Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Big Ambitions

I was thumbing through a catalog of new books I had (owning a store you get stuff like that in the mail) and as I looked at some of the titles and description it got me thinking:  I should write a book.  Now my planned opus will not be overly ambitious, the  title will be   "Ninja Quilter" or something cool like that.

What follows is the introduction for my upcoming book.  Feel free to comment and if you know somebody that knows somebody that knows anything about what it takes to get published let me know, throwing this book together should be relatively easy getting published will be the trick.

Quilt Nazis: An Introduction

They don't call me Ishmael, but even if they did I am not sure why you would care because this literary masterpiece is not about me. I suppose this is where I tell you what this book is about and the intended audience and all the other crap the intro is supposed to bore you with. I won't. The index is pretty self explanatory, look up a topic of interest and turn to the appropriate page for enlightenment. The intended audience is whatever poor soul gets sucked in by the cover and/or title.

Instead I shall use the introduction to tell you why I wrote this book. Aside from destroying the environment by wasting paper on its printing I wanted to use this book to combat the Quilt Nazis.

Nazi: a person who is fanatically dedicated to or seeks to control a specified activity, practice, etc.

Quilting is a hobby, something you do by choice for fun. If you are not enjoying it you are doing it wrong. This book is intended to be nothing more than a guide to keep it all in perspective and maximize your pleasure.

fun: a source of enjoyment, amusement, diversion, etc.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's the software stupid

If you are in the market for an embroidery machine, consider this... the software.   The big difference between the low end and high end machines aside from maximum hoop sizes, is the on board editing features.  Admittedly the color touch screen makes laying out and tweaking patterns easy, but if the pattern is perfect before you start those features may not be so important.  That is where the software comes in.

Every manufacturer offers their own version of embroidery software usually ranging in price and features, some are better than others.  Your software needs just two things to start you on your embroidery career.  A variety of fonts and a decent digitizing feature.

Brother's software package that has these features MSRPs at around  $400.  Now many of you that have gotten into embroidery may have paid closer to $1000 for your software, and Brother has that option too, but I don't think it is entirely necessary.  The only thing that the high end software offers that the mid level may not is more robust image editing tools.

Now something to keep in mind is that machine embroidery is more a work of graphic design than it is sewing.  Following that line of thinking,  graphics design programs  work great for embroidery.  GIMP.NET,  or PAINT.NET are  free programs that have everything you need to manipulate images, and a heck of lot easier to work with than most embroidery software.  Do your logo or graphic up in paint.net than "digitize" it with your embroidery software add lettering with built in fonts and you will have a decent finished product with software that cost half of what you should have spent.

This technique is also nice because you can play with paint.net at no cost and if you discover that graphics design is not really that much fun, you may want to reconsider your embroidery craving.

Feel free to disagree with me in the comments section, I am far from an embroidery wizard, that won't happen until next week.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12 Days of Christmas

When I was a kid I always thought that the "Twelve Days of Christmas" was a reference to Hanukkah.   The theory was wrong on so many levels, the least of which is that Hanukkah is only eight days long, four days shy of my twelve.  So I have decided that this blog post will be my Christmas Special written in the spirit of that kid whose Twelve Days of Christmas was Hanukkah.

For those that are not familiar with my full body of literary genius, I sometimes make oblique references to a wandering Jewish philosopher and his entourage of fishermen.  I go to church on Sunday and I happen to think that the Jewish man in question has a sense of humor (if  He doesn't I'm in trouble, Matthew 24:20 is his only joke on record.).  My personal view of Christmas and the world in general is founded in large part on that guy, so keep that in mind as you continue reading.

Christmas for the most part was a political move for the early Christian establishment to co-opt competing pagan festivals and strengthen its power base. (Yes my love of conspiracy theories goes way back but pine trees and yule logs have nothing to do with a carpenter's kid from Nazareth.) So when I hear about this group or that group protesting Christmas in schools, or making a stink because some governor put up a "Christmas" tree instead of a "holiday" tree I have to laugh.   Christmas is a hodge podge of beliefs and traditions that some how all got glued together by the story of a baby boy.  With that thought I am now going to launch into some religious history and theories to spread a little bit of tolerance and love this Christmas season.

We are going to start with Abraham.  At least half of all the worlds religions think Abraham was a pretty important guy.  He had two kids with two different women, and a lot of today's problems can arguable be traced back to Abraham's dysfunctional family.  His oldest kid, Ishmael spawned the Islamic faith and they feel that by right of primogeniture they are entitled to Abraham's inheritance.  The Jewish and by extension the Christian faiths claim Abraham's inheritance through Isaac who was the chosen son because he was the only child of Abraham's actual wife. Both have valid arguments, but I don't think either makes a good enough excuse for blowing up the other.

