Thursday, January 29, 2009

Oh, NO!

We have had to postpone our Portland trip. We were leaving tomorrow and would be back next week sometime. I have the "coughing, sneezing, sore throat" kind of stuff. We will head that way for Valentines weekend instead. I am feeling sad, sad, sad because I will miss my Meagan's 5th birthday party. We will have to do something very, very special for Valentine's Day for sure!

Also - finished the "Heritage" quilting. It started out to be one of my least favorite quilts, but I have come to find it very appealing. I do have to admit, many I admire have influenced my thinking as everyone loved it except me. So, I had to accept the fact that I may not have good taste and change my thinking. It worked. Now, I like it! That was easy!

I am off to get a nap so I can get rid of the "coughing, sneezing, sore throat" stuff. I hope it works as I hate being yucky, especially when I complained all last week when Bob had it that he might be going a little too far with his complaining. Now, I can't complain a peep! Serves me right, huh?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Great weekend . . .

We just got back this evening from a wonderful 2 days at Fairmont Hot Springs - this is the one in Western Montana - not British Columbia in case you know that one. There are huge outdoor and indoor pools of varying temperatures. We went with Stan, Rainy and Weston to celebrate Rainy's birthday and our anniversary - both coming up this week on the 28th. Here is a cute picture of Weston - already for bed. He "had" to sleep in Grandma and Grandpa's room - we loved every minute. He loves the water and is a pretty good swimmer. He is getting too grown up!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Some things . . .

. . . change your life and you are never the same!
25 years ago tomorrow, January 24th, the Macintosh computer arrived and I have been in deep, panting, husky, passion every since. Here is my a of my first Mac. It had 128k of memory and no second drive. So, in order to do wonderful charts and graphs you had to swap out disks and it would "grind" away as it prepared amazing graphics first loading the software needed each time and then saving your work. I was in a school district in Colorado as a district administrator and everyone thought I was magic because I could make the best graphs for all of my reports.

Then, it was kind of in the day of cults, I "shaved my head, put on a rob", and followed that passion to work for Apple Computer, Inc. Now it is just called Apple, Inc. I went through every iteration of Macs, and still do. It has been a long passion. We truly believed we could change the world. Although I haven't worked for Apple as either an employee or a consultant since 2000, my heart skips a beat each time I see one. I have a boatload of Apple paraphernalia - lots of t-shirts, sweat shirts, pens, paper pads, etc. (I see a t-shirt quilt in my future.) All with the original 6 color logo from those dark ages. It was a wonderful time and I am blessed to have been able to take the journey. We had a saying in those days at Apple, "the journey is the reward". That is how I still live my life most days.

I now have this Mac. It has the Intel chip and will run Windows software. I can't make myself do that as I don't want to flip back and forth. It feels like I am making it be something it should never be. So, I had to actually buy PC to run my EQ6 and my embroidery software. We also had another saying we used a lot, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." Most days, I should remember that as well.

Happy Birthday, Macintosh. You rocked my world!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

working . . .

It has been a long time since I was so glued to the TV. I can't even remember the last time in fact. But, yesterday, I was glued from the time I awoke until I went to bed. Of course I took a couple breaks just to keep my heart moving. Our neighbor asked a few of us in to share in the day and get better acquainted - it was a little brown bag and so much fun. We live in the country and know some neighbors well and some not at all. We should know our neighbors better to lend or reach for a hand or a hug as needed. We met for an hour between the Inauguration and the parade. The conversation was about responsibility and commitment - very interesting.

Here is a little paper pieced ribbon. It is my first effort at working this small and I have some ideas so I can get better. Our guild president has this as her charity project. We are making them to sell in our booth at our summer quilt show with the money raised to go to a local charity. As you can see, I have some learning to do. They are to be pins and are just a bit over 2 inches one way by 2 inches the other and all paper pieced. I tried a regular binding and like the look, but need to work on the corners. It is my first effort so I have room to improve. Some are using interfacing and just leaving it on. I like to paper piece with parchment paper - the kind in a roll that is used for baking, but is light colored. I cut it and run it through my printer and it holds, and then just pops off when I am done. I can see through it from both sides and I like that. I am going to try some really light interfacing - no iron on - just plain and see if leaving it on will give me sharper corners. Some are just zig-zagging the edges, but I like the regular folded binding look. I also added a few crystals to this one.

