Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stupid back went out today and I'm hobbling around.  I'm about ready to give up.  I've done physical therapy, seen a back specialist and a chiropractor, have enough muscle relaxers/pain killers (not the good kind) to kill a horse and I'm back to the beginning of where I started.

As Meatloaf puts it quite eloquently, "Life is a lemon and I want my money back".

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The last post said I had figured it out right?  Ummm.  No.  While I got the pieces traced they aren't the right size.  Arghhh!

I have spent the whole week trying to figure out why I can't get it the right size and doing my cross stitch project.  I thought this design would move faster, but it's not.  I'm getting better at reading the pattern, but some of the symbols are hard to see because they are light green and all in the same area. Then I realized the section I was working on was done wrong and had to take out the stitches.

Long story short so I don't whine on and on is that I truly figured out all my issues and have this to show for it:

Not all of the leaves traced out right but everything fits perfectly.  The body and the feathers need to be hand traced to fit better together as they fit under so there are no space gaps.

Lessons learned:

1.  Make the Cut lets you print out the templates.  Had I know this, I would have figured this out sooner.  I kept changing the size of the pattern from 14 inches up to 14.75 and then it was spot on.

2.  Since my experience with Black Cat company has left me lost, I didn't know there was technical support.  I called up, had my problem solved within 10 minutes and drew out the pieces:

3.  She said I could use my 18x24 rotary cutting mat with my Cougar making any project SO much simpler.  She also said more mat sizes would be available soon.

4.  I was able to ask about some of the issues I had like why there wasn't a manual included or better instructions for starting.  She said the software was really new and that a manual wasn't available.  It's not a huge company like the Electric Quilt Company so it takes longer to get up and running.  They are working on one though.

The customer support and the Make The Cut forum are wonderful.  I just think there needs to be a start up letter giving some better explanations on how to set up the software and the machine as everything keeps changing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I am a genius.  At least for today.  I figured it out and made fusible web templates with my Cricut for "My Tweets" block four.

I checked to see if my practice pen and pen holder for my Cougar would fit into my Cricut.  It fit!  Well, at least it fit until the top of the pen hit against the left top of the Cricut.  The pen is flexible so it didn't mess up but after my test cut, I snipped off part of the top so it could slide easily.

Since the block is 14x14 and my mat is 12x12 I have to do the other bird and flowers on another sheet.  My Cougar could do it all except it doesn't work with Sure Cuts A Lot.  I have to do more editing in Make The Cut and for some reason the mat isn't as sticky on the Cougar.  It's also a pain to boot camp over to XP.  I'm so lazy.  Too bad I'm not enough of a genius to figure out how to make the Cougar work with SCAL2 and I don't think the owners of this software would appreciate me messing with it.

And I did remember to flip the design.  The pieces fit when I put them on top of the pattern.  I just need to fuse it all to the fabric.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I discovered that PC made pens for their cutter and bought a package.  I'm sure there's a way to fudge around the pen issues, but for now it will work.

I have tried to work with the Cougar cutter but right now it's overwhelming.  I had tried using a pen (it comes with a simple pen holder that only holds the test pen) but trying to put pieces on a mat designed for the Cricut is confusing.  The Cricut wins for now as it's simpler and much lighter to set up and put a way.

Erin's "My Tweets" whole block file must have disappeared from her blog when I went to download it via XP.  I may have to transfer the one I have on my Mac.  I know she was having measurement issues so she may have taken it down.

I imported the left bottom half of the pattern to Make The Cut and start working on the pieces.  After three weeks I'm sort of making my way through the program and understanding how it works.  I finally get what I want, put the pen in the Cricut machine and press the cut icon.

The machine starts throwing fits and spits out the mat and doing wacky things.  Great.  I probably just broke the stupid machine.  After a couple of attempts I realize (DUH) that the software is set for the Cougar.

After getting the right cutter set up, I got this:

Pretty cool!  I figure I could do this on fusible webbing making this so much easier except I had two problems.  The pen is too wide and for some reason not all the pieces came out the same size.  The two bottom leaves are so much bigger.  The rest of the pieces would fit much better if the pen had a thinner line.  But it works and it didn't take me all day to get this far.

