Sunday, September 17, 2017

Here comes the Judge...

I doubt very seriously if I would ever enter a quilt that I longarmed in a competition. I’ve had quilts I’ve longarmed entered all the while I hold my breath that my longarming didn’t cast a negative aspect on the quilt. I don’t think that I lack the skill, but I know I’m not tolerant enough to be judged when the scale is tipped so easily by the negative. We go through life being judged almost every day. Like it or not we are all a book cover. So, it’s not like I’ve never been judged. Au contraire. We smile too much or not enough. We listen intently or we don’t listen at all. We are too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, too liberal or too conservative. We speak too fast, too slow and are over courteous or not courteous at all. For me being judged for my longarming I’m putting myself in a position, voluntarily, to face the negativity from someone I don’t know and most certainly by one who can’t be 100% objective. For they are human, have likes and dislikes. They may like brighter colors, or certain patterns, hand quilting over machine quilting, modern over traditional, free motion over computerized. Most certainly they have had more training, been certified appropriately and will be more impartial than most. But their task at hand is to find the negative and provide a positive critic on how to improve and raise your crafting skills to the next level. Simply put, if you don’t go home with a ribbon here is a list of things that might make it better next time. Thanks for coming. You can see my tolerance level wouldn’t do well here.

Here are some of the “measurable” criteria judges use to evaluate quilts in competition:
  • Are blocks square? Is the quilt square?
  • Are points in the piecing chopped off? Do the intersections line up?
  • Are borders straight?
  • Does the quilt edge wave or ripple?
  • Are piecing threads showing?
  • Do seams shadow through light fabric?
  • Are quilting lines straight?
  • If gridwork is used, is it parallel and straight?
  • Are curved stitching lines (or applique edges) smooth?
  • Can you see any starts and stops?
  • Can you feel any knots on the quilt back?
  • Is the tension generally balanced?
  • Is the stitch length consistent?
  • Is the quilting density balanced through the entire quilt design?
  • Is back-tracking done well?
 For me, the last one is a killer. If you’re not a computer back tracking is a dangerous avenue to pursue as a hand guided longarmer. I think for the most part free motion quilters have an advantage here. They put in hours and hours on a quilt, thousands and thousands of stitches, stippling and feathering until for the most part the quilt is like an old pair of my Levi’s…it stands on its own. Don’t get me wrong, some of the most beautiful quilts I’ve seen were completed by a free motion artist. But I find all of that stitching to be a distraction from the artistry of the quilt.

I kind of laugh at the fourth one…wave or ripple. Considering the quilting process creates waves or ripples kind of blurs the guidelines of that criteria. I guess for me it would better read. Are there pleats near the quilt’s edge? But hey, that’s just me.

One thing I have noticed when it comes to competitive quilting. There is a group, some national and some at local levels that have a truck load of ribbons. I think for two reasons…one they took their talents to the next level. Spent endless hours to make it all perfect…and to get through the above list without a flaw will take endless hours and a driving desire for perfection. Secondly, familiarity. They are well known to the judges and their work has spent many a review under their trained eyes and may get a nod for a minor inconsistency where others may not. Once again that’s just me.

I can tell you from experience, after inspecting thousands of commercial vehicles from every state in this country. When a truck from company A came rolling through, who had a reputation of excellent maintenance and training and whose equipment always passed inspections hit the line at the same time as company Z…who took short cuts wherever they could, whose training was consistently inadequate and whose maintenance programs were associated with duct tape and bailing wire…Well you can pretty much guess who was looked at closer and scrutinized much more. Even if something was amiss with A it was going to be minor compared to Z and might be overlooked. One is passing (getting a ribbon) and the other is not.

I guess it all boils down to the eyes of the beholder. Whether a judge, the piecer, the longarmer or the recipient of the quilt. The latter probably never seeing a flaw. I’ve received two quilts. One was a Quilt of Valor. There are no words to describe that feeling. The other, and the first, was given to me by Elaine. It was the first quilt she ever made, the beginning of this quilting journey we are on. There are many a judge who would demand it be removed from the room. Little do they know it is the most beautiful quilt ever crafted on this planet. But that’s not the way it works.

