Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Free Quilting Courses from Craftsy

Hi everyone:
Craftsy Logo

I was looking through the new course offerings that Craftsy has recently posted and realized that some people might not know that they also offer mini-courses - for FREE. Yup, completely scot-free! 

Online Quilting Class
I've already signed up for several of the free Craftsy mini-courses; two of which are:

1. Creative Quilt Backs I usually just cut and piece one fabric to make my quilt backs, so I'm looking forward to Elizabeth Hartman's ideas on creating more interesting backings for my projects.  

Online Quilting Class

2. QuiltCon Lecture Series 2013 I couldn't be in Austin, Texas for the inaugural Quilt Con, but found that watching these lectures was even better. I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to make it to half of these lectures if I'd actually been there. I enjoyed the energy of Mary Fons (I think she can out talk me!) and found the panel discussion about fabric manufacturing very enlightening. 

Check out all of the other free Craftsy mini-courses by clicking here.

I hope you'll sign up for one of the mini-courses: it's a great way to preview the quality of the Craftsy courses and learn something while you're at it. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to Avoid Work

Hi everyone:

I've been very busy lately working on some new patterns involving appliqué and hand embroidery and they've been going very well, until... squirrel! 

I'm easily distracted (I can see my quilting friends nodding their heads) by bright, shiny objects (well, just about anything to do with quilting, sewing or fabric) and this occurred a couple of weeks ago. I read in one of my quilting Yahoo groups that there was a Singer Featherweight at the local Goodwill store. Well, that was enough to drag me out on a snowy, blowy Sunday to take a look. She was in very good condition, but missing all attachments and I couldn't get her to sew properly - bobbin tension was cranked way up and there was no screwdriver in sight. I decided to think about it - and someone snatched her up early the next morning. Okay, obviously not meant to be. I continued the search.
Charlie & Teeka checking out the new addition
I found an ad on kijiji for a Featherweight in Edmonton, about a three hour journey from Calgary. I contacted the seller and over the course of several emails and additional photos, we arranged for me to view the machine on the next Sunday (yes, this whole saga only spans a week!) as I had a wedding on the Saturday and couldn't drive up during the week - that three hour drive thing, remember? My hubby and I cleared our Sunday schedule so we could drive up until... I received an email from the seller on Thursday night that another person was going to be looking at the machine on Saturday and could I call her Saturday night to see if it was sold before I came up on Sunday. What?!! I was a bit upset, to say the least. Make arrangements with me first, but then let someone else see it before me? My momma always told me that you honour the first commitment, regardless of what else better may come along. I've sold items on kijiji myself and have always waited for the first person to check out the item before allowing anyone else the opportunity to view it. Just good manners. Anyway, I wrote that machine off and figured something else would come along, which it did. In the meantime I was busy helping do the flower arrangements for the Saturday wedding.
Table centrepieces all done!
On Saturday morning, I decided to check the kijiji listings to see if there might be another Featherweight closer to home. And guess what? There was! Yes, just minutes from my home was a Singer Featherweight 222K waiting for a new home. I called the seller, went to her house, checked out the machine, negotiated a better price and came home with E.B. (short for Evelyn Barbara: Evelyn for the seller and both names for my paternal grandmother). All this just hours before I had to attend the wedding (remember the flower arrangements?). I didn't have time to play with my new purchase, but brought her home and let her settle in until Sunday.
E.B. at home
I spent several hours Sunday cleaning up E.B., removing some tape and sticker residue with kerosene and then shining her up with car wax (no polishing agents, please!). I also oiled her all up, took off the stitch plate and cleaned out the bobbin area, which caused a bit of tension issues on Monday, but which I finally managed to resolve after much searching on the internet. She looked great! 
All shined up
The best thing about E.B. is that she is not your garden variety 221 Featherweight (no offense, 221 owners), but a 222K. If you're not familiar with these little guys, they are like the 221, but are a free arm machine and have the ability to drop the feed dogs. Sweet! She was made in Scotland at the Kilbowie plant in Clydebank in 1956 - the year my parents were married. 
Some metal polish cleaned up the face plate
Today I did some scrappy sewing with E.B. and we had a wonderful time together. Her stitches just melt into the fabric and there is something magical about sewing with a machine that is older than me, yet still runs so smoothly and quietly. They sure knew how to build machines in those days! I know that we're going to have many wonderful adventures together. 
Just another vanity shot
Now I just need to wait to hear about the price on that Featherweight in the Salvation Army store near my parents' house...

Friday, April 12, 2013

6 Tips for Quilt Show Shopping

Hi everyone:

I'm sure you're like me and love going to quilt shows (although you probably don't spend the kind of $$$ I do at shows - I just can't help myself!). All those wonderful quilts - and all those vendors! It's such fun to spend the day at a quilt show with quilty friends, but it can be such a pain - literally! If you're not properly prepared, you can end up with sore feet and an aching back and that's not fun. So, to keep you feeling as great at the end of the day as at the beginning, follow these 6 suggestions.