Yeah.  I know.  Just tape the four pieces together and trace onto fusible webbing and forget the whole computer part of it.  The manic in me just won't let me give up with this idea.  Now to figure out how to fudge the pen issue.

Checking out Google and then will head to bed.  *Edited*.  After doing a search, I found that a guy has been cutting out out circuits with his Cricut.  That guy rocks admitting he even uses one.  If yours goes missing, check out your DH's man cave first to see if he's tinkered with it.  That guy needs to tell PC to make circuit cartridges and demand that PC stop suing 3rd party software so he can do his job.

I know alot of people are upset at ProvoCraft for their decisions but I'm beginning to really like my Expression.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I saw this cross stitch kit and HAD to have it.  I don't even particularly like cross stitch either so go figure.  what helped seal the deal was that it was 15 bucks.  Ya'll know where this going right?  I thought so.

I open the kit and there is a zillion threads.  I don't get the idea of a premade thread organizer since the threads just tangle up on each other on the bottom.  Yeah.  That works. NOT.  I bought a cheap plastic box that said it was made for organizing floss with cardboard thingies and got to work writing color/numbers on each one.  Some of the colors have up to 10 strands on them.  Trying to wrap them around a cardboard thing isn't working but I continue to plod away.  This is going to be so pretty once it gets done I told myself.

What started out as a very organized thread box has turned into a giant mess after a couple of days.  This sucks trying to cut the threads when you have so many wrapped around.  Try adding one strand from two colors and this is not fun.

What I also didn't realize is that the aida fabric squares are so small you can't even see them.  I'm blindly trying to stick the needle in/out of the fabric as I go.  I seem to remember the last cross stitch I had done years ago had bigger ones.  Oh..just checked the box, it's 18 count Aida fabric.  This is only part of the top skirt and a partial rose.  I had to literally rip out where I started with the bushes as I had done it wrong since the squares are so small.  You can see how small the squares are.

It's also stretching as I go and it didn't help that my cat climbed into the embroidery hoop last night making it stretch even more.   I know if you tighten it more, you stretch more of the fabric.

If you know the best way to organize this mess so I don't spend more time trying to find/cut/separate floss and more time stitching PLEASE let me know.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cougar Frustrations and Fabric

I'm beginning to think I wasted my money on my Black Cat Cougar.  It's just too much machine for my abilities.  It works beautifully so no panics there.  It's just me.  I can't even get a blade to sit right in the machine.  I had bought it primarly for quilting.  I had grand plans for cutting fabric and for applique.  It was going to make my quilting world perfect.  It was going to eat the Go! Cutter alive with it's capabilities. It was one of those "manic" purchases where you are convinced you NEED this item.

The machine is based on scalable vector graphics (whatever that means) so any hand drawing has to be converted.  EQ products must work on the same graphics as the cutter knows exactly what to do with them.  Maybe I should just put it away and use it for my EQ quilt designs.

So I have to import a drawing, change it over to SVG and then figure out layers and deleting stuff that I don't need.  I'm not good enough to truly know how to edit and by the time I'm done, I could have had everything traced and ready to go.

For some reason, the blade holder and blade that came with the Cricut work perfectly on that machine but I can't get the settings right with the Cougar holder.  It either scores the paper but still leaves marks on the mat or cuts so deeply it scores the mat.  It's not like I can go to the store and buy a new mat either.

Then it hit me, instead of trying to cut out templates, have the machine DRAW them on fusible webbing.  DUH.  It does come with an ink pen that fits in the holder and I got everything ready to go.  I hit cut and it draws out 3 designs and then starts eating the  right side as apparently I don't know the dimensions of the mat!  Make the Cut only has the mat for the Cricut on it and I haven't quite figured out where the true cutting area for the Cougar is on the software.  I don't think the Cricut has a pen holder.

On to better news.  My hand dyed fabrics came today!

I found Chris's blog Dye Candy and had to check out the Etsy store.  These will be perfect for my Fiesta quilt.  They are fat 16ths but they will blend in with my other fabrics perfectly.

