Monday, January 16, 2017

MLK Jr Day

Today is my day of celebration for 3 good reasons. 

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First and most important, of course, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  To my mind, he was one of the most inspirational and courageous people in my lifetime.  He forced America to open it's eyes to the plight of all the citizens.  He opened the door to not only black equality, but to the issue of rampant poverty in pockets of our country, to equal rights for women, and ultimately rights for the LGBT community.  It's taken a long time, and sometimes there have been setbacks, but I think, overall, we are a better nation because of the influence of Dr. King.  Quote of the day, which applies so well during these turbulent political times, is "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

The second reason to celebrate is because today, in 1988, is the day I began my career journey as a representative for people with disabilities.  I was offered a job in Duluth, MN, which required creating a program to assist people with disabilities get through the maze of paperwork involved with getting the benefits they were entitled to.  I found this to be the perfect niche occupation for me, and I worked in this field for more than 25 years before I retired completely.  I have no idea how many people's lives I touched but likely it was several thousand. People who were homeless and hopeless, in severe pain and distress and without access to medical care. People who tried as hard as they could to support themselves and as a last resort, came to me to help them get the benefits they so sorely needed.  I like to think that my efforts made a difference in their lives.

And the third reason I'm celebrating today is that this is the 70th time I've celebrated being on this planet!  (Don't have any idea where I was before!)  I was born this day in 1947 and am rejoicing that I've made it to 70. Unfortunately, none of my siblings made it this far and I wonder what it would be like if we could be together as old farts!  Probably a lot of fun since we had a lot of fun when we were young whippersnappers!

Just for fun, I looked up things about 1947 and thought I'd share these tidbits:

How Much things cost in 1947 
Average Cost of new house $6,600.00 
 Average wages per year $2,850.00 
 Cost of a gallon of Gas 15 cents 
 Average Cost of a new car $1,300.00 
 Loaf of Bread 13 cents 
 United States Postage Stamp 3 cents 
 Men's Sweater $8.50 
 Bulova Men's Watch $52.50 
Couple of examples of houses for sale this year Harlingen , Texas New Brick House 5 room house with all furniture included $7,100 
Long Beach , California Mediterranean style Home with Most beautiful 2 story modern home overlooking the ocean well cared for grounds $37,500 
 Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup 23 cents for 2 cans 
Oranges 49 cents per dozen 

Wow!  I wish I'd bought that house on the ocean in California!

So, today is a day for me to celebrate so many things, especially the fact that I only have about 6 log cabin blocks to stitch and then can get on to the pink centers. Oh, the end of this stitching is so close!  I'm already planning the binding and of course, have to find time to make up a label.  Busy day ahead of me, I guess, including going to the movies tonight to see Hidden Figures. Can't wait for that, but now it's off to the sewing room to try to wrap up this quilt!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I got the blues

I concentrated on quilting up the blue logs in my log cabin quilt, and made great progress yesterday. Once again, I had to rewind a bobbin when the tension got all wonky after I'd inserted a new bobbin. It only takes a minute to rewind a bobbin, but why should I have to do that?  The next time my machine goes to the spa, I'll make a note of this situation and see what the repair person has to say.

I didn't take the quilt out of the machine to see how many of the 64 blocks I'd done, but my estimate is that about half are finished.  And my plan is to finish them all today and get started on quilting in the pink centers of the blocks.  I have the design in my head and it should work out well, with little marking.  Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans, right?

I feel as though I'm boring everyone by going on about the log cabin quilt, and if I am, I apologize.  I'm one of those people who likes to see a project through from start to finish, at least until the top is completed and then it can hang in the closet for a year (or more!) before getting quilted up.  LOL! When I read in other people's blogs that they worked on 3 or 4 different quilts in a day, I admire how they can do that. I get confused if I have a leader/ender project going at the same time as I'm working on a quilt!  Also, when I set up my machines for quilting, I don't like to disassemble them in order to do some piecing.  Just get the quilting done and then move on to something else. Also, I'm afraid that if I take the quilt out of the machine and set it aside, it'll languish on the closet shelf for another couple of years!  And I want these tops stitched up and put on the beds!  So, please be patient with me when I'm quilting up a top.  I'll eventually move on to something a little more interesting.

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I continue to stitch away at the 6,478 pine needles in the Among the Pines embroidery, and have only 2 trees left to stitch, or about 2, 546 needles  ;o) , and the third block will be finished.  Before I begin the 4th one, I'm going to make up all the other blocks so they're ready to go South with me. 

