In almost every shop I've gone into during the past few months I kept seeing these cute little boxes. Eventually I decided to break down and purchase one. Because I was in one place for more than a week during our travels, and could set up to quilt, I used the S&S for my scissors and such. Being able to find all my small tools without things rolling away or shuffling under bits of fabric was very helpful.
Le Needle Bird
(This adorable little needle threader is SO useful, especially for my aging eyes.
The little 'beak' is covered in a hinged plastic which lifts back as pictured in more detail below.) The pointy nose under the cover is a small flat piece of metal with a little notch/hook in it. The bit of metal is tiny, but much stronger than the typical wire that is used in threaders. It even has a built in thread cutter in the back of its' neck!
Most threaders I've used have been super thin wires attached to "something" tiny. These wires are easily distorted and the whole thing so flimsy that I usually only get a few uses before I've ruined the thing.
In the past I've also purchased a very expensive little gizmo that was fiddly and complicated. How disappointing to remove that product from the package only to find it wouldn't work on quilting thread unless the needle was much bigger than I actually used. My experience with le needle bird was much more successful.
Five positive things then in this product's favour.
First: The bright colour (several bright colours are available.) and thicker size make this easier to keep up with. It's small enough to be easily stored, but not so tiny to be easily lost amongst other sewing gear.
Second: The flat metal 'nose' is way more durable than the traditional wire, but especially useful - even with quite small needle eyes. The whole point is being able to poke a thread through the eye of a needle, without the complication of 'missing' and having wires bend all over the place. Having a protective cover adds to the durability of this threader.
Third: The retail price is completely reasonable.
Fourth: The threader is easy to use. No complicated instructions. When using the wire version the threader is almost as thin as the thread and hard to see, the thin metal piece is easier to see,. This makes it easier for those of us with old eyes to use.
Fifth: the tool has three bonus conveniences which were un-necessary to its operation - but make this even more useful. One- an ergonomic design makes it easy to hold without slipping, there is a great thread cutter built in and there is also a tiny hole in the wing which I intend to thread onto a little cord and thereby attach this threader to my pincushion, making sure it is alway accessible and easily found!
Whilst traveling around the USA I've been finding some amazing products in various quilt stores. After playing with a few, it occurred to me that it might be fun to share these with YOU!
The first product I'd like to review is a rehash of something I've used and loved for years. The previous incarnation was called 'Thread heaven' and came in a tiny blue box. Production of that version has been discontinued. I was horrified to think that the quilt world had lost such a great tool.
This version is called Thread Magic and as far as I can tell is identical.
Silicon-based thread conditioner is something I continuously use when doing any hand quilting or needle turn appliqué.
The soft silicon coats and smoothes threads, helping to make them last longer and keeps them from tangling. Especially useful on the thin threads that easily fray. This new version of this conditioner contains more product, and also has a re-designed package that makes application to a thread easier.
Little slits in the top edge of the container make it possible to drag a thread through the silicon gum or gel without removing the product from the container.
In the past I would pull out little balls of the gummy stuff which would then get misplace or end up mushed into the carpet. This new container addresses the deployment of the product. So glad to find that Thread Heaven hasn't gone forever and instead is now available 'new and improved'.
Old sayings of my parents have haunted me this past week as I struggle to get through all my remaining UFOs;. "My eyes are bigger than my head" and that I have "Bitten off more than I can chew" seem to be easily applied to a few of these projects.
I have friends who finish each quilt before starting a new one. I admire their attitude and their resolve, but absolutely cannot do what they do. Thankfully there is no necessity for everyone to manage their quilting in the same way!
Some of my projects have taken years because I lost heart and shuffled them to the bottom of a pile, like the little school house quilt on my previous post. Other quilts take years because I'm not content to work on one project without intermission especially when a project takes hundreds of hours to accomplish. Yes, hundreds. Like some everlasting gobstopper quilt type project.
Currently I have two of these "more than I can chew" quilts on the go. Every day I try to put in SOME time on each. Most days I can only nibble way, not really take a serious bite out of them, progress seems painfully slow.
