Under the Needle

Between catsitting this morning, I spent some time on my latest embroidery project. As of now, I have the little "words" piece done. Spell it differently, and you have our roles for the next week or so.

When the piece above was finished, I hooped the "handmaiden" and called it an embroidery day. Since I already had black floss threaded into my needle, I'll start there with the word tomorrow.

Then I was kind of excited to get ready for quilting the Quilting Snowladies. My first decision was to decide on the thread for stitching the blocks and for the bobbin. My choices were a cream and this natural. The "natural" seemed like the best choice to me...and besides, it seemed right just because of that tea-dyed muslin...sort of vintage without a snotty name like "cream".

And now that I've divorced myself from the Glitter threads, I needed to decide which of the conventional metallic threads to use...the gold or the silver. They're both a variegated thread with the same colors beyond their elemental colors of Au or Ag. (We've been binge-watching Breaking Bad and so now I'm all about showing off what I remember about high school chemistry...most of the abbreviations for the elements in the periodic table. Yeah. W = Tungsten. And Fe = Iron. And Pb = Lead. Impressive, no?) So anyway...

Ag or Au? So first Ag..or "silver" for you liberal arts types.

And then Au or "gold". To be clear, this is absolutely the only thing I remember from high school chemistry...except for what a creep Mr. Madison was. Honestly. Oh yes, and the word "stoichiometry". That's it. (Taking a bow.)

So anyway...gold...there it is.

Here they are side by side: Ag on the left, Au on the right.

I was pretty sure I was going to prefer the gold, and I do. Again, it goes better with the tea-dyed muslin blocks. Also, I practiced using my spiffy new 12-inch handi-quilter ruler template. I liked the shorter one so much that I decided to invest in the longer one. With every quilting project, my goal is to learn. With that as my goal, perfection takes on less urgency. 

When I quilted The Doors of Ireland I learned two things: First, I really wanted to work on my tension issues. To that end, I purchased a TOWA bobbin tension gauge. (Thanks to the several of you who have suggested it.) It's a moderately expensive little gadget, but I do find it helpful. Also, I purchased the bobbin genies for my machine...another suggestion from all you smart people out there...and those have helped a lot. They come in packages of 12, and since I can't imagine that they would wear out in a lifetime, 12 should hold me until the day I die. 

The second thing I learned from the Doors was that I wanted to be able to quilt straighter lines. Following the seam line with the foot just wasn't getting me there, and so I've been experimenting with the new ruler template. Having a quarter-inch thick piece of plastic keeps it from slipping under the foot as a conventional ruler does. With practice, I'm optimistic about getting that part right. Here's what I did this morning. Not perfect, but good enough. I'll be able to line it up with the seam on my Quilting Snowladies, and so I think I'll be able to do a better job of getting them parallel with the edge of the sashing.

Also, I practiced turning corners since I want to use that metallic thread to draw a line on both sides of the blue block borders. Does anybody have any words of wisdom for keeping that bobbin thread from pulling to the top at the corners? I've tried a few things, but haven't figured it out. I'd really like to be able to turn a nice sharp corner, but I have yet to do it successfully.

And so, okay. I've selected my threads. I've practiced my snowflakes and my straight lines. I'm ready to go. The quilt is under the needle...needle down. Ready to go. (Gulp.)

You're probably wondering how things are going on the cat front. Smitty was in one of his pensive moods this morning. He sat like this for at least half an hour.

(Think. Think. Think.)

Eventually, he moved a little closer to the door where he could keep an eye on any comings and goings, but then he continued to think about his miserable existence...pondering the meaning of life.

This door...this effing door...it's the only thing separating him from Raggy or Shaggy or Baggy or Saggy or whatever her name is...That little towel is one we've used to dry him off when he comes in from the rain. We let her sleep on it the first night, and now it's outside the door so that he has to sniff her whenever he goes near. Excuse me, but P-U.

He's intensely curious about what's happening on the other side of the glass.

He's even activated his X-ray vision so that he can see through the frosted portions of the door. (Pause her for a moment to admire the significant accumulation of dust on the door sill. Yes, as a matter of fact, I'm saving my dust and I'm planning to felt it together to make batting. Think of the money I could save! Consider that my handy, money-saving tip of the day. You're welcome.)

She's quite a chow hound...for a cat.

We've been filling her bowl, mixing the food from the shelter with our food from home. She's emptied it several times, and she's also drinking plenty of water...a good sign that she's settling in. Occasionally, she gives a furtive glance toward the door, where the brute-who-shall-remain-nameless stands.

