Archive for December, 2009


Can it really be the end of the decade?

Think back 10 years. We were all so worried about Y2K. Businesses were being told that due to the short-sightedness of computer programmers of yesteryear, if something wasn’t done to correct it, all hell would break loose when the calendar turned to January 1, 2000 and all the computers would think it was January 1, 1900. Since the world didn’t come to an end as I recall, everyone must have gotten it fixed before midnight, New Year’s Eve.

Back in 1999, I joined an online group of quilters, the Cyberbees. I had been a Rootsweb (online genealogy forum) member for years before that and spent a lot of time there. Rootsweb decided to diversify a bit, so they opened up their forums to include other subjects besides just genealogy. One of them was Hobbies and a subset of that was Quilting. And so the Cyberbees were born. Today we’re still going strong, although we’ve been moved around a bit. We now reside on the server of one Doc Schneider (maddoc.net).

The Cyberbees were in the midst of a Millennium swap when I signed up. I was brand new to quilting, having taken one class at the LQS (local quilt shop), and didn’t really understand what they were doing. So I was too late to that party and Y2K fabric had all but disappeared from the marketplace. One of the Bees found me a small piece which I haven’t used to this day. I don’t know that many of them actually made their quilts, but Toni B. did and I fell in love with it. It’s a simple scrappy quilt but she fussy cut the “2000” out of the fabric and placed it in blocks all around the perimeter. Actually, I think Toni made two Millennium quilts because she has a different one labeled “Millennium” in our online gallery.

Even though I wasn’t able to buy any significant amount of Millennium fabric, I had a plan for an applique design. And now here it is 10 years later and I haven’t even taken the design out of my head and put it into Electric Quilt. I figure it’s probably never too late to actually make the thing, it would be something to hand down to my grandchildren. Just think, we lived to see the turning of the Millennium. How many generations can say that?

John and I are going to a small party tonight at the new home of our friends, Tom and Kay. I can’t wait to see it. It took them a lot longer to find their “perfect” house than it would have us, so I figure this has to be some kind of fabulous digs.

If you’re partying tonight, stay safe!


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A WordPress tip

If you have a WordPress blog like this one, you may have noticed that some of your pictures, which look fine in the Dashboard, look washed-out in your final post. I have talked about this before and I thought I had the solution: don’t let WordPress resize your photos, upload them in the exact size you intend to use. Most of the images I post here are 500 pixels on the long side which is the largest size my theme offers.

When I was working on this week’s Wordless Wednesday, the picture displayed in the Dashboard with the correct vibrant colors. When I previewed it, it was horribly washed out. I didn’t get it, I thought I had this figured out already. Fortunately, this question had already been asked over on the WordPress.com forums with a solution. I tried it, and it worked.

I don’t know about you, but I do most of my work on the “HTML” tab rather than the “Visual” tab. When I insert a picture, part of the code looks like this:

<img title=”IMG_1011-500-75 src=” src=” mce_src=” alt=”” width=”500″ height=”377″ />

The resulting image looks like this:

Even though the width is showing the 500 pixels as I uploaded it, WordPress must still be doing something to it, because when you remove the size code like this:

<img title=”IMG_1011-500-75 src=” src=” mce_src=” alt=””>

This is the resulting image:

Since both images look exactly the same in the Dashboard, you have to preview it to see it.

This may also be a browser thing. I tested it in Safari and Firefox with the same result. If you use another browser and can’t see a difference between the two pictures, please post a comment and let me know which browser and its version you’re using.

If you write a blog but use Blogger, Typepad or one of the other ones and you’re having the same problem, see if this solution might work for you. I have seen an awful lot of washed-out photos in the almost-200 blogs I follow, so I know I’m not alone.


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This can’t be right, can it?

Don’t faint, but I am actually SEWING. I am working on a UFO, the tablerunner I blogged about here.

Yesterday I quilted it and today I’m working on the binding.

Something seemingly has gone wrong and I can’t figure out what it is.

Here’s the binding fabric. It’s a plaid homespun and I want to cut the binding strips on the bias so that the plaid will be, ummm bias.

I was too lazy to look for Pirate’s (aka Shelley Rodgers) instructions for making the strips, so I started using the directions from The Quilters Ultimate Visual Guide because I had it handy.

I cut a 15″ square (because I had already determined this size would give me the length of 2.25″ strips that I need for this project), cut it on the diagonal, sewed the triangles together and marked the lines.

It was when I got to the part where you create a tube and offset the lines (step 5 in the photo above) that I decided to dig out Shelley’s instructions. I used them once before (successfully) and I remembered that hers were more detailed about how to achieve the offset. So I picked up from that step (Shelley’s step 6) and finished the strips.

I thought I had done everything right, but something looks wrong:

For one thing, the strips are not bias, they are straight grain. You can see from the plaid that it’s not “on point” or however you would describe that.

That’s the first big thing.

