Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Is my machine possessed? You be the judge.

Last wednesday, I decided to get serious about my business and practice my heart out. I loaded some Christmasy fabric, some batting, and some muslin that I used my JoAnns coupon on. I threaded my machine, put in a new pre-wound bobbin, and was off to the races.

For three hours solid, I quilted like it was meant to be. No thread breakage, no tension issues, and my stitches looked fabulous! Then, I broke a needle. Not fun, but not the end of the world. I put a fresh needle in, rethreaded, checked everything to make sure all was still fine and started quilting away.

Then another needle broke after about 15 minutes. Now it was still not the end of the world, but it was a bit more serious. I put in a fresh needle, rethreaded, and checked to make sure the needle was not hitting something that it shouldn't. After re-checking everything, I went back to quilting.

The railroad tracks on the back of my quilt were so bad that I was glad I didn't live somewhere close to trains traveling through the countryside! Knowing that RR tracks area result of tension issues, I started playing around with the tensions. After two hours of trying, and nothing working, I quit.

On Thursday morning, I checked out all the helpful web sites and wrote down everything they suggested for RR tracks and set out to work. Probelm was, the RR Tracks were now gone! Don't know where they went, but they were definitely gone! In their place I had skipped stitches. Back to the web sites to find answers to that problem...

On Friday morning, I re-timed my machine. The skipped stitches were still as bad as the day before. At least 95% of the stitches were skipped. Not good if you plan on actually making a quilt that stays together! I called my machine manufacturer and talked to a nice service tech. We did a multitude of things, some helped, some didn't. By the time I decided to quit, I now had the skipped stitches down to only 5% skipped. Much better, but still not good enough to actually do a quilt.

Since I had to frog all those stitches out, I decided to wait until Rex came home to see if he could help me re-time my machine. (maybe I was missing something.) After his expert help, there was still no chnage on the stitch quality, so I let her rest over the weekend... didn't want to have to replace a window because I had thrown her out!

Monday morning, the skipped stitches are gone! Guess they went on vacation along with the tension problems and RR tracks! So, I am sewing along. Great tension, my stitches look great, but I am still having a bit of a problem with thread breakage. Thread breakage is due either to tension being too tight or a burr somewher on the htread path.

I knew the tension was good, so I started looking for burrs on all the metal parts. I found that my round foot had a gouge in it and the inside hole was so sharp it cut my finger. Could that be my culprit? After smoothing out the gouge, and making the inside hole as smooth as I could, I took an old pair of panty hose to my machine. The only otehr shart spot I found along the thread path was on the guard over my take up hook (I guess that is what it is called). So, of course I removed that piece.

I'm sewing along when I see a piece of black thread on my quilt top. Strange, I'm not using black thread, where did that come from? So, I remove it...only it isn't thread. It is some sort of a wire... stranger still. After a few more minutes of quilting, my thread breaks. As I am re-threading, I notice something odd. My check spring is missing! That is what that black 'thread' was. My check spring broke. So, why is my machine still stitching good? Doesn't she know that she should have all kikds of problems without a checkspring???

OK, I've ordered a new check spring, and now I am afraid of what is going to happen next. No one at the factory can understand why she is still stitching fine, or what the previous problems were all about. Tension problems are caused by a reason.... they don't just come and go at will.

Can't wait for the next installment on that issue...


Hone School...or not Home School...

We've been considering Home Schooling our two little ones. Various reasons, but very necessary ones.
Our 7 year old daughter was threatened at school by a classmate because she was "mixed". He and his "band" were going to kill both her and her little brother. We had a very wild weekend that weekend, and I've been to the school twice since then dealing with how the school is going to handle it (or actually how they are going to ignore it!). I am not totaly convinced they are doing all they can to keep her feeling safe. I really don't believe the second grader has the means to carry off his threat (if I did she would be out of there so fast!), but my daughter's perception of what he could do is the real issue. They're answer was to have the two children sit at different tables...

The principal actually told me I could not take every obstacle out of her life, she had to learn to deal with these types of people eventually, so why not now!!!? Funny, I always thought a school was a place of refuge, a place to feel safe and to learn. Not a place to be worried that someone could possibly hurt you... If this is the way times are changing, then I don't like it one bit!

Our other son, will be six next week, has severe learning and emotional disabilities. His teacher just doesn't get it! They complain about his behavior and then tell me they forgot his medicine at lunch. Well, DUH!!

He can't do the handwritting they are trying to teach him. They are using D'Nealian handwriting and he is just not 'getting' it. (besides the part that he still can't even hold a pencil) His therapist suggested we try Handwriting without Tears. That is what they teach, and from what I can see it is really a great teaching method. Unfortunately, his teacher will not even consider it as an option, even though it is approved by the state as a valid teaching method... evidently not in her class room though!

So, the question becomes, do I have the patience at 53 to teach two small children? (we'll worry about the legal ramifications later... you can't home school foster children) Frankly, I look forward to dropping those two off every morning for some quiet time when I get home. I know that homeschooling would mean multiple computers at home, and maybe I could still get some 'quality' time on my computer, but can I really teach them anything from home? I've seen one cirriculum that has all students actually studying the same things at the same time, regardless of grade level, just different assignments for the various grades. It is Bible based and you study about Moses and the plagues of Egypt while studying ancient Egypt for History, Hyroglyphics for language, and how the plagues affected people for science. I really like the concept of that methodology, so I am still researching all the pros and cons.

Who knows, I may be opening up my own quilting and homeschooling business...maybe Alyssa can be in my Pre-K class some day... we'll see

Sunday, September 2, 2007

House Hunting ...again

We have been house hunting again... everytime we find something we like, it is either too expensive (well, at least I have good taste!) or in the wrong school district, or needs to have the basement finished in order to contain my quilter.

We found one today that will allow me to have my office seperate from the quilter, which may or may not be a good thing. But the basement is not finished. I can really see that basement as a great quilting space! So, for now the quilt would be in the bonus room. I think my business would really have to take off before he would consider finishing the basement for me. Of course it is also in the wrong school district!

Oh well!

I will be ordering more batting next week so I can get started on Christmas presents. I am going to finish the king size quilt for Shawn and Tasha, do something with the GA Bulldog fabric for Michael, and am thinking abouot a throw for the back of the sofa for Korey and Amanda. If only Amanda and Korey would dedcide on what colors they want...

I also have a wedding present to work on. My co-leader from Brownies got married on Saturday. I really need to make her a quilt, I'm just not sure what style and type. I know she loves anything Native American, so I think I will look for something along those lines.

Need to run and start dinner for the kiddies...