Sunday, June 14, 2015

Celebrating a National Holiday (warning- photo heavy)

A National Holiday you say...well maybe you've never heard of it, but yesterday was National Sewing Machine Day! I didn't even know about it until I read it on the Aurifil Facebook page in the morning.

If you happened to miss it don't fret because apparently it is celebrated TWICE in the year. 

Date When Celebrated : June 13th and September 10th

I'm not sure exactly why but it may have something to do with the fact that there seems to be a difference of opinion as to when the sewing machine was actually invented. on one website here is what I read...

Sewing Machine Day celebrates a very important invention ----- the sewing machine. The first sewing machines were made in France in the 1830s. It wasn't until 1846, that they were patented in the U.S.

On another website I read this...

Skilled cabinet-maker and English inventor, Thomas Saint, received the first patent for a design of a sewing machine in 1790.  It was meant for leather and canvas, was never advertised and no evidence of it, other than his drawings, could be found.   In 1874, William Newton Wilson found Saint’s drawings in the London Patent Office, made adjustments and built a working model.  This model is currently owned by the London Science Museum.

    • Walter Hunt invented the first American lockstitch sewing machine in 1832.
    • John Greenough patented the first sewing machine in the United States in 1842.
    Accounts say that Thomas Saint received a patent for his invention on September 10, 1790 but as for June 13th, it is not known why this is a second date for the holiday.

    Enough of the history, and a little of the day...yes I did some sewing yesterday, in the morning and then spent the rest of my time cutting scraps into 2.5" squares and strips or 5" charm squares in an effort to organize my sewing space. 
    I have 6 sewing machines in my little space and I keep threatening to get rid of some of them, but when push comes to shove I just can't bring myself to do it. Each one has it's own redeeming feature even if it is only the fact that it looks good or was owned and used by a previous family member.

    Would you like to meet my "family " of machines?

    Well you all know Ruby...she is my current work horse.

    Before Ruby came to live at my house I had my QC6260
    I was never able to come up with a name to suit her and now she sits on the sidelines nameless but faithful; waiting to be called up when needed.

    If you can think of a good name for her I am open to suggestions. I have entertained the idea of Jenna or Jenny (she is a Janome after all)

    My serger that I have had for 4 years and just learned to thread this week! Shame on me!

    A VERY old Eatonia sewing machine that belonged to my husbands parents. It is all seized up and doesn't run and I keep threatening to toss it, but I cave at the last minute.

    An Elna Supermatic circa 1952.
    This is a copy of one given to me by my Grandmother. The original was weaselled out of me by a sleazy sewing machine salesman who knew the worth of the machine when I did not. I traded a good, top of the line  machine for a bottom end Omega because I had a broken bobbin casing...I have since educated myself!

    An antique machine I bought almost 40 years ago and have also threatened to get rid of, but darn it! How can I? it is just so pretty...and it sews well!
    Just look at the detail on this machine...

    Singer Treadle circa 1887
    That's 128 years old people! How many things made 128 years ago look this good and still function?
    See why I can't get rid of it!

    So there you have it...these are the machines that live at my house and held me celebrate National Sewing Machine Day, but it gets better folks! Yesterday my sister was at a yard sale almost 3000 miles away from me and she sent me a text and photo and said, "hey Sis, are you interested this?

    Umm let me think...YES!! Is the Pope Catholic?
    Of course I am interested! 
    This machine my good friends is what is called an Elna Grasshopper. It has all it's parts and accessories including case. It is Elna's answer to the Singer Featherweight. I had never heard of it and after doing a bit of research this is what I found out.