Here’s the next big thing:

Look at these seams! The vertical seam is from step 3 where the triangles are stitched together. The diagonal seam is the one where the tube was stitched together (Shelley’s step 9).  Or maybe it’s the other way around. At any rate, I don’t think I’m supposed to have ANY vertical seams and I have a number of them.

Here’s the deal: I could use this strip as is or I can re-do it. I have enough fabric left over for one more try. If I can’t figure out where I went wrong and if you can’t figure it out, I am just going to cut regular strips and be done with it. At least I’ll have the same straight grain strips but without the vertical seams.


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Today I met Vicki Welsh of “Field Trips in Fiber” blog fame for lunch. She lives and works not too far from where I live but we had never met. Since I’m off this week, it seemed natural to see if she could do lunch.

She has many talents. If it’s a fiber art, she can do it. She made a ton of art postcards for Christmas, I would’ve been lucky to have done a half dozen at most. She is a longarmer, although I’m not sure if she does quilts for clients.

I got the impression that her biggest passion is dyeing fabrics. She has an Etsy store for her hand-dyes and I bought some from her.

I like her gradients. Laura Wasilowski dyes her own fabrics too and uses them in her applique designs. I bought another of Laura’s patterns when I took her class at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Fest and I need fabric for it.

Aren’t they pretty? Check out Vicki’s Etsy store, she has every color imaginable plus tie-dye, sun prints, all kinds of neat stuff.


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Merry Christmas to all!


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Weekend update

What a weekend we had!

It was a long one, John had Thursday and Friday off, I had Friday off as my birthday holiday. John did most of our Christmas shopping on Thursday which was a big help, the deadline to get our gifts shipped to California and New Mexico was looming.

Friday morning was the big day to pick up my Horn cabinet from Quilter’s Corner. The Horn company does not ship your order to your house, it ships to the dealer and you’re responsible for getting it home. We don’t have a truck and I was pretty sure that the box would not fit in my CR-V. I don’t know many people who own pickup trucks but I tried to borrow one but Dave was going to be out of town (with the truck). I checked with Enterprise and they didn’t have any pickups available until late Friday afternoon. Since I had our friend Ed reserved in the morning to help John load and unload, I couldn’t wait that long. So, long story short, I took a chance on renting, without being able to reserve, mind you, a truck from Lowe’s. It all worked out fine and all the better as it only cost me $25 to rent the Lowe’s truck as opposed to $75 for one from Enterprise.

I had a pretty long list of errands that needed to be run that day, one of them being “renew my driver’s license.” Officially, it expired the next day on my birthday but you have until the end of your birthday month to renew. I just wanted to get it over with, but although John thought it wouldn’t take long, we needed to get our gifts wrapped and packed so that he could take them to his office and get them sent out with Friday’s Fedex shipments. The threat of snow that afternoon was also on our minds. So I resigned myself that I was going to have to wait. We checked off, little by little, everything on the list and finally we were down to the DMV and getting my watch battery replaced at the mall (which didn’t have to be done that day). So we went to the DMV, sat there for an hour but finally my number was called, they took my smile-less picture (you can’t smile in your DMV photo in Virginia anymore), I got to write off 30 pounds in the weight column (since my last renewal, woohoo!) and we were off.

We got all the gifts wrapped and packed and John ran off to his office as the snow began to fall. When he got home, there was quite a bit on the ground already and we decided we’d go up to the mall (2 miles away) for dinner at Maggiano’s. First stop was the gas station, as my fuel light was on. The station was mobbed but we did nab one pump. But it wasn’t working. None of them were working. The station was out of gas! Someone said there were a lot of stations out of gas, probably an exaggeration but it doesn’t surprise me. When there’s a forecast of snow in Richmond, everyone descends on the grocery stores and wipes out the bread aisles, it’s a running joke around here. Fortunately, a tanker truck pulled up right then and filled up the tank, we filled up and drove slowly to the mall. We expected that the snow would keep the crowds away, but no, Maggiano’s was packed like a normal Friday night. Few stores in the mall were open however and there weren’t many shoppers. We had a very nice meal and as we were getting ready to leave, got a picture message from our friend Susan (wife of Ed) and they were out in front of Nordstrom’s. So we went down there and discovered that, lo and behold, the watch repair place was open and I was able to get my battery. Bingo, that was the last thing on my to-do list! Who would have guessed?

Short Pump Town Center is an outdoor mall and it was so pretty covered in snow. I posted photos here.

We woke up to 13″ of the white stuff. More than enough to keep us locked in. John spent several hours shoveling the driveway. He didn’t ask for my help, it was my birthday, after all. Joey doesn’t like the snow, apparently, and it was deeper than he is tall. I had to shovel a path for him on the deck out of the kitchen door, but he hasn’t gone far to do his business.

