What to do, what to do

With recent changes to Indiana law, I can no longer support or honor a place that doesn’t support me. The quilt I’ve been working on for over a year to celebrate Terre Haute and Indiana’s two-hundred year anniversary has come to a screeching halt. Not sure whether to just throw it in “will not complete” pile, burn it,  or just alter it so that two of leaves on the outer border (2015 & 2016) are black to show my dissatisfaction with my “home” state.

I’m still plugging away at my millefiori quilt. I didn’t like the green outer border on my Round 1, so I ripped it out and replaced it with a gold/black print. I completed the hexagons for Round 2 and will now attach them to the modified Round 1 hexies, then onto Round 3 (final round for Rosette 1). Rosettes 2-4 are in a pile waiting for me to get started on them.

March 28, we ran the Savage Race in Dade City. My time improved by 4 minutes per mile (down to 21 minutes per mile versus the 25 minutes per mile in the BattleFrog Challenge on March 14). The next race is next week, The Monster Challenge, then the Hog Wild two weeks after that. Even with horrible times like that, I have to remind myself, it’s not a race to win but one to get to the finish line. There are about 30 obstacles in the runs that take up the most time and some of them have lines you have to wait in to get to the obstacle. Also, I came in 12th in my age group out of 39 entries, so I’m not doing that bad.


Still alive and well

I’ve been busy for the past few years with no chance to update my blog. I’ve been working on several quilts and piling up the UFO’s. I’ve even finished a few; mostly baby quilts commissioned by coworkers and family. Not enough to finance my longarm machine yet, but still working my way towards that big purchase.

Eric with the quilt I made for his new-born son, Chase.

We took up mud runs a couple of years ago and have amassed a wall full of bib numbers, finishers medals, and t-shirts. Not really that good at it, but it is fun and the people we meet are the best.

The main reason for not writing was that all my time was taken up with guild stuff. I took over the web site, the newsletter, and other projects for their quilt show such as ad design, pins, and program layout. After the show, I finally stepped down to pursue my own projects and work toward my goal of moving out of Orlando to someplace less transient.

In preparation for getting married I have always wanted to create a dowry of quilts (12) as a wedding present for us, but didn’t think that marriage equality would ever get here. I’m now planning on getting married in the next few months, but no quilts done yet. I thought I’d make the classics such as Delectable Mountains, Double Wedding Ring, Bear Paw, etc.

Guess I should get back to work!

Current Projects (UFOs)

  • Millefiori BotM – Working on 1st rosette (the 3rd rosette is the current one)
  • Indiana/Terre Haute 200 quilt, working on outer border of 200 appliqued leaves
  • Delectable Mountains – scrap busting project (Dowry quilt project)

Kaneesha’s Kwilt

Kaneesha on her quilt. It matches her eyes.

I mentioned this quilt back in May. I finished it up at a quilt retreat in August after getting back from my sister’s funeral. I made it for me; just for me; something to treat myself. Then, Kaneesha claimed it. She first saw it when I was quilting it, then I would find her curled up on it while it was still under the needle (machine off, needle down). Now every time I get it out she jumps up on the bed and is ready for a nap. She curls up on the quilt behind my knees and will sleep the entire time of the nap. A full picture of the quilt is on my quilts page (Kevin’s Quilts).

Rested and Refreshed

I’m back from vacation; seven days of Caribbean sun, ocean water, mediocre food, and great friends. After the summer that I’ve gone through, I needed a week of nothing but waking up, eating, swimming, dancing, and talking to some great guys. The cruise got my mind off of everything negative and allowed me to just have fun. I heartily recommend a cruise for whatever may ail you. I don’t  recommend that it be on NCL though.

I’ve had to take a break from blogging (I know, I tend to do that a lot).  I wrote previously about losing my niece to cancer and the trip home. Well, late in June I got a call from my nephew letting me know that my middle sister, Judy, had fallen at a local cafeteria and was in critical condition at the hospital in Terre Haute. More updates followed: she had stopped breathing the first night but recovered; she was  in pain and not being made comfortable by the hospital staff; she was being moved to a regular room and was getting better; then, she was not doing well and being rushed to a larger more competent hospital in Indianapolis.

That was July 11, 2010. The updates continued and a web site was created to keep family posted on her recovery. One update she was recovering, the next it looked grim. Lenny and I decided to drive up and see her. She had a breathing tube in the whole time we were there so I didn’t get to talk her. Well, I talked, but I didn’t get to hear her comforting voice. She was coherent and knew we were there, but slept most of the time. We headed home knowing that soon we’d get a call saying she was heading home (or to a convalescent home at worst). Then, on August 5, 2010 we got the call that we had dreaded… she had passed away after a final surgery attempt to correct some blood vessels in her shoulder and arm.

