Almost a one month romance w my Innova

It’s been about a month since the Innova long arm came to live with me. It’s been a romance of the worst sort. Wonderful from day one yet full of learning. Some of it frustrating. I’m sure a long armer with experience would know the things I have put upon myself by just jumping in and seeing what happens. I’ll have to take some pics of some awfulness that I self created.

The short list also known as the “slap myself in the head DUH!” List

Don’t move the sew head w the needle down.

It’s easiest to set tension if you have the same kind of thread in the top and in the bobbin.

Thin bobbin thread and thick top thread is very hard for a beginner to set the tension for.

Cheapi fabric is cheapi fabric. You get what you pay for.

It takes LOTS longer to quilt blocks than an all over edge to edge.

I hate ripping out stitches!

Husband likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner!

You can’t practice destroying quilts if you are out of town.

The Learning List a.k.a. Stuff I Figured out but could probably have learned by reading a manual or paying better attention in class

When quilting crosshatching with the autopilot don’t do the whole outlined hollow diamond shape, do half of it at a time. If you do it all at once you will get a royal mess and dense run stitching that isn’t very pretty. It ends up stiff thick and butt ugly!

Change your needle when things look crappy. For example, if the tension is right, and everything is right but for some reason it just all looks lackluster as if the stitches have wilted. CHANGE the needle.

Did I say BASTE?

The crosshatching tool in ABM Autopilot is really neat. But it doesn’t do a good job on areas that are shaped kinda like a C. It makes insane amounts of run stitching around the edges. I ended up with 1/4 inch wide dense stitching around a shape. The shape was three side of a four sided diamond that was hollow in the middle.

I’ll add more as I think of things.

Words to live by…

When I diagnosed with Stage 4 Liposarcoma, my world literally turned upside down. My family completely freaked out. I don’t think a lot of people talk about their experiences as the person who has cancer. But I will if you ask. It isn’t easy. But the outcome on the other side can be better stronger relationships and a lot more respect for each other.

I think cancer is harder on the family than on the person hosting it. And their difficulties handling it make them want to lean on you, when all you are trying to do is survive and understand. My personal daily measure of “support” (I called it my bucket) got really empty at times.

When you are first diagnosed, everyone seems to know what you “should do” and they do not listen to what you want to do. It’s like you are either already dead or suddenly incapable of any thought or action. Let me tell you, that just because you have invading cells puddled up and hiding in your body, you are NOT dead yet. You are NOT incapable, You are YOU! You need to stand up and have a voice and take care of yourself EVEN IF you family disagrees with your choices, and ESPECIALLY IF they won’t listen to you. It’s your body, you are hosting the invader and you can feel it’s effect. They can’t. This is one time in your life when it really is ALL ABOUT YOU.

Some of the most horrible things to deal with for me were:

  1. Some family members treated me like I was already dead
  2. Some family members would speak for me like I wasn’t even in the room, even though the conversation didn’t include them
  3. Some family members were so wrapped up in the idea of creating memories with me for when I died, that they didn’t consider my wishes or limitations
  4. Some family members who didn’t do the research on my disease thought they were experts and knew better than myself and my doctors about how to cure me
  5. Finding out who my real friends were
  6. Finding out that non glamorous cancers do not get much research funding, while others glamour types are over funded

Some of the most awesome things to happen to me

  1. Building a stronger relationship with my family
  2. Gaining respect from my family
  3. Finding out who my real friends were
  4. Meeting some of the most awesome medical personal in the world
  5. Being able to use my knowledge learned during 14 years of undergrad work in my multiple majors (I did a lot of pre-med biology classes)
  6. Cancer got me out of my shell and now watch out world!
  7. Life is short, you don’t know what might happen tomorrow, so LIVE it, LIVE ALL OF IT!

I once heard a fabulous blues song in smokey little blues bar owned by a dentist in Oklahoma city. I  learned that it was by John Coltrane and the chorus goes like this.

Sing hard, laugh hard
Give love a try
Work hard, play hard
I’ll sleep when I die

Shortly after my diagnosis, that chorus came across my view again. It’s been my motto ever since. Through cancer treatment and ever since, they have been some of the words I live by.

Why Quilting?

I learned to sew as a kid. My mom was a sewist and made my new blue jeans. Okay not jeans, but she did make me some clothes and also those irritating frilly underpanties that they made little girls wear in the mid to late 60’s. I still detest those things. Made my butt itch and the thought of them still does. I think they are coming back in vogue, brought back by mommies who were not subjected to the discomfort and indignity of those horrid little ruffled torture devices.

Talk about getting off topic! Anyway Mom sewed, cub scouts sewed, brownies sewed, I sewed some in high school. I actually took metal shop and woodworking because it was fun and interesting. I took home economics because the cool boys took it (cause they were told the cool girls took it) and there were cookies.

I even made a –gasp– batwing hippie top out of bandanas. Lets just say my foray into clothes sewing was a spectacular failure. But my Mom wished I was less of a tomboy and more girlie so she gave me a sewing machine of my own anyway. I dragged it across 28 states from Nebraska to Maine and back to Texas. I think I used it maybe 5 times to fix a torn something or other. The last 10 years it spent in a box in the garage. I was just not a sewist. I was gonna say sew-er but just couldn’t due to the pun.

Then I joined a non profit group and one of their things was a quilt show. I learned a lot about quilts and saw a lot of quilts. Didn’t feel particularly drawn to them though. They looked like they would take forever to do. But the history and stories about them fascinated me. So, due to,that exposure I started to notice them a lot more. I noticed how completely different people seemed to come together when it involved quilts. I noticed that quilts didn’t have to made of billions of perfectly pointy similar shapes. Then I saw a Jenny Beyer quilt, the one made of hand dyed fabrics with a dancing flowing woman who looks like,her soul has been freed. I saw more artist interpretive quilts…I was fascinated by them. Now this was something I could dig my mind into. I decided it was time to try it out.