Isaac's kid Jacob had twelve kids by four different women (consider that next time you want to get all judgmental on the Sister Wives, "polygamy" is integral to the Judeo-Christian narrative but it would take an act of God to convince me to try it, I have a hard enough time with one wife).  One of those kids was named Judah.  His tribe became known as the Jews.  So Jews are a specific branch of Jacob's family tree, and if you read your Good Book Judah was not even the good son, If memory serves me correctly they had to talk him out of killing his brother for a styling coat and he had to settle for just selling the the poor kid to a couple of passing Egyptians.

But despite the dubious family lineage this Jesus fellow that every one made a big fuss about was born Jewish and died Jewish, so to player hate a tribe for a few bad apples doesn't seem very fair.  If you believe a Jewish kid from Nazareth is the redeemer of the world or not how is a day of celebration a bad thing?

We all want to be Mexican on the fifth of May regardless of our stance on illegal immigration.  We all claim an Irish uncle on Saint Patty's day, so why can't we pretend that the Jewish kid is an Irish Mexican who got some gifts from a few wandering queens (see how I worked in the Hispanic vote and the gay vote, maybe I should run for president).  Peace on earth and goodwill toward men can never be bad thing and I believe the "Christ" in Christmas makes that possible in my little corner of the world, and if you want to be culturally sensitive think about how happy Daddy Abraham will be that we remembered his Great Grandson's birthday even if the day is conveniently close to the winter solstice and the Day of Mithra.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Batting: We are not talking baseball.

"Who took the jam outta your doughnut?" - Tommy (named for a Russian ballet dancer, not the gun)
Batting or "stuffing" for the less sophisticated among us is the jam in the doughnut.  The doughnut is going to be yummy no matter what you put in the middle of it, but some jams taste better than others.  And so it is with batting the middle of your quilt is often an after thought, but it could add some flavor.

How heavy do you want your finished quilt to be?  The default batting for most quilters is the good ole' Warm n' Natural.  It is a good all around cotton batting, but not always the best choice.  Standard weight cotton batting can get heavy in a large queen or king size quilt, now imagine that giant quilt after it gets wet (yes you will have to wash it at some point)  cotton weighs substantially more when wet so moving the quilt from the washer to the dryer could give you a hernia.   

Synthetics (a.k.a polyester) have the advantage of having a lighter weight and not putting on extra weight when wet.  But in smaller projects that lighter weight often results in poor "draping".  A table runner or wall hanging won't display as well with lighter batting.

Do you want a puffy quilt?  If so you want a high loft batting.  Wool and high loft polyester give a third dimension to any project.  But remember loft and weight are two different things.

How close are you going to tie/stitch your quilt?  Stability is a reference to how far apart you can stitch/tie the batting and it won't shred or separate on you. This is important to keep in mind because if your batting falls apart inside your quilt it may still be pretty to look at, but it will suck to sleep under.  

Not all batting is created equal.  Some brands are better than others.  Synthetics and blends especially can vary greatly between brands.  Often as with most things in the quilting world you get what you pay for.  So don't be afraid to ask for samples if you want to try something new or unsure of what you are getting.

There you have it, things to consider when putting the jam in your doughnut.

"You took the #$%*&  jam outta my doughnut, Tommy. You did." - Turkish (a funny name for an Englishman)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quilt Repair: One Man's Opinion

I had some one stop by the store last week with a worn out quilt. They wanted advice on the best way to repair it. So naturally I though it would make a good blog post as it is not an unusual question. The best advice for repairing a worn out quilt actually comes from a Jewish carpenter who made himself a name a few years back gallivanting around with a couple of fishermen.

He said: "No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse."

By rent he means tear, not the monthly bill. So I have to second the opinion. If the tears in your quilt are a result of worn fabric I would not advise repair, a worn out binding is a different matter and can be easily replaced. If the tears in the quilt are the result of something like a dog chewing it or a vindictive ex-wife, those can actually be repaired without a problem and the quilt can go on to live a long happy life.

Now I know the next question you are gonna ask is: "What do I do with a worn out quilt?" but before I address that let me tell you how to avoid a worn out quilt. The quilt that inspired this weeks blog was only 15 to 20 years old. It had been well used, but the real source of its demise was the fabric it was made from. I have a 15 year old quilt that I love but can't use because it was made before my mother became a fabric snob. There is a reason decent quilting fabric costs $10+ a yard. Eddie's favorite "blanket" gets washed at least once a month and has more miles on it than my '74 VW. It is going on 10 years old (he stole it from his older sister). That quilt was made post fabric snob. The thing is faded in a few spots and stained in others, but there are no holes worn in it. So remember you get what you pay for.

Now back to the original question. What do I do with it now? Cut it, frame it, and hang it. This works good with worn out quilts, or even your dead aunt's collection of unfinished quilt blocks. Cut your old quilt or half finished inheritance small enough to fit into a picture frame and turn it into art. Make 4 or 5 pieces out of one quilt and artistically arrange them for an even more sophisticated effect. A quilt cut up in a picture frame is still better than collecting dust in the attic. A quilt was made to be used and appreciated, not squandered and forgotten.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Quilt Math

I thought it might be useful to post some basic "quilt math" that I take for granted.  

