Posts tagged ‘Convergence’

Whoo Hoo!

It had to happen sooner or later:

Convergence Birds

I finished Convergence Birds!

This is my first completed UFO since I started this project.  I’ve been making gradual progress on several others, so hopefully this summer will be an extremely productive time as far as finishing a whole bunch of quilts all at once.  Instead, lately I’ve been tackling some pretty ambitious projects with an eye toward the quilt show in June rather than working on the easy ones.

Speaking of the easy ones:  I had categorized Windows on Whimsy as being the WIP closest to completion, which considering it was already layered, basted, and had the quilting started, wasn’t entirely crazy.  HOWEVER.  I chose a no-mark, but very dense and ambitious, quilting design for that quilt.  As such, I spent two whole days of the December retreat, and a day and a half of the April retreat this past weekend, machine quilting this quilt.  AND I’M STILL NOT DONE!!!  To be fair, I’ve made a lot of progress; the only area left to be quilted is the panel section, and I’ve already ditch quilted that and done one windowpane with the clamshell design I’ve selected.  I would have done more at the retreat, but the white iron-off pounce powder I brought with me to mark the stencil design didn’t show up as well as I had hoped.  I don’t want to have to use Golden Threads paper, as I hate with a fiery passion having to tear that stuff away, but if that’s the only thing that will get this quilt finished, I’ll manage.  Heck, if walking barefoot across hot coals gets this quilt finished, I’m (probably) game.  I finished sewing the binding on it this evening, so I can see another quilt-finishing celebration on the horizon.

Window on Whimsy -- almost finished!

Window on Whimsy -- almost finished!

But back to the one I already finished:  I brought Convergence Birds to the retreat and started working on it right away, starting about lunchtime on Friday.  It was spray-basted and I had ditch quilted the convergence section and along the satin stitched applique bird border, but that was as far as I had gotten when my machine started acting up.  I had also made the binding.  This time, with my newly serviced machine, the free motion quilting went extremely well.

Quilting detail, Convergence Birds

Quilting detail, Convergence Birds

The only problem I encountered was that I hadn’t spray-basted the edges of the quilt top as thoroughly as I might have, so every now and then a fabric edge would catch on the darning foot and create a pleat that I’d have to rip out, but I could deal with that.  I really liked quilting the wool batting; I will definitely be using it for Ruby Wedding.  The fact that I’d had so much time to consider my options for quilting design and thread choice due to all my unanticipated delays meant that I was extremely confident in my final choices, and that combination of confidence and uninterrupted quilting time made the completion of this quilt a thoroughly enjoyable experience.  I love retreat!

Someone at retreat mentioned that next time, we should bring a bell to ring every time someone finishes a project.  We had a full house this time, so even though each quilter tended to announce her successes, not everyone heard.  And although a bell would be nice, the happy dance in my head tends to sound a little more rockin':

Yes, that is actually what plays in my head when I finish a quilt.  I even wore this shirt for the occasion:

Whoo Hoo! shirt

I hope this shirt will get a lot more wear in the near future.

April 28, 2010 at 10:41 pm Leave a comment

The Featherweight And I

Even factoring in all the choir-singing we did for Easter and taking a trip out of state to see our nephew get baptized this past weekend, I’ve managed to put in a reasonable amount of studio time in the last couple of weeks.  Which, of course, meant I was limited to activities that didn’t require the use of my workhorse Janome, since it’s been on the DL.

I managed to resist the urge to start anything new; after all, that kind of defeats the purpose of this whole project.  Instead, I made what progress I could on the WIPs, such as making the binding for Convergence Birds:

Convergence Birds binding

Further motivation to get it finished for the show!

But primarily, I’ve been assembling Taupe Winding Ways.  While that fits the bill of only requiring straight stitching, it has required an upsetting amount of UNstitching.  Here’s the situation:  I don’t know exactly how many fabrics are represented in those blocks, but there are MANY.  So many, in fact, that one would think I wouldn’t have problems duplicating fabrics close together in a quilt top that contains 255 blocks.  One would think that, even if I put the blocks together randomly, it would be highly unlikely that the same fabric would appear two blocks away from itself.  And yet:

taupe mistake

The EXACT SAME FABRIC, two blocks apart!

