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Friday, December 29, 2017

New Year Perspective!

Wasn't it GREAT to catch up with Kelly? I don't know how she managed to have something new posted.... so often to the blog. I can barely think ahead... let alone back it up with pictures!!!

I have been thinking about and started to create a post about closing out 2017 or looking ahead to 2018... but everyone does that and in a week or so, we will all be ready to move on! I figure we would all do something differently, make better choices, save more, spend less, be more positive, laugh more, be a better person .... you know as we look backward or forward.... they all apply in both directions. Goal setting is like Resolutions... the are good until the next idea or opportunity comes along, and just like a chicken... we are drawn to the next sparkly thing or project! I belong to a loose creative group that is called the 'Sparkly Chickens' because we are always drawn off course by ....something.

I have tried the "word" for the year thing... several times but I always forget the 'guide' word I have chosen... around about the month of March or April, because the end of winter is near... and there is a new world beckining for us to come outside and play.

Most of us pick unrealistic.... ways to plan for the year ahead to overcome the boring- can you say exercise or lose weight, downsize the 'stuff' or clean something....or to laugh more, love more and not allow for serendipity, the unexpected and spontaneous opportunities we can't see coming. 




Me -I live for the opportunities that chance and change allow. To explore, experience and meet new people, different places or try new traditions;  to share tastes, customs and ideas, see something from a different perspective. I try to leave a little room while looking ahead for the unexpected something .... to happen while I muddle on with the daily stuff.

Happy New Year.... may it become everything you need it to be!  

More later! Beth (I promise more Goldie coming soon)

Friday, December 22, 2017

Where is the world is Kelly aka prior Queen of the IHAN Nation now?

Beth:  Inquiring minds want to know, what have you been up to since selling IHAN?
Kelly: The last 6 months feel like a blur and for that matter the last year feels like a blur too.  So let me think...what have I been doing with myself since selling IHAN?
Being a mother is more than a full time job so that has kept me busy.  The previous IHAN elves are now teenagers and Aaron is actually 6 feet tall now....which is freaky...how did that happen?  LOL
Previously known as the IHAN shipping Elves sporting their new metal mouths...LOL
I have been to CA twice to spend time with our oldest daughter, her husband and our new grandson.  Having a new life in our family has brought tremendous joy.  To see someone you dearly love hold their child and then begin to know that is how much you love them....it is a meeting of the souls in a way.
I cried so much having to leave them that my eyes are swollen. 
My first grandson....he is pure magic.  Expecting another grand child in June, our youngest daughter is now pregnant.  I can hardly wait.
Yes I continue to sew and quilt but in a much more relaxed and messy fashion.  I have several projects in progress and most are pinned to my design wall, one on top of the other.  A bit messy but this allows me to follow my energy and work on things that feel good instead of pressuring myself to have a deadline.  My creative process is not linear and I am most comfortable and happy when I do the next indicated pleasurable thing and when I hit a part that I don't want to do at the time...I set it aside until I'm feeling more up to the challenge.  An organic sort of creating focusing more on the pleasure and less on the deadlines.
Here are some quilts that are in full swing at this time:
These are my tiny hexies quilt. 
This wild mess is what I call sewing one scrap to the next, cutting and re-sewing.  It will be finished in 2018. 
A small wall hanging I started for fun.  It still needs to be quilted.
Waldo inspired me to make this quilt for charity.  I was in the throws of darkness and she said I had to help her sew some charity quilts...that's all it took.  Thankfully Beth quilted it for me because quilting on a domestic machine is not my forte.
When I get stuck on a project or in need of ideas I run them past Waldo (Longtime IHAN blog followers are familiar with Waldo...Rosemary my girlfriend).  Having Waldo essentially 3 houses away really helps when a gal needs a different thread or to check the stash fabrics to see if there isn't something that can be used instead of stored.  We both have fabric stashes (more on that at another time) and our goal is to use it all so we share back and forth.  Unfortunately  Waldo's health is declining.  She had a stroke a few weeks ago and it has affected some of her thinking and she gets confused at times.  The great news is she is up and walking during the day.  She and I went out for lunch last week so that is a blessing she is about and interested in getting out of the house.  Naturally she has a large wall hanging in the process of being quilted and it is under her needle on the machine.  When she is feeling better I'm sure she'll be back in there finishing it.
Waldo and I
Beth: Kelly, do you miss IHAN?
Kelly: No, what I miss is regular contact with my regular blog readers, previous customers, and those in the quilting industry that I built relationships with.  I'm a people person more than I am a business person.  People come first before sales and profits and I think that is why I was successful.  That played a huge part in my agreement to sell IHAN to you Beth.  I had to be sure the honesty and integrity would continue with someone who had a wide breadth of knowledge of the quilting/needle arts industry.  Had the right person not come along, I would have likely just closed it and donated the inventory.
I feel I owe people an explanation for falling off planet quilting yet at the same time I was not sure people were interested in knowing all those personal details of my life.  Typically I am known for my humor, honesty and integrity not necessarily sharing the heavier side of life.  If people are truly interested, I'd be willing to share more in depth, just leave a comment below and I'd be willing to share more.
Thank you Beth for asking how I am and for staying connected.
Smiles,
Kelly

