Friday, July 26, 2013

Doing the Runaround

I was thinking about taking the kids up to a couple state parks along Hwy 2 to get a couple geocaches, but since I had some errands to run today and my knee spazzed on me yesterday (I'm starting to have trouble with stairs, and yesterday it buckled, which hurt...a lot), it didn't happen.  A trip to the bank to deposit some checks, only to realize that I left my purse at home...trip back home.  Trip BACK to the bank to deposit some checks... UGH!  I also stopped by the sew & vac to drop off my machine for servicing--good thing I've got the extended maintenance agreement on it.  It's due for its annual cleaning (for the first time in 2 years) and the stitch regulator is acting funny, too.  I don't know if they needed the handle part to test it...hope not.

Bekah came over for dinner, as she does most Thursdays, and we spent some time on projects.  Today we worked on sewing stuff--she did some embroidery and I fixed an undertunic that I goofed when I made it.  I made the neckline too low...a little as a temporary measure, I raised the shoulders but that, in turn, made the armpits a little snug.  I took it all apart, trimmed down the shoulders and reassembled it.  It took a little adjustment, futzing, and swearing, but eventually it came together.  I have a few other garments that need some fixing, and I need to make a few more pairs of undertrouse and perhaps another couple lightweight apron dresses for hot days.  Ben desperately needs some new tunics and the girls could use a couple new ones, too...although every time we've gone camping in the last two years, Emma has managed to sleep over at her friend's house instead.  Sneaky.  I'd like to figure out how to make some garments that can grow with the kids--something too long that can be hemmed and let out, or have rows of fabric added on the bottom as they get taller.

I gotta wake up early tomorrow to take my car in.  I need to get the oil changed, have my brakes looked at, check the alignment again, flush the radiator, and recharge the air conditioner.  Hopefully it won't cost a mint.  It probably will, though.  Since we just got new tires a couple months ago and replaced several other things in it over the last year or so (thermostat, water pump, serpentine belt, etc.), I'm hoping to keep it running a bit longer.  With over 125K miles on it, I'm nervous about how much longer Old Tom will keep chugging along, especially in our upcoming vacation...we don't have the extra $400 a month for a car payment now, and I'd hate to have to get a job just to pay for a car.

The quilt business isn't making that kind of money for me...even still.  I have a couple new clients, but if they only make one or two quilts a year, it'll take a long time to reach that level.  Part of me is playing with the idea of quitting the business officially.  I do a bunch of quilting, but almost none of it is for me, which I miss, and the income is not enough to make it worthwhile some months.  At the end of the year, when we do our taxes, the accountant raises his eyebrows and says, "Uh...if it's not profitable after five years, you start risking an audit..."  Yeah, well, there's not much to audit.

But above all, I'm just tired.  Too many irons in the fire, not enough time to do anything well.

OK, enough depressing thoughts for today.  I'm off to bed so I can spend a lot of money on my car tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Whoops Day!

Hump day turned into Whoops day.

I didn't get the sleeve sewn onto the Stars and Chains quilt...didn't even go find some fabric to make the sleeve.  Time slipped by and it just didn't happen.  Whoops!

I figured I'd get a chance to do it tonight and be ready to turn it in Thursday morning.  Then I got a phone call during dinner...where were my quilts and was I planning on showing them this weekend?  Uh....I thought they were due tomorrow!  Nope...they HANG them tomorrow, but they NEED them TODAY!  Whoops!

I started quilting the third of the customer quilts that I needed to have done by Saturday.  Loaded it up, selected the thread, and started quilting.  I checked the back, but not good enough.  After the first pass, I turned the quilt and found that the tension was all off.  Whoops!

I spent another hour tearing out the stitching so that I can re-stitch it.  I was able to (mostly) retrace my stitches.  It's now ready for Kathy C.

After Ben and I delivered the quilts to the show site, we went to find four Geocaches in town before it got too dark to search for more.

quick note to catch up

The four quilts for the show this weekend are almost done and ready to go, labeled, bound, and with hanging sleeves...OK, missing one hanging sleeve, but that'll get done tomorrow.  I don't have to be anywhere in the morning, so I have a few hours to get that done.  I just have to find some more fabric to create the sleeve.

I also still have one more quilt--the last of three--to get done by Saturday for a customer who will meet me at the quilt show.  It's sitting in a box, waiting for me upstairs.  I'm heading up shortly to get it on the frame.

Yesterday, Cammie and Ben went to a "Messy Party" where they played all kinds of games and activities that were messy and fun.  They did chocolate syrup facials, bobbing for bananas, eating donuts off a string (hands free), and more.

Other than that, it's been a really busy, but not really anything worth reporting.  We're making plans for our summer trip, making reservations at hotels and activities along the way.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Last Chaotic Day of the Summer?