When she does, she sees this:

She has *really* taken to her daddy, and she's quite the cuddler with him. That gives him no end of joy since Gracie was his lap cat.

While Smitty was otherwise occupied this morning, she roamed the house for a little while. I'm still trying to get a good head shot of her sans flash, but not having much luck. I need a good head shot if I'm going to create her portrait. But here's a pretty good full-body shot. Her coloration is interesting and different from any other cat we've ever had.

She likes being on this side of the glass door, I think...and baby, it is fricking cold outside. I hate thinking of her out on the street in this cold weather. I can't remember if I've mentioned the little fold in her right ear...we presume it came from a fight.

You can see it a little better in this image. She's very curious about the upstairs, and she's run up and down the stairs several times today.

She's gone back to her special room in the house now, and I imagine she's tired after all that excitement. Poor little thing is on red alert when she's roaming around. Yesterday she took a long nap after her outing.

Smitty just keeps vigil...watching that door...watchful waiting, you might say.

And that too is exhausting.

The End.

16 comments from clever and witty friends:

sunny said...

For straight lines, I find the Line Tamer a MUST!! http://www.fourpawsquilting.com/pages/template.html

Chris said...

I am so enjoying you tale of 2 tails. Have been thru this with Maui and Jombie. Incredible loving little creatures, cats are.

Lana Ku said...

Enjoying the ongoing cats saga. Love Smitty's x-Ray eyes. Lol. And if you need some extra dust to make your own batting, I have plenty to spare that I can send you. (tee hee)

CathieJ said...

Your stitching is beautiful, but I have to admit that I am really enjoying your cat stories. I am looking forward to seeing the finished quilt. I can't help with the corners as I rarely machine quilt. My machine doesn't allow free-motion quilting.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Not sure how it would work with your machine, but with my home machine I have a 'knot' stitch button that I take that knot in the corner before turning. Maybe a tiny stitch in place? Hope someone can answer. I find Maggie's different coloration just striking and the flip ear is character.

Teresa in Music City said...

And so the saga continues ..... Always something interesting going on at Three Cats Ranch!

Debi Workman said...

I loved the Mr Madsen reference. He gave me a D which I am sure did not earn! But he came into the ED one day when I was working. I was very surprised he had not changed and was only about 6 years older than me. But once I reminded him who I was and then told him I was his nurse he did pale a bit!! It was great revenge and I didn't even hurt him!

quiltzyx said...

I seem to remember that Gracie gave Smitty the cold shoulder when he first moved in... I love the picture of his laser beams through the frosted glass!
I'm not sure that I've made a 90* turn when machine quilting, but in top stitching I just come to a complete stop first, lift the presser foot, turn & then proceed. Don't know if that helps you or not, but there it is.
And OMGosh, I could make yards & YARDS of batting from the dust rhinos around here....

liniecat said...

All the collected cat posts would make a really great book!!
She's an unusual tortoishell colouration your right but it's very classy and it's lovely to think she's taken to Dad - don't want his lap to get cold after all :)

Michele said...

I'm glad she is settling in well.

Kate said...

Sounds like you have a plan for Snow Ladies. I really like those snowflakes you've got planned. Hope the quilting goes more smoothly this time with all the changes you've made.

I'm enjoying the cat tales too. Hopefully the getting acquainted stage will go smoothly.

Dana Gaffney said...

I bet it's nice for her to have plenty of food after being hungry for a while, she probably didn't have clean water either. Once things calm down I'm sure you'll have plenty of great pictures of her, some where they are cuddled up together :)

Heidi said...

I admire your embroidery work so much, even more so the more I do of my own! I did manage to finish quilting my embroidered blocks, taking your advice to closely outline the stitchery.

The cat tales are quite entertaining over coffee this morning! Poor Smitty, that does look exhausting!

I take a small stitch to tack the stitch before proceeding with corners. I see this has been mentioned:-) You probably don't want to read this, but it can help to loosen tension a bit when this is happening

Jenny L said...

Like your other commentators I'm loving your very entertaining story and pictures about the cats. I'm afraid the snow ladies are being upstaged. I hope they don't get cross and melt...

Claire said...

In one of the FMQ classes I took, the advice was to make one stitch in place before turning to get a sharp corner. It works for me. No clue about the bobbin thread issue though.

Love the cat stories.

Brown Family said...

I know it is a pain, but taking it slow with the kitties is the best way. Also use his towel and rub her down, then run him. That transfers their smells so each other