Here I am three years later, two new sewing machines, and on my second longarm later, with a fabric sluts anonymous membership.. A quilter.

My first blog post

If you have seen my facebook page, you’d know I’m pretty honest. My mother doesn’t like my choice of language.. or more specifically the choice of words in my native language that I prefer to use. I find some words are just so juicely expressive that one must use the to fully ellucidate their meaning. So, yes, you’ll perhaps be exposed to some choice words if you choose to read or follow my blog. Not a lot, but certainly a few may slip out once in a while.

 

Making Gurwustraminer Vino

So, the French Cab I made in the spring has turned out absolutely fantastic. My wino friends say it is every bit as good as a 50 buck bottle at a nice restaurant.

With that success under my belt… Thought I’d try a white…

So here I am… I started this batch back in hmmm maybe June… I put the juice in the bucket, added the yeast, added elderberry dried blossoms, and measured specific gravity and all that.

Around the first week of September, I transferred the wine from the fermenter to a glass carboy. Tried to not get the gooky yeast paste from the bottom, and tried to not get the floaty flower blossoms. A bit of sludge and a few blossoms made it through the siphon , but no big deal breaker there, not enough to let it settle and do it again. Plan was in about 10 days to check the specific gravity daily and when it stopped changing, to clear the wine. Yeah!

Then… I forgot about it… As in really forgot about it. This morning Morning, the 29th of October… 8 weeks plus later, I went into the bathroom we never use… And saw my vino…. I’m not sure how 8 days tuned into 8 weeks… But it did.

So today is the day we add isinglass to clear the wine. Awhile back I bought this really cool wine whip gadget that you use on an electric drill. Last time I used it… Well I didn’t follow the shopkeepers instruction of go slow…

when using a wine whip….

Go slow longer then you need to, cause once the wine starts spinning… The CO2 will come out in a rush… After the initial offgassing, you can speed it up.

And, I found out that wine shop guys do know what they are talking about… oh boy, will it ever rush out. As a result of my first whipping attempt last January, I am now the proud owner of a designated wine making T-shirt complete with Custom Cabernet modern art splotches all over it.

Not wanting to add to my custom wine art tshirt collection, this time I drilled my whip slow, and slow… And slow… Then faster…faster… Nothing, no rush of gas… Just the wine is staring to look cloudy and muddy. Oh gosh, what did i screw up? I thought this was “clearing the wine”. I check my directions, check the Internet and call my store guy expert. Turns out that I’d left the wine sitting so long that it had off-gassed by itself. And the cloudiness is great and desirable at this point. The isenglass needs those old yeast particles floating around in order to make the tinier floaties bind to the big globs to make even heavier bigger blobby clumps which will soon sink to the bottom. This is how you get the wine really clear. Or, the wine guy suggested that I could buy a mechanical filter and skip the clearing. It only costs… (didn’t hear this part as I was admiring his ability to smoothly cross-sell and musing about having him train my shop employees on that very great and little understood art form.)

So I’ve whipped, isenglassed, and put the carboy back into the never used bathroom to sit for yet another indeterminant amount of time, before I rack it… I wonder if I’ll be able to give bottles away for Christmas?

[Republished with permission from myself, from Wine on the Porch, Oct 29, 2011]

Textile Artists and Jacobean Laundry Hampers

I’m drinking home-made cabernet sauvignon wine and thinking…

Funny thing happened today in my store. A nice lady came in and brought her daughter. I knew the nice lady was a potter and after much chatting I had the opportunity to ask the daughter what she did. She said she had a studio. She told me she was a textile mixed media artist. I thought that was a cool way to say “I like to make things and I don’t limit myself to just one kind of thing”.  I do too. My computer geekazoid cum sewing room with surround sound and an easy chair with shakers mounted on it serves as my World of Warcraft throne.

The wine has made me mellow and reflective. Three months ago, I got a new sewing machine. “The Husband” says I bought a new car and it looks like a sewing machine. Probably cause I bought the best. Best doesn’t come cheap you know! But what is a 40 something, no kids, good income, compulsive multitasker personality supposed to do? Why give some to charity and also give some to myself of course! I gave myself a Bernina 830 LE with all the bells and whistles to go with it.

I’ve been playing with all the cool gidgets and features. I took a class to get to know my new baby inside and out. Then I made two hawaiian shirts for me and my husband. I made a couple of little passport size purses for quickie outings where you don’t want a big heavy purse (like going to the bars or dancing).

The Bernina “car” embroiders, so I embroidered the employees names onto their Saturday shirts. I made photo frames for a baby shower coming up. I made a present for the bride for a wedding coming up (won’t post the pics of those until I give them away). I started a quilt.

And, I bought a LOT of fabric for a lot of things I want to make along with sewing accessories, patterns, notions and frew-de-fraws.

A “frew-de-fraw” is what my grandmother called the neat interesting stuff that you don’t really need but you want cause you just know you will be able to use it somehow and so it fills the draws.. and lo and behold you sometimes really use it. Once in a blue moon.

But my total justification for having bought this fine useful peice of high tech equipment for my tech toy geek room is… practical! useful! and need I say beautiful! I fixed, nay made, a hamper. I’m so dang proud of myself.

Fancy replacement laundry hamper
Jacobean Laundry Hamper

This was a fun useful project. The old store bought hamper liner blew out (literally clothing went pffft and popped out the side when the side seam blew out). Instead of making a boring old muslin replacement. I decided to dress this up a bit. Upholstery fabric in a great jacobean pattern fit the pattern. Now I won’t mind leaving this out when company drops in unexpectedly.