Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Viking Megaquiter 18x8 troubles, not recoginzing handlebar controllers

Want to see what's going on with my quilting machine now?  Here's a video I made of the issues it's having.  It isn't recognizing the front controllers now.  When things work well, quilting is a great source of joy.  When they don't, I wonder why I picked this hobby.  Hopefully someone will watch this and figure out what the issue is and I can get back in business.  I have too many quilts to get finished.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

out of commission again

My quilting machine is acting up again.  I don't know what to do now.  The machine just won't respond to the buttons and moving it.  It races full speed ahead when I put it on manual mode, even if I don't move it and when I put it on auto, it makes such small stitches, like it doesn't know what to do.  Could the encoders have worn out that quickly?  Surely not.

I've had such a bad migraine today that I can't think straight.  I just wish there was someone who could fix it and I didn't have to think about it at all.  I have way too many quilts to do and don't have time for this.

29 days of school left and then summer vacation.  Maybe then I will have time to figure out what is going on.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Prom 2015

 Here we go again, Prom.  How can it be that another year has passed and my son is going off to another dance, another year olde?
 Soon, he will be headed off to college, all grown up.  Days pass too quickly now.
 Yesterday he was a little kid, much shorter than me and needing help to do everything.  Not so much anymore
 Here is the 'let's pose for the pretend I'm putting the flowers on you' picture, when really I don't know what I'm doing, picture.
 And then reality kicks in and my son's girlfriend's mom actually pins the flowers on for her.  I love the look on his face of , oh, mom, please don't take a picture of what really happens.  Can't we just pretend?
 They sure have grown up over the last 5 years.  And such a gorgeous couple.
 Two couples and three singles will be headed off for a night of fun together.  It was funny because the parents were all having a party to celebrate the kids going off to prom.  I guess I'm pretty anti-social because I just came over to take pictures and then get home as soon as possible to sit on the couch and post those pictures.  Maybe it was because I work with teenagers all day long, but I had no desire to hangout and talk about kids :)  They sure look good all dressed up though.

 And going off in style.  For my senior prom, we went in an old, beat up car that my date's friend drove.  I don't remember anyone renting a limo.  Who had that kind of money when we were kids?
But what else will you spend your money on?  College?  I guess that's what student loans are for!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

the large tumbler die

This is the largest tumbler die Accuquilt makes.  It is for the Studio cutter and is 9 1/2 inches.  It is great for novelty prints or when you need to make a quilt really fast.  Since I have so much donated fabric and we need to crank out quilts quickly, this die is perfect.  These tumbler dies get a lot of use, probably the most use of all the dies.  I have them all, the 3 1/2 inch, 4 1/2 inch, 6 1/2 inch and 9 1/2 inch and they are great for scrap busting.  In fact, I own two of the 3 1/2 inch dies because we have so many of the smaller scraps.  When we get the teenagers together, each one grabs a different die and the right size scraps and they go to town.  They can work through a whole lot of scraps in one afternoon.  This summer I have a feeling we will hold a bunch of scrap busting days.  Of course, then we have to have a whole bunch of sewing days to do something with all of the pieces the kids cut out.

still some of my favorite quilts

 These tumbler quilts are still some of my favorites.  My friend Nancy loves to sort them by color and does such a great job of cutting up the smallest scraps.  The little blocks that get pieces cut off the corners get sewn in as the side pieces since the sides are cut straight anyways.  This busy quilt will make a great 'I spy' quilt for a little kid as soon as the binding gets put on.
This yellow quilt has bunnies, lots of bunnies.  Who knew there were that many different bunny fabrics?  My friend Nancy did!  Everyone needs a friend like Nancy.

It sure is fun to be back to quilting again.

This has been a rough week migraine wise.  I'm on day 3.  Yesterday was really bad.  I woke up with one and then forgot to take my daily meds, which only made it worse.  Looks like it is time to get more botox.  It's been almost 3 months since the last round so it should be wearing off about now.

