Sunday, December 27, 2015

Squeak screeches to a halt

The last few times I've been quilting on my Pfaff GrandQuilter 18.8, it has been misbehaving.  It would occasionally start squealing.  Metal on metal.

I oil this lovely machine religiously, likely over-oil.  So when the squeaking started, I'd add a bit more oil and it would stop squeaking.

Today, there were only whispers of squeaks and mostly good behaviour, right up until it stopped. Quilting along, it has a harsh hum and the needle will no longer go up or down.  The lights indicating whether it is in needle-up or needle-down and if it is in the start stitching position, are flashing. Quickly turn it off so it doesn't burn out the fuse.  And unplug.

Try turning the hand wheel, and nothing moves.  Rock it back and forth and eventually it will move again.

Plug it back in.  Starts OK, and will even perform a needle-up cycle.  But it's working too hard.

Take the cover off the belt at the back - not that I can see anything, and nothing looks out of place.

I was working on my MIL's quilt project that we found earlier in the spring.  Had been hoping to get it finished up and to her before the new year.

Hopefully I can find someone to service the machine.

Sad day.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Math Meets Literature

It's finished, bathed, photographed and gifted!  The wedding quilt for my beautiful daughter and her new husband is all packed up and on its way with them to enjoy California.

When I suggested that I would like to make a wedding quilt for them, the request was for something with lots of blue.  The young gent has just finished his PhD in Math, and she studied English and Women's Studies.  They share many passions and are delightful together.

The quilt started with Ricky Tim's "Harmonic Convergence" squares.  I had some blues and some pink/purple to converge, and initially I thought I'd put four different convergences together to make the inner square.  But ugh, all the different beautiful fabrics were just horrid all together.  Those squares will find their way to become pillowcases.  Found a gradated blue batik, and a beautiful pink plume fabric, and made four identical convergences.  The cutting sequences follow the Fibonacci sequence and scraps from the four squares worked perfectly to connect all four together.

The middle round is random triangles, or pieces of Pi.

The outer round is a bookshelf.  The backgrounds are different greys.  The round is 9" high.  Each 'book' or strip represents a number - the number '1' is represented by a blue square 1" high with 8" of grey.  '2' is 2" high purple with 7" of grey background.  And so on and so forth.  "9" is all pale purple, "0" is all grey.  The number sequence ... 3.141592 and so on and so forth.  The first 300 digits of Pi. All around the outer edge.  

I did up a spreadsheet with all of the digits of Pi, and calculated how many of each number so I'd know how many of each I'd need to cut.  

The quilting was so much fun.  I went a little crazy and decided that each number also needed its own quilting design.  SID throughout the 'bookshelf' and 'slices of Pi'. U-turns in the grey between the slices of Pi.  I had picked out a simple quilting design for the QBot to quilt on the central harmonic convergence section.  However, Windows 10 updates foiled my attempts.  I needed to do some sizing of the design, and for that I use 4D QuiltDesigner, which has a dongle that has to be inserted into the USB slot for the application to open.  Windows 10 had already been applied on my computer, and it worked fine.  But there were more updates and those ones rendered that USB dongle unreadable.  I even loaded the software onto another computer and got it running, so I could have done the design. But I got my knickers in a knot and went down a different path.  

I have some beautiful quilting rulers including "Shells and Swirls" from The Gadget Girls (no affiliation, just a fan).  This beautiful swirl reminded me of sine waves, so I used this ruler to create a wavy crosshatch across the convergence centre.

Michelle even got to help put a the binding on!  It was finished, labelled, ends buried and bathed. Photographs, wrapped up and packed up.  Today it is flying to California with the youngsters to their home in California.

The quilt was started shortly after their wedding at the end of May 2015, completed  in December 2015.  It's 101" square.  Kona cotton grey, commercial batik and quilting cotton fabrics.  Warm & natural batting.  Metro thread for the top quilting, Wonderfil's DecoBob in the bobbin.  Final wash with colour catchers and Orvus soap.

I've titled this quilt, "Math Meets Literature".

Michelle helping apply the binding

On display on our front porch - dreary and rainy day

The back - wide backing wasn't quite wide enough so added a strip down the middle.
You can see the wavy crosshatch pretty well on this shot.