I think I will put the Black Cat Cutter away and work on a color scheme for my quilt.  I'll try to work out drawing on my fusible webbing later.  If I can get it to draw on my fusible webbing right, it will make this quilt easier.  I would just have to cut around the shape.  At least I know how to work with fabric so I feel better.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Baby Alert!

After my last post I realized that I will have a 1-year-old baby coming with my mom and sister.  Now it's been a LONG time since I've had a baby in the house, but I know enough to baby proof and I had better get started.  No time for moaning and groaning now.

The last thing my niece did was cover herself in Vasoline.   She's SO proud of herself all nice and shiny in it.  Anything greasy better be moved up.  I have horrible visions of smearing herself in butter.

I've moved my sewing stuff.  I'm sure drawers are fascinating and finding stuff in them is even more fun.

I did some better vaccuming.  She'll find stuff you didn't know you had and stuff it in her mouth. LOL.

My sister said she has a thing for cat/dog food.  Ewwwww.  That's getting moved as well.

Oh.  And I had better put the Vasoline up where she'll never find it.  At least I hope she doesn't!
I talked to the police chief yesterday and he was aware of the problem with my neighbor's dogs.  He said he'd talk to them and try to come up with a solution.  Lucky has been quiet for two days and a night.  I'm very proud of him and I hope it stays that way.

Since it has been so quiet, I've been working on this:

I've run out of ecru and the blue yarn so I will have to go looking for more.  I'm still not sure I like the metallic yarn.

My system is on overload again.  I haven't wanted to do anything.  I'm staring at stacks of papers, house work that needs done, and yardwork that I can't seem to finish up.  I have a brand new machine that I've barely touched.  I haven't really done any quilting.  I just stare at the potential projects and walk away feeling dejected.  I thought buying the bright fabric for my Fiesta quilt would make me excited but it hasn't.  My mom is coming to visit tomorrow and I should be so excited but I'm not.  I'm just in slow motion and thinking just seems too hard to do right now.  I'm just staring at walls.  Welcome to the depression side of bipolar.

Having my mom here will help though.  She'll help me organize things and get me moving again.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

An Apology

I have taken down the previous posting.  I'm sorry that I offended some people.  Please know that I really do love animals.  I wouldn't shoot my neighbor's dogs.  As a commenter posted, it's not their fault and I know that.  Both are good dogs and it breaks my heart to see what I would call abused and neglected happen to them.  If I was capable of adopting "Lucky" I would.  I don't have the health or the ability to care for him.

You also have to know that I live rurally.  There is no animal control or a humane society to make a report. The police figure they have better things to do than make my neighbors take care of their animals.  Most of the people here are farmers and hunt all owning guns.  It's how they feed their families beside farming.  My frustrations are not meant for posting about anyone's feelings on gun control either.  There are plenty of forums to argue over that topic.  

I don't own a gun (BB or otherwise) and don't plan on it.  I don't hunt nor feel the need for a gun.  Guns don't solve problems.  They just create more.

I've put up with "Lucky" for two years barking across the street day and night.  All of the neighbors are fed up but there isn't really anything they can do.  Now that "Lucky" is right next to my window it's unbearable.  Add in the other dog crapping in my yard and barking along with "Lucky" when he's outside, I lost my cool today.

For anyone that deals with dogs that bark all day/night I'm sure you understand the frustration of not really being able to do anything.

Tomorrow I'll make a formal complaint (not that it will do any good) and let it go from there.  I promise there will be no shooting of any dogs.

I was shocked when the husband told me it was okay to shoot "Lucky".  I wish there was a way to make this work out better for the sanity of the dogs and all of us neighors that are fed up.  I really wish they would find a home for both out in the country where they can be loved and appreciated.  I don't get why people have animals and then refuse to care for them and let them bark all day/night.

I apologize for coming across as heartless or having people think I would actually shoot the dogs.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Bandit And Chocolate Milk

I usually don't put YouTube videos on, but after catching Bandit helping himself to chocolate milk, I had to show you.  I fell over in laughter.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Marseille White Corded Quilting

I finally made it up to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum today for the first time.  I had wanted to see this exhibit as I love whitework quilting.  The pictures I uploaded here do not do this exhibition justice.  You have to see it in person to see the exquisitness of the work done.  You'll have to click on the photos for more details.