Monday, April 20, 2015

working hard

 In Between working, I'm working hard.  The machine is humming away and seems happy to be back to quilting.  I know I'm happy to be cranking out the quilts fast and furious again.  Too many needs to be met, that's for sure!
33 days of school left and 33000 things still to do before the last day of school.  My son graduates and has decided on UC Davis for next year.  He will be close enough to home, but far enough away to have some independence.  He will live in the dorms and filled out his housing application yesterday.  He can still keep his job at the train museum as long as it doesn't interfere with school and he can still mentor the elementary school kids in robotics.  He's pretty happy with his decision and I'm happy to have one kid close to home.  He may end up living at home after his first year in the dorms and finding out that it's pretty hard to study sometimes.  But dorm food is pretty good, so I may end up moving in to one of the empty rooms and become a dorm mom. :)  I could quit my day job and just yell at teenagers all day.  Oh, wait, that is my day job.  Nevermind.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Little dog saying quilts

 I love my embroidery machine.  While my quilting machine was broken, I got these embroidery designs and stitched out quite a few sayings onto some donated linen fabric from a friend's wedding tablecloth fabric that was leftover.  Then, yesterday I made these little tops and quilted them up after finishing up the quilt with the dog print quilting design on it.  I plan to donate them to a local rescue group so they can sell them to raise some money to help with food or vet bills.  They can be used as either wall hangings or little quilts for the dogs to sit on.
 I will give them to my friend at work who does a lot of the bindings for me and I'm sure she will get them finished pretty quickly.  She hasn't been doing many bindings lately since I haven't been quilting for the last 5 months.  Carla has been keeping steady at it.  She devotes the 3rd week of the month to Binky Quilts.  I hope my binding friends are ready to get back to work.  I'm starting to crank out the quilts again and will be putting them to work again.  Plus, summer is coming!
I have a whole bunch of these different embroidery designs.  Some I got for free and some I paid for.  I will have to look up where I ordered them from and where I downloaded them from.  I'm not very good at keeping track.  But, when I do figure it out, I will post it on the blog.

Another love of mine


So you know I love Jesus, my family, my dogs and quilting.  But, did you know I LOVE to crochet?

It's my portable craft project that I do most nights while watching TV with my husband.  I can't bring my embroidery machine or sewing machine into the bedroom and he doesn't like the dogs in the room either, but for some reason he hasn't complained when I have knitting needles or crochet hooks moving furiously next to him.  I guess because he hasn't jumped out of bed in the middle of the night and stepped on one just yet!  I had a friend who ended up in the emergency room after just such an event!  I learned from her mistake and put them up high when I'm finished with them.

But, lately I've been crocheting bits and pieces of donated yarn and leftover bits of that Dr. Who scarf into granny squares.  I usually make 7 inch squares (5 rounds) and then those get made into an afghan when I have enough.

Well, I had about 110 squares made when I got the bright idea to search online for a charity group that was collecting 7 inch squares.  Surely there was someone out there who would love to join these squares for me.  I love to crochet, but hate to sew the squares together and even more hate to sew all the tails in.  That has to be the worst part of the project for sure!

Well, sure enough, there was a group that made afghans for cancer patients, but they wanted 9 inch squares.  No problem!  I just need to add 2 rounds to each of these 110 squares I have.  That can't take very long now can it? :)

So, I'm starting a second box and when I'm done with these, there should be several afghans worth of squares ready to go.  It takes 24 squares to make an afghan.

If you'd like to join me, click on the link at the top of the page for how to get involved.  You can knit or crochet 9 inch squares and mail them off when you have one or 100 finished.  Together we can bring comfort to someone with cancer.
 So far I have 21 squares finished, so that means I need 3 more for a complete afghan, but the box has a lot more room in it.  Just a few a day and the box will be full before I know it.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

feeling ambitious

Who is more ambitious today?  Star with is life size bone?
or me with my quilting machine that is working again?  I have to remember to pace myself or not only will I wear out the machine, but my poor old body as well.  I'm sore from yesterday and Thursday, both setting up and taking down the Science Fair, but it's so hard to restrain myself from having so much fun again.  I forgot just how much I love quilting!