    The color and the styling resembled an insect. Thus, the first sewing machine made by Elna became known as the Grasshopper.
    The Elna Grasshopper was in production from 1940 until 1952, and was one of the best selling sewing machines of the time.
    It was the first mass produced portable free arm sewing machine, and gave the Singer Featherweight a run for its money.
    The Grasshopper was invented by a Spanish Civil War refugee named Ramon Casas, and mass produced in Geneva, Switzerland by the firm, Tavaro S. A.
    While the Grasshopper was not released for public distribution until 1940, it has actually been around since 1936. At the time, Europe was embroiled in World War II, and Tavaro was involved in manufacturing munitions.
    However, due to the Swiss policy of neutrality, the war related product line was eliminated. With the factory quiet, Tavaro shifted to making sewing machines and the world was introduced to the Elna Grasshopper.
    The Grasshopper’s efficient and functional metal carrying case was ideal for wartime.
    Whenever bombs were dropping, bullets whizzing through the streets and soldiers were marching through small towns, the Elna sewing machine was easy to pack up and compact, making it possible for refugees escaping the horrors of war to carry it as they fled to safe havens on trains and buses.

    At A Glance

    When you first see the case, you aren’t sure what’s inside. Then after opening it up you are first struck by how cute the whole thing is… a little green sewing machine tucked inside with a metal accessories box, operating manuals [this one had two] and an electrical cord.
    Elna Grasshopper, first sewing machine by elna
    Elna Grasshopper, first sewing machine by elna
    The machine itself looks kind of funny. There’s this metal thing hanging from it. At first glance, we weren’t sure if it was a hanging rod or some weird attachment.
    Upon further inspection, we realized it was a knee controlled replacement for the traditional foot pedal.
    Elna Grasshopper at a glance
    Elna Grasshopper at a glance
    The next thing that caught our attention was the fact that the fly wheel is at the bottom of the machine, not the top.
    At least it’s still on the right hand side. The motor is located directly behind the fly wheel. It really looks a little funny, but very innovative for when it was made.
    The power switch is located on the very top of the machine. The light housed above the needle, giving the user the best possible illumination while sewing, a definite improvement over the Featherweight.


    This odd looking all metal portable sewing machine is equipped with the following standard features:
    • Straight stitch only
    • Knee lift
    • Two owner’s manuals
    • Carrying case doubles as work table
    • Free arm

    Working on the Elna Grasshopper

    The carrying case is functional in more ways than just providing a neat means of transport for the Grasshopper. It converts into a sewing table.
    Carrying case converted in to a sewing table
    Carrying case converted in to a sewing table
    I’m not sure how many other portable sewing machine carrying cases have as many unique features, but this one has certainly got to be at or near the top of the list.
    Unpacking the case is reminiscent of opening one of those surprise gift boxes. As we opened it up, we found not one but two owner’s manuals, the accessories box, an electrical cord … of course the sewing machine itself… and once it’s empty, it lies flat to form a sewing table.
    I am making a trip to Saskatchewan in 2 and 1/2 months to visit family and this baby is coming home to live with me! 
    Oh and I forgot to tell see the sticker with the price of $50.00 on it in the first picture...that is not what I paid. I purchased this little gem for $30.00! 
    Thanks Barb! I owe you one!

    Now that's how I celebrated national Sewing Machine Day!
    What did you do?

    Wednesday, April 8, 2015

    Long Drive today

    We were on the road before 6:30am.and only stopped at 6:00 p.m. We did however cross a time zone losing an hour so it made it seem longer than it really was. The Holiday Inn Express in Erie, PA is where we call home for tonight. I am still wearing sandals but not for much longer I fear.

    We are crossing over into Canada tomorrow and keep your fingers crossed for us. I really hope we get a friendly cooperative crossing guard because having to unpack our vehicle at Customs will not be a pretty site!
    I finished two quilts today on our drive...I had sewed the bindings on but both of them needed to be hand stitched. Spending almost 11 hours in the car was just what I needed to get the job done.
    This brings my total to 4 finished quilts while away. Of course I did several other projects too but,  I can brag talk about that later.

    My first finish was Harvey...a large Schnibble pattern by Carrie Nelson. When I saw this pattern there was no doubt in my mind that I would be doing it because Harvey was my maiden name.

    Of course you already know that my sister Barb and I did this together. Here is hers...