When all is said and done though my hats off to those that compete. You rose to the challenge, took the leap and spent the time, money and put forth the efforts. The fields of competition are tough…a ribbon is the least you should get. So, I’ll participate and continue my journey in a pool of talent I would have never guessed I’d be wading in. But as it should be; I won’t be getting any ribbons just because I’m participating. 

Quilt till you wilt…we do.   

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Crash and Burn...well not that bad...but.

So the other day I'm about 4" from the right edge, on the last row of the pattern when like the machine exploded. Well it felt and sounded like it anyway. The needle broke, bent, jammed into the quilt and brought everything to a stand still.

I got the broken "curved" piece out of the quilt, loosened the needle retaining screw and the top half of the needle fell out. Well at least that's what I thought. As it would turn out, after inserting a new needle, inspecting the "viewing" hole in the needle bar and seeing the needle properly seated I went back to quilting...for a second...the needle slammed into the needle base plate and jammed. Lightning Stitch went crazy and threw up a huge list of "Error Messages" with  one "checked."

I reset LS and reinspected the needle bar. It turned out that there was still a small piece of the "old" needle in the needle bar. And it wasn't falling out. It was jammed. I was able to finally, with the use of a small "awl" get the broken piece out. But sadly in my quest I damaged the threads on the needle bar and had to call Virginia Longarm and order another. As usual, Melissa came through like a champ. They did not have one in stock. She tracked one down through the Tech's and had it in the mail that afternoon. Slightly surprised it came the next day. All in all I was overjoyed...ABM was closed because of approaching "Harvey." Melissa to the rescue.Let's just say every dealer should have a Melissa.

I removed the old needle bar, replaced it with the new and was up and running in just a shade over an hour. If I were to guess it's a job that would probably take a 'Tech" about 20 minutes. But I'm working in uncharted territory here with 10 thumbs. A little slack please.

The broken needle...left...normal needle...right.

Once I got everything working normally again my investigative nature kicked in. What happened became a priority and how do I avoid it again and what lessons were learned.

What Happened.

The initial breakage, the top break, caused the lower portion of the needle to shift and strike the needle base plate, bending it and breaking in yet another location. When closely examined it was determined the initial break was where the needle came in contact with the needle retaining screw. Was it a faulty needle? Had I put too much torque when I installed the needle? Both? Who knows but when it broke it cause the needle to dislodge and the tip struck the needle base plate and break again and bend, dramatically.
In regards to the needle bar...little did I know. Yes I did damage the threads trying to pry the jammed piece of broken needle. So I naturally ordered another needle bar. What I didn't know was that the lower hole in the needle bar that receives the needle retaining screw is threaded all the way through. So even though I couldn't get the screw threaded properly to install a new needle, had I just rotated the needle bar 180 degrees I could have been back up an running in a much shorter period of time. It never occurred to me to see if the needle bar was threaded all the way through the bar.

Avoiding Again

Don't know if that is possible. I will be more aware of the amount of torque I put on the needle retaining screw...but not sure I can avoid a faulty needle if that were the case.

Lesson Learned

I now have a spare needle bar...which is like taking your umbrella. Now that I have a spare nothing will ever happen to the needle bar again. If I want to make sure it doesn't rain I just take an umbrella.

While I'm discussing problems...Here is one I've had with Panto Vision for some time. Let's just say I've had it long enough to call it part of the "routine" of longarming and no longer a problem. Sad to say. I've notified Virginia Longarm and forwarded the following video which can be found on You Tube. But I've never received any information from them or ABM as to a fix. I might be the only one which is why I'm sharing here. If someone else has encountered this and found a fix...please, let me know. If you copy the following and paste it into the You Tube "search" box you can view the video. Please be somewhat patient, the "lock up" occurs about two minutes into the video.

All for now...If this helps just one other user It was worth the time.

Quilt till you wilt...we do.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Leader's View

For the last several days on a Yahoo Group that I follow there has been quite a bit of conversation regarding the leaders, as installed on the Innova Longarm. I would venture a guess this conversation could be about most longarms regardless of manufacturer.

I don't think it makes much difference if the leader is taped on or attached with a hook and loop product. They do need to be installed 'relatively' square. But "precisely or exactly" are not words I would use to describe their installation. I have yet to find anything precise or square about a leader. This is one of those "it's not rocket science or close enough for government work" metaphorical instances.