What a great couple days. I have made a committment to work the last hour of each day on my service projects - I started on Monday. Machine sewing when I am home and hand sewing when traveling - which we are going to be doing some of in the next couple weeks. I will stich and do my daily prayers. That is my New Year's resolution - a little late in the year. Maybe it is a New Me resolution.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Making progress . . .

I got in a few hours - of course I will need lots more as I am a very slow piecer. Here is the progress. The first picture is of the strips waiting on the laundry rack. This is the first one of these I have made and I can see I need more strips of some colors and less of others. And here are the first blocks which I will rearrange after I get more done. It is a fun and easy process.

I am off tonight to a guild board meeting, but I will take breaks from quilting tomorrow to keep working while I stay glued to the inaugural events. I will watch some of that downstairs on the big TV. It is almost like being there.

A day for service . . .

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are so many in my internet community of friends and heroes who are challenging us to come forward for a day of service today on Martin Luther King day. The focus of this challenge is to meet the needs for Quilts of Valor quilts. Alycia in Colorado is working to provide 400 quilts to the injured soldiers in Fort Carson. The need is now for 700 by May. Kim Brunner has issued a challenge for us all to sew a quilt today for that purpose. Okay, I am in!

Here is a picture of some fabrics I pulled early and I working on today. I have decided to use a free pattern from Bonnie Hunter that she shares on her Quiltville site. It is called Strip Twist!

Also, last summer I pieced and quilted a QOV - all done except the handwork on the binding. I didn't think it turned out very nice, but I am going to finish it and send it as well. So, I will work all day on the Strip Twist quilt and then have them both in the mail to Alycia by the end of the month. It is a little thing that I can do.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday . . . my favorite day!

I love Wednesdays - not sure why, but I always have felt it is the day I get "so much done". When I was younger, I was an elementary teacher and Wednesday was always the day to get the most done. Today I am off to Missoula for a quick parent visit and to attend a "90 day" review at the nursing home. As I said yesterday, Dad is doing much better. Mom's sister passed away on Monday, so Mom is okay, but sad as would be expected. Mom has a younger sister who also lives in Missoula (half-sister) and they will go to the funeral together as it is a long drive from Missoula to Fort Benton. I am thankful they have each other.

Weston had his first ski day on Saturday. Here is a picture of him on his ski pass. Skiing is free for him as he is under 5, but they get a "lift pass" so he is very impressed. Stan said he just kept him between his knees/legs, but on his own skies they rented and that he really liked it. It is a good thing, because his Dad lives to ski and has looked forward to the time when he could take "his son" to the hill.

And, here is a picture of his little brother who is planning to be born in May.

The quilt guild session last night on "Tips and Tools" that I planned was really well received last night at guild so I feel good about that and know we can make it better and better. There was a nice excitement and warmth at the meeting that I have not seen before. I guess the stars and the moon were all aligned "just right".

Monday, January 12, 2009

More spool pictures . . .

After a long struggle of "everything that can go wrong, did . . . ", I have finally finished this little quilt. Here are more pictures.

We also heard today than my mother's older sister passed away. She was 97 and lived on her own until a year ago. She even drove until she was 95. She lived in a rural part of Montana. She also had a wonderful doll museum that she kept open to the public near her home until a couple years ago as well.. It was in a separate little house with a picket fence. There were dolls everywhere - in every room. She new all of their names and history. My mom (she is 87) is feeling sad about her passing, but realizes she had a wonderful life, but she will miss her as she was like a second mother to Mom. She went through nurses training in the "thirties" and went back to college three decades later so she could teach in a one room country school for several years. She lived her life fully, with happiness, love, and she always had a smile and a good word.