How many binding strips do I need?
[( Length + Width) * 2 ] / 40 = Number of Strips
Okay it is not as complicated as it looks.  Get the length of your quilt in inches and add the width, multiply that number by two then divide it all by 40.  Round that number up to the next whole number and you have your number of strips.  The 40 is based on 42/44 inch fabric,  I round it down to keep myself out of trouble.  If you are using some oddball width fabric adjust the 40 as needed.

How much fabric do I need for Binding?
Number of Strips * Width of Strips
Take the number you got from our strip calculation and multiply it by the width of your preferred binding strip.
Consult your friendly local shop keeper if you have trouble converting inches to yards, round up to the nearest 1/4 yard to avoid shortcomings.

Both of these calculations can also be used to figure borders.  I know that most you don't really care about these calculations, but at least now you will know what is rattling through my brain when you ask me to cipher your quilt.

Remember, if it ain't fun you are doing it wrong.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Halloween Special

Yes, I know it is a couple of weeks late but seeing how every one is skipping turkey day and heading straight in to Christmas I figured a little deviation from the proscribed retail marketing regimen would be a welcome diversion.  So let me begin.

My wife is a big fan of the horror/thriller genre of films.  I don't mind a good, well thought out thriller, or a scary movie that thinks outside of the box of creepy music and lots of blood.  So here is my list of  "scary" movies that I have recently watched and my analysis.

I was told to leave the room if I didn't stop laughing at it.  When the gas mask with the  vacuum cleaner hose came out I almost lost it.  Then the whispering started.  I left the room.

"The Thing"(2011 version)
It was date night so I got to see this on on the big screen.  I did not mind the movie, but I had a huge problem with it on a logical level.  X-files (the show not the movies) raised the bar for these type of stories.  If you are going to try and appeal to the logical/science side of your audience, you have to go all the way or not at all.  This movie made the classic misstep of trying to scientifically explain the "thing" with out actually thinking the whole thing through so when a geek like me watches it, it pisses me off.  I am willing to suspend belief and enjoy a movie for what it is, but if you want to open the door to logic and science in your movie at least build a plausible enough foundation for it stand on.  Zombie movies are a prime example.  I don't mind a decent zombie movie for what it is, but no one that I know can explain the basic flaw in the zombie apocalypse story line.  Why do they only target healthy people?  I mean if I was a hungry zombie, my slow moving and less intelligent zombie friends seem like they would be an easier dinner than the well armed and more agile uninfected people. Just saying.

"Paranormal Activity"
Another date night.  Two words for this one:  Holy Crap.  I have to say that this was a truly intense and "scary" experience.  The theater was crowded and you could hear a pin drop by the third or fourth night when the lights went out.  It got to the point that I didn't want them to turn the lights out.  It was every thing a scary movie should be.  When Selena brought the sequel home from redbox I thought it was going to be lame, as most horror sequels are in there attempt to cash in on easy money.  When the pool vacum moved across the patio it was freaky, so I am actually interested to see how they do with "Paranormal 3"

"Troll Hunter"
My wife will argue that this is not a thriller/horror movie, but I have to list it because I loved it.  As one of those "found footage" type movie made popular by the "Blair Witch Project" it can be on my scary movie list if I want it to..  Troll Hunter is one of those netflix miracles.  It is the kind of movie I would never have taken a chance on in the video store, but because I get unlimited streaming movies to my Wii I find some pretty dumb movies to watch. "Troll Hunter"  was awesome.  It is Danish or Finnish or something like that, so it was subtitled.  The basic premise of the movie is some film students doing a documentary on bear poaching who are tailing this mysterious hunter that they believe to be poacher numero uno, but he turns out to be a government contractor who takes care of the troll infestation problem.  I  loved it, my wife fell asleep.

I love movies, books, and stories in general so I could go on all day, but I believe my work here is done.  I had originally intended to rant on about the illogical inconsistencies in the whole zombie thing, and I would love to talk to somebody about how bad the "Thing" biology makes no sense but I kept it down to  couple of sentences, Selena would be proud.  However my rave review of "Troll Hunter" will have her shaking her head, and questioning what kind of craziness she married.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What's it worth?

Last week I addressed some oft asked questions, this week I shall answer one more.  What's it worth?

Now and again some one wanders into the store with an old quilt that they think is worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars and that by virtue of me standing behind the counter I know its exact value.  Well I don't but this I do know:  Most old quilts are not worth half as much as most antique roadshow junkies think.

Old quilts were never intended for anything more than keeping you warm at night, or wrapping up to keep the chill out.  They are like that pair of mittens your grand ma used to knit you every Christmas,  do you really think a hundred years from now that those mittens will suddenly be worth $100?  Doubtful, however those mittens have incalculable value to the child that wore them and has special Christmas memories connected to them,  but your warm and fuzzy feelings do not translate into c-notes.  Unless of course you are Amish.

