in the 80s, which also, incidentally, came with a 25-year warranty. Each time the local quilting shop repaired my machine, they gave me another six-month warranty. You'd can't say I didn't get my money's worth. Oh, how I miss that machine!

The new model doesn't have a 25-year warranty, and it's completely computerized.

We took a look at the newest model while at the expo. Yes, I gave it a test drive.

It's a very impressive machine. But even the model without the embroidery is super expensive. I've always thought I don't need a machine to embroider. I LOVE hand embroidery. I just don't always have time for hand embroidery.

This year's latest and greatest Viking Husqvarna has an automated presser foot. That's right. You don't even have to lift or lower the presser foot anymore. While I was watching the demonstration (this time by a woman older than me), I kept wondering what our world has come to when we can't even lift our own presser foot.

Two years ago, I was miffed by a much younger sales person who innocently and pointedly asked why I wanted to be able to adjust the tension manually.

"This machine does everything for you," she proudly announced. "You don't have to spend time setting the tension anymore. You can spend your time on the sewing, instead."

I can operate a computer just about as well as anyone in the IT department where I work. I can even Photoshop on my iPhone. I am not adverse to technology. But I grew up sewing with an old Singer that had belonged to my grandmother and that my mom gave to me because I liked sewing better than she did. I had to do everything on that dinosaur, and I enjoyed it!

I used the Singer for more than a decade until a tiny $1.25 part broke. Because the machine was so old, it couldn't be fixed. The part wasn't available anymore. It's not like the machine was new... It had quite a few years on it, and I bet I put ten times the miles on it my grandmother did.

This also was pre-internet. Probably by about two decades. I couldn't get on Craig's List and track down someone else's old machine they didn't want anymore. I actually bought an even older machine a couple years ago for $200 from a former co-worker and just have never had the time to pick it up from clear across the metro. How sad is that?

I bought the Viking Husqvarna back when I was making $3.10 an hour, and I made payments for six months. I didn't take the machine out of the packaging for about a year because I was scared to death I'd break it. Not everyone had computerized sewing machines back then.

I selected the Viking Husqvarna because it came with the 25-year warranty, and they promised they'd keep making the parts for a quarter of a century.

Now, the same company that owns Singer owns both Viking Husqvarna and Pfaff. And they don't offer 25-year warranties. Go figure.

The other day, Lizard and I saw a Mercedes Benz commercial that made me want to make a Viking Husqvarna commercial...

Mercedes Benz said they listened to their customers and incorporated suggestions and demands into their vehicles.

"Viking Husqvarna, can't you make a sewing machine with a large throat that doesn't have automatic everything? I don't need an automated presser foot, and I don't even need the computer screen on the side. I just want to sew, piece and quilt. I don't need to be hooked up to wifi to run my machine."

Do you think they might listen?

I filled out the questionnaire for the new Viking Husqvarna, and I suspect another salesperson will be contacting me in the next week or so. Then I test drove the Handi Quilter Simply Sixteen again, third time since my Viking Husqvarna went kaput. It would cost less than the Viking Husqvarna but take up about four times as much space. It won't sew. It won't embroider. It won't do buttons and buttonholes. But I could knock out a quilt a day, and my drawing skills hopefully would mature and expand beyond imagination.

Then Lizard test drove the Handi Quilter Simply Sixteen. And he kept on driving it. Something about that machine set his soul on fire, and he had a really good time playing with the fancy variegated thread, making gorgeous impromptu designs. He didn't want the floor model, which was reduced by about a grand because the proprietor didn't want to have to pack it and haul it back to the shop at the end of the expo. Buying a floor model that has been heavily used for three or four days would be the same as buying a used machine. One of the buttons wasn't operating properly, and the drawer they were going to throw in for free had been damaged and would not close all the way. You never know what you're getting when you buy used. I'd rather buy new.

I kept thinking the Handi Quilter, even though it won't do as much as the Viking Husvarna, might be better for us at this time in our lives because it's something Lizard can do and perhaps even do really well.

And even though I hate rolling up a quilt to fit through our tiny little Brother machine, I've have done some magnificent quilts and dresses with that baby. I have mastered it the way I mastered my old Viking Husqvarna. It has limitations, and I can still soar.

I filled out the paperwork for the Handi Quilter and expect to be called within the next week or so, even though I made it perfectly clear I am not going to make a decision until the next expo, which will be in a neighboring community in June. The same Handi Quilter rep will be at that expo, too.

