Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Brrrr... it's cold!

Jack Frost is definitely nipping at our heels around here! As I write this, the temps outside are a balmy -4 degrees and it has been snowing just enough to make everything slippery as all get out. I'm definitely walking to the bus stop very carefully these days! Thank goodness for my Lands End down commuter coat. It keeps me toasty warm and nothing (and I do mean nothing) gets through it, not even that nasty little wind we had this morning. Now, if only I can convince the bus driver that not all of us enjoy a sauna experience on our way to work! It never fails to amaze me that no matter how cold it gets, the driver is nearly always wearing a short-sleeved shirt and, of course, has the heater going full blast. I have to shuck my coat off as soon as I get on the bus or else I'd have heat stroke and not be so daisy fresh anymore by the time I got to my stop downtown.

This past weekend was a very busy one! I attended a two-day machine embroidery event Friday and Saturday and had a wonderful time. It was very well attended and very informative. The event was hosted by Steve Wilson and Laura Winzeler who are the founders of Anita Goodesign, a company that creates fabulous embroidery designs for both home and commercial embroidery machines. Each table had three different Brother machines, two were embroidery/sewing machine models and one was a six-needle commercial model. We worked on several projects in teams of three, trading off on the machines so that we all got a chance to use them. This was the first time that I had worked with Brother machines, and I have to say I really was impressed with them (and this is no small praise coming from a dedicated Viking gal like me.) The six-needle was quite slick and very fast, now I want one! I took pictures of some of the many samples that Steve and Laura created which were hanging around the room and here are my favorites:

This is a tree skirt with embroidered snow globes. The really cool thing about this is that they used clear vinyl over the embroidery to create realistic looking globes.

Here are vintage-look tea towels. Laura worked on Steve for years to get him to digitize vintage designs as he didn't think anyone would want them. I'm glad that she finally got him to change his mind because I bought several of them.

Another vintage concept that Laura convinced Steve to digitize were cutwork designs, and in the process, he innovated a way that makes doing cutwork a lot less painful. Rather than stitching out the design and then cutting out all the little areas with small scissors, you now stitch out an outline, cut away the fabric within the outline and then the machine stitches out the design the same way free-standing lace is done. Voila- perfect cutwork without all the tedious cutting!

Two of the quilts that they had there which I just loved were the Baltimore Albums. I ended up getting both of the design discs for these.

And last but not least, is this stunning piece. The center is created from embroidered "tiles" that were pieced together after they were stitched out. The borders are silk fabric and the effect was just elegant.

Yesterday I went off to the City and County Building to respond to my summons for jury duty. While I did get called as part of a pool, I didn't make it into the jury box so that was it for this time. It's a funny thing, I've been summoned for jury duty like clockwork about every two years since I moved up from Arizona 23 years ago, starting with my first one not long after I got here. The big guy never gets called. Sometimes I really have to wonder about that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December project

I have a lot of sewing to do for Christmas, so I only have one project for this month, finishing the blocks for my heirloom sampler quilt. The quilt has nine blocks in all and I've only gotten two of them completely done! The picture below has a sampling of the rest of my blocks that are in various stages of completion. I really do need to get them finished as I will be meeting with my instuctor in January to put the top together.

Meanwhile, look what just arrived recently! I celebrated my 10-year anniversary with the firm that I work for last month and was given a $400 American Express gift card. I used it to get this iron and a Big Board which will hopefully be arriving in the next week or two. Meanwhile, I set up the new iron and took it out for a spin. Ohh, I love it! I actually had the first version of this iron that Rowenta put out a few years ago and while it is a terrific iron, this one has all the things that I wished it had, including a tank that can be filled at any time. The best part of these irons is that there is no auto-shut off! There aren't enough words to express how much I hate that feature on irons! I gave my old iron to a very good friend and now she's enjoying ironing nirvana, too.