Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Let's twist again, like we did last summer...

Previously, on Stargate SG-1...

Let's see, where did we leave off.  First I pushed to finish the whale quit.  That only took 3-4 years.  Then I pushed to finish the quilt for Alex's wedding.  The wedding was a lot of fun, the hilight being the time I over heard my sister-in-law pointing to me out to somebody with the phrase "my SINGLE brother-in-law"

After finishing the wedding quilt, I pretty much lost interest in quilting for a while.  Meanwhile, my friend Ken took a quilting class and got hooked...then his wife Cindy starting making quilts to...and putting together the requisite fabric stash.  Meanwhile, even though I wasn't actually making any quilts, I was busy enlarging my fabric stash, searching around for even more sealife fabrics, particularly whales and dolphins.  Again eBay proved to be an invaluable resource, both for sea life fabrics and fat quarter assortments to expand my basic fabric stash.  I had definitely reached the pointer where quilting and shopping for fabrics were activities that were only loosely connected!

Fast forward to Christmas. I was getting ready to hop on a train for my brother Terry's place for Christmas, when I received a phone call from Cindy.  They were staying at a bed-and-breakfast in Vermont on a skiing package, and had noticed a flier about the quilt weekend packages the Inn was offering.  There were still 3 spots opened, and she wanted to know if I wanted to sign up.  Sure, why not?!?!?!?

Well, to start with some minor logistical problems...such as how do I get up there in the first place?  I'm a downtown city dweller, living the car-free lifestyle.  It's great...I live walking distance from work, I don't spend half my life stuck in traffic, and Boston in general is a very walker-friendly city.  However, every once in a while, I find myself in a situation where a car would be nice.  This was one. 

Fortunately, bus companies exist for this purpose, and there is a bus that runs to Bellows Fall, VT, which is pretty close to Chester, VT where the Henry Farm Inn is located.  Paul Dexter, the inn owner, even offered to pick me up at the bus station in Bellows Falls.  I could already tell this was going to be a nice weekend.

Next came the question of what to take with me, given the hassles of transporting things on the bus.  At the time, I didn't own any kind of a carrier for my sewing machine, so that was one problem.  The instructor, Deb Tucker, was able to rent me a machine...ok, that's out of the way.   For other "big ticket" items, I just piggy backed off of Ken and Cindy.  Right, we're off!

So, this is what, now 2002.  I've been quilting since 1986 (more or less), and this is the first class I've ever taken on this.  To this point, my only instructor has been my friend Marcia (who tries to claim I'm overstating her role in making me a quilter) and books I picked up on my own.  I believe I've already mentioned that I had discovered eBay.  Did I mention that you can find quilt books for sale on eBay too?  I probably didn't mention that I had started buying lots of quilt books off of eBay, enough to create a rather sizeable library.  These books will start to play a larger role later in the story.

Man, this class was a blast!  The pattern we worked on was Around the Twist, a relatively traditional pattern.  Of course, I could not actually do this in a traditional style, basing mine off of some sealife pattern fabrics I had picked up (I suspect I've already mentioned eBay ).  Note also that my new found friends the Moda Marbles made a repeat appearance....don't mess with a good thing!  This was also my first wall-hanging size quilt.  I made the decision to go with something smaller because I didn't want to repeat what I'd just been through with my last 3 quilts...2 queen size, 1 king size.

This class also established another characteristic of my quilting style....I'm unable to make something in a traditional manner.  I always want to find a way to add my own unique twist (no pun intended here) to the design.  I think this is one reason why I've never done quilt kits.  Why do the same quilt that somebody has already done.  The design and decision making process is a huge part of the fun of quilting.

Anyway, back to Vermont.  Only Ken and Cindy signed up for the quilting workshop, and the girls were just along for the ride.  Emerald, at this point, was exhausted from her busy high-school teenager schedule, and largely slept, read, and relaxed for the weekend.  Azureen, though, spent the weekend hanging around with the quilters and "helping" Dad work on his.  Deb Tucker was very nice to her, and set her up with another of her sewing machines for Az to use.  Az was given a Bernina 1090QE, while the machine I was renting was a very old basic Singer!  Sometimes life is not fair!

In the class, I only got as far as finishing the top, the quilting was done when I got home.  It's not terribly evident from the photo, but the quilting is done in a trapunto style.  The large fish on the background fabric are stuffed and raised.  This was done using the machine trapunto style with water soluble thread.  It was not a difficult process at all, but it didn't turn out as nicely as I could have hoped.  The trapunto in this case was swamped out by the background noise of the fabric.  I also used a simple cotton batting for the stuffing.  I probably should have gotten a polyester fat bat instead.

The trapunto resulted from a new addition to my quilting tool set...a Tivo box.  With a Tivo box, I can record the two daily episodes of Simply Quilts on the HGTV network.  This has proved an endless source of  quilting inspiration and instruction.  I've even been saving the episodes to video tape, and refer to them frequently when I need a refresher on how to do a particular technique.

After returning from this class (held in May), I didn't do any more quilting until immediately after Labor Day...but there was a pressure building up inside me that was going to be released in a big way!


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