The road ends, but the journey continues...

Category: Crazy-Fun Files (Page 1 of 9)

Outstanding Blogger Award

Thank you Mariss for nominating me for this award. Along with the honor it bestows, it also gives me a chance to break out of blogger’s rut!

In keeping with Mariss’ attention to word definitions (she ferreted out what exactly a blog award nomination really means) I thought I’d first focus on what the name of the blogging award she nominated me for really means.

outstanding: adj (1611) 1. standing out – projecting 2a. unpaid 2b. continuing; unresolved 2c. publicly issued and sold securities 3a. standing out from a group – conspicuous 3b. marked by eminence and distinction syn: noticeable  

Webster’s 9th new Collegiate Dictionary, 1988

Personally, the part of that definition I can relate with is 2b. continuing; unresolved.

Which segues easily into question number one of five to be answered with regards to accepting this blogger award!

  1. For how long have you been writing a blog?
    This website/blog went live on August 30, 2013 (and the journey continues…)
  2. What made you start?
    from my first post: The obvious answer to this is of course, ‘Why not?’  I, however, could think of many reasons ‘why not’ whenever it was suggested to me to begin blogging. The biggest one being: anybody and their uncle can write anything and put it up into the nether-land of cyberspace for all to see regardless of quality. And then I remembered that was one of the main reasons I’d balked at recording my first cd. As a working musician, I’d done demos and was busy with gigging, teaching and performing. After all, anybody and their uncle can record anything for all to hear regardless of quality; it is all so easy to do these days…I needed someplace to showcase my (he)art, give voice to our between-homes journey and perhaps even enlighten others of the parallel communities filled with invisible ones living among us in 21st Century America. And blogging is yet one more tool to get what needs to be said out there.
  3. Why do you continue to blog?
    Unresolved stuff mixed with Pandemic stuff.
    Pandemic stuff is probably understood by most.
    Unresolved stuff – beyond the scope of this blog post!
  4. Have you ever met any of your fellow bloggers face to face? If so, how did it feel?
    Nope. Never. But plenty of Almosts.
    I imagine it will feel like a crazy-fun disconnect-reveal simultaneously turning into an old friend/new friend reunion type thing – Let’s do it!
  5. Do you write regularly? If so, why?
    Yep. Different reasons – daily entries in my Morning Pages since 1997 help in sorting through issues/plans/ideas/clearing out/etc. Other writing is for pure pleasure of creative expression.

Now it’s my turn to nominate and ask a few questions. To those nominated, there is no obligation to take up the challenge of answering and asking the questions. If you do accept, then please answer the questions, nominate 5 other bloggers and then compile a set of 5 of your own questions.

Have Fun!

The Questions:
  1. What’s the first thing (or two) you’ll do once you ‘get your shot’ and/or the world otherwise opens back up after the Pandemic?
  2. What makes you break into your ‘happy dance’?
  3. What was your favorite subject when you were in school?
  4. Which of your blog posts is your favorite and why? Please provide a link.
  5. Coffee, tea or ????
Two of my favorite things: goats and dark roast coffee

Don’t Overlook The Obvious

Once upon a time, in the early 1990s, I experimented with simultaneous double sided quilting and piecing of individual blocks. It seemed a promising way to make a scrap quilt in one easy swoop. Until it wasn’t.

I quickly realized the effort far outweighed the reward and set the project aside.

Scroll forward to the early 2020s:

Whilst (I love it whenever I can use this Brit-term) rummaging through various fabric scrap & abandoned project bins, I came across those four orphan blocks.

For more than three decades, they have survived numerous stash purges with no idea of what to do with them after each re-evaluation of their worth to keep!

Then, a few weeks ago, it came to me. The solution glaringly obvious. Finish them off as…

…Mug Rugs.


In terms of my creative development and output, these past few months have been strangely empowering. It’s as if the scales have dropped from my eyes as I re-examine projects that stalled out for whatever reason.

Seeing the now ‘obvious’ next steps which lead to ‘finishes’ is supremely delightful – from poetry writing to quilting UFOs to all things musical; from 3 measure fixes to going with the flow of an intuitive tempo to mug rug creations.