"Amish" quilts crack me up, many people have no problem dropping $1000 plus on an Amish quilt but when I try to get $500 for a quilt I am insane.  Nobody admits that Amish is a brand and is a luxury good that is in the same category as your swanky Vera Bradley bag (yes I could make a better quality knock off of a Vera Bradly but "Brent Bag's" lack the marketing machine to end up on the spray tanned shoulder's of the Jersey Shore).

So what's it worth?  The answer as my dad once explained is that it's only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.  It's the difference between Antiques Roadshow and Pawn Stars.  On Roadshow the appraisers give a theoretical value that makes everybody happy.  Pawn Stars is the actual value because money is changing hands.

So why would I pay hundreds of dollars for a stained stinky old quilt when I could buy a brand new one for the same price?  Oh its a hundred years old so it must be rare.  Most of my quilts are a one of a kind so they are just as rare, and the fabric is not a hundred years old so it will last longer and hold up better.  I just wish that everyone else knew how valuable my quilts are, I mean I have a blog and everything, I am a famous designer, I even have a ribbon from the fair.

Adah thinks here bags are priceless and Eddie would never sell his quilts but that's because Daddy made them. Brent the blogger and famous designer has nothing to do with it.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Confession of a Man Quilter

"Opinion's are like (expletive delete), everybody's got one."   -Dirty Harry

So here is my opinion on a few core issues as they relate to quilting.  If you are old school you may want to look away now, this may cause your eyes to bleed.

I don't do it. I have no desire to do it.  I see no purpose it.  Back in the day before fabric was printed specifically for quilting and the home craft market, pre-washing was essential for a variety of reasons.  In todays market if you are buying quality fabric the technology and methods used to print fabric should be of a quality that prevents the colors from bleeding and running.  Batiks are a different story, because the dye process is different you may see some color creep issues if you are not careful, but that still has not convinced me to pre-wash.  Maybe I am just lazy.

Let me convert you to my heathen ways with the benefits of not pre-washing.  First is body (this could be a man card violation to speak of "body" as it relates to limpness and work-ability in an object such as hair or fabric, not the body of the Russian babe that just proposed to me in my in-box).  If you do not prewash your fabric it maintains much of its body, so you won't have to spend an hour pressing and spraying your fabric after you get it out of the dryer to return some of its body.  Second is shrinkage (I thought we got all the Cialis jokes out last week).  Many people point to shrinkage as a reason to pre-wash but I have turned that around.  If you wait until your quilt is completely done, and it was machine quilted,  the little bit of shrinkage after the first wash  will tighten up the quilting and give your quilt that old school look.

Batik vs. Cotton:
News flash, batik is a cotton,  so is flannel.  But even if it wasn't what cosmic law says we can't mix fabric in a quilt?  Maybe I missed that memo and the quilting Gestapo will have come for me by the time you read this.

An old wives tale tells of threads cutting into fabric.  If your thread is cutting your fabric, you have a serious problem with your machine and should seek immediate medical attention.  Cheap thread will kill you, or at least frustrate you, (I  have seen tears of frustration in a quilting class).  Grandma's thread that you inherited needs to be thrown out or put on display,  but under no circumstance should it be put in your machine.

Here is some shocking truth, thread color doesn't matter.  Most of my quilts have no less than six different colors of threads.  I often use leftover bobbins from my long arm for piecing.  As long as the tension is set correctly on your machine, no one will know if you used white thread or hot pink.  If your thread is showing after piecing and pressing, I can sell you a sewing machine that will make it disappear, or you could adjust your tension.

So there you have it, admittedly I am no expert, but I do have fun.  If you are not smiling while quilting you are doing it wrong (that is an expert opinion).


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Commercials are fun too.

Disclaimer:  Dad you may not find this entertaining, but it is educational.

With invention of TiVo and the DVR the game of commercial watching is becoming a thing of the past which is unfortunate as it can be entertaining and informative.  Let me explain the game.  You are watching a show, I'll use Project Runway in our example because the surrounding commercials are not to subtle.  One of the commercials I saw while watching reruns of PR last week was an ad for a product that helped with "feminine odor" (they were not talking about stinky girl pits).

To play the game you have to ask two questions to yourself or other players in the room. First question:  Why?  This is sometimes pretty cut and dry like with  Jeremiah Weed it is an "adult beverage" commercial so no mystery there.  In our example Vagisil commercial the why is less obvious to a guy such as myself.  As a guy my "why" questions are along the lines of:  Is this really a problem? Soap doesn't work on girls?   Or like many products (usually pharmaceuticals) is it an invented problem to sell a product?  So often in the "why round" we can introduce our theories, I have a theory on the Vagisil ad, this was no surprise to my wife because she thinks I have a theory for everything.

The next question is: Who?  This often adds to the why theories.  But the "who" can often be quite funny when you stop and analyze it.  "Who" encompasses male/female and age.  The Wilford Brimly diabetes commercials that used to come on during Matlock reruns was obviously aimed at older people and I am guessing women from Wilford's tones. So imagine my surprise when Wilford showed up between sets while I was watching Spongebob.  I have a theory on that.

