Listen to your bits…

shopping

I have spent 24 years drawing with my mouse on the computer. For the last several years, I used Apple’s magic mouse which is touch-sensitive and allows you to swipe across it to move the cursor and it has been wonderful — until a few weeks ago when I was doing a whole lot of drawing in Illustrator.

My right index finger (the mouse-finger) started to hurt, a lot. And it got swollen. And then it hurt worse. It is at this point that many people go into denial. I do not.

I treat my body like a used car. If warning lights start flashing on your car, you take it to a mechanic, right? We should all head to the doctor when our bodies send us similar warnings.

It may not be this way in your town, but here plastic surgeons are the hand guys. I visited Dr. Swamy who has been in practice here a long time and is much beloved. I took my mouse and asked if that was the problem. Yes, it was. I asked if rest would make it better enough to be able to use the mouse again. No, it would not. We agreed that I had to find a new way to draw in the computer and I had to also find a more ergonomic mouse.

 

 

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The mouse was easy. I got a Logitech M570. I’ll have to be careful not to overuse any of my fingers but I can do that.

I won’t be using the mouse to draw. I am, instead, viewing this as an opportunity to buy a tool that I have lusted after — a Wacom Cintiq tablet! (Imagine a quilt-y picture instead of a lizard.)

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The Cintiq tablet is actually a very fancy computer monitor that is touch-sensitive and that you can draw on. It’s similar to the iPad Pro, but you hook to to your computer and the Cintiq mirrors whatever is on screen. I’ll be able draw in Illustrator with a special pen. I’ll be able to use the pen in Photoshop as well, and I’m sure there’s more. I suspect that I’ll be able to move the mouse on the screen with my finger, much like you can on your smartphone.

On the advice of a friend (thank you, Amanda) I got the biggest Cintiq. I have gotten used to using a very big monitor and there isn’t any going back from there. Thankfully, this is piece of business equipment that I should have gotten a long time ago. I think it might actually make me more productive while also helping me to preserve my right hand – my sewing hand!

The bigger issue, and the point of this post, is that you need to pay attention to your body! Don’t ignore warnings, take care of your bits early rather than after damage has been done. Because I said so :-).

 

Meet Lucy…

This is Lucy, who celebrated her 88th birthday on August 18 in my class at The Quilt Crossing in Boise. How cool is that!

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The class worked on Pick-Up Sticks from The Quilter’s Practical Guide To Color, learning how to make this improv block the easy way. Everyone had a great time, especially Lucy!

Some of Lucy’s Piece O’ Cake applique quilts were hanging in the classroom and it was so much fun to have them there. This is her version of Spectacular Spring from Applique Delights (still available as a downloadable ebook).

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And this is Lucy’s version of Thru Grandmother’s Window, our first block of the month. The patterns are available as downloadable ePatterns.

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Lucy and I agreed that it’s good to have a goal and we both want to be quilting into our 100s. That’s an excellent goal, don’t you think?!

The Chattahoochee Evening Stars…

I spent two lovely days with the Chattahoochee Evening Stars quilt guild. They are as lively as their name suggests! At the lecture last night, these ladies from my class showed the progress they had made on the class block from the day before…

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The whole class did excellent work and had a good time. I love seeing quilters smile :-).

Spring sprung while I was gone!

I don’t know how others manage it, but when I’m on a teaching trip I just don’t seem to be able to post as much as I’d like. Or at all. I did post some photos on Instagram and facebook so if you follow me there, you saw my students hard at work as well as some of their blocks. Let me just say that the Academy of Applique in Williamsburg was a blast! It was a rare treat to be among so many appliquers!

I came home to redbuds in bloom. They look like they smell pretty, but they don’t smell at all as near as I can tell.

I also came home to the news that someone filed a fraudulent tax return using our numbers. Deep sigh. I had gotten a letter from the IRS before I left that made me think that this was happening. I found out today that yes, indeed, our numbers were compromised.

After some searching I found the phone number to call and the nice lady pointed me in the right direction. Steve is on spring break so he ended up taking over, calling the FTC, checking our credit reports, notifying the Social Security Administration and I’m not sure who else. So far everything else is in order (yay!) but it means filing a paper return, with extra forms, and a longer wait for it to be processed. I am thankful that I don’t have plans for our over-payment from last year.

I think that this has become a common enough experience that dealing with it is getting easier. That said, we are lucky to have found out early, before the hackers got any money from the IRS, which is different from the ‘iris’, which was also blooming in my yard today :-).

And lastly, I am going to be giving a trunk show lecture at 11:00 AM Friday morning at the Dallas Quilt Show. I don’t know that I have ever pulled so many quilts out of my closet at one time. There are so many that I won’t be saying much about any individual quilt or we’ll be there all day but I do think it will be a good showing of Piece O’ Cake quilts. If you are interested, I hope you can come!

A big (almost easy) quilt…

Lorna and Chris have a king size bed and Lorna needs a new cover for it. Not a pieced quilt, but still a quilt. She fell in love with two fabrics that I have (had) on the bolt—one is Tula Pink’s huge dot (printed on wide fabric) and the other is a floral print by Amy Butler  printed on sateen.

After much thinking, I decided that it would be best to make this a quilt without binding. Instead we would layer the top and back right sides together with the batting against the top, sew the edges, turn it inside out, and then quilt it. It was not nearly as easy as it sounds.

We cleared out my living room and vacuumed. Then we placed the batting on the floor. After a few false starts, we did manage to use basting spray to stick the the top to the batting. It took more than an hour and I did let slip a few choice words.

Lorna trimmed the batting even with the edges of the top fabric. Next we placed the backing right side down on the top. I then pulled out all of my mats and many rulers and we squared up the outer edges.

Lorna used Clover’s basting clips to hold all the edges together. I took it to my machine and sewed all the way around this monster, leaving an opening at the bottom to turn it through. This quilt is a lot heavier than I thought it would be.

The walking foot came in very handy.

Lorna had to leave so I trimmed the corners and then turned the whole thing inside out which was surprisingly satisfying.

I tidied and pressed the edges, finished the opening, and top stitched all the way around, 1/2″ from the finished edges.

It’s not done yet because it has to have some quilting. Otherwise the batting will fall apart with use and washing. Steve is going to do a little basting on it this weekend to help keep everything together during the quilting process.

Lorna wants to quilt it and it will be quite a job for a new sewer. We’re thinking of a diagonal grid, between the big dots. I may try to get some of the longest lines sewn for her if there’s time before my foot surgery on December 3. Otherwise I’ll be shouting encouragement from the other room while she sews :-).

Applique in Historic Williamsburg…

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I hope you can join me February 29-March 5, 2016, at the Academy of Applique in Williamsburg, VA. Registration for classes will open at noon today—click here for registration instructions.

I am just one of a dandy roster of teachers. Between us, we are teaching a variety of applique classes. Click here to open the interactive class schedule.

I hope to see you there!

On filming videos…

Many of you know that I have a variety of youtube videos online. If not, look for links here at pieceocake.com and on my youtube channel. 

I thought you might be interested to see where I film. As you can see, it’s not fancy:

  
The primary requirement is good light. Surprisingly enough, it’s better if the light is diffuse, and not shining brightly on my hands. 

I’ll be sending a newsletter in a few with a new video and maybe a bit more on the filming process. 

FYI: Work should begin tomorrow on the sprinkler system. I do hope so, otherwise it’s back to a day of moving those hose.