Sunday, November 30, 2008

Packing Up For The Drive Home

After one quick week visiting daughter in southern California, we're packing up for the the drive back to Ohio. The packing will include the following:

1. Ulmer Quilt Frame. Daughter loaning it to me since she has a longarm quilting machine for any larger quilting projects.
2. Three bags a clothes that grand daughter has outgrown. Hopefully will fit another grand daughter back in Ohio.
3. Christmas presents that were purchased in California.
4. More fabric that was purchased in California.
6. Lots of ribbon that was purchased in an fabric and trim remnant store.
7. Lots of chocolate.

We don't have too much room this trip. We drove the Toyota Rav 4 because it gets better mileage than the van. While at daughters house I was able to do the following:

1. Make some adjustments to her long arm quilting machine to reduce thread shredding.
2. Go through several adjustments to the long arm quilting machine to begin to understand how to properly adjust the upper and lower thread tension.
3. Learn to properly load the quilting machine with the quilt top, batting, and backing.
4. Quilt one large quilt top on the machine.
5. Re-write the instructions on adjusting and loading the long arm quilter in simple easy to follow language, supported by step-by-step drawings.
6. Carve several Christmas tree ornaments
7. Nearly complete my "Quilt In A Bag" doll quilt for the swap.
8. Pick up some new fabric.
9. Buy some Christmas presents for folks back home.
10. Have fun with daughter, son in law, and grand daughter.
11. Meet and have lots of fun with Cooper their one year old Picardy Shepard 62 (Winn Dixie dog)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Continuing Adventures with a Long Arm Quilting Machine

First and foremost! People with high blood pressure, no patience, and only two hands and suspect eye sight have no business trying to set up, adjust, and operate a long arm quilting machine. After finally adjusting the machine to not shred thread, and where the quilt back was without loops and rats nests I loaded the quilt sandwich, and was ready to quilt. Loading the three layers of the quilt is where one would benefit by having two extra hands. Made a few test stitches and found everything to be perfect and ready to go. WOW, WOWEE! This was fun, fun, fun. Quilted about ten inches of the top and it looked really professional. Then all of a sudden the machine started looping thread stitches on the back of the top. The tension had loosened up considerably. This cannot be natural. I only have two more days to figure this thing out. But when it works properly it's real fun. My hope is to finish the one quilt top, Then figure out why the thread occasionally gets shredded, and why it won't hold the proper thread tension; and load another top on for my daughter to complete after I leave for home.

Yippee! I think I've got it. Crap, I also thought I had it yesterday too. But maybe this is the time. After considerable un-sewing (quilting), lots of adjustments, I got it done. I hope I have learned enough to leave some simplified directions for set up, adjustments, and operation, so that my daughter will have more success with the machine. The instructions that came with it assume way too are just plain lackings. Example: while many photos are used, they show quilting with a light colored thread on a light colored fabric. That just photographs great for contrast and clarity. Also, the printed instructions are not always on the same page as the photos that they attempt to explain.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Work and Play

Since we discovered that JO ANNS was closed on Thanksgiving Day, we had to postpone buying quilt batting until today. So my daughter and I walked to a Michaels at 7 am to purchase some batting. A 20 minute brisk walk there and 20 minute back. Good exercise. Used a 25% 0ff coupon. Ready now to set up long arm quilter to quilt a full sized quilt. Also spent some time yesterday working on my QUILT IN A BAG SWAP QUILT for my swap partner. I plan to finish up this swap quilt except for the binding, today.

Some continuing observations about southern California. I think I have discovered Arnolds plan for increasing the fitness levels of the citizens. Crossing 4 and 6 lane streets is absolutely impossible during the limited time the walk signal is on; unless one runs. I don't know what you would do if you walked and stopped on the median island in the center of these streets. The plan must be working for some, because I saw no one still stranded.

More later....

Thursday, November 27, 2008

New Buddy

Here's a photo of my new buddy, Cooper. He's my daughters one year old Picardy Shepherd (Winn Dixie dog). He's sittin on the couch. Yep! he's a pretty good size puppy, all 62 pounds of him.