    Although made from the same pattern they are as different as we are.
    I had several other finishes in between but the next quilt finish for me another Carrie Nelson pattern called Quadrille

    In progress, and then....

    I even used leftovers to piece the back.

    Finish #3 was a kit I brought from home; actually #1 & #2 also came with me from home.

    This one is a brushed cotton and flannel snowball quilt from a kit I had purchased in my travels a couple years ago. 

    Warm and cozy, just the way a quilt should be!

    Finish #4 was a kit I purchased this winter in Mesa. It is called Flower Stalls. I saw it when Mr O brought me to a quilt shop on my birthday, and I didnt buy it, but the next time I went back to the shop I eyed it up again and said, "no, I don't need it", but the third time I went back, I just knew I wanted it, so it came home with me that day and it really was a breeze to do up. The fabrics were so different and colourful and really not what I would normally make but I found it so cheerful that I just couldn't resist.

    Because I have not blogged in so long there is just so much to tell/show you but hey I'll just throw a little in every now. I will leave you with a photo of a small purchase I made at the last quilt show I went to just a couple days before leaving. I had started packing and knew there was not much room but I figured if there was room for me, there would be room for it.

    Time for bed, another big travel day tomorrow. Another handwork project waiting for me...

    From Mesa to Metropolis

    No I am not talking about Superman's Metropolis. The Metropolis I mean is across the river from Paducah Kentucky. 
    Paducah just happens to be the home of the National Quilt Museum and a huge Quilt Convention every April. I am a couple weeks too early for the convention but I did have a couple hours to spend at the museum. WHAT A TREAT!

    On entering the lobby I met a very friendly woman at the desk and I liked her instantly...and no it was not just because she couldn't believe I qualified for a senior discount! Well Okay maybe that had a little to do with it. <grin>
    I gave her some i.d. And paid my admission. She told me to be sure and see the wooden quilt in the conference room before leaving, so while waiting for my tour guide I thought I would go see the wooden quilt. I went in the room and took notice of several stained glass windows in a quilt pattern, and one modern quilt on the opposite wall.

    No wooden quilts in that room so I moved on. Took a peek in the next room and glanced into the gift shop, and by then my guide had arrived, so I decided to look for the wooden quilt later. Unfortunately I was not allowed to take pics of any kind in the touching, no pictures...pure torture! I was so blown away by the workmanship. I especially wanted to see a quilt called Ms. McDonald's Farm because one of the ladies who worked on this collaborative project is a friend and fellow quilter in our little group in Mesa, Arizona.

    (Photo courtesy of American Quilter

    This photo does not come close to doing this quilt justice, but believe me when I say it was a real feast for the eyes! Well done Mary Fran and friends!
    There was a nine patch display. Quilts from the 1800's to 2014.  Truley inspirational!
    Check them out here
    The miniature quilt display was almost unbelievable. It was all I could do not to sneak a photo or two, but I behaved...honest.
    On my way out of the gallery my guide said don't forget to check the gift shop and the wooden quilt...ah yes...the wooden quilt. Off I went again in search of the wooden quilt. I had seen a wooden quilt last week, done with wooden blocks where you can play around and change the pattern as you wish so this was what I expected to see. Back into the conference room and i walked up to the quilt on the wall only to see that it was indeed made of wood! Standing 6" away from it, I still had a hard time to believe it was not fabric. Painted in flat paint gave it a fabric appearance and it had folds in it hanging over the display rod. Beside it was a cross section of a piece of a cast off. 


    A few small purchases ( museum pin, a charm, and a mug) from the shop and it was closing time. 
    There was a lot more that caught my eye but The car is a bit loaded down...

    It's hard to believe winter is over and we are on our way home. It has been a wonderful return trip so far. Hamilton, Missouri with a big stop at Missouri Star Quilt Company, hitting some amazing quilt shops, taking a break at Big Cedar Lodge outside of Branson Missouri.
    I am still wearing sandals but I am told that that might change by the time I reach New Brunswick...we'll see....

