Scotland 2017 – What a great place

So since retiring, I have done some work on the house. Then in 2016 I went to Ireland with a quilt tour group (Celtic Quilt Tours LLC) on my own (meaning no husband and I didn’t know anyone on this tour).  Ireland was so well planned, that I signed up for their Scotland trip.  The terrific people I met inspired me to travel again on my own.

However, this time I decided to return to Dublin for two days after the Scotland trip. So off I went.1505131612184 First leg of the trip was LAX to Paris with 90 minutes to get connecting flight to Edinburgh.  I took my little Alpaca bear along so he does show up in some pictures.

The flight was on Air France and I have to admit that I was nervous at first. But that being said, Air France was terrific on both legs of the flight. Be forewarned that if the flight attendant is handing out a form, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they want you to sign up for a credit card. This was an entry card so the Customs person knows who is coming in.

I had asked my travel agent (Pam at Open Gate Travel who is awesome) to set up a driver to pick me up. Two of the other travelers coming in from Canada were to meet me and we would share the ride in. Well British Air bumped them and then lost their luggage…. more later on that.

The driver was terrific and gave me a running account of the buildings that we passed. He dropped me off at the hotel where after checking in, I went to the bar where our group usually congregates. We were all pretty excited to be back together.  The hotel was near the train station and the Royal Mile.  The next morning I met with the front desk person, Siohban, who was from Galway. She was so helpful telling me about the buildings across the rail tracks and how to get there. She is the kind of person you want to greet you at a registration desk.

DSCN1099With my trusty map from the front desk, she gave me perfect directions on how to get over to the monuments. No rain but a little chilly. I visited the City Services building which, when built, was a jail. Also hiked up Calton Hill. There is a lovely monument to Admiral Nelson. The fee is 5 pounds to climb to the top. Worth every penny. Here are a few photos. Climbing up Nelson’s monument is over 180 steps but I made it. Magnificent view of the entire city.

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Nelson’s Monument

There are other areas up there. Some have not been finished. But it was a picture perfect day. Sun was shining and the breeze was great. Just the right temperature to get rid of the cobwebs from the previous day’s flight. A gentleman from Germany asked me if I would take his picture and he reciprocated by taking mine.

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The sign stated Calton Key which is kept in the building that was a jail and not City Services.

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There is also the Solider’s Monument which is over 275 steps which I thought I would do when our tour ended up back in Edinburgh.

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On the Royal Mile sits St Gile’s church. This is one beautiful piece of architecture and they ask for a 2 pound donation to take photos. As the sun came around and hit one of the stain glass windows, you could almost hear the angels go ‘Ta Da” so I paid the fee and got my sticker. The church is amazing and while I was in the gift shop, the mid afternoon service started. So I went back in and listened. Very inspirational, very moving and very touching.

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After hitting numerous stores, it was time for a little break. So the bear and I stopped for coffee. The odd thing was, you didn’t hear much of bagpipe music but more Motown.

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There are numerous hanging baskets with beautiful flowers on almost every building. So nice to see. Just ignore the grumpy looking guy.

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That is all for now which sums up about 1/2 my first day in Edinburgh. It is nice to explore on your own and it’s great to explore with friends. I hope that my blog can inspire you to take the leap and go on a trip by yourself.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

Quilt Tours and why you should go

Ireland – you say it and tons of visions come to mind – green meadows, sheep grazing, nicely poured pint of Guinness, dancers, etc.  I have wanted to visit this island for many decades and once retired, it was number 1 on my bucket list.

I started researching tours as I didn’t want to drive myself.  What better way than to be driven by someone, someone who knows the country,  and someone who enjoys driving.  In my quilt magazines there are always tours listed – from being driven to cruises.  I Googled Quilt Tours Ireland and came up with a few names.  There were two that caught my eye.

I downloaded the itineraries for comparisons.  Both were around the same price and length of visit.  One guaranteed a small group – no more than 25 people.  The other said no more than 50.  So what do you do?  You ask your guild if anyone had taken either tour.  One guild member highly, and I mean, highly recommend Celtic Quilt Tours LLC.

