Beginnings…

Thank you all for the kind words of encouragement I received, both here on the site and via email, after my last post. It’s heartwarming to know that others do understand and that I’m not alone! Looking back a bit, the irony of this post following hard on the heels of this one is not lost on me. I still feel quite ambivalent about it all really, but at this point any decision seems better than no decision at all and if it turns out to be the wrong one later, so be it. I can live with that, because it’s not like it hasn’t happened before, right?

Onward! When I look at all of this “stuff” I have in my studio, I find it rather sad that it’s all sitting here in the dark, not being loved and used and inspiring. It was all inspiring to me at one time; a piece of beautiful fabric could (and did!) inspire whole quilts, and the texture and color interaction of embellishment materials could be the start of entire sets of Inchies. Just because it isn’t inspiring to me anymore doesn’t mean that it should sit in the dark until the end of time however. These lovely bits and bobs should be getting used and loved by someone, and to that end I’ve started creating bundles for my shop. Continue reading

Horn MultiLift 6000: 252 Pounds of Pure Quilting Bliss

For many years–okay, for all the years that I’ve been quilting–I’ve wished for a table that was specially made for sewing machines, where my machine would sit down in the table so that the machine bed was level with the table top. I think this can be so much better for machine quilting, though obviously, I’ve been getting along just fine without this table for 20 years! Still, most of the reason that I didn’t ever invest in such a table was because we were living in Germany, and that kind of furniture wasn’t all that readily available there, and what there was seemed a lot more expensive than what you could get here in the US at the time.

As soon as I was partially settled in the new house though, I started thinking about that table, and looking around to see what was available these days. Of course, the first thing I found that I was really excited about was a bit bittersweet.

MultiLift 6000

Awesome table, but when I called the local Horn of America dealer to check on pricing, the conversation went something like this:

Me: Can you tell me the price on the Horn MultiLift 6000 please?
Dealer: Sure, just a sec. Hmm, yes, the MSRP on that is five thousand—something something something (she said exactly what the MSRP was, but I quit listening at the five thousand part).
Me: Oh, okay. (rather weakly…)
Dealer: However, we always sell for 25% off the MSRP so that would actually be three thousand, eight hundred—something something. (yeah, I quit listening again…).
Me: Ah, hmmm. Continue reading

Easy Come, Easy Go

We are somewhat settled in The Estates (must think of a better name for this abode at some point, but for now, this works!), or as settled as we can realistically be when it’s only two weeks after moving day. There have been lots of changes, mostly for the better, and then some of the changes that I planned for got changed, so life is still a bit upside down.

The new house is truly a gem. We’re a bit hesitant to be very enthusiastic about it all just yet considering that we thought Matchstick Manor was pretty great when we moved in there and it was only after living there for a month or so that its faults, some minor and some not, started to become apparent and it went steadily down the smelly drain from there. It’s hard not to be happy with the new place though since it’s got so many nice extras and it’s built so well, so we just keep adding “so far” to all of our glowing compliments about it. I think we’re subconsciously waiting to discover some awful flaw that will tarnish our shiny new find.

The differences between this house and the last one are both amazing and huge. This is the kind of house we should have been living in all these years, but we couldn’t find one that we could afford to rent. I could go on for a few posts about it all, but the thing that’s uppermost in my mind today is the awesome separate studio I was supposed to have in the small house. Yep, you read that correctly: supposed to have. My shiny new studio has morphed into a much smaller attic type room in the main house that currently is so full of boxes that it’s going to be difficult to unpack and get organized. Easy come, easy go. Continue reading

Patchwork Times: Ruby slippers and a gift from the house gods

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you may have read that the house hunt is on again. I’ve decided that I really can’t peacefully coexist with spiders that are 3″ across! No lie! They really are THAT big when spread out, with bodies to match; more like tiny tarantulas than house spiders I tell ya’! There have been others since the last time I wrote about the spider issue, and in fact they’ve only gotten bigger since then. We have no idea how they get into the house, or where they’re hiding before they show up on the walls or the floor at unexpected times.

Honestly, this house is so full of defects and actual holes that we couldn’t possibly ferret them all out to close them up to keep the house anywhere close to spider-free. When you consider all the other issues we’ve had with the house and the exceedingly freakish and totally unhelpful landlords, the spiders are just the straws that broke the camel’s back. We’re done, and we’re moving on! Continue reading

Patchwork Times–Book Report, Car Dealers and Climate Control

After a pretty productive week last week on The Book, I feel like this week may get away from me entirely until Friday. The minutiae of at least two weeks of life is condensed into this one week, with “something” to do each day. I did manage to finish one of the biggest projects in the book over the weekend, and I’ve made great progress on the next biggest. Once these two are out of the way, I’ll feel a lot better about how quickly the manuscript will get done.

