Monday, September 29, 2014

Interesting reaction

I just read a blog post and watched a video, both of which were posted within the past few hours. I've followed this blogger for several years and although she professes to be a skilled teacher and has published several books about basic quilting skills, I've found that often the information she's sharing on her blog to be not useful and actually, misleading to beginning quilters.  I've never responded or pointed out my misgivings about her information but today's video was more than I could bear. By the way, I normally don't read her blogs at all and I'd delete her blog from my following list if I could, but I don't know how to do that. I normally just read the headline and pass over it.  Today's post was intriguing  for some some reason so I opened it and also watched the video.

By the end of it, I had a list of things that should have been done in a better way to make construction of the block easier and more precise. So I clicked on her contact tab (rather than posting a public comment and possibly embarrassing her) and wrote her an email, expressing my concerns and pointing out the other ways to do the procedure that I'd learned from the many other teachers I've learned from.  I got a quick response from her support unit, which I believe is her husband, saying that my email wouldn't be read since it had been filtered as hostile or unimportant.

Interesting.  When I teach a quilting skill or share some information about quilting, I welcome feedback. I don't always like hearing it, but I always learn something about myself and my skills that is useful and which improves my work.  Too bad this young lady doesn't think she needs to learn anything from anyone else.  

Now, if only I could figure out how to delete her blog from my following list!

Now I see that the email I sent to support in response to learning that my original email would not be read, has bounced right back.  I find it quite sad that these 2 people believe they have nothing to learn from others.  I hope that they don't feel that way in other areas of their lives.

When I told my husband about this, his response was, "How arrogant!"

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Jolly Ruby and Halloween

I've finished a few things that I want to let you know about.

First of all, the embroidered Halloween table runner sold right away, and I'm so happy that it went to a loving home.  Sounds as though it's a rescue cat or something, doesn't it, but I do get sentimental about some of the quilts I make.  I wish I had time to make another one, but that will have to wait until next year, I think.

As soon as I'd finished the embroidered piece, I began making this Halloween snowball quilt.  I finished stitching the binding this morning and have it listed for sale in my Etsy shop, Jolly Ruby.

This quilt is the largest I've offered in the shop--it's 60 by 66 inches--so I don't know how it will go over. I think it's perfect for a table quilt or for snuggling under on a chilly night.  It's the first time I've made a snowball quilt and it went together very quickly. No problem matching seam lines or anything.  I saved the triangles I cut off the snowball blocks and pieced them together in a long string of HST and put them in the border between 2 strips of candy corn fabric. That took a lot of time, but I'm glad I did it--gives the quilt a little something extra, I think.  I realized that I'd made a mistake in sewing those little HSTs together, but since it was a consistent error, I decided to leave it as is and call it a pattern!  That's what I've been told--if it's one error, it's a mistake; if it's multiple errors, its a pattern,  and that works for me!

I have enough of the assorted Halloween fabrics left over to make a table runner or two so I hope to get them made up and in the shop ASAP.  So that's what I'm doing the next several days.  

I'm quite proud of the Jolly Ruby shop and the even limited success I've had with it. Since I'm the only one making quilts for the shop, it necessarily doesn't have a large variety of items in there at any one time.  The reason I began this Etsy shop is two-fold. One, I wanted to have an outlet for the quilts I want to keep making and two, I wanted to set up the Jolly Ruby Fund which is used to help people with disabilities when unexpected expenses arise.  

 My career for 25+ years before I retired a year ago, was helping adults with disabilities access the benefits they were entitled to, such as Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.  Most people who are disabled (and 40 % of Americans will be disabled at some time in their working lives) get cash benefits ranging from about $800 to $1200 per month.  Not a lot of money, but they make it work.  When unexpected financial needs arise, these folks usually don't have the cash in savings that's needed. In fact, on some programs (SSI, Medicaid) an individual can have no more that $2000 in assets, and it's difficult to save any money when your monthly check is only $800!  