Mine are taped on and when I finished installing and or reinstalling, because I use 10' Leaders on a 12' table 95% of the time, and install the 12' when I get in a large quilt top that needs more than 110" of leader...which is not very often. I do this so that I don't have to deal with leader coming in contact with the sew head when installing a quilt. The shorter leaders give me plenty of space to clean or change bobbins and allows me to lay the leader FLAT on the table to load the quilt. I use Red Snappers and Red E Edge Clamps exclusively. I can quickly install a back and have a non movable surface to press the Red Snappers in place. I float my tops so there are only two leaders, they are both "Take Up Leaders" one on the Take Up Roller and one on the Bottom or Belly Roller. The leader on the lower Stationary Roller has been removed.

I also"center" the quilt to the table, not the leader. The center of the leader can move left or right, depending on how it rolls up on the bar. It's never the same. Every now and then it might roll evenly.

More often it will roll up unevenly. Same roller bar, different roll.

For this reason I don't center a quilt to the leader. As pictured the center of this leader moved approximately 1/2". So for me I center to the table.

The ruler is a piece of tape. In this case the "6" mark is the center of the table when the 12' Leaders are installed and the 'heavier' line between 11 and 12 is the center when the 10' Leaders are installed. When I install the leaders I center the leaders width to the width of the bar as close as possible. So that basically the same distance on the left of the leader to the tables edge is the same as the right. After that I have no need to know where the center of the leader is.

Time to load the back...square. With the center of the back creased in I lay the Take Up Leader sleeve containing the Red Snapper tubing flat on the table and as straight as possible. I have chosen the most square edge of the backs width for the installation on the leader. In this case it was a selvaged edge.

I then lay the back on the leader and install the Red Snapper in place making sure that the back is as close to possible to being square. The right edge of the back and the left edge of the back are the same. 99% of the time I do this visually. This time I took photos to demonstrate.

Now comes one of, what I consider to be, the most crucial part of loading a back square. Rolling it up onto the Take Up Roller. If you get it rolled up square here the battle is won. The back will be square to the frame, the top will be square to the back and the quilt when longarming is done will be a square as humanly possible. My first indicator is how the back is laying on the table when I'm ready to install the bottom Red Snapper. When it looks like this I'm a happy longarmer. If the back is at an angle to the table, which we know is square, it comes off and I start over. I've worked on this system now for over 600 quilts so I don't start over very often.

Once I get the bottom of the back connected to the Belly Roller and I start to feed the back onto the roller I watch for signs to confirm "square."
Is the Red Snapper as it is rolled up onto the bar even across the width of the back.

If you have a patterned back this will be the first opportunity to check that as well. Is the pattern consistent with the Stationary Bar, or in line if you will.

This is something I check for all the while I'm rolling the quilt. I know my bar is straight, I know I loaded the back to be as square as possible and checking as I roll confirms that the back is loaded square.

If I'm fortunate enough to have a relatively straight edge on the left or right of the back I check to see that is rolled up square.

This is always nice to see because the leaders most certainly did not roll square.

Time to load the batting and the top. I lay out the top and visually look across the quilt to see if it is square. I will measure to confirm from the top Stationary Bar to the first seam. Hopefully the piecer has sewn a relatively straight seam. More often than not the seams are. It really stands out when the first left to right seam is off. This one was good.

I measure across the top, again from the top Stationary Bar to the first seam in 4 to 6 locations making sure the measurement is the same and one last look across the top to visually insure the top is square to the back.

Measurements are consistent across the top. 

The quilt looks as square as it is going to get. This is important to looks square. And this is the icing...when I get to the bottom, advancing to position the quilt for the last row of quilting. It is laying flat, visually square and ready to be basted for completion. I baste across the top, down the sides as I advance and across the bottom when reached. 


Quilt till you wilt...we do.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Innova Encoders and Rulers and Red Snappers

Recently the topic of encoders came up on one of the Innova Yahoo Groups. One user was apparently informed by Michael to add weights. I concur. I've never mentioned this before but this, in the beginning, was a serious problem on my machine and something that through some trouble shooting was able to overcome, to some degree.

