Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Am The Queen of Coincidence -- Je ne suis pas la personne que vous désirez

You know how you'll be thinking "I think I might like to cook fish for dinner tonight (of which you rarely eat, so have none in the house), and you come home and the hubs has fixed dinner and he's stopped at the grocery store and picked up some Cod?"

Or you're like "You know, I haven't heard from Rick since Thanksgiving, I wonder how he's doing, and you'll get home and see his number on your caller ID?"

Or maybe you've been at Chartreuse Market and been admiring the style of jewelry you like where they've taken a print of a bird and encased it in a little Lucite frame surrounded by silver and hung it on a chain, but you walk away from it for one reason or another and a week later your daughter comes back from Michigan with a souvenir for you and it's one of those bird charms, on a chain?

Okay, so this kind of stuff happens to me ALL OF THE TIME!  The hubs never pays any attention to me when I tell him about it, he just thinks I'm certifiable (and that my stories and explanations are WAY too long).

So, it's been happening a lot lately. More than usual, though what's to think. It's just .... whatever.

Pre-quilting, I used to be an avid reader. I've got a reading list that comprises over 100 books that I want to read that I carry with me. On the back, I write a concise 1-line review of each book I've read before I cross it off of the front of the paper. Sadly, there have been no 'read it' entries since 2009, which just about coincides with the year I discovered quilting.

Lately, I've been reading some book reviews that have intrigued me, so I've been adding to my list. I go to our local library website and put a hold on the book. When it's available, they'll email me. About 5 weeks ago I listed a book I wanted to read. It took a REAL LONG TIME to get to me, but I picked it up last week.

I'm a really fast reader (trained in high school by Evelyn Woods), so it took me a couple hours to read this. I finished it today, unable to put it down once I picked it up, tears streaming down my face halfway through, and at the end. LOVED IT!

My taste in reading is all over the map. I'd have to say that my all time favorite books (and favorite implies books that I would read more than once) are the Riverworld series by Philip Jose Farmer (Science Fiction...kind of), Life on the Mississippi (Mark Twain...short stories), Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck)...and if I were stranded on a desert island with only one book...I'd have to negotiate for TWO and they would be Great Expectations (Dickens), and Anna Karenina (Tolstoy). And I'd have to leave all of my X-Men Wolverine comics behind.

Anywho, I don't want to ruin Silent Land for you, but suffice it to say that one of the main characters (who believes she is dead) starts receiving calls on her cellphone, and the voice on the other end speaks in French, which she cannot understand. It's relevant, it's explained at the end (though you likely guess what's going on after the 3rd phone call). Nice little imaginative addition to the story.

So, I get home from work tonight. I've started a new bout of stressing over the upcoming wedding, the hubs is pissing me off for the past couple days, I'm feeling left out at work, I don't have a real sewing project to occupy myself, I've got something going on with my eye, spent the afternoon at the dentist, the house is a wreck (at least by my standards)...basically, I'm unsettled, which is unusual for me. On the way upstairs from the garage, I grab a bottle of my fav Australian wine from the case in the basement and figure it's going to be another wasted night in front of the TV.

The phone rings....the caller does not speak English. They are speaking fast, I have no idea what they are saying. I'm repeating, "I think you have the wrong number". "Speak English". "Can you put someone else on the line who can speak English?" (they do, they can't). After a few minutes I hang up. Open the wine. The phone rings again. Caller ID tells me it's the same alien caller. It's Groundhog Day at the Entwistle house. Again, after running through our little routine I hang up, pour the wine, the phone rings again....Surprise, it's my non-American friend once more. We do our dance, they put on the other gibberish-speaking person, I hang up, take the block of Cheddar out of the fridge, the phone rings again.

By now, while I have deduced that this is some foreign equivalent of a crank call,  I have figured out that they are speaking to me in French...and suddenly I make the connection with the book I had been reading this afternoon. (queue Twilight Zone music here). This time I tell them thanks so much for entertaining me, please call back when they have found someone who can speak English for them, and while it's been a blast, I do have caller ID and that I will now refrain from answering any more calls from their Bronx, NY area code, it's been real, have a safe and happy 4th.

Phone rings. It takes all I have to not answer it. Phone rings again. This time the little red light illuminates, indicating that 'You Have Message'. Of course, it's in French (clearly, as it begins 'Bon Soire"...that much I know from my 3 years of Elementary school French (I was in the 'program' :) ).

I send a text out to a couple of friends I think may speak the language better than I and my neighbor happens to have a friend who speaks, who is married to a French National. I hand over my voicemail password and  wait for translation.