Also, I am happy to report that we have the long arm quilting machine all adjusted and in balance. Now we are ready to start quilting a full sized quilt top tomorrow. Early Friday morning will find me in line at JO ANNS with my 50% off coupon, ready to buy some batting.

Hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Adjusting Longarm Quilting Machine @#*%?

For some of you younger readers, that's "Snuffy Smith" language in the posting title. Before one can operate a quilting machine it must be checked and properly adjusted if necessary. And I am beginning to think it's always necessary. There are lots of variables that must be considered when adjusting a long arm quilting machine. Most typical problems will appear on the back side of the quilt. There might be open loops, excess thread, etc. Most of these problems can be fixed by making sure the machine is threaded properly (needle thread and bobbin thread). What adjustment remains is the tension (the amount of pressure that is on the thread to ensure a proper stitch on both the quilt top and back). Actually, adjusting one of these buggers is like juggling 5 balls in the air, with 2 more thrown in at any time).

The machine I am playing with is the VOYAGER 17, with CRUISE CONTROL stitch regulator, on the HINTERBERG frame.

I am sure it is much more fun once the machine is adjusted to the sample fabrics and batting I would like to use. Right now it's no fun.....Well, it's no fun only because I don't have lots of time. I do think it's an incredible machine and system.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Travel Excitment! Mini Crime Spree!

I would say that after nearly 70 years, of which 55 have been at the wheel of a vehicle, I would have encountered every possible adventure while traveling. Not so! As a result of two incidents on this road trip I am probably wanted in two states.

First, on a toll road in Oklahoma, the posted toll was 65 cents. The toll gate was one of those unattended ones where you toss the exact change into a "funneled" bin. As soon as the machine registers that the change is correct a stop light changes from red to green and off you can go. At least that is the way it's supposed to work. Not this time! I tossed in the exact change, waited, waited, and waited. No green light. I looked around for a call button. No call button. There were people starting to stack up behind me, so I said the Hell with it. I upheld my end of the deal. I paid. So I pulled through the red light. All hell breaks loose, Loud clanging bells, etc., etc., etc. I looked around for the police, but all I saw were signs that said NO TOLERANCE on PAYING TOLLS. I kept going! Then every time I saw a toll road patrol car, I thought I'd be stopped. Haven't been stopped yet, but they probably have a photo of the car with the License plate number, and I'll hear from them.....Wanted in Oklahoma...

Also now probably wanted in California. As seasoned travelers know, that all vehicles entering California must go through an agricultural checkpoint. At these checkpoints they ask about where you are coming from and whether you have any fruits or vegetables onboard. If you say yes, they confiscate them. Well we had an orange in the car, but my wife told the inspector that we had no fruits or vegetables on board. Luckily we were not searched. I wonder if the penalty for smuggling an orange into California is the same as taking a knife onboard an airplane.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Curmudgeon's Guide To Travel

After just completing umphteen drives across the country I have made many observations. Some of these observations were made as a much younger man, while some are recent. The recent ones may be tainted by advancing age, and a certain lack of tolerance, patience, and understanding. You may wish to consider the following as mere observations, suggestions, or rules. That's up to you. For me they have become RULES!

1. Always check out a motel in the light of day, cause they are all really scary after dark.
2. Never check into a motel that has bars and bullet proof glass around the checkin desk.
3. Do not check into a motel that has truck parking next to the building. There will always be at least one truck that is left running all night.
4. Sorry folks, but avoid "pet friendly" motels. There are too many ill trained pet owners as well as ill trained pets.
5. For that matter, avoid "kid friendly" motels! But since that's not possible, stay away from ones that offer free Mexican Hat Dance Lessons in the rooms above yours; and races in the halls.
6. When traveling, never make eye contact with anyone over 70, unless you're prepared to talk at length about where you are from, where you're going, and the price gasoline.

