Monday, October 03, 2005
Whew, has it really been 3 weeks since I've posted anything?!? Ok, but this time I have a really good excuse. Honest.
I have been busy. I finished a long-standing quilt project and another non-quilt project. The quilt project in one that I have been working on off and on for the past 7 years or so. My great-aunt started a quilt from a kit. The entire top was cross stitched and then quilted with a rather elaborate quilt pattern that had been pre-stamped on the top. Jessie had completed all the cross stitch and about 1/4 of the hand quilting. Well, I can now say that ALL the hand quilting is complete and the binding is completed. I'm just awaiting a picture of Jessie to include on the label before I send it off to Amanda, the granddaughter she never got to meet.
The other rather time consuming project I completed was insulated window coverings for all 8 of the windows in the Westfalia. I used Warm Window and backed the batting side with silver mylar. Then I made yards and yard and yards of bias binding which, due to the thickness and uncooperativeness (is that a word?) of the mylar, the binding had to be sewn in two stages. Then, with Stephen's help we added grommets and suction cups. The window coverings were put to the test when we joined 26 or so other VW's at Bridge Creek Campground outside of Leavenworth for a weekend campout. Sunday morning the temperature was a brisk 35º. With the warm window coverings and my "hot water dog", we only used the portable heater to warm things up in the morning before we crawled out of bed.
Speaking of Arlo, he's finally showing signs of maturing. At almost 18 months we've been able to see little signs of him settling down. He's still in agility and loving it. But, that's with the help of Xanax before class. I don't know that we will ever be able to compete with him because he still wants to kill every other dog he sees, sigh. We left Sneakers at home this weekend and had hoped that on his own, Arlo would react differently to other dogs but that was not to be. If things don't change in that regard, it's going to be a long 12 years or so....
Monday, September 12, 2005
Well, in the last two weeks I've managed to actually finish a couple projects. The baby quilt for Cheryl Mante, or more specifically, Jonah. Cheryl loved the quilt. The backing on this is Minky and it is so incredibly soft. I didn't want the binding to ever end because I enjoyed "fondling" the Minky.
Also finished and presented, was the wedding quilt for Judy & Bill. I used a panel of Psalms which were in 3" & 6" blocks which fit very nicely into the Yellow Brick Road pattern. The quilt was a breeze to put together. I quilted hearts randomly all over it including the borders. Judy was thrilled. The first week she had joined KLC as our administrative support, she attended the fund raising auction and unsuccessfully bid on the Psalms I quilt I had made. After the tough couple months they have both had leading up to this wedding I knew that a nice, comforting quilt was the perfect gift.
Today I also completed Stephen's new bathrobe. I was hoping that I would also be able to use the same Kwik Sew pattern for my Minky robe but this robe is HUGE. The sleeves are so long that I was swimming in them. They should be ok for him though as his arms are a bit longer than mine. When he gets back from Portland tomorrow I'll know whether or not I have to attempt to shorten them or not.
And now, it's time to water the dogs and go to bed.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
After having battled for two years, I felt I needed to share my experience with anyone who might be considering making the same mistake I did. The following is a recap my my two year journey and are some things you should seriously consider before buying a stretched quilting machine, a.k.a. DM Quilting System.
In March of 2003, after several e-mail conversations with David Grice of DM Quilting Systems, I placed my order for one of his stretched machines. I was initially told delivery would be June of that year. June, July and most of August passed with no word from David. The only time I heard from him was when I wrote inquiring as to the shipment of my machine. He kept telling me a date and it would come and go and yet again, the machine had not shipped. I should have cancelled the order then and there.
Instead, I eagerly awaited the arrival of the machine that he assured me would allow me to quilt my tops smoothly and easily. He had stated that following patterns was not a problem with his machine.