I'm hoping that today was the last day I will experience massive chaos for the summer.  Trip for two to Children's for a mini check-up and research in the form of an ultrasound of Mr. B's liver, a common ailment with CF patients and they are trying to determine genetic or conditional factors, so they're checking healthy patients to see what they find.  Turns out he was supposed to have an empty stomach for 4 hours prior to the scan, and although he didn't eat breakfast, he had medications in the morning and his night feed kept pumping until 6:30 or so.  At best, he had 2 hours free of food prior to the test.  Granted, the thing pumps the feed at a whopping 75 mls an hour, which is about 1/3 cup an hour.  Woo.  Hopefully it won't negate any of the findings.

Miss E needed to do a lung function test and check her weight.  She had lost about 5 lb. at the last appointment, and this time she gained about 3 lb. back.  WOOO!  She also improved her lung functions back to 100%, although she HAD been well over 100% in tests previously...we need to keep working on compliance with medication.

Racing back to town for driver's ed seemed like a futile effort given the distance and the time parameters, so we broke for lunch after a quick trip to the book store.  After picking up a half-dozen new books, we zipped over to a favorite sushi place.  Ben and I had a few plates of goodies, and Emma had as many plates as he and I combined.  We razzed her a bit and the chef was stunned at the amount of food she put away.  TEN PLATES?  Yep.  We're going to have to do a financial background check on her future dates.  She's not one of them salad-eatin' chicks.

We wandered back home for a bit and Cammie came home for lunch from her Girl Scout meeting.  They discussed doing their first Cadette badge, "New Cuisines".  This includes making a dish from another country, making a dish from another region of the US (think "Southern Home Cookin'"), a dish from another time period (welcome to "Take a Thousand Eggs or More"), cooking a dish that 'makes a statement' (whatever that means!  OK, I looked it up--they want you to make a home made version of a processed food, or make a dish from a cookbook and replace ingredients for religious, health or allergy reasons), and share your dishes on a 'culinary tour' by hosting a potluck party.  Since my younger kids love to cook, and the other scout, Miss J., is from a 1st generation East-Indian family, they have this one in the bag.  As part II of their meeting, my co-leader took the girls on a grocery run to an Indian grocery store and an Asian grocery store.  Cammie came home with a few new things to try cooking at home.

Ben, on the other hand, learned how to make grilled cheese sandwiches for himself.  I showed him *once* how to do it, and the next time, he made a perfectly grilled sandwich.  I had to get a picture of it.  Look at the golden color on this thing!  He also microwaved a scrambled egg for a little extra protein.  Look out, Gordon Ramsay!

As I mentioned before, I volunteered to make beads for the An Tir Lampworkers Guild, taking on the Kingdom of Drachenwald and the Kingdom of Trimaris.  These strings of beads will be given to the Royals of these two kingdoms at Pennsic War at the end of July and beginning of August.  Bekah helped me make about 1/3 of them, but I finished the rest of the beads the other day.  Some of them turned out really cool...I'm so excited about making more for myself or to give out as teacher bribes for Ithra.  They don't cost a lot and they're a lot of fun!  I can also put some onto Gypsy Caravan's table to sell, I suppose.  I know he doesn't normally sell that kind of jewelry, but he does carry other necklaces.  Maybe I could work something out with him.

I found out about a cool Geocaching challenge that was set by the Washington State Parks to visit as many parks in a year as possible.  More than 100 state parks have had a special cache hidden, and once you find it, you stamp your passport with the stamper provided (each one is unique, so you can't just stamp it with anything and fake it).  If you make it to 50 parks, you can submit your passport and receive a silver commemorative coin.  With 100 stamps, you get the gold coin.  Of course, I'm getting in on this half-way through the year, so I'm missing out on some travel opportunities, but also limited on cash and time.  I finally made it to my first cache at St. Edward's Park in Kenmore.  It took far too long to find it--the GPS took us in entirely the wrong direction several times.  I should have listened to my Geo-senses and gone right to that funky tree that Ben was climbing all over.  After we finally got our stamps, we finished following the trail around and found this very cool tee pee constructed out of sticks.  Ben climbed right in and this demanded a photo.  There are at least 8 parks located north of us (more, if you leave the mainland or travel to the peninsula or go farther afield), so I hope to take a day or two and get a bunch of them, and I hope to take the opportunity while traveling a bit this summer to pick up a couple more.  Looks like there's 7 or 8 along I-90 alone.  If we get a chance to stop at all these, I'll be giddy!

We'll see how long I can hold my breath, right?

Chances are, I'll only get to 25 or 30 at most.  But it would be fun to try for 50.  Just cause.