I have been very careful and deliberate in placing blocks, which is increasingly difficult as the quilt top gets bigger and bigger.  Yet I keep finding places in which I have inadvertently put the same fabric (or the same print in a different colorway, or a separate fabric that looks way too much like the first one) nearly on top of itself.

As I explained when discussing this problem at a quilt show committee meeting last week, I can’t just let it go.  I’ve been working on this quilt for so many years that when it’s finally finished, I want to be able to look at it and feel nothing but happiness.  I don’t want to look at it and say, “Yeah, I should have ripped that out and moved it, but I convinced myself it didn’t matter.”  I know myself well enough to know that once I’ve found an error, I become laser-focused on it until it’s rectified.  It’s not a pleasant way to be, but it’s who I am.

Despite the two steps forward, one step back character of my progress, I do have something to show for my time.  I have 5/8 of the bottom half of the quilt top, minus the border, sewn together (albeit in three separate pieces for ease of handling.)  Since it’s so huge, I don’t have a design wall big enough to display the whole thing at once, which further complicates the attempt not to duplicate fabrics; I end up running back and forth between the upstairs hall and our bedroom, even trying to take pictures with my phone to make sure.  Yet I still keep periodically pulling out the seam ripper.  So is life.  At least I’ve taken the time to seek out and try enough seam rippers that I’ve found my favorite:

My ideal seam ripper

My ideal seam ripper

But I got a phone call Saturday that my Janome is ready, so we’ll be up and quilting again soon!  It’s been nice working on the Featherweight, with its beautiful stitch and its friendly little clackety-clack noise; I haven’t even burned myself that badly on the inconveniently placed light bulb this time out.  However, ever since I typed the title for this post, I’ve had an earworm.  And not just any earworm, but a Broadway earworm, which in my experience are the most persistent.  Just like in “The Ring,” the only way to save myself is to expose someone else, so here you go:

Idina‘s going to be on Glee!  Swoon!  I’m such a nerd.

April 12, 2010 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment

Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

I really thought that I was going to get a whole lot of quilting in this weekend.  Apparently though, it was fortuitous that I recently read “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” by Michael Chabon, so I could be reminded of the Yiddish proverb, “Mentsch tracht, Gott lacht.”

In English:  man plans, God laughs.

Since the office was closed Friday, and my husband was at a miniature wargaming convention all weekend, I thought I was going to have two solid days of quilting Friday and Saturday.  I had plans Sunday with Rhonda and Wendy for a mini stitch-in, so the grandiose part of my brain that churns out the unrealistic expectations had me visualizing completing the quilting on Convergence Birds in time to be hand-sewing the binding by Sunday afternoon.

But when my mom found out I was going to be a gaming widow all weekend, she invited me to their house on Friday.  We had a delightful visit (and homemade vegetable pizza with pretzel dough crust!) and both my brother and my youngest sister were there, which was a very pleasant surprise.  However, between the late start I got in the morning, bad traffic, and then my reluctance to cut such a pleasant family gathering short, I got home at about 10:00 pm.  No quilting Friday.

Saturday, I had a short list of household chores and food prep to accomplish before I could mentally release myself to quilt.  I had also planned to run a couple of errands and go to the gym.  However, we had a (second) full day of soaking rain with terrible wind gusts that made me really not want to leave the house.  So rather than either gritting my teeth and going out in unpleasant conditions, or making a command decision to scrap the errand-running altogether, I dithered.  I made my various plans contingent on one another, and ended up as just a big entropic mess.  So while I did eventually clean and cut vegetables, prep the pulled pork barbecue, bake banana muffins, clean the bathroom, and put away the snowman decorations, it was very late in the day by the time I did.

I got some quilting in, while listening to the director’s commentary on “The Lost Boys” (RIP Corey Haim!)  While I was originally just going to quilt the center Convergence area in an all-over design, as Ricky Tims recommends in the book, I realized upon looking at it on the design wall that my seams were more straight-ish than straight. Whether this happened as a result of carelessness when appliqueing the bird border or if there had always been issues, I’m not sure.

