Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Spirit Song Quilt: Are We Done Yet? (NO). But Blocks On the Move is Ready to Debut at Quilt Show!

My progress on the Spirit Song Dress Code quilt has slowed way down because I'm at a tedious point in the construction.  After spending so much time planning my mix of colors and prints in my design software, I barged ahead with my piecing without bothering to create  a pressing plan...  So now as I'm joining the 4" inch Birds in the Air blocks together to form the large 16" composite blocks, none of my seam allowances "nest" where the blue triangle points touch one another.  As you can see in the completed block below, that happens EIGHT times in every single block.  Therefore, every time I'm joining two units together with blue triangles that need to touch, I've got six layers of fabric stacked up on one side of those triangle points and only two layers of fabric on the other side, and the nasty little triangles want to slide apart as they pass under the presser foot, and even pinning them is a vicious business involving savage stick pin wounds and a fair amount of swearing.  UGH. Therefore it's taking me a lot longer than expected to join 16 four inch units into one 16" block -- about 2 hours or more per block, including pinning, stabbing myself with the pins, seam ripping, fudging, swearing, pressing...

Block 6 of 12.  This is Getting Tedius.
I left this project in Time Out for a week while focusing on the needs of our new puppy, but I started piecing again a few days ago and I'm feeling better about it now that I'm past the halfway point!  

Yesterday I decided that, for the remaining blocks, I should just bite the bullet and stitch every one of the blue points together by hand first before machine stitching the rest of the seams.  I think it's the only way to get them to line up precisely without shifting when that mountain of bulk passes under my presser foot, and that hand tacking up front will save me a lot of time in the long run, ripping and restitching over and over again!  


The best explanation of how and why to create a pressing plan is in Donna Lynn Thomas's book Quiltmaking Essentials 1: Cutting and Piecing Skills.  When I'm looking at a quilt block, or an entire quilt that I've designed on the computer, trying to decide the best way to press seams in order to get crisp points, matched seam intersections and a flat quilt top free of speed bumps, I always consult this book for a refresher.  Highly recommended!

I should be back to smooth sailing with nesting seams at every intersection once I'm assembling those big blocks into rows, if I can only get the rest of these stinking blocks pieced together...

Eight 16 inch Blocks Completed, Four Left to Piece
The Spirit Song quilt was meant to be a "quick detour" project, just to try out the Accuquilt GO! half square triangle dies, before loading and quilting my Jingle appliqué quilt.  And here we are, several months later, with nothing finished and one more work-in-progress!

Meanwhile, Thoroughly Modern Millie (my APQS Millennium longarm machine) is going to be awakened from her deep slumber within the next day or two, because I need to quilt and finish a couple of 16" mini quilt tops that other guild members made to contribute to the Blocks On the Move program I'm launching as Community Education chair of the Charlotte Quilters' Guild.  (I got this idea from Donna Shervington's blog where she mentioned making a 16" block for the Modesto California Country Crossroads Quilters' Guild Blocks on the Move program).

One of Two Blocks On the Move Displays Built by Bernie
Loisann and husband Sig, the geniuses behind the Country Crossroads Quilters' Guild in Modesto, have been so unbelievably kind and generous, providing detailed plans and photographs of exactly how their display units were built so that my handy husband Bernie could recreate them for our Charlotte Quilters' Guild in North Carolina.  Pictured above is one of our two display units, designed to hold mini quilts of 16 to 16 1/2" square.  Because these displays will be set up and left unattended in public spaces, the quilts are mounted with sleeves on dowels that screw into the sides of the display unit and you can't get them out without a screwdriver -- that will significantly reduce the chance of mischief/theft of the beautiful donated mini quilts.  Isn't that COOL?!  We're going to "debut" our Blocks On the Move display at our upcoming Carolina Lilies Annual Quilt Show on March 6-7.  

My Husband Bernie, Fixer of Longarm Machines and Builder of Quilt Displays
The idea behind Blocks On the Move is to move this display throughout the city, setting it up for a month at a time at venues such as assisted living facilities, libraries, hospitals, museums, etc.  I think this will be a great way to raise awareness about who we are and what we do in the community.  Readers who are members of quilt guilds, I'd love to hear what YOUR guild does for community education -- please share those great ideas in the comments!

To-Do List for Tuesday:

This week I'm hoping to accomplish the following:

  • Finish piecing all of my Spirit Song blocks
  • Quilt the two 16" Blocks On the Move flimsies that were pieced by another guild member
  • Go through all of the tax receipts (blech!) and fill out my accountant's tax prep packet
  • Work on an assignment that's due March 1st for a seminary class I'm taking

Well, that puppy isn't going to nap all morning -- if I want a shower today, I'd better get off the computer and do that right now!  Have a wonderful week.
I'm linking today's post with:


·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  
·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
         BOMs Away Katie Mae Quilts  


·       Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at Clever Chameleon
·       To-Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us


·       Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication
·       “WOW” WIPs on Wednesday at Esther's Blog


Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Doggie Detour: Introducing Samwise the Brave (with a Brief iPhone 11 Pro Max Review)

Introducing the newest member of our family, Samwise the Brave!

Baby Rottweiler Samwise at 13 Weeks
We lost our 9-year-old Rottweiler Otto the week before Christmas, leaving a giant hole in our hearts.  Although Otto can never be replaced and we still have his littermate Lulu, we decided that our home needed a puppy.  Even Lulu was miserable as an only dog for the first time in her life -- all the play went out of her when she lost her brother.  So we went back to Alice of Guardian Rottweilers in Indiana and selected this plucky little fella.  

