Archive for February, 2011


13.0 Better execution

February 28, 2011

Listening back to yesterday’s podcast today, made me think of two things:

1) Top Chef

2) The machine quilting I had just done on the hand pieced table runner

In Top Chef, many times, very talented cheftestants have the ability to make amazing dishes, the ingredients are fantastic, the equipment is present to make an amazing and spectacular dish, the knowledge to pull all the different parts into one incredible, mouthwatering, insightful plate of food is just there under the surface, but …

the dish falls flat, is uninspired … just doesn’t impress anyone.

The whole idea of the dish is there, and a great dish is just waiting, but the judges say “It just fell flat on the execution” (actually not a word for word phrase from Top Chef, but the general idea)


As far as the machine quilting:

Here was my practice piece.  The yellow was the lines that I gotten such great compliments on the day before, and the blue (box was to represent the diamond on the table runner) is what I intended to do with the blue thread on the piece in terms of quilting design.

I had decided to use four simple loops for each of the 27 diamonds in the table runner.  And I toyed with putting a second design inside that, but in the end, made a clear decision on the four loops.

I marked where I anticipated all the loop crosses to occur on the quilt, I did not give myself a clear pathway to follow, but a ‘rough idea’.

I mean, it worked so well the day before on the feathers, why couldn’t it work well on the loops?

This little quilt had 27 blocks, and you would also think that by the end of the 27th block, I would be better at quilting the loops than the end of the first block.

I know you can’t see it well, but my free motion would be better left to a strict ‘follow the pattern’ here as evidenced by this quilting shown on the light color of my quilt.

Hmm … well … it’s maybe not all that evident with this particular picture, but not only is the tension slightly screwed up (showing some of the stitches from the bobbin slightly poking through), but the pattern … ends up not being all that consistent, and the last block is about as wobbly as the first block.

I wonder if I felt ‘overconfident’ as I did when I completed my feathers the day before and thought that I was “too good” for an actual guide?

I feel bad that you really cannot see well in pictures what an imperfection of a mess that the loops really are.

When I have such a clear vision for this quilt with the quilting design.

… and if this is on the table, will I see it day in and day out and will it bother me?


will I see the ‘charm’ in all the design, and overlook the problems?

Part of me wants to rip out all the quilting on the 27 triangles, and do it over … with a stencil … and perhaps do this over by hand

Since I pieced the piecing design by hand.

But maybe I’ll wait and see.

The idea for the quilt is there, and has the potential to be a great quilt, but the execution is poor.

Will the best thing for this quilt to learn more about perfection, and how to achieve your goals, not only to your perceived ability, but beyond it – by ripping out the stitches and starting over?

Or will the best thing for this quilt to learn humility, the value of not being perfect, and how to spot charm in a poorly executed design – by leaving the stitches in?



… How does this relate to the podcast?

Well the ideas are there, very solid ideas, somewhat organized (well sorta), but after listening to myself, I could have presented the same ideas in a much more engaging way.

And this was the chance that I decided to take when I hadn’t exactly spent the same amount of time on that podcast as I had the others before this one.

If this delivery of my podcast had come out of my mouth this way 3 weeks ago, I would have stopped, rerecorded the entire thing, and had way more energy and enthusiasm for my quilty retreat ideas.

But it would have taken about 6 more hours … as did the prior podcast I recorded before this one.

It bugs me that I did spend a bit of time editing (but not in full to get the full effect of my voice and my lack of inflections), but I didn’t feel I spent any more time than any other podcaster on the editing.

It bugs me that it takes me what feels like 3-4 times as long as everyone else, and when things come out of their mouths,

they don’t put people to sleep!

Just when I decide I know what I’m doing … whoosh … and actually … I don’t.

But just as Top Chef contestants do ….

We’re moving on anyway.  I mean, a girl’s still gotta eat, right?

Please don’t send me packing my knifes for this last dish!  I can prepare better than this.

… you can still eat it? right?


12.9 Podcast Episode 023 – Tale of Two Retreats

February 27, 2011

Podcast Feed

The Tale of Two Retreats

Use this podcast and my experiences of two different retreats as a guide to what types of things you may want to bring with you to retreats, or suggestions on retreat projects.

My last post has my basket weave quilt picture.

Here is my butterfly quilt with free motion quilted feathers in it.

And here is the sewing space when no one was there (early morning)

Here is the backing of my hurricane quilt all stretched out ready to be basted (might have said binded in the episode don’t know for sure)

Here is the cutest ironing board ever (not mine, but I wish).

Here is my personal ironing surface solution.

And the strips I was working with on the last day. (a couple of you may get to see these first handed!)

The pineapple block that I was using littlefoot paper piecing method for.

oh … and if you ever don’t have a washing machine to make sure the reds don’t bleed …

See my new facebook page.

The link doesn’t appear to be working for some reason, but if you’re interested, search on facebook for the Scientific Quilter and like my page.

And if anyone else has more luck with this, and would like to know what I am missing, please let me know too!

Thanks for my commenters and encouragement!


12.8 Weaves

February 26, 2011

Last weekend, I was setting up myself at a nice retreat, trying to figure out again how to sew littlefoot pineapple blocks for the guild, then getting excited about a new quilt.

And I came home middle of last week, but have been either sleeping or sewing or going shopping for fishing, such that I have not been posting.

First, the highs of fun and fellowship, and now the lows of real life slap you in the face.

It wasn’t until this morning that I got my pictures downloaded onto my computer from the retreat.