Please feel free to add a comment with additional travel tips!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


There are a lot more semi trucks on the road than passenger vehicles. People really must have cut back on their driving. However, with more trucks on the road that means more inexperienced and younger truck drivers. And, I am sorry; these drivers are really crappy drivers. Very few "Knights of the Highway" professional drivers anymore. If the truck speed is posted at 65 mph, most drive 70 mph. The trucking industry must have cut a deal with the Highway Patrol/State Police. These truckers just "blow by" them without even slowing down.

On the trip back, I hope I can survive the inexperienced truck drivers, girls with cell phones, and old fart drivers like myself.

Stay tuned for an Edition of THE CURMUDGEON'S GUIDE TO ROADTRIPS.

Arrived in California

Arrived in California after four days on the road. Main intent for driving to California was to spend Thanksgiving with daughter (Tracy) and family. Upon arrival it was soon evident that there was a secondary reason for being there. Was greeted with about one dozen quilt tops to quilt. Tracy has a long arm machine that I must learn to "drive". I am looking forward to using this long arm quilter. I have a stack of instructions, plus a DVD. My homework for tonight.

We had lots of fun and adventures on the drive, which I will post later.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Last Entry For Three Weeks

The SUV is gassed up with $1.79 gallon gas, it's loaded, and we are planning on leaving for California at the "crack of dawn" tomorrow. "Crack of dawn" is wife speak for 10:45 am. Unless I can figure out how to add postings from daughters computer in California this will be it until sometime in the first week of December. But if this trip is anything like the other trips there will be a lot of things to fill you all in on. We do keep a daily journal, so I am on the look out for interesting stuff. I'll have my camera, and will get some photos too.


In the continuing saga of the Gnomes and the Gnome Door that I installed next door there has been another development. Dahlia's mom reported that Dallie was painting a ceramic "toad house" in a craft session. She exclaimed that it was going to be a Gnome house instead of a toad house. Her mom noticing her painting the inside of the toad house told her she didn't have to paint the inside, cause no one would see it. To that Dahlia said, "the Gnomes will". You know, she believes! Aw, how wonderful the unspoiled mind of a child can be.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Assault on California

E Gads you would think that we were planning on invading another country. The lists of things to assemble and pack. I've tried to explain to my wife that all we need to do is throw some clothes in the bag, and box up the stuff we want to take to daughters family and hit the road. Nope, that's not the way it's getting done....or in this case maybe not getting done. In addition to the suitcase with our clothes (wait a minute! there's two suitcases with our clothes - one for the trip out and one for when we get there) there are other bags and boxes. There's the mail bag, the book bag, the snacks for in the car bag, snacks for in the motel bag, the carving bag, bags of quilt tops to be quilted in California, and never forget the cosmetics bag. Boxes of Christmas presents, books, stuff daughter purchased when she was home last summer, SINGER FEATHERWEIGHT Machine, even stuff daughter left here when she was in HS......etc. etc..

Oh well, we'll make up the lost time on the road....won't stop as much....!
Now I'm off to purchase Adult Depends........

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Travel Time! - Almost!

On Wednesday of this week I'll be leaving for California. Not flying, but driving. This will be our 12th or 14th trip where we have driven. I am not afraid to fly. It's just that it's so boring. There is little to see from an airplane. Speed is the only thing that is gained by flying. But when you are retired speed means little. It normally takes us 4 days to get to California . This trip we may allow one extra day for the weather, and one for old(er) age. It used to be that I would drive all night at least once each trip. In fact there are several advantages to driving all night. It's an excuse to eat candy bars all night to stay awake, there is less traffic, you save money on motel fees, and you get to your distination one day earlier. And the best of all - you arrive with an extra pair of clean underware.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Little "ol time" Football Player

I guess "ol time" in this instance means before they added the face cage to the helmet. Like when I was young. Was at the diner the other day drinkin coffee and whittlin, when the conversations all turned to football. Instead of a Santa being whittled, this little football player came out of the wood. Maybe it was Buckeye wood! I got him sittin on a penny so you can see howsmall he is.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pots and Pans!