Compare older Viagra commercials with the current Cialis ads.  Both treat "ED" (you can have fun with the "why" even if you are a guy)  Old Viagra commercials usually had a flashy car of some sort and a "Man's Man" extolling the virtues of the magic blue pill.  Cialis usually portrays a couple involved in romantic things like long walks on the beach or holding hands on a brisk fall day (girl stuff).  The difference in the "who" is genius.  Viagra targeted the man, Cialis is going after his partner.

The other aspect of the who that makes TV watching fun is that when you answer the question you find out who TV execs think are watching their shows.  MTV, Spike, Lifetime, and Bravo intended demographics are obvious from their programming choices, but watch the ads sometimes they can seem very incongruent (word of the day) with what they advertise.

The commercial game also adds a new dimension to quality tv shows like "The Jersey Shore"  watch the ads on that one.  When I have stumbled across the show I ask myself "Whose reality is this?"  and, "Are these people for real?"  Play the commercial game, and suddenly you understand what's wrong with todays youth, and homeschooling almost makes sense.

What does this have to do with quilting or sewing?  Who knows, but that is the problem with the internet, I can write anything I want, call it blog and pretend my opinion matters.

 "Stay sewing my friends."-the Most Interesting Man in the World, (misquoted for thematic purposes)


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Man Card

So I had somebody looking at a sewing machine last week and she was like, "My boy friend doesn't understand why sewing machines are so expensive." (say that with your whiny "significant other" voice for full effect, I know you have one, we all do).

So I was like, "Tell him to read this weeks blog post it addresses that very issue." (Say that with your "authoritative professor" voice)

And she is like,(whiny voice again) "He won't read it because he thinks any guy that runs a quilt store stupid."

So this weeks blog is my renewal application for my Man Card.  Comments in parenthesis are comments for blog readers only and were not included on the original application

Man Name:  Ferball, Ferlando, or Big Sexy (Man Name is a title/alias given to an applicant from other Man Card holders)

Sports - Participation:  Basketball, Soccer (I only include basketball and soccer because fencing and sailing may be misconstrued and could result in a "sweater vest" or "cardigan" classification on my Man Card because I lack football.  Though there has been talk recently of "Pirate" endorsement which fencing and sailing should qualify me for)  

Sports - Spectator: Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing, Baseball (I score big points with my spectating choices)

Cars - Ownership:  Audi Fox (All men have owned various cars, you are only required to list the coolest one you have owned, at first glance my Jeep might seem more manly, but without a lift kit or a winch it falls in the girl crossover category.  No girl drives a Fox unless it is her boyfriends)

Project Car:  1974 VW Bus (Though not a muscle car or testosterone with wheels, I still get points just for having a project car.)

Motor Head Experience: 6.5 L Diesel (I just have to list the manliest engine I have played with)

Nascar: No (Because I have hands on experience with cars I can answer no, if I was useless under the hood and did not know a tie rod from a fuel pump I could watch Nascar to fulfill my "Cars" requirement.)

Gun-Ownership:  .22 rifle (I own one but don't keep it at home, it is kind of a wimpy gun but my time in the army reserves makes up for it on the next question.)

Gun-Experience:  Mk-19 Automatic Grenade Launcher (Again most men have played with multiple guns I just have to list here the manliest one I have fired and hit what I was aiming at.  The only thing that scores better than a grenade launcher is a flame thrower.)

Beer: Designated Driver  (as a non drinker I have no preferred brand of beer, so I use the designated driver status to fulfill this requirement)

Tobacco:  N/A (this is no longer a requirement, but guys being guys the application has not been updated in years.)

So there you have it.  Just because I may or may not watch Project Runway by choice, and I know that Marcus Brother's is not a classic rock cover band does not mean my man card has been revoked.  If I start driving a baby blue mini cooper or wearing "salmon" colored sweaters even a grenade launcher could not save me from revocation.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Sewing Machines and Chainsaws

I was recently talking to a fellow I know and he was in the market for a chainsaw, something to do with cleaning up after a bit of rain and wind. He had spoken with his neighbor about it, and his neighbor was one of those old school New Englanders with a certain kind of practical wisdom.

"What kind of saw would you recommend?" my friend asked.
"Don't matter as long as it is orange." Was the Wise New Englander's response.

My buddy laughed when telling me this story because he thought it was the funniest advice he ever got. "...As long as it is orange." I thought that was the best advice ever for buying a chainsaw.

A couple years ago my Pa got the itch to buy himself a saw (the $80 green Walmart one broke), so we spent the better part of a Saturday driving all over creation to check out different dealers and different brands of chainsaws. All the really nice professional grade saws were orange. So my dad bought an orange saw. I also had an epiphany that day as we were riding around, and because I bet most of you reading this could care less about chainsaws I shall share this bit of wisdom with you.

The chainsaw he decided on was a little over $500. That is $500 that my father will never have to spend again on a chainsaw. How many things that you purchase for more than $500 would you consider disposable? Nothing I would hope, but we have been trained otherwise.