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Finished Project!

So what do I do.... when... I am not cooking, cleaning, puppying or going to guilds?

Creating of course. Most of my creations don't start on Monday and finish in a chronological fashion. They start, get sidelined by an obligation or other deadline... like the project I am going to talk about today.

"The Night Circus" was inspired by a Facebook post made by a member of one of the Quilt Guilds I belong to and based loosely on creating this style of a patchworked elephant explored by another blogger.  About the only thing I used was the line drawing of the elephant, which I also cleaned up a bit for a better better pattern.

I wanted a really bright elephant, so I got out my box of batik scraps and started to build the body. I decided to keep the order of color symmetrical on both sides of the body although the fabrics may have changed from side to side, but color order remained.



Once the elephant was built I considered the background, plain anything was just going to be too plain... and while I was working on this I was listening to a book titled 'The Night Circus', by Erin Morgenstern. It was disappointing that the best thing about the book was the title, however the author also wrote "Water For Elephants" which is how the title of this Elephant quilt came about.... the Night Circus was about a black and white circus..... the second most interesting thing about the book, (I didn't find any other things to consider interesting in the book).







Next up was the quilting.... Of course I wanted to do this on the longarm, (for more practice). I didn't want the background quilting to be the star, so I used a swirl as the fill to add texture rather than a design since the focal point was the elephant. The elephant was nailed down with some squiggly lines across seams of the various colors, since it pretty much already stood out. 


I added her headband and some wobbly eyelashes with beads as the final bit of her costume.

A more detailed picture (as always you may click on any image for a larger view). I started this sometime around June.... but of course there were some other things between the start and the finish....











The particulars: The quilt measures 35"x35", the elephant is 17"x13"; threads were So Fine white and black (by Superior) on the background and Madeira monofil on the elephant.

So what are you working on? Has it had a sideways progression... or straight through to completion?

As always more later!! Beth
PS.... check back soon, a surprise blog contributor.... coming soon.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Rush

Let's start with the good stuff!!!

Goldie at 12 weeks!

After Thanksgiving, is the onslaught of Christmas Planning, Preparations and then the New Year, which brings all that turmoil of clearing and cleaning up of the Christmas Holiday and making pathways into the whole of next year!

Today is only the fourth of December and the statement above makes me want to pull the blankets back up for another hour or two of rest!!! The constant onslaught of sales pitches for the things we need to buy (for others or ourselves) to have it all just seems to take all the fun out of it for me.

At our house we have been simplifying... the last few years, especially with a puppy in the house. So now the Christmas Tree has to fit on a table top, and fortunately for us... that is all we need. Unless a child or company comes for Christmas, I save all that decorating time, which is nothing compared to the undecorating time!!! Nearly 90% of the ornaments on my "big" tree have been handmade and are pretty old and fragile. Not only do they have to all be unwrapped from the boxes, but they must all be rewrapped, and some have to be repaired before being put away.

As usual, time is of the essence for me... I have way more on my plate and have some deadlines to meet. Most of them of course in the quilting arena. Don't we all think it will only take a few minutes which is in reality HOURs.... to get done in our creative endeavors?