This tour started off with Dublin, up to Northern Ireland around the west coast and back to Dublin.  The  places listed were all around the coast of Ireland.  I sent off an email explaining that this would be my first tour as well as my first trip overseas.  The American contact was so helpful.  For four months before the tour started, we received newsletters about the trip.  Everything from where we were to meet at Dublin Airport, how much money to bring over in Euros and pounds, the Horizon VAT cards, shopping trips, packing items, size of luggage etc.

Our first item was a tour of Dublin and then off to visit Malahide Castle.  The tour provided breakfast as most of us came in on red-eye flights from the States and Canada.  We could opt out for shopping or a tour of the castle.  The gardens were beautiful and the castle tour guide was extremely informative.

We went back to the hotel and checked in.  Now by this time my eyes were rolling around in my head from being up so many hours.  First thought was – I need a nap.  But then my brain kicked in with “You are in Dublin – get out and explore”.  Splash some water on my face, grab a glass of water, brush my teeth and off I went.  Down Grafton Street, past Trinity College and in to a few stores.DSCN0369DSCN0368.JPG

 

We had on our schedule to visit the Book of Kells the first day but due to other circumstances, it was held off.  One thing about a tour is to be flexible.  Dinner at O’Callahan’s  was great.  But by 9:30 pm, I was done.  Plus we had to have our bags out in the hallway early the next morning for the porters as we were leaving Dublin by 8:30 am.

Off to Belfast in Northern Ireland.  The past problems have been resolved and restoration and revival has been started. This is a very passionate city.

More later on my trip as this was a 13 day tour and I took a lot of photos and notes.  But in a nutshell, great trip, great people on the tour, amazing tour driver, beautiful scenery, terrific people in every city and delicious food.  More later…….

 

 

 

Healing through Quilting

Sometimes you receive news that just hits you in the gut.  Well I had a wonderful co-worker tell me that not only had she gone through thyroid cancer, she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  Knowing she loves Hawaii, I found the fabric and made this quilt.  I say had as I have retired – not that she passed away.Twist around Hawaii

This quilt, which is lap size, could keep her warm while she was going through chemo treatments.  As I was sewing it on my Bernina, quilting it on a long arm and then the binding, I would pray for her to have a complete healing.  She is not a Christian but it made me calm.  I tend to get very irritated when I hear of someone diagnosed with cancer.

Now I live in Southern California so we don’t have much cold weather.  But there are some nights that snuggling under a quilt just makes life so much better.  The fabric was purchased from Beyond The Reef at the Road to California show.  The fabulous staff assisted me with the colors for the Twists.

Another former co-worker is going through PTSD.  I never knew why she left the job but she did disclose later.  Sometimes, especially when they live in another state, you get frustrated as you can’t reach out and give them a hug.  So I quilt.  The last quilt I did arrived at this person’s house just after she heard that her former supervisor/mentor had died suddenly.  I got a picture of her under the quilt with her dog which made me very happy.

Fan DanceThis one is called fan dance.  I am a fan of this person so it seemed to be the right quilt to send.  So if you have a friend that is going through a rough time, consider a quilt.  You can sew blocks together, stitch in the ditch to hold the batting to the top and then add some yarn in each block.  Have friends tie a square knot while adding a prayer.  Prayers can be silent, or the person can write it out and attach the card for the recipient.  They will appreciate it.

So keep quilting.  It keeps your hands busy and your heart full.  At least it does for me.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

Challenges

Challenges come with many faces – it could be not biting someone’s head off on Facebook for skewed political statements, song lyrics, etc.  I enjoy challenges – like doing the crossword puzzle with a pen, baking a new and somewhat complicated dessert or even trying to come up with a budget that works.

In one of the AQS brochures, there was a picture of two quilts looked like it was more than straight seams.  The quilts were designed by the Guilty Quilter in Portland Oregon.  And it had my favorite saying on it “No Y seams”.  For non-quilters think of putting another fabric in a 45 or 60 degree angle.  You stitch to 1/4″ from the edge, stop, pull the fabric out and start 1/4″ on the other side.  If not done correctly, you can get a pucker or a wavey mess.Labryinth purplr 2014

The first one I did was Labyrinth.  It is a wonderful 3-D effect,  One thing I found challenging on this was you need to cut two angles – top right and bottom left.  I should have quilted it first and then cut the corners off.  The challenge was getting it  placed on the long arm correctly.  The first try at it was so off, I had to rip out 4 rows of stitching and start over.