And more. So much more.


*for those interested

Binding Join Mini-Tutorial

It’s Been a Fun…

…Ten Day Run.

I’ll bet you thought this was gonna be about a mega-marathon. Better yet, about me training and then actually running one of those events. HA!

Or maybe just an announcement of a 10 day-in-a-row blogging challenge that never happened.

None of the above.

It has been a fun run of Palindromic Dates, however!


Littering the calendar landscape from January 20th through January 29th, these dates read the same forward and backward. That is to say iff (since we’re in a sort of Math Realm, I thought the abbreviation for the Math term of ‘if and only if’ to be appropriate herein) one writes dates in the month/day/year format.

1/20/21 = 12021 both ways through to today’s 1/29/21 = 12921 both ways.

I love this sort of stuff, sorry to see it go for now.

Did you know: the USA’s Inauguration Day date of January 20th won’t be up as a Palindrome Date for another 1000 years?

October’s Almost Over

But before it slips away, I have two things to say...

coffeebean birthstone

#1 – October is my birth month, I hereby claim a dual birthstone – the traditional, beloved opal alongside the lowly, but highly charged coffee bean!

#2 – Boo! From me to you…

…and with a little help from my neighbors.

Working with Metallic Threads 2

As promised, what follows is part two in this set of blog posts featuring info I found on machine stitching with specialty threads as applied during the creation of “Bright Delight”.

Now that we’re armed with the knowledge of the characteristics of specialty threads and have rule #1* firmly in mind, we’re ready to get on with the business of sewing with metallics.


Regardless of how the specialty thread is wound on the spool (cross wound or stacked), both types feed best from the vertical spindle**.

Modifying the thread path from spindle to the first thread guide of the sewing machine is a key factor in controlling the natural curl of specialty threads.

Instead of purchasing a specialty thread stand attachment for my Bernina***, this is what I came up with after much consideration, research and trial & error. It works beautifully and didn’t cost me a cent.

With the specialty thread now safely and gently guided through the machine, here are a few more tips, tools and settings to further facilitate successful stitching:

  1. Reduce upper thread tension (lower number) and increase stitch length – sew on sample fabric and adjust as needed. (suggested settings – #2 tension and #3 stitch length)
  2. Suggested foot – wide toed embroidery foot as it will accommodate both straight and decorative stitches. (#20 Bernina foot)
  3. Use only a Metallic or Topstitch needle as both have larger eyes and accommodate the special needs of these threads. (I prefer a Schmetz 90/14 Metallic needle as it has a polished eye which prevents snags specific to metallic thread)
  4. Use a fine, light weight ‘bobbin’ thread or plain, smooth polyester thread (not cotton!), or even a metallic thread in the bobbin. (I used the ‘bad’ skinny spool metallic thread as mentioned in part 1 in the bobbin which added an extra sparkle to the back of the quilt)
  5. Practice settings on sample fabric, adjust as needed and Sew Slow! (I used the ‘half-speed’ setting for starters to get the hand of it)

Now, go forth and work with those metallic threads!


(for general reference: here and here)

*Rule #1 is to Sew Slow.

**Yes, this goes against the norm of pairing cross wound spools with the horizontal spindle and stacked spools with the vertical spindle.

*** While there are a variety of specialty thread stand attachments available for most sewing machines, I opted to forgo the investment of one for the time being. 

Family travels MMXX

Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening!

We’re back from our jaunt up to Michigan to visit our middle daughter and son-in-law. In fact, we’ve been there and back since Tuesday*.

But wait – I bet you didn’t even know we were away from our COVID cage nest. Surprise!

After some deliberation, we decided it was a reasonable risk worth pursuing – traveling during a narrow window of reduced regional COVID-19 surges and seasonal transitions**.

We packed up the 2003 Jeep Liberty and drove the 14-16 hrs straight through as we always do because we just like to drive. And because we’re all needy about seeing and being with Family.

