Sunday, November 8, 2009

How I bury knots

I haven't been very good at updating my blog. I'm sorry.

In any case, I posted the following to the Quiltart list and people keep asking me for it again. So here it is. I'll take some pictures the next time I'm in the basement at my longarm with a camera and then post it here.

1. I start and stop my lines of machine quilting by pulling the bobbin thread up to the top of the quilt and leaving tails that are several inches long.
2. I take a crewel needle or other hand stitching needle with a large eye.
3. I cut a piece of hand quilting thread or thick machine sewing thread about 24" long. The thread should be stronger than the thread you used to quilt the quilt. Let's call this the carrier thread.
4. I put both cut ends of the carrier thread through the eye of the crewel needle and pull them through a few inches, leaving a loop of thread on the other side. (If you have the clover needle thread, you can do this faster by just pulling on the loop.)  Let's call this thing the carrier.
5. Insert the needle of the carrier through the quilt exactly where the top thread came through the quilt. I take about a one inch stitch, going only through the top and batting, not coming out the back.
6. I grab all four carrier threads, the loop and the two ends, along with the needle and pull it just until the needle comes back out of the quilt.
7. There should still be a loop on top of the quilt, where you want to bury the thread. Put your hand through the loop, grab the threads you want to bury and pull on the needle, again, holding all layers of the carrier thread.  Let the carrier thread slide over your hand and catch the quilting threads. The carrier thread should disappear into the quilt, pulling the threads you want to bury along with it, and then the ends will all pop out on top where you ended the stitch. Pull on the buried threads to put them under tension and then trim them. The ends will disappear into the quilt.

I have found this to be much faster than threading a self threading needle over and over and it also will work when the thread you have to bury is only a quarter inch long.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My new chair

My pinkies have been numb since February. I thought it was carpel tunnel, so I got a new ergonomic keyboard. No change, and it seemed to be getting worse. I finally went to my doctor and he said "you lean on your elbows a lot don't you?" Why yes, I do. Apparently when you lean on your elbows too much, you can inflame the tissue around your ulnar nerve and your pinkies and the outer half of your ring fingers can go numb.

Here's the problem: my computer desk is too high. It's not really a computer desk, it's actually a library table from about 1930, made out of quartersawn oak, in the mission style. I found it in an antique shop in Richmond, IL about a decade ago. It was in good shape except the only drawer which had a bad bottom. I paid $100 for the desk, fixed the drawer and I really love the table.

Today I went to Crate and Barrel to see if they had a computer desk that I liked. I found a couple, took a catalog and then made my way home. I stopped at a Staples store to look for a desk chair. My current chair is a $20 piece of junk from Ikea. It's a kitchen table, sorta. It's really junky, but I haven't found something I really like. Remember dinettes? That's what I want. A kitchen set. Not another dining room set.

Anyway, at the Staples, I found a chair that was a knockoff of a very expensive ergonomic chair. It had a mesh back, arm rests that go up and down. The chair tilts forward and back, the seat back tilts back and forth. It has lumbar support. It was $150.  A light turned on in my head. IF I got a chair that raised me up high enough, I wouldn't have to buy a lower desk! And, I could put my feet on the shelf from the library table, or get a footstool. Since my legs are really short and they barely reach the ground when I sit on a regular chair. AND, if I had ARMRESTS, I'd have somewhere for my elbows to rest, besides on the DESK. I needed this chair.

But the only one they had had a box that looked like it was falling apart. I left.

Got home about six pm, and talked to my brother a while. Brian was out at a business dinner and I had to pick him up at the train station at 8:50pm. At 8:10, it dawned on me that I should go to the closest Office Max and see if THEY had a chair like the one from Staples. I would get there at precisely 8:20, and then have until 8:40 when I would have to leave. I didn't want Brian to be standing around the train station wondering if I forgot to come get him.

I walked swiftly into the store, looking for the chair. Didn't find it. But I found a LEATHER chair, with all the adjustable parts. But it was on a pedestal. And there was a sign saying not to climb on the pedestal. Luckily just then, a very nice salesclerk came by. I told her that I wanted to try out this chair, could she help me take it down?. She said "Well, you'll just have to climb on that pedestal." I pointed to the sign, she laughed, took the chair down and I sat right down on it. Then rolled myself over to a desk to test the height.  Perfect. AND it is made by Sealy, the bed people. AND it was on sale, $150, marked down from $205. Leather for $150 is much better than mesh for $150.

