Thread Play

Merry Christmas Eve to all, and many thanks for all your kind comments about Gracie. Echoing a sentiment I posted to Facebook yesterday, I wanted to share this image with you as we all say our good-byes to sweet Gracie. She fell asleep peacefully, and her suffering has ended. If there is a heaven for kitties, we like thinking that she's been reunited with her littermate, George, who left us a few years go. In life, they were thick as thieves. I'm guessing most of you remember George. This morning I found this image, and this is how I will remember both of them.

So, we kind of moped around most of the day yesterday. I was in the middle of quilting "Whose Woods are These," and for lack of anything better to do, I continued on with that until the quilting was finished.

It still needs binding, but I couldn't work up enough energy to do that yesterday. Maybe I took a nap...maybe I spent the afternoon drinking...I don't know. Probably not. I'm not much for drinking, but it was that kind of an afternoon. So here's what I did with the quilting. 

I'm not very imaginative, and so I tend to stick with the same designs for the same quilt block patterns. This is my go-to design for pinwheels. Sometimes, I turn the arms in different directions and it makes a kind of a heart.

Terry twists are a favorite of mine, and I do them whenever I get a chance. When I first learned to do them, I couldn't hit that corner to save my life. It's getting easier now. Also, I quilted some snowflakes at the sides of the trees and then some snow "drifts" down by the trunks.

For the trees, I had in mind to try to quilt some snow-laden boughs, but then I didn't think it was going to show up. Instead, I opted for these swirly-curly thingies (caution: technical quilting terms ahead). 

These little table runners and table toppers are pretty much just for fun and practice, and so it seemed like a good opportunity to continue practicing my quilted snowflakes. I put one in each corner of the outer border.

Then, I sort of stippled around the snow in the inner border. For the outer border I did some whirly-swirly-trying-to-make-it-look-like-swirling-snow-loopy-doopy thing. (Have I lost you with the technical quilting terms yet?)

I don't know if it was successful, but it's good enough. All this quilting was done in white thread on top and the same white thread in the bobbin. 

The day before, I'd spent some time practicing snowflakes with some of my pretty metallic threads. Recall that when I attended the Northwest Quilting Expo in September, I was on the hunt for some pretty metallic thread that I wanted to use to quilt snowflakes into the Quilting Snowladies. (As you might guess, I've been thinking about their quilting for quite some time.) I've learned some things about quilting with metallics along the way. For one thing...if your machine has one of these insy-outsy-thing-a-ma-jigs, it works best if you only go insy-outsy through two holes instead of all three.

So while at the expo, I approached the only thread booth on the scene, which happened to be manned by the kind folks from Superior Threads. And I have to say that I'm really impressed with them. They have a great website (link just given) with lots of helpful information. Not only that, but they guarantee their metallic threads to work. I spoke with one of the reps at the expo and described my project to him. He recommended a thread from this set...the one on the far right. They only had these Glitter threads in sets that day, but he offered to break up a set any way I wanted it and sell it to me. I was happy with the set they had available, and so I purchased it as is.

Also...because they were so danged nice to me, I purchased some other spools of metallics as well, including this one.

Just FYI, here's the info inside the spool.

This one below isn't the one that was recommended of the "Glitter" threads, but I pulled it out because it was pretty and it was the most similar to the one just pictured. 


And then, I stitched them side by side. Pretty, huh?

They look almost identical. Then I tried this one that was the color recommended by the rep.

It looks silvery in the image below, but in fact, it tends to pick up and reflect the color of the fabric it's stitched on. I tried it with the same batik from the Quilting Snowladies, and it was more green.

Just for grins, I tried this purply-pink one.

And here they are all together.

The glitter threads are kind of interesting. They are described on the Superior Threads website as being flat mylar threads. Mylar is a kind of plastic that comes in sheets, and I'm guessing that these are actually cut from sheets of plastic. They're very smooth to the touch when you run them between your fingers, as opposed to the conventional metallic threads that are much bumpier. You can see the difference in the image below. The one on top is the mylar thread.

This image is from the Superior Threads website and shows you how the regular metallics are constructed. This was interesting to me. I always thought they were simply metallic wound around a polyester core, but you can see that it's much more involved than that.

Both of them stitched up beautifully, and they performed pretty much the same. The one difference I noticed is that the mylar thread wanted to break when I tried snapping it into my self-threading needle to bury the tails. The metallic, on the other hand, wanted to shred. And so it all depends on which of these characteristics will drive you the most crazy...breakage of shredding. As for stitching, they both were marvelous...no problems whatsoever, as opposed to a different brand of metallic I was testing that broke constantly.

Here's the other thing I noticed about the mylar thread...it wanted to curl up like Christmas ribbon. This wasn't a problem, although it did make it a bit of a trick to thread the needle. Not difficult, but you had to point the curl in the right direction to get it threaded through the hole.

Here is the test piece I made using the same batik and snowflake backing that I'll be using for the Quilting Snowladies.

I've selected my thread now, and it will be this sparkly Glitter thread from the top of the post. It's so pretty, and I really preferred it to the regular metallic thread.

So that's the last couple of days in a nutshell...sad days to be sure, but we're moving on. Hey, it's Christmas Eve, and my family will be here for dinner. How bad can it be, right?