Convergence Birds top

It may not be obvious in miniature, but those seams were waving like a flag!

So I took a page from longarm quilters and did some ruler-guided ditch quilting.  I used the blind hem foot, which has a modest rudder coming out of the middle (less dramatic than the one on the edge-joining foot), set the needle to stitch right next to the rudder, and guided the foot with a 3″ x 12″ Omnigrip ruler, adjusting the quilt top to keep the seams straight.  It’s not perfect, but it’s much better than it was.  I used MonoPoly by Superior Threads so the ditch quilting wouldn’t contribute to the visual design.

I sang with choir Sunday morning and then had a lovely lunch and visit with Rhonda and Wendy, during which I sewed twisted cord onto two more cross-stitched nativity figures (3 down, 6 to go.)  We really need to make it a priority to do stuff like that more often; I always feel so motivated and renewed afterward.  After they left, I gamely trooped back up to the studio.  While there were only a scant few hours of weekend remaining, I was confident that I could complete the quilting of the bird border.  After all, at this point, I was feeling rather accomplished.  I had chosen a fern-feather no-mark overall design and had experimented to find the best color of Bottom Line to use as my quilting thread:

Auditioning thread

The fuchsia in the upper left didn't show up, but the light green was visible without being obnoxious.

I had quilted for about twenty minutes, completing three big ferny feathers with echo quilting and little spirals, when my thread broke.  Odd, I quilt with Bottom Line all the time and never have problems with it.  Hmmm.  I turned the quilt over to the back and found…

AAAAGH!! Giant knots of thread!!!

AAAAGH!! Giant knots of thread!!!

One advantage to using a different color in the bobbin than in the top is that it’s easier to see where the problems are.  In this case, the giant thread knots are made of light green top thread, rather than fuchsia bobbin thread, but the tension looks pretty good otherwise.  So I have to do some experimentation to find out if it’s a) the tension; b) the needle; c) a bad spool of thread (hey, it could happen); or d) an unknown unknown. But I have done nothing so far, except to spend TWO AND A HALF HOURS ripping out the bad quilting.  I got it all ripped out Sunday night, went to bed, and I haven’t been back in the studio since.

I hope to have a chance to rectify that tomorrow.  However, if I can’t seem to face Bird Convergence, if it seems too much of an impasse, I can always pull out Lemoyne Stars.  I talked to Diane last night, and she gave me a great idea on how to sew the pieced border on before cutting the Bad Border, so I don’t have to worry about getting the measurements or the math wrong.  After all, why work on a problematic project when there’s another, less frustrating one waiting in the wings?  And I wonder how I ended up with so many UFOs…

And now, in tribute, one of the best scenes from “Lost Boys.”   Michael and David didn’t sparkle one bit.

March 16, 2010 at 10:33 pm 1 comment

QFNJ 2010: Part III, The Shopping

I don’t know if anyone else has this particular hangup, but I feel awkward admitting that the vendors are part of what brings me to the quilt shows.  I like to maintain the polite fiction that I’m solely there to admire the quilts, and then oh look, here are some ladies and gentlemen who wish to sell me thread, fabric, and gadgets!  Why, it would be rude to decline their offer, would it not?  But if I am indeed operating in good faith, I have to say that the vendors factor heavily in my decision to go to shows.  I even checked the vendor list on the QFNJ website and made my shopping list accordingly.  My list included:

Thread for quilting Ruby Wedding and Convergence Birds

Blue chalk in a pounce pad for marking the stencils for Ruby Wedding

The thimble cage my husband didn’t get me for Christmas

Renae Haddadin’s DVD on quilting circle designs

NO FABRIC!!!

Overall, I did very well.  I couldn’t find the Renae Haddadin DVD, but I knew that was a long shot; besides, I want it for an idea I had on how to quilt Taupe Winding Ways.  Considering that top is only half-finished, and it’s fourth in the quilting queue behind Convergence Birds, Window on Whimsy, and Ruby Wedding, I’ve got some time.

My first purchases of the show were at the Superior Threads booth.  Even though I had just gotten that big shipment from them, $10 clearance cones of BRYTES (the discontinued colors) are hard to pass up.  I also found a lovely variegated Rainbows that matches the palette of Convergence Birds uncannily, and the lighter shade of grey-blue King Tut I wanted to complete my armamentarium for quilting Ruby Wedding.