Some craziness going on here - a different quilting design
for each different number in the bookshelf round.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Design Dilemma

Design challenge / dilemma / conundrum ... long but a story with a happy ending. The digital design I wanted to put on this section was not sized quite what it needed to be. Fired up the program to tweak these designs, which needs an encrypted dongle, and today the computer won't recognize the dongle. So it won't open the program. I know the updates affected a bunch of device drivers, as I also had to manually update the wireless drivers so the would recognize the house wifi without the wifi having just been restarted so it was broadcasting fresh information. And apparently the update also trashed the dongle drivers.
Installed the software on an older computer (not yet updated to W10, and I'm not going to!!). Dongle works just fine with it. Load the design. I can resize it AOK, but the design is a rectangle, and the space it needs to go is a square, so I'd have to skew the design, and I didn't like it.
Went through the other designs in my library to pick out something different to fit this quilt, but before I start working on tweaking these, I find a few other quilted designs that trigger a thought ... run upstairs, pull out my swags ruler (from The Gadget Girls) and voila! Beautiful, undulating sine waves. PERFECT. I'll turn the quilt and do the other direction to create a sine-wavy organic crosshatch. Happy dance!

Should be able to do a full reveal on this quilt before Chrismas ;)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

OBW Love

I do love the magic of One Block Wonder (OBW) quilts!  I even found an app for my phone that will show a kaleidoscope effect and you can pass it over your fabric to preview how some of the kaleidoscopes might end up.  Of course I also have the hinged mirrors that are also very helpful.

November has been so busy!!  After the Cheryl Arkison trunk show and workshops, I had also booked a quilting retreat the next weekend.  It was a tight schedule - had to leave the retreat just a bit early to get back home, repack and hop on the train to Toronto for a credit union conference.

Created at the workshop - offset squares
More squares and a new design - mountains!

The top finished - laying on the hotel bed :)

At the retreat, I finished three tops ... my daughter's wedding quilt, the 'Values' top from the Cheryl Arkison workshop, and my MIL's found applique quilt (more on this here ...).  On the applique quilt, I've been working on this in the car on our 4 - 5 hour trips to the cottage.  Each 17" square has four leaves appliqued on.  This is the first I have done hand applique.  And usually I cannot read or do anything like this in the car or I get motion sickness.  But this worked!  I thought I had a dozen squares finished, but only 11 were done - so I machine appliqued the 12th!  

My 'prize' for finishing these tops was to start into a new OBW.  I have quite a few fabrics that I've collected for OBW's and this is one of my favourites - it's an Andover fabric, called "Nature's Spirit" by Nancy Davis-Murty.

Original Fabric
On the design wall - four more cubes
needed to fill in the blank spots
The 'hand' of this fabric is just fabulous - feels silky and luxurious.  There are a few areas that 'read' as solid on the background, but the hexies have worked out beautifully.  I made the strips 4.5" instead of the usual 3.75".  I like the bigger hexies!

And of course I came home from the conference with a horrid cold.  So I'm sniffling and sneezing. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Quilting with Cheryl Arkison - Day II - Improv with Intent

Day II workshop with Cheryl - "Improv with Intent"

Our instructions for this workshop was to bring an idea and some fabric that may go with that idea ...

When we are travelling where there are rocks and water, I relax.  I'm soothed.  I'm filled with joy.  Love the variations in the rocks.  Having spent lots of time in the Georgian Bay area, I wanted to explore windswept rocky shorelines.  And autumn colours are totally me.  So ... rocks, autumn colours, trees.

Yesterday after my full day of quilting, the latest edition of "Modern Quilting Unlimited" arrived.  And there, in one of the articles, is a 'slab' block with inserts to evoke a birch tree image.

We started the workshop with introductions - our experience with improv (closest I come to this is the workshops with John Willard in 2008!) and our intent - the ideas we brought to the workshop.  A couple of warm up exercises and then we were off to bring our intent to our life in fabric.  Just a wee bit terrifying :)  This is what fun is - stretching your skills, pushing your comfort zone, all while playing with fabric!

Cheryl showing us how she puzzled this quilt together from different size blocks.  This is her "Mountain Meadow Flowers" quilt
I elected to put together three area (rocks/grass, autumn leafy colours, sky) in the 'slab' or 'made fabric' method.  The first block ...

Next step was to add the trees - I wanted to add paper birch.  I wanted to slash and insert again, but also wanted some organic movement and this gave me grief.  Cheryl and I chatted about different ways to do this and I cogitated more.  Didn't slash.  Fidgeted.  Not to much after that, Cheryl came back and suggested that I applique the tree instead.  Well, that totally worked so much better!  

The tree fabric has text on it - so cool!  Paper birch.  With text.  Love it ;)

So many different pieces created today - Bill's tuxedo with pops of joy ...

Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's 'Waterfall' home - lots to fill in yet but some of the main features in fabric ...

Memories of Ireland - improv triangles in many shades of green ...

Improv interpretation of a geometric art poster - these squares are about 3" each - the couple of blocks with wee inserts - those are 1/8" inserts.  So awesome!

Goldfish pond - the pops of orange are dimensional ...

