Friday, October 27, 2006

Whoa - quite a night

Well. My good man called me at around 5:30 tonight from the hospital to say that our youngest was there with a good knock to the head - yipes! It turns out that Max needed 3 stitches. He was a little disappointed as the nurse told him that he'd need 5 or 6. Silly boy - not being as silly as usual! While our oldest was out on the ice for hockey practice, our youngest (who usually runs around all silly on the cement bleachers) slipped from basically a sitting position down the steps and and whacked his head. What a nightmare for my good man. Max is okey dokey now, so far...
I can only hope that he sleeps tight tonight, and wakes full of his usual fun.

Whew. Time to turn out the light.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

And there was light!

The only real casualty of my recent foot upgrade was my onboard flourecent light bulb - who knew you couldn't stick a screwdriver right through the glass of the bulb without consequences? Ah, well. I've spent the last couple of weeks quilting with a flashlight clamped to the side of the machine to try to better light my work area - not a great solution, but a passable one. My lightbulb (and a spare) arrived today - yippee! It's amazing how much of a difference good lighting can make.

I had to include the picture of the above quilt because 1) it's lovely. 2) It's amazing how many of these fabrics I have in my stash, or have had in my stash at some point! It's almost like deja vu, - I've not had this degree of synchronicity with a customer quilt before...(I think I hear the twilight zone theme in the background)
I'm looking forward to finishing it in the morning. I'm almost caught up now from the time lost to doing the machine upgrade.



Monday, October 23, 2006

Creativity Exercises 2

Today's phrase was 'rocky shore' from a book of baby names. I just did the ol' open it up with eyes squinched shut and point - voila! I can't for the life of me remember the name that this was the definition of, though...

Things have been busy around here. I'm glad to say that I'm fully back and unpacked from that last show. It's funny, throughout the year I never really completely unpack everything! Usually I know I'll be hitting the road in a week or two, and with that in mind, leave a few things still in their suitcases for 'the next time'. Knowing I'm not going again until February I went through EVERYTHING...including the kit box that I take every time (it has scissors, pins, invoices, all the nuts and bolts) and re-organized it. I'll be ready in the new year.

I have to say, things are getting pretty exciting around here on the upswing toward Hallowe'en. The boys are in full costume and scare mode, looking forward to the big night. We've been invited to a Hallowe'en party the Saturday before the big day this year - an outdoor party with a bonfire and fireworks much like the one held by friends of ours every year when my sister and I were growing up. I'm so looking forward to sharing that tradition with my own children. I'll have to make some pumpkin pies like my Mom did.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Creativity Exercises

I've been hunting around the house, looking for a book I've had for 12+ years called "The Book Of Questions". It's a book that I used to leave in the spare bedroom along with some lighter reading for guests. It's a book that we used to play as a game when I was in my early 20's, when meeting new people we would open up the book of questions, choose one at random, then discuss it - you could learn an awful lot about people in a hurry that way. The book's questions are varied and interesting. Some of them set up difficult moral or ethical dilemmas, then you are asked what you would do in that situation. Some are as simple as:
"You are sitting in the back of the bus. You notice a $10.00 bill on the floor. There are several people around you, including someone who appears to be homeless. What do you do? Do you ignore the bill? Do you pick it up and ask around as to who may have lost it? Do you wait until an opportune time to pocket it without anyone else seeing? How would your answer change if the bill was a $20. - or a $100?"
Fun stuff, eh? Well, I'm looking for that book today because I got it in my head that I'd like to use it for some creativity exercises to jump start my creative brain (yes, I'm trying to blow the dust off...I may have to use canned air). My thought was that I could open the book at random, then draw something related to one of the questions. Spend some time interpreting the ideas, not just rote illustration. Alas, no book.
Part of the whole motivation behind the sketching is to help me better learn the drawing program that I use for designing pantograph patterns. I need to stretch my wings a little, push the boundaries of what I know, rather than regurgitate the same ideas over and over. Then it occurred to me that I could do it with any book, not just that one...any text pulled at random could be the impetus for a sketch. So here it is.
The phrase was "my first memory". My first memory is of a time when I was very little, looking out the window of our kitchen while sitting in the sink. I must have been only 2 or 3 years old. I could see the plum tree (and my swing) and the big cement steps that led down from the road into our back yard. It's a hazy, almost-not-there memory, but I can somehow remember turning toward my mom and seeing her smile and reach out to me.