The problem is that the encoders are extremely sensitive, as they probably should be, but they do not track properly and during the process of quilting a row the encoder actually moves to some degree more or less than necessary. Which in the end means that when you return to the "start" point of your pattern it will no longer be there...on the screen it has moved, which means the pattern has moved.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Pattern in use...

Start Point...

First High Point (first from left) in quilted pattern 1/2" below sandwich edge...

Last High Point (fourth from left) in quilted pattern 5/8" from sandwich edge or 3/8" higher. I know it doesn't seem like a lot but when you multiply that by 8-10 rows it adds up quickly. 

Below the needle has been returned to the original start point as in the second photo. Here is the pattern on the screen in relation that start point. You have to move the pattern back to its original start point or the outcome will inevitably call for a seam ripper. 

When I first started quilting this movement was on most occasions 1 1/2" to 2". Which meant before I finished the first row the pattern was running off the top of the sandwich or the right side of the pattern was lower than the left side...and a seam ripper was involved. I naturally went to work troubleshooting and discovered the encoder wheels were not tracking properly and had a mind of their own. 

To see what I'm talking about when you set up your next quilt put your needle at the patterns starting point...go back and lift your encoder slightly, move the encoder wheel forward or backward a half a turn or so. Then go back and look at the start point on your screen. Yep, it's moved. Which is normal, the encoder wheel moves, the pattern moves. We know the 'cross hair' or 'dot' never moves, it is always in the center of the screen. But I don't think ABM intended for the pattern to move out of alignment more or less than the movement of the arm/needle along the carriage. 

What's the fix. Well for ABM my guess is they are working on it. I personally think the encoder wheels need to be 'grooved' like the carriage wheels so that they track properly. For me it goes without saying that the encoders need more weight to ensure they maintain the same amount of down pressure as they roll along the track to eliminate pattern movement. Let me emphasize here; make an extra effort to keep the encoder wheels and the track they run on clean and free of dust and thread debris. What is pictured above is the amount of movement I deal with on a daily basis...which for me is really nothing. But the amount of weight I've had to add to the encoder wheels to get the problem from 1 1/2" to 2" down to 3/8" should not have to be this radical. Honestly it shouldn't have to be at all. You be the judge.

Yes...that is a Master Padlock, there are five magnets and a steel nut. Sadly I still get pattern movement that has to be corrected after each row. The rear encoder (X Axis) as well has magnets and a Master Padlock. 

As another precaution to avoid unnecessary movement of the encoders make sure your wires/cords are prevented from contacting the encoders. Not a problem on the Y Axis more so on the X. 

I've also read some comments about the Red Snappers interfering with rulers. I guess I have a simple mind. By having your client or if you are the piecer, just make the back a little longer and attach the top so that the Red Snappers don't pass below the top 'stationary' bar. Then the Snappers aren't in the way. At least it's worked for me. I use the Red E Edge as well so I cut my backs 10" wider and ask clients to do the same so the Red E Edges don't interfere with the arm when I'm working close to the sandwich edge. There have been those occasions when the arm has propelled the clamp and Red E. When the propelled obstacles collide with the frame it scares the hell out of the dogs. Not to mention Elaine and I. 

Quilt till you wilt...we do. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Add 20 More Years...

Recently Elaine and I both submitted the requested sample to Ancestry for DNA testing. The results, confirming pretty much every thing Elaine was already aware of and confirming pretty much every thing I was aware of was, well let's just say exaggerated. Which has lead to the creation of a monster, Determined to dig out the facts about the Pages (paternal) and the Bays (maternal) for me.So if you don't hear from Elaine, she's fine...but enthralled in Ancestry at the moment.

While she was occupying her time in my families past I got the bug to do some Longarm Room decorating. Nothing major, just some splashes of color with signs, photos and magnets. You know just personalizing my space. I know, it's her longarm.

Spicing up the Longarm Room led to the picture on center stage above. Below is the photo.