Armed with my easy-to-reach ‘COVID’ box filled with sanitizer, wipes, paper towels, half can of precious Lysol Spray, all of our cloth masks plus a 5 pack of disposable gloves and the usual travel food box, duffles, pillows, and blanket, we were set to go. In addition, I carefully packed my Bernina, assorted notions, fabric scraps & batting bits and neatly nested all of that in with everything else.

Hubby secretly recorded us getting ready for our photo pose – notice Jude, the quilt eating kitty, sharing the couch with us

Say what? A sewing machine?

Often when we visit, I pack up Maddy to get a hands-on lesson at Elderly Instruments in Lansing with Neil Woodward but that wasn’t an option this time around due to COVID-19. Instead, I was on a sort of rescue mission – to repair as best as possible the three quilts kitty Jude chewed huge holes into since our last visit.

I’m happy to report that two of those quilts are 100% repaired. The third is ready for handstitching. Michelle is eager to begin repairs once I send her the appropriate fabric in sizes larger than I brought with me.

But of course, this trip was more than the sum of its seams…(groan).

Michelle Lilly Solorio, PhD 2020

We had a delayed in-house (pun intended) Family ‘hooding’ ceremony*** celebration, with Michelle gliding down the stairs of their 100 yr old home (there’s the punny connection) in full PhD regalia to the recorded traditional tune of ‘Pomp & Circumstance’.

We shared time around the Family table, spitting opinions (okay, too graphic for sure) between bites of fantastic food.

Took long walks, a Sunday Drive and spent plenty of time just ‘being’…

…Together…


*We drove off Thursday September 24th and returned on Tuesday September 29th

**Timing is indeed everything as both factors have since dramatically shifted.

***Official University ceremony postponed, now cancelled due to COVID-19.

Working with Metallic Threads 1

As promised, what follows in this new set of blog posts is an accounting of info I found on machine stitching with specialty threads as applied during the creation of “Bright Delight” – with a few extra tidbits thrown in for good measure.

Interested? Read on!


Who hasn’t been tempted to buy a spool or two of those lovely specialty threads?

Such eye popping glittery glam about the size of a lipstick bursting with promises of inspirational fantasies yet to be created:

Metallics cry out to be used!

If the price is right – say, a 2 for 1 sale – they fairly leap their way into a quilter’s shopping basket ready and willing to be experimented with once brought back to one’s sewing space.

And then again, who hasn’t been foiled* by those very same enticing spools?

Machine stitching with these beauties ain’t easy, but they can be tamed for use by everyday quilters like you and like me with a few tricks and tweeks.

It all starts with an understanding of the basic properties of these specialty threads and then progresses towards mastery of their usage.

Let’s begin.

*yep, pun intended!


All threads consist of fiber strands wrapped around a central core. In specialty threads, the core determines the stretchiness of the overall thread itself.

  • Rayon core metallics – no stretch
  • Polyester or nylon core metallics – various levels of stretchiness

In general, metallics are made by wrapping slivers of metal foil or tinsel around one of those core types. As a final product, metallics aren’t very strong and break easily.

red rotary landline phone with cord
curly cord on a red phone like we had in the rec room during my teenage years!

In addition, metallics have a greater propensity towards curling, twisting and tangling than other threads. The basic drape of a thread as it comes off the spool can range from straight, slighty wavy, tangled, or curly like an old-fashioned landline telephone cord! Different manufacturing methods, brands and quality of workmanship all contribute to these variances in threads – affecting specialty and metallics to a significant degree.

Interestingly, the diameter of the spool on which the specialty thread is wound is the most determining factor in the amount of ‘thread memory’ affecting ease of use. ‘Thread memory’ refers to the thread’s permanent wave that tends towards twisting when coming off a spool.

Because metallics ‘keep their coil’ they sew better from a larger spool than from the more tightly wound skinny spools commonly sold in retail stores. And yes, the photo at the head of this post is of several skinny spools of metallic threads I do indeed possess! However, I used an ‘old’ spool of copper metallic thread from my thread stash on my Bright Delight African wall-hanging here recently. Of unknown origin & brand, it also happened to be wound on a larger diameter spool…here’s to the wisdom of the 1990s!