The next challenge from the same designer came out like this.  San Marcos  Once you break down the pattern, relax a little, you realize “I CAN DO THIS!”  So my goal was to get this top complete prior to my week up in Oregon.  To quote Rebel Wilson’s character in Perfect Pitch “Crushed it”.

If it seems like you can’t possibly do it, remember to break it down into small bites.  It can be done!  It may take awhile.  The blue quilt fabric was purchased in 2014 and it sat in my sewing room for over a year because the I froze reading the pattern.  Not the right time for this one.  Then I remembered a sign that I use to have in my office cubicle ‘Time to put on your Big Girl panties”.  Sat down with a cup of coffee and read the directions from first to last page.  Got it on the first try……

Challenge yourself and reward yourself.

Quilt what you like -this is called Sea Glass

As a child, I grew up in a beach community.  It was great going to the beach after school, weekends and all summer.  The change in the sea was always a swirl of teals, blues, turquoise, and greens.  Even when the weather was overcast, the water and sand can make a person calm, happy and tranquil.  sea glassEven the worst day at the beach was always better than the greatest day at the office or school.

I saw this pattern and knew it was something I just had to make.  This really was one of the easiest patterns to work.  Couple of colors and voila, it’s done.  All that is left is to get quilt time on a long arm and go!

Now the beach isn’t for everyone – some people have fair skin, like myself, so an excellent sunscreen is needed along with a great floppy hat and protective clothing.  And some locals have a hard time with visitors (really don’t like the term tourist).  However, when visiting the beach, please be aware of what you arrive with and what you leave behind.

Arrive with a pleasant attitude – be aware of your surroundings (like keeping the swearing/music at a minimum if there are kids nearby) – Watch the water as beach waves can sneak up on you – leave the beach clean.  Remove your garbage, clean up after your dog if dogs are allowed on the beach.  I have wanted to take a bag of sand home with me so I could dip my toes in it and just remember the calmness it brings me.  But, with two cats it would be a temptation for them.  And secondly, it would be removing something that belongs to all of us.  Enjoy the beach!

And now, upstairs to tackle a pattern and material that I purchased last year…..

Thanks for reading.

 

Tips and Tools Part Deux

Bon jour and that is the extent of my French.  I hope you enjoyed Part one of Tips and Tools.  Let me throw out some more:

Tools DVDPattern Books and movies:  I will usually purchase the books from teachers when I take class at Road to California.  One reason is they get the money directly and two, they will autograph it for you.  I will take some of the books to have them spiral bound.  This makes it easy to make copies if you are doing paper piecing.  Now my DVD collection on the shelf is a cross between movies and quilting.  The Quilt Show, hosted by Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson are in box sets which is good and bad.  The good is you learn great techniques and get to new perspective.  The bad is you aren’t quilting because the show is so intriguing.  I have made quilts while West Side Story, Casablanca, Dirty Dancing, Hairspray and many others are playing on a small DVD player.  Again for two reasons – one is I have seen them so many times I don’t have to watch.  Two, it makes me stop if my favorite scene is on.  You need to take breaks for your back, eyes and mind.

Tools Iron Iron:  I love this Oliso iron as it lifts itself up off the fabric.  This helps eliminate the repetitive motion of lifting up the iron.  You can get less expensive irons but make sure it doesn’t leak.  The Oliso one also shuts itself off when not moved.  It takes regular water so you don’t end up buying distilled water.  You do have to empty out the reservoir after you are finished.  There are other portable irons that you can take to class but some places are adamant about too much power being used.  Some classes are even policed by the staff of the venue to check on the extra items.  Now some teachers say don’t iron until you have completed the top.  But when you need top press the seam to one side or press open, you want to use the steam iron as opposed to a dry  iron.  The steam causes the fibers of the thread to expand making the seam more strong.

Tools rulersRulers:  So many to have and you will need a lot of them.  There are many manufactures so it really depends on what appeals to you.  Do you want one that has a green background, clear acrylic, yellow lines, black lines, specialty (diamonds, triangles, etc).  Some teachers have had their own made for their patterns.  Kimberly Einmo created a ruler so it would be easier to cut diamonds for her patterns.  The 2 1/2″ line is marked in a different color.

