Life as a Greenmonstr

Quilting and Other Facts of Life
Mystery Step 1 Complete - Take a Peek!

I was quilting a T-shirt quilt I made out of my son's old soccer T-shirts, and my Viking died again.  It froze with the needle touching the fabric and the bobbin thread pulling the fabric down towards the bobbin. I had to have my husband hold the presser foot lever up so I could cut the bobbin thread and release the quilt.  I had to loosen up the needle and step on the pedal so I could get the needle out just to get the quilt out of the machine.  It kept balling up the bobbin thread, so I re-threaded it.  I wound another bobbin.  I turned the machine off and back on in a few minutes.  I sewed on a scrap.  I rethreaded again.  Turned it off again.  No dice.  I gave up.  I will be taking it to get fixed again.  The last time I took it in to get repaired (it froze utterly and would not do anything), they told me it had just needed a tune-up.  However, I discovered later that the feed dogs would not come back up after free-motion quilting until I turned the machine fully off and back on.  Now this.  

In the meantime, I have my mother's Kenmore sewing machine as a backup, so I set that puppy up and got into the McCall's Quilting Mystery Quilt.  This was something of an adventure since the Kenmore is very different from my Viking.  I had to break out the manual to discover how to wind the bobbin and change the presser foot.  It was a little awkward sewing because the plexiglas insert that fits nicely around my Viking doesn't quite fit around the Kenmore, so I don't have a nice flat surface anymore.  I will not lie; some of my seams are not precisely 1/4 inch, but it's okay.  One thing I have learned from quilting:  things will never be perfect.   The same quality that makes bias a pain can work for you a little bit too.  Without further ado, here is my completed Step 1:


I already had the magazine with step 2 in it but I did not look at the next step before completing this one.  Once this was done, I ran for my magazine to check out step 2.  HIghly anticlimactic, I would say.  It's not very long.   I kept thinking there was more on the next page that I was missing, because you're directed to cut pieces that aren't used in this step.  It'll be interesting to see how this all goes together. Anyway, I will post the next step once it is complete.

It's appropriate that I was using my mother's sewing machine today, since this would have been her 75th birthday.  She died of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) at Christmastime in 2000.  My kids were 9 and 4. My son remembers her somewhat but my daughter doesn't remember her at all.   I wish she could have been here so they could have gotten to know her better...she was a very active, busy, creative person with a fantastic sense of humor.  Happy birthday, Mom - I'll keep you in my heart as I make this quilt with your sewing machine.

Another Mystery Soon to Unfold

Well, MQ V here on the QCA website got me hooked on mystery quilts, I think!   McCall's Quilting magazine is having a three-part mystery quilt and I decided that I would give it a try as well.  Now that part 2 is out, I felt I should get serious!  ;-)

I had a focus fabric in my stash already, so today I went to an LQS and purchased the other fabrics needed.  Such hardship!  Anyway, I did control myself (mostly) and only bought an additional baseball stripe to make a table runner for the upcoming baseball season. 

Here are my fabrics:

This is not the best picture ever,but it is from my cell phone.  For some reason, my actual camera kept making the purple into blue, both in the Fusion fabric and the butterflies.  Really weird.  Today I am not impressed by technology anyway.  At any rate, for those of you who may also be doing this mystery, the butterflies are the focus fabric (A), the purple Fusion is fabric B, the cream leaf is fabric C (and it is really not this white...), and the green is Fabric D. 

I will post my progress...gotta get going so I can keep up!

Pump it! Trust me!

Ah, the joys of home ownership. Those little details that escape you over the years come back to bite you in the end.

We have a septic system.  We have been lax, I admit, about having it pumped.  We have done so a couple of times, but we have lived here 18 years. Today my son was showering upstairs and I discovered the downstairs bathroom had significant water on the floor.  Also, the toilet was making gurgling noises like a possessed fish and the water was drained out of the bowl.  I ran up the stairs and told my son to turn off the shower, NOW, which he did.  Towels went down on the bathroom floor.  I went in the cellar and found that water had dripped from the pipes onto some items stored underneath them.  Not tons, but a good amount nonetheless.  I immediately called my husband, who said "we need to call a plumber."  Like who?  We have never needed one. 

I chose someone out of the phone book, for lack of a better idea.  Luckily, he came right out and was courteous, nice, and helpful.  Unfortunately, of course, we could not reproduce the problem, and after a pretty good amount of time, he determined that it wasn't something he could fix.  He felt it was a clog in the main line out of the house to the septic tank.  This was disappointing, to say the least.  In my mind, septic problems = $$$.  Even though it was nearly 7 p.m., I called the company the plumber recommended to me and they said they would come out right away.  At night!  My brain was seeing $$$$ floating all over the place, but there was no help for it if we wanted to shower or flush again. 

