You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ C.S. Lewis
If you read my blog post from yesterday, you know that I am seriously considering a big change in my life—buying a quilting machine. But before I can do that, I need to clear space in my little study, which is crammed full of things I love but have no other place for.
Alas, this is a big task, one that has been on my to-do list for years. My original plan was to clear space for my domestic machine, which I always have to set up on my kitchen table and then put away a couple of hours later. I told myself that in just 15 minutes a day, I would get this room whittled down in no time.
But, no, the study is so much of a disaster that the improvement after 15 minutes is invisible. I can’t do this job in small intervals.
I really need to devote big blocks of time on a daily basis.
Which means I’ve got to use my writing and blogging time.
So, until this job is done, I won’t be writing any new stuff.
I do have a few little posts scheduled in the near and far future. I am pinning this post to the top of the page as a reminder that I’m taking a break, so if you’re on my home page, scroll below this post to see if anything new pops up. Or better yet, subscribe to get an email every time a new post appears.
I don’t know if I’ll have space for the new machine and the old. I’ll have to wait and see.
And I don’t know whether this project will take two weeks (please please), two months, or until the end of the year or longer. But when it’s done, I’ll be back.
Last week I posted about my frustration with free motion quilting on my domestic sewing machine. (By, the way, that article is my most frequently viewed post this year, having garnered more than 1,370 views in just one week. There must be a lot of frustrated quilters. I feel your pain.) I mentioned that I’m considering buying a long arm quilting machine.
On Thursday I went to the Scottsdale Quilting, Crafts, and Sewing Festival at WestWorld to explore the different options. I got a $2 discount off the $12 ticket, and I was happy about that, until I arrived and discovered that parking cost another $10. Although my admission ticket was good for three days, I now knew I would not be returning.
Incidentally, I wore my mask, but I’d say 70% of the people there were maskless.
There were many booths and many vendors, but by far the largest exhibitor was a local store chain (where I get my Pfaff serviced). They carry sewing machines by many different manufacturers, and they had company educators demonstrating the machines. These machines can do many things: embroider, make appliqués, and quilt robotically. The representatives varied in their helpfulness. I’m an introvert, so I dealt with the reps who reached out to me.
The first machine I saw was a Brother Luminaire 3, a sit-down machine with automatic computerized quilting, a section at a time, within a frame. (I didn’t know a sit-down machine could do that.) 10 all-over designs are programmed into the computer, but you can manually program more. The show price for the machine was $16,999 (a discount of $4,000), but still way out of my price range.
I walked down the gauntlet of booths and saw Jukis and Janomes and Huskvarnas and Singers and Pfaffs and I don’t remember what all. Then I saw the Handi Quilter Capri that I’ve visited at the store (and at a show price of $6495 instead of the usual $7995, I thought that was the one I wanted). But next to it was the Handi Quilter Moxie, an “entry-level” stand-up machine. The difference between a sit-down and a stand-up machine (other than the position of your body) is that with a sit-down, you move the quilt under the machine’s needle with your hands. With a stand-up, the quilt is attached to a frame, and you use handlebars to move the machine where you want to stitch. To me, that seemed a lot more intimidating. The representative asked me if I’d like to try it out, and I said yes. Surprisingly, the machine glides along easily, and while my stitches did not look amazing, I could tell that with practice I could get very good at it. The representative said it’s like signing your name: which is easier to control, moving the paper or moving the pen?
The Moxie is available with or without a computerized option, Pro-Stitcher Lite, which is programmed with 400 quilting patterns ranging from all-over designs to ones scaled for certain areas, like squares, rectangles, borders, corners, triangles, etc. Pro-Stitcher Lite differs from regular Pro-Stitcher in that it’s made for the Moxie, which has a 15-inch throat, as opposed to an 18-inch throat common for longarms. (I guess that means the Moxie is a mid-arm.) You can really only work on about a 12-inch deep strip at a time, which means more frequent rolling. The advantage to buying something with this limitation is price. The show price for the Moxie and frame is $4495, and for Pro-Stitcher Lite is $5495, both of them discounted $500 each. That makes it far less than the first machine I saw.