Happy stitching,


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

more quilt photos

I'm knee deep in paperwork here, so am treating myself to a little break to revisit again some pictures of winning quilts from last weekend. Oh wait, I have to let the dog in...
All right. That's better.
This quilt is called "Fandango" and was loosely based on a class that I taught in Castlegar in the spring. The lady who made this one looked at my sample and redrafted her block so that al the fans would line up perfectly. She is a tremendously precise piecer who does wonderful work. She knew at the outset that it was going to be a really big quilt - and it is! I think around 110" square! It was a lot of fun to do ( I love feathers).

Here's a little detail of the quilting. The whole pale green area was filled with freehand feathers. Beautiful quilt.

This next one was so much work for the piecer! She really struggled with some aspects of this quilt. It goes to show that sticking with it - even when you have to unsew and resew can really be worth it. I love the graphic impact of this amazing, large bedquilt. I know that Verna was really happy with the results, too!

I got a lovely little thank you card from the Castlegar Guild yesterday, and in it were some lovely photos of Verna and me, of my booth, and of some of the other quilts. What a treat to get in the mail!

Well, I probably should get back to beating back this paperwork.

Good day and may all your stitches be straight,



Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Castlegar Quilt Show

I'm back from the show this past weekend in Castlegar. This is the second time I've had a booth there, and as before, it was a fun weekend. The show ran Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with gorgeous quilts on display - one of the Guild members said over 300!

It was an especially nice show for me as many of my quilting customers won ribbons. There were 19 quilts entered that I had quilted - of those, 10 quilts won 12 ribbons between them!

The categories were as follows:

1st,2nd,3rd in the bed sized, professionally quilted category

2nd in mixed technique, hand quilted (I just SID'd the blocks to stabilize for hand quilting

1st in lap quilts/table cloths machine quilted

2nd in Novice (quilting under 2 years) prof. quilted

1st wall haging prof. quilted

1st and 2nd in bed sized, mixed tech, prof. quilted

1st in bed quilt applique, prof. quilted

Of these quilts, two of them won further ribbons. The 1st bed sized won Viewer's Choice, and the 1st bed sized mixed tech. won the Canadian Quilter's Association ribbon!

As you can see here, Verna is very happy with her ribbons!

The other two ribbon quilt is one that I mentioned here before, Bonsais andButterflies by Elaine Ross. This is the one that won the CQA ribbon:

Here are some details of the quilting:The butterflies and Lotus flower border are from one of my own pattern packs sold as Threadsongs, Kamon.

I want to post other winner photos, but things are not working the way I expect them to right now. I'll try again later in a different post and see if that will work.

One of the great things about being away this past weekend was staying with my friend Jodi and her family. She's a smart cookie and lots of fun... big thanks go to her for helping me figure out the computer stuff I was having trouble with! She made my life a lot easier in one heck of a hurry.

Another good thing about the show is that it's got my head back in design mode. I'm working on more Threadsongs, and translating a couple of the smaller Homelines patterns up into the larger format for longarmers. Last night a fun little pattern came together quite quickly (in great part because I'm finally getting the hang of my equipment). I'll announce it formally when it is released.

I better finish up unpacking all the stuff from the show. It always takes at least a day to get everything back in order. Then, to the sketchbook! (I think that'll be my little reward for the grunt and paperwork part)


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Home again, home again...

We're back. Here in Canada, this last weekend was Thanksgiving weekend. We spent our holiday with all the family that could converge on nearby Salmon Arm. As usual, my Sister-In-Law puts on an amazing spread. The interior of BC is so beautiful at this time of year! I had to share with you a couple of pictures of our boys playing in the leaves last Saturday.