The septic man came out and was digging a hole in our yard by 8:30.  He was very nice, courteous, and conscientious as well.  He laid our sod (I use term loosely, mind you) gently to the side of the hole.  Sure enough, the line was blocked inside the tank.  In addition, boy, was that tank FULL!!!  Within a half hour, it was unblocked and emptied out and functiona!  To add to the excitement, it didn't cost much at all, no more than would be expected for a scheduled pumping.  Plus (and this is important) he was actually pretty handsome.

We were lucky that the water backed up from the shower, inside the house.  I shudder to think of how it could have unfolded otherwise.  Yuck!   Anyway, I hope you can benefit from this story - if you have a septic system, make sure you get it pumped regularly!   It's been an educational day, but I could have done without the stress of the last 5 hours or so...

Posted: Mon, Jan 9 2012 10:03 PM by greenmonstr | with 3 comment(s)
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A New Year Begins

Well, the Christmas season is over.  I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday.  As the new year begins, many of us look ahead and think about what we might want to accomplish in the coming months. 

There is much turmoil in my job lately.  Our assistant director left before Christmas, and our director's last day was last Friday.  Our assistant director left to move up, but the director's parting was unexpected and due to major dissatisfaction.  The thing is, we have all been feeling the same way.   I have been working there for essentially 30 years (will be 30 years on March 1), in a few different jobs.  For the first time, I have been feeling that I need to leave.  Over the years I have had brief times where I was unhappy at my job, but they passed, and they had much more to do with the actual job I was doing.  This time, it's different.  In the past, we have always felt that the employees were valued, that their contribution was respected and their input was desired.  That has gone by the wayside to a large degree.  There have been a lot of financial pressures, true, but that does not have to translate into devaluation of employees. After all, your employees are the ones doing the actual work.  Perhaps I have been spoiled all these years.  At any rate, I feel that the coming year will need to include a new place of employment, which after so many years in one place is a little bit scary.

From a family standpoint, my daughter will be a junior in high school in the fall, and we know what that means!  College fairs and applications.  Also, I'd really like my son (who is 20) to go away to college.  He is currently commuting.  He is a good kid but I think he needs to go away and get some "seasoning."   The coming year will feature lots and lots of college-related activities for me and my family.

Finally, from a quilting standpoint, I have a few UFOs that I would like to finish up, and a couple of larger projects that I'd like to tackle.  Also, I want to continue making quilts for the NICU.  I recently completed one and have the parts for another ready to go once the Christmas tree is put away.  Hopefully, the coming year will feature lots of sewing (if I can squeeze that in)!

What sorts of plans or goals do you have for the next 12 months?  I hope we can all achieve at least a few of them.  Have a safe and happy New Year!


Finished, and it looks good despite everything...

Well, I took some time yesterday to make the stocking that my sister-in-law requested.   It would have been a very quick project, if I hadn't managed to screw up virtually every aspect of it at one point or another.

I had the outside and the lining all set, I had sewn together the cuff parts, I put the cuff on, and I was very excited because I thought I was basically done.  When I turned the cuff down, though, I discovered that the seams were showing on the cuff.  I had to rip out not only the seam holding the cuff on, but also the zigzag finish of the edge of the cuff.  I HATE ripping.  It makes me say bad words.  Anyway, I got the cuff off and corrected my error, then put it back on, at which point I realized I had forgotten to include the hanger loop.   I added that on and once that was done, it looked pretty good to me.  I put a bell on the toe, both for decoration and to hold the lining in.  It actually looked pretty good.   I was glad to be done. 

This morning when I woke up I realized that I had turned the lining right side out and put it into the stocking before I sewed them together, so now the lining was wrong-side out in the stocking!  Luckily it is a white lining so the seam allowance isn't really obvious, because there was NO WAY I was going to take the whole thing apart.   Anyway, it is done.  I have given it to her and she likes it.  She offered to pay me but I told her it wasn't necessary.  I'm not sure if anyone else has this problem, but it was all I could do not to point out all of its flaws.  I am certainly a harsher critic of my own work than of others'.

Without further ado, here it is:

I don't want to do it!

My sister-in-law requested that I make a Christmas stocking for a college girl who is living with her, and I agreed (I felt too guilty saying no).  She sent me a list of things (cats, favorite color, etc) that she likes.  As I was going through my stash and seeing what I could put together, I was surprised to find that I was very unhappy with this project.  It seems so simple, but I just can't get interested in it.  I am unhappy with all the fabric, I can't decide on a pattern, it's just a mess. In fact, I'm really hating the whole thing at this point.   I have a couple of combinations picked out but I'm not that excited about them. My SIL is coming over tomorrow to take my daughter Christmas shopping with her, and I am going to take the opportunity to show her the options and have her decide what she wants.  She wanted to approve the fabric first, I guess, and offered to pay me. 