Now quilters, as thrifty, recycling types, I know you are wondering what to do with all those ‘bad’ skinny spools of metallic threads. Seems counter intuitive, but they can be used in the bobbin! ‘Bad’ metallics work well in that application since tension and twisting are not an issue in the bobbin. Furthermore, they can be used with most any type of upper thread.

Of course, rule #1 on sewing with these threads – whether in the bobbin or as an upper thread – is to Sew Slow.

In any case, a special machine set-up for sewing with metallics and specialty threads is essential for successful stitching and will be discussed in greater detail in my next installment: Working with Metallic Threads 2.

(For a nice recap overview of metallic thread characteristics go here)

ToDoTuesdayNine

Bright Delight is a Grand Slam Finish!

Bright Delight finish #1
Bright Delight 2020 LBL (27.5 in x 35.5 in)

First introduced as Michelle’s African Fabric wall hanging, this project has been a ToDo since ToDoTuesdaySix where I detail the story & history of the fabric along with a few of my initial stabs at working on it. Then came a short progress update on ToDoTuesdaySeven. By then I had chosen the block pattern, sewn the complete quilt top, put together quilt sandwich samples to test deco threads and ultimately chose the copper metallic & variegated green rayon threads for use in the next stage of the project.

I then rolled it all up and set it aside.

After several weeks of leaving it be, I began again in earnest layering and readying it for machine blanket stitching around the design blocks.

Early on I decided to use a double batt – with a low loft poly batt to add some subtle puffiness to the top when machine stitched and an 80/20 batt against the backing fabric for ease of machine stitching while also giving the finished piece a nicer drape against the wall.

Bright Delight machine blanket stitching with copper metallic thread
Spray & hand basted design block machine blanket stitched with copper metallic thread

After spray basting the two batting layers together, I then treated them as a single layer of batting. I continued spray basting the top, batting and backing into a completed quilt sandwich. In addition, I hand basted around each block to give them extra security.

Starting from the center and continuing outwards, each design block in the middle vertical column was machine blanket stitched using the copper metallic thread. The rest of the blocks were machine blanket stitched with the variegated green rayon thread.

Once the deco stitching was finished,* I squared up the quilt and prepped it for the next stage of completion. Using the walking foot, I basted 1/8th of an inch from the edge of the piece attaching the hanging pockets, label and special Cote d’Ivoire selvage tab.

Next steps? Constructed the binding and sewed it onto the front of the piece taking care to miter those corners! Folded over the binding to the back, clamped it in place and took my time hand stitching the final folds to completion.

Now 100% completed and on its way via the USPS to middle daughter Michelle and son-in-law David:

Bright Delight is a Grand Slam Finish!


*I will discuss the details involved with working with metallic and specialty threads in another post, as it required a whole different set of tools and techniques to pull off a consistent finish. Also will detail specifics on constructing hanging pockets, achieving perfect miters & easy binding joins, and a few backstories to keep it all from getting too dry a read! For those of you interested in greater depth on these parts of the process, I look forward to sharing my newfound insights & tips with you at that time.


Thank-you Roseanne for offering this opportunity to share my finish.

Grand Re-Opening

Hey guys, I’m back!

Thank you for your patience while I revised, updated and transferred to another hosting site this space on the internet known as Laura Bruno Lilly – The Journey Continues.

That said, please ‘click around’ the site to view the many changes – not the least of which is a re-design from my former 2012 Child Theme to the more modern Hemingway Theme.

On the menu bar above – or just on the following titles here – be sure to click on the Home, About, and Purple Tulip Music tabs to view exciting new content.

Yep, had to use the word ‘exciting’ because this is after all a ‘Grand Re-Opening’!

And, hey, how about that header? Familiar, yet refreshed with the artwork by my Great Uncle Tran. Whose piece, Colorado, inspired the entire color palette of this site.  And whose piece, Colorado, has a whole ‘nother story behind it which I will fully disclose in future blog posts on this newly revised site.

Also, to be revealed in the coming weeks, is a new page waiting to be nestled between the PTM and DMW tabs on the menu bar. It will be published with an accompanying blog post telling its backstory, so stayed tuned folks.

In the meantime: It’s great to be back!

