Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Finish...and how MQIS works for me

OK, the last post was my fail.  A rather epic fail, I think.  It was the idea that I could hopefully post this finish, except it decided to break my washing machine.

Well folks, here is the finish.

It's 58 inches square.  And it's done.  I donated it to my Relay for Life team for a relaxation basket.  Hopefully it will fetch our team some serious cash.  Yes, I do my own quilting.

Now on to the MQIS part.  Machine Quilting in Sections is a book by Marti Michell and it illustrates the technique of quilting quilts in sections so that more of us home sewists can use the machines we have.  I have decided that I just need to get on board with this and learn this technique.  I have dedicated this year for this purpose.

I decided on this goal this year after thinking long and hard about my life.  Although I am 25 years plus from retirement, my husband and I know that we want to have an RV.  We also have stuff.  So we need to start paring down now ever so slowly.  And since an RV is not a cheap thing, decisions and choices need to be made.  The decision that I have made (at least for now) is that I'd rather have money to retire and have an RV and not own a longarm.  (I also want a condo, but that is another post!)  So clearly I need to learn to quilt my stuff.  Plus I have college to pay for my DD in 5 years or so.  While Ted can get her half tuition, it still costs some serious cash.

Anyway, this was the first quilt I tried this on.  I sandwiched the first row and basically did SITD around most of the parts in each block.  This is FAR MORE quilting than I have ever done on a quilt.  Then I trimmed up the joining edge, and did a 6 layer seam, which from top to bottom, is wrong side up row 2, row 1 quilt sandwich, right side up backing and then the batting.  sew the whole thing together and then bring the row 2 pieces together and quilt that row.  I did that for rows 2 through 4.  By row 4, some of the quilt was being drug through the tiny harp of the machine (I sew on a Jem.  Yes, really.  It's all I could afford with daycare at the time.)

When all 4 rows were on, I quilted through the sashings in the rows and columns - just a quick stitch down the center.  Then I trimmed and attached the binding.  I used white thread on the top and brown thread on the back.

It worked flawlessly.  No puckers.  No tucks.  No requilting.  Some frustration, but beginner frustration.  I was worried about a bump where the rows were attached because it's two layers of batting sewn together.  You have to step on it to feel it and you have to really look to find the bump.

HEre are some random photos of the back.  See if you can find the bump.

You can see it here in this last picture if you find the horizontal center of the quilt and look for it.  Again, you and I would know to look for it, but I don't think others would care.

What I have learned from this quilt:

It might have been smarter to do two halves and then do a center join that has the strip down the back that needs to be hand sewn down.

I can now try more complex quilting per block because I can manage the quilt in the machine.

I was also able to not worry about time on this one.  I didn't care how long it took.  I normally do not look forward to quilting and want it done as quickly as possible.  For this one, I said each strip had to be done within a disc of the Lord of the Rings movie (each disc is between 1.5 and 2 hours).  This is a manageable way to quilt over several days.  I was done withe attaching the binding by the end of the first half of the Return of the King.

For my next MQIS quilt, it will be an oversized king in the Yellow Brick Road (YBR) pattern.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Quilter Fail

OK, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and this is no different.

I finally finished a BOM from Country Threads quilt shop.  Jo at Jo's Country Junction mentioned it last year and so I did it.  I used the colors from the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for the fabric selection.   (Got it?  January's block was pink because the Rainbow Scrap Challenge said to use hot pink.)  So I got the blocks all done in January.  Then I saw the layout and didn't like it.  At all.

So I've got 4 Fab 4's going at once.  Yes, I know.  Leave me alone.  Fab 1 are 4 quilts to finish.  The BOM is in here.  Fab 2 are all king sized quilts for our bed.  Fab 3 are all baby quilts.  Fab 4 are all string quilts.  So I've decided to only work on these 16 quilts.  (I have serious quilter's ADD.)  So one week I finish a quilt to the hand finishing point.  The other week I work one 1 quilt in each of the 4 Fabs and do one step.  It could be a small step or a large step.  Doesn't matter.

