Time to Catch Up!
by Andrea Kelter on 08/04/15
Wow! It seems like July flew by in a blur of activity that included trailer time, emergency hospital trips, quilting, a new sewing/quilting machine, my daughter's best friend's wedding, an extermination plan for the Japanese Lily Leaf Beetles which are invading my beloved Asiatic Lilies, a little sailing and whale watching....and.... Whew. Just looking back at it makes me tired. LOL.
Anyway, it's August now, and I've got my fingers crossed that this month will be a bit less hectic than last month.
So here's what's been going on in my little corner of the world.
My daughter's best friend got married. A very big deal, since she is the first of their posse to actually tie the knot. Margie is a pretty unique individual, so her wedding plan was informal, low key, and very eclectic. Alex was M.O.H., and took her duties very seriously. As part of her MOH plan, she hosted a Mad Hatter Tea Party themed bachelorette for Margie...and created a truly fun-filled and lovely event. To help, I had a very talented baker who works in my department design some Mad Hatter cupcakes for the event - one for each girl to eat at the party, and one to take home for later. Bottles of champagne were also supplied by Mommy, because what is a bachelorette if you cannot drink champagne from tea cups? Smile.
I was clearly having a "senior moment" when I ordered these, because I completely forgot to order extras to snack on after sewing....I know, I know. I can't believe it either.
The wedding was Saturday, July 31st - and I received a lovely informal photo of the bride and Alex taken in Margie's grandmother's garden.
Exciting news on the sewing/quilting front. I was over in Maine picking up my new Singer Studio S18 in the third week of July - and have now had a chance to quilt with it and also do some piecing and specialty stitching. While I'm not ready to do a full-fledged review on it, my first impressions are ready to share. I LOVE THIS MACHINE.
There are a lot of negative comments floating around about the Singer company in general, but this machine has a five star rating from hundreds of Amazon customers, and is receiving high marks from quilting and sewing experts who have reviewed it as well.
So far, I cannot say enough good things about it. It's a workhorse, and powers through multiple layers of fabric and batting with complete ease. Lots and lots of power, and the most consistent, predictable foot pedal I've ever sewn with, which makes free motion quilting a joy.
The harp is generous, and accommodates a quilt up to 68 inches wide with ease. I think a queen would be very comfortable, but a king would be do-able, although perhaps a bit challenging. I have not made a king-size quilt on this machine, so I'm just speculating.
The best thing I can say about this machine, so far, is the quality of the stitches. They are fantastic. As close to perfect as it gets. I loved my Brother PQ-1500S, and it had really good stitch quality too, but the Singer's is significantly better.
The machine also runs very quietly, and although it only has one worklight, that light illuminates a significant part of the workspace. I do use my Ott Lite behind the machine to further illuminate my quilting area, but that's a "like to do" not a "have to do".
Also, you can wind your bobbins without having to unthread the machine. The bobbin motor is independent of the sewing motor - an absolute delight. I love this feature.
I do not use knee lifters, but the machine has one, and I tried it. It works very, very well.
The only negative thing I can say about Minerva (yes, the machine finally told me her name about ten days ago) is that you have to reset the needle up/needle down button every time you turn the power back on. On my other Singer, the machine remembered your preference - Minerva does not. It's really not a big deal, just slightly irritating (especially if you've left a partly finished quilt under the needle, and you're in the "quilting" part of completing it). If Singer releases a "next generation", it would be great if they changed that.
I'm planning to use Minerva for some embroidery work quite soon - and will post again with more thoughts and comments about her as time goes on and she and I become more familiar with each other.
Are you familiar with the Japanese Lily Leaf Beetle? I was not, until last year, but they have quickly become my most hated garden pest. These things are VORACIOUS. They can take down a perfectly healthy large Asiatic lily plant to decimated in less than a day. Seriously. I've never seen bugs that can eat the way these things can. And very little deters them. Even knowing, and understanding, and embracing the new environmentally friendly garden care product guidelines for Nova Scotia - I'd honestly give a lot to get my hands on some strong, deadly, garden chemical for just one day. Just long enough to eliminate these horrible beasts. Both my mother and I have been taking them off the plants, then spraying and dusting daily. And still they are doing damage. Unbelievable.
Here's one of my lilies just as it was coming into bloom.
See the chewed leaves? That's with DAILY care and removal, sometimes twice a day.
I was away for a few days, and came back to find my favourite lily completely denuded of foliage, and the horrible things had even eaten through the bug casing and were trying to eat the partly formed petals.
It has become a war for me. These things are not native to Nova Scotia, and have moved up here from Maine. They are also not native to New England, having arrived on some imported plants in Boston some years back. Along with Safer's sprays and dusts, I have made my own mixture of soapy water (Dawn dish soap and water) laced with white vinegar. I spray the plants, and any insects or larvae I see, vigorously twice a day - shake off the sprayed bugs, and crush them. Unfortunately, killing them is the only sure way to get rid of them.
My friend Sue summers on Grand Manan and every year, creates the most interesting deck you can imagine. Shells, rocks, ropes, nets - and this year, planters (dozens of planters) - have been added to her deck collection. The result is breathtaking. And, since her deck overlooks the North Head harbour, and has a view down the archipelago and all the way out to the Grand Manan Basin, I spend a fair bit of time on her deck admiring the scenery and the light whenever I'm on the island.
The whole sight is so lovely, I'm going to share it with you.
The two deck photos above show the difference in the light in the morning vs. sunset. Isn't it amazing how the light changes, and influences everything around it? I never get tired of the changing of the light...
And finally - in quilting news - I have finished my Scrappy Sailboats crib quilt and the matching pillow. This is the first quilt done on Minerva, and I love how it turned out. I think scrappy quilts may be my new calling - just loved making this one!
I also made another 14 x 19 placemat for my brother, to go with the four he has already received. He needed one more for the centre of his table, so they can put hot dishes on it for family-style meals. I just love that they're reversible - and love the Michael Miller "Bleu Paris" and Timeless Treasures "Beacon" fabrics. What's better than a reversible, washable, durable placemat in a busy family?