This is a new quilting design I got a Christmas, but could never try out because the machine was broken.  It's paw prints and oh, so cute!  I have the quilt for my friend and it will be perfect for her quilt because she just adopted a dog who is her best friend.  I have a feeling I'm going to be using this design a lot.

I'm working on some small quilts that will either become wall hangings or dog blankets that I plan to donate to the local animal rescue group.  Since there is a three dog limit and I can't adopt every dog that is available at the shelter, I have to find another way to help out.  Making small dog items will have to do.  Perhaps they can sell the quilts to raise money for food.  I have one quilt on the machine and three more ready to quilt.

Get ready, I'm back! It was the encoders.

Please dear friends, celebrate with me today.  I will be enjoying a big bowl of ice cream later on since I don't drink alcohol, but whatever way you choose to celebrate, please lift your glass, make a toast to my happiness!  I'm back in business!

I must have tries 74 things to get my quilting machine fixed and tried every suggestion thrown at me.  I was even willing to spend $800 to have a guy come out.  I'm glad I never could get ahold of him.

When I finally called the Viking Company and they led me on a wild goose chase, one of the leads did finally pay off.  The guy Richard, who knew nothing about my machine, said it had to be the encoders causing the problem.  The lady on my yahoo group had told me it wasn't the encoders and since she is the expert of the group, I had believed her for so long.  I didn't want to spend $90 each to fix a problem that for sure wasn't it so I have wasted the last 5 months chasing the wrong problem.

Sure enough, I got one encoder and it fixed the stitching in the y direction.  I figured if the y direction was fixed with one encoder, I needed to get the second encoder to fix the x direction (y goes up and down and x goes left and right on the machine) and I'd be back in business.  I didn't really want to spend the extra money, but I figured I was in it this deep already with the wires I had bought $40 each-the first set I was told by the 'expert' that were the wrong ones, so I got a different set, and when they came were exactly the same as the first 'wrong' ones.

So, moral of the story is...

If you break a wire on your long arm quilting machine, you will need to replace both encoders and the wires.  However, the good news is you can buy a complete set of encoders and wires for just around $200, instead of buying everything separately for $220 like I did.  And you don't have to wait 5 months and get frustrated and lose so much time away from a hobby you really enjoy, although it causes more frustration and anguish than it probably should.

Now that I'm back in business I might be able to dig myself out of all of the fabric that has been piling up around here and finish off a quilt I started for a dear friend who really needs a quilty hug.

Now that my machine is working again, I think about all of the stuff I should have accomplished while my machine was broken, like making backs for all of the quilt tops that are waiting, but I didn't so now that I'm ready to go, I'm not really ready at all!

At least I only have 34 days of school left and then it's summer vacation and I will have lots of time for cleaning and quilting.

Off to happy dance some more!

Science Fair, color me crazy

 I may be one of the few people left on this planet that actually LOVES a science fair.  I know, there are lots of people with bad memories of all nighters trying to put a board together or staying up to fake some data so they could get a good grade.  But, I think a kid can learn a lot from doing a science project and entering it into a science fair.
 I didn't get much sleep myself the night before this fair, or much of the week before the fair either, and every year I swear I'm never going to run another fair again.  But here I am today, the day after the fair on a Science Fair High, planning next year's fair already.  Color me Crazy!  The fair was a great success and I'm feeling quite giddy.  We had 170 participating projects this year, more than double last year's group.  I will take credit a little for that because I didn't let the County office take over like I did last year.  I tried as hard as I could to get the word out.  One other school had their own science fair and entered over 100 projects in the fair.
As always, we had our students come to the fair all throughout the day to see the projects and they really get into learning some science as they 'judge' each project as good or bad.  They can tell who put in effort and who was just trying to get their finished before the deadline.

