"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Monday, March 31, 2008

Back to the Drawing Board

My latest design for the Think Romance blocks. Again, these are just sample blocks that I used - the real ones are much prettier.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekend Artist - or - don't quit your day job

Yesterday, I took a break from practicing on the Gammill for some quilting (or piecing) therapy. I spent a little time designing the quilt I want to make for the blocks I’ve received from the Think Romance swap. I used the EQ5 program.

My initial thought was that I wanted to construct a sort of Storm at Sea sashing with Diamond in Square cornerstones and Diamonds in between the blocks. I want to make this a queen size quilt, which a little daunting but now that I have the longarm, I want to give it a go.

First, I made templates for the diamond in square and the 12 inch diamond.

After that, I pondered the colors. I went ahead and worked on the diamond in square cornerstones, first.

I used my focus fabric for the center and cut out a ton of 2.5 inch squares.

After that, I cut out the side triangles. I have a set of the Fons and Porter triangle templates but have not used them. I wasn’t sure it would be worth the time but decided to try them, anyway. Man oh man. It really helped on accuracy. I did some speed piecing which is kind of fun.

Here is a picture on the ironing board. I ended up making 30 of them.

And here is a photo of a stack of them before they are squared up.

After I finished the cornerstones, I put them on the design wall with some of the Think Romance blocks. Hmmm. I decided that would be way too busy. I can use this design for some other project with simpler blocks.

So now, I’ve decided to chuck that design and alternate with neutral 9 square pinks. Something more like this:

I can get two quilts out of this swap if I do it that way. I will probably be able to use some of the cornerstones for this quilt or I may just use them for another project.

Edited to add the last picture and comments - I tinkered a bit more with the design and came up with another. It uses most of the blocks AND some of the cornerstones.

In the interest of expediency, EQ5 designs use just sample blocks and fabrics - not ones that I actually have available.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Springtime is no time to be in jail

It has been a busy few days at work and with life in general. I did take time to gussy up the Ming Tree that I keep by the front door. I try to decorate it, depending on the season. It was bare at Christmas time but now it has spring like flowers on it. The Ming tree belonged to my Grandmother who gave it to Mom, who insisted that I bring it with me when I moved her here from Texas, last year.

This morning, as I was walking into court, I was attacked by a fog of nasty cigarette smoke coming from a sixtyish, well dressed, white, middle class looking couple. They were dragging so hard on their cigarettes that I thought they’d burn their fingers in a matter of seconds. They were going just fast enough that I couldn’t get away from them since they were ahead of me and heading in the same direction I was. The man kept hacking to beat the band and the woman kept complaining that her legs hurt and, “Why do they have to have the parking lot so far from the courthouse?” Snotty comments about giving up smoking kept going through my mind but I figured that if they were heading for the court house, they probably had some kiddo in trouble and didn’t need anymore grief from me. The woman said she didn’t know where they were going and the man told her it was the same building as they went to the last time, “Don’t you remember?”

About that time, the woman began crying and the man put his arm around her. I heard her say, “They make you take off your fingernail polish when you go to jail so I had the girl remove all of my polish. They won’t let me wear my earrings, either.”

Not too much catches me completely by surprise at the courthouse, anymore, but that did. If I were her and facing jail, I might be dragging on a cigarette, too.

Husband is out of town so I hit the sushi bar, again. This time, not only did I have California rolls, I threw in some shrimp and asparagus rolls, too! I am living large.

I took some butt ugly fat quarters and cut them into 12.5 inch squares, and 9.5 inch squares with the intention of stitching them together to make practice quilts.

I stitched together the 12.5 inch squares and drew simple blocks on them to give me something to practice with on the long arm.

I bought some cotton sheets on sale at the godforsaken Wal-Mart to use for backing. I couldn’t tell if certain sheet sets were marked down so I asked a large young man in a Wal-Mart costume if he could take a look. He just glared at me and then walked over to the sheets area. I followed at a safe distance. He kept going and began playing with the candy in the candy aisle. Twice, I asked him if he could help me and he just ignored me so I decided to give up. I thought that was so rude. A couple of minutes later I saw him sorting the sheets and singing at the top of his lungs. As I listened, I realized the kid was mentally retarded. The whole thing was a bit disconcerting.

Today, I loaded the practice quilt on the long arm and spent a little time practicing but lost interest after about 30 minutes. Work has been going at a pretty good clip and I needed to get a few things together. With Husband out of town, I need to take extra time to feed the dogs and take care of all the household chores.

A friend of my kids had twins, yesterday. So exciting. I saw a picture and the twins looked wonderful and the Mama was glowing.

Spring is a lovely time.

Here is a block that I just received in the HGTV Think Romance F8th block. Isn't it nice?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

I spent much of yesterday in my sewing studio (it used to be a “sewing area” then switched to a “sewing room” but with the long arm, has been upgraded to a “sewing studio" so I can feel snooty). First, I moved things around to give me a designated ironing station for longer pieces of fabric. I also patched together a smaller ironing station that is large enough for 15 inch blocks to sit near my Janome.