I went home and finished another quilt, start to finish, on the little Brother, in less than 30 hours.

Then I looked up the big Brother to the Brother I've been considering for at least a year. It has a larger throat and does only straight stitching. For about a fourth or fifth of the price of the Viking Husqvarna or the Handi Quilter. Then I looked up the Juki I've also had my eye on for a while because it's so highly rated. I've never tried a Juki, and I don't know anyone who owns one. But it's at or near the top of every "top ten" list of budget-priced mid-arms. The Juki is a hundred dollars more than the big Brother, and it sews only straight seams.

I think I could get by with one of the mail order models until we decide if we want the Handi Quilter. I could still use the Brother for anything I can't do on the... okay, I think I'm leaning more toward the Juki now. The Juki. I think I'm going to adopt a Juki, and I will be a parent again. And I won't have to roll the fabric I bought at the expo into a tiny wad!

Yes, I'm pretty proud of myself that I spent only about $48 at the expo. Especially when I paid the admission price with the assumption I would be walking out of the building with a bigger debt than I really wanted.

25 March 2019

Snowflake Monday

We finally got another snow day! We got only about 10 inches at our place, but all the schools and lots of government offices announced the day before (during 60-degree weather, I might add) they'd be closed the next day!

We didn't go anywhere. Well, we did take a walk around the pond after the storm, but we stayed home and stayed warm the whole time it was snowing. And safe. I tried taking photos of snowflakes, but the flake in this storm were too wet and too heavy. The wind also was just a bit frightening...

We'd lost power a week earlier so were ready if high winds took out the electricity again, but this time we had flickers all day, but we were able to warm up the bean bag for my back in the microwave, make hot chocolate and even edit a few photos in Photoshop. I didn't sew because the flickers would have been resetting my sewing machine every couple of minute.

I did get to crochet a lot! I got my next three snowflakes done! (Today's pattern is the 10th of the 11 flakes I designed for my niece Layla back in February for her birthday. Just one more pattern remains!)

Still, any bonus day with my sweetheart is a good day!

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

Finished Size: 5.5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Bomb Cyclone Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: 6 sc in ring; sl st in starting sc. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in same sc as sl st, [ch 3, 2 dc in next sc] 5 times; ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round.

Round 3: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 hdc over post of dc directly below, 1 sc in same sp, [in next ch 3 sp work (1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc, ch 3, 1 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc)] 5 times; in next ch 3 sp work (1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc), ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 4: 1 sc over post of dc directly below, [ch 8, 1 sc in next ch 3 tip] 5 times; ch 4, 1 dtr in starting sc to form 6th ch 8 sp of Round.

Round 5: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 5 dc over post of dtr directly below, [in next ch 8 sp work (6 dc, ch 3, 6 dc)] 5 times; 6 dc in next ch 8 sp, ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.

Round 6: Ch 14 (counts as 1 dc and ch 12), [1 dc in next ch 3 tip, ch 3, 1 dc in same tip, ch 12] 5 times; 1 dc in next ch 3 tip, ch 1, 1 dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 14 to form 6th ch 3 tip of Round.

NOTE: I skipped the parenthetical section of the final Round below in the white snowflake pictured above just to see how the flake would look without the picots. Feel free to make your snowflake with or without the picot or by adding your own favorite picot.

Round 7: Ch 3 (counts as 1 tr), 2 tr over post of dc directly below, [1 dc in next dc, 1 dc in next ch, 1 hdc in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch, sl st in each of next 2 ch, 1 sc in each of next 2 ch, 1 hdc in each of next 2 ch, 1 dc in next ch, 1 dc in next dc, 3 tr in next ch 3 tip, ch 5, (1 sc in 3rd ch from hook, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch,) 3 tr in same ch 3 tip] 6 times, omitting last 3 tr of final repeat; sl st in 3rd ch of starting ch 3; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch the snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

21 March 2019

Block Away

Moda Blockheads II Block 35, Gibby, was so much fun! I decided to change up the suggested color scheme yet again and try to include as many of my snowflake scraps as I could in one block. I also decided this would be a great block to make into a gradient.

Block 36, Rolling Flake, I mean, Rolling Stone, was going to have a nice crocheted white snowflake in the center until I began slicing up the pieces. I often look at the black and white block map for inspiration, and it suddenly occurred to me I could put four tiny white snowflakes in each of the corner blocks.

Except that I'm running out of design ideas for tiny snowflakes. So I thought perhaps I should incorporate the tree skirt panel leftovers once again.