OK so week one, it was this BOM quilt.  Last weekend I laid out the blocks, made a few filler 9 patches, figured out sashings. cornerstones and the backing.  I decided to use the Machine Quilting in Pieces method by Marti Michell.  I took pictures of the process.  I paced myself during the Stashbusters retreat cruise through the Pacific (I got off in Australia and went to New Zealand and go to Middle Earth watching Lord of the Rings.) By the end of the first disc of Return of the King, the binding was on the quilt.  Hooray!

So I then did a quarter of the blocks for a quilt from Fab 2, and thus ended last weekend.

So this weekend, I sewed a quarter of the blocks for a quilt in Fab 4 and picked out 2 seams from Orca Bay (a row upside down right in the middle of that damned thing).  (I still have some FMQ to do on one from Fab 1.)  I hand sewed down the binding of the BOM quilt while watching TV with my DD on Friday night and Saturday nights.

So this morning, I put the quilt, along with 2 color catchers, in the washing machine.

It unbalanced my machine.  I could just cry.

The sopping wet quilt is in my bathtub.  Another load of clothing has been run through the machine and it's fine, but it jostled loose the tube from the dryer.  I can't win for trying!

And so the story of how the machine quilting in pieces went is delayed.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Bronchitis FTW!

Yes, folks, I have bronchitis.  However, this is I think the first time I've had it since I outsourced my dog for her retirement.  So it's been a long time.  And it didn't feel quite the same way.

Monday started with me waking up at 5.30am going 'there is no way I can go to work.'  And so I didn't.  Things got moved, backups took over, etc.  Tuesday I felt better and by the time the day was done, I was climbing the walls.  I needed to go back to work.

And then at about 2.30 this morning I coughed the horrible cough of bronchitis.  The grip of death was on my windpipe.  I didn't exactly get much more sleep after that.  So I called in this morning.  Actually I don't call anywhere; I email.  It's not like I can talk or anything.

The doctor's office opened at 7 and they had no room at the inn.  They sent me to urgent care, who opened at 8,  By 9, I was home, diagnosis and McDonald's breakfast in hand.

Meanwhile I had been running a low grade fever.  But of course the batteries decided to die in the thermometer, so instead of going straight to Walgreens after the doctor, I went home, ate, fished out the dead batteries and then went to Walgreens.  I was home by 10am.

I took one hit on the inhaler, breathed deeply and took a nap.

I then went on a conference call, did some reading and grabbed my kid from school because her bus broke down.  She and I ran to the grocery store and now we are home.

Meanwhile I need to study for my hopefully very last insurance exam.  And take my steroids.

Friday, February 28, 2014

On the Needles 02/28/14

I'm still working on the first sock.  I'm not really impressed so once I cast off, I will try it on and I may just rip the whole damned thing out and start over top-down.  Toe-up sucks, man.

I do love the yarn and I am pretty sure I will love the sock.  The last time I knit socks was, ahem, 30 years ago.  That means I was in junior high.  Yes, that is accurate.  However, I was knitting with crappy acrylic yarn then and I could not stand the feeling on me feet.  My feet are super-sensitive; it took my DH 3 years to be able to touch my feet to rub them, only to find that the problem was that there was so much tension in my feet, it explained all the pain.  Now my feet are much happier and I am overall much less sensitive, so I decided to give socks a go again with way better yarn.

There's also something else on the needles, but that's super-secret.

Linking up with Judy at Patchwork Times.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Knitting Update

Here is the sock, Sunday evening.  I started it Saturday evening, so this is 24 hours later.  I am maybe 40% through the foot.  Everything after the first 1.5 inches was done 15 minutes here, 5 minutes there.  Stir the roasting veggies, knit for 14 minutes.  You get the idea.

My goal for this work week is to determine how long the foot part needs to be.  I need to stop making the foot part and make the heel, so I really need to know when to stop the foot part.

