Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tension Troubles

My mother-in-law came through surgery OK, and now they just have to figure out what to do next. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and positive thoughts. It certainly made ME feel better!

But still, I've been tense this week. I've been chewing up the inside of my mouth. My shoulders are sore from being held so stiffly. I'm not getting enough sleep, and not sleeping very well when I do.

I really want to get this quilt done so I can send it up to her. So after karate and dinner last night, I went down to the sewing room to see what I could do about quilting it. First, I started with some straight lines - BORING! I couldn't make myself do more than 2 lines, which I will be taking out. Time to put on my big girl pants (borrowing from Em) and try Free Motion Quilting. A meander can't be that hard, right? I thought I'd practice on one of my hot pads that I had made this spring, the one I messed up on and left the space between the O and the T, the one I am definitely keeping for myself anyway:

OK, not too bad, I can do this. Of course, the hot pad is only about 8" square...

I got started on the Chicken Soup Quilt and the thread kept breaking. I rethreaded 3 times before I pulled the quilt out and looked at the back. Not only was the thread breaking, but the back had ridiculous loops. Obviously my tension was wrong. Maybe I should read my notes from when I tried free motion quilting once before. Why don't I ever read the instructions FIRST?? I had in my notes what tension works for me, what stitch length, etc. I made the adjustments and switched to new thread (why not? maybe it was the wrong thread and THAT is why it kept breaking), and started again in another place.

It isn't perfect.

The shapes are funny looking and in some places, much more angular than smooth, sometimes crossing over other lines of stitching even though I was trying hard to avoid that.

I am finding it very difficult to maintain the same speed throughout so that I can have the same stitch length throughout.

But I'm doing it!

Unfortunately, I have a bunch of stitching to pull out from the first thread...UGH!

You know, I'm also tense because of the book I'm reading. Someone from work read my blog and offered me her copy of THE HELP so I wouldn't have to wait for the library copies to come available. I'm really enjoying the story, but it is also making me tense. I just KNOW something terrible is going to happen. Despite my knowledge of segregation and discrimination in the US, reading about it still exasperates and angers me. But it is a good story, so I keep reading.

You know what DIDN'T stress me out? On Monday evening, I watched the 1985 version of Anne of Green Gables, all 3.25 hours worth. No wonder it was on TV as a miniseries when I was a kid - it is LONG! But so good! I never even considered not watching the whole thing from start to finish. (I spent the whole time wondering, though, who cast Megan Follows as Anne? She's perfect for the role in temperment, but in the book, Anne is supposedly not pretty, and in my eyes, Megan Follows is gorgeous!) And while watching, I was transported to that magical place (in my mind), Prince Edward Island, and felt myself relaxing. I finished my June Birdie BOM (leaving me just August and September left to do at this point, which I will take on my first work trip this weekend):

and I made some more progress hand quilting my Pick and Choose Quilt. Will I EVER finish that quilt? I am starting to wonder...


Becky said...

Erin....don't be tense about The Help. I know what you mean....segregation is just so ugly and I just can't believe humans could/can treat other humans so ghastly!!! But, compared to other books I have read, this one doesn't end too horrifically. Just relax and roll with it. Let me know your thoughts once you complete it. Your other mother will absolutely love the quilt.....she will see only loving stitches when she cuddles in it!

Hang in there!
Love you!Becky

quiltfool said...

Glad to hear about your MIL. Hope the next part is easy for her. Those angular spots in the quilting are skipped stitches. Try tightening up your bobbin tension. I use Magic Genie bobbin washers (2 at a time) in my bobbin case and it has almost eliminated that. The top tension will have to be tighter to match the bobbin. Good luck. It took me as long to learn to set up the machine as to do the quilting. Lane

Cathi said...

Some day I'm going to get brave and try some free motion quilting -- some day. It seems so difficult to me.
Love the idea of the arrows pointing the way out. Fabulous -- and I hope those arrows are followed!

jan said...

Well good for you for having a go. It will all 'drop into place' one day. Can I suggest a little exercise for you to do. Free machine your name over and over again, ignore the dot on the i for now. Your name is the most familiar thing to you and if you practice doing that, you have curves and straight lines to give you the idea. You will relax doing ti as you know your name so well.
Glad to hear your MIL is improved. Take care. Jan across the pond

Char said...

I'm not the best at FMQ either but practice really helps. I know you have time constraints on this quilt but the more you do the better it gets.
Also each machine is different but I try to use the same weight thread in the top and the bobbin.
Glad to her your MIL surgery went well. You are all in my prayers.

Rachel said...

Keep working on the free motion quilting. You'll get it! Sometimes it helps to put on some smooth music, maybe classical, to get you in the rhythm. Glad to hear your m-in-l pulled through the surgery!

And, yes, PEI certainly is a magical place. My husband was born and raised there and we owned a summer home on the Island until a couple of years ago. I was heartbroken when we sold it and haven't been "home" since.

quiltzyx said...

I think your meandering looks good from here...!!! How about, instead of "meandering", and worrying about if the shapes are curvy or angular or touching or crossing other lines...let's call it FREE motion quilting. Be free and easy & and remember it's your own "personal private motions"!
For those tense shoulders, maybe stick a SalonPas little patch on? They work for me when I get knots in my shoulders - like magic!
(((((((hugs to you!)))))))

Julie Fukuda said...

Erin, I continue to hold your MIL and whole family in my prayers. I can understand the built up tension as that would be the way I react. I admire you for your grit and determination where I would have given up long ago. I also love the comments and advice given by your loyal fans. If the world were ruled by quilters ... just imagine...

Shay said...

Im so glad to read your MIL's surgery went well. Hopefully she;s recovering from that and the prognosis for her complete recovery will be good. She sounds like an amazing woman.

I know what you mean about The Help. I read it this year and kept expecting the worst and was therefore tense for about 3/4 of the book.

Nice FM quilting there. Practice is apparently the best way to get those stitches looking all even and pretty (or so they tell me - I still haven't mastered it !)

Riel Nason said...

Erin, I remember watching that miniseries as a kid. I loved, loved it. Anne of Green Gables is such a special story. I have read all LM Montgomery's books, she is one of my favourite authors.

Keep going with the free motion. I practice with my free motion foot and I hear you about the uneven speed and stitch length. I go so slow it is ridiculous. I do wear gloves though which helps.