I've given it a bit of thought and finally decided that I'm disliking this project because I don't have complete control over it.  I have to satisfy someone else's needs in terms of fabric and pattern, and have them approve it first.  If I'm making a quilt or other item for someone as a gift, I use fabric and pattern that I think they would enjoy, but I still control it.  I don't have to get approval from anyone.   This feels too much like work. 

Once I get the final OK on the fabric, I think it will get done quickly enough.   As with most things in life, even the minor ones like this, I've learned something - the only way I will ever make something for money is if I can make it any way I want, no approval necessary! 

Giving thanks

My son's 20th birthday is tomorrow.  His birthday is the last day that can't ever be Thanksgiving, so when it comes around it brings home the nearness of the coming holiday season.  It's time to think about our lives and realize how lucky we are. 

First and foremost, I'm thankful that my family and I are healthy and have a roof over our head and enough to eat.  I'm thankful that my teenage children are good kids with good common sense (at least for teenagers!) and morals.   I'm grateful for my husband who stands by my side.   I am thankful that although my working hours were cut, I stlil have a job and my husband can carry most of the benefits that I lost.

So many people are in need this year.  At the local grocery store, there is a Salvation Army tree with slips on it, each listing a child, their age, and some ideas for Christmas gifts.  This year, the tree is invisible, covered by the slips, many more than usual.  Also, in our area the food pantries are in great need of donations.  My daughter's high school is having a contest to see which class can collect more nonperishables to donate. 

While we are giving thanks this year, we should remember that there are many people out there who struggle to provide the basics for themselves and their families every day..  Giving thanks can include doing something to help those less fortunate; even a little bit helps.  If everyone does a little bit, it adds up to a lot!

A mystery no more

Well, Mystery Quilt V is finally finished!  It was a learning experience.  This was the first time I have made a quilt full of blocks made up of entirely bias edges.  For the most part they didn't stretch too much; I was careful not to play around with them.  However, there were a couple that were a little out of control.

I don't have much room in my sewing space, so I unfolded my cardboard table protecctor and placed it on my cutting table.  I needed the space to be bigger than my cutting table, so I supported the cardboard with the end of my ironing board and the top of the computer chair.  Basically, this imprisoned me at my sewing machine.  I arranged all my blocks and my sashing squares.  I thought it all looked pretty good so I went about putting it together.  I actually had to leave the room and come into the room from the other end to access the first row of blocks.  Somehow in the process I got the second row of blocks mixed up a little but oh well.  I didn't notice until I was showing my husband the first two rows put together and he said "those two blocks are pretty similar to each other."  Darn.  I left it that way, though.

Today I did the bottom half and the borders.  The bottom half went swimmingly, I must say.  I put the two halves together and added the top and bottom borders without incident.   I had to join two strips of fabric for the long borders, so I moved my needle position.  Unfortunately I forgot to put it back for my 1/4-inch seam so I sewed the entire long border with a too-wide seam allowance.  I ended up ripping out a five-foot seam.  Nice.  Not a happy moment. 

Anyway, I guess it came out alright in the end.  I'm not entirely happy with it but it works.  My husband doesn't really like it - he gave it the look that says "I don't want to say I don't like it, but I don't want to lie either" followed by a little nod.  He is very wise sometimes.  Anyway, without further ado, here it is:

 A couple of close-ups:

Tentatively I am calling it "A Cup of Tea by the Water" because the jelly roll was the Green Tea Bali Pop and the blue reminds me of the water.  I will be using the dark blue parts of the jelly roll for the binding once I quilt it. 

It was fun and a learning experience.  Thanks to Sandy for being our fearless leader!


Renewed appreciation

I love electricity. 

The snowstorm on Saturday night caused us to lose our electricity at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.  When we emerged from the house on Sunday morning, the ground was covered with heavy wet snow.  There were trees down in our yard, on the sides of the street, and on the power lines everywhere.  Snowblower was of no use - it clogged the chute like play-dough. We made the best of it at first but it wears on you after a couple of days.  We have a gas stove, so we were able to cook on top of the stove, but we have a well, so no power = no water.  That really throws a kink in the works.  Luckily our high school has a generator and they opened four hours each night starting Monday so residents could shower and power up their cell phones.  They also served a simple warm meal which was great. 

The house got colder and colder.  This afternoon when I got home the house was 50 degrees and it was 60 outside, so I opened the windows in hopes of heating up the house.  There's a switch!

I sat outside on the steps today and read my Kindle for a while.  When I came in, the light over the stove was on.  It took a second to register - at first I thought I had left the stove burners on. Finally it sank in to my chilly brain - we had POWER!  I did a small victory dance!  Luckily, no one was there to see THAT!  It was 4:56 p.m. Thursday night.  

Electricity ROCKS!

