Monday, January 31, 2011

Doodles and Flutters -- Oh, My!

Where was I last week?  I think most of you know the answer to that - I was getting to know Vinnie Gammill better!  I did quite a bit of practicing, but I have a long way to go before I load up a "real" quilt!  I realized the past week that I am more of a structured quilter as opposed to a doodler!  I found I could do a few things well in freehand mode - like stipples and squiggles, and sometimes I can even to a feather that almost looks like I know what I'm doing.  But when it comes to anything else - forget it!  So....I did quite a bit of research this week and I believe I've found what works well for me.  Pam Clarke, one of Gammill's resident quilt artists is the gal for me!  She draws lines and graphs and shows you how to quilt shapes into them.  She was even kind enough to email me back when I asked which of her starter packages of training guides might be best for me!  She lives just about 3 hours north of us, too!  Unfortunately, she only gives live classes at shows - perhaps I have another reason to return to the Portland Quilt Show this year!
Here is a portion of the quilting from my first practice quilt - the one that Jack loaded onto Vinnie when he set the machine up for me.  I'm not going to show you the entire piece as it's rather "flawed" in places!  I was practicing a pantograph and couldn't figure out why I had a bulge in one section - I later realized that I had forgotten to baste down either side of the quilt when I rolled it forward.  Little things like that really make a difference!

I decided I would show you my first feather - ever!  I first drew the feather (which I made right after Jack left the first day), then attempted to outline it - big mistake!

The flutters came when it was time to load my second practice quilt!  I think that process scared me more than anything else!  Don't worry, I've already re-basted that puckered side - there are a lot of things to watch for!  I decided to go for a black top this time so I could see my stitching better and also be better able to chalk in some stencils that I can see well.  I used Warm & Natural batting in this one - my favorite - and it also makes a huge differece.  Your quilting is much more "flat" than with a poly batt.  I haven't decided which I like best. I've now rolled this 60 x 80 practice piece twice with much more to go!  Next quilt might be a real top!  I'll just do some stippling and a little outlining to start. Wish me luck!

A few posts ago I showed you the Art Deco lamp we found at an obscure antique shop in Oregon.  It has now been re-wired and the other day we had it hung in our entry.  Lighting is always difficult to photograph, but you can get the idea.
Here is a view standing under it in the daylight.  I was surfing the internet looking for places to buy replacement shades if we ever needed one.  They are extremely difficult to find - and one shade costs more than what we paid the the light!  All in all, we can't believe what a great deal we got!

Over the weekend we heard from a woman who grew up in the Squash House! Her parents had the house built and lived in it for 50 years.  She will be coming to town next weekend and wondered if she could walk through the house.  Of course we are delighted that she wants to come by - and can't wait to hear more about the house.  Already she's told us some interesting tidbits!  I don't want to spoil the story now, but do please come back next week as there will surely be a great post or two about her visit!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meet Vinnie Gammill...

Friday was one of the rainiest days we've had in a long time!  I checked the radar between my dealer's shop in McMinnville, OR to here several times during the day -- I wanted to make sure there wasn't anything along the way that would delay his arrival!  Not only did he arrive safely, but a tad ahead of schedule!
Here is Jack's truck backed up to our garage.  See that plastic covered stuff on the upper right?  That is the frame for my table. Someone else's frame is on the left - he had 3 or 4 more stops after me!
When Jack opened the back of his truck, we expected large boxes, but he took care of those before leaving the shop, so all he would have to do is unload and get to business!  Because it was raining so hard, we really had to work fast unloading, otherwise I would have had more photos!
Here is Mr. Squash carrying one of the side pieces of the table downstairs.  Both of us pitched in to speed things up.
Just waiting for Vinnie to come down now!  I'm sure you're wondering where the name Vinnie came from.  Well, I had an anonymous comment the other day from Carrie that said Out with Lennie, In with Vinnie!  I immediately loved the name as does Mr. Squash, who says it makes him think of home in New Jersey!  Anyway, I later was thrilled to find out which Carrie made the comment - and immediately emailed to thank her!
Here is Jack setting up the table.  What a dedicated dealer - not only did he drive several hours in the rain to get here, but he waved off homemade goodies I had made for him until after he was done!
Oh.....we're getting close!  By the way - Jack is about 6'5" at least - that's why the table looks so small here!
Just a few more adjustments.....
And, Viola!  Ready to go!!  Jack loaded up Vinnie with "Gammill Food" consisting of thread, fabric and batting, spent a little time walking me through the machine and table and let me have at it!!
Here I am at the end of the day - swirling, feathering, stippling and getting to know Vinnie!  I absolutely love Vinnie!!  (Not to worry -- Mr. Squash understands he comes first no matter what.) I'm so glad things worked out the way they did because this is really the right machine for me!  You know where I'll be the next week or so. I'm keeping my practice sessions short but frequent so as not to strain muscles that aren't used to these motions.  I'm almost done with this quilt sandwich and will load a larger practice sandwich later today and give pantographs a try!  I really feel like I can get to some real quilting quite soon!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cute as a Bug!