Judy was the middle of my three sisters. She had helped raise me after my mom passed away giving my dad a break from being a single dad. She taught me every craft known to humankind from feather flowers, crushed glass chicken paintings, ceramic matadors, knitting, and finally quilting. I’ve gone on trips with her to malls, craft stores, and to the college graduations of her son and daughter (more like my kid brother and sister). I’ll always have memories of her popup randomly to comfort me, make me laugh, and to start the water works flowing. I already miss her and wish I could call her up for a chat. Soon.

Offline, but not off-kilter

Kind of got sidetracked recently.  A week after my last post I got word that one of my nieces lost her battle with cancer.  I drove up to Indiana to say goodbye, visit family, then drove home. All 3000 miles (roundtrip) by myself. It took a toll on me, but now I’m back on track.

My niece, Cathy, was a year younger than I am (long story), so having a family member so close to my age die hit too close to home. We weren’t really that close, but we did keep in touch. She was anoutgoing cheerleader-type and me a book-nerd, but we did get along well. She will be missed.

My good deed on this trip, not that I do one every visit… My oldest sister, Pat, was crocheting an afghan from a beautiful heather colored yarn, but had run out of it. We shopped around in Terre Haute for it, but were told it was discontinued by Hobby Lobby. While driving back home I stopped in Louisville, KY at a Hobby Lobby and checked there; same story. So, I stopped in Nashville, TN and luckily found more than enough to send to her. Yeah. The reason she ran out is that she crochets so tightly. The dense crochet creates a soft and warm afghan unlike most you’ll ever see. She’s a great quilter too.

I guess I had two good deeds this trip. I also helped my middle sister with another project. We cut out wool shapes for project she wanted to get started on. She had never used freezer paper, so I showed her how. We got all the pieces cut inclduing the borders. Double-yeah.

On the quilting front. I have finished three quilts since my last update. The QuiltGuy Mini-Quilt swap was a success. The quilt I received was beautiful and the one I sent out was one of my favorites. I might have to make myself one just like it. I finished Arthur’s quilt and will be giving it to him shortly. The third quilt was made on a whim. I wanted to try a quilting pattern I created for Arthur’s quilt, so I made up a mini-quilt (18″ x 22″)  and quilted it using the test pattern. It came out well, yet I decided to further simplify it before using on Arthur’s quilt. I also added beads to the mini-quilt; my first time using beads.

During a slow day at work, I designed a quilt for myself. I found a fun quilt that uses squares set randomly in larger squares, so using that as my starting point, I changed the inner square to a nine-patch using the black fabrics and the background square using the white fabrics. I further altered the design by alternating the blocks in the reverse format; white nine-patch squares set into a black background.  A few years ago the QuiltGuy group had a fat-quarter swap using black and white fabrics, so this is my chance to use those fabulous fat-quarters. I’m excited to get started on this one. This will be my quilt, just for me.

Doing My Part

I’m doing my part to jump start the economy. While riding my bike this past weekend I decided that my tailbone couldn’t take another mile of the beating it was getting on my old bike, so we stopped into the local bike shop and inquired about trading it up to a mountain bike with fatter tires and a smoother ride. They gave me an offer for my old bike that I couldn’t refuse, so I’m now the proud owner of a Specialized (it’s a brand name, who knew) bike.

The old bike, a Giant (also a brand name, bikers are a strange lot) Cypress, was too tall and the tires too narrow. I liked the construction of the bike, but not the ride; I always felt top-heavy. The new bike, a metallic red Specialized Hardrock Sport, rides smoothly and is able to handle the dirt paths I like to ride. I don’t like the small handle-grips, but I’ll get used to them or change them out. I took the bike out on the Shingle Creek Trail in my neighborhood and had a nice ride with the gators and wild cats. I didn’t see any, but I knew they were watching and judging me. Thankfully they must have seen that I would tough and chewy as they didn’t come into sight, but I could hear them stalking me.

We’re taking the bikes out on some of the many trails here in Orlando in the next few weeks. There are nearly 200 miles of bike  trails within riding distance. Next up, West Orange Trail and Lake Minneola Trail.

On the quilting front, I worked some more on the back of Arthur’s quilt (the side made with Mom’s clothing). No real progress there. I also made a name badge for guild using the design that I’m using for the flyers and ads. It came out better than expected, but the hand-dyed fabrics I used aren’t as opaque as I wanted. The bright colors of the hand-dyes were muted on the black background. I’ll try a white background

I took a suggestion from Patsy Thompson and had a glass of wine before quilting the name badge… not a good idea! The quilting came out fairly good, but more than once my fingers got uncomfortably close to the needle. I’ll sew sober the next time.