I can't even imagine the time and effort it took to insert cording between two layers of fabric.  There isn't any batting, just cording throughout the entire work.  The stitches are immaculate and beyond anything I could ever do.

The one above is from Britain and the outside border is shown below.  There is cording between every stitch.

  The corner:

I love the texture on this piece between the flowers and the dots.

A close up of the medallion:
And the dots/flowers:

The earlier dated pieces have even more cording done.

This is a new piece.  I fell in love with the scalloped border.

They also made clothing:

Again.  If you get a chance, go and see the exhibit.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Update For This Evening

Not much to say.  I did find a fabric site and ordered fat quarters.  I hope they work.

Since DH had the day off and it's New Release Tuesday, we headed to Lincoln to pick up "Tron" and "Tron Legacy".  They only had a couple copies of "Tron" on Blu-ray so we were glad to get one.

After that we headed to the machine dealer to see if my Topaz was ready.  The part still hasn't come in as it's backordered.  They've had it 3 weeks now.  Who knows when I'll get it back.

While there, I checked out Brother's TOL machine.  It has a CAMERA to see what you are doing.  I want that feature on my machine.  Way neato cool.  I'll keep my Ruby though.

The best part about today?

I got some of my flower bed weeded and de-treed.  I haven't been able to do garden work in 5 years because my back will go out just bending over to pull weeds.  With physical therapy and a chiro, I made it a half hour.  I quit so I wouldn't over do it.  It's a huge mess with overgrown weeds and small twig trees trying to grow.

I'll work some more tomorrow for about a half hour as well.


Monday, April 04, 2011

"Fiesta de Talavera" Pattern

Woo Hoo!  It came!  I fell in love with the quilt in the "Quilters Newsletter" cover for Feb/Mar and ordered the pattern.  It's one of the few times I love the quilt on the cover and actually has a pattern.

As I was going through the directions, the auther said she used 80 different fabrics in nine different color families!  The blocks have up to 121 pieces with the border having 348 pieces.

It's not the applique that will kill me since there aren't any leaves, but finding fabric.

Lime Green
Hot Pink

I was online looking at fabric and realized that this was going to be really hard.  If you can't actually look at the fabric, it's hard to see what it is.  And remember my gripe about fabric having medium shades?  Every fat quarter set I looked at was nothing but MEDIUM fabric!  I also ran into SAME FLOWER different line and SAME DESIGN w/different color within a line.  So much for buying a fat quarter set(s).  

I don't need yards, just fat eights and quarters so that's easy.  It's just a quilt that I will have to pick up fabric as I go.

If you know of any online quilt shop that has a lot of fabric (not Hancock of Paducah or Fat Quarter store as I've looked) let me know.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Skins For Your Sewing Machine

Bernina has skins available for some of the their machines now.  You can upload one of theirs or make one of your own.  When I showed DH this feature, he wanted me to put this on my activa 210:

It doesn't look too bad.  The problem is the legality of it as the photo belongs to someone else.  But it is pretty cool.  For all the Clone Wars quilting fans, this is for you!

If you happen to like Star Trek, enjoy this one:

DH said the buttons can act as photon topedo hits when you are sewing.  Again, I'm pretty sure it's not legal to actually make this, but it would be pretty sweet.

I wish machines came with more personality.  It used to be that your sewing machine was a fine piece of furniture and had scrollwork and other designs that made it beautiful.

The Dumbing Down Theory

Dang.  I had no idea about this dumbing down thing on quilting that I've been reading on some blogs.

At the risk of being banned and beaten, I do think there is some dumbing down.  That doesn't mean quilters are dumb or lazy.  We are artistic.  We see color and design as an inspiration for our quilts.  We take risks and are constantly evolving in our skills.  We build each other up and inspire others with our talents.  We take every challenge and create works of art.  We are not dumb.  

The dumbing down is through the media via books, shows and magazines and even manufacturers.  Same style of books year after year, boring magazines with the same easy patterns, and same fabric lines just with a different name. Yawn and Zzzzzzz...