Bernie and Samwise
After extensive family debate, my 16-year-old son Anders won all of us over with the idea of naming our new puppy after the Hobbit character Samwise the Brave from Lord of the Rings.  He's Frodo's loyal sidekick who rescues him from Mordor and is never corrupted by the evil power of the Ring...  Perfect name for a Rottweiler!

My Son Anders with Puppy Samwise
My 19-year-old son Lars, on the other hand, is beside himself.  He has not yet met this puppy because he is away at college (Appalachian State in Boone, NC).  I've been texting him photos and videos, and Lars is like, "BRING HIM TO BOONE!  HE MUST COME TO BOONE!  WHEN ARE YOU BRINGING MY NEW DOG TO BOONE?!!!"  Poor baby.  Spring break will be here soon enough!

Me Bonding With Sam During the 9 Hour Ride Home
Bargersville, IN is a long way from Charlotte, NC.  I rode in the back seat and snuggled with Sam the whole way home, which secured my position as The Most Important Human in his universe.

Interesting aside -- all of the previous photos in this post were taken with my new iPhone 11 Pro Max, which I bought primarily in hopes of taking better photos.  The photo below, the one of me holding the puppy, was taken on my husband's iPhone 8 Plus.  

Unflattering Photo of Me with Mister Adorable, iPhone 8 Plus
I am much happier with the photos I've been taking on my new phone.  I had an iPhone 6 before, so not only are my photos looking a lot better with the new phone, but I also have significantly better battery life going from a 6 Plus to an 11 Pro Max, my Bluetooth range is a lot bigger (so my earphones don't cut out when I walk too far away from my phone), and I now have wireless charging capability so I can take advantage of those wireless charging armrests that some of the airports have at the gates now.

SIT! Samwise at 15 Weeks, Same Lighting as Above, iPhone 11 Pro Max
This is how little dude Sam looks up at me when he wants some attention.  No jumping up!  One of the advantages of picking up Sam at 13 1/2 weeks instead of the 8 or 9 weeks that is typical for puppy adoption is that our breeder and her family gave us a fantastic head start on training.  When Sam wants to say hello, he plops his butt on the floor just like this and locks his eyes on me, waiting for instructions.  When it's time to eat, he's been trained that the food dish won't be set on the floor until he's sitting.  Who can resist that sweet little face?  Definitely not ME!  Again, comparing the previous two photos -- they were both taken in my kitchen, the one on Bernie's iPhone 8 Plus and the other on my iPhone 11 Pro Max -- the one on my new phone is so much crisper and clearer.

DOWN!  Sam at 15 Weeks
He already has a really good sit and a good recall (when we call "PUPPY PUPPY PUPPY"), courtesy of our breeder.  In the week we've had him, we've been teaching him to differentiate between "sit" and "down" (he initially thought that both positions were a sit), as well as Touch (to touch with his nose).  Dude weighed 32.5 lbs at 13 weeks but he was afraid to go down the deck stairs, so we've been having to CARRY him out the back door, through the screen porch, down the stairs and out into the middle of the grass every time he needs to go potty (hourly).  My back is KILLING me!  So I was very excited that I got him to go down stairs by himself three times yesterday.  

Samwise Loves His Toys
Sam is sleeping a lot, but when he's awake he's FULL of energy -- with bursts of excitement like a Tasmanian devil!  Of course he's teething, too, so we have dog toys strewn all over the kitchen.  I have an assortment of textures so that, when he chomps into something I don't want chewed, I try to swap out something that will feel similar.  The fuzzy plush toys get swapped out for chomping on clothing or upholstered furniture, the horns and antlers are swapped out for chomping on the metal or wood furniture, and the rubbery puppy Nylabones with a little "give" are handy when he wants to nibble on the hands that are rubbing his belly!

Lulu is Slowly Acclimating to the Newcomer

The biggest challenge is managing our two furbabies with an attitude of "separate but equal attention" as our 9-year-old Rottie, Lulu, is very gradually warming up to the little guy.  Samwise desperately wants to play with Lulu and will whimper and plop down right up against the gate to be near her, but Lulu isn't there yet.  She growled at him a few times initially to make her discomfort clear, hence the baby gates blocking off the kitchen.  She's doing a little better with him each day, and they even had about a minute of playtime yesterday afternoon in the back yard -- that's how I got Sam to get over his fear of going down steps.  Lulu was lying on the path at the bottom of the steps and he wanted SO badly to go to her.  His longing to visit Lulu was bigger than his fear of the steps!  But I kept the play-chasing brief to ensure that it would end on a positive note.  Both dogs looked happy with wagging tails and appropriate sniffing of unmentionables.  Baby steps!

Samwise Napping in his Nursery: the Puppy Play Pen
One of the best investments I've made is the puppy play pen pictured above, available on Amazon here (affiliate link).  The Carlson Pet Yard and Convertible Super Wide Gate has six 24" panels that hinge together, and I purchase the expansion pack with two additional 24" panels as well to get a decent size for my super-size cutie.  This gate/play pen is only 28" tall, though, so I would never leave him in the play pen if I was leaving the house.  He can jump up and put his paws on the top edge easily already, but it's very sturdy and there's no danger of him toppling it.  Even with my kitchen and family room gated off, there is still too much for Sam to get into unless someone is watching him like a hawk.  The play pen/nursery is a place where we can put him while we leave the room to use the restroom, and we've been moving him into his nursery pen whenever he falls asleep, as well.  That way we can open those other gates and let Lulu come and go as she pleases -- which is HUGE, because before we got the nursery pen Lulu was isolated in the rest of the house while Bernie and I were on puppy patrol in the kitchen.

Anyway, this is why I've not been posting anything (or sewing anything either, for that matter!).