Sunday, November 29, 2009

sliding downhill fast

Choose one of the following to describe the picture:
a. Olympic slalom champion in training
b. cover guy on Mammoth Mt. website
c. quilt pattern cover design guy
d. very happy transplanted MN son
It's great for us long distance parents to see and hear that Dan is doing something that he loves to do. Not everybody is so lucky. To get to use your education in a job that also happens to be your passion--what could be better? Well, maybe living closer to your mom would be good!
Back home again tonight after several great days visiting our families. It was a good trip with great celebrations: Thanksgiving, birthday, card games, dinners out. But we headed for home today after church in Jackson, in time to enjoy the Vikings' victory! Well, actually I was quilting through the entire game, but I was cheering them on subconsciously.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Blog writing must be a genetic thing! Now my niece's daughter, Aurora, all of 18 months old, has started her own blog, just like her Grandma (MissesStitches). Good to see this next generation getting a head start. You can read about Aurora's perspective on life, including the fact that she now has the croup! Poor little Princess!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In praise of rubber gloves

Not feeling very inspired lately so nothing special to show you on here, but there are things in the works. Actually, some secret things have been occupying my time, so can't show those! But I did catch sight of a cute video that I wanted to pass along to you, involving a breast cancer awareness promotion and a product that was indispensable to me for many years: rubber gloves! During my nursing career, the lowly rubber glove transitioned from being unnecessary to vital. Can't even imagine how many gloves I went through during those years, but here's a guess. Maybe in a typical hour of patient care, I would put on and discard 10 pairs. Never really counted, but we'll just use that number. Sometimes more, sometimes less. So in a 12 hour shift, that's 120 pairs! That's not too far out of line, because I think that they are usually packed in a box of 100 and I could definitely see using a box/shift. So if I work 3 shifts a week (typically) and 50 weeks in a year (gotta take a vacation sometime!) that makes 18,000 pairs (36,000 single gloves) in a year. In just 10 years' time, that's 360,000 gloves! Whoa! Wish I had invested in one of those companies about 30 years ago when gloves were just a nuisance and not required for every little task! And what landfill are they living in now??? Don't want to go there!
Taking off tomorrow AM to drive down to Iowa (God's country) for Thanksgiving with the family and a special birthday for my mom (80!!!). I'll have a turkey report coming your way!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Red Hots

So what have I been working on?? Here's one:
This pattern is Cinnamon and Ginger by Allison Quilt Designs, and it is a whole conglomeration of Kaffe Fassett fabrics that are hot-hot-hot!
I think I will call it Red Hots. I quilted it all over with these funky little flower-like designs that I learned from a new book by a friend and local quilter Janet Hanson. She has published her first book of quilting designs, Absolutely Fabulous Echoed Blossoms and Blooms. And since I have admired Janet's excellent quilting for several years, I was eager to get my hands on her book, and luckily she lives in this area so I could get it fresh from her own house. Honestly, when I started quilting on my longarm, my hope was, and still is, that someday I will be on par with the level of her quilting. Just give me a few more years...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

a good read x 2

I mostly get my books in the form of recordings, but there is still a chance now and then to get my hands on the pages of a book and become engrossed. I love books, always have, and found that I could turn my drive time into reading time with the help of recorded books. I usually enjoy the voice of the reader, occasionally not but that's easy to deal with by just turning it off and moving on to something else. Bob and I have gone through many, many recorded books from our local libraries. But we do still like a good old-fashioned read, and buy books for special occasions or recycle books from friends--Debbie seems to always have a new book to pass along to me, I swear she never sleeps! Anyway, I just finished reading Ashes to Ashes by Tami Hoag, it's a bit grisly in a few places but the redeeming quality is that it is set in Minneapolis so that makes it fun to read. Now I have started on The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow. Can't remember where I first heard about it, but the idea intrigued me. With that title, it could be a romance novel starring my hunky handsome nephew, Spencer, living in Ames and attending ISU. But no, it's nonfiction and is the story of 11 women who grew up in Ames and the paths of their lives. They are a little bit younger than me, but we share many common experiences stemming from similar childhood backgrounds. Might be something you would like to read...
It's been a very healthy week around here, and Bob and I can now proclaim this to be a polyp-free household! We have done our duty and been examined inside and out like never before! With a clean bill of health, we should be good for quite awhile, at least long enough to wear out the new washing machine! With any luck, it will still be around 10 years from now for our next colonoscopy experience!

Friday, November 6, 2009

I love it!