Okay, not the outfit I wear to quilt shows,
but this girl is obviously a savvy shopper - look at all those bags!
Wear proper footwear You're not on a catwalk, so those 5-inch stilettos aren't going to cut it at the quilt show. Believe me, no one's looking at your feet - they're wondering if you're really going to purchase that 40% off quilt kit in your hand or if they have a chance to scoop it up when you put it back on the vendor's table. Good walking or running shoes and proper socks will keep your feet cool and supported through the day - and that's exactly what you want. Happy feet, happy shopper quilter.
Photo courtesy of www.heels.com
Pretty, but not practical

Getting there - they're really comfortable,
but maybe a little flashy for the quilt show
Photo courtesy of http://www.asicsamerica.com
Just right!
Dress in layers This is especially important if the quilt show is outside. In Calgary, it can be near 0 celsius in the morning and warm up to +23 celsius by the afternoon. It can also get warm at indoor shows as the shopping frenzy escalates. Dressing in layers is critical to successful shopping. I suggest a cotton t-shirt with a cotton hoodie or sweater over top - if the show is outdoors, a Goretex jacket is not a bad idea, especially in Calgary. Anything that can be bundled up and stuffed stored in the bottom of your shopping bag is perfect.
Cotton t-shirt - good as first layer
Not that kind of jacket!
Carry your purchases properly I used to take a backpack to shows, but am starting to use a rolling bag. It has several outside pouches, good for snacks and a water bottle, an extendable handle and a zippered top. I think that the rolling bag carries more than the backpack (oh joy, oh bliss!) and is certainly better for my back. I'm not nearly as sore at the end of the day with the rolling bag.

Okay for small quilt shows and minimal shopping

Photo courtesy of www.young-hunters.com
Perfect for the entire-day-quilt -show
Stay hydrated I always carry a water bottle when I'm at a quilt show. I can refill it at the water fountain and it reminds me to keep drinking my water. All that competitive shopping burns through calories and it's easy to become dehydrated and tired if you forget to drink throughout the day. Pack a water bottle, it's as essential as your credit card.
Yes, this is actually my water bottle
Muppets rule!
Eat! I usually tuck a few snacks into my shopping bag. Not much, a few granola bars, some fruit, maybe some almonds and definitely chocolate (although I did forget the chocolate this past week-end and had to wait until I got home to restore my chocolate balance). Grazing throughout the day helps to keep up your shopping stamina and we all know how important that is.
Photo courtesy of www.dolecanada.ca
I love these and usually pack a few in my shopping bag
Sit down This is an easy one as there are usually chairs somewhere at the event. I know these are for husbands who have to wait while their wives are shopping, but if you see an empty chair, take a few minutes to put your feet up. They'll thank you later that evening.
Put your feet up for a few minutes - it will really help!
What are your tips for successful quilt show shopping?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Central Alberta Quilters' Guild Quilt Show 2013

Hi everyone:

This past week-end I loaded up the van Zoocrew and headed north to Red Deer with some guild buddies for the 22nd annual Central Alberta Quilters' Guild quilt show. I always enjoy this show, both for the wonderful quilts that are entered in the competition and for the many vendors (did you know that I love to quilt shop?). Great quilts, a variety of vendors and good company - what more could you ask for? Okay, a little chocolate should be involved as well, but the muffins that Lee of Lala's Lovelys brought more than made up for the lack of chocolate (thanks, my buddy, Lee!).

We drove out of the fog and snow in Calgary and arrived in Red Deer ready to party shop.  After visiting a few vendors, it was time for lunch (shopping takes time, you know!). After lunch, we finished with the vendor section and then had time to admire the lovely quilts on display. 

I usually take my camera to photograph the quilts, however I decided to use my iPhone 5 this time. I think the photographs came out fairly well, although a few were a bit blurry - I was probably a bit shaky as my blood sugar was down due to the lack of chocolate. I'm including a few of them here for you to enjoy.
Reminiscence by Chris Sisson, Red Deet
Lee and Peggy inspecting Grandmother's Flower Garden by Evelyne Fairbrother, Red Deer
Line Segments by Orlanda Brown, Blackfalds
Celebration!! by Sue Carton, Red Deer
Sue was one of the featured quilters at the show
Tulip Star by Frauke Vanderkooi, Red Deer
Frauke was one of the featured quilters at the show
Klatschmohn by Frauke Vanderkooi, Red Deer
Frauke was one of the featured quilters at the show
Winter Silence by Cathie MacDonald, Rocky Mountain House
Viewing these amazing quilts inspired me to purchase fabric, patterns and thread so I could create my own masterpieces. Okay, I actually just saw lots of quilty things that I wanted to buy - and I did! Here's what I came home with.
Charm squares, jelly rolls, batiks, thread and fabric, oh my!
A close-up so you can better see what I bought
Actually bought 2 of these cute journals/notebooks -
one for me and one for my daughter, they were just so cute!
Now to start working on that masterpiece - and find some room to store all my purchases!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

4 Days to Learn New Techniques

Hi everyone:
Hope everyone had a great Easter - and spring break. We stayed home this year, but did a few things in the Calgary area and just generally relaxed. Always good to be able to sleep in in the morning!
Now that spring is officially here, it's a great time to clear out some of those mental cobwebs and learn some new techniques. For the next 4 days, April 5 through April 8, Craftsy is offering discounts of up to 75% off on some of their classes. Yes, you read correctly: up to 75% off of selected classes. A different set of classes will be on sale each day, so check their website on April 5, 6, 7 and 8 to see what's on sale. 

Saturday will be the day with the most classes on sale, so you'll definitely want to check the Craftsy site on that day.

Whether it's quilting, knitting, crochet or sewing, Craftsy has a class for you!

Here's hoping that the class that you've been wanting to enrol in is on sale just for you.

Have a great week-end!