A car is the first thing that came to mind, how many of us buy a car and expect to have it for a lifetime? Some numbers to illustrate my thought: $20,000 price of a new car $12,000 what the car is worth 2 years later when you trade it in, do the math you paid a little over $10 a day, not including gas, insurance, or registration/titling fees, just for the privilege to drive a new car. Why are you trading it in? I bet it still gets you from point A to point B. You would fire your oil man if he recommended that you upgrade your furnace every two years for $4000, now if he put wheels on it and painted a cool color and parked it in your drive way, you might consider it.

Next on the list is electronics. How many of us fork over a few hundred dollars every couple of years for a faster sleeker computer? If you are young enough I bet you might be one of those that pays to upgrade your phone every so often for a "better" model. Who would upgrade their washer and dryer ever two years just because the new model will wash your clothes two minutes faster?

So that was my epiphany.

I tell you all of this and now I have to convince you to buy a sewing machine. Why drop $1200 on a sewing machine when your grand mother's feather weight works just fine? ( This is why I make a terrible salesman). The only good answer I have is: Because you can. If like my father you are a buying a tool than your old sewing machine should be fine as long as it has the functionality you need....I say that and I am reminded of my grand father. He was a master carpenter and contractor back in his day, but never owned a nail gun. "Why the hell would I want one of those, my hammer works fine and those damn nails are expensive..."

I suspect that for most sewing is a hobby and as such by extension the sewing machine is a toy. A useful toy, but a toy non the less. And if you are sewing for fun, you may find that a new machine makes things a little more fun, and expands your hobby with increased functionality. And the nice thing about a $500 sewing machine or chainsaw is that if you take care of it, your grand kids will still have it around in 40 years to play with.

Monday, September 26, 2011

An Old Man Moment

I understand that this blog is supposed to be somehow related to quilting or the fabric arts, so today's post will be a little bit of a stretch. I am going to have to rely on the quilter stereo type. You know the one, white hair matronly old lady that spouts fortune cookie wisdom with a mid-west flavor. I have to take that stereo type one step further, and talk about her husband. The old curmudgeon, you know the one that Clint Eastwood portrayed perfectly in Gran Torino.

So now that I have established the tenuous link to todays post I shall regale you with a trip through my wires (Jeanne, my little sis, will love that last sentence, I used regale in the proper context and the wire trip bit is an obscure reference to a U2 song).

I was out late on Saturday night on my wife's errand for which I earned the reward of a McDonald's milk shake. I almost got a Frosty from Wendy's, but I was driving and my avid anti text/call and driving stance requires me to straw instead of spoon while behind the wheel. So back to the story... I order a milk shake at the drive through and was pleasantly surprised by the cheerful and competent voice coming out of the speaker. I pull up to the first window and pay, and then proceed to the next window because some how a second window makes your food faster.

At the second window I had my grumpy old man moment. The girl hands me a transparent plastic cup with a frilly dome top containing something topped with whip cream and a cherry. I was mad. What happened to the cheap wax coated paper cup with a cheesy plastic cover, and where did they get off putting whip cream and a cherry on it. Highfalutin (yes it was spell checked) McCafe, what happened to McDonald's?

I now understand why old men get grumpy. Sure I got another 30 years to get my senior citizen discount, and it is doubtful I will ever see my social security, but between the quilting and aversion to change I make an awesome old person.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I Made it to the Big Time

A few of the fans of my email campaigns have urged me to start a blog, and with Becky not having the time nor gumption to be the voice of the Four Pines Quilting blog I have been promoted to Blogger.

Blogging is a lot of pressure, writing e-mails was easy, people actually signed up for it and it was beamed to their inbox so I had a willing captive audience. My competition was cheap Cialis, Russian mail order brides, or the occasional loto winner from Nigeria. My target audience was mostly mature women of distinguished taste, so Russian Brides did not worry me. The cheap Cialis might be more appealing than my rambling, but I don't think it is covered by insurance if you buy it on line and it was more for the husband than my intended victim. The loto winner had me concerned, but I have been assured that the money is being sent to me, so if that is in anyone else's inbox they should disregard it and read my e-mail instead.

Now Blogging on the other hand is a huge responsibility, my competition is much bigger, and I have to some how entice people to read my ramblings with my wit and charm, because I can't attach a 20% off coupon to a blog post to trick you into reading it. Not only that, I have to be sure to fact check and maintain an air of seriousness just in case one of my post ends up being a reference for the news story dujour(I think that is french for "the day", not positive though my Memere really only taught me how to swear with a Canadian accent) .

So if you read the blog for Becky's prose and weekly accounts of the comings and goings of Four Pines Quilting, I apologize now. My lavish hyperbole and lack of punctuation mastery will certainly have a different taste to it.(That last sentence was awesome, "lavish hyperbole" how often do you get to read word combinations like that and who cares if makes no sense) Please comment and stuff so I have some material to work with, if you leave me wandering around in my own mind for ideas you get stuff like taun tauns and home schooled sasquatches.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Back to school! Hope everyone is safe and dry. What a weekend that was. The brook behind our house got very high but did not go over the bank. Beautiful outside today.