And I have to put them on the guild website, and edit them. – err … reverse order on that.

I have to work on taxes for myself, do more loads of laundry, and start to put together ideas for the next podcast.

On another note:

Getting frustrated at the home sewing front that the things I like and make at home are just not appreciated or even liked.

The ladies at the retreat (AND I) liked this following quilt top (well the blocks anyway), but at home — I guess it’s not liked all that much.


I said at the retreat that I really didn’t care if this was liked or not, it was being made, and given away, but …


Also, along the same note, that I know there are things that I may see differently than other people, which is okay.  It brings a sense of style to things, a certain aesthetic.

I love seeing how other people like quilts and colors that I don’t see.  I like bringing this unique aesthetic to myself and to others, to make us all think differently.

To weave others’ views and my own into a great quilty tapestry.


But when I can’t even gauge at home what will be liked and what will not be liked.  I am getting irked.  And more irked, and more irked.

At one point you have to weave what you want and like with what others want and like, especially if you try and try to make something for someone else, who consistently does not like the end result.

So, it begs the question – do I really know this person?  Am I really that far off base to what the person wants to be able to miss the mark THIS many times??

… Actually this wouldn’t be the first ‘present’ to go unappreciated, unliked to the recipient.

Christmas and other gift giving holidays have been a HUGE source of frustration and anxiety, so much so that gifts are usually NOT exchanged anymore.


But still


Because if you give something away to someone else and they don’t like it, then it will not get used and pushed away. Then what is the point of doing something for someone to begin with?

And when you ask what IS liked and you get a whole lot of “I don’t know” or you show quilt patterns and you get no response on those patterns, and you have to just guess what will be appreciated … and then it’s unliked …

So I guess this quilt is MINE.  Or maybe I should auction it away or something?  It’s not finished, so I have time to decide what to do for it.

I happen to LOVE this weaved quilt, and think it would make a GREAT (and much needed) addition to the household.

But forcing it upon someone else who has such a strong negative reaction to it?  I don’t know.



12.7 My Favorite Mug

February 21, 2011

I have had a mug in my possession since either the christmas before high school graduation or my graduation.

I don’t remember exactly how it was bestowed upon me, but I do remember that my mother gave me my mug and I had it freshman year of college.

Because my roommie of the time used to laugh because it could hold the entire amount of a ‘four cup’ coffee pot at once.

Anyway, I love the mug fro sentimental reasons – it was a mug that made my mother think of me.

I also really love the mug’s extra large size that makes me think of my first college roommie (I had 5 overall roommies during my years of college).

The weight of the mug is also hefty, which, one may think is a bad thing, but it’s not.

I pick up similar sized mugs at the dollar store occasionally and they are much thinner and harder to want to heft around all the time.

The thinner mugs feel like they’re going to break on me. Ick.

But also the lovely impressionistic Monet replica that is on the mug’s side makes me really adore this mug.

This mug is generally my ‘hot tea’ mug, and I have another mug I use for coffee, which makes me think of a different college roommie.

But this mug is my absolute favorite!


12.6 Running out the door

February 19, 2011

I am officially packing my entire sewing room for my retreat.  I think I’ve gone crazy.

But hopefully will come back with a LOT of finishes … assuming I don’t forget anything vital.

Anyway, I will be back in a few days.  Gotta stuff my car full with everything and run right out the door!

Would upload a picture but the camera is packed.  Will post progress when back!


12.5 Hand Stitched Tumbling Block

February 18, 2011

I have completed my table runner top that is my hand stitched tumbling block.

This would be a fantastic pattern to create in a larger quilt, but for now, this works for me.

Just a single hexagon.  Very cute, and very appropriately me.  I hand pieced this while at work, little bit at a time.

In a month and half (would have been shorter had I taken more breaks at work) I went from no pattern, to this pattern, all done by hand.

I am taking this, along with a lot of a lot of other (smallish) projects to machine quilt to my local retreat.  It’s like a large mug rug size or a small table runner size.

Really works with my round table.  I suppose I could go one more round out if I chose to do so, but I am keeping this the way it is!



12.4 Kids, be careful with your health

February 17, 2011

Now I’m not all that ‘life experienced’ as some quilters out there, but this week has been kicking my ‘butt’.

A few weeks ago I cut strips while I was organizing my sewing room.

Which was great for my organization, but not for my shoulders.  The good ol’ shoulders felt it the day after all this cutting (there are more baggies).

Then a few days later there was this snow, and you see, it needed shoveled, and after that, I’ve been feeling some pain in my shoulders AND my back.

And then, because I sit semi-crosslegged on my chair all the time, I tuck under my foot under my other leg, and this foot has been feeling pain a heck of a lot.

I wonder if this was why 2 years ago when I went down water slides at the water park, this leg (and only this leg) started really really hurting.  And then it would go away.

Now in the morning, particularly, the foot hurts.

I have been trying to train myself to sit at my chair ‘normal style’, but most days, it’s just natural to tuck the leg underneath, so it’s been hard work.

I really notice how often I am bending over, so I have to try to change some of this bad habits – now – before things only get worse.

So, this week has been the whole combination of leg & foot pain, and back & shoulder pain (that never really went away after the snow).  And I’m exhausted.

So I haven’t really been sitting at my computer lately.  Or sewing.

And in a couple of days I will be gone on retreat.  I hope I’m better by then.

Hopefully, this is just a function of warmer weather weariness, and nothing more major.  Not particularly great news, but I thought I’d share.

Take care of yourself and your bad habits if you can!