Later this week the Kentuckiana Longarm Group meets at Quilted Joy in Louisville. It is an informal group and we all take turns presenting something... In July I presented a bit on thread, not that I am an expert on thread for the Longarm. However, I concentrated on the general properties of thread; size, weight and content. For December I am up again... with my friend Linda... and we are doing a little something on labels, we call it Low Tech-High Tech Labels. Linda does the Low Tech side of it and I do the High Tech side of it. One of my quilt labels is featured on the Quilted Joy blog, (it is a book style)

So I am busy preparing... my information and pulling out a couple of quilts to share. We only have about 10-15 minutes each... so we have to keep the quilts to a minimum!!! And both of us are creating a handout...... about our labeling. I need to pare my info down a little!

In the meantime life with Goldie is careening along! She is now 12 weeks, had her first Vet Check... weighs in at 12 pounds. Next up rabies vaccinations and obedience training starts.


We have started teething... last week we had a little floppy eared pup, and then a one ear up pup and this week they are both up again.

I hope you are staying ahead of the December rush... and as always,

More Later- Beth

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful and Goldie

I was going to post about Goldie today, but on retrospect I decided to post a Thanksgiving note. And on second thought I can do both.

I have so much to be Thankful for. I am Thankful for a fabulous worldwide network of friends that keep me entertained; and I am Thankful for a wonderful network of Quilters and Crafters that visit the store and occasionally a sale, (hope there will be more of those in my future!); Thankful that we have our health; and Thankful for family, even though we don't live close to them and will miss the gathering this year in Indiana, (but I did make a cherry pie that will rival last years if any family is reading this!!!!); I am deeply Thankful for my husband and partner in this life of happiness. We have had mostly fun along the way, lots of adventure and looking forward to more this next year.

And I am thankful to be able to say I am Thankful, for such a small thing...  as Goldie!

Meet Goldie.


She was 9 weeks old when we brought her home. Her sire is the same as Bandits, different mom. 





She is now almost 11 weeks old.
  

Her Kennel name was Goldie and it goes along well with Linzi, as in we can call them both with ease as the names fall together off the tongue without tripping, so we kept Goldie. She is smart and friendly with us and Linzi. Or maybe I should say Linzi tolerates her with a gentle firmness. It is fun to see the interaction between the 2. They play together, a little and sometimes lay together. 


We, (meaning she) have almost mastered the house breaking... and she likes her crate, sleeps through the night at least one night a week without a need to go out. She is playful and attentive to humans. She already knows how to sit... for her dinner and if finally eating with gusto. She did not like her food the first few days...



She is a cutie isn't she?

What are you Thankful for?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fusible Review

A little late, but now that we are back on a straight road, even though we still have some bumps and curves ahead, I did get into the Creative Space to play with a new product.

 I have been playing with a new product. Not just new to me, but really new to the sewing/quilting world. I haven't heard much chatter about it... and thought I would give it a try because sometimes you just need a paper backing!!!! A really lightwieght paperbacked fusible.

New Product Review:  Barely There lightweight fusible from the Swirly Girls
(from the web page)
This new, ultra-sheer, iron-on adhesive comes in pre-cut 8.5" x 11" sheets to print or copy on your inkjet printer. Features quick, easy release paper liner - no more picking at the edges of your applique! Barely There is permanent, machine washable and acid free. Perfect for layered applique!

I use lots and lots of fusible, in the last 10 years or so... some where in the neighborhood of 70 yards. I have used Wonder Under (Pellon), Steam a Seam Lite 2 (Warm Company), Misty Fuse (attached inc), Soft Fuse (Shades Textiles) and many others that didn't make the grade to use again.  I saw this product and while I like Misty Fuse, it can be problematic when you want to make precise pieces or do not want to pre-fuse lots of fabrics for a project. Fusibles can cause some real stitching issues when you start stacking many layers, so I am always on the lookout for a fusible that is lightweight and does not stiffen after fusing leaving the quilt flexible and soft.

Free Spirit project
I have 3 projects currently under way with this product. The first one 'Birdies' are two that were not working for the 'Free Spirit' project was waiting for the right inspiration or idea to finish it off. I'm not sure it is ready for fusing yet.... still seems a bit dull. And I have a block to make for a friend, and thought I would try it for that as well. So the projects.

The Free Spirit project... not much more than the motifs cut from the Barely There fusible and I am not sure if I need to tweak the colors a bit more or not.... Not In Love with it as it is....