Today is the day my new Gammill arrives, but not until mid-afternoon.  So yesterday and today I've been keeping very busy to keep my excitement under control - and it isn't easy to stay calm! 

Jackie at Canton Village Quiltworks has been been calling out for pillowcases for her Hole in the Wall Gang project.  I thought I would contribute to the effort!  She has a terrific easy and fast pattern on her website for the cases.  Here are two that I made.  The one on the left is It's a Hoot by Momo and the other is Animal Alphabet Flash Cards by Red Rooster.  I think I might just raid my stash and redecorate our beds with new pillowcases!

When I was on my daily walk yesterday I realized how badly I needed to replace my walking shoes.  So, I went downtown and picked out a new pair.  Before I put them away in the closet, Miss Sophie had to tell me how much she admired them!

We're all ready for the Gammill!  Mr. Squash and I will both be taking pictures.  We've also made a nice plate of goodies for Jack as when he arrives he will have been on the road for 5-6 hours!  We want him to be happy when he sets up the machine!  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dear Lenni... and a Great Tip!

Dear Lenni,
Last September I fell in love with you in Portland.  You agreed to come home with me and my heart sang!  There was to be a short wait while you made your journey to the Squash House, but in the meantime I made preparations for your arrival.  I cleared a lovely space for you to reside and made sure everything was spic and span.  Time passed with no word from you and I was so worried that something bad had happened.  When you finally contacted me, you explained that you would be slightly delayed due to unforseen circumstances.  No matter - I was so happy to hear that you were OK and agreed to patiently await your arrival.  More time passed with no word and I was beginning to think I had been jilted by you....had I fallen in love with a Gigolo - no - it couldn't be true.  I gathered my courage and called to see where you were.  Your explanation was that you still loved me, but there were more unforseen circumstances to delay your arrival.  I pined away for you all during the Christmas holidays.  Had I made a terrible mistake?  Did I read your signals wrong?  Oh, how my heart bled.  Two weeks ago I gathered up my courage and called you again.  You said it looked like you might be on your way to me sometime around the 19th.  What happy news!  Then on Monday after another call to you, my heart sank - it might be some more time before you could make an appearance.  It was only then that I weighed my feelings about you - and decided you were not the one for me.  So little contact over four months, so much heartbreak on my end.  It's over.  I've decided to end our brief affair.
So long,

Are you wiping away tears now?  Please don't cry!  Lenni is now a fling of the past!  My new love is the Gammill Vision 18-8 stitch-regulated longarm!  The dealer will be here Friday afternoon to set it up and train me!  Oh, Joy! 

Have you ever cleaned the underside (the side that rides on the fabric while cutting) of your rulers?  Recently I was cutting the setting pieces for my Designer Mystery BOM and was frustrated because the rulers kept slipping.  It occured to me that in all the years I have had these rulers, they have picked up tons of sizing from the fabric.  I'm one of those who doesn't pre-wash fabrics, so you can imagine how much crud must have been on them!  Well, I grabbed my trusty Windex and cleaned the underside of the two rulers on the left - did a little cutting, and Voila! - no more slippage!  If you click on the photo you will see that the ruler on the right has a slightly milky look to it compared to the two on the left - that's because I haven't yet cleaned it.  Give this a try with your rulers and tell me if you notice a difference like I did!