You are probably wonderin what the heck do "pots and pans" have to do with quilting or carving. Nothing. But I have already confessed that I like to keep old things.
A friend of mine had the task of cleanin out an old storage building on some property that his dad had acquired. When cleaning out this building he found about one dozen big egg crates filled with these kinds of pot and pans.

I guess they would more properly be called enamelware and/or graniteware. He was planni on on takin them to the dump, when I intervened. These photos are just a small sample of what was in the egg crates. There were wash basins of all sizes, pie pans, double boilers, skillets, skimmers. ladles, cups, lids, tea kettles, coffee pots, and all sizes of cooking pots. They are all in my garage now. I must have lost my mind.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Old Fabric!

In an apparant move to lighten the amount of accumulated stuff that we have in our house, my wife was about to throw away a bag of fabric. But, before she did, she made the fatal mistake of askin me if I wanted it. She said it was old, and not very "purty". I didn't say anything, but the thought went through my head, "I'm old and not very pretty either, how long will it be before I'm thrown out"? Well, I kept it. Now what should I do with it? There are several yards of it.

Whittlin and Waitin

While sitting in the waitin area at the local car dealership waitin for an oil change, tire rotation, and anything else that needed attention; I just whittled. Got a cup of coffee, sat down under a good light and pulled out the pocket knife and some pieces of basswood. This is a great place and time to whittle. Since I carve small stuff, there isn't any big mess to worry about. When I am finished with my cup of coffee all the wood chips go into it, and it goes into the waste can. This is the result of one and one half hour of whittlin.

The cars is gettin ready for a little drive from Ohio to California and back. I suppose I'll leave a little trail of wood chips all the way out there and back.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Some Quilting Stuff!

Some of you all know that daughter Tracy and I are hosting the Mini Quilt in a Bag Swap. By now you also know that Tracy is the brains behind this swap. You also know that I am somewhat challenged when it comes to selecting fabric for a quilt. But I have achieved "lift-off". I will be mailing the fabric to my swap partner Kelly tomorrow. I said I liked red.... For those not familar with this swap; each partner (of a pair) sends the other some fabric. When you receive your partners fabric, you must design and make a mini quilt from the fabric. Once the mini quilt is finished you send it to your partner.

Oh! Remember, I am not mailing this until tomorrow afternoon. If anyone has any ideas of additional fabric, or if you think what I've selected is not so good, there is time to save this ol man....Hee Hee!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Carving and Quilting

The name of my blog is QUILTING AND CARVING. I like to do both. Today (Tuesday) was whittling and carving at the Senior Center. We have a group that meets once a week on Tuesdays mornings, whittles and carves and then stays for lunch. Our group is a mixed bag of males and females, very experienced carvers to new carvers. This first photo is the result of wood carvers carving 5 x 5 inch squares and assembling them into a "quilt".
Here's a work in progress. This is a style of carving called relief. You can click on the photo for a closer look at what it will be.

Here's a little snowman, that is being carved "in-the-round". Kinda 3-dimensional.

This is a spoon that is in the process of being carved.

When this carving is finished it will be a Santa Christmas Tree ornament.

Carved Christmas Tree Ornament Swap

The Woodcarving Illustrated magazine runs a message board, where wood carvers can communicate with one another, ask questions, and otherwise spout off. One of the things that the Board facilitates is an exchange of carved Christmas tree ornaments. This year there are 18 carvers participating. Each carver carves 18 ornaments and sends one to each person that is participating. I have received four of these swap ornaments so far. I have participated in this swap the past two years, so I am getting quite a nice collection of hand carved ornaments.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I guess that every now and then there just isn't too much really interesting stuff goin on. But there is always something goin on. I thought I would kinda provide an update on some past posts, and maybe add a wee bit of new. Just some listings of things.