Gecko
The Gecko, is a block for a friend. I used the donut method, where you cut the center of  the larger parts of the motif out of the center of the fusible, so I could compare how it felt... in the fused and not fused areas.  I could detect the fusible, but barely. I had a bit of difficulty with the eyes and toes, and resorted to an old standby for fusing those. Not sure if the difficulty was me or not , but I was out of time and needed to get this completed. The block is a little over sized at 11", but I wanted to leave a bit extra for trimming.

The last project is one just for trying out the Barely There fusible. Birdies, or the formal title.... "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" was fun and planned on the go... as in we started with birds and designed on the fly. It will get picture heavy... but I know you want to see. (You can click on any picture to see it bigger!)
The birds fused, the yellow one is stitched.

A detail of the notes, these are about a half inch tall, and you can see how well the fusible keeps the fabric edges sharp.
And finished.

I like Barely There product.... however, I used too hot of an iron on one item and... I learned too much heat will fry the glue. It left the fusible glue (diamonds) pattern visible on the front. So, MEDIUM heat is the setting for fusing!!! Once I reviewed the instructions, iIt worked a charm. I have now fused both plain quilting cottons and Batiks, and none were prewashed and got a good tight fuse in most cases, Gecko eyes and toes the the one issue.

The fusible claims to be lightweight, not as thick or heavy as some of the more well known brands, and I found that to be mostly true after fusing the 2 layers together. Not sure I would say it is lighter than Misty Fuse, but pretty close!


Another Feature and as far as I am concerned the most beneficial was the ability to send it through an INKJET printer, (not advisable for laser printers due to the heat require for lasers to print. I drew up a pattern for the Birdies and sent one sheet through the printer on a copy and print and I also sent a print job from the computer on a mirror to get the reverse... for the birds. All printouts came through perfectly! If what you are making requires you to make many bits, this is the way to go, no wasted time tracing or copying to the paper side the same shapes over and over and over... The folded corner is to show the fusible on the back side of the paper. You can see the little diamonds I referenced above.

So yes it is great fusible for projects and I will be adding to my arsenal of fusibles. I have also added it to store, www.ihaveanotion.com!!!

Do you have a favorite fusible? Tell me what and why in the comments. We all like to learn...

More Later! Beth

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sometimes... life makes a LEFT turn

I started to write this post on Tuesday morning, but my heart was just too broken. Every line made me want to start crying all over again. So I erased what I had written leaving just the title.

I am back, not to normal quite yet, but there is a little brighter future and more work, but it will be joyful.

The Heartbreak: We had to give Bandit back to the breeder over the weekend. It was a very difficult decision for us. It was a first for me to abandon a pet. But it is what needed to be done. We had been working with the breeder to bring some of his escalating behaviours under control since late summer. While some things were getting better, the one thing that caused us the most difficulty was not. He wanted to be the dominate figure in the house and was starting to use his size (90 pounds at 10 months) and teeth to push back, we had been trying to work through this. The last straw was when he nearly got me in the face, (his teeth grazed the flesh and left welts) and he did get my hand, I have a few healing holes. 

Monday and Tuesday were difficult and after crying and agonizing I sent the breeder a note, asking how Bandit was doing. If he was adjusting (to living outdoors in a kennel after being a house dog and the new rules). We missed his presence (chaos and all) just like a year or so ago when we had to say goodbye to Axel his predecessor. We do have Lini, and she tries, but her temperament is very laid back and pretty easy going, (unless you are a rabbit or a squirrel in the yard). The breeder called last night to reassure me  us, that Bandit is adjusting, although in some cases not willingly, but he will continue to work with him. 
Bandit with Jeff, the breeder, you can see how big Bandit is!

The joyful part? He offered us another puppy. I don't think that would have been the case if we had not worked so hard to try and bring Bandit around. We drove 5-6 hours round trip to spend an hour or two each week with the breeder and we did all the homework and training he suggested and Bandit was happy to comply -but the Dominant Aggression just would not stop. So we go this weekend to view them and make a selection. I don't know if it will be released or if they plan to keep them a little longer, but I am making preparations! I know a new puppy will not be the same, but it will be close and that will have to be good enough. 

There will still be sadness, as we adjust. Bandit did have a sweet side that he showed us most of the time, but the times he wanted to be boss were scarey and becoming more frequent, not less. We knew he needed more that we could physically give him in terms of control and that was the best thing FOR him.

