Friday, October 30, 2015

Pinwheels, Ships & Wind

I'm hummed the song Brandy (you're a fine girl) while making this block. Come on sing a few verses with me:
He came on a summer's day
Bringin' gifts from far away
But he made it clear he couldn't stay
No harbor was his home

Chorus... .... my life, my love, and my the sea....

Yeah, Brandy used to watch his eyes
as he told his sailor stories
She could feel the ocean foam rise
She saw its ragin' glory
But he always told the truth, Lord he was an honest man

Last month I picked up a big baggie of sewn half square triangles that a guild member graciously gifted the free table. I was fortunate enough to be standing there as she unloaded her haul. There were many more great baggies full of other treasures, but I didn't want to appear hoggish so I happily went away with my half square triangles.

I've been feverishly working on joining the rows for my block of the month class so I can share the nearly finished top with my students during this Saturday's class. I've also been writing assembly instructions to give them, and my brain is fried so today I allowed myself a little free play and what better to get some creativeness going than by grabbing those hsts. 

Brainless sewing is very therapeutic and I've been happily making pinwheels until I needed a bit of a break. I love Bonnie Hunter and her morning post today stopped me dead in my tracks when I read about the vintage signature quilt top she saw during her teaching trip in Washington. It was signed and dated from the 30s. The ship was made with hsts and from what I could tell rectangles so of course, I had to make me one too to go with my pinwheels. My poor ship looks lonely so I will have to fix that! I have no idea how all these will get put together but that's okay. For now it's just playtime.
I don't think we would appreciate ships and pinwheels nearly as much if not for the wind that seems to effortlessly move them about. We enjoy the wind in the summertime. We seem to always have a light breeze even when other areas of town are still. It's refreshing and helps clear out the winter stagnant air from inside our house. That wonderful breeze that we enjoy all summer can and does unexpectedly and violently turn mean. We live in a city that is known for having strong winds, and even though we have lived here over 22 years, when the turn happens, it always takes me by surprise. We have already completed our mid-October routine of removing anything from the outside that could get damaged or blown away so we're ready but not ready if that makes sense.  

While thinking of the wind during my playtime, I started thinking about wind and how it was described in the Bible. I love doing mini Bible studies. After a quick search, I quickly located over 50 mentions of the wind, and I'm sure there are more verses that mention the wind. Many of the verses I read describe wind as rough or strong as in Acts 27:13-15 ...but before long there rushed down from the land a violent wind; Job 1:18-19 ...a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house; John 6:16-18 ... Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.

I also noticed that the Holy Spirit is symbolized as wind as in John 3:8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

I always ask for discernment and understanding when reading the Bible. I believe the Holy Spirit delights in giving us just that when we diligently ask. The more I do it, the more I get out of it. It's not something I get to do once and then I'm done. It's a daily meeting when God and I spend quiet time together. I like the following except from Richard T. Ritenbaugh's sermon.

   "Like the wind, spirit is invisible. A person cannot see it move or work. However, one can see the effect of what the Spirit does. One can see how it acts on things—just as the wind going through a tree full of leaves. One cannot see the wind, but everyone has seen how it makes the tree's leaves and the branches sway. Some have perhaps witnessed a strong wind knock a nest out of a tree or rip leaves or branches off a tree, but not the wind itself. It is the same with the Spirit. The Spirit moves, and we then can see people react. The people do things. A work gets done. What we see is not the Spirit itself, but the Spirit's fruit."

Is it just me or isn't the study of wind simply awesome. Now which hsts will I use for the next ship block....

Friday, October 16, 2015

Clover Wedge Iron Review

There is a brand new iron that is on the market made by Clover. My favorite iron died last month so I have been limping along until this one became available. I fought with myself with purchasing another Rowenta travel iron but decided against it. I loved the size of the Rowenta and never ever put water in it, but that didn't seem to help with the lifespan of it. It lasted for about two years and for the price of it, that is not long enough so I went on the hunt for a different brand. I heard about this one from Bunny Hill Designs and pre-ordered it. Their website didn't give much information at all about it, but I have liked other Clover items that I have purchased so I decided to give it a try.