Some good news . . . my Dad is doing better. He is even playing cribbage again!

A good weekend . . .

We had one of the quiet weekends - the kind where you recuperate and get caught up a little. Bob is retiring totally the end of March and we have lots of thoughts - mostly good - about how that will be for us. I know he has lots of things he wants to do and we are heading for Florida for a couple weeks the last part of March to meet up with our friends from Maine and enjoy.

I am so slow, but I keep on keeping on. I finished the work on the borders of the quilt spools quilt. Here is a picture I took just before I took it off the table. I am not thrilled with it, but I need to learn that thrilling me might not be the total evaluation of whether or not it is okay. Everything that could keep going wrong did and finally I sewed through my finger. I have never understood how that happens - I still don't, but I now am a believer.

Also - I took a jab at my first experience at design with combining patterns on Hoke (my IQ) through the split, copy, move, flip, adjust, combine commands that are so easy to use. It could be very addicting. I stayed up way too late on Saturday night (Sunday morning?) and it was so much fun. I am going to try some other things later this week I hope.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I think I solved my main problem . . .

Here is the quilt I am now working on. It is batik and the owner is a very good piecer and also very precise about her work and outcome expectations. I have been concerned about doing her quilts - she brought me three - all beautifully pieced and the designs and colors are wonderful. She is also very visible in our local quilting world. So - I decided to bury threads for her quilt to help me get over the hump of being scared. It worked. I hate the look of starts and stops when they show and I know if the back is busy, they really rarely show. The back on this quilt, however, is a batik with large areas of plain fabric - everyone would be showing. This is the first time I have received a back that has the edges stitched a quarter of an inch in all the way around - is that common in other areas? Of course it is perfectly squared (nice!) and perfectly sized (also nice!) I envisioned the owner turning the quilt over and looking at the stops and starts on the back in shock - kind of like when someone runs a finger over a dusty area in disbelief. Now I don't know if that would really happen, but the thought of it took me to my knees. I would not want her to be disappointed in any way. I can't believe how free I feel now. It takes more time, but to get my confidence back, the time is a small price to pay. I will post more pictures when I get done with this.

Tomorrow we are going to start our guild interviews of the local quilt shops. There are 8 shops in the area that have supported the guild to some extent in the past and we will do the first one tomorrow. The "we" is another one of the new guild officers and myself. It should be interesting.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Preparing . . .

I am a the "new" program person for our local quilt guild. The guild started about five years ago and has suffered from some strong personality collisions. So this fall, no one came forward, even with coaxing to take on any of the offices. At the last minute, just before "folding" I agreed to do the program part. Several others also agreed to take an office.

Our first meeting with new officers is next Tuesday and we are working hard to get a fresh start. There was nothing previously planned for the program for this meeting so we going to show a couple tools - one brand new and one older one. We are going to do this as a way to model a new segment called "Tips and Tools" in hopes that we can get others to come forward to do some sharing once in a while. We are also going to take a short amount of time to go over what we have planned for classes and programs.

I worked with my camcorder, computer, and projector to get comfy projecting live video so we can show the group an "up close" view of what is being shared just like at the conferences. I do have a tripod that I will use as well. It was a fun afternoon of getting it to all work together and making it work easily.

I am going to share the "pineapple tool designed and sold by The Great American Quilt Factory in Denver. Ronda Beyer recommended this to me a year ago and I have been having fun learning how to use it. It is an older tool that has been around for a while but I love it! The book is not necessary as they have instructions on their website, but the book has great quilt ideas for using pineapple blocks.
These blocks are some I will use in the demo on Tuesday evening. I am going to have a few more in various stages of being done so they can easily see how quickly the these blocks go together. We are planning to have a "hands-on" time "after hours" if members want to stay and try it themselves. I will have strips cut and ready to go for a few samples and take my little Janome Platinum for those who must give it a try.