In 1981 those pictured went to New Zealand and toured both islands to raise funds for several of the New Zealand charities. Air New Zealand was our sponsor. At the time CHiPs was the number one show there and extremely popular. We, as well, were a big hit...our fifteen minutes so to speak. The picture that was in the frame had been hanging behind my drum kit in the Man Cave and had caught just a tad bit to much sun and was faded out. I have it stored in the computer so I printed out another copy, put it in the frame and hung as seen above. Well lo and behold. When I took out the old photo I found a Valentine Letter I wrote to Elaine in 1997. Hence the title of this blog post..."Add 20 More Years."   

This July we will celebrate our 50th Anniversary and in September it will be 56 years since I was in the "Hot Seat." We've added 20 years, been blessed with an absolutely fabulous daughter-in-law, two wonderful grandchildren, stood proud as our son served a 24 year career to this great nation as a third generation Marine. Uprooted from what was home and comfortable in California to make Virginia home and comfortable. Quilting is as much a part of our day as is breathing and the following still holds as true today as it did 20 years ago when I wrote it to Elaine. 

Dear Elaine,

In the final scene of "Let It Ride" the cab driving, almost divorced, compulsive gambling character Trotter, masterfully portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss, is leaning on the rail overlooking Hialeah Race Track and whispers, "I knew it, I just knew it."

In the background seconds later you hear the announcement over the loud speaker naming Trotter's ninth race, four-legged choice, Hot-To-Trot, the winner of a photo finish. He had been having a very good day, give or take, a half million-dollar good day. Fade away, credits, rewind and back to reality.

It was a blistering hot, long summer of a '61 September day, and had it not been my first day of high school. Had it not been in a school where I didn't know the re-admissions rules. Had it been a day I could have talked my parents into letting me drive to school instead of taking the bus. Had I not been too loud and had the teacher not come into the room while I was being too loud it would all be different. However, love conquers all.

Except, I was too loud, the teacher did come into the room long before I think she should have. As a result, I was given rather forceful instructions to sit in the "hot seat." It was a small, one piece, school desk that faced the rest of the class, logistically located for quick access and under the stern eye of one tough biology teacher. It also provided a clear view of both entrances to the room something only seconds before being too loud I didn't have. My friends, who apparently weren't too loud, were given instructions not to communicate with me while I was occupying my new throne. Later to be named after me, Les' Seat. It has been said that l was the first student in the history of the school to dissect a frog at that desk. At the level of education we had attained up to this point, communicating did not include listening, so with a camouflaged ear they beard, "I just saw the girl I'm going to marry walk in the backdoor." They both turned, bad move, to see who I whispered about. Their movement provided a quick lesson on communication we didn't think we would get in biology. There were no more "hot seats," so having to spend a year in front row had to suffice. Apparently communicating with me included listening. Who knew?

This September will mark the 36th anniversary of that event, this July will mark the 30th anniversary of my prediction successfully carried out. It was probably run-a-muck hormones and the heat, combined with the short black skirt, white blouse, the most beautiful lips and warmest eyes I had ever seen, all wrapped in a natural golden brown shade of skin that still makes my hormones run-a-muck. I have been told that they are too loud at times. Some things never change.

It is in celebration of the second event listed, our 30th, that has placed me at the keyboard. On more occasions than can be tabulated, over the last 25 years, I have been challenged by the question, "How do you do it, how have you been able to remain married this long?" I don't have a doctorate, PhD., Masters, or any other piece of parchment that qualifies me to write a book, I'm sure I could, but I do have a tremendous amount of experience, and if you have a few minutes, I would love to share it with you.

I come from several different occupational backgrounds, each has carried with it the societal stigma of frequent divorce, several marriages and week-end fatherhood.sales, (cars no less), construction, fire service and for nearly twenty years, law enforcement. Each has its own mystique, characteristics and temptations. To challenge the intensity of the commitment, "Till death do you part." We are Boomers, who married young, for all the wrong reasons, without financial security, without full parental consent,total opposites, inter-racial (we didn't notice), one left-brained, one right, one right-handed, one left, one Catholic, one not, one sensitive, one "kill'em all let God sort'em out" and one "time-out parent" one "where's the belt?" We also happen to be two who never let minor differences stand in the way of their dreams, goals or the love that grew with each and every passing moment, even when we didn't know it. It is the last part that is still going on, still making each new day a gift. It is everything before that which makes what we have special. It is everything before that which makes what we have hard work. The job description requires effort, sacrifice, dedication, honesty, loyalty, trust, disappointment, forgiveness, communication (includes listening, a high school lesson), faith, sensitivity, understanding, patience, belief, tolerance, values, vision and a relentless pursuit for life together beyond what you can imagine.