And the only other "sewing" I did yesterday, was to convert a pillowcase into a bib for Jo to wear when she goes to DC for the Women's March next weekend.  She wanted to make a flag that she could wave, but we decided that carrying a stick on the plane might not work, and her arms will get pretty tired from holding the flag aloft.  Instead, we came up with the pillow case idea. I took an old white case and used my pinking shears to cut a circle for her head and neck.  Then I cut up the sides so it fit over her jacket but we realized that it needed to be tied somehow at the sides or it will be blowing around in the wind. I found some old scrap fabric and stitched 4 ties at the waist so she can tie the bib and it won't blow around. When she goes home today, she's going to paint or draw sayings on both the front and back of the bib.  She's chosen a quote from Maya Angelou, "still I rise,"  taken from her poem.  If you're like me and not familiar with it, this is the first stanza:  

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies, 
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

and here's the link to the rest of the poem, Still I Rise.  I think it's a very fitting quote for Jo to paint on her banner/bib.  

That's it for today.  Back to singing the blues--in a good way!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Feathers Finally Finished!

I am so proud to be able to announce, finally, that I have finished stitching the feathers in all the neutral logs of the king sized log cabin quilt!  Yea! Rah, Rah!

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Actually, I think I've figured out what's been causing the tension problems--loosely wound bobbins! Yesterday, when I began to have tension problems again with using the white thread on top, the first thing I did was rewind the bobbin and the problem was gone. There must be something wrong either with the winding apparatus or in the way I'm threading up for bobbin winding.  Well, let's hope that's the problem, one that's easily fixed, and not something more major.

I finished "feathering" (who says I can't make up new words?) yesterday, mid afternoon, and there was enough time to begin stitching the curvy lines in the blue logs--using blue thread on both the top and bottom this time. What a relief! This is going very well, and I realized that I can stitch these lines from any directions whereas, I could only stitch the feathers in one direction and had to turn the quilt to go in the other direction.  And believe me, that has been a real chore!

In the evening, I continue stitching on Among the Pines, and have nearly finished the third block.  I think I'll have to make up all the other blocks so they're ready to go with me to Alabama in a week or two. I like to have something to stitch on as I sit on the porch of our cottage there on the Gulf.  I can't stitch in the car as the roads are way too bumpy, but I can knit, so I'll also take along some yarn and needles for the travel days.


I thought I'd add a picture of my back yard here in NW Wisconsin.  Yep, lots of snow this winter, and lots of cold as well.  


This morning when I checked at 8 o'clock, the temp was -4 F.  That's pretty cold even for me, this Minnesota born and bred lady.  Fortunately, the cold spell will lift in a couple of days and we're predicted to have temps in the high 20's and low 30's for a few days. I know some of you will think I'm nuts to say those temperatures are "warm" but in comparison to what we have now, it'll feel very nice.  When we stay at the Gulf, the temps usually range between 55 and 70 degrees and we like it very much. It's such a pleasure to not have to put on the parka and wooly scarf, heavy winter boots, gather up hat and mitts, and just go outdoors in a light jacket or sweatshirt.  Not swimming or sunbathing weather, but a nice break from Old Man Winter.

But I'm not at the Gulf yet, and I will have to bundle up and make a trip to the grocery store as soon as I finish here. Jo is coming home this afternoon and will spend the night. I want to fix a nice roast beef dinner for her and have to pick up a few things in order to do that. As soon as I get the groceries put away, I'll be working on the blue logs until she arrives sometime this afternoon.

If you live in a cold area, stay warm, and if you live in a warm area, enjoy!



Friday, January 13, 2017

Quilting away--day by day

Yesterday, I made quite a bit of progress on the log cabin quilt, although I continue to have tension problems.  When I began stitching with the new spool of thread, and a new and full bobbin, the same problems popped up as before--too much bobbin thread showing up on the top. After rethreading the top and adjusting the tension, I still had the problem. So, this time, I immediately rewound the bobbin with more tension on the thread as it wound, and Voila!  Tension problem solved!  I was able to get all but one of the most difficult blocks quilted and today will toil on and finish the last of the feathers. Please!  I want so badly for this part to be done!

Other than that, I actually got my house cleaned up enough for the Quilt Festival team to meet here after supper and make decisions about the direction of the festival.  After lengthy discussion, the group decided to go ahead and begin working on a festival for November, 2018, if we can get things cleared up with the main event which may be a sticking point.  I've emailed the person in charge of that event and, hopefully, we'll get together next week and get everything ironed out.  Wish me luck on that as well.

And since I have no pictures to post today of my quilting progress, or anything else, here are a couple I stole borrowed from the internet for your viewing pleasure.  The one below looks like the walking/biking  trail nearby and I may just go out and take a walk on it today.

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I just like the one below--hungry doe waiting for the photographer to leave so she can feast on the apples! I wish that was my backyard!