Late that afternoon, I went into the kitchen and smelled an electrical smell. Not a burning smell, something different. It was fairly strong in the kitchen and I didn’t smell it anywhere else. John usually tells me I’m imagining things, but he smelled it too. I went into the garage, which shares a wall with the kitchen and it was stronger in there. But we didn’t see any smoke and couldn’t trace the smell to anything. The only thing out there with a motor is the old refrigerator (our first marital appliance, 32 years old) so John unplugged it, to appease me so that it wouldn’t burst into flames. We thought that was the source of the smell because it seemed to go away overnight.

We didn’t go to church on Sunday because we weren’t sure about the condition of the roads, but we were able to get to Walmart for groceries in the afternoon. I got some supplies to make myself a birthday cake and I was doing that when the computer in the kitchen rebooted itself. Strange. John noted that a light went on outside which was also strange. He went into the garage and the smell was back. John messed around with the breakers in the electrical panel (which is on the wall shared with the kitchen) but wasn’t able to accomplish much of anything. He did determine that something was wrong and it was in that panel. Our next door neighbor is a contractor and John called him over to find out if he could recommend an electrician and get Mike’s opinion about what our problem might be. They futzed with the breakers some more and decided to turn off the one they thought was the problem. That one controlled some of the outlets in the kitchen and the oven and also the furnace. John put our inside refrigerator on an extension cord to a working outlet. Fortunately, the microwave was working, so we were able to defrost something that had been in the outside freezer for our dinner.

We had electricity to about half the house but no heat Sunday night. Considering that when we got up Monday morning, it was 17° on the outside thermometer, it could have been worse than the 54° it was in the house. But that was still too chilly for comfort. We didn’t even know if we had enough hot water for showers (we did). John called the electrician who, fortunately for us, had just had a job cancelled that morning and came right over. I went to work and John stayed at the house. Turns out our main breaker was bad and the whole panel had to be replaced. Susan calls that an underwear purchase. Where you spend a lot of money and nobody can see it. It took the guy all day to complete the job. John was miserable in the chilly house with no electricity to run his work laptop and no TV to watch and as he’d forgotten for probably the first time ever to charge his cell phone overnight, he couldn’t spend a lot of time chatting on the phone. He needed to be on a couple of conference calls in the afternoon and needed to save what battery life he had.

So it was all said and done by the time I got home. I stopped at Five Guys and bought us some dinner, I figured John deserved a treat after the day he’d had.

And while a new electrical panel wasn’t quite the Christmas present we were looking for, we are thankful we didn’t have a fire, or that our heat pump didn’t go out. That would have been an even more expensive underwear purchase.


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Horn cabinet

My birthday present to myself arrived yesterday (with quite a bit of hassle). I bought the Horn 3180 Quilter’s Dream cabinet in the Sunset Oak finish.

Here’s a video of it:

Now, I’ve already loaded mine up with junk and projects to work on. First up is this table runner that is ready to be quilted. I’m so happy to have the machine sit flush with the table top for quilting!

I used to sew on a folding “cafeteria” table with another one butted up to it. I put one of the tables in another room and that can be our gift wrapping station, as a matter of fact, we used it yesterday to wrap our Christmas gifts. Worked out great except that it is a little low, made my back sore. I can fix that with some PVC pipe.

My studio is not magazine pretty, but it is a workroom and that’s what matters. The room is crippled by two dormer windows on the front of the house, looks great from the outside, but so inconvenient on the inside. But I’m not complaining, I’m blessed to have such a large room.

If you notice the insert around the machine, I thought it was supposed to be clear acrylic, but it looked and felt like some kind of wood. After I watched that video I could see hers was acrylic so I went back and looked at mine and sure enough on the back was a sticker saying to take off the protective coating. Duh!

A new chair will be a future purchase. There is an optional set of drawers that fits under the drawer extension (you can see it in the video). I didn’t feel I need it, but now that I’ve got it, you can’t get into the drawer with the extension on it. So maybe that will be another future purchase.  Probably would be nice to get all this junk off the table and hidden in a drawer. This cabinet is expandable so that I can add a side table for my future serger. Holy cow, it just keeps multiplying doesn’t it?

John is out shoveling the driveway. I asked if he wanted any help and he said no, go ahead and play. What a great husband!


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Yep, today is my birthday, sort of a milestone. In some places I am officially a senior citizen (I can’t believe I’m saying that). My parents live in a 55+ community and now I could live there too if I wanted. Fortunately it is just a number, I still feel like a teenager 🙂

Once in a while it snows on my birthday, and this is one of those times, but on a grand scale. It started around 4pm yesterday and must have snowed pretty much all night. John and I went to Maggiano’s at the mall for dinner. It’s only 2 miles away and we were wondering if we were crazy to venture out, but the restaurant was packed and our friends Susan and Ed were there shopping at the few stores that were still open, so I guess we were all crazy. The mall is an outdoor one and it was so pretty last night:

When I got up this morning, the snow was drifted so high against the back door that Joey couldn’t get out. I had to shovel a path to the back yard for him.

I took this reading off the top of the grill. This is just the overnight total. It’s snowing furiously now (8:30am) and there’s supposed to be much more to come today. This is big for Richmond, just wish it was a workday hahaha.


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