So tomorrow is the first day of school. I always get excited about meeting the students and getting back on a schedule. We have some great things scheduled at Four Pines Quilting too.

Don't forget to get your Shop in the Hop Card in for the drawing this week.

Beginning quilt classes start in September on Thursdays.

Mark you calendars for the Quilting Celebration to be held on September 24th. We have got an exciting trunk show in the works. Mike will be here to share the latest and greatest fabrics available. We will be having demos and prizes. Don't forget the coupon book in your goodie bag. I am getting excited just thinking about the fun we are going to have.

Lots of new fabric and kits are in. Had a great time at Girl's Night Out on Friday. The game was the best. We will definitely be playing it again. Everyone got something done. It is always fun to get together to eat, sew and laugh.

See you soon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hope your summer is going well--are you getting everything done you wanted too? Not me... I have been doing a lot of reading not sewing.
The Gabrielle Angel Panel is in with coordinating fabric. She is beautiful and elegant. Brent and I are working on a project for her.

Quilting tip of the day: Use zip lock bags to organize your cut block pieces. Then put each block in a larger bag.

Civil War quilt on Saturday, August 13th. Don't forget to bring in your shop in the hop card for the drawing to be held on August 30th. It does not need to be completely stamped to be eligible for the drawings. See you soon. Becky~

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Wow what a great week. The weather is beautiful, I get to spend all this time with Bernie and I get to see everyone. Hope that everyone is doing well. Having fun with Brent?!?!?!?! I know that some great classes are lined up this week. Be sure to check the calendar.

Remember the quilts? The recipients were very pleased. Notice their smiling faces!

Miss the sewing (not really I got to put borders on a quilt and make some skirts) but I definitely miss all of you! See you all soon. Becky~

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy 4th of July!
I love fireworks. Always have. It is my favorite part of July 4th. Listening to the oohs and ahhs as they explode in brilliant color overhead.

The Hop into the Shop is over. Thanks to those of you who participated. I know you never got a word of the day from the blog but I also know that Brent stamped anyone who asked. So..go and see Brent he will take care of you.

I want everyone to know that when we asked for 5 things you like about Four Pines Quilting his name came up quite often. I have to admit that he is one of my favorite things about the store too. He was such a great help to me--we actually got TEN quilts ready for me to take on vacation. I will take some pictures and post them next week when I pass them out. I could not have done it without him.

Happy quilting, sewing, enjoying the sun, swimming or whatever you decide to do this week.

Monday, May 30, 2011


I love June...
the weather is nice
school gets out
time to go see the girls and their families out west
and of course HOP INTO THE SHOP

Instead of traveling all over the state of New Hampshire for a shop hop you can hop into Four Pines Quilting during the month of June. Pick up your booklet. Lots of fun things to do during the month. Earn prizes you can use all summer long.

Just a reminder about Girl's Night Out this Friday!
Lots of new patterns in ... bags, book covers & beach quilts.

See you soon. Becky~

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Very busy day! Brenda & I were able to take a tour of some of the local quilt shops. Lots of ideas are brewing. I am sure that Brent is taking very good care of you while we are gone.

What do you think of pajama pants and a pillowcase that match? How about some embroidery? I am really excited about the embroidery patterns and projects. The pajama pants and pillowcases will be for Kid's camp this summer. We even got some information on having a Kid's Club.

Great news for those of you that like to paper piece or would like to get started...we found some great patterns. Quilt labels and monthly projects... yes I am thinking of the kits already!

Tomorrow we have classes all day... Jeanne will be meeting us for dinner then it is on to sample spree. See you soon--Becky~

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's a new month. One that is all about spring. How did you like the snow storm on April Fool's Day. Did you know that April Fool's Day is the result of the calendar being changed back in 1582? They used to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1st. Then they changed it to January 1st and some people did not get the message--we are talking years here. So they continued to celebrate on April 1st. These backwards celebraters were considered fools and supplied us with April Fool's Day! Change is hard to take.

We are changing things around here at Four Pines this month. I still need to update the calendar but, Thimbleberries club will be the fourth Saturday. Brenda and I will be at the quilt show up in Hanover on the 16th. Brent will send out the e-mail reminders.

The Jacket class starts Wednesday night at 6:00 PM. I have my t-shirt all ready to go. If you bought a new sweat shirt or t-shirt be sure to get a larger size and wash and dry it.

See you soon--Becky~

Spring time in my backyard!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St Patrick's Day!

What a wonderful day! I know it is spring when my students beg to have class outside.

Be sure to come in on Saturday we are having a great sale for National Quilt Day! We have rearranged things at the store. Come in and tell us what you think. Looking forward to Thimbleberries Club too.

I finished a Thimbleberries Block this week. The block is purple with the background--need to read my lists more often. They help me stay focused (a difficult task this time of year).