One other legacy my parents left me was a saying that often runs through my head while working on these gobstopper quilts..."You can eat an elephant one bite at a time." Eventually these projects will be done, just like some massive meal, just not in one sitting.
** disclaimer: No elephants were harmed in the production of this blog**
Several old UFOs were finished last week, entitling this quilter to some PLAY time! (Not to imply I have no UFOs left, but hey, my creative muse was stirring.)
During the Christchurch symposium the merchant's mall provided inspiration with some amazing ways of coloring fabrics.
My Gelatos (a Faber Castell product) were purchased from Kerry of Tulis Textiles. These little beauties have proven to be incredible and WAY too fun!
After playing and trying all sorts of crazy manipulations, a new class is being born. I'm thinking about naming the class 'Weak at the Knees' because the potential in these easy-to-apply colors is breathtaking. Several patterns to go along with the class have been designed and can't wait to lure some unsuspecting friends to 'try' these new and VERY satisfying creations.
The other class has come about to solve the age-old question of what to do with leftover batting - (once the table runner, placemat, coaster ideas have lost their charm) It's all well and good to use the fluffy stuff in soft furnishing or plush toys, but my new playtime has found a way to put them to a more interesting use! This textural technique is addicting, and I'm finding myself stealing a few minutes here and there to add a few stitches.
Happy holidays everyone! Enjoy ringing out the old year with new inspirations.
Long ago and far away I started a quilt. An older lady taught me a short-cut to all that fabric cutting (back in the day we used scissors). She showed me that you could just easily snip the fabric and tear the necessary strips off.
Seriously. In my naiveté I tried to make a school-house/Irish chain quilt with lots of diagonals and such, but all the original straight pieces were torn. Years later I cringed when opening the box.
All those lovely stretched and warped pieces did not sew together easily and when it came to the school-house blocks things quickly went to custard. Like any good quilter, I had put it in my too-hard-for-now basket and buried it in my fabric stash only to refuse to throw it out during each move, then re-discover it again when we shifted this time.
With each move I had re-discovered several items that eventually got donated to a charity shop...but I still loved the fabrics chosen for that school-house quilt and could never bring myself to toss it. I still loved the pattern. Question was, did I want to invest time and energy into making such a quilt?
The pattern was not technically difficult, there were not interesting twists to make it more artistic. It would not feed my creative heart. Worse yet - it would require re-cutting, fixing and generally re-making most of what had already been finished. There was no actual purpose to the quilt. No-one waiting for it, no bed expecting it, no deadline. Do I, or do I not?
Through the years these decisions have become more about my goals. Many ideas are rejected because of practical considerations. Time needs to be invested not just spent. Everything I create should serve some a purpose. Etc etc.
But when it came down to a final decision, to toss this or keep it.. my general love of quilts and quilting surged. I decide that sometimes, a quilt with no actual home, no purpose, no benefit to some greater ideal could still be finished. Just for the love of quilting. Besides, someone in my family will claim it...
Well the Christchurch Symposium 2017 has come and gone, and what a great time it was catching up with old friends and meeting some new ones. My class attendees were enthusiastic, really determined to learn. We certainly stayed busy! Beautiful quilts were displayed in town including our Best in Show quilt by Donna Ward! What a fantastic piece. To see more winners click below.
The national Symposiums of New Zealand are run by hard working volunteers who offer up the best part of two years to ensure this amazing quilters gathering continues. Auckland has put their hand up to run this show in 2019 so start saving up and plan to join us. Thank you Auckland Quilt Guild for taking this huge task on!
Meet the cast
So November has gone and the primary remembrance will truly be of the devastating, coast-changing, earthquake that rocked both islands here in New Zealand.
This shake happened on the 14th. For our Island nation, the disruption of commerce and heartbreaking loss of even a few lives was terrible.
The main artery of the South Island- State Highway 1 - had land slips over it for miles, massive cracks, blocked tunnels and the rail service was demolished. A sad day for NZ.
One thing that is facinating though is the resiliant can-do attitude of those who have jumped back in and started to clear and re-build! Wow, people have rallied, determined to fix things and get things going again. Communities getting together to lend a helping hand is an encouraging thing.