The machine finally arrived after Labor Day. The wrong carriage had been shipped with it. There was no stylus to follow patterns. Once we finally got the correct carriage, the machine exhibited skipped stitches. When I asked him about this I was told I was moving the machine too fast. The next 3 weeks were spent “practicing” but still never got past the skipped stitches. Then a set screw fell out of the lower shaft. This caused the timing to be totally misaligned. During the telephone call to attempt to fix this problem, he informed me that if the set screw had fallen out, he must have missed putting LocTite on it to secure it. We attempted to retime the machine as best we could via the telephone. David does not provide any diagrams or photos to aid you in this. His answer if you cannot do it yourself is to ship the machine back to him in Texas, at your own expense.
In the two years that I have had the machine I have never yet been able to use it to finish a quilt. The machine continuously skips or shreds thread. Because of this, I would abandon it for months at a time after becoming totally frustrated when attempting to use it. Then I would attempt to use it, and encounter the same problems. I joined a Yahoo Groups list dedicated to the DMQS machine. When I complained of my problems on that list in the fall of 2004, I received a note from David’s wife, Margaret, informing me to call as there was yet another adjustment to be made. We made the adjustment, it didn’t solve the problem. I asked for a refund as the machine had never worked properly. David ignored my request.
Fast forward to August 2005. We decided to attempt one last try at the DMQS. My husband spent over 20 hours adjusting every possible thing that could be adjusted to no avail. It made no difference. Calls and e-mails to David brought no help. We then brought the machine to a local repair shop that specializes in all types of sewing machine repair, including industrial. $180 later, I have been informed that both the upper and lower shafts are bent and that they have timed and adjusted the machine as best as possible but with the bent shafts, it will not stitch properly. Since this machine is 70+ years old, and was not designed to be moved around on a table, stitching in multiple directions, they cannot do any more for me.
In the past two years I have found at least two other DMQS customers with the same “issues” as I have had. When we compared our experiences, they were nearly identical.
David has offered to replace my machine but refuses and totally ignores my requests for a refund or even a partial refund. I feel that since the machine has never worked properly, from the beginning, I should be entitled to a refund. I now have $2400 invested in a worthless quilting machine and table. If you had spent that much money on a machine, you would expect it to work. If it didn't you would bring it back for a refund, right?
If any one is even thinking of saving the money and purchasing a DMQS or similar system, I ask you to consider the following carefully:
1. This is a rotary machine, not electronic or computerized. Because of this it is very noisy, and the mechanics make it bouncy. 2. There is no needle up/down. If you want to pull the bobbin thread up while free motion quilting from the front, you must turn the wheel by hand. If you are short, it is a very long reach. I’m 5’10” and it’s still a reach. It also means that I must stand up each time. I have back problems so I have a tall drafting chair I use to quilt from.
3. It simply doesn’t quilt smoothly. Tracing a pattern smoothly is virtually impossible. It wasn’t designed to be used in any other manner than as a stationery machine in which the fabric is moved under the needle, not the machine moved over the fabric.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
And now for my rant. Last year we planted an Asian pear tree in the yard. I lovingly tended to it and was quite happy to actually see it bear fruit it's first year. Unfortunately, Arlo discovered one low hanging branch, complete with 2 pears and decided the challenge was to see how fast he could remove the branch from the tree. There went 2 of my 6 pears.
This year I had 8 or 10 pears. I was so excited. There are no longer branches at Arlo's height and thankfully he's taken a liking to pieces of wood from our old wood pile. Standing on the deck one morning, awaiting the Princess to do her business, I noticed something on the ground under the pear tree. Further inspection revealed that it was one of my pears, neatly nibble around the middle. Upon further inspection I could not find a single pear left on my tree! The *@$% squirrels feasted on every last one of them!
I guess it's time to teach Arlo how to catch squirrels. If granny Sneakers was younger I know she would be up to the challenge since she has several to her credit.
On a happier note, the group QB baby quilt for Niki was completed and received lots of accolades at the shower last week. It's always nice to know that something you put so much time and love into is genuinely appreciated.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Meanwhile, life basically stopped while I read the latest Harry Potter. Amid many tears and lots of tissues, I managed to finish it this morning. Now I need to re-read at least the one previous as I don't remember enough of the details.