I have so many quilts I want to make. In fact today I found a pattern in a magazine for a baby quilt. It was so cute. I tore it out and put in in a page protector. My next list should be all the quilts I have planned. KG has an inventory. I love the new fabric that comes in and I have all these ideas and then reality hits me....when? and what? There is a new line in from Red Rooster...perfect for kids quilt or a spring table runner. The half yard cuts of flowers are beautiful. I would really like to make something with them. A great buy too.

See you all soon. Shout out to Dana & Amber... you make 3rd block fun.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What a great day! The Advanced Beginner Class is going very well. Their blocks are coming out great and they all look so different and unique. I can't wait to see them all done.

Bernie and I had a great week out west with our daughters and their families. It is always fun to see the grandchildren. That all sounds so formal. I just love hugging and holding the little ones and getting to know the older ones. I was checking out my list and realized that I had accomplished something on it!

I finished the nine-patch quilt. The next question is what am I going to do with it? I am sure that someone will fall in love with it and then I will have a great gift. :)

adding to the list:

5. Update the blog more often

6. Make my Civil War Quilt blocks

7. Make my Thimbleberries Club blocks

Those three are going to be on going..."should they be in another list?", I ask myself. Let me know what you think. I put all my pictures on my computer--so you get a special surprise!

There I am with my favorite daughter named Jeanne and my favorite daughter named Jennifer!

That means I can check the first thing off my list too. Isn't life grand!

Friday, February 25, 2011

What's New

What happened to February? Life! Lots of new kits and fabric came in this month. The Cuddle kits are in with lots of yardage for backing. I really want to make a blue one. I love how it feels.

Check out our new calendar. Make plans to come in and make one of our new kits or a jacket for spring. I am having a hard time deciding which Bali Pop I am going to use. Everytime I wear the jacket that we made at our last jacket class I get compliments. Beginning Quilt Class is starting again. Advanced Beginner for those that want to brush up on basic skills or continue after Beginning Quilt Class. I am really excited about Quick Tricks. Be sure to sign up for a fun filled night.

Don't forget to come in for Cabin Fever Breakout this week. We have had too much SNOW!

I spent the day at the store. Mostly driving Brent crazy. The office looks great. I filled the zipper display. It has inspired me to make some little zipper bags. I want to make a set to put in my luggage. Then I worked on my nine-patch quilt. I am using the blocks that we swapped a few years ago. I want it to be king size. Brent tells me if I don't have enough blocks I can always make some more. We shall see. I am a great one for lists. So here is the beginning of my list.

1. Take pictures with my camera and put them on my blog.

2. Finish the nine-patch quilt

3. Make the zipper bags (set of 4)

4. Make a cuddle quilt

to be continued......

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I woke up this morning to MORE SNOW! Cabin Fever Breakout is a great time to come in and work on those projects that you just need a little more time to finish. This year it will be March 2 (Wednesday)-March 4 (Friday). I have big plans for that week.
We are going to start Tiffany Windows this week. We still have a few kits left. Of course there is always space for open sewing. Have a fun day. See you soon--Becky~

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hope everyone enjoyed the snow yesterday. It is always fun to have a change in routine. I was able to work on my March Count On It. The kits will be ready today. I'm getting excited about Girl's Night Out on Friday, February 11th. There are still a few spaces left. The food is always GREAT--don 't forget about the prizes, goodie bag and shopping discount! See you soon!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Sidelights Quilt is AWESOME! Complete top done in one class. There are still some kits available and it is scheduled for next Wednesday too. (It is true I helped fussy cut the pieces.)
Brent will get it quilted today. I will do my best to get a picture of it so you can see it. Have a fun day--see you tonight for open sewing or the advanced beginners class. Becky~

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thimbleberries Club

Busy day at the store--lots of sewing going on! Thimbleberries blocks and nine-patch blocks. New kits are available: Halo and Sidelights. Sidelights class starts this week on Wednesday. The kits are $45.00. Have a great week.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I love snow days. I have two choices: clean or sew! I choose to sew today! I finished my Civil War Chronicles block yesterday. Today I am going to make a cuddle blanket and a zipper bag. I have a baby shower on Saturday.
NO classes tonight! The snap sack sale will be until Saturday 1/15 or while supplies last. They make a quick gift. All you need to do is say you read my blog and you would like 40% off snap sacks. What a deal! That makes them $ 7.79 each.
Have a fun day. Becky~

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy 2011!

We are back to business. :) Classes have started...block clubs are ready. I am looking forward to a great year.

Saturday I started my Civil War Chronicles. That's right--my goal is to complete it by the end of the year, one block at a time. I will let you know when I get the first block done.

February Count On It kits are available for $7.50. They include the teeny tiny button eyes! I love making the little wall quilts.

Wednesday is snap sack. The new one is not in yet. If you would like to come in and make one we have lots to choose from at a special price--40% off. This Wednesday night (1/12) only!

Hope all is well with you and we see you soon. Have a great day! Becky~