The tree panel snowflake scraps are VERY scrappy and pretty darned small. Some of the flakes I picked for Block 36 were not quite big enough or even straight enough. But I knew I'd be lopping off each corner, so I decided to use pieces that probably wouldn't have been included in this quilt any other way.

Once the corner blocks were done, I just had to play around with the layout until I found something I liked.

The final arrangement turned out really cute, in my opinion. And I didn't have to applique any snowflakes!

Block 38, Anchor Point, was an adventure. I needed 12 2.5-inch strips 4.5 inches long. I didn't have enough fabric in the first three colors I picked. I finally settled on this medium blue snowflake fabric, and I was sweating beads by the time I got to the final strip. That short little piece at the top of the photo below is all I have left! But I made it!

The dark blue batik bled a bit into the white while I was pressing. I guess I haven't used that particular fabric next to such a light fabric before.

And then after I finished with the dark blue, I realized two pieces are inside out. I've done that intentionally to mute a color in the past, but it was a complete accident this time, and I wasn't about to frog the block when I noticed. You have to look really close to see the booboo, and I think that's the Quilter's Rule. If you can't see it at three feet away, it's design, not error.

In spite of the antics, this is a pretty awesome block. It's another block I can see using to make an entire quilt. When I commented to Lizard that it looks like a snowflake inside a star inside a star inside a star, he said it looks like a temple block. He's visited a few temple open houses with me, and he said the motif reminds him of some of the themes he's seen in temple architecture. I think that makes this block even more special to me.

Posting a photo of all my blocks so far in a potential layout resulted in the most comments I've ever had on any post I've ever done.

I'm also a "visual storyteller" and "conversation starter" now. Wow!

One of the questions I frequently get is what line of fabric am I using. Well, it's about 22 years of collecting blue snowflake fabrics.

I thought it might be fun to share some of the projects I've made with blue snowflake fabrics I've collected over the years. I don't have pictures of everything I've made because 22 years ago, I didn't know I'd one day wish I had pictures of everything I've ever made. I'm not sure I was taking pictures of everything I made 15 years ago... Ten years ago, maybe!

McKenna Ryan's "Moose Junction" is one of the first projects into which I incorporated several different blue snowflake fabrics.

Some of the fabrics I used for my first wall hanging (which still hangs above my bed to this day) were leftovers from one of the first panel projects I ever made... polar bear pillows and quillows for my adopted kiddos for their first Christmas together with me. Below is a segment of the coordinating curtains I made for their bedrooms back then (a different fabric than the quillows, but you get the idea).

The pillows and quillows are long gone, but I still today have a few small scraps from our Snow and Klondike days!

In the annals of undocumented snowflake stitching (that I can remember) are at least two aprons, about four pinafores, some doll dresses and doll quilts, a big wallful of lap quilts, even more quillows, a ton of pillows and pin cushions, a twirly skirt, numerous scrunchies, at least two crochet bags different than the one shown below, a dinosaur and a pony. Man, I should make another snowflake pony, but with a single horn on its head!!!

Snowflake Heartburn is the granddaddy of all my WIPs. I don't know that it will ever get done. Once I began collecting blue snowflake fabrics, I thought it would be cool to include at least one block of every fabric in this quilt. When I first began, I didn't have enough varieties of fabric to make all the blocks different, so there were five or six blocks of each. Last time I pulled the project out, I replaced all the duplicates, and if this quilt ever does get finished, each snowflake fabric block will be unique.

Charmed by Snowflakes probably is my favorite finished blue snowflake quilt so far. I think Blockheads will jump ahead of it by miles!

I've used some scraps in ticker tape quilts.

There are other quilts still waiting to be finished.

Sometimes I use a blue snowflake fabric I don't like as much for the backing and/or binding of a quilt.

Some snowflake strip leftovers got fashioned into a new winter crochet bag.

There also are a host of panels and background fabrics that have yet to be made into quilts and/or other projects.

As well as fabrics still waiting to be made into clothes.

Some blue snowflake fabric did make it into my wardrobe.

I even made my own turquoise snowflake batik, which I incorporated into a jumper.

I've also made blue snowflake fabric of my own via Spoonflower.

Scraps from my Spoonflower fabrics are making their way into a few of the Blockhead blocks. I'm thinking about incorporating one of my Spoonflower snowflake fabrics into a block of its own. I'm still determined to make my quilt different from the other potential 31,000 quilts being made during this challenge!

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.
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