Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lola -- L O L A -- Lola!

Can you hear the music in your head?
I'm thrilled to say that Lola moved in with us in early October. She is a HandiQuilter Avante with no fancy computers -- just tolerant of my learning curve and a great temperament. I am living my dream with my own long arm. I never thought I would have one and so this is the best ever.

I have been so fortunate in my quilting world. I first had LogCabinQuilter who trusted me enough to train me on her Gammill and then rent the machine to me. At that point, I could only do loops and those weren't very good. I could not fathom pantographs and how to line them up so I frequently paid her to finish some quilts that were important to me.  Particularly when wonky loops weren't right.
I then was lucky enough that MacQuilts gave me complete access to her home (when she was there and when she wasn't) and I used her Gammill (Sadie). I was able to make progress in my quilting and learn to do more things. After moving to Kentucky, I went back frequently for quilting marathons and to see friends. I have been known to quilt six quilts in 2.5 days. Yikes - did my shoulders and knees hurt for a few days - plus I had a 7.5 hour drive to and from! But again - more generosity and trust.

After getting settled in Kentucky, MonkeyMamaQuilts opened her doors and gave me free rein on her HQ16 (Ethel -- she also has a more sophisticated Fusion with a computer who is named Loosey). I was able to start working on my backlog of tops and get back to a more regular schedule of long arming.

Fast forward to August or September when Mr Iquiltforfun and I were talking about how wonderful it would to have my own long arm so I could improve my skills. When you are invading someone else's home, there is a bit of pressure to get in, get it done, and let them get back to their lives. That was completely internal and my issue. Not theirs. They couldn't have been more accommodating for those times when I had to leave a quilt on their machine and come back later.
The other complication here is that it meant the machine would have to go in the living room. I love my living room. It has great morning light. It is separate from the family room and kitchen and there is a bit of privacy. And, the idea of taking over our "parlor" was a stumbling block for me. Never mind that EVERY single member of my family told me I should make the living room my studio before we ever moved in the house. But I couldn't. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I realized last summer that we had not entertained in there once in the two years we had been in the house!  Not once!

So -- Lola is in the living room and having a couch is quite convenient when I need to ponder next steps. Am I getting better? Not yet. Am I trying new threads and new techniques and playing when I want to? I sure am! I have no intention of starting a business and taking on the pressure of showing good faith in making a profit nor working on someone else's masterpiece. MacQuilts said it best when she told me one time that I would go nuts trying to fix someone else's mistakes and would hate every minute of it. And she's right. I'm happy to do charity quilts for a few people. I'm happy to share Lola with friends and family who might want to use her. I'm happy to learn about tension and know that the world won't come to an end if I mess it up!
This was a challenge quilt from fabric that MacQuilts bought for Mom22smartchix and me about two years ago. I love this fabric by Andover Fabrics. And I had enough to make two quilts. This is the first one and the quilting is called "continuous curves" (or CC). This quilt is symbolic of what it means to have my own long arm. This took forever!  It looks easy and it should be.  But it is not easy for me to be consistent so most of these were done with a template and very carefully for a number of reasons. I would never ever have been able to do this on someone else's machine. I sometimes worked for 10 minutes before church. I sometimes work for three hours. I sometimes didn't work at all if I wasn't on my "A" game since I'm a bit intimidated by ruler work. But, it's finished! I often would go into the living room and just look at it.  The texture when the light was right made me ever so happy.
And Lola makes me ever so happy!  Now when I want to see my friends, I can "visit" and not engage in a quilting marathon.  That also makes me ever so happy!

I hope there is something in your life that is making you ever so happy!


AND -- as an aside -- here's something to make you ever so happy!

Have you heard?  Keepsake Quilting is giving away fabric for 20 years to one quilter!  How about that?

All you have to do is click on this link to enter.  It's simple. It's fast. And it could mean fabric for the rest of your life -- or at least 20 years!  Give it a go….and enjoy!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Quilting Olympics!

Seriously -- I feel like I'm in a marathon--a quilting marathon.
I'm happy to say that I have one more Lollypop block appliqu├ęd!  I'm not quite as happy to say that I have no more in the pipeline that are ready to start stitching.

What I do have is a huge mess in my playroom.  I have fabric all over the floor which is actually working better than when I tried to sort by color.  This quilt has 16 lollypop blocks and 32 smaller border blocks.  I have a total of five quilt blocks and two border blocks done.  Completely done!

I have spent the last 2-3 weeks working on laying out the remaining 11 quilt blocks.  It is a slow slow process for me and I have six blocks with fabrics selected and the components cut out and completely prepped.  They are ready to spot glue to the polka-dot fabric.  My goal is to get all 11 quilt blocks (and border blocks) prepped and then have a gluing marathon.  I do think there is some "economy of scale" in the assembly line approach as I remember my "tricks of the trade" and don't have to refresh and re-learn each time I start.
Either way -- it's slow.  The fabrics are beautiful.  It's a little overwhelming.  And it's rewarding to finish one and see the pile get a little smaller (of course, another pile is getting larger at the same time).  I'm beginning to miss it which is a good thing.  But right now, I can barely get to it for fabric all over the place!  You can see here what "fussy cutting" does to a quarter yard cut.  It took me a while to reconcile my need to save fabric with the obvious design requirements for this particular quilt!

I hope you are having a rewarding time creating something wonderful!


PS -- thanks to all for your comments and spontaneous prayers for the young couple I mentioned in my last post.  As I understand it, Ethiopian adoptions will continue and they remain somewhere on the list to increase their family one of these days.  Very exciting!