Ursa and Stash Thread Woes

Ursa has been mounted on a nice steel frame (which I helped assemble).  The purple princess was amazing!  As long as I had a certain brand of thread loaded, she was magnificent.  But I only had a smidgen given to me.  And it would not match the quilt I loaded.  I ended up with tension problems and a little operator error.  Finally figured all that out only to have extreme thread breakage.  I have this amazing star thread which I had all intentions of using from my stash.  My dealer instructed me to break the thread she gave me, and then break mine.  NO COMPARISON.  Let the industrial thread shopping begin.  This is a question I regret not asking ahead of time as I could have been quilting tonight.

What will not work for thread?

  • Coats and clark
  • Sulky
  • Star
  • Signature
  • and any omni polyester

These just will not handle the speed of the Ursa kind.

I have below some photos of set up.  Actually I took a bunch of notes on the frame assembly.  As an assembler for 30 years…that was over kill as this was just nuts and bolts, no biggie.  The real notes for the machine I failed to take.  I do have an instruction booklet.  And if you have ever played electronic games, you have to learn the hoops to jump through and which buttons to press correctly and when, with a tad of coordination.

And then besides thread woes, I have electrical woes.  There is a deep freeze running in the garage.  This is very dirty power, which causes voltage in the garage to drop.  So this winter, I will not be able to run any heat.  In the summer, probably no a/c.  The good news is, there is a warm up mode for the machine and should not cause any problems sewing.  Today highs were in the mid 70s and it would have been the perfect temperature to quilt.  No thread….*sigh*.

Additionally, I thought I would just set the quilt up, so on the weekend I will be able to just show up and stitch.  Turns out if I leave anything on the frame and the cat who is the keeper of the garage shows up, it could potentially hammock the batting which would be impossible to quilt.

My idea for Cat repel is to set mouse traps with paper laid over them, so if she does decide to get up there, there will be an arsenal of scare to keep her down, but then there is the fear of retaliation, I mean she is a cat.  I would not put it past her.  I am hoping she is just too damn lazy.  But with cats, you never know.

Since she resided the first 10 years of her life at my Dad’s shop, she was accustomed to be fed on the counter, and was welcomed to all high points, corners, and crevices, nothing was off limits.  I figure this will give me a problem.

Any of you longarmers out there, have a solution of cat repel?  Otherwise quilting will all have to happen within a day.

Before set up, the whole of the garage minus about a two foot section behind me and on my right as this photo is taken.before


And in all my haste, I only took a picture of her in the box……there will be other opportunities.


The good news is, with all the free motion I have done on my small machine, this is actually really easy.  Feathers will require a bit more practice, but flowers, and curves pretty much are flawless.  I have much time to practice, and it will happen soon.  I am still just itching to stitch, but can’t.

The garage was emptied and is now very full.  Three rolls of batting (thank you JoAnns for an amazing Black Friday price {And thanks Mom for an early Christmas present]).  I think it is appropriate to park the cost of a new car right in the garage.  This machine is plain jane, but 20 years ago my new car cost less!  I will drive her for years and the maintenance on her, I will be able to do it myself.

Shopping for a long arm, many questions need to be asked.  Most other machines all look the same and are rebadged.  I am not saying it is a bad thing, but most of those machines are hermetically sealed and impossible to access anything.  Loving the concept and engineering on this.  For those of you not familiar with this brand, next time you are at a show and see the Nolting booth, take her out of a test run.  I liked her best because there was little vibration, and the steel frame, leaning on the rods would not bend them.  Most of us quilters have budha bellies and this could cause the quilt not to be plum.  Food for thought.  I tried many, and kept gravitating to this one.  The team of people in this company is pretty awesome.  A small mom and pop shop, with the right kind of customer service.  A recipe for a long lasting wonderful relationship.

I have quilted my first quilt, and there is much tension issues, which I will probably pick out eventually.  I am in no hurry as I don’t have the right thread yet….and it is supposed to storm tomorrow.  This weekend is going to be a great sewing weekend, even if I just get in a few hours.

Please cat owners/longarm enthusiasts, if you have a cat repel remedy for the potential quilt hammock, leave it in the comments section.  And thank you for taking the time to read my blog!


Good Fortune and the Time Machine


Mystery quilt started……check.  Quilts ironed and backings sewn……check.  Garage cleaned and vacuumed……check.   Playing hookie today……check.  Turn on the heat….aw heck.  What does all of this have in common?

The time machine…..Ursa to be exact.  No Ursa is not human but machine.  She is lavender and has  a 20 inch throat.  She has only one eye.  Ursa is modest and utilitarian.