It is the work part that I want expand on. If you don't work at it, you will be welcomed with open arms into the statistical world of divorce. You will contribute to thousands of hours of Talk Radio Doctors of this or that, millions of pages of books on why and why not and a zillion minutes of "Husbands Who Divorce Their Wives to Marry Her Sisters Best Friend Next Door to the Serial Killer from Venus."
 "We'll be right back after this brief message."

Marriage is a career. It is no different in marriage than it is in profession. If you want to succeed you had better be able to do all the things listed in the job description and then some. No one thing is more or less important than the other. You can communicate till your purple and your ears throb, without understanding it is all for not. You can sacrifice from now until the Inferno freezes over, no trust, no marriage. Your values can be mirrored reflections of the Commandments, no visions, no future. Nobody said it was going to be easy. Nobody said the list above is complete and nobody is saying you must do it alone, sometimes we all need help. It may come in the form of a go to friend or relative. It may be one of those Talk Radio Doctors or you may find yourself on a couch, "It all started Doc, when she asks " "If a parsley farmer got sued, can they garnish his wages.

I don't know what it will take on your part. I know what it has taken on ours. We have overlooked, not given in to temptations, sacrificed, communicated, tolerated, forgiven, understood, had faith, values, visions and pursuits. We have been loud, silent, mean, sincere, patient, mad, happy, sad, depressed, over-joyed (our son for one), disappointed, grieved, and elated to name a few. Through it all we have learned from each failure as well as each success. We have never given up, never quit, walked out or thrown in the towel, I did throw a few things at several walls and doors. We have learned to be more tolerant, understanding, patient, sharing, sincere, sensitive to others and each other, me a lot. We've stayed the same and changed. We have been so busy working and succeeding in life, love, marriage and friendship that I just had to take a few minutes and lean on the rail overlooking the last 35 years and say in a voice I hope is loud enough for a never forgotten tough biology teacher to hear, "I knew it, I just knew it."

Happy Valentine's Day Elaine, 
I Love You.
Your Lessie Poo

So add 20 more years. Some things never change..."I knew it, I just knew it."

Quilt till you wilt...we do. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Not Yet...Spring

First let me say we didn't get anywhere near what other areas close by got. Some high winds and tornadoes accompanied the storm that passed through last Friday. But the disaster teams on all of the local stations were doing everything in their power to disrupt regular programming. I guess it is expected. Thankfully we have a Verizon, DVR, Netflix and Amazon Prime so for us it is a simple matter of changing channels or services. Our satellite neighbors, not so much. It was a pretty severe storm in some areas but in the local stations viewing area it was a world wide catastrophe. Welcome to Virginia. It's weather, it's raining, the wind is blowing, some hail and we have been alerted via our smart phones of hazardous conditions. Do we really need 5 hours of weather coverage?

I will say that as far as the longarming goes, March went out like a lion. Finally got all the cylinders working and was able to get some quilting done. 

T-Quilts for an auction at an upcoming motorcycle event hosted by Salty Dawgs.

Naturally some Quilts of Valor

As a longarmer here is something I really love to see. When I get a quilt, without borders, the piecer has taken the extra time to sew along the quilt tops edge. This really helps when loaded to prevent seams from separating.

Had a few clients pass through as well in March. 

This month we will be setting up a Not Forgotten QOV booth provided by one of our gracious supporters, Events Management Group, EMG, for the 31st Annual Spring Craft Market, April 28-29-30 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. As always we will have a Raffle Quilt. It was on the longarm yesterday and will be heading to the binder today or tomorrow. If you are in the area please stop by the booth and say hi. EMG has been a huge supporter of Not Forgotten since day one. Our successes and work for QOVF is a direct result of the support we get from our sponsors like EMG, and an unselfish group of QOVF volunteers that are the foundation and backbone of Not Forgotten QOV. Elaine and I are sincerely grateful to them all. 

