Spinning tighter

This past weekend I got stimulated to spin. I had finished the Corriedale roving that I had, attempting to spin it up thicker. I still can’t quite get it consistent, but there were sections where it fairly steady in thickness. I’m not overjoyed, but not precisely displeased either. Anyway, I plied the two bobbins, experimenting so more all the while. This time I moved the string on the smallest notch of the flyer in order to get the highest revolutions possible. The difference was noticeable. The twist on the two-ply was much tighter, given the number of wheel turns I was giving it. In fact, I think I may have overtwisted it in the plying, but I still liked it better. It was nicely tight and made the yarn bigger in diameter. The most fascinating part was watching the thicker sections unintentionally match up with the thinner sections in the second ply. Wholly unplanned, I assure you.

I then moved quickly and spun up this mystery roving I had gotten at my closest yarn shop. They don’t sell spinning stuff; apparently, Brown Sheep Co. had used this stuff as packing in the shipping boxes, which is doubtless a good indicator of its quality. But it was interesting to play with. I got an even thicker yarn that time around.

The reason I got so stimulated was because I am a new member of a weaving and spinning guild, and decided to try to contribute to the craft fair where we sell items in order for the guild chapter to make some profit. We sell our own items and get money for them, and the guild gets 10% of the profit. It’s only a week and a half away, so I have to move fast to finish what I want to give. The interesting thing will be to see if it sells!

(No, I don’t weave — yet. I do have other crafts that I haven’t mentioned yet, but that isn’t one of them. Yet.)

Thanksgiving coming

Tomorrow I head on the road for Thanksgiving at my sister’s house. It will be a fun weekend, since we’ll all be there. Thursday will be T’giving and Friday will be Christmas giving, since we won’t all be together at Xmastime. (Brother and sister go with the inlaws. We alternate years.) I’m looking forward to seeing what think of my gifts. I always try to make sure I get what they want — one of the reasons for asking for lists. Of course, I also look forward to getting gifts too!

[There’s possible stress coming in the family as well, but I refuse to dwell on it. Can’t do anything about it, give it to God to handle since I certainly cannot! I refuse to even worry about it, only pray that the decisions that may or may not be coming will be made with God’s will in mind and the commandments of love as their foundation. Anyway, I don’t really want to talk about it on the blog; I’m a bit more private than that.]

Intro to projects 4

In a way, I’ve already introduced you to this project — it’s the quilt I’ve been piecing by hand for so long. Having come this far by hand, I intend to do the whole thing that way, which means it won’t be done soon, so let me tell you a little about it.

So anyway, as I mentioned before, it started out as a sampler quilt pattern from a book — I forget which one. Someone else had it and only copied the pages with the templates and very basic instructions for each of the group. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an iffy idea, because several of the templates had problems, and the instructions for several of them did things the hard way. So I ended up redoing quite a bit of it. Then of course, I didn’t like several of the blocks as given, so I changed them.

What did I keep? log cabin, fan, sugar bowl, pinwheel, 8-pointed star applique, I kept the basic applique block, but changed the applique itself from cheesy hearts to a sun and pyramids (I was watching a show on Egypt at the time). Ummm, I think that’s all. I then added a zigzag block, several that I got from the Jinny Beyer website of free patterns such as Dutchman’s puzzle, stonemason’s block, and a least one other that I can’t remember at the moment. There’s several more that I know I’m forgetting, but suffice it to say that each one has at least one small piece of denim in it. That started because I had a bunch of denim scraps leftover from a project for VBS at church a year or so before, and wanted to use them in a genuinely scrap quilt. So although the rest of the blue and yellow fabrics were bought, the denim pieces, both blue and black, were true scraps, which meant an amazing variation of shades of denim. It really shows up nicely in the fan block, since I used all denim for my fan shape.

The blend of blues and yellows came from a 1-yd. piece of fabric that I used for my inspiration to start. It was a sewing notions print that was very charming, in a variety of shades on a yellow background. I liked it so much that it became something of a theme piece. If I’d had more, I would have used it in every block just like the denim. Unfortunately, not enough to even consider it.

Right now I’m working on sewing together some fabric for the back. I found a lovely yellow with different colored butterflies that I’m using. Once I’ve done that, then comes the merry pinning party. I’ll probably have to buy some more pins because I certainly don’t have enough for an entire quilt!

Then comes a whole new challenge — quilting it. Quilting through denim — well, at least it won’t be two layers of denim to quilt through. Of course, I am planning on denim for the binding, so the last step may be the hardest!

Intro to projects 3

Well, here’s another hello, goodbye, project. (I’ll get to the quilt I mentioned before in the next post, I think.)