Ursa is being delivered today.  My new quilting machine.  This year is good fortune times two!  I have worked hard for the preparation of both.  In  the last week the time continuim slowed for me.  It seemed like that mystery quilt’s first clue was mever going to get here.  And today even last night, I slept very little.  The anticipation messing with how fast time normally flies by.  Today things will change forever.

Ursa the time machine will await my arrival.  The time leading up to using her will slowly pass by.  Once I touch her, the time will fly by.  Trying to cram a nights worth of  normal activities with machine quilting…..I am already geared for the time to fast forward through the evenings and drag during the days.  A time machine forever altering my days and nights with its magic.

The good fortune continues and I just marvel at the name of this years mystery.  It is perfectly named.  All of us participants can attest to that.  We have heat, running water, a roof over our heads, a reliable sewing machine, a gob of fabric, some thread, and the time to stitch.  Yes we all have good fortune.  Sure there maybe unsightly things going on.  Don’t focus on the bad, don’t be pessimistic.  Look at all the good around you.  Thinking of your own good fortune and how lucky you are to be able to read the words before your eyes.  A wonderful name for this years mystery.

Good fortune is stitching.  Stitching is time.  Good fortune is a time machine.  A capsule in time with memories created, to never escape, to now have good fortune in the past, the present, and the future.

Linking up with Bonnie Hunter and Good Fortune.

The reds are my neutrals. The neutrals are my blacks.  This year I am going to the dark side of neutral.  I hope the contrasts of fabrics has good fortune for my efforts.  Time will tell.  🙂


Good Fortune!

It is mystery quilt time!  I would like to thank Bonnie Hunter for going above and beyond and helping us out with another great mystery project.  Thank you Bonnie!  This is something great that I look forward to every year!

Because I have changed my colors I am going slow this year.  The Good Fortune mystery is priority but at the same time is on the back burner.  You are probably wondering how can this make sense?

My long arm is scheduled for delivery and set up on MONDAY!!!!!  I am getting a 20 inch Nolting in lavender.  I have already though of the name of my new machine.  So Monday I have the day off.  I have about 10 quilts to quilt.  (Mom mentioned she has another 10)  It is obvious I will not complete 10 quilts in a day because there is a huge learning curve.  Also, I will be doing all stuff free motion, no computerization (yet).

So Monday I will have a great story and will post for the link up party that Bonnie is hosting.  This is Good Fortune times 2.  I have worked hard with my hobby.  Quilting with a 6 inch throat space on queen size quilts is quite the trapezes muscle work out.  My neck looks like I lift weights and am very fit, but the rest of me is more couch potato, non-athletic physique.

About the name of my quilting machine…..I went to a baby names website.  I was looking for an old fashioned name and found the perfect one.  She will be hailed Ursa.  Yes, named after the little dipper.  Ursa in the constellation scheme of the things translates to bear.  Here at the house we all refer to one another as bears.  I am Momma Bear, and then there is Papa Bear.  My youngest’s name is Tully, so we call her Tully Bear….and so on.  A perfect name for this Teddy bearish family.

My color scheme for the good fortune mystery is different.  My blue is blue, but a lighter shade, orange is cheddar, red is neutrals, neutrals is black, and I think I have some yellow in there somewhere.

With the small pieces for this mystery, I am finding that prints with largeness may not work for the smaller scale.  So I have done a few, and will do a few more, but will not be doing the total count.  The goodness is, the black and neutrals that I sub’d go well together, and in her video about color theory stated contrast is key for this years mystery.

I have quite a variety going on here, using up the small pieces first.  Good to get rid of some of those.  Why some of these fabrics are in about 5 quilts, so let them be gone!  I see UFO fabric.  That is on the back of my Green Lemonade quilt as well as it is incorporated into Garlic Knots Marinara.  Now it is forever in what will become good fortune….huh….that sounds like a fortune cookie to me!

Are you interested in joining in the fun?  It is free and you can find the introductions to colors and clues here.  Free in the quilting realm is priceless!

Have a great weekend!  And thank you for reading my blog.

Postage Sheet Final Post

This fall we have had gobs of rain.  As promised, with a break in the weather, a photo op happened.  This quilt was made from vintage sheets.  The pink fabric was yardage I picked up at the thrift store.  This is a very pastel quilt and turned out soft on the eyes.  This was quilted in the Forget Me Not pattern, true symbolism for those around me who will receive it.  One day I will not be here anymore.  I expect this quilt will last longer than I, hence the pattern I chose the forget me not.  I named this Postage Sheet because it is in the postage stamp design and the vintage sheets used in its making.