Knitting wise, the goal is finish the foot part.  Then I can do battle with the heel starting over the weekend.  

The yarn is called Tamara's Day Brightener and it was a Loopy Legend at the Loopy Ewe.  Needles size 2.  

Socks, an experiment

On Friday, I looked through my new Sock Knitting Companion book and determined I wanted to do toe-up socks with a plain toe, no wraps, etc.  I then saw I needed waste yarn for the provisional cast on, and thus ended Friday night.

On Saturday night, I cast on and got through the toe (badly) and started a few rounds.  However, whatever I did, I have to purl everything instead of knit.  Le sigh.

On Sunday morning, I put the sock next to my living room TV to be knit on when I have free moments.  This morning, it was watching This Week with George S.  I had 20 minutes and so I knit.  I watch the evening news most nights, so I hope to get in at least 15 minutes a day during the mindless part of the sock.

When it becomes time to pay attention again (the heel), I will dedicate time to the effort.  I am hoping that by using this found time, I will get 1 sock done per month.  Which means I should have new Easter socks I guess.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Warning, this is not a fun post about knitting.  This is an emotional post about knitting.

I bit my nails as a child.  So when I was 10, and Kim was 17, our mother signed us for knitting lessons one town over.  She even let Kim drive us there and back but of course we had to call and check in.

So I learned how to knit.  I liked the rhythmic aspect of it.  Kim is more free-form and she didn't take to it.  That's fine; our mother thought it was a life skill like typing and sewing and so we learned.  It also helped me stop biting my nails.

So I knit my way through 5th through 8th grades.  I went to a Catholic school and made a sweater for my uniform.  I made gifts and loved to knit.  As some of you may know, we had no freedoms as children, and so while reading was Kim's escape, knitting was mine (at that time).

I entered high school and still knit.  I also could sew and I made some of my clothes.  I had unique things and I grew up in the era of Pretty in Pink, so people got the concept of self-designed clothing.  I made my first quilt in the summer of 1986, after breaking up with my boyfriend.  (As an aside, we have reconnected via social media and he has just learned to quilt.  I remind him to enjoy the process.  He can be hard on himself regarding his art.  He is, as he is with all his art, talented.)

I entered college and I was a train commuter student doing the reverse commute from Chicagoland to the far western suburbs.  I continued to sew, modifying styles (more pants, less skirts) for commuting.  I quilted more and knit less.  I had moved into afghans; I was done with sweaters for a while.   I will state that with the exception of the sweater I made as part of my school uniform, all the yarn I had was acrylic.  100% acrylic.  No good stuff.

So I am in my last year of college.  My father had left, my sister had left (more like driven away in both cases) and I was left with my now dying mother.  She was never a very nice person and made it very clear as time went on that her life had been a big waste and all of us were to blame for that.  I would like to note that my father has NEVER impeded anyone from pursing their dreams.  This was even noted in his eulogy, how strong this trait was in him.  So anyway, I reach Christmas 1991.

Christmas has never been a fun holiday.  As a child I remember the one sided screaming machine of my mother being upset having to see my dad's side of the family.  I remember her desire for the holiday to be perfect and so we had to stay up past midnight every Christmas.  I vividly remember being sick half of my Christmases (which has been confirmed by Kim) and Kim opening my presents (a source of humor now).  I *hated* Christmas.  2 weeks at home cooped up with an angry woman.  She forbade Kim and I to speak to each other, because we would gang up on her and she wasn't having that.

So we are at Christmas 1991.  I know my mother's time on this earth was measured; I worked like mad to make her an afghan.  I figured I could cover her with love.  And I did finish it.  And a few days before Christmas, she said,

"I didn't get anything for you for Christmas, so you can't give me anything."

She knew.  And she ruined it.  Shortly thereafter she said the only reason I knit was to draw attention to myself, to show off what I had made.

And thus ended my knitting.  I stopped cold.  She made me learn a skill, funded the stash, accepted my gifts, wore them, and in a fit of upper-handed rage, cut me down.  It cut me to the core.

