Thursday, March 29, 2012

A meandering update...

Gus doing his tree frog imitation at the Flight
on Ice tournament in Newark, DE.
The Sharks brought home Silver Medals,
a great way to end their season!
First off. Hockey season is OVER!  Happy Dance.  I love that my son loves to play. And we get so much enjoyment out of seeing him play and being with friends at the games. But it is just exhausting.  From MLK weekend until mid March, Gus had at least 2 hockey games a weekend.  Four of the weekends were tournament weekends which involved substantial travel as well. We went to Chicago, IL - where we visited with family, sledded and saw the sights between games; Charlotte, NC - and also spent time that weekend commuting home so that Gus could cross over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts - all of his grandparents were able to join us to celebrate; Newark, DE and Gus traveled with friends to Hampton, VA. 

And on the weekends he didn't play... let me just say we are gluttons for punishment.  March 9th - not a hockey weekend - instead we drove 12 hours each way to hear Trans Siberian Orchestra in concert - this is the last year they are planning to tour Beethoven's Last Night, which is my favorite of their CDs, so it was a great excuse to visit family and celebrate Sean's 1st birthday.

Ronny Munro singing as Mephistopheles
I think the highlight of Gus's night (okay and mine too) was meeting Chris Caffery after the show. We asked him to sign a picture I took of him at the Winter show in Raleigh and also asked the band members who were in Raleigh to sign the picture of Gus receiving a signed guitar. Chris offered to take a picture with us after the line was over. So we hung around...

The energy  in BLN is different from that in the Winter Tour (which we've seen 5 times now), but equally great. There were less than 1,500 people at the show in Tallahassee, so the line to meet the band afterwards was shorter, and the band seemed more relaxed. We had a great time chatting.  I think there is a TSO inspired quilt somewhere in my future.

Two weeks ago, the Durham Orange Quilt Guild brought Melody Crust in as our speaker. During the days prior to our guild meeting, Melody gave three classes. I was able to attend two of them - Simple Surfaces and Its a Fine Line. I would love to have taken her binding class on Monday as well, but I do have to go to work...

I took Simple Surfaces in hopes of demystifying some of the techniques for adding embellishment to quilt tops.  The morning was spent learning to apply foil and playing with different stencils and techniques. I got the best coverage using fusible web. The most interesting using a toothbrush to apply the glue and probably need to be more patient about letting the glue dry before applying the foil to get better coverage using straight glue.  The hairdryers got a lot of work that day. The afternoon was spent with paint sticks - not remembering which colors I purchased a few years back when a quilt store went out of business, and not knowing where they were to send Mike on the hunt to tell me what they were, I chose the primary colors set... and then had fun blending.  I was quite surprised by the results in the end - and while I don't think this will be a go-to technique for me, it is nice to have hands on experience playing with in my arsenal.

On Sunday we brought in quilt tops to share and brain storm quilt designs.  Because of the smaller class size, we were each able to discuss three quilt tops. I brought in the Irish Chain, Gus's Dragon quilt and the Dr. Seuss Log Cabin.  In deciding how to quilt each top, there are several basic questions to explore:
  • Machine or Hand quilting (machine)
  • Skill of Quilter (rank beginner here)
  • Purpose of Quilt (gift, baby, competition, keep)
  • Time constraints
Each of these answers plays into decisions about complexity of the quilting design.  I'm currently doodling on random slips of paper to finalize the designs that will go into the blocks with the dalmatians on the Irish Chain. Had I taken the class before finishing the SITD along the borders, I might have done something different with those narrow borders, but I think I'm going to take a chance and play with some emergency vehicle outlines on the border and not worry about outlining exactly - more like offset the silhouettes.  The Dr. Seuss log cabin should be easy to finish once I get it layered - lots of straight lines. I bought a cool varigated thread to pick up the colors.  Gus's quilt will be more complex, but will also be largely quilted with straight diagonals having care not to cut off bits of the dragon's faces.  In QA Vol 1, the suggested design involves lots of starting and stopping, which is not something I truely enjoy.  All of these should allow me to improve on my FMQ before I get started on the even bigger projects.

The kit we purchased was a clear mylar sheet and a wet erase marker so that we can audition quilt designs easily.  Before pulling out our quilts, Melody passed out fabric swatches and asked us to develop quilting ideas for those fabrics. Definitely challenging, and a good way to start thinking outside the box.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Popping back in...

Not much forward progress on the quilts.  A little bit of one step forward two steps back this week.

Over the holidays we headed to Florida to spend time with my family.  I brought a hand piecing project along with me and barely took it out of the travel case.  This is an improvement over the trip in October where I packed my sewing machine when we went to Disney in case of rain.  Had wonderful weather. Never took it out of its case.

We returned a few days earlier than planned and I finally tackled the project I've been planning since June when Gus went to stay with my parents for two weeks...  Move Gus's room to the "office/storage" room and create a sewing/office space in his old bedroom.  I figured that I could get a lot of it done with the two non-hockey weekends. Sadly, I caught a cold halfway through, with only 2/3 of the furniture moved, so we've been climbing over things for a few weeks now as hockey started back up with a vengeance.

Finally, last Thursday night, I was able to move my sewing table into my new space and by Monday night I put books on the shelves and hung rulers on the wall. And I even sewed.  And here is where two steps back enters the picture.  I started to notice that I was pushing a wave of fabric along the seam, especially where I crossed the horizontal anchor seam.  Still not thinking straight, and excited to be sewing again, I soldiered on and finished the stitch-in-the-ditch anchor seams.  Tuesday morning I figured out the problem - and gained a whole new appreciation for my walking foot which I had forgotten to install.  Tuesday night I took the seams back out - fastest seam removal ever...
You see, following a recommendation by Harriet and Carrie, I used water soluble thread to SID because I wanted to stabilize the quilt before doing the diagonal cross-hatch and the detail work but I didn't want to keep the vertical or horizontal seams.  The seams were never meant to stay, which is why I think I got careless thinking about the lumps on Monday.  At least the seams came out quickly with the liberal application of the spray bottle.  I'm hoping that the quilt will be dry when I get home this evening so that I can repin the parts that got unpinned on Monday and put the stabilizing seams back in.  I took the break last night to thoroughly delint the 830 and get more of my sewing space organized.