The road ends, but the journey continues...

Category: Crazy-Fun Files (Page 1 of 8)

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.


’Home

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!

Dance of Joy: Dr. Solorio

Dance of Joy – Our Michelle is now officially Dr. Solorio –

Hubby and I are crazy proud as are all her sibs along with the rest of the Family and of course her Husband (our favorite Son-In-Law)

In the celebratory spirit of myriad Ivoirian individuals who took her into their hearts and homes…this video (used with permission) of a 1st Communion Celebration she attended (notice the 1st communicant in the center of the circle) represents our own inner – Dance of Joy.

LANGUAGE WARS? LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION AND THE IVORIAN POST-CONFLICT TRANSITION
By
Michelle Lilly Solorio

A DISSERTATION

Submitted to
Michigan State University

in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of

 Education Policy – Doctor of Philosophy

2020
~~~

Dedicated to the parents and teachers in Côte d’Ivoire who shared their lives with me.

Vous m’avez accueilli dans votre vie, donné de votre temps et partagé votre nourriture. Vous m’avez montré le vrai sens de “akwaaba.” Je vous chérirai toujours.

 This dissertation is also dedicated to my husband, David.

Thank you for supporting me through this long endeavor. You are my partner in everything. I love you.
~~~

Pandemic Potpourri #2

“I don’t know about you guys, but I could do with getting lost in trivialities. Making small talk with strangers, while waiting for my coffee to be made, about inconsequential things. Nothing of importance that mean everything.”       Andy Murray

As mentioned in Pandemic Potpourri #1 herein I will blog, and commenters can comment, without feeling guilty about seeming to disregard the seriousness of our present COVID-19 Reality.
In other words, this space is reserved for escaping Reality – however that translates. Anything goes, so here goes!

Paul Hollywood’s authentic Hot Cross Buns

Paul Hollywood's Hot Cross Buns

Paul Hollywood’s Hot Cross Buns


I saw a Great British Baking Show ‘masterclass’ rerun on PBS last week where this was a featured bake. It inspired me to bake up a batch for this coming Easter Morning. Seemed reasonable as I always have Bread Flour in stock. I use it for my own special breads as opposed to regular All-Purpose flour and know there truly is a difference in baking results for specific items. When I checked on my personal supply, turned out our cupboard was bare, so I had to go out into the cold cruel COVID world of grocery stores in search of a 5 lb bag. Guess what? The grocery shelves are also bare of any type of flour whatsoever.  So I’m debating whether or not to try this new-to-me recipe with the regular flour I have on hand…still undecided – what do you think?
Oh and BTW: Paul’s from Liverpool, folks! yeah, yeah, yeah

~~~

In the previous Pandemic Potpourri Post I featured a photo of a colorful array of newly planted Gerbera Daisies on our front porch. That very Friday evening I jotted this down – sans margarita!

On the front porch – gorgeous afternoon – the cool/dry lull before the ‘storm’ of a normal SC Spring/Summer filled with heat and humidity.

What is adding to my delight are the heavenly scents of BBQ* chicken wafting in & out with irregular intervals that tease and entice. Looking over to my right – a few feet away from my – ahem – feet are the bring-a-smile-to-my-heart newly planted Gerbera Daisies. They’re settling nicely into a fav Italian Lemon Tree clay pot with the tree stumps collected from our Family mountain property in CO and Breck** behind and beside this bit of joyful color.

TWL’s (my hubby) BBQ is filling the neighborhood with smells of soulful food. Our appetites continue to need quenching regardless of this virus that is eating away life as we know it – scattering collaterally damaged humans as its tally & proof of power over us as vulnerable.

Because Green Gunk*** Allergy Season is in full swing, I am struggling with fatigue and other allergy related malaise in the afternoon especially. A price I willingly pay for enjoying these few otherwise perfect days outside before the SC Spring/Summer (seasonal weather) ‘Storm’ and expansion of the COVID-19 ‘Storm’ continues to ravage this Earth and its peoples.

In conclusion, please enjoy “The Sound of a Pandemic” parody by Shirley Serban – shared and brought to my attention by bloggers Jennie and By Hook Or By Hook:

 *Apologies to our Southern neighbors, but we call it BBQ, not ‘grilling’.
**Breck = local term for Breckenridge, CO
***Green Gunk Season = my term for the SC seasonal thick coating of pine pollen that engulfs and smothers anything outside from mid-March to around mid-April

Pandemic Potpourri #1

“I don’t know about you guys, but I could do with getting lost in trivialities. Making small talk with strangers, while waiting for my coffee to be made, about inconsequential things. Nothing of importance that mean everything.”   Andy Murray

Thanks for the inspiration, Andy and welcome all to the first of my new series Pandemic Potpourri. Herein I will blog, and commenters can comment, without feeling guilty about seeming to disregard the seriousness of our present COVID-19 Reality.
In other words, this space is reserved for escaping Reality – however that translates. Anything goes, so here goes!

Sign newly planted in the grass across the street from where we live:

Margarita's Curbside SignI’ve been dying to do some baking lately – and took advantage of a straggling cooler day to bake up a batch of my “Laura’s Lovelies” *.  I really wanted to share these with the neighbors, but honestly, if anyone gave us something homemade, would I trust their level of COVID Cleanliness enough to eat them? So, hubby and I ate some of them ate too many of them before I froze the remainder of the batch in packets of 3…guess who gets the second helping?

Cookies and Clorox

Cookies and CloroxOn our side of the street (across from that Margarita Curbside Sign) there is a fresh produce stand that also sells Christmas trees starting November 10th each year and then bedding plants starting the end of March. Their new stock of Gerbera Daisies caught my eye and I just couldn’t resist…

Gerbera Daisies newly planted on our front porch:Gerbera Daisies on Front Porch

Wishing all of us a great weekend!

 *Thusly named by Amy-next-door, during a ‘circle’ block party in the old neighborhood ~ Lafayette, CO circa 1988

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