Pandemic Potpourri #3

I’m finding it very hard to focus on much of anything these days. How about you guys? I really think it’s a COVID-19 shelter-in-place/isolation induced thing – but that irritation is much better than the actual COVID-19 infection itself, so I’m not complaining really. Just noting it.
~~

I’m not a fast food type of gal, but the other day I craved, just craved, a Burger King Whopper and McDonald’s French fries. Hubby obliged by sitting in each of the two respective drive-throughs to indulge my primal need.
Yeah, he’s a keeper.
In keeping with the French Fry Theme, here is a snappy, happy Celtic inspired piece, Danse des Duex Pommes Frites (aka The French Fry Song) by Steve Baughman and performed in duo with Robin Bullock*.
Musical French fries have zero calories, guys, so enjoy!

~~

Speaking of calories.
About 8 weeks into sheltering-in-place, I glimpsed my reflection in the sliding doors entering the grocery store and my Lord! Forget about that masked (wo)man staring back – is that huge-hipped, thunder-thighed lady, me?

Hubby's favorite 'Bridge' Path - sometimes he comes along for the walk & fresh air, too

Hubby’s favorite ‘Bridge’ Path – sometimes he comes along for the walk & fresh air, too


After the Coronavirus took away my meager 45-minute daily workouts on the elliptical at the Y, my regular walks around the block and on the McLeod Path across town took on a more immediate level of importance.
I even do a few planks on my Yoga Mat and shake the house down doing jumping jacks in the kitchen…but admittedly, the Coronavirus has limited my exercise options.
Whilst (I love that British term!) taking a walk around the McLeod Path a few weeks ago, I noticed a pair of ladies beside their respective cars, a proper social distance of 6 feet, jumping rope. These ladies were ladies of a certain build that made me think: if they can do this, I can do this!
 
Mushroom at McLeod Parking lot

Look what greeted me at the nearly empty McLeod Path parking lot last week!


Thus began my search for the perfect jump rope and determination to add jumping rope into my anemic Pandemic exercise routine.
Last week, with my new rope in hand, and a 5 minute ‘Beginner’s Guide to Jumping Rope’ video on my phone, I drove back to the McLeod Path parking lot intent on re-learning how to jump rope.
Yep. Re-learn. Turns out, that ‘double hop’ us kiddos did back in the day is detrimental to progress in the realm of jumping rope for fitness.
For the next 20 minutes, I judiciously went through the preliminary exercises devised to help in redirecting old habits. When I felt ready, I set forth and did a full continuous three minutes of jumping rope.
Three excruciating minutes of jumping rope the ‘correct’ way.
The guy in the video even concedes it’s a biggie challenge to begin again on the jump rope exercise scene. He suggests beginners hold back enthusiasm in advancement by restricting jump rope sessions to 3 per week for the first 4 weeks.
Shin splints, muscle aches and cramps, coordination misfire whips against the body by the jump rope itself – all can add up, hurt and hence discourage continuing on in one’s advancement of jumping rope as a total body workout. Being an older adult, I heeded hubby’s suggestion to ease into my new jump rope routine to 2Xs a week for 4 weeks.
Tuesday this week was my second date with that ole jump rope. In that same parking lot.
The mushroom was long gone, but I managed to do two 5-minute spurts of continuous jumping rope! 10 minutes total. I never in a million years thought I could ‘advance’ so quickly on something so taxing and demanding.
I am not the athletic type.
I was always the last chosen on sports teams back during School Gym days. But my enthusiasm and persistence have always been my redemption. I love hiking, skiing, biking, swimming, diving, volleyball, softball – I’ve just not ever been good enough for ‘teams’!
And now: Here I am, beginning my new COVID-19 jump rope exercise regimen. And succeeding!
Next appointment with my rope? Saturday. Can’t wait.

~~

 *Hubby and I had a date planned to take in Robin’s show at The Isis Music Hall & Kitchen in Asheville, NC on March 29th, 2020 at 6pm. Guess what happened instead? As I re-looked up the concert venue today, lo & behold to my delight and surprise there is a re-scheduled concert set for September 17, 2020 – we’ll see if we can keep that date!

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