This one is a dress. One of the reasons I wanted to buy a nice new machine was because I’ve been wanting to sew more of my clothes, as well as do more machine quilting and home dec sewing. So the first sewing projects I’ve been doing are simple dresses that I think are in a style that is both comfortable and flattering. So I found McCall’s pattern 8107, a simple, long, princess-style dress, either sleeveless or with very short sleeves. I found a beautiful cotton batik — in the quilting section — that I liked a great deal. In a way, I regard this one as a practice version, since I want resize the pattern to fit me better. At the moment, my measurements match two different sizes. I went with the bigger size, which means it doesn’t look as good as I would like, but it does fit adequately, but only because it’s meant to fit loosely. I think that next thing I will do is actually cut a muslin pattern in order to get a better fit before cutting into the next piece of fabric that I already have waiting. In the meantime, I’d like to find a similar pattern for heavier weight fabrics with long sleeves. I need some winter dresses even worse than I need summer ones.

I wonder when I will have time to expand to pants and shirts?

The fact that it’s a hello, goodbye, project is actually somewhat surprising to me, but apparently my skills in sewing are improving at least a little bit. I had done a somewhat similar dress, though not exactly the same, earlier this year, and the cloth was already cut out from the summer. And the excitement of getting a new machine stimulated me so much I actually worked on it quickly, and finished the majority of the work within a weekend. I find this rather exciting to contemplate. Maybe moving on to pants won’t be that long a trip — if I can keep this up.

good service

The weekend before last I bought the used sewing machine at the local quilt shop, as I shared with you. This past weekend, out of nowhere, the touch screen stopped working. Absolutely bewildering. I haven’t even made the first payment!

But the quilt shop in question showed its quality and made me glad that I had bought from them and not the other Bernina dealer that was even closer to me than them. I took in my 185E, and the shop manager promptly looked at it, said the technician would have to check it out, reassured me that this was fully covered by warranty, and gave me another gently used machine of the same type as a loaner while mine was being worked on. This enabled me to continue working on the dress that was awaiting me (only a hem left to go at this point), and then to try out the walking foot that I had bought at the same time.

I felt cared for. That was good service. And I’ll be buying more from them over time. Taking classes there, no doubt. And getting to know them. That’s what good service achieves. Loyal customers.

pain of head

I’ve come to realize over the last few years that I suffer from migraines. This is not a happy realization.

Over this past weekend, I started to feel head pain Saturday afternoon. Despite having prescription medication, as well as over the counter migraine pills, the most I could achieve was the pain backing off. It wasn’t until Monday night, when I actually dosed myself with the full amount of prescription medication and over the counter medication possible for a 24-hour period that the pain left me. And I can’t even be sure that that was what got rid of it, since the rain broke that evening, and my migraines are definitely related to weather patterns at times.

In a way, the most frustrating things about these migraines is not the pain itself, but the uncertainty of what causes them and how to heal them. I’m left wondering what to do, when to do it, and how. Do I take the medication? I don’t like any kind of drug dependency, even though I accept it somewhat (allergies would otherwise make my life miserable). Do I wait to take the medication? Sometimes leaping on the pain quickly stops it from getting bad, but I feel like I’m swatting a fly with a hammer if I do it too soon. Keeping records hasn’t gotten me anywhere yet. Instead I feel like I’m constantly guessing in limbo, stunned when I get one of the bad ones, amazed at how debilitating the pain is. I guess I’m just fortunate that I don’t get them too often.

Anyway, I’m not writing all this to complain, precisely. I just want to share the frustration of dealing with pain without knowing a solution. Either way, I’m glad I live in a time when there actually is a way to stop it from hurting.

Sigh of accomplishment

Thursday was significant. After some two years or so (I forget when I started), I finished piecing the top of my sampler quilt BY HAND.

It really wasn’t intentional, at least not at first. I was working on this sampler quilt pattern with a group at work — we would meet every Thursday at noon for lunch time quilting work — and since I had no intention of bringing my machine in with me, I just worked on it by hand. By the time I was on the third block, I’d done them all by hand, and it only called for nine blocks. So I decided to keep on doing it by hand.

Of course, I can’t quite seem to leave patterns alone completely. After doing nine blocks, I was dissatisfied with the size, and decided to add three more, plus redo one of the nine that was a half inch too small. And out of those nine original, maybe half of them are the blocks as given in the book pattern that we were following. Some of them I just didn’t like, and I saw no reason why I should follow them. So I didn’t.

The most interesting thing that occurred was about a year ago, when Jinny Beyer came out with her new book Quiltmaking by hand, which actually talked in detail about piecing by hand and not just quilting by hand. All the quilting books that I had read talked very little about the demands of piecing by hand, and I found her work invaluable in achieving sharp points and accurate sizes. I still haven’t plumbed the depths of the work, but given time, I have no doubt that I will find more valuable information as I apply her tricks of the trade. Maybe one day I’ll be able to take advantage of my location and actually take a class at her store, because it’s not that far away from here.

I’ll take a picture and add it soon.

the urge to create

I am paying for last night.