The project pictured was the overall winner and was about the angle of water hitting a water wheel and how much electricity was generated.  She will get $200 in addition to the plaque.  This student earned a special award for 'women in science'.  She was one of my students who was in a regular science class first semester.  I saw that she was misplaced and encouraged her to switch to the honors class (where students have to do the science fair project).  She wasn't too sure about making the switch, and she was so proud that her project won 3rd prize and also got this special recognition.  She gets to go to a dinner with other young women in science and perhaps this will be a turning point that leads her down a path to studying science in the future.

Science Fair


I've been totally awol this week due to the Solano County Science/STEM fair this week.  Set up was on Thursday and the fair was yesterday.  It was fantastic!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Good Morning

Every morning, Star has to sit as close to me as possible while I read my emails, check Facebook and look at all of my quilting blogs.  He has to be laying on my arm, or touching me for about an hour and then is happy to go off and do his own thing.  The other dogs are happy enough to lay on the other side of the couch, but this little guy needs to be held in the morning.  He's such a funny little guy.  I still can't get over what a great dog he is and why someone wouldn't come looking for him at the shelter.

Today is my final day of vacation and I have a whole list of things planned.  Surely too many for one day and they won't get themselves done if I just sit here holding the 'baby' all morning.

It's funny how opposite my husband and I are.  We were talking yesterday about our ideas of vacation time are so different.  I think of that time to get as much done as possible and he thinks of that time to do as little as you can.  He tries to rest and relax and I'm not even sure what those words mean.  I guess it is true that opposites attract!

Saturday, April 11, 2015


 I'm working on a quilt for my son for his birthday.  He wanted pandas and I found a design using mylar.  I've never used it before and the first three designs gave me such troubles with the thread breaking.  I couldn't figure out what was wrong.  It is so frustrating when things don't work right.  The mylar is plastic, like you use for gift wrapping and it goes under the thread and makes the embroidery design sparkle.  You don't have to use sparkly thread to make a sparkly design.

I got these designs from charmingstation.com and they are really cute!  My son picked them out and I know the quilt is going to be really cute when finished.

I'm not sure why, but today when I started stitching, the machine decided to behave and I was able to stitch out 4 designs with only breaking the thread twice.  Yesterday the thread broke at least a dozen times on only one design.  I even broke a needle!

Only 5 more designs to stitch out and then I can start sewing the quilt together.  Hopefully I can get it done before his birthday on May 10.

wiped out

Took the girls in today to get their shots and now everyone is wiped out from the stress.  Isn't it nice to have a lazy Saturday where you don't have to do anything?  These guys sure think so.  Lily had a foxtail in her ear too.  I took her in two weeks ago for it and have been putting ear medication in to help with the infection.  The Vet was able to get it out today since the infection was gone and the foxtail was soft and easier to remove.  She was so happy to have it finally taken out, she wanted to lick everyone in the office!

With only a day and a half left of my vacation, I really feel like I need to do something to show for my time off, but sitting her being lazy is so nice too.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Quilting machine update

At the urging and encouraging of my friend Carla, I spent the day yesterday trying to get some help for my poor quilting machine.  Before Christmas, I was changing out the tracks on the frame and broke one of the encoder wires.  I've had nothing but trouble ever since.  I thought my troubles were solved when I got the name and number of a guy who does house calls and he was going to come down in January to fix it, then his truck broke down and he never called me back.  I've called him 10 times this week, left messages and even texted his number and either he got a new phone and number or is no longer on this planet.

So, yesterday, I called the company that makes my machine.  They were not very helpful.

The first lady said she would have to find someone to call me back because she had no idea what was wrong with my machine.  About two hours later a lady called back and she told me to call Liten Up  (makers of qbot) because they no longer deal with the stitch regulator that is part of the machine.  We don't have cruise control, our stitch regulator is built into the machine.  The encoders aren't for the quilt sew clever or qbot, they are for the machine, so even if you don't have a robot, you still have encoders because the machine comes with a stitch regulator built in.  She had a manual in front of her and was reading off everything that could be wrong with a y encoder problem.  I asked if I could just purchase a new encoder or wires from her since she was part of the company that made my machine and she said I would have to go through the dealer I got my machine from.  Since I got my machine second hand and the person got the machine through a JoAnn's, that's not possible.

