27 August 2013

Quilt Sticks. A Happy Tool For Cutting Fabric.

Quilt sticks are two feet long are available in near
endless widths as well as custom made sizes!
I am a gadget girl. I always have been and will probably always be one. I think it comes from my father who had to try each new thing that came along too.  

Quilt Sticks are rotary cutting tools that are designed to provide you with accurately cut strips every time. For me, using a Quilt Stick makes cutting strips faster and more accurate than using a regular ruler for cutting. Sometimes I have issues with regular rulers. My aging eyes can't always be quite certain that I am lined up precisely on the mark, and sometimes the ruler moves off the straight and narrow just a bit as I cut my strips (even when I use one of those suction cup handles). You know how it goes though, when you are 'just a bit' off and then add another strip that is also "just a bit' off, you end up with more than 'just a bit' off by then end of your project! I use many thin strips and being a little bit off on those can really impact the end result!

I was delighted, and grateful when Quilt Sticks offered to send my their Quilt Sticks to try out! Quilt Sticks are very cool tools that work perfectly in the real world of quilting and fabric cutting. They are simple in design, well made, modestly priced and work perfectly!

My favorite thing about these tools, aside from the very accurate cutting through multiple layers of fabric, is that they do not move or shift as you cut. The backing surface is totally non-slip in a secure way that I have not found in a ruler product before. In the past I have tried sand paper pieces, the non-slip clear backing material and anything else that I though might hinder slipping and sliding. Quilt Sticks stay put providing a higher degree of accuracy.
This image shows the right side of the Quilt Stick (on top)
as well as the back , non-slip material (on the bottom).
Quilt Sticks come  24" inch lengths, and they are available in an infinite number of widths from 1 inch to 8 inches. You can also order a custom made size. The average price for Quilt Sticks up to 4 7/8 inches are only $8.00.  Five inch widths are $9.00, and widths from 5 1/8 to 8 inches are a modest $10.00 each. These quality tools will last a lifetime I think, so once you buy one it will last you! 

You can contact Quilt Sticks by clicking on the link in this post or by going to their website at http://quiltsticks.com, emailing them at info@quiltsticks.com or by calling them at 612-916-1171.

As with my book reviews I generally review only those products that I really like so it is unlikely that you will find me reviewing things that are not good buys or that don't do what they are designed to do very well. My reviewing philosophy is that if I don't have something good to say about a product then it is probably better to not say anything at all. 

I think that Quilt Sticks are a simple, well designed solution that provides excellent accuracy for rotary cutting strips. I'll be adding some more to my design table.... or if you hang your rulers Quilt Sticks have a ready made hole for hanging them! These are good tools! 

16 August 2013

The County Fair

This lovely ram looked like such a wise old goat!
Our 2013 County Fair is now in progress. My friend, Lauren, and I went and a few things really caught me eye. We seem to follow the same pattern every year. The animals are our favorites. I have a thing for goats , and always come close to nabbing a pygmy goat to bring home. Then I stop and consider that were I to bring a goat home, it is likely that DH and I would love it so much that it would have to become a pet. Tillie would freak out, and the house would be a total mess. Bad idea, but I do love goats!

This little cutie caught my eye, but when he stood up to try to eat our 'just purchased' baskets, we noticed that he/she seemed to have what looked like a broken leg! Whether broken or not it was swollen and he/she was avoiding putting weight on it. We pointed it out to someone and I hope that the leg was looked at quickly
I also have a yen for ducks and who could resist these little quackers with their mom. 
A yearly ritual. Buying baskets from a vendor who has come to the fair for all of the years that I can remember. He is, I believe, from Ghana ,and he goes there to purchase the baskets that he sells. I bought one large and one colorful mini. Lauren also got her own yearly  duo.

This is a ride that I had never seen before and, even at my age, it looked like fun. 
Here you see the little girl on the left is "being inflated" in her bubble. The child stands up, and the bubble is inflated around them. It is then zipped up and the bubble is rolled into the huge pool. You can see someone on the left trying to stand up in the bubble which seems to have been the thing that they all tried to do, but none quite made it. It sounded like they were all having a lot of fun.

If I was younger and my back was in better shape I could see the possibility that I might have embarrassed myself by trying it out! I thought that until my next thought was about how the inside of those bubbles were most likely not well disinfected. Later that evening when I showed these ride photos to DH he wryly commented " ...I bet that they are even disinfected once a year".... hummmmm.... I really must cease my germ-o-phobic thoughts!

There has been rain for the Fair this year, but I think that today and tomorrow will be much more clear and I bet the crowds will be large! 

I entered two shawls in the Textile Arts division, and I received two blue ribbons. I honestly had not expected blues. Our Judge is very good and relatively strict,  and so , coming from her, the blues mean something. I'm quite pleased! Next year I hope to have a quilt ready to enter along with some more knits.

10 August 2013

You Know You Are Retired When

A sad pin cushion before cleaning
Although it may sound very dubious, one of the great pleasures of being retired has been being able to clean, sift, sort, toss and re-order my 'stuff'. When I working I simply did have the time or energy to really look too deeply, or care too much, about at what needed to be cleaned and tidied. One thing that I never thought I would ever care about cleaning is my pin cushions! Just how bizarre is that?!  I use them all of the time of course, but they had become ugly and dirty with age. All of the of the pins and needles had become smooshed into them so deeply that I had no idea what size pins or needles were available, and it took some time to dig them all out!

These images of this one pin cushion tell the tale of neglect. I removed all of the pins and needles from the pin cushions and cleaned the cushions themselves and then replaced the pins and needles; actually, neurotically, sorted by color and size! Can you believe the difference in this one?! I was amazed that I actually saved this lovely cushion and can still use and enjoy it!

The same, much happier pin cushion after cleaning and sorting.
In case you wonder as you look at these pictures what the little square of cloth is, I have always used a small piece of fabric to hold sewing needles and my shortie hand applique pins. I always know where to find these items on the cushion. Yes, I know another OCD trait!

Aside from cleaning my pin cushions, last week I divested myself of nine extra large boxes of books. All going to benefit our amazing library though book sale fund raisers. I checked the price on some of them, but I found that the ones that might be worth something were ones that I kept just because I use them regularly. I had years of assorted, accumulated magazines to sort through as well. I had to get over the "what if I ever want a pattern..." syndrome and I did a wholesale toss. These too are happily recycled into bins near one of our local hardware stores for the benefit of any and all who might find them appealing or interesting. Wow! What a great feeling! I am starting on my clothes now, and have two bags filled and many more to go. Oddly enough I find all of this tossing to be oddly liberating. I like it !
all clean and in order
A row of orderly pin cushions.
My favorite pastime in the morning is to sit on the deck and read a good book as I sip my coffee and watch my avian friends and their antics. What an amazing thing to be able to do. How grateful I am for these glorious late mornings! I feel so better now that I can get more rest. I may never be the multi-tasker that I used to be again, but doing less is really helping me to be more. 

Here are some photographs from my delightful, relaxing mornings.

A juvenile woodpecker (don't you just love his red patches?!)  peers at the suet somewhat quizzically.
He got it pretty well figured out! I love these birds!
About to take off!
Well, maybe a rest instead.
Precipitous perch - anything to get that seed out!
The little juvenile again figuring out how to attack that suet cake. Contortionist woodpecker!
Even when he stops for a drink he seems to be practicing yoga to get to the water!