A total stranger (my neighbor's friend--don't you just love the way we all connect) phones to  tell me that my caller seems to be either Haitian or African and is looking for a Mrs. Ne-Ne, and at the end of the call, the man on the line is speaking to the woman I also spoke to and telling her "I think we may have the wrong number". Too funny. Like what do you think your first clue was??

At any rate, Julie (my friend's friend) left me with a phonetic message (so I could write it down) that I should relay to my callers should I hear from them again.....
Mo Vay Nu Moro (wrong number)....Je Nes Suis Pa Le Person Vous Desiree  (I am not the one you desire).

Right now, I think that message says it all.

Enjoy the book. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday, Saturday....Yay for Saturday!

Just doing a little blog updating, and waiting to start something new in the studio. But first I need to run downstairs for the bottle of aspirin. The future son-in-law dropped off the grandpup for an afternoon of barking at nothing.

And what a surprise....Mr. Ricky got a haircut



Well, that haircut should last him a couple of years. The hubs told the daughter he's going to file for a protective order and take custody . :)  Though I have to say, it's the perfect 'do' for a long-haired chihuahua needing to enter the witness protection program.

Note the 'official Accuquilt blogger' button on my sidebar. Yes, it's finally official, and if you click on the link below for the free patterns, and sign yourself up for their newsletter you'll get some great downloadable patterns. We're going to be working with one of them in the next week, so check them out. Even if you don't have a GO! yet, you'll want to grab these pattern books while they're free. You never know when you might find yourself a proud GO! owner.

I'm off to download my free pattern book and  then make one of Heather Bailey's pincushions...wanna guess which one?

Friday, June 24, 2011

A New Way to Thread the Needle...and another OPAM finish

It hasn't been a very quilty week for me thus far.  I did manage to finish Block 1 of Baltimore Album Quilt 2:

(Don't look at it too close, especially the center....I've still got to do one just like it for the other quilt and I'm hoping it turns out much pointier, and rounded and I'm not worrying about any of those inside points fraying when washed.)

I gotta tell ya, it is not easy doing needle turn applique with a bandage on your index finger. While I can get used to using my thumb and middle finger with the needle, I've still got to turn under fabric, and I feel like I'm doing this with a big old bear's paw. 'Precise' is not achievable. I have tried it without the bandage on, but then the very fine silk thread gets caught up in the slit I cut into my finger...I can't win. It'll heal, eventually, and I'll be back to normal. (And in case you're worried, the doctor saw it Tuesday and used it as an opportunity to give me a Tetanus (Diptheria, Pertussis) vaccine...ouch!!

I think I need to go back to a project on the machine for the weekend.  Sigh...if only tomorrow were Saturday.

Now, I don't know about you, but as I get older (and hopefully wiser), I find it's not so easy to see to thread those little tiny eyed applique needles. I've been pretty lucky so far and have managed to get that thread into the needle on most occasions..even while riding in a car or on a plane, but I can't count on divine intervention forever, so I took my 40% off JoAnn coupon and bought myself one of these:

It's the Clover desk needle threader. The concept is pretty easy, lay the thread across the the little channel in the center, stick the needle (eye down) in the slot, push down on the lever, and after a few tries, you'll get the thread pushed into the eye, and if you are ever so careful taking the needle out, you'll be able to grab the tiny little millimeter of thread that has pushed through and pull it further. Bottom line...not thrilled, waste of money, glad I didn't pay full price ($14.95) for it.

Save your money. I'm going to give you an easy way to thread a needle without the need for bringing in the heavy equipment.

The concept is a simple one. Instead of holding the needle steady and guiding the thread through the eye of the needle (which is how the majority of us thread a needle), you're going to hold the thread steady and drop the eye of the needle on to the thread. 

I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos....the hubs had to take them as I needed two hands, and he's about as adept with the digital camera as he is with the computer (which isn't saying much).

Start with about 18" of thread (any longer and you're just asking for it to tangle itself) and hold it between your thumb and first finger of the hand you don't write with. Be sure you have a nice clean cut end.

 Now pull the thread down through your fingers so that only the tiniest bit of end is sticking up. This is the trick to having the thread 'stand up' and not flop; over.

Now hold the needle in your other hand between your thumb and forefinger (unless you've got on a spiffy purple bandage, in which case you need to use your middle finger).

And guide the eye of the needle down over the thread.

And wah-la! Your needle is painlessly threaded....JUST LIKE THAT.

Now go try it yourself. You'll never thread a needle  the 'other' way again.