Stay tuned! Lots more later- Beth






Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tuesday Tool

Before I get into the next tool, I want to say that I am pretty straight forward and of course my opinions are my own. I am not paid or endorsed by any company (and if I was it would start with that information right up front). So, when I share, I am sharing from my perspective... and what I found to be true or not. I also think that you do not need the latest and greatest of everything to be creative or create. We do need to eat, right? But sometimes we need to consider changing our tools especially if it makes creating and playing easier or more comfortable or in some cases, even possible! So with that said, on with the show.

I have recently discovered (for myself) some new scissors!!! I have been a dyed in the wool Ginger and Fiskars user. Why? Well I have several pairs of Ginger scissors in 3 different sizes that I bought way back when, (in the latter half of the 80's) and I rarely every use them. I have a pair of 8 inch dressmaking shears, a pair of 5 inch scissors and a pair of embroidery scissors.  I let a local sharpener sharpen them. Big MISTAKE!!! They are sharp, but the points are now too pointy so they catch on everything. I haven’t really missed any them... except on the 2 or 3 occasions I needed to actually cut out a pattern.

I also have a bevy of Fiskars and Fiskar-like (colored handle) scissors. Many I inherited and several I purchased. I use them about as often as I use the Gingers these days. I have discovered some new ones.

In April while at the Spring Paducah Show I picked up 2 new, to me, scissors.

The first one is for cutting batting. I find them very useful when cutting batting from a roll at the longarm. But don't let that fool you, they are great for cutting batting to size for smaller projects as well as regular fabric cutting scissors. So what is the advantage of these over say a pair of Fiskars (what I was using before). The Batting scissor has a blunted end so it does not grab or catch the batting as you advance you scissors to the next cut. And the blades are much longer so you are not advancing as often and that helps create a much smoother cut.

The other pair I picked up are for hand cutting. I often find myself cutting many motifs and bits from fabric for applique and most times I find the traditional shaped scissors bother my hands when I am making lots of careful repetitious cuts. In many of my older model scissors the small openings for my fingers and/or thumb tend to cause discomfort and depressions in the skin from holding and cutting carefully. I found these large handle scissors that are not particular about which side is fingers or thumb and are very comfortable to use for hours at a time. The serrated blade really helps hold and cut at the fabric at the same time is a great help. I think it is a huge asset to be comfortable while creating!!!

I was talked into one other cutting implement. A scalpel for the longarm. Long thin tool at the top in the next photograph. WOW! It really makes unstitching a breeze. Of course it is very sharp... and could cause some additional problems if you are not paying close attention. The longarm I have allows me to lift the roller the top is attached to, to get under the top above the batting. So I can do what is being called "skin the quilt", by breaking the stitches between the batting and the top. Goes really fast!

At the 'new' Fall Paducah Show in September, I decided to check out one more cutting item. I have seen them used by many Machine Embroiderers and since I do so much thread... stuff I thought they might be handy for me too. And guess what, they are! Prior to these I was using a very sharp pointed pair of small Fiskars, (bottom left in the photograph above) and once or twice cut something unintentionally (not a good thing!). With these very sharp, but curved blades and again no holes to stick my fingers in, snipping my project free of the machine is a quick snip away. I also found them very useful at the longarm, when snipping threads, again the curved blade helps to keep from cutting the fabric, when snipping the threads. In addition they are extremely lightweight.


So WHAT are these great scissors? Famore Brand- said Fa-mor-ray. You can find them at Famore.com. I Have A Notion™ Shop has one or two pair and I hope someday to carry the 4 pieces I have mentioned above, especially if there is interest. But if you think you might prefer ... another brand, say for instance Karen K Buckley... I have a couple of those in the shop too. I haven’t used them myself so I can’t tell you which is better.

I hope you day is full of treats, no tricks...and as always More Later! Beth


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Its a Thread Thing

I don't know if I mentioned it or not, but Thread is my thing!!! It is how I learned so much about needles and the best one for the job. Well that is not exactly true, it was Free Motion Quilting that led me down that path, but much of what is true for the Quilting part is also true for the Free Motion 'Threadplay' part.

So I thought that my next logical step would be to do some show and tell .... about the "Threadplay".