I told her I had to leave at 8:40 exactly, could she bring one to the counter and check me out in time? She could. And she did. And she helped me to the car.

And I got to the train station just as Brian was getting off the train.

We put together the chair and I'm sitting in it now. The desk is at the right height, my elbows are bent at the right angle. The chair is very cool, we played around tilting it in all directions, adjusting the armrests, etc. I love the chair. I feel like Captain Kirk on the bridge.

I'm all set to see what Apple announces tomorrow, on 9/9/09. My favorite number is 9. My birthday is April 9. which is the 99th day of the year, unless it's a leap year, then it's the 100th day. I should buy a lottery ticket.

Oh, and I stopped at the Apple store to buy Snow Leopard today. Tried to get the salesguy to tell me if they had boxes of new stuff waiting for tomorrow. No dice. Not even a smile about it. But he did answer all my questions about Snow Leopard compatibility with my current software, and he listened to me babble about how much I loved the shuffles that came in different colors, as opposed to the current version which is BORING.

Monday, August 31, 2009

what I'm knitting

Here is a block from the Lizard Ridge Afghan on the Knitty website. It took one skein of Noro Kureyon yarn.  The designer of the afghan adapted it from Barbara Walker's Learn to Knit Afghan Book. The block uses short rows to make the lumps. I can "knit back" from the right needle to the left, instead of turning the work, so I like doing stuff like this. Also, I'm not good enough to knit big stuff, so I like little projects. I figured I could knit the blocks for the afghan, it takes 20 or maybe 21, as I went along.
 I knitted two blocks and then found a knitting shop in Grayslake. My friend Kathleen and I went to a knitting party there, and of course, I had to buy some yarn from them to knit while we were there. It's the only way to be polite. The shop doesn't carry Noro, but they have a similiar yarn, Poems. I bought four skeins of that, in two different colorways. (So, two skeins of each color). I the pattern repeat is 14 stitches, with each block being 43 stitches across. I like to make bags, so I cast on 126 stitches (9 repeats) and knitted it in the round. I had to convert the pattern a bit, to knit in the round. 
Then when I was done, I felted it in my sink, by hand. All the bumps laid flat.
Here's what four skeins look like.  Of course, at this point,  I had to do it again, but bigger, and using Noro. I have a lot of skeins of Kureyon, in different colorways, in the bottom bag, I used 3 colorways, ten skeins altogether. And I knitted in a strap, since I never get around to sewing them on. I haven't felted the bag yet, here it is all big. I'm not sure the straps will end up working correctly, they are sitting in the middle of the front and back sides of the bag.

Now that I have mastered short rows, I think I'm ready to knit some socks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

replying to comments

I can't tell if my comments back on the comments left are actually appearing, I'm new to this, so bear with me if I haven't responded. I do read all the comments and I think it's really nice that you take the time to respond.


Monday, August 24, 2009

free ebook on free motion quilting

Quilting Arts Magazine has republished two articles I wrote on Free Motion Quilting several years ago, along with an article by Frieda Andersen, in an ebook. Here's the link: ebook

Guerrilla Knitting at the Art Institute

I found this sample of guerilla knitting outside the Museum of the Art Institute in Chicago, right in front. In between the lions.

If you don't know what this is about, go to this article

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Project Runway Special Challenge

Before the Project Runway Premiere, they had a special All-Star Challenge, with 8 designers, and a prize of $100,000. I enjoyed it, it was perfect for short attention span watching.

I thought it was ludicrous when Santino declared the serger broken because he'd broken the needle. That's like saying your car is broken when you need to refill the gas tank. No way should it have been such a big deal to replace a broken needle. Anyone who has been near a sewing machine can change a serger needle, it's the same thing. And hey, most of us who use sergers can change TWO needles. Now, rethreading them, that's another thing. If I ever start sewing clothes again, I want one of those sergers that shoots the thread through a pipe with air, so you don't have to thread it.

And what was the deal with Chris? Did he sleep through the whole season when he was on there? I don't remember that, but I didn't watch that whole season. I think the guy has sleep apnea. OR maybe he stayed up all night sewing, and then had to nap during the day. If I was on Project Runway, that's what I'd do. Except for me, it would be dangerous, because when the models are there for fittings, I'd have to stand on a ladder, not the best thing to do if you are sleep deprived.

