Thursday, February 21, 2013

Doggie Bliss

Can we say spoiled???? I had about an hour break today between errands and decided to try my hand at making a "no-pull" harness for my beloved black lab, Bones. While he's attached at the hip to me when we're at home, he sometimes gets it in his thick skull that pulling when he's walking with me to and from the school in the afternoons is a great idea to pull me off course. He, he, he..... *evil grin*

So, I measured him using the 1" black nylon webbing that I have in my stash, and worked furiously to get it done before my next errand run. His first "try on" only included the top part. The second one went over his shoulders and under his chest. So far, so good.

THEN, for the next dry run, I included the chest strap (that has the clasp to lead the dog by). In order to do that, I had to clasp the parachute buckle that goes over his shoulders. Suddenly, he and my other two, lovable, adorable, but super-freakin' heavy pups decided that this was close enough to a true harness. Harness = walk. Walk = wagging tails and sticking noses in my face.

Unfortunately, if one dog goes, then all three WANT to go for a walk. This doesn't mean that all three get to go for a walk. Just means that they WANT TO. With these three, it means the following:

Bones: Rolls on his back as you try to latch a harness. Belly rub, too, Mom?
Sally: Very excited tail-wagging. Sometimes knocking stuff off of whatever surface it touches. Or into the walls. Also occasionally means the high-pitched notification bark that none of us like to hear from her. Ouch.
Panda: Cutesy husky mode. Tail curled up high, ears perked. HOWLING. Never fails. Bouncing and jumping everywhere.

So, I'm going with a dry-run of a potential harness, and I can't get any of the three of them to settle long enough to try it out on Bones.

I did finally get it completed (with trials), and got to test run it on each of them. Bones stayed more by my side than ever. Only a couple of sideways pulls, but not long or hard. Panda *shock-face* stayed calm and didn't pull. This isn't his usual operating mentality. He's the musher who pulls the sleigh, bike, wagon, whatever is behind him. Often this involves chasing a squirrel. We had a squirrel and a stranger as temptations during his trial run. No pulling (ok, a little, but nothing like normal where I feel I must get my shoulder set back into joint afterwards). Sally, she's such a special case all around. She's a bit unhappy with me right now. We couldn't go for her walk. The harness doesn't go down small enough to fit her slim chest. But what we did try it seemed to work for her. She didn't keep lunging when I turned to go back inside.

Overall, great test-run (and yes, construction and testing within an hour), and I have one working harness. Now to get the hardware to make two more custom harnesses.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Beans? Really?

I found a full 1/4 cup of dried beans this morning. That's not surprising  I know where the pantry is, and can tell you where the beans are.

The shocking part wasn't even the stray piece of elbow macaroni I found with the beans, or the straight pins I found. The issue with finding beans, macaroni, and straight pins all in the same location isn't even that surprising (any house with young kids has seen stranger things).

The LOCATION is the shock-inducing surprise of all of this. A completely FULL 1/4 cup of dried beans inside a sewing machine. Not inside the carrying case. Not in the accessory case. INSIDE the machine. Touching the motor. Correction, covering the motor (based on the placement of the motor and shape of the case. 

The lady to whom this machine belongs claims that when they had mice problems while living in Minnesota, they found all sorts of dried food items that they didn't belong (in storage totes, etc.). I didn't find any droppings anywhere inside the carry case, machine, or elsewhere. Thankfully. 

But yes, please, please, PLEASE! Keep little fingers, toes and teeth (human or not) away from your machine. No matter how thirsty you claim your machine is, I've never seen a sewing machine digest anything but sewing machine oil. Dry food typically doesn't count!

Ahhh....not Monday, but worth the wait! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Frustrations Alight

I'm wondering why today is Monday. Actually, for that matter, I'm wondering why Monday has to affect me so astronomically when it comes to what I want to do. 

Maybe by tomorrow, I'll have my energy to sew/craft back. This pile of thread is what I emptied and tossed after I dealt with 5 needle changes and multiple thread breakages, skipped stitches and such....yeah.....I had fun tearing all this thread off the bobbins......

On to more fun tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Rough Days, Beautiful Quilts

I have learned throughout the years that no matter what I feel about other people (anger, love, sadness, etc.), I never have those emotions towards the fabric or quilts I'm working on or done with. While they each have memories, quilts will never hold a harsh word. Thinking about the snowball quilt I gave my folks for Christmas, I am reminded that my mom called me multiple times the next several days that my quilt had brought her to tears over and over again.