Monday, June 20, 2011

An OPAM Finish and a New Start

Applique class with Mimi Deitrich last week was great. I learned a new way to thread a needle (I'll share that with you soon), and I learned needle turn applique without using templates.

Within a couple of days I had finished Block 1 of Quilt 1:

And then I started on Block 1 of Quilt 2, which I carry around in a plastic zip bag in my purse so I can take a stitch or two when I have a free five minutes. My plan is to use 4 papercut blocks in each of the quilts, so why not knock the 8 of them out sooner rather than later.

At some point I need to get back to Aunt Mimi's Garden. Fortunately I've only got 4 blocks total to do for this project, and this is block 2:

I'm using cotton thread on Aunt Millie, and silk thread on the Baltimore blocks....and guess which one disappears into the fabric so well that you need a magnifying glass to see the stitching?  (hint:  it's the silk).
I'm sure the hand sewing novelty will wear off shortly and I'll be back on the machine working on the Drunkard's Path with a New Twist, but for now, I'm in applique mode.

Which is not easy as I took a nasty chunk out of my right index finger while making margaritas for the ladies at Friday night's Happy Night. I was using the Ninja blender thiingie and managed to gash myself on the triple blade core as I was putting it in the dishwasher. I should have probably gone to the hospital for stitches, but I didn't want to be a buzz kill, so I just ran some water on it, applied some pressure  and put a bandage on it. I'm sure I'm likely going to start regretting that decision in another day or two--especially if it turns out that I can't hold the needle to stitch. Oooh....bummer!

Hopefully I'll be able to make some applique progress before the next class. If not, there's a thousand pounds of quilting books from our Guild Library in my basement that need to be inventoried before our next meeting in August, so I can always get started on that task.

And somewhere in there, I'll manage to blog. Next time I'll share Needle Threading 102 with you. Until then, be creative, have fun, and enjoy your week!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Monthly Mimi Dietrich Baltimore Class Today

I was up until 3 a.m. prepping for my monthly class with Mimi. I know, I know, I've had 6 full weeks to get everything ready, and in my defense, I did get most things done (i.e., washing and ironing about 72 FQS, and 20 yds of other various and sundry background and border fabric), but class is in 2 hours, and I have still not picked out my first pattern. Sometimes I just like living on the edge.

I do want to share something I came up with last night that might be helpful to you applique fans out there.

I am working with what will be 14" finished blocks. I was pulling patterns from various sources...Mimi's books, Elly's books, Jane Townsend....they all have different ideas as to how far away from the edges of the blocks the designs are, so I started out measuring the designs and using the proportion wheel to increase/decrease copies of the patterns.

I know all about proportion wheels from my early days in graphic design, and I do know that you can find them in some notions departments, but it's easiest to come across them in office supply stores, or you can contact the C-Thru Ruler Company (Google it).

The purple flag is my marker for the size I want, which is about 10-1/8".  Say my design is 6", I line that size up on the inner ring with the size I want on the outer ring (my purple flag) and in the window it tells me that I need to blow that design up on a copy machine at just around 169%.

One important thing to keep in mind is that you want to choose designs that when enlarged/reduced, your leaves, petals, berried are approximately the same size, otherwise you're going to have some pretty strange scale issues between you blocks.

Another thing I asked the hubs to make me was viewing template. He had someone at his office cut me a piece of plexiglass 14" square, which is the finished size of my blocks. I'm putting my blocks on point, and all my designs are rather 'square', so I thought it would be good to have something to set on top of them so I knew how to lay the patterns out on my backgrounds. I'm looking at this last night and thought it would also be a great aid for me in choosing the patterns...I can just lay it on a pattern and see if the design is going to fill the block the way I want.

Last night I took some 1/4" photographic tape (red (see thru) cellophane) I found in my craft supplies and laid my plain plexi on top of a 15" ruler and marked horizontal, vertical and diagonal reference lines on my plexi. Now I've got a center to use to visually gauge my pattern sizes (looks like this one may need to reduce just a tad).

You can get your own plexi cut to spec at Home Depot. And while the red photographic tape may not be easy to come by, you can certainly find colored transparent tapes at the office supply store, or you can use a Sharpie (don't use a dry erase or those pens they use to write on overhead projector slides or you'll have ink all over your hands and fabric).

Hope these were useful tips. I've got to run and toss everything into my tote bag for class. I'll just have to pick my pattern once I get there. (Nothing like a little pressure to get the adrenaline going on a lazy Sunday.)  Enjoy your own lazy Sunday afternoon!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Where's the Motivation?