I am thrilled that I have finished the quilting on this piece, but a strange thing happened on the way to done. I love the fabrics, I love the design, I love the people it is going to. But turned out I literally struggled to get it done. I used different quilting designs in each of the squares and felt tapped out to keep finding new ways to do that. So I repeated some of the things here and there, but tried to add variations throughout. By the time I got to the last row of squares, I was unrolling back to the beginning to see what I did there that I could recycle! This is made using Elisa's Backporch circle templates to make 195 7" blocks, enough to fit a king-size comforter. I pondered quite awhile on how to accomplish turning this into a duvet. I had made one before from a pieced quilt but that was before my longarm was here. On that one I had just done straight line quilting through some of the seams to anchor it to a plain backing, then made the back of the duvet from some other pretty fabric. With this one, I wanted to be able to do some pretty quilting in the blocks so I put a thin batting and solid fabric with the top.
The batting helps the quilting show with a little depth but I didn't want this to be so hot and heavy that it was not practical. The batting I used was new for me, it was a Fairfield product that is cotton and bamboo. I was a little leery of using it because I have come across some Fairfield batts that were not so nice (uneven, weak, way too stretchy) but I liked this one. It had none of those problems, although it did have too many dark flecks to make it workable with a white fabric. So anyway, the gamble paid off and it looks and feels great. Now I have a king size flat sheet to attach for the back of the duvet, and before long it will be done done!

Monday, November 2, 2009

a little bit about binding

I have a sort-of tutorial here for you today to tell you about something I have learned that helps me with my binding process. I get pretty picky about my bindings, they have to be neat, flat, straight, sharp corners, etc. I watched a video by Sharon Schamber that carries bindings to a whole new level, and while I don't feel the need to follow each step of her process to the letter, I did find one or two things that have benefitted me. Today I am telling you about bindings and starch. This pertains to the preparation of the binding strip before it is even near the quilt.
Here's what you need:
a fabric strip, spray starch, iron and ironing board.
My fabric strip in this case is 2" wide which is all the wider I wanted for this project. It used a very low-loft batting and needed to look narrow in the end, so 2" is plenty wide. This fabric happens to be the same color on both sides. I LOVE Niagara spray starch in the aerosol bottle, but it can be a little hard to find in stores so I have even ordered it online. Type of iron doesn't matter, and my ironing board got covered with a clean piece of muslin so all the stains don't show in the pictures!
With the wrong side of the binding strip facing up, lightly spray the starch.
Fold the strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together with your fingers, carefully matching up the raw edges. The damp starch will help you stick the layers together with just the pressure of your fingers. Just work on a section at a time, however much is laying on the surface of the ironing board, you want the fabric to stay damp so you can't work too far ahead.
With a hot iron press the folded strip.
This will give you a crisp folded edge and a little more body to the fabric.
The starch actually kind of glues the layers together, as you can see in this picture of a partially pressed strip.
Then you are ready to sew it to the quilt edge, and I find that it is easier to sew neatly if it has been starched this way. There is little or no shifting or twisting of the two layers of the binding fabric and it ravels less on the raw edge. And that's what I know about binding prep!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

check this out

Today I am supposed to be quilting up a storm, but I feel compelled to pause and tell you about this. One of the things that I do while running my quilting machine is listening to podcasts that I subscribe to via Itunes. I'm not sure if I mentioned this here before, but I want to suggest that you tune in to a very informative program from National Public Radio called This American Life. First, let me sort of explain the "how-to" in case you aren't familiar with this method of programming. This is a talk-radio weekly show but I never have the radio on at the time it is broadcast. I make use of the fact that it is available through their website and I can listen to it at my convenience either on my computer or ipod. I "subscribe" to it on Itunes, this means that each time they broadcast a new program it goes into my Itunes library on my computer, and is saved there for me. It's all free. I can listen to it once or as many times as I want, save it or delete it. If you don't want to do it through Itunes you can go to the program's website and get their entire archive of programs. The newest program is a free download from them, or the older programs can be listened to for free directly on their website.
So why am I telling you this? This American Life is sort of a digest of real-life short stories centered on a weekly theme. Sometimes very funny, sometimes serious. There are 2 programs that I encourage you to listen to that explain some of the ins and outs of the healthcare situation in our country. I'm not trying to get political here, I can't swear that every fact or detail you will here is 100% accurate, but NPR does have a good name for reporting the news, at least as I know it. The programs are titled "More is Less" and "Someone Else's Money" and were broadcast in October. If you like these, you might also like to look back in their archives for a couple other programs they have done in 2009 about the mortgage and economy problems. Check it out!
Did you remember to set your clocks back?