"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

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Victorian Feathers

Finally, finally got back into my sewing room. Other than an afternoon or so, I haven't been up there since Pearl came home, February 7th. It is such a good stress reliever and I can feel the lack. Still, Pearl is ALSO a wonderful stress reliever so it is not as bad as it could be.

A couple of days ago, I threw on some cheap $2.00 fabric from the closeout bin at Wal-Mart so I could practice quilting Victorian Feathers. My goal was simply to play around and not try to do more than practice moving it around. This was NOT an attempt to make anything look good.

Work has been crazy so I never found any time until today.

When we were at the class, last week, we didn't use a Gammill so I was dealing with a learning curve just to figure out how to work the controls. It's frustrating to have to learn something with people waiting to use the machine, as you can imagine. Also, the first day of class we shared machines so I was pretty distracted and trying to avoid elbows, other people's body space and vibrations. My work was pretty unimpressive other than being dramatically horrid.

In addition, Karen insisted we use the manual mode instead of the stitch regulated. For those not in the know, the stitch regulated mode keeps the stitches even no matter how fast or slow you are going. Set it on "ten" and you get ten stitches per inch regardless of whether you are going slow as Christmas or swinging it around like a baton. I paid extra for that. When you slow down, the needle slows down - move fast and the needle goes up and down faster. It makes you feel like you have more control. Well, you DO have more control. Other than a couple of times when I accidently hit the wrong button, I haven't even used manual mode.

In contrast, when you are on manual, the thing is going to town - whirrrlllllllllll!!!! You just need to keep up because the needle is going at a constant speed and if you aren't moving the machine head, you are going to end up with a big old knot. Very, very scary! Because I was used to using stitch regulated, I tended to slow down and even stop while on manual with the resulting bird's nest and the aggravation of having to cut and re-thread. Karen insisted that using the manual mode made for better motion when making Victorian Feathers.

So this morning, I turned on my beloved Gammill, popped in a preloaded bobbin I wanted to get rid of, wiggled my fingers, stretched my toes, shook my caboose, and set it on manual mode.

Oh Joy!

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways - or reasons.

First - it is my machine. I love her. She loves me back. I know her. She wants to please me. She wants to do the right thing. Forget the learning curve. I could always get better but I know her sound, her rhythm, her height, her controls (with a Gammill, you push a button. ONE button), her lighting.

Second, the manual mode was WONDERFUL! I flew, danced, soared. It was like being a superhero. Karen was right. You can do things on manual mode that you wouldn't dream of doing on regulated. Your brain works differently. Once you get into the manual mindset, you are drawing - not thinking. You don't dawdle because you can't, which throws you back into using a part of your brain that is instinctive. You aren't second guessing yourself - you are going with it. You are one with the machine.

Now, my feathers really, really suck. I know that.

But I was working on getting the muscle memory and made a lot of progress.

Really suck.

If I tried to do this for a living and did this to someone's treasure, I'd get sued. Or my house torched.

I'd be as hated at the AIG execs who got bonuses.

I know I need to work on the consistency of the feathers' width.

Learning to finesse feathers on curves so that they all fit is something that will have to come with practice. I am really, really pitiful at that.

I didn't even bother to tie off threads but I would if this was actually a quilt and not a practice piece.

Instead, I doubled back shamelessly because the point was to keep going and start getting the motion into my head. So much fun. Very therapeutic.

It has been a good weekend, so far. I woke up early and we took Pearl out. Husband made pizza for breakfast (we are so crazy) and this afternoon, we were all sleepy.

Especially Evelyn.

I read my latest Patricia Briggs novel (think shapeshifters, werewolves, urban paranormal) then dozed off. We let Pearl stay out of her crate for the first time during a day nap and she was so proud. After about an hour, she jumped on the bed and woke me up with lots of puppy kisses - not a single nip. Blissful. Right now, the girls are racing through the house exchanging toys and having an absolute ball. I am happy that Evelyn seems to enjoy Pearl even more now that Pearl is getting bigger.

Pearl has learned to jump on the couch.

Evelyn's undercoat is starting to come loose and I need to comb it out. The blow is on the way.

She needs a bath.

We are getting very excited about a road trip back home, in June. My father-in-law stays at our Oklahoma City house from time to time and he and his wife removed all the wallpaper that was sort of, well, ghastly. We have a painter hired to repair and paint. Father-in-law's wife also found some nice porcelain tile for the kitchen, breakfast room and utility room that we are going to install. Husband and I will look around for new counter tops to match, perhaps when we get out there in June. Can't wait to get back home.

Here's a picture of Pearl's tummy.

I can't get enough of it.

I thought Evelyn was the perfect puppy but Pearl may have her beat.

It is so much fun to see her going through different developmental stages. Her latest thing is to play outside but need to come in every few minutes to reassure herself that we are here. She checks us out, then heads right back out. Just like a kid.

Hope you are having a nice weekend.


Diana said...

If you had quilted those wonderful feathers on my quilt, I'd be proud. It is INFINITELY better than I can do! :)

Every time I see Pearl's belly, I just want to snuggle with her. :)

Anonymous said...

You can see the difference practice makes, just by looking at the photos.


Anonymous said...

....but you had fun didn't you??? ;)

good job!

Anonymous said...

I would take those feathers on a quilt of mine any day. Good job!


Stephanie D. said...

Being a quilter, I can see what you mean by keeping the feathers all the same shape and making them fit, but I also see how beautiful they are, even in their imperfection. I love to get a rhythm going with my little domestic machine, but I don't do it often enough to stay in the mode. But when it all comes together, it's SO satisfying!

ranette said...

Those feathers DO NOT suck!!! I think that they look great! And remember 'practice makes perfect' or that's what my Grandma always told me...lol

I hope we can get together when you're in Oklahoma in June! We could do a little mini shop-hop...
Let me know.

JessicaSews said...

The quilting is beautiful!

What a happy puppy!
Give those dogs a hug for us!