The back I used a linen sheet that goes from white to floral which was perfect for this pastel quilt.  At the same estate sale that I purchased the vintage sheet back, they also had matching pillow cases.  When it is upon the bed, it will be a matched set.  Nothing in my house matches as my style is a bit eclectic, but there is a first for everything.


Math is not my strong suit, it is a suit that frustrates me sometimes.  So instead of doing math with measuring I just set some squares on point and floated that in two corners.  It turned out ok, even without math!postagesheet3

And the back….postagesheet4

And a close up of the florals on the back.postagesheet5

Not a stitch has been sewn this week.  My anxiety is high awaiting my quilting machine.  I just do not want to get in the middle of a project (which I am already) only to delve deeply in my quilting machine learning curve.  I am ready to master yet another quilt task, and just do not want to piece.

I have been enjoying knitting this past week.  I managed to find some round looms at the thrift store for only $3 for the set.  I snagged those up as well as some rake looms which I probably did not need.  I may pass these onto my mother, and if she does not want them, ask her to find a home for them.

My first hat….and now I wish I would have doubled the hat knotting it on each end tucking one into the other.  Ah well, I do like the odd yarn that I chose as it hides my stitches were are pretty imperfect.  I see some mittens to match in my looms near future.


I also made a scrubby for the kitchen as yarn is was on sale this week.

I managed to make a cranberry pie for the first time in my life.  The recipe I used was from the TV show Andy Griffin.  Those of you who frequent pinterest have probably seen the recipe cards created by Aunt Bea.  The recipe I used was from Otis Campbell.  You may remember him as the town drunk.  Friendly fellow on the grain alcohol made in someone’s still.  This pie had 1/2 c of brandy in it.  I just happened to have some nice brandy that was not getting drank and used it in the pie and then carried this pie to work to feed my coworkers as they are great guinea pigs and give great thumbs up or thumbs down.  I was told it was delicious.  Be looking for the recipe that I tweaked on my other blog the cookbook project.wordpress.com this weekend.  I have an adaptation if you do not care to use booze.

Well, next week it will be Thanksgiving, my my my.  The time has just flown by.  This year is gearing up to come to a close soon.  Have you met all your goals this year?  I have not entirely.  But some goals made is better than none.

I am looking forward to family and cooking, and time to decompress for the important things in life.  After that is all done, I am really looking forward to kicking up my feet and slowing down to my own pace with no time crunches, just time to pass as it does all too quickly.

Happy Trails!  And thank you for reading my blog!


When the word fire comes to mind, do you think of camping?  a fireplace?  Cooking?  The word fire is used everyday for things that are ordinary, and no big deal.   If I were to place a noun in front of the fire, it would describe the situation completely.


orange fire hydrant
Photo by Victor Zissou on Pexels.com

When one hears that they immediately think of structure fire and indeed that is what this post is about today.  How many of you have lived near something a structure that is on fire?   How many of you have had a structure fire of your own?

I have lived in this house for 24 years.  I am uncertain as to the year but when my son was just a baby, the grocery store at the end of the block burnt completely down.  I recall for whatever reason that day being up early right after the sun rose.  I kept hearing gunshots which even though we are in town the river bottom is less than a couple of miles away (on just right morning the sound would carry) and so it is not unusually to hear the popping of a gun in the distance.  I completely dismissed the noise for an ordinary Saturday morning noise for dove hunting or whatever was in season.

I woke up smelling smoke.  Sometimes burning of brush smells our town up a bit.  I searched the house to make sure it was not my house, and then I passed the kitchen window.  There was smoke coming down the alley like a fog rolling in between my big poplar tree (now it rests in peace) and the neighbors fence line.  The dogs, the cats, had no alarm bells on and I am really surprised I was not alerted by them.  So I slipped on my husbands work boots, and traveled west towards the end of the block to see if I could see what was on fire.  And the snap, crackle, pop which I mistook for gunfire got louder and louder.  By the time I was halfway there, the fire trucks and their sirens parked down my street and started running hoses hooking them up to substandard water pressure hydrants.  The grocery store burned to the ground and was a total loss.  They fought that blaze all morning and due to many factors, it just became a controlled burn.  All the accelerants in the store, it would have been impossible to put it out.  That is now an empty slab with a parking lot out front.

The noise that I heard in that fire were the aerosol cans exploding, as well as all the canned goods pressure cooking until release.  That structure was a nice brick store, you would not think that it could burn like that, but again with all the accelerants, it did with no problem.