Let me start with one of the most difficult Free Motion Threadplay options. Metallic thread. These are postcards, and came about so I could compare the difference/sameness of the Fil-Tec Glide to the Floriani Thread. I had never used the Floriani and if I have to sell it, then I guess I should know something about it. I have used the Glide in the longarm and recently used it for another project in the Janome domestic machine, which is where I did the postcards.

I stitched these Free Motions with just the spine drawn. The feathers on the left are Floriani thread and the feathers on the right are Glide thread. The threads appear to be very much alike and the only real difference is the slight variation in color, I picked Floriani threads that were a close match to the Glide threads, and chose red and green. There wasn't a problem with either thread and to further test things I also tested the Signature Metallic thread. Wow!!! You don't really see it in the pictures, but I went over some areas with the metallic. I stitched pretty quickly and the Signature Metallic stitched like a cotton, no breaks, no shredding and no kinking. Of course a large eye helped the thread move without breaking.

The second is a detail photo, and it also is a little light on the metallic sparkle visibility. These were great fun to make, if you haven't ever made any postcards now is the time to try. Send one as a surprise to a friend or far away family member. I keep a stack on hand to mail... as needed. People just love to get them in the mail!

So to sum it up Floriani thread seems to stitch up the same as any other Polyester thread that I have used. Next up is to test the Floriani for use on the Longarm.

Have you ever received a textile postcard in the mail? Leave a comment. You might be the lucky one to receive a feather in the mail!

More Later- Beth








Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On another Note....

I am still trying to figure things out over here at I Have a Notion.... mostly a schedule... or at least a general idea of a plan... but since my life has never really had a schedule, with the exception of when I worked I had to at least show up on time and stay until quitting time! Beyond that I fit housekeeping, cooking, laundry, and/or computer issues in as needed or required. I still do that now and I try to remain flexible. About the only "regular" schedule I have these days is sleep and feeding the dogs on a fairly regular basis. After that all bets are off...

I also seem to have many once in awhile obligations that make me shift back and forth.... almost weekly. This week is no different. There is a mini retreat later this week (basically a one day sewing event) where you are fed. I am the organizer, so I have to come up with the plan and the food for the day. I plan to cook for the ladies... (the last 2 times we had a delicious sandwich and salad bar) so something different will be required this time!!! I was hoping the weather would cooperate so I could make soup and have it simmer on the stove all morning, but we are not yet that cool in Kentucky, so plan B will be implemented. Homemade Pizza.

As you see by the last post... I was thinking about talking about some of the tools of the trade, (I don't have the regular Chrome needles yet, but I will, Please please please be patient... with me), especially some of the newer innovations that make our time spent creating so much more effective...  Speaking of creating, I finally got back into my creative space.... the last couple of days. Usually when I have had to change gears.... and step away from the daily opportunity to make a mess, I mean create, I start by doing a bit of cleaning or reorganizing and then dive in. I cleared off the table of things I didn't need or generally has its own place in the Creative Space, and then I got busy. I had 2 baby quilt to get done. ONE is late!!! and the other still has a few months before it will be needed.

I got out the box of Baby Quilt Fabrics, it sounds like so much more, but it is just a plastic shoe box and only contains a few bright tone on tone prints and some scraps of black and white fabrics. I try to keep all the black, white and bright stuff together and in the box I also found some quarter blocks I started in Virginia (before spring of 2015!) and a stack of leftover Disappearing 9 -Patch blocks. Now fair warning these may make your eyes hurt... I generally make black and white quilts for babies these days, because their brains are still forming and connections are still being made.... and this colorway is very stimulating. So without further warning... bright is next.

Baby Quilt for Baby D!



and

Baby Quilt for Baby N!


I plan to quilt them on the Longarm with a flannel back for warmth and softness, and that will be next week?????

What are you creating.... this week.

More Later- Beth

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tuesday Tool- Machine Needles

I think we should talk about tools. Not the workbench kind, but the type that help us ‘craft’ better. I have often taken something I heard to heart and continue along my merry way, only to discover that it is or was an old wives tale, the information was based on a completely false interpretation of information or that technology has improved so much the past information or beliefs have been made obsolete.

Let’s take needles for instance, technology has made so many changes and advancements that they are almost new again.