I ran into many situations where a person with a disability needed a few hundred dollars to meet a one-time unexpected crisis.  For example, the electricity goes out for a few days and all the food in the refrigerator spoils. Unless the person has extra money, it's pretty hard to replace that lost food and hang on until the next month.  Another situation I ran into is the person who had a part-time job and needed some car repairs in order to keep his transportation--and his job! And there are many other situations like this.  

Anyway, I thought the Jolly Ruby Fund might be a way to help out in these kinds of situations, so that's what my Etsy shop is about. Every sale that's made goes entirely to the Jolly Ruby Fund so I figure, its a win-win-win.  The buyer gets a lovely quilted item, the Jolly Ruby Fund get replenished, and I get to continue making quilts.  

Sorry to go on so much about Jolly Ruby, but it's a cause that I'm quite passionate about.  If you would share this information with others that you know who are interested in quilted items and/or want to help people with disabilities, I would greatly appreciate it. Here's the link again:  Jolly Ruby

Now, I have to spend the afternoon in the garden, clearing it of weeds and leftover vegetable stuff. Fortunately, it's a beautiful Autumn day here in Wisconsin, and I'm afraid I'll have to get out the sunblock again!  Wherever you are, I hope your Sunday afternoon is a grand as mine is.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nearly finished!

After my trip to the store with the "clunking" sewing machine, I loaded it up with the new cotton thread I'd purchased and tried again to do the quilting on Tessa's quilt. This time everything worked perfectly--almost.  There was a bit of clunking when the needle swung to the left as it made the wavy stitch I'd selected, but no thread was broken and the stitches were absolutely perfect!  Better than any I'd ever done with my old machine.  So I kept working on it and today, at noon, I had finished all the quilting. Here's a glimpse:

When I realized I couldn't begin the quilting on Wednesday as I'd planned, I went ahead and worked on this bag that I'd had cut out and waiting for me for a few weeks. And I got this finished Wednesday evening.

One of the Guild members had been to Keepsake Quilting in Maine and brought back a remnant of Downton Abbey fabric since she knows what a HUGE Downton fan I am.  As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be going into a bag.  There are 8 pockets inside and it's plenty roomy but not too big for my needs.  So, thank you, Becky.  The rest of the fabric will be in the Sister's Choice quilt I'm making as a leader/ender project.

I also finished the quilting and put on the binding on this Halloween table runner that will be going in my Etsy store, Jolly Ruby.  When we were driving around the Stillwater MN area last night, I realized that it's time to get the Halloween items into the store--people are beginning to decorate!

I had hoped to get a Halloween throw/lap quilt finished and in the store but now I'm not sure I'll get it done in time.  I have to finish the binding by Oct 1 on one of the quilts the Guild has made for our charity cause, and I have to stitch the binding on Tessa's quilt before Oct 31 as well as quilt up and bind the challenge quilt (that's only about 15 x 25) that I made for the Quilt Tour challenge and that needs to be submitted by Oct 31.  So I'll be a little busy.

As well as doing s bit of yard work--fall weed and feed on the lawn, cleaning out the garden plots, and hopefully, planting some tulip and daffodil bulbs for a little color in the yard next spring.  And that's where I'm headed to now--outdoors!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Quilting troubles!

I just returned from a 50 mile trip (each way) to the sewing machine shop to find out what was causing my new sewing machine to make that loud clunking sound.  I just knew something would go wrong when I started quilting Tessa's quilt.  And I was right!

Yesterday afternoon, I put on the walking foot, threaded the machine and the bobbin with the special shiny thread I'd bought to use in this quilt, set the machine for the curvy quilting stitch I wanted, and practiced on my practice quilt.  No problem!  I then rolled up the quilt and began stitching on it. Aaaaaand--Problem!  Wouldn't you just know!

As I stitched along, the clunking sound developed in the thread up-take area of the machine and eventually, the top thread broke. This after about 6" of stitching.  I re-threaded the needle  and tried again. The clunking sounded sooner, so I stopped and ripped out the stitching.  This happened three or four more times.  I re-threaded the top thread several times, even getting the owner's manual out to be sure I was doing it correctly.  No improvement.  I took the bobbin out and re-threaded it. No change.  Finally, I called the store where I'd bought the machine and let Rene listen to the clunking over the phone. She immediately said I needed to bring it in, which I did this morning.

