The photo challenge continues…

On January 8 I wrote about Ricky Tims’ 52 week photo challenge. I am loving it! We just finished Week 7 which was a black and white challenge. This is my photo:

beckygoldsmith-blackwhite-4

I knew I was going to learn a lot, but am happy to report that I’m learning stuff that I didn’t know that I didn’t know. That’s not a typo. It is both exciting and humbling to learn new things, especially when it makes your brain stretch. I can feel mine stretching!

Ricky uses smugmug, a photo sharing/storage site. I followed suit and have a smugmug page of my own where I’ve been uploading my weekly challenge photos. There’s a link to my smugmug page over there in the right-hand column if you’d like to see my photos. I hope Ricky offers this class again next year—I heartily recommend it to any of you interested in photography.

And, as long as I’m talking about links over there to the right, you might want to scan through them. I’ve added some new ones. For example, if you are interested in Japanese fabric, and other fabrics not usually found in quilt shops, check out the link for Marcy Tilton.

And, as you click through my links, if you find any that aren’t working, please do let me know. I try to keep them current but… well, you know. Life gets in the way of doing everything.

Yet another new iron…

I recently taught at Quilt Fiesta in Tucson. (It is fun show if any of you can make it next year!) There were lots of quilts, and there were vendors. I walked the vendors at a slow time and darned if Jamie didn’t rope me in…

Jamie-EurosteamIron

How have I missed the EuroSteam booth at every quilt show I have ever attended? Who knows. But this time Jamie had my undivided attention and darned if she didn’t sell me a EuroSteam iron. (Let me just say, she’s good at her job.)

You can buy the iron online, but it’s cheaper at a show. Plus you get to talk to a person who is very familiar with it.

EuroSteamIron-1 copy

This is a heavy iron, which is fine with me. It has a ceramic sole plate that is supposed to never scorch. Dandy! It has an aluminum water reservoir, not plastic, so should last longer.

You see that plastic/silicon thing it’s sitting on? The iron lives there. It should never, ever, be stood up on it’s end. Jamie was very clear on this point. Enough so that I have not forgotten.

Jamie showed me how to use the measuring cup that comes with and was very clear that I should never, ever, (ever!) use distilled water. Irons need the minerals in the water. Without them, they spit (I forget why). There is a very good chance that I have ruined previous irons all on my own by disregarding the instructions to use tap water. The end of the long spout is flexible so that you can fill the iron while it is flat.

EuroSteamIron-2

This iron puts out lots of steam. And it does the job. Here is cotton/linen before:

EuroSteamIron-3 copy

And then after a quick-ish press:

EuroSteamIron-4 copy

The EuroSteam works better than my most recent irons. It cost $200 and, if it continues to work well, I will consider to be money well-spent. If you are interested, look for EuroSteam at your next quilt show and try one before buying.

FYI: If you read the instructions that come with the iron, you will find lots of warnings that lead you to think that if you don’t relieve the pressure in the iron (release steam) every 10 minutes it might blow up. Jamie assured me that I could pretty much ignore that. I didn’t mean to, but I did walk off and leave the iron hot and plugged in, with water/steam inside, for over an hour. It did not blow up. I am not saying that you should ignore the safety warnings, but I personally didn’t let them frighten me off.

And, back to the water: Sherman water is full of appliance-killing calcium and salt. Jamie said to use bottled water if I wanted to, just not distilled. I was about to use what I thought was bottled spring water until I looked at the label and noticed that it said ‘purified’. I googled it and it sounds like purified water has a lot of the particles removed from it, making it similar to distilled water which is not good for the iron. I chose to use tap water instead and will look for bottled spring water for my iron.

And I have promised myself that I will follow Jamie’s instructions and drain my iron when I’m done for the day, every day. Cross my heart :-).

It’s done!

Before I left town, I put the binding on the last quilt for the piecing book.

BindingWowie copy

I don’t know that I have ever, in my life, made a quilt this big. It’s 118″ x 118″. Angela Walters quilted it and she did an excellent job. I think I would have given up way before I was finished.

I put the thinnest Quilter’s Dream batt in this quilt—the request weight. It turned out to be an excellent choice. This quilt, as big as it is, would have been way too heavy with a thicker batt. As it is, I’m not sure that it’s washable in anything other than a commercial machine. This is a bed quilt with a lot of white and I have cats and grandkids—washing is going to happen.

The piecing book that Linda and I have been working on is a revision of our book, Piecing the Piece O’ Cake Way. That book is out of print, but the information in it is still completely relevant. We, and C&T, decided that it needed to come back in an updated form.

This is a ‘heavy’ re-write, with lots of new information and quilts. It has both fun and actual work. And as of Friday, the quilts and the manuscript are now in with C&T. It feels great to have finished exactly on the date of my own personal deadline.