There was a time…. When Singer was the ‘standard to meet or beat’ when it came to sewing machines, and then in the 70’s Bernina came to the fore… and depending on your favorite machine, may still be for you. But it doesn’t matter which machine you choose to use, if you are not using a -pick one- “good”  “correct” “right” “sharp” needle for your project; your machine stitches will not be great!

Depending on what you are sewing you may need a specialty needle and there are plenty of those out there, but I think we need to start at the beginning with what I call my “daily driver”… the needle most often found in my machine. But before we get specific, maybe a little needle anatomy should come first.
Needle Anatomy courtesy of Sew Essentials.co.uk

There are 4 major parts to a needle… that we as stitchers need to consider. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Shank –the part that fits up into your machine, if you are using a domestic sewing machine it will have a flat side, that most often placed in the machine with the flat side at the back to make fitting and centering the needle fool-proof. If you are using a longarm or industrial sewing machine the shank is round and you have to center the eye of the needle visually. In all machines the needle should be inserted all the way in/up and well tightened, (but not ‘man’ tight).

The Shaft of the needle, which is between the Shank and ‘eye’ and has the Groove, that runs up and down on the front of the needle. The groove helps guide the thread from the machine to the eye of the needle to make a stitch. Sometimes specialty threads need a larger groove to flow freely and without difficulty. This is also the area that determines the size of the hole the needle leaves behind. The size of a needle is also important, as it makes the hole and carries the thread through the fabric. A rule of thumb for needle size, the bigger the number the bigger the needle 100/16 is a big needle and will make a big hole, the 70/10 is much finer. A note about the numbers the smaller number is the US needle size and the larger number is the European size, which number is listed first is not important.

The next part is the ‘Eye’ of the needle and as you may have guessed by now if
Picture courtesy Schmetz Needle
I am pointing it out, also plays a huge role in thread progression from spool to stitch. Too small and it will shred or break the thread, causing headaches and frustration especially with some of the specialty threads. There are several needles that are the same circumference as any other, but the “eye” is where the difference is.  The Topstitch needle eye is larger to accommodate larger threads, an Embroidery needle has an extra-large eye to help keep thread from shredding and a Metallic needle often has a Teflon coating to help the metallic threads move through the eye. Basically if the eye is too small the thread will have a difficult time moving through the eye smoothly, causing all kinds of problems.

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia
Lastly the point of the needle, it is the part that pierces the fabric and carries the needle all the way through so that the needle can make a stitch. Too big and it may leave a large hole, too flat as in a ballpoint it may pull threads in the fabric… or a dull needle can also cause very similar difficulties. For a long while the Universal Needle was recommended, since the point was sharp for woven fabrics but not too pointy for knits or stretchy type fabrics and is generally a considered an all-purpose needle. These days for most of the thread use in the quilt making process a Sharp is most often recommended, it pierces the fabric layers easily and carries the thread through a well-made hole.

Another aspect that has changed the needle is technology. We used to only be able to get a hardened steel needle coated in chrome. When they come out of the package they are bright shiny and sharp, but after about 8 hours of stitching the point starts to dull and is recommended to be changed. But now we have Titanium coated needles, (which does make them a bit stronger), but more importantly it helps protect the point and does a much better job of dissipating the heat we may generate when stitching fast.  The strength it gives the point allows you to sew with the same needle up to t3 to 5 times longer than a chrome plated needle, it is smoother and is cooler to the touch after sewing. Which when you compare the cost is a much better value!

So what needle can you find in my machine most days? The Titanium Topstitch 80/12 or 90/14 for general sewing. I have found that the longer life of Titanium needle make them my go to needle for all sewing, whether Free Motion Quilting, Free Motion Embroidery, Decorative Stitches or general piecing or seaming, especially when combined with many of the newer specialty threads.
The correct needle, with the right point and eye will help your machine make the most beautiful stitches and the best needle will carry your threads with ease. For convenience, Titanium Needles in a 10 needle pack can now be found at IHAN and if you really prefer the ‘chrome plated steel’ needles you can find those as well at IHAN, also in a 10 needle pack. (EDIT- Chrome needles are in stock as of 10/20/17!!!edit.... chrome is not yet available, but will be soon!)

What is your favorite needle and why?

As Always More Later!  Beth



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Once again .... its a Time thing. What gets done and what doesn't is often less of a choice than there just isn't any more minutes in the day!!! Do you ever run into that?