Rene checked everything out and the only thing we could find that made a difference was the upper thread.  When we used the "special" thread, the machine clunked. When we used other threads, no clunk.  What the hell is with that ? ? ?

Thankfully, there's nothing wrong with the machine!  I bought new thread at the store and the correct needles and will begin again this afternoon.  Fingers crossed that this time everything works!

Anyone need a couple of spools of super special quilting thread-pale blue in color?  Just let me know. :-)  Hah!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rainy early autumn day

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain and the wind blowing my bedroom door against the jam again and again, until I decided there was no choice but to get up and get on with the day.  What's with that?  I love lingering in bed on a cool, rainy morning, but 'twas not to be--I have to take Lily to school every morning.

So, this is the view from my front door, except the rain had stopped when I took the picture.  It's cool--about 55 degrees--damp and gloomy. What's a girl to do on a day like this?

BAKE of course!

I bought a sack of very ripe bananas the other day at the store intending to make up some banana bread. I didn't get to it yesterday so it was the perfect thing to do this morning. And here are a couple of perfect loaves and a little loaf made for Lily in her little loaf pan.  She likes chocolate chips in her banana bread and I don't so I just put some chips on top of her loaf, thinking the batter would rise up and surround them. Instead, the chips floated on top!  (I don't think Lily will mind.)

Now, I'll have a bite of lunch--beet salad leftover from last night's Community Garden pot luck dinner and some fruit--and then it's off to the sewing room to get started quilting Tessa's "Colors of the Sea" quilt.

This is the quilt I want to enter in the charity quilt tour in early November. If I don't get this one finished in time, I have nothing else to enter. I don't have to enter a quilt, but I'd like to, so it's off to work on this one. 

I'll be using my new machine finally,  and I can't wait!  I've played around with it and have done piecing on it and what I've done so far, I really, really like!  So now, it's time to see how she does on the quilting part.  

Since the quilt is all right angles, and Tessa doesn't want a lot of fancy quilting in it (Yea!  Saves me time and work!), I decided to use a curvy/wavy quilting stitch that's already programmed in the machine.  Just back and forth across the width of the quilt.  Should be easy, right?  But just watch--something will go terribly wrong, I just know it!  Keep your fingers crossed for me, okay?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day doings

We're not doing any of the traditional Labor Day things this year--no backyard BBQ, no picnic or afternoon at the lake. Just hanging out at home and catching up on things we want to do.

I've been working on blocks for my Guild's monthly block exchange and have them all finished through February. I'll turn them in at meeting tomorrow night and will have that off my mind.  We're working on Bonnie Hunter's Chunky Churn Dash which you can see here.  It's a pattern I've been wanting to make for some time now and doing it as a block exchange seems to make it so much easier. I think that I'll start putting my blocks together now that I've got all my exchange blocks finished and maybe will have a new quilt sometime this winter.

I also checked on my batch of kombucha to see if it was finished fermenting or as my mother used to say about her homemade sauerkraut, "working." It was done working (so appropriate for Labor Day, don't you think?)  so I took the "mother" or "Scooby" out and placed her in a canning jar and into the frig.  The actual kombucha is bottled and in the frig as well.  

I had tried kombucha in the past and although I liked it, I didn't think it was worth the money to buy it or the time to make it. When Tessa moved to ME, she left several bottles in the frig. Not being one to let anything go to waste, I began drinking a little of it every day and found that I liked it quite a bit. Tessa also left a mother in the frig so I decided to try a batch of my own. 

After 3 weeks of it fermenting in a warm dark place in my pantry, with the mother bubbling and growing larger and larger, this is the result.  What I have here is slightly sweet, somewhat tangy and definitely fizzy!  Not beer although it does look like a micro-brew!

Hope your Labor Day (or Monday for non-US readers) has been a good one.