Mid afternoon, two jelly rolls that I ordered from Fabric Depot several weeks ago arrived. I got them 40% off and they were a pre-order. I expect I will be so busy learning to use the longarm that I won't be piecing any new quilts (other than practice quilts) anytime soon.

We went out to eat at the Mexican restaurant. I’ve not been too good on my “diet,” lately. I’ve been eating like a loon and still lost 2 pounds. Go figure. After sleeping it off, I went back into the studio and added a zipper to the top leader. Then I practiced loading and basting two more quilts. I practiced squaring up the quilts and learned a lot. AMAZINGLY, they came out flat!

I practiced doing some feathers and some free motion.

I also practiced starting new rows for pantographs. One of the top fabrics was a print of yarn balls like you'd see kitties playing with. I practiced tracing the yarn with thread to learn machine control.

I really think I have made progress on learning how the machine works. I also spent some time studying one of my long arm books and it makes sooooo much more sense after having done a quilt or two.

Today, I may draw some pseudo blocks to practice certain designs on flat cloth. Next, I want to stitch together some squares to practice more intricate quilting that includes seams. I may need to trip on down to Wal-Mart to buy cheap fabric on the closeout aisle. Since we are going out to eat at our favorite German restaurant, mid afternoon, I probably won’t have time to do that, today. I wish I had some cheaper batting on hand.

Overlying all that, Husband and I have been dreaming about returning home. He is researching lawn tractors and guttering for the new house, and I have been sighing over pictures of Oklahoma City that I find on the Internet. We’ll need to get a washer and dryer for the renter and I am sure we’ll have a ton of other expenses (utility deposits, etc.) coming up. 2008 is going to be one expensive year!

Happy Easter, Happy Spring. Count your blessings.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Break

It is spring break which makes for a slower week in the guardian ad litem business. Much like Christmas, no one wants to have to deal with custody matters or other unpleasant things, when they’d rather be off at Disneyworld bribing the kids to love them best (I am being deliberately jaded just for the fun of it). Accordingly, it has been a good week to start to get acquainted with my long arm (yeah!!) and work on taxes (boo/hiss!!).

I’ve never sewn on a zipper. Yesterday, I sewed “zippers” on the long arm rollers. The idea is that you can zip a backing on and off, easily, instead of having to stand there and pin it on.

I was a little leery about stitching my first zipper since it was on my beloved long arm and if I screwed it up I’d be staring at it for years to come. Fortunately, it turned out fine. Who knew zippers were a piece of cake? Let’s not discuss the 4 needles I busted by getting too close to the zipper tracks. That just gave me practice in changing needles, right?

I only had court in the afternoon, yesterday. In the morning, after I sewed on the zippers, I practiced loading a quilt. I used old, nasty fabric that I thought was stupendous when I first started quilting but now think is hideous. I'm not sure I did it right but there you go. (The end result eventually ended up, sans binding, on the floor for Evelyn to sleep on but she didn't want any part of it.)

When I got back home from court, I started practicing stitching. The machine purred and whirred and I was delighted. Then, the stitches (the top and bottom were in the same neutral shade) started looking a little wonky (rail road tracks?). I switched to a pre wound bobbin of darker thread to try to see the stitches a little better and it all started going to hell. Thread was breaking right and left. I returned to the original bobbin and had less thread breakage but still couldn’t see the stitches well.

I switched the top thread to a bright orange (yes, I spent $12.00 for BRIGHT orange thread) for contrast and suddenly realized I didn’t know how to rethread it. That is because I am an idiot. I’d taken pictures on the digital but the part I needed was missing. Moreover, the official manual was no help (Gammill – please take note that the manual has the wrong pictures and directions for the Premier Plus). By that time it was after 5:00 so I didn’t even try to call the tech. I was exasperated because nothing I tried was working. After about an hour and a half, I threaded it as if it were a Classic (the pictures in the manual looked more similar) and it started working better. Not perfect, but better.

This exercise brought home to me that I have no idea how to finish off a quilt at the bottom or do the edges. The machine was doing fine with small stitches but when I did something sort of sweeping and wide, the thread broke. Hmmm. Learning curve!

That was yesterday.


I enrolled in a class for Gammill owners that deal with maintenance, basting, etc. I hope I don’t have to wait two weeks to discover that I have not been threading the machine, properly. It is included in the cost of the machine. Oh happy day!

I finished pulling my tax information together. Oh happy day!!

I called the insurance agent to find out how much I needed to cough up to cover the long arm in case of fire. She said we really didn’t need it. Again, oh happy day!!!

Finally - Daughter #2 called and mentioned that she paid off two student loans. OH HAPPY RED LETTER DAY!!!

Let the good times roll.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Too Big to Bounce Baby Girl

Today was the big day.

I cleared out the sewing room and put on a pot of coffee.

Devin, the Gammill dealer, arrived at about 10:00 a.m. and commenced to assembling the long arm.

It is traditional to name your long arm, I've been told.

