Wednesday, July 27, 2011

One Year Anniversary

It’s been a while since Mom’s had me do a guest blog but today seemed the right day for it since it’s my one year anniversary.  So, greetings all!

It’s been an eventful year for me.

I’ve gone to a lot of classes: Puppy Class (Mom said I was “the Star”), Beginning Obedience (the teacher told Mom I was “a catch”!), Intermediate Obedience (Mom said I passed only because the teacher graded on the curve – just because I thought it was more fun to socialize than stay in heel position – Jeez!), and now I am in Agility.  Agility is a lot of fun: I get to run through tunnels, climb ramps, and jump over fences.  I’m not real hot on the teeter but Mom tells me I’m going to be a champ at it in no time, so we’ll see.

I’ve been to see the Vet a bunch over the last year  though I really don’t want to talk about what happened one of those times. 

I did some work re-landscaping the backyard which Mom and Dad don’t appreciate as much as they should.  They are hiring someone to come in and do it all over again! 

Mostly though I just hang out with Mom and Dad and that’s fine.  We go for a walk every morning – though Mom is usually lagging a bit behind!

I wait up for her though.

I get to meet lots of other dogs.  They aren’t always as happy to see me as I am to see them.  Mom tells me that when a dog is lunging at the end of his owner’s leash and is snarling and barking at me, it means he doesn’t really want to play with me.  But playing is so much fun, why wouldn’t he?  I just don’t get it.

Mom tells me it’s important to be polite, so whenever someone else is on the trail she steps off  to the side and I know to go and sit right by her side until they pass.  I like that she is always teaching me new commands but sometimes it is a bit confusing.  Right now she’s teaching me to move from one side to another and back again.  That can be confusing but Mom says I’m doing just fine and we’ll just keep practicing till I get it.  (Practicing means lots of treats so, you know, that’s a good thing).

We don’t really disagree about much.  Still, I think that if someone bends over to say hello to me they want me to jump up and say hi.  That way they don’t have to bend over, right?  Mom doesn’t think so.  I have tried to convince her that sometimes we can just agree to disagree, but she hasn’t come around yet.  She still thinks everything has to be her way.  Of course, doing things her way usually means that I get more treats and praise and lots of pets.  So mostly I listen.  

Once we get home from our walk, I am ready for a rest! 

(Mom calls me the anti-Aussie because I am so mellow.)

I could say more but I guess the big thing is that Mom and Dad say they are really lucky they chose me, and I feel lucky they chose me, too. 

And now Dad is waving a night time biscuit at me and that means it’s bed time.  I need to rest because Mom needs me to take her for that walk first thing in the morning.   (Usually she’s pretty good about getting up but it’s my job to make sure.  If she doesn’t get up in time, I jump up on the bed and look at her until she gets the message.  Don’t tell her I said this, but I’ve done a fair amount of people training this last year.  Mom may grumble but in the face of the look, she listens every single time!)

So, that’s it.  It’s been a good year.  Mom and Dad say that every day I make them smile.  Mom says that not everyone is a dog person.  (Really?)  She says that people who are though are very lucky because being loved by a dog is special.  So, that’s my job.  One year and counting.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Go! Drunkard’s Path

Or, How I Fought the Curves and I Won

Though winning took some perseverance, bullheadedness, and a slightly weird relationship to inanimate objects.  To begin, I had always thought that the name of the Drunkard’s Path block was a humorous description of the staggering steps of a drunk. 

Drunkard's Path 1

After a couple of hours in my sewing room, it occurred to me that the block got its name from its ability to drive an otherwise sober quilter to drink . . . hard drink . . . staggering blind drunk kind of drink.

It goes like this . . .

Since I just added the 3 1//2" finished Drunkard’s Path to my Go! die collection,  I pulled out a charm pack I’ve been saving and ran it (lickedy spit) through the Go!   (Very nice the way this die works perfectly with 5 inch charms leaving only a little waste.)

I did a little online browsing and came across a few different tutorials on making the block.  A number suggested using only three pins: one in the middle and then one on each end.  Sure, I thought, I can do this.  And, honestly, I was already composing a blog entry in my head about how this block was so much easier than I thought it would be.  Etc.  Etc. 

Oh, I wish.  The three pin method and I were not user friendly.  I would sew ever so carefully, with the L-shape on top and using a stiletto to help things along.  No.  That little quarter circle on the bottom was quite gleefully living a life of its own.  There were so many pleats, puckers, and fold overs, you’d think I was sewing a christening gown.

I don’t remember ever using a seam ripper as often as I did sewing up those blocks.  Let’s say two out of every three needed a little redo.  Holy moly.  I was not a happy camper.

I was feeling a wee bit stubborn, however.  I kept trying.  I thought,  A little practice, that’s all I need.  Any block now, it will all just come together. 

Uh-huh.  Rip.  Rip.  Rip. 