Called liten up, they said to send an email to
wouldn't even talk to me about the problem I was having, just send an email.  

Viking also gave me some numbers to try, said they were all from their website
Elk Grove 
called and the lady said the repair guy doesn't do house calls and doesn't work Wednesdays, but I could bring my machine in for him to look at there and he could fix it for me.  Did I mention it's a long arm machine with a 12 foot table?  It took about 2 hours to set up the first time.  Not sure the lady on the phone understood that part.

Guy there said he didn't work on long arm machines, but gave me the name of a guy, Richard, at Elk Grove Vacuum and Sewing, to google and said that guy doesn't work on Vikings, but does do house calls and does work on every other type of long arm.

Santa Rosa
didn't call

didn't call

Richard in Elk Grove
Called and told him my troubles.  He said both issues-machine running continuously and not reading the y encoder was due to the y encoder being bad.  He said that since it would cost $100 for the house call and $85 per hour he suggested I just get a new encoder, plug it in and see if that didn't solve the problem.

I ordered a new encoder from myqbot.com since that is where Viking sent me in the first place and since I ordered the encoder wire from there and it is exactly the same wire as the one I got from Julian (my local viking dealer) when he ordered it from the Viking company, I think I am safe.  If not, I'm just throwing more money at this machine.

If this doesn't work, I will order two encoders and the wire that goes with them from here

So, that's where my machine sits now.  Not an encouraging day.  

Monday, April 6, 2015

a little obsessed

 it is so good to be on vacation with no real deadlines.  I should be grading papers, but I usually put that off until the end of the week and then get really sad that I didn't do it at the beginning of the week.

Instead, I've spent my day making these bandanas for my dogs.  A little obsessed?  Maybe.  I've made a dozen of them so far.  I plan to take a bunch down to the animal shelter with the hope that they will either be able to sell them to raise money for more food or medical bills for the animals, or to give away to new owners.

They take the smallest bits of fabric and you all know I have a lot of that laying around and about 3 minutes to make.  I should be folding clothes and getting my car fixed, but this is way more fun.

Oh, no! Not "that woman!"

I'm afraid I've become the woman I've laughed at for so long.  You know the type.  The one who either doesn't want kids, or who is too old to have kids, so she starts collecting dogs and then starts to dress them.  Yep, that's me!  Guilty as charged.

I can't help myself.  I would have a dozen more babies if I wan't so old.  In my mind, I'm only 25, but my aching bones tell a different story.

I have enough scrap fabric to make about a zillion bow ties and he looks so handsome wearing them, so poor little thing had better get used to these silly things.

I hope to make a few and take them down to the shelter to donate.  A well dressed puppy will attract more attention and hopefully find a home quicker.  Since I can't take them all home, it's the least I can do to help them out.  And since my quilting machine isn't working still!!! I have to do something with all the fabric that is collecting around here or I am going to be buried alive.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

puppy love

 Can you stand a little puppy cuteness?  Star is such a good little dog it is hard to imagine someone losing him and not going looking for him.  He was picked up in a neighboring town and has been at the shelter over 2 weeks so either escaped and the owner never thought to go looking for him, or let him out or moved without taking him with them.  At any rate, we are blessed to welcome him into our home.  He doesn't bark (yet) and is super gentle with everyone.
 We took him to get a collar and tag today and came home with a little shirt (yes, I've become one of THOSE dog owners) and some toys and treats.  $80 later and this little guy is super spoiled!  I don't even know if he likes toys.  My other dogs don't, but if not, I will send the toys to my daughter's dog who is toy crazy.
My son is totally in love with this little guy.  He snuggles with him every chance he gets.  Star doesn't like his collar so I'm guessing he never wore one before and he doesn't know what to do on a leash.  He will learn.  My other dogs LOVE their daily walks and so I got a double harness so they can go crazy together while I have Star on a leash by himself.  He's a bit timid when out in public so for a while we will only take him out in the back field area.  Between that and our big backyard, he will get plenty of exercise to work off all the extra treats he is getting.  He sure is spoiled.  I wonder what he is thinking!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Snail Trail quilt

I've always wanted to make a Snail Trail quilt and with the tutorial posted on the link above, these blocks are coming together quickly.  The colors are way off here, probably because of my purple floor, but they are black and purple fabrics and this one will be for my son's girlfriend for graduation.  yep, it's getting to be that time of year, when I have to start making graduation quilts.  Only 38 days of school left.