I felt terrible.  We owed the owners around $100.  The mom and pop grocery store would let you keep a tab if you were on hard times.  My husband used to work there as a butcher and had an accident with his thumb, and so was unable to work.  I only made minimum wage, so a couple weeks worth of groceries were charged.  That being kept on paper before the computers taking business by storm, was lost.  An immediate out of business for all of the family.  All the IOUs and promises gone with it.

Fast forward to last year.  A house burned at the other end of my block.  Immediately when I heard the popping noise like gunfire I knew something was on fire, it is a sound you never forget.  I went out to find the neighbors standing, waiting for the fire dept as the house was totally engulfed in flames.  Me being halfway on the block, I could feel the heat of the fire, radiating all the way to my position facing eastward.  The house giving off warmth one more time.  I could smell all the carcinogens burning, which now that I think about it, it was probably the asphalt shingles burning/melting.

The house was a total loss and burned to the ground.  The fire dept did a really good job of keeping the other structures safe.  Unfortunately because the shed was too close to the house and property line, the house directly west did get smoke damage, but the lady that lived there had passed away so it was empty.

This house that burned was owned by a property slum lord.  Although he fixes up houses and then rents them out, he uses people who are not licensed.  The fire was caused by faulty wiring.  Renters had been in that house less than a month and lost all their belongings in the fire, they escaped with only their lives.

Fast forward to November 4th, 2018.  I am in the kitchen putting veggies on to steam as we are having meatloaf, homemade scalloped potatoes..  I am in there tending to the food and it was a bout 5:00.  I kept hearing that all familiar noise of popping like a gun.  It sounded very far away and I dismissed it.  I sat on the couch and was knitting this.



My daughter wants a humongous sock, like a sleeping bag.  When I started this afghan, I had one side that was open to make a  nice flat blanket.  After scouring the internet for jumbo sized knitting socks, nothing really came up and since I had already started, a sock was not going to be the result.  But then I learned you can fold your work back on itself and catch the stitches.  I had just turned this up to make the cuff after doing an experiment of popcorn stitches which I really like.

After rounding the loom once, I heard the popping noise of fire and this time it sounded much closer,, or from a different location than when I was in the kitchen.  I had just sat down for the second time on the couch after tending to our meal in the kitchen, and this time I heard glass break.  The glass was close by.  I got up because the neighborhood was deathly silent, unusual not to hear children playing, no dogs barking, nothing.

When I looked out my front door, the house straight across the street was on fire!  The flames/heat had broken out the kitchen window and were actually coming out the window.  The rush of adrenaline of keeping the family safe, oye!  I grabbed my camera to call 911, ok so I was a little panicked.  I then grabbed for my phone and for the first time in my life dialed 911.  Gave the address and the details, told who owned the house, told them the inhabitants had just moved out on the 30th.  And within minutes the fire dept was here.  By the time they had arrived, I no longer saw flames.  Whatever caught fire was only smoldering at this point.  I suspect the popping nosies I heard were cleaners /chemicals exploding, as the owners crew had been in there Wed and Thurs doing whatever it is they do.

I hear the fire dept power ram the kitchen door open (another sound I will never forget).  I saw them turn on a high velocity fan to move the smoke for better visibility..  Hoses were being ran, the police officer came over and took my brief statement.  And we watched as the 74 year old home let its smoke out.  We watched as other neighbors (nearly an hour later came to life and stepped outside shocked to see the fire trucks and hoses)  Living in Texas, I never looked this guesstimate up, but I believe the Cowboy game was on and therefore that was why the neighborhood was so quiet.

No one was injured, just the house now in a sadder state of affairs than before.    By 6:30 the fire dept was packing up and heading out.  A small fire, with much smoke damage.  It is odd to not see any life in that house.  It is odd to get my car started in the morning and the blackened soot on the windows blackening out the houses life.  Everyone who has ever lived in this rent house since I have been living here, has always left the overhead kitchen sink light on, you get used to that.

Both of these houses that burned were owned by the same person.  He does not have insurance.  I wonder if this was arson?  I wonder if it was something faulty?  I wonder if it was ammonia and bleach too close together?  I am very concerned as the house to the direct east of me, he completed gutted, added onto and then remodeled, took about 3 years.  The attic in the old house used to consist of gable vents at each end.  When he remodeled, those went away.  No whirly turbines on the roof, no attic vents whatsoever.  I have always wondered when the house will burn as it gets hot in Texas.

Tempuratures in barns with hay can reach over 100 degrees, not sure in a hot attic but one that is not vented would be hotter than a hot car as a house cannot move to cool down.  If the right conditions exist, chemical reactions can happen.  A fire can start.  My job now, to keep my family safe is to have a candid talk with the city and to get them to prevent another fire.