An interesting juxtaposition

I'm watching Game 7 of the World Series tonight.   Meanwhile my husband and I are discussing whether we have enough gas in the snowblower for tomorrow's nor'easter.  It doesn't seem right to have to think about snow while watching the Boys of Summer playing on the green, green grass.  I hope we won't lose power so I can work on the mystery quilt on Sunday!  Ah, the joys of New England...

UFO landing

I found a small UFO while I was re-organizing my sewing area.  It was a 18" square table topper made with Ragtime charm squares some years ago (when the charm squares came in a little flat tin with instructions for a small table topper and a CD as well), when I was very new to quilting.  The fabric is a little wild but very striking, which is what drew me to it.  I figured I would sandwich it up and quilt it so I could take it to work and brighten up my office. 

I discovered something.  It's amazing that I got anything to fit together back then!  It wasn't particularly square, some of the seams were a very interesting combination of widths, and some of the outside pieces were wavy.  I fixed it up as much as I could and here it is:

It's actually much darker than this.  New camera necessary!  Anyway, this little project really showed me that my sewing and quilting skills have improved vastly over the last few years without me even realizing it!  Just keeping at it makes such a difference! 

So remember, we're more skilled today than we were yesterday, and even while we might be struggling with a particular block, or quilt, or technique, we'll be even better tomorrow as long as we keep at it!

It was a fine iron...

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  Even when it comes to irons.

My sewing space is small.  I share a room with the computer, so I have my cutting table, my ever-growing stash, and my sewing cabinet in the room with the PC.  Thus, when my ironing board is up, there isn't much room to maneuver.  A couple of years ago, I had a little accident with my iron.  I knocked it onto the rug.  And just like a piece of buttered toast, it landed business side down.  The rug melted onto the iron.  Most of it came off the iron, but some never did and I had to pitch it. 

I bought a newer, slightly more fancy iron (by fancy I mean that the cord rolls up inside it).  Today, as I was sitting at the sewing machine, laying out my squares for the next step of the mystery quilt, my iron was heating up on the ironing board.  My husband came in and jostled the ironing board.  You guessed it - business side down again. Luckily, my husband didn't actually try to catch it as it fell, so at least my HUSBAND wasn't damaged!  That would have REALLY put a damper on the proceedings!  Anyway, once again, some rug melted onto the iron, but not as much.  I don't think it had had time to get quite hot enough.  My husband has taken custody of this iron to see if he can clean it off.  Luckily we had our original 30-year-old iron with the Teflon ironing surface so I could carry on with the mystery quilt!  What's inhaling a few chemicals in the name of quilting?!

The mystery quilt seems to be shaping up in a very interesting way...I can't wait for the next step!  Hopefully my iron will be off the disabled list by then!

A short unexpected vacation from quilting

Well, I've had a little vacation from both blogging and husband's aunt died last Wednesday and we spent this past weekend up in northern Vermont to pay our respects.  It was the first funeral our kids had been to, so it was all new to them.  We hadn't been up in quite a while to visit my husband's parents and unfortunately his dad is declining.  He has emphysema and he really can't go very far before having to stop and catch his breath.  A lifetime of smoking is a terrible thing but you don't realize the real truth until it's too late.  If any of you out there smoke, please get help to quit!

Anyway, before we left I just had time to check out the new mystery quilt steps that were posted on Friday.  Very intriguing.  I have some ideas but I guess I'll have to wait and see! 

I wasn't going to post any pictures of my mystery project, since it's a mystery, but I can't stand it anymore!  I will share these pictures of my background:

The picture is a little light; the blue is actually deeper than it looks here.  I really need a new camera!  Anyway, it's a dark blue batik tonal.  

I have seen a lot of people's fabric combos posted and it's amazing to see the variety.  I can't wait until everyone posts their completed tops.



Done! Now I'm ready for a mystery!

Phew!  I have finished the two charity NICU quilts that I started on 9/11.  Took a while, but life gets in the they are:

I wish my camera would capture the pattern on the white fabric (it has little off-white circles on it).  It's probably user error, though!

Now I can concentrate on mystery quilt V!  (and the T-shirt quilt and the tiger quilt...I guess "concentrate" is a relative term!)

Just not in the mood, I guess, but I learned something anyway

I have done no sewing this week.  I did learn something, however.  I needed more thread to quilt the last two NICU quilts and I was having a problem with the top thread showing on the bottom of the quilt sandwich, even at a pretty high tension.  I was puzzled, since my machine (Viking Platinum) had just had a tune-up a month or so ago.  I took my test sample to the sewing shop and they pointed out to me that the top thread was a lighter weight than the bottom thread and it was pulling down on it.  I never would have thought about that.  I have a lot of bobbins wound but they seem to wander away from their parents very easily (I have the cat to thank for that) and I was looking at the color not the weight.  Live and learn!  I vow that I will wind a new bobbin from now on, and find a way to keep them from wandering off.  Attention to detail is very important!



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