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Spooling instead of quilting

For the past few days, I've been determined to sit down and write a post that I've finished quilting the feathers in the light section of the log cabin quilt blocks, but each day that hasn't happened so I haven't had anything to write about except that I'm still working on it.  And that's just too boring even for me. LOL!

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Two days ago, on Tuesday, I was making such good progress on this quilting--until I ran out of the white thread I'm using on this part of the quilt. I thought I had a partial spool of a similar thread in my thread box, and yes, there it was. I loaded it onto the machine and again was making good progress when that spool emptied as well.  What to do?  Remember, I live about 40 miles from the store where I get my quilting threads so a quick trip to the LQS is not so very quick.  Checked the thread box again and found another partial spool of thread which was a bit darker but would do. So I loaded that one and then called it a day.

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Yesterday, Wednesday, I began quilting again with the slightly darker thread and it blended in very well. Whew!  Full steam ahead!  Until that spool also was empty!  What the heck!  I thought those spools had more thread on them than they actually did.  So now, I had no more white or neutral thread  in my box, so I was forced to go out and get more. I called the shop to see if they had the color I needed and they did, so into the car I went to Rice Lake.

Now keep in mind, we had about 4-5 inches of snow over the past couple of days, and the streets here in town are snow packed and slippery. Who knows what the highway would be like? I made sure my boots were in the car along with a hat and mittens, and that Don had his cell phone handy and that mine was in my purse--just in case. I had images of this going through my head as I started out:

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I've been there and done that more than once in the past, living here in the Northland, and did not want a repeat of it yesterday!

At any rate, when I made it out of the neighborhood and then out of the town, I found the state highway in very good shape!  Yea!  I drove a little more slowly than usual, thinking there might be icy patches on the road, and managed to make it to and from the store without mishap!  

As long as I was in the store, I had to take a "quick look around," if you know what I mean.  I came for one spool of thread, and left with 3 spools and a large bag of half yard cuts of Christmas fabric that was on sale!  Now how could I pass up all that Christmassy, fabricky goodness? If Don asks, I'll emphasize that I saved $40 and how could that be a bad thing?

I got home too late in the day to begin working on the quilt again--I find that quilting after about 5 pm is not something I can do with any success--so I'll begin today and with luck, I'll get the feathers all quilted in and can begin the second design.  I've quilted feathers in all the interior blocks and only have the ones around the edges to get done. They're easier since I don't have the entire bulk of the quilt stuck between the needle and the "neck" on the right side of the sewing machine.  

Before I go downstairs today, I have to clean up the house a little. I'm having a meeting of the Quilt Festival team tonight and we'll be making decisions on whether or not to have another festival and if yes, what format will it take.  Should be interesting!


Monday, January 9, 2017

S-U-C-C-E-S-S!


I remember the SUCCESS! cheer from my high school days as a Farmington Tiger.  And why is it that now I can't remember what I walked into the bedroom for?  Oh, the mind is a wonderful thing! Oh, and by the way, the above picture is not one of me in my younger years, but one I copied off the school blog.  Actually, I did cheer during my last two years in school, but I cheered for hockey--in wool shorts and wool jacket (which I still have)--knee high socks--on skates--outside!  Oh yes, we had some lively cheers--had to, to stay warm!

Well, I was cheering yesterday afternoon as I began working on the log cabin quilt again. First I rewound all 5 bobbins and then set out to see if that made a difference in the quilting. O. M. G. Yes it did!  The stitches were as close to perfect as they ever will be!  I went full speed ahead and got a tremendous amount of quilting done before it was time to come upstairs to start dinner.  It's amazing how much you can get done when you don't have to stop and unstitch all the time!

I actually laid the quilt out on the floor and counted blocks. There are 64 blocks in the quilt, and by my count, I have 16 left to go before I begin the second motif.  I also noticed 2 blocks that I'd stitched the day before and which really need to be unstitched and done again, with proper tension this time. I'll take care of them today before I move on to the other 16.

This quilt is so big I have a hard time taking any pics of it, and there isn't enough floor space in any room in the house to lay it out completely.  But here's how it looks, kind of laid out and kind of crumpled. on the floor of my sewing room.  


And a couple of the scrappy blue and white blocks. Actually, it's blue and "neutral" not white.


I threw in all sorts of scrappy blues and neutrals.  The lobsters came from a shop in Maine as did the blueberries on the left.


The neutral piece with writing on it at the top of the picture came from a shop hop I was on, and in red, it says, "Time to preserve yummie goodies and the American way" (WTH?) and the blue piece second from the bottom is Harry Potter fabric I picked up somewhere along the way.  I hope Dan and Erin will enjoy discovering all the things I've included in this quilt.