In the last few weeks, I did manage to get my row completed for the group baby quilt the QB's are doing. Now if I can only get myself motivated to finish that other baby quilt. Since the due date was today, I think I can safely say that it won't get finished and shipped before the birth. I'm thinking I may just wait until they move out here to Ft. Lewis instead of sending it to NY.
And then there is that Beige Behemoth calling out to me. Perhaps if the rest of the QB's weren't so dang far ahead of me I wouldn't be itching to work on it.
But then there's also all those nagging notes from the Fly Lady. I really do need to start paying more attention to her. My intentions are good, I think I'm just lacking enough motivation--story of my life.
Well, the spotted ones are whining to go out and chase the lawn mower so I suppose I should remove myself from in front of this computer and go supervise.
Monday, June 27, 2005
So, two weeks ago I basted the quilt and started work on it. I knew that I had a good 3 weeks or so before Lora would have hers completed since she's only working on it on Mondays. Meanwhile, Claudia dug through the piles in her sewing room trying to find her blocks. So today I show up with my completed quilt. I really wanted to be sitting there just working on the binding but somehow managed to actually get it all done this past weekend. Claudia also shows up with her completed quilt, (but she doesn't have a label on hers yet and I do.) Naturally, this is the one time Lora doesn't arrive early. When she finally arrived around lunchtime we had great fun with our Show & Tell. But, more importantly, I can check another item off of one of my UFO lists. Yippee!
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
I was asked recently why I didn't have any current pictures of Arlo posted. I had to search, but finally came up with this one. Yes, he really does think he's a lap dog. Only problem is, this lap is usually reserved for the Princess, Miss Sneakers. She was none too happy to find HIM there instead.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Works In some form of Progress
(not necessarily listed in order of age)
1. Monochromatic sampler quilt (this is definitely the oldest in the list
as it dates back to my NY days.)
2. Mariner's Compass
3. Mystery quilt -- Debbie Mumm dog print
4. Jackson Family Photo Memory Quilt
5. R&W Starkle, Starkle (Bob Coon class)
6. Kaleidoscope - royal blue
7. Batik scrap Hunter's Star
8. Stack n' Whack dogs
9. RW&B star log cabin
10. Airplane quilt
11. Airplane wallhanging - foundation pieced
12. Yellow & Blue Grandmother's Flower Garden
13. Bear's Paw in a Bear's Paw wallhanging - Bob Coon class
14. Red, black, & White pieced duvet cover
15. Ditto applique wallhanging (C.Warr Anderson "Applique for Realism")
16. BOM dog applique
17. Hudson River lighthouses
18. Storm at Sea
19. Nickel Quilt (not sure I should count this one yet since I'm still
collecting 5" squares and haven't completed one full block yet...)
20. Signature Quilt for T.L.
21. Dog themed Baby quilt for CM -- completed 8/20/05
22. Black pansy challenge wallhanging
23. QB Christmas challenge
24. Applique lighthouses (Piecemaker's BOM)
25. Beige Behemoth
26. 2003 Shop Hop Blocks
To be Quilted or In-Process
1. QB Signature friendship quilt -- completed 6/27/05
2. Giant Dahlia
3. Hawaiian Applique
4. Jessie's Cross Stitch
1. Trip to Trinidad
2. Christmas Stained Glass
3. Rose for Princess Diana
4. Dog Pincushion
Of course this list doesn't include all the sewing projects in various stages of completion.......insulated curtains for the bus, duffle/tote bag for agility class, clear vinyl for screen room portion of tent and a whole myriad of others that I don't even want to think about right now.
One thing is abundantly clear to me, I have a definite problem with finishing. But I relate that to something I read on a quilting list once upon a time. The discussion had come up on this subject and somebody stated that part of the creative process in our minds sees the project as completed once we've done a portion of it. We can see whether or not it's turning out as we had envisioned it and in our minds, we see it completed and move on to the next idea rolling around, screaming to come out. Hey, it works for me. :)
But, truth be told, I am a bit embarrassed by the number of projects listed. There's something a bit humbling about actually seeing it in black and white instead of on that mental whiteboard, (I think I keep erasing it in my mind.) So, now the question is, what am I going to do about all these projects? I think I need to mull this over for a while and try to come up with a plan of action.