The first picture is of our can just see one eye peeking out and some of his long hair. Our younger fella was a little less interested in getting his face in the leaves...

After all the food and frivolity it is nice to be home. I'll put one more small practice piece on the machine to make sure everything is still running the way it should, then it'll be back into the swing of work! I'm looking forward to getting the next quilt on the machine and getting going.

By the way, I'll be at the Castlegar Guild Show this week at the Castlegar Complex in the Selkirk Room. The show hours are:
Friday, October 13th: Noon - 8 pm,
Saturday, October 14th: 10 am - 6 pm
Sunday, October 15: 10 am - 4 pm

If you're in the neighborhood, come on by and say hello!


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Well, true to their word, the good folks at APQS called me back. I'd pulled that shaft hard enough to pull the bushing out of place! Yesterday (after some tactful coaching) I carefully tapped the bushing back into place with the help of some Loc-tite to keep it there. Today, once the Loc-tite had cured enough, I buffed the shaft, replaced the hook assembly and timed the machine. Whoo hoo! It's all back together now, and working fine, so far. I've even put a rather picky little thread on the machine for my tester, and it's running beautifully. There is a chance that the machine hasn't been this nicely timed since it was new.

Another thing that I did the other day is repack the gear grease - that has made the machine MUCH quieter! I'd write more, but I'm dying to get stitching again. I've got a little quilt on that I made at least a year ago - once I know nothing is going to suddenly go wrong, I'll put the next customer quilt on the machine.

It was worth it, becuase the new foot is so much easier to use with templates and rulers (something that I've never mastered the way I wanted to). I've already been playing with some of the cool templates that I've collected over the years and it's so much fun!!



Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Machine Upgrade difficulties


This post might only really be of interest to those who have APQS machines. If you like mechanical things, well, read on!

I got my upgrade parts yesterday in the mail. I have wanted to put the new foot on my APQS Millennium for quite some time now and after lots of consultation and research I decided to take the plunge. The only reason I hesitated at all is because I'd have to put the new foot in myself, and it's not a simple thing. There are many things that can go wrong, one of which that, I think, has. While I wait for APQS service dept. to call back I'll just note things down here.

I took lots of pictures of the machine before taking it apart so that I'd have reference to how it looked before I got carried away (The picture at right is of the old style foot). The procedure seems simple - remove the needle plate, the retaining finger, the hook assembly, slide the old foot out, put the new foot in, and re-assemble everything in reverse order. There is a bit of a pitfall, however - IF, once the hook assembly is off and the shaft it was attached to is recessed too far, all the gears that are attached to it will fall off inside the gearbox (suddenly things become MUCH more complicated). This, thank goodness, did not happen to me.

The photo at left is a picture of the original hook assembly from below. You can see the (black) collar behind it...this is what I seem to be having trouble with at this point. I had the hook assembly off, and the collar in what I thought was the right place. I put a new hook assembly on - which did not go on at all easily. I had to work really hard to get it on there. Once it was there, I couldn't move it to adjust the timing. Not at all. Nada. So I pried it off again - taking a really long time, and bending the part in the process. I went to sand the shaft to hopefully put the original hook assembly back on, but could not turn the flywheel freely anymore - it would go part way, then catch. I could reverse it, but when it got to that same spot it would catch again. AAArgh!

This morning I discovered that the hook shaft can protrude a little. If I push it (gently, no force needed) back into place, everything runs fine (I still haven't put the original hook assembly back on). It can slip forward though. I'm worried that when I pulled the new (now bent) hook assembly off it, that I slipped some internal collar on that shaft that kept it from moving forward. I'm not sure that there's anything to stop it from doing that while I'm stitching - that would be catastrophic, bringing everything to a grinding halt.

And so, I wait by the phone. With my luck they will phone when I'm picking up the boys from school. They always call back and always are extremely helpful. I'm just not good at waiting.

Well, I'll keep you all updated on how this goes. Hopefully someone out there will find this information useful.