Friday Mr. Squash will be snapping photos of my new Gammill as it is being set up and I'm trained.  Stay tuned for what is sure to be a fun post!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Another Find and More UFO Work!

On Saturday Mr. Squash and I took off on a "discovery" mission!  Let's see if we can find some antique shops in out-of-the way places!  The first stop was a quilt shop in Hermiston, OR (we were a little turned around and it just happened to be there).  We asked the proprietor if he knew of antique stores in the area and we were directed to a tiny little town (if you could even call it that) about 5 miles away.  The shop was right on the main road on a corner and looked really inviting.  We walked in and were transported to an old-fashioned antique shop - the likes of which are more and more rare since the advent of eBay!  Eye candy everywhere.  We're talking quality antiques - and unbelievably low prices!!  Everything was displayed so nicely with either chenille bedspreads or vintage quilts on the beds, dried flowers, and lovely dresser settings and on and on.

The owner was a wizened old fellow with a bright smile and an eagerness to help!  He seemed to pop up out of nowhere whenever I expressed interest in a particular object!  Back in a far corner I spied an art deco ceiling fixture and instantly he was there to get it down for a closer look.  It was heavy (perhaps iron or brass-coated iron) and in perfect condition! No restoration had ever been done.  He said he took it down himself from the ceiling.  Even the electrical, as old as it is, is in tip-top condition.  The globes didn't have any chips or cracks at all.  When he told us the price, we nearly fainted!  Let's just say we saw the same lamp in the big city a couple of weeks ago for $1,069 and this was a little over a 12% of that price!
Of course it had to come home with us!  We are going to install it just inside our front door.  Mr. Squash is holding it so I could get a photo, but it was heavy and I was standing quite close, so it looks a little larger than it really is. 
Look at how new and bright the lamp itself is!  It has it's original finish.  The globes look a little lighter than the amber color they really are, and will be so pretty when lit!  We will post a photo once it is installed.  First we're going to send it to the lamp store where we got our new chandelier and have them re-wire it for good measure.
I had such a good feeling from finishing Winter Wonderland that I decided to get out my last remaining UFO.  This is the Fat Quarter Shop's 2008 Designer Mystery BOM.  The fabric is Peace on Earth by Three Sister for Moda.  I had 6 blocks left to go, which went really fast until I got to block 12.  If you're wondering why it is missing the center - I had a temporary brain flip and cut one of the fabrics incorrectly!  Don't you hate it when that happens?  I emailed FQS, but they were completely out of the fabric.  I did find an available yard of it on the internet, and will also check with my local shop tomorrow to see if maybe they have a fat quarter hiding around somewhere!  I also purchased the finishing kit.  The blocks are set in red with gold stars at each corner and is surrounded with a green border. 

Still no news on when Lenni will ship.  I must admit I am getting a tad discouraged and even contemplating looking at other machines, but Lenni is what I want and I hope to have good news soon!

Friday, January 14, 2011

9-Patch Challenge Finish!

Now I know why everyone is crazy about Schnibbles patterns from Carrie Nelson!  They are well written, easy and fast to finish!  As you know, I am participating in Anne Marie's 9-Patch Challenge.  Maybe I'm the first finish?  I'll find out from Anne Marie soon, I'm sure!  I now have 5 tops ready to quilt for whenever Lenni arrives!