Tomorrow I hope to clean out those beads of all the bead release and then sew a binding on a king size quilt.  Karate in the afternoon, but I don't have any plans to leave before that.  Yey!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

More Busy Days

Yesterday was about as much chaos as I could handle.  Appointments from 10 am to 7:30 pm kept me running all day with barely a moment to relax.  OK, the first two hours I spent some time Geocaching with the little kids, then it was dentists, karate, driving practice, and more karate.  Today's GC adventure required a pair of tongs and a loooooong reach for a magnetic watch battery sized cache.  The second one is apparently hanging off a pedestrian bridge, which I am going to try again to find tomorrow.  I was very close to having it in my hands, but I ran out of time before I explored all avenues.

I've got some deadlines looming still, and I have to be at home for just a few days to get caught up.  I have a flannel quilt to finish, about 15 more beads to make, and two tunics (which I've been told I can send late if necessary).  I also have to but a binding on a quilt for the show at the end of the month.  A giant quilt.  King size.  It's going to take some time to sew down the binding on the back as well as get a hanging sleeve on it.

Today I made a few beads:
Mine are all the blue and white ones.  The other three were made by Bekah.  I posted the first picture on my FB page and of course, everyone is gushing about how pretty the black, red, and yellow ones are.  Ah well.  The swirly ones are really cool.  Bekah said she saw someone making ones like that and I had to try it.  The first one (on the right) was a little...meh...and I thought I needed to make fewer and bigger blobs...and it WORKED!  The center line got all squiggley!  It's awesome!  I'm going to try it tomorrow in the three colors and see how it works with those.

After I finish the red quilt.

Off to sleep for a few hours before the day gets off to a crazy start tomorrow.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Crafting up a Storm

While I'm not a big fan of the term "Crafting" since in my mind, it implies hot glue guns and toilet paper rolls...a la Martha Stewart...but I'm working on more than one kind of skill, so it applies.  Now that my back is feeling better, I'm catching up on my work check list, which is rather long right now.

In no particular order, these are the quilt tops that I'm working on for customers.

Kathy C. gave me three quilts, two of which I have now finished.  This one is the one she wanted first for some kind of auction, but her emails have been bouncing, saying that I'm "spam".  Even though I'm replying to her email to me, it bounces back.  Frustrating.  I was able to contact her daughter-in-law, who has passed on the message.  In the meantime, it's living here with me.

This is Kathy C.'s second quilt, which doesn't look nearly this blurry in person.  I'm having trouble finding a good place to hang these things in my house so that I can photograph them.  I'm thinking about rigging something up in my living room to hang in front of the quilt that's there--some kind of bungees hanging from the 1 x 2 that is nailed up on the wall.  The only problem is that the front room has some rather poor lighting, so I'll have to remedy that as well.  I haven't started the third quilt yet.

Marlys, the mother of a customer who contacted me a few weeks ago to work on two baby quilts, asked me to quilt up this piece for a grandson who is going off to college in the fall.  The school colors are red and black, so I'm stitching up this top for him.  It's all flannel and has Warm & Natural batting, so it's going to be nice and heavy for those chilly dorm rooms at CWU.  I remember the dorm rooms at college the first couple of years were *not* air or weather tight.  The door to my first dorm was more appropriate for California or Hawaii, not Western Washington.  The windows to the second dorm were single-pane and during the deep freeze one winter, everything on my sill was frozen to the window for a couple weeks.  Hopefully he will find this cozy and remind him how much his Grandma loves him!

Another blurry picture of a quilt.  I was quilting on this Halloween quilt made with the Twist & Stitch ruler (or something similar).  The owner of this quilt is Judy of Thread Mongers, and she asked me to quilt up this as a sample for her booth for quilt shows.  I had some trouble at first with the thread breaking, thinking that the tension was too high, but then realized that I simply needed to clean out my tensioner a little.  I flossed it (yes, with wax coated floss) and it stopped giving me issues after that.  I will need to take it up to the guild meeting on Monday.

This is a detail shot of the pumpkins.

This is a quilt for Karen M.  She's got an amazing eye for color (unfortunately, this photo looks much more pink than the quilt is in person--it's all purples in varying shades).  She wanted it to be quilted all over with feathers, similar to the quilt I did a few weeks ago in 1930s.  I'm glad I worked out the kinks of that on my quilt so that I wouldn't goof up her work of art!  It took just a few loops to get back into the groove, rather than a few feet of quilt top.