My mom has memories as a child of sleeping and cuddling beneath the quilts her grandma made. In a one-room house, everyone curled up under the quilts and snuggled in for warmth. Those hand-made, and hand-quilted quilts had a softness and thickness that bring in feelings of comfort for her. For the quilt I'd promised to make, the only request that was made was that the quilting be spaced out. After purchasing and receiving several store-bought quilts over the years, my mom realized that they were just too stiff and the close quilting flattened the quilt and didn't "feel right" to her. 

I now keep that softness and feel in mind when I'm working on a quilt. It means that my quilting has to be spaced effectively to give my quilts that warmth that someone's going to want and need. 

I figured I'd also share a few pictures of the quilt I'll be listing in my Etsy shop in a few minutes. I kept the thoughts regarding "comfy" and "cozy" in mind with this one. The tan fabric is a solid that I've stitched rows of decorative stitches on with different threads. I then cut each tan square to make 4 triangles. I also made sure when I laid out the pieces to assemble this quilt that no "bow-tie" was created from the same tan square. 

I echo quilted around to make the bow-ties show through the pieced back. And yes, the strip of orange and blue through the center of the back is a bit "not straight". That was intentional. I wanted the comfy, home-pieced look that ensures you know that this quilt was made just for you!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sleepy, but Inspired!

I've decided that not only am I utterly and completely exhausted, I'm hitting my third or fourth "wind" (yeah, I lost count, sorry).

I tried to go to sleep earlier, but that obviously didn't work too well. After "napping" for about 30 minutes, I gave up. My emotions from yesterday's arguments left me imagining future actions I or others might take. So I took my emotions back to the sewing room. I've got an "aisle" set up in my room. Basically, there's two aisles in my room, making my total workspace work in a U shape. The aisle where I computer and sew and such always stays cleared out (how else could I relieve stress if it didn't?). The other aisle doesn't always stay so neat. Aside from additional fabric, buttons, and other notions that came in the Christmas batch of "stuff" cleaned from my mom's, grandmother's, and aunt's houses. I had to be cautious with this batch of stuff since some of it came from a cat- and smoker-friendly house. I ended up tossing some much-needed zippers, trims, and tapes because they just couldn't have ever gotten clean. But I found more buttons! I added them to the other 5 lbs of buttons I have no clue how I'll ever use.

And keeping my inspiration going, I've started trimming a 45 degree angle on my strips for a project for Saturday. I've decided that instead of taking a stack of 22" long strips and having waste won't work for me (these all came from fat quarters). So I've got half of them trimmed for the bias seams to get them joined into really long strips. I'll have 6 very long strips to take with me on Saturday, and I plan to have them all wrapped on tubes to keep them nice and ready for the quilting!

I've got plans today to baste one quilt and start/possibly finish quilting two other quilts today. Ambitious, right? I've also got plans to upload another quilt to my Etsy shop. I may have to pull the Garden Flower Lap Quilt out and shoot some better photos of it so it will move out. Take a look at it and see if you want it! I under-priced it, but I want it gone, and I've got bills to pay.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Emotional Quilting

Do you quilt when you're emotional? I do. I also quilt when I'm not emotional. But that doesn't make me any less involved in my quilting.

After having a very heated and argumentative discussion (you'll learn I'm not one to get into arguments often), I've found that touching the fabrics I'm working with and refocusing my attention on the task at hand works really well to calm my nerves, melt the stress, and give me an overall sense of achievement. Since I rarely win arguments with humans (arguing with the dogs? I only occasionally give ground), I've learned that arguments with my fabrics work so much better. 

"No, not you yet." 
"Ahhh, THERE you are!"
"Come on, lay flat!"
"Sweet heavens, you look fabulous!"

Is it that the fabric doesn't argue back? I don't know. But aside from catching tears that have fallen, my quilts pick up the random dog hairs that collects under my chair. They also pick up the bits of sand occasionally that the dogs have brought in from the yard (discussion for another day entirely). They also pick up memories. I can remember the arguments that have no meaning now except as a reminder of pain by a simple picture of a completed quilt made during that argument. 

My quilts also pick up names and lives of their own. After making a painstakingly-tough backing for "Girl Swirl", I tackled the applique and backing for the 'flannel monstrosity' that I have yet to properly name. There's the "Beach-Tones Stitch Quilt" and the "Garden Flowers" quilts that bring back memories of sitting working through the decorative touches, the quilting, and the events in my life during those quilts. Some time this year, I want to start pulling all the pictures of my quilts up to my website, and then start pulling some of them over here to the blog. I want to review what each meant to me then, and what each means to me now. 

There's emotion between the layers and in each locking stitch, whipstitch, sashing cut, or curved seam. I quilt when I'm emotional, but my quilting is also emotional.