I have still been having some computer issues, but finally I think I have it figured out. It was one or both of my Photo programs... both have been banished from the computer.... for the time being, but it also means that editing pictures is now a bigger difficulty other than just not liking to do it, it also means that getting the pictures off the camera... is not possible! (I hate the way Windows handle photographs.)

I had a great time in Paducah and had my first opportunity to explore the town since moving to Kentucky. Paducah was supposed to be our move destination in Kentucky, but for some reason we couldn't find a house that would work for us. Oh well, we're close.

To fill the time between Fall Paducah and now... one of the local quilt guilds I belong to held our annual quilt show. I have a large job and a major responsibility on the show committee, so I was a busy bee...helping to set up/hang, work and then of course the take down/clean up, and I also manned the "I Have a Notion" booth. It wasn't a big space. It was the debut...

While in Paducah I stumbled upon a quilt auction and brought home a quilt. Old and a bit worn, each piece was stitched with 1/8 in seams, so some weren't holding together very well. It is a bit brighter than the larger picture shows, as you can see but the photo above. I discovered that the batting was a threadbare blanket. Someone had at one time attempted to make some repairs and I continued with just enough stitches to hold the bits together, long enough to longarm it all together. It was also tied, so once loaded, I snipped the ties. The quilting I added was nothing special, I only paid $12 for the quilt and I had planned to use it as a table cover.... I love the 30's prints and that green that says vintage quilt...  The other table has one of my other fun finds... some flower basket blocks that I pulled together for a longarm practice quilt. But I have another vintage Grandmothers Flower Garden planned for larger booth needs. I think quilty things always look great with quilts on the table.

Yeah I know not too exciting and quite frankly I am looking forward to some quiet... time hanging around the house and not doing too much for a few days! HA!!! I'm going to keep dreaming.

More Later-Beth


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Visitors and Travel

Well I thought I had a post started.... about a week or so ago.... but alas... must have been snatched by that pesky computer gremlin, (which I hope has been excised by taking a very old copy of Photoshop off).

I have been busy!!! Very, very busy. And I will be busy for the next week or so... and then I hope things start to settle down and I can begin a routine that has me focusing on "I Have a Notion" as my primary goal. So what has kept me from it?

On September 2 I collected 2


friends from South Africa at O'Hare International Terminal and then the fun began. We spent the next 3 days playing in the Chicagoland area. A ''quilt store" (only one of my friends was a quilter), and the rest of the stops were landmarks and traditional touristy things. We did not make it to Willis Tower, aka Sears Tower (birds eye view was not high on the list), but we did the North Shore south bound driving in, visited Navy Pier, took a 
Lake Cruise, the Chicago Cultural Center, Cloudgate, Buckingham Fountain, considered the Field Museum, walked along the waterfront, some of Michigan Avenue, and a bit of the downtown area streets as we walked everywhere after parking the car (about 6 miles). The following day we took it very easy and went to the Chicago Botanic Garden for a day of tranquility, (although many others thought to do the same thing as well).








On our way back to N Kentucky we stayed on the
smaller highways and avoided the Interstate. There is a small well established Amish town called Arthur, which we also stopped in. Once home we spent a few days.... visiting around town. Since I live on the Bourbon Trail of Kentucky, we made a trek over to the Makers Mark distillery for the the tour and to see the Chihuly Art Glass exhibit. We explored quilty things and some golf things... One of the quilty things was a visit to New Albany IN to see the "Form not Function" exhibit at the Carnegie Museum. One word Spectacular!!!

On September 12 we headed over to Paducah for the first annual Fall Show! We arrived after a meandering drive through the Land

Between the Lakes with enough time to beat the crowd at Hancocks of Paducah Fabrics!!! We spent a few hours looking and choosing just the right fabrics. I brought
some home too!!! We spent the next 3 days looking the quilts, visiting vendors and exploring Paducah. It was my first time with more than one day so I was able to see all the venues and antique stores, along with the Museum and the waterfront.

After Paducah we parted company, me for home and they were heading to O'Hare via the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains. From the pictures they have posted, Mother Nature has given them a glimpse of fall color too.

I had a blast hosting and returning the favor to visitors that showed and shared so much of their South Africa with us. Can't wait to do it again...Travel home safely my friends I will miss you.

Next.... a few pictures of the Fall Paducah show. As Always, more later!  Beth

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