You’ll want at least a 24″, 18″ and a 12″ length ruler.  This will accommodate almost every cutting mat that is out there. 12″ and 18″ are good for fat quarters but the longer rulers are better for the 42-44″ fabric. Do not leave these rulers in direct sunlight.  Along with the mats, they will warp – that’s when you put on Rocky Horror picture Show and do the Time Warp Dance”  But seriously, the mats can be reshaped but not perfectly.

Tools art bin lampCarry All:  Mine is an old art bin box that I have had for years.  It’s lightweight and has numerous levels.  My wood handled seam ripper and stiletto are on the top level along with hand sanitizer.  I also carry a highlighter, glue stick, buttons, extra thread, needles, extra bobbins, rotary cutter, breath mints, pens, pencils, and band-aids. To the right is an Ott light.  Some venues had almost adequate lighting.  The Ott light is a must for some classes.  The bulb is LED and gives natural illumination.  This way, you don’t have to carry your fabric outside to check the colors.  Next to the light is a small bottle of Mary Ellen’s Best Press.  You will want to use this when sewing half square triangles.  I know that mine have stretched just enough to make it impossible for the points to be perky. Best Press has a variety of aromas – Lavender, Peach, Fresh Breeze and Unscented.

So to conclude with just some other advice:

Never be afraid to try a new method .. Read all the directions before cutting (it will save you $$ and time) .. There are no stupid questions.. Be bold… Check out a teachers website… Contact them if you had a great time in the class…Send them a photo of the finished top (you might end up in their next book)..Just have fun.  Plus you do need a cat to test the fabric.Tools cat This is Jake.  He reminds me to stop and appreciate him.

Thanks for reading. Any feedback is appreciated.

Tips and Tools – Part 1

I just wish I had some of these items when I first started quilting.  First, never limit yourself to just one tool.  Variety is great.

Example SCISSORS – I have a pair of Kai scissors and in the wooden holder (upper right) is a little pair of embroidery scissors.  Make sure family members or roommates do not use these on paper, plastic or even cardboard.  Gingher and Kai are my favorite brands.  If there is a large quilt show, you can find these at many of the vendors’ booths.

ROTARY CUTTERS – the pink handle and the yellow handle are both from Olfa.  The yellow handle allows you to cut with either your left or right hand.  You can bring down the safety and have only half or the whole blade showing.  The pink one safety switch gives you the whole blade.  Before you place the rotary back on the cutting board (green mat) close the guard on the blade.  Always!  You could accidently go to grab something and brush up against the blade.  Or if you have cat, they could cut their paws. The blade is extremely sharp!  Blood is never good on a quilt or a cat.Tools board ripper scissors

SEAM RIPPERS – The purple handle one is from Lumenaires.com.  I saw their ad in a quilt magazine and had to have one (actually ended up buying three – one for a friend and kept two for myself).  First, I love the color and second, the handle is very comfortable in my hands.  Seam rippers are not that expensive but they are like socks in the dryer – they end up missing.  I find that having at least two in your tool kit.

CUTTING BOARD – these wonderful mats come in a variety of sizes.  You will find one big enough to cover your cutting table or small enough to take to class.  The one in the picture has an ironing pad on the other side.  The material for the mat keeps your blade sharp and doesn’t ruin your tables.

SEAM PRESSERS – I have two shown.  One is a wooden roller (top left) which I found at Road to California show about eight years ago. Just wish I could remember the name of the craftsman.  The second one is a piece of curved  wood and I bought it from Alex Anderson.  Again, both are good for quilt classes as they don’t require a plug = just some elbow grease.

SEAM OPENER – that’s the white thing that is positioned at an angle.  You lay your piece and the fabric bends over it.  It is covered with fabric and you just iron the seams open.  Normally, the seams are ironed to the dark side so they will nestle together.  This is new on the market and worth buying.

PIN HOLDER – The most frustrating thing is when you knock over your pin holder.  There are many on the market that have a magnet inside.  Again, buy a couple so you have one at the sewing machine and one on the cutting table.  I got an industrial metal bowl for the pins I use for the zippers on the long arm.  They look like corsage pins.

Lastly, Tools Timerget an egg timer and set it for 20 minutes.  When it goes off, move away from the machine/sewing room and stretch.  Rest your eyes, shoulders and mind.  I find my shoulders rising up when I sewing on the Bernina.