The owner of the burnt house, came by on Monday while I was at work and thanked me for calling.  He also wanted to set up a time to talk to me about the fire, wanted to ask if I had seen or heard anything.  He said he would come back by between 5 and 5:30 that day.  I rushed home because I wanted to tell him about the house he revamped next door.  I want to prevent another fire.  I wanted to have a very candid conversation with him.  I was stood up, never showed.

Dawn has just arrived and I hear the booms in the distance.  I think these are actual gunshot booms.  I am going to step outside now, and make sure all is right.

Have a great weekend!


Mystery Quilt Announced!

Bonnie Hunter is graciously designed another mystery quilt.  She announced colors and yardage requirements yesterday.  I started blindly planning for this quilt back in August. I will be deviating from her colors somewhat.  I am going with cheddar for my oranges and blacks for the neutrals.  A skyish blue for blue.  Yellow in place of red, and neutrals for green.  All of these contrast greatly and have already starched/ironed the fabric I know I will be using.  If you are interested in colors and mystery quilt building I highly recommend going to her blog at quiltville.blogspot.com or by clicking this link directly to go to the details of the mystery quilt. This year’s mystery will be different for me.

With the upcomming delivery of my new longarm, I am itching for this process and have lots of tops to finish.  The mystery will be on the back burner ready to start after the reveal.  Because I have deviated to my own color scheme, I want to make sure I like the end result.  Last years On Ringo Lake mystery quilt is still only partially quilted waiting for me to quit being lazy and get going.  It is hard to quilt on a 6 inch throat space.  It really builds up your trapezes muscles, the muscles between your shoulders and your neck.  In much quilting my neck looks like that of a body builder.  (Too bad the rest of me us a gelatinous mess, ha!)

For the neutrals my plan is to go black.  The great thing about planing a quilt like this is photography.  What looks great to the human eye, may not look as great on camera.  Some of these may not make the cut.  These were taken from a layer cake called Harvest Moon.



For orange I am going cheddar!

For the blue I am going my hue of blue.


For red I will go yellow.  Will need to pull more from the stash or make a trip to the quilt shop.  I may shop my mothers stash.  🙂


I Think for the greens I will go neutrals!


I can’t wait to see how this unfolds!  I am dreaming of a mystery pineapple in blacks with colors in the corners.  I have the larger version of the folded corners ruler and I am finding I really like this ruler.  I can straight cut my smaller pieces of fabric with it as well as snowball the corners.  I have even used this as a binding tool and have emailed Doug Leko the creator of the tool and told him as such.  I am hoping that planted a seed and he teamed up with Bonnie for a dramatic mystery quilt event.  If you are having a hard time ordering this tool, last year I just ordered straight from him at Antler Designs.  This is Doug’s website, and he even signed my receipt and thanked me for my purchase.  Since is he is such a youngster I imagine his inventions as they come will take the quilting industry by storm in the future.  This ruler really makes you work smarter not harder!  For those of you curious about this implement, click here to see how you use it.  Bonnie is also demonstrating the larger version here.  A word of caution.  Using this tool, your 1/4 inch seam allowance needs to be a couple of  threads in so when you fold the fiber over the thread stitching, it will press out to the perfect dimension.  Something I learned during On Ringo Lake, my machine was waaaaaaay off for the seam allowance.  Quite frustrating if you do not know what is going on.  This makes beautiful flying geese without having to draw the line on the fabric then trim, then press.  It skips the tedious step of drawing the line.  The cut is accurate and the seam presses out perfectly to the right dimension.

If you have never followed along on a Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt, no matter what your experience YOU will LEARN more in a few weeks, than the lifetime you have been doing it!  I promise!  It will improve your piecing and accuracy in all things quilty.  You will get lessons on color and value, and if I am not mistaken there will be an upcoming video where Bonnie and Holly Anne Knight of String and Story discuss switching up the colors and how you know what direction to take.  I am curious about this and you will probably find mention of it here soon.

This week I have rather abandoned the sewing machine.  The temps in the house rose to an uncomfortable level and I refuse to run the AC.  It will be there, and guess what it cooled off just yesterday so I will be back at foot pedaling my way through fabric.  For now I have gotten out my knitting loom and with a hodgepodge of yarn have came a ways on a cuddle blanket.  I am playing with stitches and have attempted a trellis stitch, as well as just a knitting stitch.  I will attempting other stitches and will reveal this work one day when quilty things have slowed down.

So are you participating in this years Mystery Quilt?  I look forward to hearing your comments!  And thank you for reading my blog!