Monday, June 06, 2005
Our new awning. It was fairly easy to set up and a nice addition when we don't have space for the tent. I'll have to dig up some pictures of the side tent that I adapted to attach to the side of the bus. It gives us a nice screen room and more flexibility with the dogs. But it's so darned BIG that it isn't always easy to use at a lot of campgrounds.
After stopping for gas and subs for lunch, we made it to Lynnwood to the meeting place 45 minutes early. We pulled into a nice strip mall, ate our lunch walked the dogs and I was able to browse through a neat bead and button shop. Found a beautiful "dalmatian stone"(?) pendant for a good price. Alas, that was about the only good thing to happen.
On arriving back at the bus there was the dreaded green juice puddle leaking from a place it wasn't supposed to. Quick inspection determined it was the overflow tank and that it had yet reached the critical stage. Luckily there was a VW shop nearby that happened to have the part. So we made a slow, leisurely drive home and Steve swapped out the tank while I made some blonde brownies. A few more tweaks of some hoses and all leaks were solved.
5:30 pm and we're back on the road forging through Friday afternoon rush hour traffic. 3 hours later we made it to Camano Island and actually were able to find a nice spot, complete with a beautiful water view. Woo hoo.
Saturday was beautiful. The weather was perfect, not too hot, nor too cool. We finally learned how to play cribbage. Took the dogs down to the water and Arlo had his first encounter with waves....they scared him. After being chased by the first one, he didn't want to get near them again. He was a total butthead about any other dogs he saw. The leash aggression thing is really getting old.
The turnout was 20 buses and the potluck was great, as usual, in true WetWestie fashion. Unfortunately, something triggered Steve's allergies and he couldn't stop sneezing or blowing his nose. Benadryl didn't even phase it. So, when we ran out of tissues, we decided to head home after the potluck. Probably was all for the best since the weather turned a bit wild on Sunday with some fierce storms blowing through.
Monday, May 30, 2005
I used some of the settings suggested by Debbie. I'm thinking I really should have made that test blouse before I plunged in and cut up the "good stuff". Oh well, live and learn. Debbie had suggested I try a test blouse and move the side/arm point and side/hip point to -.5 or up to -1.0. I used -.5 for this blouse, don't think I like it. This blouse fits better across the back of the shoulders than the Hawaiian from last year but I still think I need more ease across the back.
Unfortunately I need to make the insulated/reflective window coverings for the bus before I can get back to any more sewing for myself. And I think I should probably do a summer weight bathrobe before playing with more blouses. I'm sure the neighbors would appreciate it when I'm out cleaning up the yard first thing in the morning before Arlo's allowed out......
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Lately I have taken to carrying dog treats and a clicker around with me at all times. We are trying to shape some of Arlo's behaviors to make him a more pleasant dog to live with. In other words, trying to break him of his habit of standing in the window barking at anything and everything that moves on the sidewalk or street. In just a little over a week, he is will now turn his head and look at me when I say "watch me". When he does this I click the clicker and he gets a treat. That stops the barking, even temporarily. We are making slow progress.
We're also following a new lifestyle with him, NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free). It's making a difference. His surly teenage attitude is slowly changing and he's figuring out just who is REALLY the boss. He still has some serious issues with sitting and waiting until I open the door to let him out, especially if he's spied a squirrel running the back fence. And I don't think he will EVER stop his nasty coprophagia habit. He absolutely, positively resents having to wait until Sneakers has gone outside and done her business and then one of us has cleaned it up. None of the dog behavior information I've read has addressed how to solve that issue.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Arlo is the grandson of our 12 year old old girl, Sneakers. He was born just 2 days after we lost our first Dal, Ditto. Ditto was a very large, sweet, sweet liver Dalmatian who had a fan club far and wide. Arlo is a whole 'nother story. His nickname quickly became "Monster" not long after he arrived. We often wonder if we would have ever had another Dalmatian if Arlo had been our first instead of our third.