    Monday, January 12, 2015

    Tisket a Tasket

    Friday was a sister day. Barb and I tackled our long awaited Harvey pattern. I'm happy to say that things went together very smoothly. Now don't get me wrong...we didn't get them finished. 
    By the time we made coffee and a toast and then Barb gave me my birthday gift and we chatted about things it was 10:30 before I even turned my machine on. Marking and sewing just under 100 hst's and then cutting and squaring them up took a good bit of time. After all the blocks were squared up I had a cute little pile of trimmings that looked like a perfect little bird's nest.

    I tossed a couple of bobbins onto the pile of trimmings and it was too cute not to photograph. We worked so hard and that worked up our appetites so then we had lunch. More sewing and by supper we had all the centre units done.

    I know that had we worked alone it would have gone faster but it would not been nearly as enjoyable, so I'm okay with the slower progress. Faster is not always better.

    Another few hours of work yielded these

    Barb used Zen Sphere and dark grey Kona cotton.

    Mine on the other hand was a mish mash of white and cream backgrounds with mostly low volume print. The background is a brown with a tiny black swirl. It doesn't photograph well at night but you get the idea. 
    The lower rows still need to be added to the upper and then the outer border pieced, but hopefully by the end of the week this baby will be ready for the long arm quilter. 
    I do hope to get some progress made tomorrow. 

    Yesterday my sister and I and a dear friend from home spent the morning yard saling. I made a few good purchases. Almost everything was quilt/sewing related.
    A glue gun for a little workshop we quilters are doing, making Lori Holts mini design boards.

    A bargain at just $1.00

    A huge roll of sewing elastic, 5 zippers, and just under 4 yards of cotton fabric for a total of  $5.25

    A cute "Quilty" looking tote for just $1.00

    And my big purchase

    A neutral queen sized quilt and shams in amazing condition. I have 2 at home already but need one more for the guest bedroom. Why did a quilter buy a quilt you ask? Well I like to use and display my quilts and not all of them are bed sized but I figure with a neutral quilt on the bed I can accent with my other quilts. 

    The best part of that purchase was that I talked the lady down to accepting my offer of $10.00
    A good bargain I think!
    I have been thoroughly enjoying my audio books and listened to a Marie Bostwick story today.

    It's late and I really would like to make some headway tomorrow on Harvey, so stay tuned, you just may see two very large basket quilts by weeks end.

    P.S. For those of you wondering, I have an appointment with a dentist in Mexico on Wednesday morning. Yay! My favourite way to spend the a dentist's office.

    "I've been to the dentist several times, so I know the drill."
    Author Unknown

    Friday, January 9, 2015

    Making Headway

    Today was our Park Guild day and  my aim today was to reassemble all the blocks I disassembled less than 24 hours ago. That however is easier said than done.  How easy it is to get lost in a job and and not really see what you are doing. I still shake my head at the mistake. My gran had a sign in her kitchen that I have thought of and repeated more than once and it has been bouncing around in my head the last couple days since realizing the mistake. 

    I am happy to report that of the 180 blocks needed there are only 44 left undone. The rows are pieced and just need to assembled.

    I also have a hand  project prepped and ready to embroider. The piecing that goes on top and bottom of the stitchery will be made from various red and white/cream scraps.

    It feels good to get back in the swing of things and guess what? Tomorrow is another quilting day! My sister and I have planned this day for quite some time and we will be working with the same pattern but totally different fabrics and colours. I am really stoked about this project and have all the prep work done. Everything is cut. All the charms are marked and ready for sewing into HST's and I hope to see big progress on this project by end of day.
    I may be one of the last people on the planet to hear of  this app but my grand daughter introduced me to a free app called OverDrive. It gives you access to thousands of ebooks AND audio books. You need to have a library card but that is something I have always had since a small girl.
    I am totally enjoying this app and in case you have not heard of it, you might like to check it out.

    OVERDRIVE.... Check it out.