Monthly Archives: July 2015

done quilting

Quilting the Kona sunrise quilt has turned out to be quite an effort.

Almost done:

And, finally, all done:

I feel like I went through miles of thread.  Having the wider throat sewing machine (Brother PQ1500s) made things much easier, but not easy.  The middle of the quilt was still noticeably harder than the edges.  Still, I would not have attempted this on my old sewing machine.  As always, free-motion quilting is a challenge.  I made no attempt to make my spirals neat or uniform, and I hope that their somewhat random nature is as appealing as perfect spirals would have been.  Certainly I feel that quilting this much acreage of quilt added to my skills, and hopefully I’ll be that much better on my next effort.  Now, all that is left is the binding, which will take a few days at a leisurely pace.

My next quilt will definitely be smaller than this one.  One of these days, I want to make a queen-sized quilt for our guest bedroom, but not yet.  Definitely not yet.

take away the guns

Every time there is a mass shooting – or at least one that CNN publicizes – people ask why.  Sometimes they answer racism.  Other times it’s a religious nutcase.  Sometimes the answer is mental illness.  Or the shooter was a social outcast.  Then people suggest various solutions.  End racism!  (Take down the Confederate flag.)  Treat mental illness!  Stop radical Islam!

Please.  Give. me. a. break.

I think this is all BS.  We have shootings here because any old nutcase – garden variety, racist, religious extremist, mentally ill – can easily lay there hands on a gun and, at their convenience, pick a crowded place and start shooting people.  It makes me sick!  How many aggrieved parents, siblings and children do their have to be before we do something about this?  Take away the guns, for the love of God!  Why are there no politicians, Democrat or Republican, who are willing to do anything about this?  Somebody take a stand!  Stake your political career on it!   The innocent people of this country are worth it.

rainbow quilts

L has been getting good use out of her quilt.  I like it so much better than the polyester comforter she had before.

More practice free-motion quilting.  I settled in a square spiral pattern which I think is fairly forgiving.

And on the real thing:


beach fun

A week and a half ago, we headed to Cannon Beach.  It was the first vacation we’ve been on that I haven’t been sick or pregnant for (and these are basically synonyms for me) in a long time – actually since the end of 2012, if you can believe that.  How sad!  It made this trip all the more enjoyable, though.

After weeks of broiling hot weather here in Seattle, it cooled down for our trip.  That was good because no hotels in this area have a/c, but it was bad because it tends to be very cool on the coast.  We actually ended up all wearing the warmest clothes we’d brought more or less the entire time.

For H, that meant a T-shirt and shorts.  He was cold, but he survived.

I love the Oregon coast.  For a variety of reasons, it’s nicer than the Washington coast, at least for a vacation.  Washington has some beautiful coastline, but it’s National Park and therefore there is nowhere to stay.  Other parts are on reservations, meaning again there is nowhere to stay and limited development.  And still other parts are just not well taken care of – overdeveloped, cars and trucks allowed on the beach, and leash laws that make taking Mr. P no fun.

B and L both loved playing in the sand.  Farther back from the water there was less wind, so we actually didn’t get our feet wet all that often.  That made me a little sad, but oh well.  Next time.

L is really into sand toys these days.

So is H.

The haystack is as beautiful as ever.  Is is always mobbed with people, while the rest of the beach is not crowded at all.  In general, one of the nice things about Oregon beaches is that they are huge, one of the few truly lovely places on our overcrowded planet you can enjoy in solitude without having to hike miles and miles.

L, blown to bits.

Buying and flying a kite was a definite highlight.  Winds were gusting up to 30 mph on the beach, so we actually had to seek a less windy, more sheltered place to fly it.  L was even able to handle it herself a bit.

Unfortunately, after we got back, I ended up having a random canker sore breakout.  I have gotten canker sores my entire life, or as long as I can remember.  Since B’s birth, they’ve gotten worse – they just don’t really seem to heal.  The fact that I am a mouth breather I think definitely makes things worse, as does general dehydration due to breastfeeding.  Anyway, I got nine canker sores more or less at once, and it was unbelievably painful and pretty much made last week miserable.  I was maxing out on OTC pain relievers.  I just wish I knew the cause.  The cause of these sores is basically unknown (canker sores ~= cold sores).  Hopefully one of these days, they’ll figure it out.  Apparently some people don’t get them at all, which blows my mind and makes me very jealous, but I guess we all have our problems.  I’m thinking about getting my deviated septum fixed, and I think this is one of many things that would be helped.

We did make it out boating for the first time since B was born.  We rented a speed boat for about $350 – very pricey, but I remind myself it’s much cheaper than owning a boat, and we obviously don’t do this often.  We’re hoping to get involved in a local sailing club, which is cheaper, but it’s tough to find time.