I do not want to hear she suffered from mental illness, I don't want to hear about cancer.  I want everyone to know she knowingly said hateful things to her children because she got off on making people feel horrible.  I have lots of examples.  This one pertains to knitting.  People like to tell me it wasn't her speaking; it was the disease.  I really don't care.  I WANT MY FEELINGS VALIDATED.  I am entitled to those feelings and they hurt.

So I packed up my yarn and my needles and moved it all 3 times.  When I arrived here in central Illinois, I went through the stash yarn and donated it all.  I kept the tools - needles, etc.

In spring 2011, just after I finished my MBA, I took a beginning crochet class.  I loved it.  I went and bought yarn and yarn and yarn and sets of hooks.  Yes, it was 100% acrylic stuff, but it was wonderful to be happy with yarn again.  I've made some afghans and potholders.  One class assignment was a set of different potholders in various shapes.  I gave them to my dad for his apartment.  He loved them.  I made some fashion scarves and some winter scarves.  I was working with yarn again.

And then I found Ravelry.  Whoo boy.

And I decided that I would knit again, but only the good stuff.  Unique stuff.  Good yarns, quality workmanship, stitched with love.  I bought some nice stuff from The Loopy Ewe.  Some red, some fun dyed stuff and some other fun dyed stuff.

And now I am trying to make some socks.  Man, it's been a long time.

And while Christmas this year was hard because we knew it was Dad's last, I finally have begun to enjoy Christmas again.  I give full credit to my husband and my child who have worked with me through all of this.

And off I go.  I have no idea what a provisional cast on it, but I need some waste yarn to do it.  So off I go.


After much hassle, I have FINALLY figured out how to change the email address for Blogger for this blog.  I desperately need to break up with Yahoo, and this was one of the most critical ones to get updates.  I now have everything converted over to my gmail account, which matches my blogspot blog name, which makes me very very happy!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

My Absence

Yes, I’ve been absent.  Very absent.

But I think I have a good reason.  In late July, my dad’s cancer took a turn.  For anyone who has been part of a cancer survivor’s journey, the journey takes many, many turns.  In July, the turn was big.  He entered the hospital on the last Monday in July and he never went home to his apartment again.

It’s been a long journey with many turns.  Getting him into various skilled care facilities.  Dealing with family members (my father is remarried – don’t ask).  Shutting down his apartment.  Walking him through the disposition and allocation of his belongs.  Thankfully he is a man of few possessions, but those he has are precious.  Dealing with grandchildren.  Dealing with money (that would be me).  Dealing with medical institutions.  Trying to make honorable decisions.

He died yesterday in the wee hours of the morning, in hospice in my sister's living room.  My sister lives in a converted 3 flat with a coach house in the back.  Her oldest son is married and lives in the coach house.  That child has a bond with Grandpa that surpasses all of us.  My sister’s younger son is living pretty much in the lower flat, while my sister is in the upstairs flat.  The main kitchen, the living room, etc are on the main floor and that is where Dad was.

I am grateful that we celebrated Christmas on 12/22.  Dad was still awake and alert and cracking jokes ever so slowly.  By Christmas night, he was throwing up dead blood.  Now he is gone.

I cannot stress enough the good work of hospice.  They have made this last leg of the journey palatable, to use my sister’s wording.  We went with a firm that my cousin, who is a doctor, works for.  At the time they were brought in, it was August and Dad was very much aware of what was being discussed.  Our cousin guided him through the discussions and he felt very comfortable that someone was advocating for him (besides his children – he trusts us).  While we didn't call the firm until the 100 days of skilled nursing care was over, they have been nothing but wonderful.

So this is why I have been away.  Some things fell away and this was one of them.  I have decided that in 2014, I will better at this, and some other things too.

Meanwhile I have been quilting.  Not as much, but I have been.  And a situation at work has resolved itself.  It was a tough 2+ years being away from my department and manager, and it is so very nice to be back.