1. I'll be doin some repair work on the little gnome door I installed on the neighbors house. It seems that the 4 year old tried to get into the house to see the gnomes. Remember, she said she could hear them in there. She used a hammer on the door. Not too much damage, but I'll have to wait until they are gone and sneak over and make the necessary repairs. Maybe she'll think the gnomes fixed it.
2. There was a little bit of snow on the cold surfaces this morning..Probably go down as the first snow of the season around here.
3. Only 8 more days until we leave for California. It usually takes 4 days of driving to get there. But this year we'll add one more day in case of snow, and one more day because of older age.
4. I promised my swap partner (Mini Quilt In A Bag) that I would assemble the fabrics and mail by Wednesday of this week. I'll be going with the red white and blue look. Mostly red. I'll post a photo of what I am sending.
5. I purchased a new carving knife at the Dayton Carving Show. I bought a Dave Lyons detail knife. The blade of this knife is similiar to the profile that Donald Mertz recommends for carving the very small things. BY the way, Don Mertz is a well known, and very talented carver.
6. I finished the third book shelf of a three book shelf set for a local shop. Now must distress and antique them.
7. Started the second jewerly case/cabinet for the same shop.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dayton Wood Carving Show

Thought I would share a couple of photos from the Dayton wood carving show. The first photo was judged best of show. This is a life sized bust, carved of wood. Even the lace around the neck.

I didn't see any ribbon on this carving, but it sure is an amazing carving. The Dayton show is one of the largest and best in the country. I spent Saturday and Sunday at the show.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Doll Quilt Swap 5 (DQS5)

After spending all day carving at the GOOD WIVES COMPANY quilt, fabric, and gift shop I came home to this wonderful doll quilt, that had arrived in the mail. This little quilt was made by Denise Enberg (Sewz4fun). It's about 24 inches square, and is the most precise and accurately made piece I have seen in a long long time. It's made of civil war reproduction fabrics, and is quilted with a combination of "in the ditch", straight line diagonal, rope design in the border, and different florishes in the corners. Dang! there's probably more too. Every time I look at it I find something else.

This was the first swap that I have ever been in. Daughter Tracy talked me into it. I am glad she did. I am, however, going to be spending some additional time in an attempt to improve my own skills in quilting. Thank you Tracy for the nudge to get involved in these doll quilt swaps, and a huge thank you to Denise for such a grand doll quilt.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday at The GOOD WIVES CO.

I was fortunate enough to spend all day today (Friday) at the GOOD WIVES COMPANY in Marion, Ohio. Today was the first day of their Primitive Christmas Open House. This quilt, fabric, and gift shop features reproduction fabrics, and was listed as one of the top quilt shops in the country, by Better Homes and Gardens Quilt Sampler magazine.
I was lucky to be invited to carve at their Primitive Open House. This shop is one of my daughter Tracys favorite fabric shops around. The day was very busy, with several folks always waiting to check out. I sold about 30 Santa Christmas Tree ornaments and pins, one Noahs Ark, and gave away 12 little carved owls and tiny Santas to kids. I'll be quiet now so you can take a quick tour of the shop.

Fabric, fabric, mostly reproduction fabrics.

Tons of fabric......all choice!

Fat quarter cabinet and baskets of them.

Yep! this is me after a long day. Sorry for the focus. I didn't take the photo! Duh! you knew that.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


My name is Tom. I cannot pick and match fabric for quilt making. Colors confuse me. Add prints, and/or solids and I'm lost. Throw small and large prints into the mix and it's all over. Don't try to confuse me with the color wheel and other such aids. This ol dog can't learn any new tricks. I can barely follow directions. I made a stab at picking fabrics as seen in the first photo. I like red. It's my favorite color. Sent the first photo to daughter Tracy in California for help. She knows her ol dad needs help. She said add some blues. That was a very polite way of saying "yikes! too much red". I dug around and found some blues and added them to the second photo. It then dawned on me that this is fabric that Tracy sent to me to begin with. She said use the bottom row plus the red at the top right, or the top row with a navy. That was easy....Stop laughing you all! I think I'll take photos of all my fabric, number them and let Tracy just send me the numbers to use.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wood Carving Exchange

There is an international wood carving exchange that I participate in. An excellent carver, Matt Kelly, organized and carries out this exchange. The carvers who participate in the exchange are paired up with, their "secret pal". Whoever your secret pal is, you carve and send a carving to him or her. And remember it's a carving exchange, so you too are someones secret pal, and will receive a carving. Today, I received an incredible carving from, Dick Milholm, my secret carving pal.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why I am Glad Todays nearly Over!