More to come later.  The 20 minute timer is also good for computer work so it’s break time for me.

So much has happened in one year!

Well, it has been one year since I retired from the Fire Authority.  Since that time I took an extended visit to see my mom in Oregon, had the house fixed up (popcorn ceiling removed, professionally painted, new flooring, new window treatments and new dual pane windows).

I also downsized quite a bit – all furniture got donated to Goodwill/Salvation Army, bags of gently used clothing and books donated to Goodwill, fabric was donated to my guild to either sell or raffle off and a few other things.  It’s great to clean up and start fresh.

Fan Dance With that said about starting fresh, this was the first quilt from Road to California 2015 class that I finished.  Some class projects get done in a year or two or just get shelved.  This one is called Fan Dance and the teacher was Nancy Mahoney.  Nancy has a great technique so the quilt was assembled quickly.  Since I purchased the fabric in La Mesa at Rosie’s Quilt, I named mine La Mesa Leslie.

It was quilted on the long arm, binding on in record time and then shipped to my friend Sharon Elsensohn.  Sharon and I had a fabulous friend named Leslie.  We have known each other for more than 25 years.  Well, that damn cancer took Leslie away from us.  Knowing that Sharon was feeling the loss, I sent it to her.  When she’s down, maybe she can think that Leslie is nearby watching over her.

So Leslie, farewell.  Sharon, enjoy the quilt.  Any quilt guilds, think about having Nancy as an instructor.  Quilters could also use this pattern and use the panels of the fans for signatures. When finished you could use it for a gift for a bride, a retiring member of your company or church or a family gift.

More later as I need to put some binding on another quilt.

Thanks for reading.

Featherweights for sale!

Well, it is time to downsize. We are redoing the house and I just realized that I have to start eliminating “stuff”. Now I love my Featherweights – they are great for taking to class. But I went a little nuts on eBay and now have 6. Plus a couple of other portable machines.

I know – that is way too many unless I have a studio, set up each machine with different color thread and have the space. So, if you are interested, please let me know. Here are some pictures of my 1948 that was listed.
??????????????????????????????? Cat is not included in the sale. Elwood just likes to have his photo taken.

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Singer 7

All my Featherweights have cases, bobbins, foot pedals and are in working condition. Please email me if you are interested. Thanks

Internet, Tools, Quilting

First let me say that if any of you received an email from darcelona3@aol.com regarding a link taking you to a weight loss page, it wasn’t me. I purchased a new computer from Best Buy and while they had the computer to transfer data over, someone hacked my account. I have had to change the password about 7 times so hopefully, you won’t receive any more.

Tools – I have to say that I have become a scissor junkie. I start to salivate at a Kai display or a Gingher or Bohn. Since retiring from the Fire Authority, I have been rearranging and organizing my sewing room. Found numerous packets of needles – everything from quilting, crewel, tapestry, to multiple packets. But needles go dull so that is an absolute need. I also found about 10 pairs of scissors. Everything from embroidery, 6″, 8″ size and even pinking shears. Plain handles to floral. Just gotta have them.

There was a vendor at Road to California this year that sold wood handled seam rippers, stillettos (not shoes, sigh), hair picks and thimbles. Their work is so beautiful that I bought a stiletto and a seam ripper. Then I told them that I had seen a blurb on their product in one of Mark Lipinski’s magazines. To date, I had already purchased knitting needles, a thimble and a seam ripper/stiletto set. Check out Bella Cotton in Esty – she carries some beautiful items.

Quilt shows- big or small, please support them. I attend the Orange County Quilt Guild’s show in Anaheim last week and the quilts were beautiful. Many members participated and they had some great vendors. There was one vendor that had a plethora of hand crank sewing machines. Almost bought one but had to stop myself. I had purchased a hand crank, Lady Washington machine years ago just in case we lose power and I just have to finish up a seam.

That’s all for now. The new computer has been letting pop-ups appear and tells me that my browser, Media, Flash Drive, etc are all out of date and need to be updated. Why? Everything should have been done before I picked this up. Oh well, back to Best Buy. The nice thing is since retirement, I can go and be there first thing in the morning to get answers.

Thanks for reading.