As I said in a previous post, this was a kit that was given to me last fall, so I'm following the rules for using only what is in my stash!  I am also participating in Ulla's Use Your Stash 2011, so I think I've accomplished two challenges in one!  The fabrics in this kit were Civil War fabrics - the lights are all shirtings.  I wish the colors showed up better, but this is the best I could do with photo editing!  My studio gets very dark and shadowy in the afternoons.  When the electrician was here the other day, I asked him to give us an estimate on different lighting for the room.  I'm thinking I might like recessed lighting around the room.  I also have two Ott Lites which I shine directly on my work surface.  I would be interested in any comments about lighting from those of you who have designed your quilting space!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back in Time

While in the big city, Mr. Squash and I went to a vintage lighting store we had heard about.  We were both blown away by the amount and beauty of so many vintage, restored light fixtures!  They had sconces, chandeliers, ceiling lights, bridge lamps, torchieres...the list goes on and on.  There was also a good deal of refinished oak antique pieces at fairly reasonable prices.  If the car had more room, I think a few of those pieces would have come home with us!

What did come home with us was a gorgeous, restored chandelier dating about 1910-1920.  My pictures do not to it justice, but you can get a bit of an idea!
The fixture itself is a sort of copper color with touches of green here and there.  The shades are an Art Deco style.  We had numerous choices for the shades - and it's nice to know we can change them to something else down the road if we wish!

This is the portion that had the electrical connection under it.  You can see some of the color detail which is also on little finials on the lamp itself, but difficult to see in my photos.  Unfortunately the electrical isn't directly over the table, but it came with a chain to swag over, which is how they had it displayed in the shop.

I took a photo after dark - if you click on it you can see the little finials better.

Here is a closeup of the teardrop that hangs from the center.  Hard to see, but there is a little green on this as well.  I was a little apprehensive about how it would look, but once the electrician got it up, I knew we had made the right choice!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Ruler and 9-Patch Challenge Fun!

This past summer in Sisters I met a fellow blogger, Cindy of Sew Cindy.  Cindy is the most terrific gal, and her husband and 3 Weimaraners are pretty special, too!  Cindy met me with a wonderful package full of goodies - so unexpected and so very sweet!  One of them was a Schnibbles kit that I have been dying to make and finally got around to starting yesterday.  The kit was full of Civil War fabrics - my favorites!  I had also read somewhere recently that a great way to cut charm squares, layer cakes and other pre-cuts was with the June Tailor Quarter Cut or Shape Cut Ruler.

Normally I don't go in for specialty rulers like this, but I had a JoAnn's 50% off coupon and didn't really "need" anything, so I decided to try one!  I chose the Quarter Cut Ruler over the Shape Cut Ruler as it has indentations at the 1/4 inch mark - I thought for my purposes it might be more useful! If you click on the photo, you'll see the 1/4 inch indentations a little better.

In no time at all I had a huge stack of 2 inch squares cut!  I placed the 5 inch squares under the ruler and sliced, then lifted the ruler up and placed it opposite to my first cuts and sliced again!  I felt I had a lot more accuracy -- and some fun as well! 

Here is what I've sewn so far - eleven more of these to go, then setting blocks and borders!  I've also joined Anne Marie's 9-Patch Challenge - and this will count as my first project for the challenge!  Notice I said "first project" -- I really do hope to do a couple more before the challenge ends - after all, it's about using up stash and goodness knows, I have a lot!!

A while back I bit my lip and changed to the new Blogger designer which has been out for some time.  I know others have had problems with it, but so far I'm liking it OK.  The fonts sizes are a little different from the old Blogger, so if you're wondering why my posts fonts aren't consistent - it is because I'm trying different types out! 

Tomorrow I hope to have pictures of something we recently acquired on our trip to the big city!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Buggy Barn Adventure!

Last week Mr. Squash and I braved the snowy weather and traveled 3 hours north to the "Big City" for a few days.  This was the trip we were supposed to take right after Thanksgiving but the snow was just too deep so we had to re-schedule.  While we left the Squash House with several inches of snow still on the ground, the roads were clear, and the forecast wasn't too outrageous, so we decided it was safe to venture out!

Our destination wasn't too far from the Buggy Barn, and I have always wanted to go there, so we decided to make it our first stop!
As we traveled farther north, we noticed there was much more snow.  The roads were still clear, however, so we pushed on.  Then came the turn to the Buggy Barn!  See all that snow?  It was on the road, too! 

Getting closer here!