I’ve been frustrated for several days now, because I have several sewing, etc. type things that I want to do, and I am not able to find the time right now. Work, of course, consumes significant amounts of time — made worse today by annoying delays on the Metro. Last weekend, as I mentioned, was busy, though I was glad to have Sunday afternoon to recoup my energy and clean up after having ten people there besides myself. And making sure that I rest enough to NOT get sick takes a certain amount of self-discipline. But last night I failed in the self-discipline required.

After getting home, finishing up laundry chores, and eating, I finally started to work on the project that called most distinctly to my crafting urge. Last night, that was spinning. I finally finished working on the bobbin where I was trying to achieve a thicker yarn than my first two bobbins with the dyed Corriedale. I did okay with that, but still feel that I am not truly consistent yet. Next step will be to measure the WPI for that one.

But since I needed another bobbin, and I still only have the four that came with the wheel, I decided I needed to empty the other two by plying. So I spent the most amazingly lengthy amount of time — I had filled the bobbins with very thin yarn — doing a two-ply. I filled the plied bobbin twice, plus a little bit more. The yarn looks rather nice, considering it’s a first effort of plying since the class. But I need to examine it again in good light. And I am overwhelmed by the thought of figuring out how much I have. I didn’t count as I wrapped the niddy-noddy, and while I know that a MacMorran balance can do it, that is not yet among my possesions. I wonder if I can figure out an equivalent with my food scale? I think so, but I’ll have to do some reading to remember how it works.

But doing all that got me to bed late, since it took a good hour and a half to ply. Of course, I only got to sleep a half-hour late, but still… And of course, I also found out that there was something about my position that my muscles didn’t like. The back muscle just under my left shoulder blade hurts noticeably. And warming it up with exercise and moist heat doesn’t seem to be helping a lot yet. It really hurts when I lean over and try to lift something, or lean over to tie my shoes. A prime demonstration of where the core muscles are and how important they are to daily living.

I did, however, discover something positive. Quite often when I’m working on something that requires hands and eyes, I would have the tv on to listen to. But I don’t really like that as a source of sound. Too many commercials, too much drivel, plus in some ways a waste, since I’m not looking at it. Yet I also know that I don’t often like silence as my working background. And just music doesn’t always do it. My mind likes to be engaged on a listening level that doesn’t work with music, much as I enjoy it, because it doesn’t engage me intellectually. (This is a prime area of difference between myself and my siblings, I think. More on that at another time.) For me, I need words. So I listened to a book on tape (actually a CD that I’d loaded onto the computer), and found it gave me the right level of engagement for what I was doing. Now I’m going to have to start checking them out on a regular basis. And that means I must replace my broken CD-RW drive. The old CD-ROM drive works okay, but it is old and slow.

Anyway, tonight, we’ll see what needs to be done next. I know I need to set the twist in the plied stuff, get rid of the extra leftover on one of the bobbins (ply on itself?), layer the small quilt whatever that I’ve been experimenting with, move along with the dress that I started, umm, ummm, cook something, …

Fortunately, Friday is a federal holiday, and federal worker that I am, I get off! So who knows what I’ll get done (besides a termite inspection and filling my contact lens prescription)?

I’ll try to introduce you to some more projects tomorrow.

New challenge coming

A new month, new things.

Actually, it’s a lot of the same old, same old.

However, at work we are having a peculiar two-week period. The reason? Our major computer database program is getting an update to be able to use Unicode (we work in a lot of foreign languages, including non-Roman alphabet languages), and during the conversion process, we cannot input/update into the database at all. We can search it, however, which means a lot of people are taking the time to do research connected with longterm work problems that are sitting at one’s desk, waiting for a decision to move them along. I have far too many of these, believe me. Most of the time, the problem is simply finding the time and focus to concentrate on the problem and figure out a solution. Sometimes it is easy; far too often it requires more research; on occasion it is stinking mess. But in a weird way, I’m enjoying this time period to slow down a little bit and focus on some of these things that have been cluttering up my desk for far too long. It also is a brace myself time before facing a major time of testing. I have to do a Quality Review for something I’ve been training in for the last year and a half. I know I have the basic skills, but it’s such a big, complex area that I still feel unprepared. Unfortunately, I don’t have choice; time is limited due to a retirement coming up and I MUST do it now.

At church, we have a youth rally this weekend, and I will have some eight people in my house over the weekend. I will probably actually enjoy this, although the weekend will be exhausting, since I also plan to help out on Saturday morning some as well and I work video on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, I’ve also felt like I am fighting off sickness, so I really want to rest. We’ll see how much of that desirable commodity I can achieve.

Days like this leave me little time for textile-related activities at home. However, I’m a firm believer in preparation leaves you able to achieve much — so I carry my crossstitch with me to work for Wednesday meeting with the crossstitch lunch group and my sock knitting with me to Wednesday evening class at church. My quilt top also went with me to work today, but that was so I didn’t have to carry it all in one day, since Thursday is the day for the quilting lunch group. One way or another, I manage to fit something in, if I’m in the mood.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to introduce you to another project, but now I need to go to bed. Desirable commodity, remember?