My Great Grandmother, the seamstress, used to get so exasperated that everyone wanted "Mama" that she used to joke, "I wish my name was PETE!" In her honor, I have decided to name my Premier Plus "Pete."

HERE SHE IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I trained for several hours and played for several more. I am now off to rest my feet and have a glass of wine in celebration. Cheers!

photos - sewing room, Gammill in progress, Evelyn kissing Jezebel

Monday, March 17, 2008


In the morning, my Gammill Premier Plus is set to arrive. We had the electrician out this weekend to put in bright lights and I've moved furniture around to make room. The minimum space is supposed to be 15 X 8 but more is better. I'll post a picture once she gets settled in.

I am not going to be worth shooting once she arrives. I better finish the taxes TONIGHT!

photos - two of my UFOs (unfinished objects) that I will finally complete!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Don't Try to Save Me

WARNING - This post deals with pagan religion – if you are sensitive about that, you probably ought to skip it.

My best girlfriend has lived in a small town for nearly 40 years but has the same religious and political leanings as she did at age 14. Here is something she sent to me, recently:

"You know the older I get, the more I consider myself an agnostic. (I just don’t have the conviction to be an atheist). I think it is worse in small town Oklahoma but Christianity is synonymous with decency and goodness. It also seems to get mixed up with patriotism. Throw a little homophobia and fear of the unfamiliar in with it and you have small town religion."

I shared this with Husband and his response was:

"Yeah! Decency, goodness, and patriotism are overrated! Stamp that crap out, hug a homo, and eat Oriental food! There's a prescription for success.

If it weren't for "fear of the unfamiliar," there wouldn't be any religion."

Sigh. (If you knew him, you'd understand this is just his way of amusing himself by yanking my chain)

I wasn’t raised anything in terms of religion but went to Catholic schools and developed a love of the pageantry and ritual. I love the priests; I love the idea of confession (not that I have participated);I love the incense (Husband refers to the “smoking tea ball”). Although I was a practicing Baptist for a number of years in my twenties, I have generally found myself leaning more toward pagan/mystical beliefs. I began reading tarot cards as a very young girl and have several decks. Can’t say I’ve thought about them in years but I still have them and know exactly where they are.

Husband thinks all religion is insane. Girlfriend has always has the good sense and practical nature to not be interested in ancient texts, Atlantis, ghosts, apocalyptic theories or flying saucers. As for me, I SAW a UFO and ghosts still scare me. I devoutly believe in the power of prayer and think life in all living things should be respected. I want absolutely nothing to do with spell casting - Even if they are possible, I don't have the wisdom to assume I know god's plan, or the arrogance to try to control another soul's actions - I'll leave all that to god. I believe there is something bigger than we are and I believe that there is a reason for things that happen. I believe in karma and that good and bad acts/intentions come back on you.

Both Husband and Girlfriend overlook my spiritual leanings, probably because they don’t think I’m too weird about it. Fortunately, paganism isn’t an evangelical religion so there is no pressure to go out and make converts. Oh, you recognize each other if you know what to look for. You’d be surprised to know who practices and who doesn’t. But you let it slide – it is very personal unless you are decidedly odd. Hint – stay away from an evangelical pagan – chances are they are mentally ill (and not in a good way).

Which brings me to today’s court story. Nasty custody case with abuse undertones. One party accused the step parent of teaching a young girl “witchcraft.” The little girl reported that her stepmother read tarot cards and taught her about “good spells” and “bad spells.” Allegedly, the stepmother was a practicing witch attempting to recruit (and corrupt) this little lass. I found myself mentally rolling my eyes.

The father insisted that the little girl simply watched the television “Charmed” and that is where she got her information except that, yes, the step mother really does read tarot cards.

To my surprise, the court asked some very piercing questions and seemed genuinely concerned. Someone asked the father if he believed in witchcraft, which he denied. The emotion in the courtroom was rising and it occurred to me that even though we aren’t in small town Oklahoma, some things remain constant.

When it came my turn, I found myself asking a series of specific, technical questions to try to determine just how genuine the belief was. On about the third one, I realized how bizarre I must sound to the other parties so wrapped it up pretty quickly. I was left with the distinct impression that the father was either lying through his teeth or the step mother was a completely incompetent witch. Or perhaps both.

What was I thinking as we left the courtroom?

“Blessed Be! How irresponsible to not teach this little girl about the rule of three!”

But you keep this to yourself. :)

photos - a smattering of various tarot cards - I find some of them so beautiful!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Local Talent

I attended the annual quilt show for the local guilds, this morning. Several years ago, I attended this show and won a large basket of quilting supplies as a door prize. I was a brand new quilter and this was quite a bonanza for me. There was so much talent, displayed. I’m posting a few pictures.

I bought some fabric and a pattern for a wonder wallet (designed by Lazy Girls). Then I came home and took a nap.

For more quilt show pictures look at:

This evening, we are going to a neighborhood St. Patrick’s Day party. Green beer and all the fixings. Off to party!