Shout Out to a Great Blog

For the past week I’ve been reading postings on an amazing blog, 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting Filler Designs. Leah is an amazing quilter and looks all of 16. I think she is a bit older as she is married and has at least one child. She is in the midst of posting a quilting pattern each day for a year. Each pattern has video showing her quilting it on her Juki by hand, not on a frame. She has two video sets out and is working on more.

She has already helped me overcome some obstacles in my quilting in just the few days I’ve been reading her blog. I’m using my Juki on a frame, but I think I might give the frame a rest and just get used to the new machine. It has such a much bigger throat than my Bernina 170 which was one of the battles I had while quilting the last three quilts. (Just saying last three quilts sends tingles through me.)


Good news on the health front also, the dizzy spells I’ve been having were not high blood pressure related, there were new medicine related. My blood pressure is actually back to normal now, 134/78 or so, and the dizzy spells were corrected by taking my pills an hour before going to bed (instead of at bedtime). Big difference. I was actually able to ride my bike to the gym and back and get a full workout without feeling wobbly. Woo Hoo!

Gearing up for our great-niece’s visit over Easter week. Not the best time to come down here, but she’ll have fun at the pool in their resort. She’ll be here with her mom and dad. It’s been over year since they’ve been down here, so it will be great to see them.

Off to watch more Leah videos and then get some practice in before going two-stepping tonight.

New Toy

My new toy came in this past weekend. The background is that I’ve been looking at long and mid-arm quilting machines for sometime now, but held back due to the costs. While attending the Mt. Dora Quilt Show one of my favorite dealers, Sew Mini Things, offered me a great deal on a bundle. It’s only a start, but we have to start somewhere. I bought a Juki TL98Q sewing machine which has a huge throat and speed, and a Grace Little Gracie II frame. They also threw in the stitch regulator and leader cloths which make it a great bargain.

I assembled the wooden frame on Friday evening and Saturday morning, then added the cloth leaders later in the day. That night I unboxed the Juki and set it up. Now I hve to wait until Thursday to load up a practice quilt and start quilting. I have three quilts lined up and ready to quilt after I feel comfortable on the frame. Can’t wait to get started!

Feeling much better and almost thawed out

It’s been unbelievably cold here in Florida. In February our Winter is usually over and the brief period of Spring before the Summer heat is in effect. Not this year. The only good thing about this unusual event is that the cold weather has made us stay in more than usual and caused me to get even more work done on my quilt projects (and watch more movies).

The quilt I mentioned in my last post is now done. (I’m starting to love those words!) The back turned out beautifully and though it is totally different in value to the other side, I was able to find a binding fabric that worked for both sides. Right after finishing that quilt I moved on the third quilt in that series. The top is almost done on it. The other two quilts from 2000 will have to wait a few weeks, but I’m committed to getting them done soon, before May hopefully.

My online quilt group, QuiltGuy, has a small group swapping mini-quilts. The deadline is April 15th, but I got mine last week and was totally blown away. It’s beautiful. I can’t post a pic until everyone has their quilt though. I worked on my design all last week at work in lulls between calls. I started practiicing paper-piecing so that I can get it done quickly. I like the design I came up with, it’s sort of African shield meets NFL. I want one too! By the way, the quilt I received had a great label on the back with glow-in-the-dark embroidery!

Barely Coherent

At mom’s funeral I lost my voice. It was raining and unusually cold here in Florida. I didn’t say much, so not sure why it affected me so badly. That and a bad cold kept off work for a week. What a way to spend my birthday weekend, too hoarse to talk, sneezing, and freezing. This year is starting to look like a repeat of the last one.

I did use my time off work to my advantage and work on… wait for it… quilting. I finished the back of the new quilt and got started on the quilting. I changed the quilting from the last one (remember, this one is just a slight modification of the previous one). This one has more curves. I echo-quilted the inner section; and used a clam-shell pattern in the bottom portion of the baskets. I promise to put pictures up of both quilts after February 20th.

Working on these two quilts has inspired me to complete two other memory quilts that I made in 2000! I designed the quilting during a lull at work on Monday (MLK holiday). I’m looking forward to quilting these two as it they are full size (72″ x 90″) and larger than what I have attempted before. The current quilt is only 60″ square and has been tough maneveuring under the needle of my Bernina. Can’t wait to get a longarm machine.

This weekend is the Central Florida Quiltguy meeting in Mt. Dora/Leesburg/Eustis. It will be fun to see the guys again, but I’ll have to leave early as it is also Country Saturday Night; my two-stepping night.

Kevin's thoughts, progress, and sights along the way