ITMan and I spent the entire day today (and I really do mean the entire day, from 7:45 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.) dealing with car maintenance. Both cars needed their winter tires put on and oil changes, as well as a couple of smaller fix-its and warranty repairs, so we just used his day off to get it done. It might not have taken quite so long had the service department not lost the keys to the Mustang. Yes, they LOST the keys and the transmitter to my car somewhere in the service area. Good thing I had a spare key with me. They didn’t find it until we’d been gone a full hour; they sent me home with a brand new key and transmitter, but now I’ll have to go back at some point and have the original key, and my other spare, reprogrammed since I guess they won’t work now that the whole system has been reprogrammed. Sheesh.

Despite being in the Ford dealer’s waiting area all day, I got a surprising amount of work done on The Book. I took the laptop with me, plugged in to their power and did drafts of the instructions for two of the quilts in the book, so it wasn’t a completely wasted day like it could have been. The trip back over there to take care of the key mess will be wasted time, but at least it’s not a “have to do right now” thing…

Backing up a bit: Sunday was the day to head to the Holiday Bazaar in Heidelberg, and shop for foody gifts to mail back to family in the States, but the entire thing was really just a bust. The vinegars and oils that we usually send back won’t be going this year, as the vendor was all out of the good stuff before we got there. I’ve no idea what that means for the family Christmas boxes, and I don’t even really have time to think about it too seriously at the moment. I’m waiting and hoping for inspiration to hit.

Then on Monday I had to be a nice Mommy and take Guitar Girl back to the bazaar, since she worked all weekend and wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise. It was a bust the first time around, but maybe I spent more time just perusing the aisles on Monday (since I knew there wasn’t any of the “must buy” stuff there anyway), because I did find a couple of other cool things, including these:

Wonnie slippers

Woohoo! Slippers that you put in the microwave and then put on your feet! Awesome! I used them this evening, and they are perfect. Though I LOVE my quilt studio, it has absolutely no insulation up here and it’s freezing even now (and it’s not even deep into winter here), so my feet are always cold (and don’t get me started on how bad this room up here is when it’s windy outside. brrrr.). The radiators are so weak and wimpy up here that they don’t even deserve the name, so there’s no such thing as climate control here unless you count slippers, socks, sweaters and scarves.

The Wonnie slippers have flax seeds and herbs in them so they smell nice when heated, and are wonderfully soft and soothing. You can’t walk in them, so it’s a sit-and-relax type of thing, but I did figure out how to run the sewing machine at the right speeds for machine quilting with them on. So I now have another climate control option for my feet!

Here’s Shadow’s version of climate control:

Shadow's climate control

He’s always been a chilly little thing, and since there’s not an ounce of fat on him he has no insulation. What he’d really like is my lap 24/7, but failing that, he camps out by this space heater that’s sitting by my computer chair all day long, as long as it’s on. He turns over once in a while, to roast the other side evenly. We’re both a little warmer now, at least!

The Organized Cutting Table

I’ve spent years with a cluttered, unorganized cutting table with all of its essentials either laying around or slung in baskets, and wishing there was a better way. I always wanted pegboard, but never had a place to put any. I finally have it, and here are some pictures I took a couple of weeks ago:

Cutting table organization with pegboard

And the other side:

Cutting table organization with pegboard

I’ve had the whole shebang set up and organized for weeks, and I had the idea just after I got moved in and really settled in this Studio, so this has been a long time in the making. Ikea and pegboard, what a great combo! The chest of drawers is cheap Ikea furniture that I’ve used for fabric storage and a cutting table for years, but it’s always been stuffed between other pieces of furniture so that I couldn’t access the sides.

Now that I can put it in the middle of the room, the sides were wide open, and just begging for pegboard to hang all the rulers, cutters and associated tools. I had to have Dawn take a trip to Lowe’s for the pegboard and hooks, have the pegboard custom cut to size, and then mail it all to me from North Carolina, would you believe. I looked all over the Internet for some place that would send pegboard here after the guys at the German hardware stores just looked at me like I had a third eye when I asked if they had wooden pegboard. “Metal, yes, wood, no such thing” was their answer.

It’s all worth it though. Now I have easy access to all the cutters, scissors and rulers, and see that little blue thing on the pegboard in the second photo? That’s a pencil holder that Dawn thought would be handy, and it rocks! I can put a small pair of scissors in there, and pencils and pens, and there’s a little shelf sticking out on the front that holds my favorite fabric eraser (that I use for paper, not fabric, btw; best eraser ever). Thanks Dawn, you’re the best!

The only thing I still need to do is to get a better “topper” for the chest, to go under the 24″ x 36″ cutting mat. Get this: I’ve been using an antique mirror that belonged to my grandparents since 1994 when I bought the cutting mat. The mirror is still wrapped in the brown paper from the movers that moved us here to Germany from Las Vegas; we never even tried to hang it up because like many old mirrors, this one is heavy! ITMan never wanted to try to figure out how to keep it from falling off the wall!

So the mirror has served another purpose all these years, as a table top for the cutting table. The brown paper is starting to shred on the edges, so it must be time to do something else! ;) Maybe I’ll request that ITMan take a trip to the hardware store and have something better cut to size while I’m in Des Moines, but I’m not counting on it being high on his priority list! He probably has enough to do…