I don't want another book on 9-patches,  log cabins or machine quilting techniques that don't work or aren't advanced enough for me.  I understand that for new quilters, they are a treasure trove and I started with those same books as well.  But after being more advanced, there just isn't anything new out there.

Magazines carry the same patterns over and over with the same boring articles.  I want to puke over the ugly baby quilts.  Another 9-patch?  Come on now.  Another article on how to get an accurate 1/4 seam allowance?  You've interviewed lady X seven times now.

I don't have a problem with fabric tends.  What's old is new again.  If this year it's browns, I can work with that.  But if I see the same brown flower on every bolt I pick up in different lines, forget it.  My biggest issue with fabric is that most of it is in mediums.  That makes it very difficult if you need lights and darks.  I also hate fabric lines that have same print, different color.

TV shows/webinars are visual representations of those books and magazines.  What's worse is when they become an informercial on a specific brand of machine or tool.  I don't want be sold on anything.  I want information.

I would LOVE books on fabric history, design, how patterns evolve, the people/cultures surrounding those quilts.  I have a book called "Quilted Gardens: Floral Quilts of the 19th Century" that does just that.  It's one of my favorite books and I have it on my Kindle.  If there are more out there, they aren't in stores.

I hate feeling restrained and trapped by the quilting media out there.  There is more access to information than every before, but none of them use it.  

You as quilters are my true inspiration.  The creations you show online, your ideas, your love of quilting,  what you do with the fabric that I hate, the support you all give me when I'm feeling down make every book and magazine obsolete.  The internet transcends any physical media and brings us all together making us the smartest people out there.

That's my take on the "dumbing down" theory going around and I'm sticking to it.      

Friday, April 01, 2011

I have been productive over the past couple of days.  Really.

*  I dumped out another quilt project that just wasn't working like I wanted it too.

*  I got my cutter to cut out templates for said dumped project.

* I started cutting out pieces for a table runner but got bored.

* While at a LQS, my girls decided they wanted some Minkee box kits to make their own quilt.  Turns out this company doesn't know how to make consistant 19 inch squares.  Same with the strips.  My girls don't care and they sewed them together by themselves.

Here's a pic of the one that is finished:

Minkee fabric is really heavy so I sewed the rows, but my 12-year-old sewed the blocks into rows.  She did really good on the accuracy. I had to fix a few seams, but considering this stuff is a pain, I'm really proud of her.

* While working with the fabric, my baby Bernina seemed to have tension issues.  Actually; it's had tension issues for some time, but I've just ignored it because the place I got it at didn't seem competent to fix it.  Now that they are out of business, I took it to another shop.  Turns out the timing was off some, but he insisted the tension was fine.

* Dealer tried to sell me a 4000 dollar machine.  Umm.  No.  I'm a Viking gal and I ain't changing sides.

If you got this far, the best part about going to the dealer was.....

They were having a quilt show by a local lady from the Lincoln NE guild.  While looking at the quilts I realized that she had used invisible thread for her applique.  I took a closer look since I've never seen what it looks like.  No way.  Hers was truly INVISIBLE and quite delicate looking.  Not anything like my disaster of an attempt.  It was beautiful.  I need to find this lady and hold her hostage until she teaches me how it's done.

As I looked at how she finished edges, I saw what a really small zigzag looks like.  Again, nothing like my clumsy attempts, but it looked beautiful as well.  I should have used the camera on my phone and taken pictures.  Darn.  Too bad I didn't think of that at the time.  

The other inspiring part?  After going through the quilts, I realized that I'm pretty darn good myself.  I'm not showing off, but I didn't feel intimidated looking at them as I've done some of the same quilting techniques.  Other than the applique techniques, they looked just as good as hers.

I think most of us quilters have a hard time realizing how good and talented we truly are.  If you are like me, the pedestal seems so high up there.  What we don't realize is that we are standing on our own pedestal and working our way up to the next.

I have been so down on myself lately.  I can't seem to get motivated and I anything I start just seems daunting after awhile.  After yesterday, I do feel better.

Now to call back the Bernina dealer, demand the lady's name and find a way to hold her hostage until she shows me how to do invisible applique.