Election Day means voting. Voting where I live means going up the road a few miles to a church and - well voting. At least for the last 36 years that's what it meant. Well sometimes the ladies running the voting place had cookies and coffee that we voters could sample. Probably illegal today. Voting was not the same today. Polls open at 6:30 AM, I was there at 6:40 AM, and was number 57. 37 years ago I don't think there were 57 registered voters in our area. Overheard one of the older ladies say "we're not in Kansas anymore". One hour and twenty minutes later I got to vote. Wow was I glad this was over.

Went home to make some cabinets and maybe if not too tired, do some carving. Worked on the cabinets for 3 hours and went to carve a bit. Where I carve is next to my computer and the telephone. Was putting some finishing touches on a Santa ornament when the telephone rang. I must have been really into the carving, because the ringing telephone startled me to the point where I must have jumped or flinched. The next thing I knew I had the point of a V tool stuck in the palm of my hand. I pulled it out and noticed the lack of blood. Oh! I am gettin ahead of myself. It was John McCain on the phone. Another damn political telephone call. I thought we were through with this stuff. My wife yelled whos on the phone? I said, "John McCain, but I cut myself, and I'm not bleeding". To that she said, "you're probably out of blood". I muttered, "yeah, the blood suckin politicians got it all, and now they want more". I am really tired of all this political and election stuff. But I voted today. I did my part. Now that it's over, I can relax and watch TV tonight.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Some of my carver friends call me a cheap-skate for carving these small Santas. Now I will admit that my investment in carving wood is nill. Oh okay, no cost, since I pick up what some carvers carve off from a block of wood. But there is another reason for carving small. You have less wood to remove, so you finish the carving much faster. And that's good for one with an attention span as short as what I have. Oh, that's a dime.

Sunday, November 2, 2008





Melissa Searle,
Renee Gifford,








The quilting pirate,










Saturday, November 1, 2008

QUESTIONS questions, questions!

Most of you all readin this posting will know what I am talking about when I mention a swap that my daughter Tracy is hosting. But for those that don't, it's a "Mini quilt in a bag" swap. Here's how it works: If you're in it, you put a bunch of fabric and other stuff in a bag and send it to the person you are paired up with. And that person does the same to you. Then both of you takes the stuff that you received and make a mini quilt out of it and send it back to the one who sent it to you. At least I hope thats the way it works, cause my daughter signed me up. Yesterday was the last day to sign up for this swap. The swap partners will be posted today.

Now here's my question. Do I send a bunch of macho fabric and stuff, regular fabric, real feminine stuff, or kid stuff. I got access to all of it. My wife is into heirloom sewing. so I can raid her stash. What ever I send, my swap partnter will have to use it to make a mini quilt and send it to me. Since I am the only male in this swap I am sure my swap partner will be female. ...Any suggestions, Any help out there?

Revenge Of The Trees

Here it is, the first day of November. And a Saturday too. The weather is supposed to be partly sunny with the temperatures in the high 60s. We had our usual 7 Halloween trick or treaters last night, and that means we have a bowl full of candy bars to tempt me. BG meter says NO WAY! Was going to cut some fabric and begin to try some new (for me) quilt blocks. Plans changed when I looked at the yard, and discovered that the trees have it in for me. Can trees think? Do they have ways of communicating among themselves? Do they hold grudges? Can they remember times that I did not take real good care of them? I say they must - to all of the above. I have lots of trees. Most are the same species. They all had the same amount of rain and sun. You would think that they would shed their leaves all about the same time. But noooooo! The buggers are on a schedule. They are taking turns. They have conspired to keep me raking, blowing, and cursing them on nearly a daily basis. I am not making this up! These photos were all taken this morning, and are of trees in my yard.