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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Iris, Anyone?

I started cleaning up iris beds last night. Dig out the tubers, sort out the young growth, discard the dead/old pieces, replant the bed, give away the leftover tubers. Repeat for each bed. One of those chores that is easy to put off, satisfying to complete. When I get the first bed finished, I have a large tub of tubers to pass on to other gardeners. Quilt Nebraska begins in less than a week - the perfect opportunity to give them away! I'll send out an email to alert quilters all over the state. And I remember the connection between these iris and my very first Quilt Nebraska, in 1998. It was held at the Cornhusker Hotel, same location where it will be this year.

The purple iris originally grew on my grandmother's farm in Ohio. Some grew & bloomed at my parent's house when I was a kid, and I asked Mom for some for my new flower beds in Omaha. Happy to oblige, Mom & Dad dug up one of her over-crowed beds, put them in a box and mailed them off to Omaha.

Stop reading here if you are an animal rights activist, extremely soft-hearted, or anti-death penalty.

Dateline: Omaha, Nebraska, July, 1998.
The box arrived on a HOT day in late July. I put the opened box in our cool basement until I had time to plant. Unknown to my parents, they sent me more than iris. I heard a noise, then saw a field mouse climb out of the box! And because of this mouse, I made an entire quilt (How A Mouse Introduced Me to the Joys of Hand Piecing) by hand. Here's the "rest of the story", as written on the back of the quilt:

Early am, July 24, 1998. Rated R (Violence):
Run down to the basement to get a Diet Pepsi for the 45 mile drive to Lincoln to attend Quilt Nebraska. See big fat gray mouse in middle of floor. Scream! No reaction from mouse. Run upstairs. Scream again! Go back downstairs to find Mickey hasn't moved. OK, I have to deal with him. Grab the big coffee can I keep by my ironing board to throw thread & fabric clippings in. Use it to trap Mickey.

Plan A: Leave him for husband to deal with later. Call husband and advise of Plan A. Act on husband's suggestion that I come up with a different strategy.

Plan B commences! Slide a piece of cardboard under coffee can and flip it over. Put Mickey, coffee can and cardboard into a plastic bag. Double, then triple bag. My plan is to squish poor little Mickey under my truck tires. (I WARNED you about the violence!) How do I get him out of the coffee can, but keep him in the bags? There is a very big, real risk that he could escape entirely!

Plan C: leave mouse & can all bagged up in garage.

I've dealt with the mouse, I have my DP & I'm running late! Rush out the door without my project bag - the handwork I always carry. So when late afternoon arrives, I find myself done with lectures, shopped out at both the merchant mall and the silent auction, magazines all read, and NOTHING TO DO! "Mom, I'm bored", I hear in my head. Then I remember - the tote bag I received when I registered included a winning door prize ticket! I claim my prize - a charm quilt in a jar. It is a pre-cut kit with everything I need to make a doll quilt except for needle & thread. I buy those at the merchant mall. I find a comfortable chair in a well lit spot and begin to sew. I attract other quilters who want to sit and relax, talk a bit. We talk, I sew. I borrow scissors. Quilters come and go. We talk, I sew more.

My plan is to hand piece through the lulls in the day, then finish quickly by machine. Too tired to do this on Friday night, I continue to hand piece on Saturday. I'm surprised at how quickly it goes. Before I know it, all 72 charms are sewn together. And I realize how much I'm enjoying the process. So I decide to complete the entire quilt by hand. I sew on the borders at home on Sunday afternoon. The quilting is begun while waiting at gymnastics lessons. it's finished while I watch my Cincinnati Reds play the Atlanta Braves on tv. The top is squared up and the binding sewn on. It's done! My first quilt completely by hand!

Back to today! I'll be taking my excess iris tubers to Quilt Nebraska to give them away. I think I'll tuck in some hand-piecing for the slow times. I hope there isn't a mouse involved. Iris, anyone?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I Quilted Today!

And yesterday, and the day before! And the day before that. It started with a red, white and blue top. I had a partial spool of a cotton YLI variegated thread - wasn't sure how much had been used, but decided to take a chance. You know it! I ran out of thread about 3/4 of the way through the quilting. A nearby quilt shop had some Valdani thread, cotton, same weight. Expensive - $12 for a small cone. I bought it and have been sorry ever since! This supposedly long-staple, high quality thread was fuzzy and had slubs. It shredded and broke in my HQ16, even after I changed needles, re-threaded, adjusted tension, changed needles, re-threaded, adjusted tension, changed needles.......

It isn't often I say NEVER, but I will NEVER spend another penny on Valdani thread!

I eventually solved the problem by going to a different quilt shop and buying a spool of Sulky thread (cotton, red/white/blue). It worked wonderfully & I finished the quilting without any more problems.

Moved on to quilt the sweet lavender and green quilt in the photo below. The photo looks way too blue - I can add "learn photo-editing" to my To Do List. This is Diane's first big quilt, made for a granddaughter. I finished it today. I LOVE quilting!