Here's a detail shot of 1/2 of the feathers--I quilted the loops down one side of a line, then traced it back, making loops on the other side to complete the feather.  I tried to take a photo of the whole thing, but it, too, is blurry.  I'll try hanging it up tomorrow when it's daylight and see if I can get a better photo.
Emma's driving.  AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!  She's in driving classes that meets every day for 2 hours--the usual discussion of safety and laws and road signs, as well as watching movies and getting tested on stuff.  Outside of class, we take her to various locations to work on controlling speed, turning, parking, reverse, and keeping her foot on the BRAKE!  BRAKE!  BRAAAAAAAAAAKE! (Sorry, family joke.)
Sitting in the car, waiting for the driving classes to get out is boring.  I've read a couple of books recently (mostly Nicholas Sparks, who wrote "the Notebook".  I have now read "The Bend in the Road", "The Best of Me", "The Lucky One", "Safe Haven", "The Guardian", "The Rescue", and am currently reading, "A Walk to Remember".  I also started doing a little needlework to keep myself occupied, copying this drawing (freehand) from a tiny image on my phone.  Not sure what I'm going to do with it in the's a Celtic heron, by the way, and yes, it's missing the feet and that weird feather off its head.  I'll need to remember to bring some black floss to finish that.

On Friday, my friend, Bekah, came over and we worked on making lampworked beads.  These are going to be gifted to the Kings and Queens of the Known World (yes, the SCA Kings & Queens, not Elizabeth II of England, Margarethe of Denmark, Harald V of Norway, Beatrix of the Netherlands, Albert II of Belgium, or Hans Adam II of Lichtenstein...and there are more!  I didn't realize how many Royals are still out there!)  I volunteered to make 20 beads for Drachenwald (Europe), and 20 for Trimaris ... from Wikipedia:

The Kingdom of Trimaris was created in 1985. It was split from the Kingdom of Meridies and is composed of the majority of Florida, as well as Panama, and falsely but humorously, Antarctica. Also, as a triskele (the Trimaris symbol) was sent into space on a shuttle, Trimaris claims space.

PortraitBekah brought her torch and supplies and started making some beads for Trimaris.  In the time she was here, she finished making these seven beads.  She hasn't made any beads for more than a year, so she claims to be a little out of practice.  She has a really cool shaping tool that I'd like to get to help move the glass into place or make the lovely square edges.

Still left to do are 23 more beads, one more quilt for Kathy C., and two tunics for Tyrssen of Middle Kingdom.  The fabric for the tunics are washed and dried, but I still need to lay out, cut and sew the garments, then I can take them with me to driving classes and sew the seams down while I'm waiting in the car.

Monday, July 1, 2013

What a Week It's Been!

I ran an Ithra session and managed to lose a friend (hopefully temporarily) in the process.  Rather than vent publicly about what happened at the time, let's just say that she needed a serious attitude adjustment and I called her on it, then relieved her of her duties, so I'm the bad guy.  Sorry...

But we had a great time overall.  There were a bunch of classes offered in a variety of subjects:

This was a very advanced needleworker doing her thing, not the exact pattern the other students were doing.  Unfortunately, most of the other students had very few stitches done when I went around taking photos, so I opted for this more interesting piece instead.

14th century Welsh Food
Funny story about this lady.  She walks up to me on Saturday and says, "How's Kelly and Joe?"  I said, "uh..."  I didn't realize that she knew Kelly and his cousin, Joe.  Every summer Kelly would do Boy Scout stuff with Joe, and her father was the Scout Master, and her brothers were in Scouts, too.  To make it more fun, Joe's mom was trying very hard to play matchmaker between Kelly and this lovely lady.  It wasn't a match and I think we're all happier where we are now.

16th century embroidery...
OK, it doesn't look like much, but they were learning something.  I think they ended up learning the five basic stitches of Medieval needlework--not actually limited to 16th century--and a couple others I'd never heard of.  

This is one that I have wanted to do for a long time, especially since I really need some comfortable shoes for eventing that won't cost a hundred bucks (or more), and it might be nice to have something custom made for my ridiculously wide feet.  One other student stepped up and we compared feet--hers are also short and wide...basically round...just like mine.  Bekah said she'd make me some.

And one of the instructors spent some spare time doing some Nalbinding, a type of needlework that involves yarn and a yarn needle (traditionally bone needles) that creates a series of loops and knots to make garments, like hats, socks, and mittens...

The organizer of the event was really tired after putting in a lot of long hours and the heat was making all of us a bit sleepy, and I caught her napping by the front door.

After the event was over, I pulled out the GeoMate to see if there was something nearby...and there WAS!  I followed it over a river and through the woods, and all I got was stings from mosquitoes, blackberry brambles and nettles.  Not having my phone with me was a set-back since I couldn't read the hints, which might have led me to finding it, but I had plugged it in back at camp.  After about 15 minutes of searching, I gave up and headed back, where Bekah introduced me to a natural nettle sting remedy--bracken fern spores and water (in this case, spit).  It worked for a little while, but then the stings started to burn again.  After a shower and a couple other remedies, it was better by morning.

We decided to take the peninsula route rather than pay the bridge toll, fight traffic through Tacoma and Seattle, and arrive frazzled and grumpy.  Instead, we headed up the country roads, took the ferry across, and drove back on surface streets to her house...never once getting on the dreaded I-5 until I left her place to go back to mine.