July 27, 2008

Welcome Mattie

My sewing drought is over, with this new acquisition, a newly serviced 1951 Singer 401A Slant-o-matic. I'm calling her "Mattie". Mattie is a real powerhouse, (just like Bernie will be again when I find a sewing machine surgeon I trust!) although it seems she has something against free motion quilting. We'll see if the thread stops breaking when I change the needle later this week. Luckily, my commissioned quilt doesn't require free motion work so I am finally working on that again.

Don't you love the details on older things? It is strange getting used to the different pedal on this machine and the new "rhythm". For instance, where the Bernina stops stitching immediately when my foot comes off the pedal, this one slows down to a stop more gradually.

I hope to have a post with that eye quilt completed this week. Besides being motivated by the new machine, the time has come to start building a yurt to shade my preggo self, (and my campmates) at Burning Man next month! We went to Burning Man last year and I'm so thrilled we've decided to go this year. Mattie showed up just in time to sew some canvas covering for the yurt and some crazy costumes for the festival!

July 21, 2008

Garden Bounty

My first big harvest of the year! The beets are ready, the first beans have ripened and the potatoes waited in the dirt for me to find them like little red jewels. Everything tastes so fresh and delicious. And cooking with garlic I grew myself is divine!

This is my first year in my community garden plot and I'm learning a lot about the space. It came with a mature grapevine arching over the plot. It shades about half the growing area! And what was beautiful and delicate in the spring became beastly and overgrown in the past few weeks. It was a veritable curtain of grapevines and it took two hours to cut it all back this weekend. Amazingly, there will still be boatloads of grapes to harvest. I'll have to learn more about grapevine maintenance so I trim it right this fall, and hopefully won't need to cut it back in the middle of the growing season next year. This grapevine has been around at least two decades though, so I know I haven't done any long term damage.

The next exciting harvest will be eggplants and tomatoes. Squash is getting ready too!

July 13, 2008

Old MacDonald

This is the quilt back I'm working on for my friend's baby quilt. Uh. It's a group quilt that we originally intended to give at her shower and the kid's 7 months old. My first year out in the real world of being a nurse practitioner has required lots of energy and unfortunately, quilting has suffered. You may remember this picture of the quilt center, before it got borders:

Anyway, what had me stuck for a long time was what to do for the back. Of the dozens of fabrics in my stash, none seemed right. Of the few that I optimistically bought for the task, the same was true. I have never been more stuck on the backing! In some impressionable moment, though, one of you free-piecers of letters out there made me think "Hey!" And since the quilt is all about farm animals, I chose Old MacDonald. Luckily, my mama friend tells me they sing "Old MacDonald" every day and her son loves it! Hooray! Many thanks to Tonya for starting this craze. I really liked making letters and it went much faster than I would have thought. I especially liked using scraps in color groups to keep them from looking too perfect. You know how I dislike too much order!

My machine is still broken so who knows when I will finish this poor overdue quilt. I am pretty mistrustful of both repair stores I've taken my vintage Bernina to. One: "the motor's broken, why don't we show you some new machines?". Other: "It's either the carbon brushes or the pedal, but if you pay to repair it and it still doesn't work we'll give you a credit toward a new machine". I don't care for either of these answers, particularly because they don't match. And I don't want a new machine. I like these heavy, metal old workhorses. So while I scour craigslist and eBay for possible replacements, my grandfather, an electrical engineer, is trying to help me diagnose it over the phone. It seems this will require some "circuit testing" with a multimeter - what an adventure! In the meantime, I'm on the lookout for a place in Portland that repairs old sewing machines but doesn't sell new ones. A pipe dream? We'll see.

P.S. Anyone who went to the show in Sisters I hope you post lots of pictures. I woke up with a raging sore throat, sneezing my head off and had to pass...

July 09, 2008

Thankful Emergence

Hey there! If anyone still reads this blog after my month-long absence, please enjoy this update cleverly integrated into a list of things I'm grateful for!

First off, and inexcusably delayed, I am thankful for receiving this lovely handmade green book sent by April of By Small Means. April is a loving creative mama who had an inspired birthday idea of making gifts during her birthday month and having a give-away on her birthday! Thank you April, this was such a sweet treat. And speaking of sweet treats, do take a moment to salivate over the lovely red and black raspberries from our garden! I'm so thankful for summer finally arriving.

On to the pregnancy: I'm thankful for all the sincere joy and congratulations I've received from you (yes you!) on this exciting development. I'm thankful that I'm no longer nauseated, and thankful that there's only one little fetus in there, despite my secret desire for twins and my uterus being decidedly higher than one would expect at 14 weeks.

And finally, I was a happy recipient of a "Pay It Forward" from Kris at Quilted Simple. Kris is a motivated quilty mama who destroys all my illusions about farm life without destroying my actual wish to have a farm. This lovely quilted table runner/basket liner she created has been gracing my dining room table since I received it a week or so ago. The colors are perfect! I should have also included a picture of the knitted washcloth that accompanied this thoughtful gift, but it also has been pressed into service and is awaiting a wash. I'm thankful for your generosity Kris! And who could ignore that stunning arrangement from our own backyard? I'm thankful for my husband and his compulsion for buying beautiful perennials. Our gardens are a true place of beauty.

So, with all that thankfulness, and my energy returning after my first trimester slump, I am ready to take on the Pay it Forward challenge! If you want to participate, please post something that you're thankful for right now. I'll create a gift for the first three responders. The rules are that I have a year to pony up, and I'm a notorious procrastinator, so you may wait a while. But oh, that's part of the fun! Then when you get your gift, you can pay it forward to three new participants...