Bottom piece is rocks, water, sky and the tree is dimensional ...

This lady had a really difficult time getting comfortable with the disorder of improv.  She was so unhappy with her work.  Cheryl was wonderful here too - she found an improv style that this quilter was happier with and her stars shone! 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Quilting with Cheryl Arkison - LMQG Trunk Show & Values Workshop

This has been a fabulous week of quilting! Hyggeligt Fabrics arranged for Cheryl Arkison to come - she did a trunk show for the London Modern Quilt Guild and two days of workshops in St Mary's.  I was delighted to be at all three events.

Cheryl at the LMQG trunk show - with her Improv Sewing Machines quilt
And I got a last-minute call from the organizers at the LMQG - they needed a driver to bring Cheryl from the B&B she was staying at to the Artisan Centre for the trunk show.  This I could do!  Had a lovely introduction to Cheryl and her sense of humour.

Cheryl's Meadow Flowers

Cheryl's Equalizer quilt
The first workshop was on "Values".  

Here is where we learned to take colour out of the equation when pairing fabrics.  We cut squares, sorted into piles of light, medium or dark values.  I had pretty much just light and dark. 

Remove the colour, see if there are any that need to be moved to a different pile.  

Cheryl demonstrating various layouts - HST's are kind of magical - so many terrific designs from this versatile block.  What makes this all possible - having a good balance between the light and dark values - lots of contrast.

Here is my creation for the day - will add more squares to make a bigger quilt.  First, decolourized.

And in my colours ...

Things I learned today ...

  • Cheryl is a terrific teacher - her emphasis is on process and play
  • when sewing the HST's start the first seam on the right side of your line - this got me more consistent results than I've had!
  • the importance of squaring up - I'm already a huge believer in this one :)
  • how to press HST's without stretching all that bias
  • how to take your blocks from the design wall to the sewing machine and keep everything in the right order!  All at once – in the right orientation!
  • PLAY!

 #cherylarkison #values #quilting #bliss

Sunday, September 27, 2015

On the Road - Coralville IA - Logansport IN

Today's farm report: Iowa - beautiful rolling hills with corn coming off, soys not quite ready; Illinois - flatter but still with grassy waterways, combines in corn and bean fields; Indiana - corn still ahead of beans mostly, many areas where there was late (or no) planting from too much rain in the spring. So many bins. Grain buggies and multiple combines in these big fields. It was always a crop tour, eh?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

On the Road - heading home!

3 days travel ...

Montrose CO to Black Canyon National Park.  Last time through, there were wildfires and the canyon was engulfed in a haze.  This time, brilliant sunshine and the canyon in all its glory!

And on to Monarch Crest over Monarch Mountain, 11352 ft.  Another day almost entirely above 7,500 ft.

Getting itchy to be back home ....  last hurrah at mountains going through Rocky Mountain National Park.  Last time, we did this east to west, in the fog and snow.  This time, much improved - west to east and beautiful sunshine and warm weather!!

Then onto the Interstates to make tracks homeward bound.

Nebraska - foothills and flat, grassy high desert.  Irrigated fields of hay, corn, some milo.  Feedlots - huge feedlots!

Iowa - rolling, contoured beautiful fields of corn and soybeans.  Terraced fields, grassy waterways. Some combines rolling in corn fields - including one with a 'down corn' attachment, although it didn't look like the corn was down.

Corn fields ready before soy fields.

An accident on I80 near Newport involving 2 motorcycles - westbound traffic all diverted, accident reconstruction team onsite, both motorcycles sadly on their sides along with cars in the median and trucks on the side of the road.  Cannot be good news.  

"Fishbowl Margarita" and gigantic draft fit the bill for dinner tonite!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On the Road - Cortez - Montrose CO

Ah, Colorado, how we love your roads!

One of our all-time favourites - the "Million Dollar Highway".  Colorado #550 from Durango to Ouray.  Three mountain passes, most of the day over 10,000 ft, steep climbs, sharp curves, deep drop-offs, few guardrails.

There were billboards advising of construction on Red Mountain Pass, and we couldn't remember exactly where that pass was.  The highway is closed weekdays EXCEPT for the crew's lunch break. So only open between 12 noon and 1 pm daily.  We didn't dilly-dally.  Managed to time it just right to get through all the construction in good time.

The aspens are turning - we had brilliant sunshine, warmish temps and glorious golden aspens flittering in the wind.

Don got some photos, but I only captured a couple while we were stopped waiting for the one-way traffic.

Where they're doing construction, they have removed half the road that is on the outer side - yikes!

Secret Garden BOM 2016

Secret Garden Flimsy I participated in quite a few of Pat Sloan's challenges and quilt-alongs in 2016! This one, " Secret Garde...