I've been sitting in my studio for 4 days now and haven't been motivated or inspired to start a project. I can't put my finger on it. I've got multiple projects to choose from, I've got projects that are started that I can finish, I've got fabric to iron and patterns to choose for my class with Mimi Dietrich Sunday, yet here I sit, popping Pez (some of which are probably 10 years old--seriously, Pez, does not spoil, so no need to call the EMTs), and OD'ing on Say Yes to the Dress On Demand.

But wait, what's that on the sewing machine?

 Ah, it's the circular embroidery attachment.

And I did use it to test and choose some stitches to use on the new Drunkard's Path project.

And while I'm a little hesitant to cut out the wedges and the pies (because it's going to be a bit tedious and take forever (no Go! on this one), there's always the fear that I use the wrong templates for pies and crusts, So, I put off the work that I need to think about, and instead figured it was okay to do the mindless prep, which was cutting out the 16 pieces of fabric that will be circularly embroidered...
and fuse lightweight tear away stabilizer to the back of each.

Still procrastinating on Day 3 of the Drunkard's Path  Project, I told myself I needed one more little sew out to try to determine how far apart to space each circle of stitching. Now I'm  ready to get started on this....but I just can't bring myself to poke one of those squares on the machine and get to stitching.

I could turn the TV off. I could go dig a little shot of Five Hour Energy out of the cabinet in the kitchen (Lord knows, the 10 year old Pez aren't exactly offering up any sugar rush to speak of--nor has my 4th Diet Coke of the day) OR I could go let the dogs out, crawl into bed with The Quilt Life and fall dead asleep 4 paragraphs into a Ricky Tims article.

Maybe the morning will bring some motivation. (Which will have to last through the work day and Bridal Shop Appointment #3 after work).

Heavy sigh.....I think I'll save that energy drink for tomorrow night..

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lost But Not Forgotten (I Hope)

Remember me? Hell-o!

I got a little drunk (figuratively speaking, not least in this instance) on the long weekend last week...3-1/2 glorious days of no work, and then a day spent working from home in my jammies. 2 days of cookouts, so no sewing to speak of (though I did sit poolside and do a little applique on Aunt Millie's Garden)....and then it was my birthday (more debauchery) and a last minute plan for yet another workless day off to go to a quilt show with Becky (Sarcastic Quilter). Anyhow, I'm still reveling in the fact that it is ONLY FRIDAY (woo hoo!), and I've got two more days with no plans (other than a morning appointment at a bridal salon) to actually accomplish some sort of sewing.

First, a couple orders of business we need to clear up...

The finished Winding Ways table quilt...a May OPAM finish. Still needs a label, but it's done and will be out of here (and yes, I am still not fond of it....AT ALL..can ya tell? (It's on the floor for it's photo op,).

Second order of business...someone needs to win this  pincushion:

and that would be Joanne in New Hampshire. I've sent you an email. Yay!!! Congratulations, and thanks everyone for playing.

We'll have something cute to give away in June, so stay tuned.

Becky and I had a lovely time at the quilt show today. We just about shut it down, so not only did we get to see some lovely quilts, meet each other, enjoy a little shopping (and strangely enough, it was an unusually controlled 'shop' today--wait, I like that....'controlled shop', sounds like the Crocodile Hunter or something on Animal Planet....we've got a voiceover..."the ladies are sniffing about the vendor booths, nonchalantly scoping out the lay of the land, while others in the herd are pawing through the bins of fat quarters with random abandon...will they become aggressors and make their move and charge into the midst of the herd to establish position? Or will they pass up this opportunity and move further into the uncharted plains of the Expo Center to sniff out a more bountiful selection, with lower prices?")

...but we got a good bit of exercise walking around for seven (7)  hours (I must tell you that Fit Flops are not the best choice for 7-hour hikes).  While I would love to just go put my feet up, suck down a second glass of wine, and open one of the new quilt mags that arrived this week, I've got a daughter and a slew of her friends down in DC at the Verizon Center attending the NKOTB (for those of you that are pop culturally challenged, that would be New Kids On The Block) / Backstreet Boys concert. They parked their cars, got a ride to the Metro and were planning on hitting some bars in DC before and after. Guess who gets to drive to the Metro at 3:00 a.m. and pick them up? Trust me when I tell you that it isn't going to be the hubs, who was the one who agreed to this plan in the first place.

And gee, who's got an appointment to try on wedding gowns tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. 45 minutes north of here? Sucks to be my daughter and her bridesmaids tomorrow.

I'm going to leave you with one of the quilts on display at the quilt show today. More tomorrow. Have a lovely Saturday, and be sure to have some fun!