Still, I think anyone trying this little block should give the three pin method a try.  It looked good.  It clearly works for lots of sewers.  I may simply be Drunkard’s Path challenged.

But this is where that slightly weird relationship to inanimate objects I mentioned comes in.  It began to be personal, between me and the those curved patches.  I gritted my teeth. No little scrap of fabric is going to get the better of me!  Seriously.  Not a pretty picture.

In any case, I finally gave up the three pin goal.  I decided to use more pins and finally those little blocks started sewing up like the little dream I just knew they could be.  This is what worked for me:

The Go! die very nicely has a little notch in the curve for lining up the two pieces.  I used that and first lined up the blocks from the reverse side, so that I could see that the quarter circle was centered.

Then I flipped the patches over and pinned the holy heck out of it.  I pinned the center first, then the two sides, and then a couple pins to each side of the center.  Like this:

And then I went over and sewed the seam.  Things just moved right along, no puckers, no seam ripper.  A very happy quilter.  And finally, a nice little stack of blocks to play with!

There was a purpose behind all this madness.  The chest in my office has a table topper that is at least ten years old.  Perhaps older.  It is pretty enough but hardly au courant!

I wanted something new.  So I played with my little quarter circles, trying out different layouts till I finally got the one that made my heart say Ah! 

Or, from this angle:

Oh, yes.  Now that makes me happy. 

I have more plans for that little Go! die – particularly now that I have a method that works for me. 

I’ll see tomorrow if I can get a better picture of the mat.  And because one thing leads to another . . . I’m about to paint the office and then make another wall quilt (because that wall quilt, while quite nice, has been up there for quite a while . . . I’m thinking something new is in order).

So, here’s to perseverance.  And, boy, do I love what short work the Go! made of cutting those curves!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Little Things

Nothing big has been going on in my sewing room – though I have plenty of motivation to hang out down there since the downstairs is much cooler than the upstairs (which is much cooler than the outside – currently at 93 degrees and climbing).

First, to show off this incredible mini I receive from Milliemorgan, my MiniQT swap with the “A True Mini” theme.  This qualifies, don’t you think?

How lucky am I?  The detail on this is just amazing, and it is only 8 1/2" by 11 1/2".  And I’ve always wanted a Storm at Sea quilt, so how fortuitous is that?

I’m in the Pretty Little Pouch Swap over on Flickr.  My swappee said her favorite fabric designer is Fig Tree so I found a little charm pack over at my local quilt shop (called the Fig Leaf) and had more fun running charms through the Go! using the equilateral triangles die (blog showing how here).  I’m hoping she’ll like it:

I have to admit: I like it enough that I think I’m going to make up another one for myself.  It is coming onto school time again and perhaps I can make something up that would be big enough to slide papers in?

I played around with making a Dilly Bag, and cleverly managed, even though I was trying to pay attention, to orient the zipper wrong.  Still, a cute pattern from Keyka Lou.

And finally, a couple pouches made up for friends (who make sure I get where I’m going) using the Pellon Fusible grid method I blogged on, Part One and Part Two.

And now, since I was foolish enough to gain back too much of that weight I lost a year and a half ago and I am once again on a diet, and a nutritionist has told me to switch to non-fat plain Greek yogurt which I add a little honey and fruit to, I am off to readjust my taste buds – which still, stubbornly yet truthfully, believe that a chocolate bar would make me much happier – though clearly not any thinner. ( Bummer about that). 

Thank God fat quarters aren’t fattening.

Monday, July 4, 2011

AccuQuilt Go! Miniatures in Minutes

Or, Be Still My Heart!

How did I miss noticing this for so long?  The Equilateral Triangle die for the AccuQuilt  Go! has the size I need for the Pyramid Triangle foundation from Miniatures in Minutes.  (Well, actually, it is a smidge large but not so much that it matters). 

Here’s a little swap quilt to be.  In process:

And finished:

I used a charm pack and they cut up beautifully.  I picked three charms at a time, folded them in half, and laid them on the Go! die.


After the die was run through, I opened up the fabric and was able to run the scrap through one more time.

That method gave me six triangles per charm.  But then it occurred to me I could reorient the second run through and get even more.  With this next orientation, I got eight triangles a charm.  Very little waste!

In no time at all, I had a nice little grouping of perfectly cut pyramid triangles.

I decided to see how the Go! handled linen as well.  It handled it perfectly.  I cut strips 2 1/2" by 13 1/2".  I was able to fold the strip into quarters and run it through the die, then open it up and run it through a second time to catch the open spaces.  I got 11 triangles per strip.

And with that combination made up a little mug rug.

Both little quilts here used the Pyramid Triangle foundation from Miniatures in Minutes and the project variation that can be found on the Projects 2009 of my website.

I see a bunch more little pyramid quilts in my future.  Thank you Go!