I saw this on Facebook this morning and thought I'd share it here. It was posted by the absolutely finest Innova Dealer on the planet. Virginia Longarm. Okay I'm a little biased. Does it show? 
Let me just add, regardless of direction, "good" being preferred every time, please, pretty please with sugar and molasses, make your seams 1/2" and press them open. 

I'm often asked, "Why do you QOV?" 
It was 50 years ago this month that I returned from Vietnam. That just happens too be how old this photo is. I QOV because no one, not one living soul that takes the Enlistment Oath, serves and protects the freedoms that we enjoy, places themselves in harm's way, ever again goes without a grateful, sincere and heartfelt thanks for standing at any given time with 1% of the population. (Only 1% of the U.S. population that is eligible to serve is actually on active duty at any given time. During WWII it was 9%, it has never been that high since.) Yes I am in that 99% group that will NEVER FORGET.  

So here comes April, let the Dog Days of Summer be not far behind. 

Quilt till you wilt...we do. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring shop...

If you ask Elaine, Winter, Summer and Fall would also quality for a time to shop. I mention Spring because it just sprung. I was going through my tools and supplies doing an informal inventory before I knuckle down and really concentrate on my longarming. Not that I'm under any pressure but looking at the QOV shelves...well there is no more room. That lead me to updating my list of online vendors for new as well as replacement items if needed. Luckily, at this time I can leave my credit card in my wallet. But just in case these are some of the latest numbers I've gathered on items I use and who knows when replacing may be necessary.

Towa Gauge..
Several on ebay for under $50.
Superior Threads at just under $53
both plus shipping.
Amazon Prime is as well under $53 with no shipping for Prime Members.
You can also find the new 'digital Towa' Body and L or M insert. The body is $104.77 and either insert is $19.63 with free shipping. This is out there for info only. This is one of those instances if it ain't broke. The old style Towa is like the old style me...not fancy but works well.

Havel Scissors and Notions
I couldn't function without the 5 3/4" Double Curved Applique Scissors
$12.99 plus shipping.
I've seen these at numerous quilt stores and fabric stores for $30.
They have a great selection of scissors for all needs and a good selection of 'Left Handed' as well.

You'll also find a good selection of Batting Scissors under $40 on Amazon.

Rotary Replacement Blades.
This is not something I use often, but Elaine uses them constantly. While looking for something on Amazon...a pretty frequent occurrence...I ran across these. I ordered them for Elaine. She now swears by them and found no less quality and performance between this brand, Improved Cut, and Fiskar or OLFA.
The 45mm pack of 10 is under $15 and the 10 pack of 60mm is under $23. Both with no shipping fees on orders over $35.

Longarm Needles. 
I use Groz-Beckert 100/16. I'm a loyalist here. As well as my threads...Omni and Omni Variegated, I purchase my needles from Superior Threads. Currently the 100 Pack is selling for $27.95. I choose the Titanium Coated. I've broken two in over 500 quilts. In both cases working on quilts that incorporated shirt blocks with buttons...I hit the buttons. I use a new needle for each client but have gotten 8-10 quilts out of one needle without any sacrifice in stitch quality. I have tried the recommended #18 for Omni threads but did not find them as efficient as the 16.

I firmly believe in floating my tops and batting. In doing so the magnets have become a essential part of my longarming routine. Harbor Freight is still the best place to purchase. The 18" magnets are still under $5 and watch for coupons and sales. Something any JoAnn's shopper knows about. 

New toy...
For some time now I've wanted to do videos. I finally purchased an 'action camera' similar to GoPro without the price tag. I've been playing (learning) with it. Not as easy as pushing record it turns out. Once I have learned the in and outs I'll be posting some videos of how and why I do it the way I do it. I was working with it yesterday and between filming, quilting, playing back, advancing, filming I somehow managed to quilt over the same place in the pattern I was working with. Okay, I got lost. So after spending an hour with Jack the Ripper I put the camera away and just quilted. I'm going to need a lot more practice filming...I've got the quilting part down pretty well. Seems to be a case of not being able to chew gum and walk at the same time. Wish me luck. When I do get it down I'll start posting the videos...thee Leatherneck Kilted Quilters POV. 

That's it for now. 

Quilt till you wilt...we do.