On the blue strips, I plan on simply quilting a wavy line in each log, and in some of them, I'm thinking of stitching words, like Love, Peace, Cherish, and so forth, since I made this quilt in honor of their marriage. I'll give it a try and see how it goes.

On a side note, as I looked for pics of the Farmington MN (my alma mater) cheerleaders, I happened upon their athletic blog. I was amazed at all the options available to girls in that school--and in all schools, I guess. Swimming, tennis, volleyball and basketball, cross country, and on and on. When I went to school in the early 60's, there were no girls' athletics what-so-ever!  We had the GAA--Girls Athletic Association--which was a group of girls who got together once a week or so to play basketball. That was it!  No training, no coaching, no teambuilding, no competition with other groups.  Things have changed so much for young women since my teen years. Thanks, Title IX!  I always wished I could have been on a team and now these girls don't think twice about it.  I'm so glad they have the opportunities my generation never had.  Go, Tigers!

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Enough about this.  I need to do a couple of chores and then head to the sewing room to see if I can get the last 16 blocks knocked out.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

What a struggle!

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"Nobody knows the trouble I seen."  That's how I feel about the quilting on the log cabin quilt.  I've been making pretty good progress on the quilting since I changed out to working with my old machine.  Yesterday, I was going along pretty well--only a tiny bit of tension problem--when I ran out of bobbins.  I usually fill 5 bobbins when I'm sewing and in the middle of the afternoon, not only did the bobbin thread in the machine run out, but I had no more filled bobbins. Stop everything and wind 5 more bobbins.  Also, clean out the machine so the lint won't build up too much.

When I began quilting again, with a newly wound bobbin, TROUBLE STRUCK AGAIN!  Horrible tension problems!  No matter how I adjusted the tension, there was trouble!  After I'd stitched about half of the quilting design, I gave up and spent the rest of the time unstitching it.  As I was doing so, I decided that the newly-wound bobbins must have been wound too loosely. That's the only thing I can think of that would make such a difference.  So today, when I go downstairs again, I'll rewind all the bobbins using a different technique.  (On my machines, I can wind bobbins with the spool of thread either horizontal or vertical, and I think I need to rewind the bobbins from the horizontal position instead of the vertical.)  Wish me luck, please.

Until the tension problem reared it's ugly head again, I was making good progress. I think I have about half the blocks quilted with the design in the light side of the log cabins. I'll have to go back and stitch a different, and easier, design in the dark side of the design, but then I'll be using the same thread in the top as in the bobbin.  And I also have to do a separate design in center squares of each block, using a third color of thread.  I have a ways to go on this big quilt, and I get exceptionally upset when the tension goes off.

Enough of this tension business.  On a lighter side, . . . Well, I guess I've been totally absorbed with the tension and the quilting problems.  But, yes, I just thought of it. I've been working for a few hours each evening after dinner on the embroidery of Among the Pines  and have the second block nearly finished.  Here it is.


The more I work on this embroidery, the more I like it. The tiny stitches really aren't the problem I expected them to be.  And I'm looking forward to stitching every night.

I also remembered that yesterday morning, I had an extremely productive meeting with 2 other guild members and we ironed out nearly all the details of our upcoming quilting exhibit at the local library in April. Pat and I had the idea last year of creating an exhibit of quilts based on books to be displayed during National Quilt Week and National Library week, both of which are in April.  The guild members have been working on these quilts and I'm anxious to know how many we'll have to display. 

I decided to use the embroidered Bee-utiful quilt that I stitched last summer as my entry, based on The Secret Life of Bess by Sue Monk Kidd. 

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 I've read this once and liked it and I think I'll read it a second time to refresh my memory. We decided yesterday to have a bed turning of the quilts waiting to be exhibited, and we'll have a little blurb about the quilt and about it's corresponding book.  We've never done this before, so I'm interested to see how it goes.

And here's the quilt that I have to quilt up when I return from Alabama in early March.  All of these 6 1/2 inch blocks are hand embroidered with a bumblebee or two in each one.  


When we return from our month in the warm, Don will be flying to Maine to spend a week or 10 days with Lily while her mother's at a conference.  That means I'll have all the time I need to get this quilt done up and ready for the library show.

When I began writing this post, all I could think of was the frustrating thread tension issues, but the process of writing has forced me to look for positives in the previous day--and it worked!  I'm in a much more optimistic mood right now than compared to when I started, and I know I'll be having a great day.  Oh, yes, I nearly forgot. The chili I made for dinner last night was probably the best I've ever, ever made!  And there was enough left over for a second Saturday supper in the future. Win, Win! 

And now I'm off to tackle the tension and bobbins and get the quilting done!