So, the show is now over, and these prices are no longer valid. Also, prices are predicted to go up shortly. Please don’t expect to find prices like these in your store now. Do your own research. Go to a show if you can.
I’m 95% sure that the Moxie with Pro-Stitcher Lite is what I want. My big question is, it comes with either a 5-foot frame (any quilt larger than 48” wide would need to be hooped) or an 8-foot frame (which can handle up to a queen-sized quilt). Do I even have enough room for either of these frames?
Since I don’t want to give up my living room, family room, or dining room, and there’s definitely no room in our bedroom, that leaves me my little study, which is jammed with boxes of stuff that for years I haven’t found a good place for.
I walked around the rest of the show and saw even more machines, including one from a small company in Utah. The proprietor said he is the inventor of the Handi Quilter longarm. I was tempted to order his machine, but I’d rather have a local resources for servicing. So I went back to my local Handi Quilter distributer and locked in my price for the machine by committing to a layaway. The shop owner assured me that if I decide not to go through with the purchase, they will refund my money.
So now I have a big chore ahead of me—I will have to reconfigure my study. Undoubtedly, that will mean getting rid of some of my stuff. I am bad at that. My husband thinks I should just move everything to the garage. Read The Garage of Doom and The Garage of Delight to see why I’m reluctant to do that. (Man, I wish our garage still looked like those “after” pictures; but it’s filling up again. I blame my husband.)
By the way, there were lots of interesting fabrics, patterns, and accessories at the show. In addition to the usual offerings you would expect to see at a quilting, craft, and sewing festival, one booth had fabric, panels, and baskets made in Africa; another had parts of old Japanese silk kimonos, so you could make a purse out of a sleeve, a table runner out of an obi sash. One booth had very colorful fabrics and panels in original designs, not available in stores. The designer, P.Carter Carpin, travels around the country selling at shows and festivals. (She also has an Etsy shop.) Look at the lovely quilts she’s made from her fabrics! So simple, and yet so impactful because of the colors and patterns of the fabric. I bought 7 fat quarters (at $4 a pop) because they were so gorgeous and unusual.
The other day, I made tuna salad for lunch. Just a can of tuna, a tablespoon of mayonnaise, some chopped sweet onion, and a sprinkle of salt and a dash of pepper. No bread, just straight out of the bowl. It tasted so delicious, so satisfying. My heart said, Dear God, thank You for the fish.
Then I chuckled. How strange to thank God for the fish—it wasn’t like I caught it all by myself. So I continued, Thank you for the fisherman. I’ve seen enough episodes of Wicked Tuna that I know catching a tuna is no easy feat.
But I didn’t get the fish from the fisherman. So I said, Thank you for the factory workers who cleaned and prepared the fish and canned it.
But that wasn’t enough, either. So I added, Thank you for the truckers who transported the fish to the warehouse. Thank you for the stockers who put it on the shelves of the grocery store. Thank you for the cashier who rang up my grocery order. Thank you for the employee who put my purchases in the trunk of my car.
God used my simple lunch to remind me that whatever work a person does, it’s a holy occupation that He uses to bless the children He loves (all of us!). Every job has importance and value and dignity. Even if it’s not glamorous. Even if it’s backbreaking. Our work is one way we honor God and serve each other.
Dear God, thank you for your bounty, and thank you for the laborers who distribute it. Amen.
Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. ~ George Bernard Shaw.
Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created (Revelation 4:11 HCSB)
I enter a lot of poetry chapbook contests. (A chapbook is a small collection of poems, short stories, or essays, generally less than 40 pages.) I entered three chapbooks into the Rattle Chapbook Prize contest last year. I didn’t win.
This is one of the winning chapbooks. I almost don’t mind not winning, because this chapbook is really good. (If I had to lose, it’s an honor to lose to this one.) The poems center around the end of the poet’s mother’s life, including memories of the mother (Estelle) when she was younger, how she and her husband related to each other as they aged, and observing the strain of caregiving on his father.