Superior ThreadsI almost managed to avoid buying fabric, and I only bought a total of a yard, which may be a personal record.  Quilt Plus had bins of Japanese fabrics, and it seemed foolish not to buy fat quarters of my two favorites:

Taupe FQ'sI’m a sucker for taupes to begin with, and when they have attractive patterns with not-quite-accurate English translations on them?  Tell me how I’m not supposed to buy that.  I also bought a pattern for a little coin purse and the metal frame to make one.  Connie, the owner, has an offer going where if you bring a purse you made from her patterns and handles to her show booth, she’ll give you a free pattern in return for a photograph of you and your purse for her gallery.  I’ve made two of her hobo bags, one for myself and one for Diane’s birthday last year, but I only used Connie’s handles on Diane’s.  (Mine has cheap knockoffs from JoAnn’s, shame shame!)

I went through nearly three quarters of the vendor booths before I found someone selling the blue chalk pounce powder — and I bought the last one she had!  At her booth, Quilting Connection, I also bought a pre-cut half yard of a batik with a pretty pattern that reminded me of DeLoa Jones’ “Dragon Fire” meander, and that I thought might be adaptable for machine quilting.

Dragon Fire & chalkSo it’s not really like buying fabric; it’s more like buying a quilting pattern and getting a half yard of fabric free with purchase, right?  That’s my story, anyway.

I had asked my husband for a thimble cage for Christmas, and he claimed he couldn’t find any for under $150.  Google disagrees, but I think he was just afraid to buy the wrong thing for me in an area he knows nothing about, so I’ll give him a break this time.  This way, I got to select my own, and the saleswoman at Baskets, Boxes, Things North was even nice enough to size me for a Roxanne thimble she knew she wasn’t going to sell me, just to make certain that my thimble at home would fit comfortably in the cage.

thimble cageI have to get a chain for it, and the booth owner gave me the tip to put a weighty charm on the ring that keeps the cage closed (she had a little silver turtle on hers), to help prevent the thimble falling out.

My only absolute impulse buy of the show wasn’t even directly quilt-related.  I am a sucker for anyone demonstrating a product live and in person, and when that product actually, obviously just works, I find it very hard to resist.  Especially when the product is a lint roller that never needs refills, and the customer (me) just took a whole lot of cat fur off her show quilts.  The demonstrator had me transfixed, as she picked up thread, sesame seeds, glitter, and coins, then just rinsed and dried the roller and started all over again.  $35 later, I am the proud owner of the set of three magic sticky lint rollers:  regular size, purse size, and telescoping-handled super size.

sticky lint rollerI had a brief moment of buyer’s remorse when I got home and couldn’t get the regular roller to take any cat hair off my husband’s black T-shirt, but I then realized it had a piece of cellophane covering the sticky pink roller surface.  Once I removed that, we were both amazed by its performance.  I’ve been de-furring the upholstery on my chair in the living room, which tends to be heavily cat-bedecked.

All in all, attending the show was a good time that I don’t have to feel guilty about.  I bought less stuff than Kathy, but then, she’s a beginning quilter and has a stash to build!  My shopping needs to take the form of facilitating the use of the stash, not necessarily adding to it.  I think I did OK on that front here.

March 10, 2010 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment

Whoa…

I woke up this morning with kind of an itch in my cerebral cortex.  Something about that crazy Alexander Henry bird fabric.

What about it?

It reminds me of something…

perhaps something it could coordinate with…

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|

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V

(Wait for it…)

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V

Bird Convergence

As Ted Theodore Logan would say:

I’ll have to play around with some cutaway applique to allow some of the birds to overlap onto the pieced Convergence area.  I guess I now know what I’ll use that craft size Dream Wool batt for, to audition it for use in “Ruby Wedding.”  Boy, talk about killing two birds with one stone!

Oops.  I shouldn’t talk like that around the fabric.

February 26, 2010 at 9:05 am Leave a comment


Obstacles to Progress

Siamese Cat on Sewing Machine

Making it work!

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