I know that most quilters do not link Piece O’ Cake with ‘piecing’, but I’m hoping that that will change. We were both piecers first. I hate to toot my own horn, but I can piece just about anything. And to link this train of thought back to yesterday’s post, this is yet another reason that I enjoy teaching an independent study coarse: I get to work with piecing in class!

Catching up, leaving town…

I am sitting on a plane on my way to 2 classes that I have looked forward to for a year. Tomorrow I begin a 5-day class with Gwen Marston, only the 2nd class I have taken in the last 20 years. I have heard that Gwen has threatened to retire and I did not want to miss the experience of taking a class from her.

See the grin on Bear’s face? I am wearing that same grin right now.

Bear-InHat-Feb-2015

I am teaching 5 days of independent study after Gwen’s class. I do love this class. It engages all of the parts of my brain. I get to work with quilters of all skill levels doing all sorts of things. It’s great fun!

I am using my 3-hour flight to write blog posts, this one included. I know that I won’t have time to post much over the next 2 weeks, so am writing now and scheduling them to post later. I will post to instagram pretty often, so if you want to see what I’m up to at Empty Spools, I hope you’ll follow me there.

And, because it’s pretty and (marginally) about flying, I’ll sign off with this…

ConfederateRose-Bee

After Gwen’s class I am teaching an independent study, one of my favorite things to do!

Show and Tell…

Lisa Jenni sent this photo of her quilt, made from a Piece O’ Cake pattern, Garden Blooms.

JenniL_Botanica_full

She says:

Many years ago, you taught an appliqué class at Block Party Quilters in Issaquah. I was one of your students, and still to this day, I’m one of only two persons who finished their appliqué and the resulting quilt. In the attachment you see my quilt “Botanica”.
I hope you like my version of your flowers (I do!), in a totally unusual setting. The background fabric is a hand-dyed from Judy Robertson. All orange veins and leaves are pieced varieties of silks. My quilting is split into hawaiian-style hand-quilting at the yellow flower’s background, and lots of machine quilting for everything else.

The quilt has traveled to two quilt shows. It placed 1st in “Quilts from a Pattern” and an Award of Excellence in “Domestic Machine Quilting” at the La Conner Quilt & Textile Festival (2014). In January 2015, the quilt was awarded 3rd place in “Innovative Wall Appliqué” at Road to California.

Way to go, Lisa!

Shirt shopping…

I am going to be filming an episode of The Quilt Show in just a few weeks. I’m looking forward to working with Alex and Ricky again!

Pulling together the actual content of my show is not an issue—I am good to go on that front. No, the bigger issue for me is figuring out what to wear :-). I don’t want to look like this:

From Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen

All of my ‘good’ clothes are black and white. Everything works together and looks good on me  (most of the time**). However, black and white are not recommended for filming. I have some color in my closet, but those clothes are too casual for this gig. Shopping for the right top has been on my agenda but I have not been able to find time for it.

I am lecturing for the Quilters Guild of Plano tomorrow evening. When I mapquested it, I realized that their meeting place is very near The Shops At Willow Bend. Oh happy day! I looked and if I can’t find a suitable top there I might as well just give up on ever finding one. I’m actually looking forward to the hunt!

**Have you ever put on something that looked great the last time your wore it, but this time it’s just awful? Why is that? If you are like me, once that happens it’s hard to feel good in that outfit again. It ends up cycling out of my closet to be replaced by something else, hence shopping trips.

How is it that this never seems to happen to men? I’m not complaining about that because if it did, Steve would do a lot more shopping. As it is, our clothing budget is mostly my clothing budget. I’m so lucky that he’s OK with that :-).

( Comic: Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen)

What does your head have in common with a gallon of milk?

(I also shared this information in the Piece O’ Cake newsletter.)

They both weigh around 8 lbs. Your head may actually weigh more.

Now, stop and think about your sewing posture. When you sit at the sewing machine, is your head balanced over your body or is it thrown forward, facing down? What about when you applique? Are you hunched over your lap, or are you sitting upright?

Now, imagine that your head is a gallon of milk that your poor neck is trying to support. Just the idea makes the back of my neck hurt and my shoulders sore.

I started talking about this in class a few months ago and then I ran across this image and the related article, What Texting Does To Your Spine, from The Atlantic.

WhatTextingDoesToSpine

The article is eye-opening, reporting on a study published in the journal, Surgical Technology International. In short, the farther you bend your head over, the more pressure is put on your neck. The same texting posture shown is often a quilter’s posture. Is it any wonder that your upper body feels so bad after you’ve been sewing?

So, hold your head high—or at least, hold it in a more balanced position over your body. Fix the height of your sewing machine chair and/or table. Find a good chair to applique in. Put your light in position so that you are not bending sideways toward it. Put your feet up if that helps you to maintain good posture as you applique.

I’m going to post this same information on my blog, so that you’ll be able to find it again if you ever need to. Did you know that there is a search option on my blog? Look in the menu bar for the area with the spyglass. Type in a search topic and you can find all sorts of things.