Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Merci Train

We went over to Winooski today to tour the VT Military Museum with friends Pauline and Bob.  Paul wanted to see the Merci Train there.  After World War II, the people of France filled 50 boxcars, one for every state, DC and Hawaii, as a form of thanks for the US' help in ending the war.  Americans had also filled several boxcars with supplies for the French.  We first learned about the boxcars in Georgia at a Civil War and train museum in Kennesaw, and Paul wondered where Vermont's ended up.  The boxcar, which the French had used to move 40 men or 8 horses at a time during World Wars I and II, has been restored and houses an exhibit about World War I.  Here were are on the steps.
I imagine Paul's article will be in our local paper sometime soon, now that he has all the facts and some good photos.

It was a fun day despite chilly winds.  The museum had a lot to see, albeit a bit disorganized, and it is always good to see Pauline and Bob.  Lunch in a renovated woolen mill along the Winooski River was delicious, too.  It's so nice to be retired and just take off for a day of fun!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The new machine

After some testing in person and reading online, I settled on the Juki TL2010Q, and ordered it and a table from our local sewing machine shop.   I like the owners of the shop, Carl and Betty, and feel it's important to deal locally, not just for service and questions as they come up, but also to help our community.  Carl and Betty have vended at our local quilt show, and Betty belongs to one of my guilds.

On Monday, I had cleaned the room and rearranged things - exhausting work!   Paul and I picked the machine and table up yesterday, and then I set about learning how to use it.  What fun!  What frustration!  After learning to wind the bobbin and thread the machine (similar to the Mega Quilter I borrowed last fall), I tested all the feet.  Mostly, the machine runs smoothly and truly straight.  When you take your foot off the pedal, it stops immediately.  The automatic thread cutter is a dream, and the controls are easy to adjust.  But the walking foot goes ka-thunk, ka-thunk and I think there's something not quite right with it.  So I'll be visiting Carl either this afternoon or tomorrow to test it on his machine.  I also left the knee lifter thingie there by accident, so will pick that up.

This morning, I decided to work on one of my UFOs, and enjoyed myself immensely.  I decided to do some paper piecing as that is one of my least favorite chores.  With the automatic cutter, however, it goes quite easily, and I finished this pillow cover quickly.
It is my project for the guild gift bag challenge - we each received a gift bag (disguised in a brown paper bag) that is to inspire a project that fits inside.  A pillow is too big, so I just made a cover and will give it to my niece Caroline for her high school graduation this June.  It feels so good to finish something on this snowy day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Prepping some applique

My sewing machine is still in the shop (which is closed Sun.-Tues.), so I am taking a little time to sit and applique.  This is good after a couple of hectic weeks anyway.  I finished this block over vacation and need to write up the directions for the beginning applique class I'll teach in June.  Thanks to Dee, I'm postponing the classes from April when I have too many activities to squeeze in two Saturdays.  And May was too busy, too.

Besides this block, which is for the second day of the class, I'll be starting the class by teaching a variety of applique methods using a larger melon or orange peel shape from an old book by Ruby McKim.  Her 12" pattern is pieced, but I think it's much easier to applique.  A recent issue of Block magazine showed a similar quilt, and I've found a couple of nice scrappy ones online to show the group.  I have a bunch of 6" blocks to work on, too, in scappy blues on a cream background.  They can be put together in a variety of ways, and I have lots of blues I can use.  This will be an on-going project.  Who knows when I'll stop?

It is week nine of Lori Holt's "Bloom" quilt-along, and I finally started preparing a block yesterday.  I like this simple, cute pattern and will try to catch up eventually.  I have some really wild fabric for it and do have a stack of 9.5" background blocks cut.  I cut out freezer paper shapes and am ready to baste the pieces and the stems today.  If I like it, I'll make 3 more for a block exchange I signed up for.  That's why my blocks are a little larger than the "Bloom" blocks are.  And I'm not sure I'll sash them as Holt suggests either.  I never follow pattern directions completely!  Holt suggests sewing Pellon to the pieces and then turning them right-side out for applique, but this method doesn't work well on points IMHO.  Her plastic template shapes are great, though, and can be used for other projects in the future.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What to do?

For the last few months my purple row robin has been traveling around the continent, from Ontario to Indiana to North Carolina and places in between.  Now it is home and I don't know what I will do to finish it.  I could simply sew all the rows together, add a thin border and leave it at that.  I could create a center medallion and use the rows as different borders, perhaps adding a few blocks or even duplicating a row or two.  For now, I'll let it sit on the bed while I ponder its fate.  I may even have to put it away until I am struck with an idea.  I have plenty of other projects to keep me busy in the meantime!

The other day finished my round on Lynn's round robin.  Mine was the fourth border, but the quilt has already grown quite large.  Marie's quilt comes to me for the final border, and I imagine it will take me the full two months to finish.  I have quite a to-do list, including blocks for two swaps.  One set of blocks is almost finished except for one small bit of machine applique on each block.  For the other swap, I cut out the 9" blocks yesterday and now am ready to choose the applique design.  Think I'm going to make two sets of "Bloom" blocks with some very colorful fabric that just came.  I'm thinking spring here!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Mixed blessings

Returning home from vacation, especially one that's nearly a month, has its up- and down-sides.  It feels awfully good to sleep in one's own bed and drink one's own coffee.   It's really nice to rattle around in more space than our small Alabama apartment or the motel rooms along the way.  And catching up with friends and getting back into familiar routines feel right, too.  We did have an awfully good, carefree time.  We walked a lot, ate well, read quite a few books, and enjoyed the Alabama warmth.  Eating outside in February is really nice!

Our trip home was shorter, partly because we didn't stop to sightsee.  Atlanta traffic was horrible, and I resolved to find a less stressful route next year, even if it's a bit longer.  In mid-Virginia we stopped for gas and ran into a librarian I worked with over my 30 years as a statewide consultant.  What are the odds of doing that 1,000 miles from home?   We were reminded again of what a small, closeknit state we live in.  And while we had planned to stop for the night in New York state, the weather for the next day were threatening - snow, sleet, and freezing rain - so we pushed on, making it home after a 12 hour drive.

But now there's reality to deal with:   the Vermont cold and ice; the need to wear a jacket zipped up and gloves, even to go to the mailbox; the groceries to buy, dinner to cook, seemingly endless mountain of laundry to deal with.  And of course there are projects to get back to:  the library Friends banquet/auction Saturday night, round robins to complete, doctors' appointments to make, and taxes to file.  Mostly, I'm concerned that a dear friend is in the hospital intensive care unit after a fall on the ice.  Besides some broken bones, she has suffered an extreme head injury.  I need to be here to lend support whenever and however I can. 

Today I hope to get back to the yoga routine, start work on one round robin, decide on project(s) for the applique class I'll be teaching in early April, and get some more bird seed.  My son loyally came over to fill the feeders while we were gone.  With temperatures this morning at 5 degrees, those chickadees, pine siskins, and cardinals are very busy keeping warm.