I probably won't do any more blogging before Christmas is over, but you can bet I'll be sewing. Until then, I have a couple more images to leave you with:

Gracie was the last of the original three cats of the Three Cats Ranch. This is one of the few pictures I have of them together. It includes little Krissy, and she left us just a few months before I started blogging. It's good to have this image of the three of them together...the end of an era, for sure.

Smitty and the cats who come next will have their work cut out for them. Speaking of Smitty, he's been a little lost without Gracie. He didn't notice her absence right away, but then he got kind of needy, and he has been looking for her.

So are we all, and so it's been kind of nice.

For now, Merry Christmas to all. Give an extra hug to your families and your furbabies and be thankful for them.

Live, Laugh, Love...and don't forget to feed the cat.

21 comments from clever and witty friends:

gayle said...

Hugs and the merriest possible Christmas. Give Smitty a scritch from me, and I'll scritch my Lynx behind the ears.

Shirley Elliott said...

I am so sorry for your loss and know Gracie's absence will leave a big hole in your hearts and lives. I came to know and love Gracie thru your blog posts. Tears were shed when I read your posts. Again, so sorry.

Quilting Babcia said...

What great photos of Gracie and George, and the one of all three is priceless. Krissy was a gorgeous kitty too. Great info on the metallic threads. The little tree runner is looking wonderful. Hugs to Smitty, he will be needy for a while. Olie is still moping since Shyloe left us and it's been over a month.

MoniqueB said...

Merry Christmas Barbara.

Doreen Auger said...

Although all our fur babies are out doors, I can empathize with your empty heart-slot!
Superior is THE ONLY metallic thread I will stitch with.....awesome!!! As I may have said before, the Variegated Gold #025 is one I keep large cones of on hand at all times (it's available in the silver tones, also!). I'm so glad you found Superior to be good for you!!!! I, also, only run it through 2 of the pre-tensioner holes (actually, that's the way I run all threads!)and the mylar definitely requires a lighter tension setting!!!!!!

WoolenSails said...

Wonderful photos of the kitties and I am sure she is frolicking among the clouds.
That is a beautiful quilt and love the threads you used.


Dogwood Lane Rambles said...

So very sorry to hear of Gracie's passing. I know that all our furry friends go to heaven or else what's the point? Much love is sent for them and you from the doggies and me here on Dogwood Lane.

Cherry said...

Hugs to you both & Smitty, too. May you find comfort in the season, surrounded by family & friends. And don't forget to feed Smitty something a little extra special. Merry Christmas!

Chris said...

Dear Barbara, please know I'm thinking of you. Gracie needed to be with George and Krissy for this special night knowing Smitty is there for you. Wishing your family a loving and peaceful Christmas.

Brown Family said...

It is best to keep busy. Smitty is grieving as much as you ans Mike are. It slips up on you when you are not expecting it

That was interesting how the thread was constructed. I never knew they made thread flat and out of Mylar.

Ann said...

I love all the pictures of Gracie with her littermates, they were all beautiful kitties. So sorry for your loss. Sending healing thoughts and cyber hugs.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I never got to meet Krissy and love the photos of the original 3-cats as well as the first one with Gracie and George. Give that Smitts extra pets - my furkids had a Christmas Eve treat and something waiting for the main day. Blessed Holiday

charlotte said...

So sorry about Gracie. She had a wonderful life, I'm sure. Extra cuddles to Smitty. Merry Christmas to you.

Lyndsey said...

Such beautiful photos of Gracie, Krissy and George, thank you for sharing. Poor Smitty, he will miss Gracie and especially her calming influence.

Thank you for the information on the metallic thread. I'd love to use it more but it always causes me problems. I take you advice on the thread and hopefully I will have more success. Which metallic thread do you use for for your hand stitching? I don't use it very often but it would be great to fine one that works well.

Wishing you and all your family a very happy Christmas. Love and hugs. Lyndsey

Debbie said...

We are all so sorry to say goodbye to Gracie.....a most beautiful girl. Thank yu for sharing her with us. Love seeing the older photos of them all.

Kate said...

Love the shots of Gracie and George. Thanks for sharing both of them on the blog. I really enjoyed all the stories over the years. So sorry they both had to go.

Hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

works4me said...

What wonderful photos of the kitties. A very nice way to remember them all. I am so glad you got Gracie's portrait done when you did.
Yes, Smitty needs lots of extra love right now and you can benefit from some Smitty love yourselves.

You have done a great job of snowflakes and thank you for sharing your metallic thread observances with us.

Have a nice family Christmas.

Please do not respond to this. You have enough on your plate.

kc said...

So sorry to hear of your loss. I'm sure Smith will be a huge source of comfort during this difficult time. Glad you have a photo journal to keep them all close. Hugs to all..

ES said...

love love love your blog, sorry for your loss.

Sarah said...

that curli-q shape in the pinwheel is one of my signature moves - I use it *everywhere*!! Thanks for the metallics info and all the snowflakes (we had a brown xmas. Yuck) I LOVE superior threads and might just try one of those glitter threads. Love the Gracie/George photos- i hadn't remembered them snuggling. The three musksteers photo is even better! Fond memories heal broken hearts! Wishing you more fond memories!!

Janice said...

So sorry to hear about Gracie....I'm sure she is snuggling with George now. My thoughts are with you both and my own kitty, Puddles, is sending snuggles to Smitty.