It arrived this week and I must admit to being a little surprised at the petite size. My first gut reaction was awe's a toy iron. It weighs nearly nothing at just over 11 ounces. The handle is really nice and has a grip to it and it's kind of soft. And, the more I looked at it, the more I like the shape of the tip. It has an OFF knob along with three different temperatures. My Rowenta did not have an off switch so I liked this feature a lot.  The temperature ranges from 175 degrees to 390 degrees so it may be small but it can be mighty in temperature.

I pulled out a project that I was working on, plugged it in and put it all the way up on high.  It only took a minute or so to come to temp. It worked very well on my block and I really liked the control I had. It could be that the lack of weight also helped contribute to the ease of working around the insides of the block. It came with a mini spray bottle if you wanted to spritz your block with water; although I prefer to not use any water/steam on my projects until it's been put together completely for fear of the dreaded stretching.

Traveling to classes with this little guy will be awesome.

The only downside that I can foresee for myself is that I tend to be a bit clumsy and because this iron weighs nothing but gets very hot, I will need to pay attention to not knocking it over on myself. It sits up well but the cord is a little stiff and caused the iron to tip over when I first plugged it in. I may have to keep the cord straight for a while so it relaxes.

The Rowenta travel iron was small but had just a bit of weight to it so I could actually let it set on a newly sewn block for a bit without it moving. I won't be using this iron like that because of its size and weight. I noticed it wanted to follow the cord. You need to hold on to it.

So, while I like the iron, it is not a replacement for my beloved Rowenta travel iron. Rowenta, if you are out there and happen across my blog, please read reviews from your customers on your travel iron and please fix the problem it has with its short lifespan.  I find it implausible that I can buy irons from the 50s and 60s that still work and yours work for 2 years or less. Shame on you!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Are you reluctant to purchase a fabric cutter?

I've been an owner of an AccuQuilt fabric cutter for about five years. I started off with the Go cutter which I still own and love. Last year, I purchased the electric version called Go Big and I have not looked back since.  In fact, I'm considering selling my Go cutter now because it sits quietly and is not being used like it should.

My reasons for purchasing a fabric cutter are many, but my primary reasons were more accuracy and faster cutting. I put off purchasing one for many years because I heard and believed all of the stories about fabric waste. I dislike waste as much as anyone and stalled each year until there was a sale that I couldn't pass up on and took a chance. When I purchased it, there were very few help videos available and no one locally taught anything about them and the best practices for use. I have since found what works best for me and I have very little waste.

As far as the cost of the dies, yes, they can be expensive but so is your time and if you are finding that your cuts are just a little 'off,' and have been struggling with blocks being too big or too small, you will gain back your sanity and enjoy creating again. I look for sales and am selective about which dies I buy. Strip dies are worth the cost to me because I can get the most bang for my buck so to speak. However, if you find that you use a lot of a specific thing (i.e., hexies, half square triangles, 2 inch squares), you may benefit from purchasing a specific die for that purpose.  I use A LOT of hexies and purchased a die that has three different sizes on it. I used that die for over 10,000 cuts before I killed the smallest size and had to purchase another one. And the die still works well on the middle and large hexie. That is the only die that I have had to replace in all these years.

If you are like me and have issues with your hands, you would love having the electric version of the cutter. Even my husband notices that I am able to sew more now that I have the Go Big electric. Actually, he was the reason I purchased the Go Big because he encouraged me to preorder it before it was even available. On some of the strip dies, I would ask for his help in turning the handle because my hands and wrist just don't have the mobility that they once had. The electric version pulls the die through all by itself so it really does do all of the work. And if you pre-measure the width of the die and cut your fabric accordingly and fan fold, you can see from the picture above that there is very little waste. I don't even cut the fabric with a rotary cutter now. I just use a blue wash away pen and mark every so often and cut with my big scissors. I also steam the fabric once it has been fan folded and the cuts come out perfect every time.

So if you've been on the fence, please find someone who has a cutter and has used it so you can get familiar and find out if it would be a good addition to your tool chest. If you are able to find a class, you will learn even more. I teach locally and have had many students who owned them but never used it or used it but wasn't comfortable. It is really helpful to learn tips and tricks for best practices.

I hope this post helps someone who may be on the fence like I was on whether a cutter is something you will use and love.  Okay, it's time to get back to sewing borders on the BOM blocks that I'm teaching.