Our other tool to be shared will be the new tool to make quick and easy prairie points. It is the Quick Points Ruler. I will get pictures of it and share later. Barb Cribb is the new guild president and she will show how to use the ruler. Barb is also the owner and designer of the Wild Thymes Pattern Company. She designs beautiful felted wool quilts and dyes all of her own fabric for the samples and kits.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

More thinking . . .

I have thought more and more about my quilting block. I have worked to isolate the issue with me. I enjoy doing quilts for people who enjoy making quilts and are relaxed about their work. I do not enjoy doing quilts for some who are uptight and/or perfectionists. So, I have designed some guidelines to follow from here forward:

1. I do not want to do any quilts for display at our local shops. I will do quilts that are created to be used and enjoyed. If the quilter is stressed, then I get stressed and it all goes in the dump.

2. I will focus my business on "all overs" or those with just a simple separate, border treatment so that Hoke and I can work together. I enjoy doing nice borders and I love having Hoke do the rest. Customers who want something else can select any number of excellent quilters in our area.

3. I will do custom work only for existing customers with whom I have harmonious connection. All other custom work or art quilting will be on my quilts only.

4. I will take in only enough quilts for two weeks of work a month. The other two weeks are for me.

Now that sounds pretty darn good! I will look forward to getting past the next 4 I have on the schedule that do not meet these requirements. The rest on my schedule will be fun to do and I am looking forward to the work. I just need to get past the next 4. I think I can do that. . . I think I can.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Something has got to give . . .

First - I don't want you to think I am whining here - just stating what seems to me to be an obvious fact.

I have had my quilting machine for almost 4 years. I did take a whole year off from quilting so I will take that into consideration, but I am getting worse and worse. Oh, technically, I am better. But the design choices and thread choices I am making are awful! Here are three of the last quilts I finished. I think it is the pressure of putting someone else's quilt on the machine. As soon as that happens, I stress, make weird decisions and the results are not good.

Before I went off to joust with college students last year in Laramie, I had decided to not take in any more customer quilts - just do my own. But then I wanted to get my IQ so I thought I would try again. It is not any better this time around. I do not like working on other people's quilts! It is plain and simple. I am just not that good at quilting other people's quilts. I am not equipped to do it! And I am not unhappy that I have realized this - I am quite relieved.

So - unless people want an all over or E2E that Hoke can do (IQ), I am not taking in any more after I finish my existing lineup. I love having Hoke (he drives my Miss Daisy, A1). I thought it was confidence, but I have been at this long enough that I should have built up enough confidence. It feels like as soon as I have someone elses quilt on the machine, I become a different person - all whacked out with worry and my artistic decisions fall in the dump. And the worst part is I actually go ahead and quilt those whacked out decisions.

Whatever it is - life is too short!. I am going to do my own stuff from here on! Life is just too short, especially when I am already in my third act. I can't waste anymore time worrying about being a "quilting for hire" failure. I am over it! I will go find a job as a greeter at WalMart and work on my own quilts.

Hope you have a good day. I know I feel much better!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome to 2009!

Happy New Year!

It is time for me to get started again. We have had a wonderful holiday season and today, New Year's Day, is a great way to bring it all to a close with the promise of the new journey in 2009. We watched the Rose Parade this morning - beautiful weather and gorgeous floats.

We have had lots and lots of snow and cold weather in December here in southwest Montana as has everyone all over. Christmas was spent with our son, Stan, his wife, Rainy and - of course, Weston here in Bozeman. We then drove to Missoula in a snowstorm to celebrate more and help my Dad enjoy his 90th birthday on the 26th. Our son, Roy, and his family from Portland, were not able to join us as you know how much snow Portland had during those Christmas days.

Here is a picture of two of "my boys" tasting one of the batches of sugar cookies on Christmas Eve day. The cookies were a hit. We ended up making several batches and worked to find "the best ever" recipe. Any excuse will do!

Have a wonderful New Year's Day and a blessed 2009.