This is not the shop, but it was a darling outbuilding, and with the wagon in front - picture-perfect! I'll show you the outside of the shop later in the post.

We could not believe how small the shop was!  If ten people had been inside at the same time, you would have had very little elbow room!  Every single space was used - including the ceiling which was covered in quilts! I did my best to get photos, but it wasn't easy in such a tiny space!

All the walls were 3 stacks high in fabric bolts and nicely color coordinated.  There were bolts on the floor as well, sometimes 3 rows deep!

Here are just some of the many patterns for sale!  I came away with a few!

There was another very tiny room on one side of the shop with more fabric and patterns and these cute flowers on the wall!

I believe this was on the wall opposite from the flowers.

Off that tiny little room, was a very tiny little bathroom - and hey...there were fabric, patterns and quilts in there, too!!  I loved this appliqued quilt above the sink!

Another wall in the bathroom.

This fun pineapple quilt was next to the door heading out of the bathroom.

The wonderful quilt was above the entrance to the Buggy Barn.  I was tempted to get the pattern, but my "cart" was already full at that point!

Here is Mr. Squash in front of the shop holding our bag of purchases...and he's still smiling!  He was a real trooper...there is even a purchase inside the bag for him.

Here are his supplies....a needle punch lap stand, tools and a starter pattern with floss.  He's going to give this a try and if he likes it, the two of us might just move on to rug hooking together!  What did I get, you ask? Well, I was on a stash-building mission this trip so I purchased some neutrals, more wool, and a few patterns, plus a few gifts.  All in all it was a very fun day, and a successful getaway!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Remember Summer?

I sure do!  It has been so cold in our neck of the woods!  The past week has barely gotten above 20 degrees!  So I was happy to be able to show you my latest "Supreme Sewing Gig" for Stephanie over at Loft Creations!  These pictures were obviously taken in much warmer weather and they make me warm up a tad just looking at them! 
Stephanie's newest creation is the Loft Tote!  I love that she gives me free reign to test these beauties in any fabric of my choice!  See the red strips that converge on the silver ring?  This is a new product called Chenille-It Blooming Bias, which comes in lots of fun colors. I have been dying to try and I love it! 

The pattern did not call for using Chenille-It, rather it calls for the strips to be made out of contrasting fabric and attached to the ring.  It was my decision to go ahead and try placing two layers of the blooming bias on top of the fabric strips -- and it worked! I had a lot of fun making this bag - it goes together in no time at all and is very functional.  If you want to make it as well, the pattern is now available on Stephanie's Etsy site!

Monday, January 3, 2011

UFO? Just Do It!

About 2 years ago I purchased the Winter Wonderland pattern from Crabapple Hill.  First I worked on the stitcheries - it took nearly a a year to finish them!  Then I started on the blocks, which went pretty fast.  Then we finally sold our house and moved to the Squash House where Winter Wonderland sat languishing in a drawer.The past few weeks I decided it was time to finally finish this UFO!  I dove in the past few weeks and voila! Now I have another flimsy for Lenni!
Here it is draped over the bed - I can't wait to get it quilted, bound and ready for next Christmas!  The feeling from finishing this quilt top is so satisfying!  So if you have a UFO sitting around that you really want to finish - just do it!  You'll be amazed at how fast it goes and how good you'll feel with your accomplishment!

When I finally sewed the last row and hung it on the design wall, I noticed that one tiny little snowflake had not been embroidered!  Now how could that happen?  I had been handling these blocks over and over while sewing everything together!  I was tempted to leave it, but decided it deserved life, too! 

The other day Mr. Squash pointed out a new bird in the yard - at first he thought it was a quail.  On closer inspection we noticed it was a Hawk!  What a rare sighting.  When we took an even closer look, we noticed it was consuming one of our backyard birds!  We sighed at losing one of our little friends, but nature follows it's own course!

Tomorrow we are heading to the big city for a few days. We tried to go just after Thanksgiving, but had to cancel due to snow! This time we've decided to be like the postman - we'll get there no matter what!  Included in our adventure will be a trip to the Buggy Barn, so stay tuned for a full report!