I still can't get ahold of the guy to fix my quilting machine so I'm not sure what I'm going to do to finish it up, but at least I hope to have the quilt top done before school is out.

I'm cutting out the pieces using my Accuquilt Go! dies and my Studio fabric cutter.  It is cutting so quickly and sewing together so perfectly.  I would never attempt a block like this if I had to cut all the little pieces by hand.  Too many weird measurements.  The block finishes at 12 1/2 inches and everything is matching up perfectly.

Vacation is so much fun!  I can't wait until retirement.

Welcome to the family Star

So I've been wanting another dog ever since my old dog Mandy died a couple months ago.  I went to the pound on March 17 and saw the cutest black and white dog that had a tennis ball.  I've always wanted a dog that would fetch.  When I was a little girl, I had two dogs that I tried to teach to fetch by throwing a stick, crawling over to it and picking it up in my mouth.  I'd crawl back to the dog and drop the stick near the dog.  I must have done that a thousand time and the dog would just look at me like I was crazy.
When I got my boxer/lab, I thought for sure I would have a fetching dog.  No luck.  She wanted nothing to do with balls or sticks.  Every lab I've ever known loved to fetch, but not mine.  Maybe the boxer part of her was too strong.
Well, after seeing that black and white dog with its ball, I really wanted to get it.  So, I finally talked my husband into going to look at the dogs today.  We were just going to look, not get a dog.  Sure enough, that dog was still there.  Not a good sign.  It's been a couple of weeks and nobody has adopted it.  He thought the dog was pretty cute, but also thought this little chihuahua was really cute too.  It was really quiet, but was wagging its tail like crazy every time he walked past.  I didn't really give it a second look because I really wanted that black and white dog.
When we went in to ask about the dog, they said the black and white dog was jumpy around kids and might bite out of fear.  Nope, don't want to take a chance with a dog like that.  So, we asked to see the little brown and white dog my husband picked out.  Sure enough, he was so cute and climbed into my son's lap and snuggled right down and almost fell asleep.  I didn't think we would be able to get him out once he got comfortable.
Yep, we just went to look and came home with a new family member.  Surely after being together almost 30 years, my husband had to know that 'just looking' meant we were coming home with a new dog.  I love him for knowing that and going with me anyways.  What's really funny is that our dogs really love this little guy already.  When my daughter brought her dog home for visits, they weren't so sure about him, but they welcomed Star right away and it's like he's been here forever.  My son hasn't left his side since bringing him home and has a new best friend!  I love it.  Good thing we have 9 more days of vacation for some more bonding time.

My favorite holiday

Easter is my favorite time of year because it is the time of year when we remember why we are on this earth.

It's where Christ lived out the greatest commandment, to Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and the second greatest commandment, to Love your Neighbor as yourself.

It is a time when I am reminded that I need to show love to my neighbor as well.

Not just a love when it is convenient, but a sacrificial love that puts others first.

As I enjoy these next 10 days of rest and relaxation and rejuvenation away from the stress of school, I hope that I'm ready to serve others when I go back.  

Blessings to you on this Good, Good Friday.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

can you help please?


One of my students is having trouble getting enough people to take her survey for her science fair project.  She needs people to watch a short video (about a minute) and then choose a suspect from one of several lineups.  The directions are all on the link.  You do not have to watch the video and then go back the next day, she's ok with you doing it all at once.  It should not take more than 5 minutes.

I had all of the students in all of my classes do it for her, but she needs a whole lot more to collect enough data by next Sunday so she can finish up her project.

If you have a Facebook Page or lots of friends that can take the survey for her, she would really appreciate it.  I warned her that getting so much data would be hard.  :)