Monday, August 17, 2009

iCandy design as of Aug 17

I've been playing with the design, and here's the current state of it. The flower centers are already made, and I'm tracing out all of the WonderUnder templates while I watch tv.
(catching up on Weeds and Dexter)

In this picture, the flowers looked faded, because I would have had to spend more time than I wanted to, if I gave them all black outlines so they'd show up.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Time Traveler's Wife the movie

Brian and I went to see the movie today. It was excellent. If you have read the book, bring a lot of kleenex. Well, maybe you should bring some even if you haven't read the book.

I thought Eric Bana was an excellent Henry.

I sat through the credits in case Henry showed up at the end of them, but he didn't. So you can leave right when the credits start rolling.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

A new design

I worked on this design for a long time today. The colors aren't done, that green doesn't look right. I have to either put more green in, or take the green out. I will probably play with the composition some too. There are two different wheels.

The quilt from this design is about 82x82.

Quilt Design: A ring of Greek Keys, around a flower

Here is the center of a quilt. In real life, the outer circle is 50" across. I've scaled it down to put on the blog. In real life, the drawing is very crisp. I'll describe how I designed the flower another day. Today, I'm going to show how I add a ring of Greek Keys. This quilt will be made up of a series of concentric rings going around the flower, to make a wheel.

I use Adobe Illustrator to make the drawings.

So, here's the center of the wheel, the flower, and the circle that defines the outer edge of this ring.

I want to have 28 segments, each containing a portion of a Greek Key going around the circle.
Here we have the outer circle of this ring, and the outer circle of the flower. (The purple ring just above, but I've turned it white so you can see the start sitting on top of it. ) This star has 28 segments. I'm going to tell the computer to divide all those shapes up.

Here I've divided the shapes up. The yellow segments are the ones I want to keep.
I've erased all the rest of the drawing, except the two yellow segments, and those cones. The cones, for now, help me make sure the segments are the right distance from each other, to rotate around the center and form a ring.
I have a file called "spiral tile" that contains this square drawing you see of a rectangular tile for a greek key. I'm not going to cover drawing the key today either. Here you see the two segments, filled with that greek key. The computer made that big rectangular design fit into the wedge. I used the "envelope" tool for this.

Now I tell the computer to rotate the two segments around their center and I have my ring.

I bring the center flower back and center it in the ring. I'll keep adding rings until the wheel is big enough. My next ring will have some form of petal shape. At least that's what I'm thinking right now.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

the first entry actually about something

This quilt is called iCandy 2.0.

(Here's a hint, don't put a decimal point in the name of your quilt, it makes it harder to save files named after the quilt.)

This quilt will be in the IQA World Of Beauty contest in Houston, for Quilt Festival.

It's about 70x70 inches.

It was the first in a series, of wheels. I've been wanting to make some quilts with portions of a round design. Not the whole circle, but with sections cropped.

The second quilt, also second in the series, is on the cover of the current AQS Magazine.
And I have another two quilt tops made, using this concept, one of them about 40x54 inches, the other is much bigger.

And I'm working on a few more. I haven't been doing the quilting lately, just the making of the tops. All of these are fused, using my own hand dyes.

I'm going to be posting more about the construction and design method of these quilts. I think it's like working with polar coordinates, instead of a rectangle...


Thanks for joining, LadyRa, and Laceygreen, or your alias....

I should have also said "if removing the markings are mandatory, make sure you test in a hidden place first."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My first posting

Well, I have nothing quilty to post right now. I'm working on several quilts, and I will take some pictures and put them up. I'm planning to blog as I make one of my quilts.

In the meantime, I learned something I'd like to share. I like to use Sharpie markers to write instructions on equipment I use. An example is that as soon as I get a new printer, I write on the front the directions for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper, which side of the paper has to be on top, which edge needs to lead. Stuff that would be nice to know without having to resort to an owner's manual every time. However, once in a while, it's nice to get those marks off, and they come off easily, with an Eberhard Faber white eraser.

Now that I have solved a major problem I caused by writing on something with a Sharpie, I can now go up to my studio and take some pictures of the quilt top I just finished, and the quilt that I will be making.

I hope you'll follow my blog, I promise to have more interesting stuff!