A good time was had by all, but at the same time, going out boating, even on a motor boat for a couple of hours, is not easy with two small children.  I have to admit it made me miss being young and childless.


Where’s L?  Oh, right, she’s in her quilt and blanket fort.

My library finally got in a copy of The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters.  I’m contemplating giving it a try.  However, this photo is as far as I got today before B woke up from her nap.

Pots and pans, anyone?  I’m thinking of replacing our nonstick pans with stainless ones.  Any thoughts on this?  I read an alarmist article in the NYT by Nicholas Kristoff.  After initial panic and a little internet research, I concluded it was alarmist, but I think nonstick is overrated anyway.

Key lime pie!  OMG.  So good.  I used a pre-made crust, and it took less than half an hour to make, not including cooking time.  Though not quite as good as the lemon meringue pie I made the other day.  That one was a fair bit of work but it was perhaps the best pie I’ve ever made.

L’s response to my command to smile.

Free-motion quilting practice:


sunrise quilt

I decided that my next quilt should be a variation of the last one.  It’s very similar, but I divided the rainbow section into five columns.

The five columns are divided by smaller white columns of a linen/cotton blend, Essex by Robert Kaufmann.  I really love the white fabric – there’s something about it. I will definitely be trying to incorporate more of Essex into my quilting in future.  In general, I’m very interested in linen lately.

The quilt top is now sewn and ironed and ready for basting.  Ug, basting – it continues to be my least favorite part of quilting.

I plan to free-motion quilt this one, so I’ll be spending a little time practicing before I dive in.  This brings me to something I’ve been meaning to post for a while.  I got a new sewing machine!  It’s a Brother PQ1500s.  Checking out the link, I’m glad I decided to buy it when I did, as the price has gone up considerably since then.  I spent $650 on it, and it’s now $800.  Eek.

In any event, I’ve wanted a sewing machine with a larger throat for some time.  I considered machines like this, straight stitch only non-digital industrial machines, and I considered the fancy digitized machines.  Prior to the price increase, this was pretty much the cheapest sewing machine you could buy with a large throat.  It has an 8.5 inch throat with something like a 6.5 inch height.  You can tell just by looking at it that it’s very spacious.

The cheapest digitized machine runs about $900 if you wait for it to go on sale, and while the width of the throat is about the same, the height is lower, meaning the cross-sectional area to the right of the needle is significantly less.  I’m thinking of the Janome 6300 here, of the 6×00 series.  The Janome 6600 is one of the most popular machines in sewing, but it runs about $1500 new.  I did strongly consider buying a 6600 used on eBay, but I consider buying an item with so many moving parts like a sewing machine a bit risky, and I felt I’d rather have the larger c-s area of the pq1500s.  I probably could have gotten a used 6600 for around $700 or so on eBay.

I also considered springing for Janome 7700 which has a massive throat.  Interestingly, it’s got a width of something like 11 inches, but the area is only slightly larger than that of the pq1500s, since it’s lower.  That machine runs $2500 new – definitely not an option – but I watched used models on eBay for a while.  It seems like you’re looking at $1300 used for that model on eBay, which I felt was just not worth it.

I have been loving my machine so far.  I’ll have to come back and add some more photos.  It is just a power house, and I love love love the extra space.  FMQing should be easy now, right?  Ha.  It is rated 4.8 stars on Amazon, and it’s accurate.  I am still getting used to the extra power, as I got whacked on the forehead by part of the feed system (on the top), and I sewed the edge of my finger.  Ouch.

try a tri?

I’m half considering trying a triathlon in September.  I’m in serious need of some exercise motivation these days.  Most of my free time has been going to quilting, and I am just not too excited about running.  I’ve looked around, and the absolute shortest triathlon I can find is September 20th.  It has a 600 m swim, 7 mile bike and 3 mile run.  Typing this out, I’m not so sure it is a good idea.  I don’t understand why they don’t have shorter triathlons!  I would guess it would take me on the order of 90 minutes to do this race, maybe a little less.  That is no joke.  Why don’t they have tris with a 200 m swim and maybe a 2 mile run?  This was actually the only race I could find with a bike portion shorter than 14 miles or so.  Maybe I just don’t know where to look.  The other problem with tris in this area is that our water is often cold so there’s a really short window during which a wetsuit is not required.

I’m a good swimmer, or at least I used to be when I was a kid, but I’m a bit nervous about swimming 600 m in open water.  I swam 1000m once a week while pregnant, but I would take a rest every 200m.  Also, I’ve never really swam much in open water, and I figure it must be a lot harder.  There are other races with a 400m swim, but all of those have the 14 mile bike rides.  That is a long way.  I am not exactly overburdened with time to train right now.

So maybe I won’t do this.  We’ll see.  I need to decide one way or the other, though, because the summer won’t last forever.