As anyone knows who has witnessed the progression of Alzheimer’s, it is a cruel disease that robs the victim of her personality piece by piece, leaving a stranger in her place. The beauty of the poems in Visiting Her in Queens is that they convey with love the challenges of watching a loved one fade away. The poems capture the bitter-sweetness, the affection among the tears.
In the center of the book is a photograph—I’m not sure if it’s one picture cut in half, or two separate pictures that line up really well—of a couple whom I assume are the poet’s parents in middle age. The mother is doubled over with laughter; the father smiles at her. Their fondness for one another is palpable; they were married just short of 65 years.
My favorite poem in the book is “Losing My Parents in a Small CVS Drug Store” which describes his search with hilarity. One employee saw them reading greeting cards to one another. A customer saw them over by the adult diapers. A stock boy caught them in employees’ rest room, where they were admiring the hand soap pump. The surveillance camera caught them eating in the candy aisle. Finally the manager makes an announcement over the public address system: “Attention Michael’s parents—please report to checkout immediately without rushing too much. Your son trusts you and wants you to have your independence but he doesn’t want you to miss Jeopardy.”
Of course, not all the poems are funny. But they are touching. And they are varied. Some of the titles are “The Wish,” “Watching the Golden Gate Bridge Disappear,” “What My Father Heard the Rabbi Say at My Mother’s Funeral,” “Dancing with My Father at My Son’s Wedding,” and “Celebrating His 92nd Birthday the Year His Wife Dies.”
This book will be especially meaningful to senior citizens and to anyone who has been a caretaker. The Rattle Foundation sends out a different chapbook with each quarterly issue of their poetry journal. Copies of this book are also available on their website. It’s only $6.
Édouard Manet was born in France in 1832. His father intended for him to have a naval career, but when he twice failed the entrance exam to the naval academy, he was permitted to pursue his love of art instead. He studied under Thomas Couture and copied the Old Masters in the Louvre. He became a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism, though he fell more into the Modernist school.
From 1853 to 1856, he traveled extensively through Europe, and was influenced by the works of Frans Hals, Diego Velázquez and Francisco José de Goya. In 1856 he opened his own studio. Many of his works were displayed in the Paris Salon. His early painting The Spanish Singer caused a sensation. Even though we might consider it very realistic, his brush strokes were looser and less meticulous than previously fashionable.
In 1862, Manet’s father, Auguste, died, and in 1863, he married Suzanne Leenhoff, a piano teacher who his father had hired to teach Édouard and his younger brother. (Suzanne was also likely the father’s mistress. She gave birth to a son, Leon, in 1852. Leon’s father may have been Auguste or even Édouard.) Both Suzanne and Leon modeled for Manet.
In 1863, The Luncheon on the Grass was rejected by the Salon; the portrayal of a nude woman dining with fully clothed men was deemed inappropriate (even though it was inspired by works of the Old Masters). However, the Salon des Refusés (started by Emperor Napoleon III as an option when the Paris Salon that year rejected 2,783 of the offered 5,000 works) was delighted to exhibit it.
In 1865 the Paris Salon accepted Manet’s Olympia, a nude based on Titian’s Venus of Urbino; but unlike Venus, Olympia is a prostitute, not a goddess. She caused quite a scandal at the Salon.
As controversial as these two early masterpieces were, they marked the start of modern art and also sparked the beginnings of the Impressionist movement.
Manet had many friends among the Impressionists, notably Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-August Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro, and Berthe Morisot. Even so, he resisted placing his work in Impressionist exhibitions, partly because his style really wasn’t all that impressionistic, and also because he preferred the Paris Salon, which the Impressionists eschewed.
Manet was one of the first nineteenth century painters to paint scenes of daily contemporary life. He painted many portraits, some landscapes and still lives, military battles and political scenes. His work includes 430 oil paintings, 79 pastels, and 400 drawings and works on paper. He died in 1883.
I learned today that one of my favorite bloggers, Doreen Auger, passed away on Monday. When I first discovered blogs, I stumbled across hers, Treadlemusic, in which she shared her life, her love of riding her Harley Davidson motorcycle, and her talent for free-motion quilting. Read her obituary. I featured her in a profile on ARHtistic License two years ago. She was a kind soul. I never met her in person, but I miss her already.