My own private quake in November happened only 3 days before. Skating on slippery socks inside a closet full of fabric would probably have made for a hilarious video, but the rough landing has given me a rare oportunity:
That opportunity? A chance to have a re-contructed wrist with protruding metal (currently tucked away inside a cast.) I tell people I'm going to become the bionic quilter!
The doctors were a bit surprised by the gaily decorated plaster, but as I explained...I'm a QUILTER, can you expect me to wear a plain white cast?Admittedly the fabric was only glued on, but cutting one handed, (with some assistance by toes) was tricky!
It finally occured to me a month later, that this one-handed time could be used to blog and catch up on posting all those class photos I'm behind on. Let's see where the next weeks take us!
Encompassing Stars- (two day class) -Blenheim 2016
'Whew! Sew Marlborough', our 2016 Quilt Mini-Symposium is past. What an amazing time it was! The Blenheim quilt club and committee did a splendid job organising and running this four day event. Long hours put in by many volunteers were required to bring this off. For this we are grateful, thank you ladies!
Over 230 quilters converged for classes, exhibitions, shopping at the merchant's mall, catching up with old friends and making new ones.
During our evening social, corny puns and canned music gave us a chuckle. Hostesses Clare and Venice wore their 'grape' costumes with distinction. Classes had time for a quick show-and-tell, liberal raffles were distributed.
For special entertainment we were treated to the 'Iron-woman' (aka 'Iron-person') event pitting green and purple teams in heart-stopping competitions like...ripping out seams and ironing triangles. The contestants showed off their skill, occasionally helped (or hampered) by Venice. *photo below*
For me - this visit to Blenheim was especially lovely. The Blenheim quilt club supported my fledgling quilting/tutoring efforts for many years and also taught what long-term friendships could grow alongside fabric constructions.
Another bonus was seeing quilt companions from all over the country. A more encouraging and enabling group of quilters would be hard to find.
The quilt classes were held at the Marlborough Girl's college campus, where we were very happy to have well appointed rooms and fortunately - great weather!
My classes were STARS in more ways than one. The students ranged from novices to those who teach, with everyone achieving the top of their abilities. WOW.
It is always a treasure to any teacher to watch her(his) students take an idea and personalise it successfully. The quilters who attended my classes showed a high level of ingenuity in their designs. Their (beautiful) hard work was gratifying to this teacher!
Now the clock that runs between symposiums starts once more. In Christchurch, 5-10 October 2017 we're due to do it all again in an even bigger way at our National Quilt Symposium called 'Creative Constructions'.
International and NZ tutors will be bringing a great range of classes for every skill level. A link will be on my home page if you want to peruse the website for information on this show.
Shaper Stars - (one day class) - Blenheim 2017
The seam ripping trials....
While teaching, one question I'm often asked is, "How many hours a day do you spend quilting?"
The answer is complicated. For some reason the question always seems to mean that the 'act' of actually 'cutting and sewing' is all there is.
When a design has been rolling around in someone's head for weeks, does that time count? Is this not part of the quilting process?
When attempting to answer this question how can one disengage the process from the product? Where does production start and the processing stop?
Those invisible firing of little designing brain waves build into the very visible quilting Tsunami that overtakes the world and leaves my family with un-ironed clothes and substandard food.
Consummating a design can be breath-taking. Food, sleep, time all become irrelevant. The perfect storm never happens from a tiny breeze, or an insipid cloud. It requires accumulated power and energy. It can be beautiful and devastating at the same time.
Occasionally the storm leaves nothing behind but lessons learned. Sometimes a treasure is cast up and celebrated. No matter the outcome there is a 'rush' of being in the zone, and putting all that thought into something tangible.
Do daydreams, testing of products and techniques, researching, staring intently at some natural beauty count towards my final quilting time tally?
I may not be able to tell anyone how many hours I spend on my craft, but I can forecast: "cloudy with a chance of quilting".
Letting you into the inner sanctum of a quilter's thoughts and activities.