Sunday, September 11, 2011

today I choose to remember happiness...

There are many things to remember today, and the media would have us all spend the day in fear, misery, and drama.  Instead, I choose to ignore the media today, and I choose to remember life, love, and happiness.

Three years ago today, I flew to Chicago and brought home Ignited's Ezri Dax.  It was a very long day, as I took flights that left Seattle at 6am and returned back at 11pm, but it was worth it to bring home my wonderful little girl.  I was able to spend a couple hours (and lunch!) with Mike and Sharon at their home, including time playing with the puppies from the two litters (Race x Dazzle and Race x Prancer) that were there waiting to go home.  I met Brita, Dazzle, Prancer, Corrie, Singed, Hex, and Sprint there, and had a great time.

Ezri was not so thrilled with the trip home, especially in the airplane - why was she in a bag?  Why was it dark and noisy?  Where were her siblings and mama?  Why wouldn't I take her out?  Toys, chews, food, pets, nothing was enough.  She cried so loudly during the ascent to cruising altitude that the flight attendant came over to me once we were safely enroute and had me take her out of the carrier and keep her on my lap.  She promptly passed out and slept the remainder of the flight home!

Chris was still working graveyard shift at the time, so I raced home after landing and he was a little late to work so he could see her before he left.  The new person in the weird motorcycle gear didn't faze little Ezri at all - she happily accepted his attention, then turned to devour a chicken wing as her first meal that day before going to bed in her crate.  It had been a long stressful day for such a little puppy, after all!

Three years, and it's been wonderful to have Ezri in my life.  I'm looking forward to many more years to come!

Friday, September 2, 2011

the post that was meant for last week...

I got a little caught up prepping for PAX last week, so the post I had on deck never actually got written. Today I'm still dealing with the end of (thankfully minor) con crud, so here's the post that was meant for last week...

Probably unsurprisingly, I read a lot of blogs and a large proportion of them are quilting/sewing blogs - on a quick glance through my Google Reader list, over 100 blogs and probably about 60-70 of them are quilting or sewing blogs. The rest are comprised of funny things (Wootube, Hyperbole and a Half, Dr Grumpy), fun with food (KAF Blog, Gluten-Free Girl), and general random stuff (Dear Photograph, Cold Antler Farm, Mad Hattery!). The beauty of Google Reader is that it collects all new posts for me via RSS feeds, and I can catch up whenever I want to without missing anything. I even have an app on my iPad that uses it, so that I never have to remember which blogs I've read or not recently.

Over the past few months, a quilting tool called the Accuquilt Go! has been making the rounds of a lot of quilting blogs, with plenty of projects shown and Go! Baby units given away as prizes. The premise is very simple - the Go! is a fabric cutter that uses pressure with die cutters and cutting mats to cut shapes out of fabric with very little effort. I've been sort of intrigued by the concept, enough to put entries in for the raffled items but not to purchase one for myself, until very recently. Two weeks ago while cruising Craigslist, I found not the little version (the Go! Baby), but the bigger version (the Go!), along with 10 dies and a bunch of cutting mats, for just $305 - which would cost over $850 new from Accuquilt, and still well north of $600 new if bought from Amazon sellers. So I jumped all over that, drove to Renton on a Friday afternoon, and brought it home with me.

The cutter is extremely simple to use - you just layer the die, your fabric, and a cutting mat to make a sandwich, and crank it through the cutter. Boom, 24 perfect half-square triangles from a piece of fabric folded 4 layers thick. I've been considering trying out some triangle and tumbler quilt design elements recently, but didn't want to do all the templating and cutting required - but the Go! takes care of that for me! There is some fabric waste, but the dies are laid out intelligently to minimize that, and if you are careful with how you align your fabric on the die it's probably less than it would be to cut them all out by hand.

Two fat quarters and some solid grey fabric produced these piles of half-square triangles in less than 20 minutes. It takes longer to iron the fabric and fold it than it does to do the actual cutting - it's amazing! Now, I don't think I would use this cutter for strip cutting or for square cuts, as those are just too easy for me to do on my own with my rotary cutter, but for the HST pieces and the tumbler pieces, this will be excellent. I am also seeing where these dies would be great for chewing through scraps - just run everything through to a standard piece size (2" square or 2" HST, for example) and toss them in a bin and they're ready to use, no hassle. Finally, I've seen a lot of people comment on how they allow those with hand issues (arthritis, scars, mobility, etc.) to be able to cut fabric again, and that is definitely a great thing. So in conclusion, I really like my Accuquilt Go! cutter so far and am glad that I purchased it, and I'm looking forward to making some tumbler quilts this fall. However, do shop around should you want one of your own - Amazon has them for about half of what Accuquilt charges, and many of the dies and other items are slightly cheaper and eligible for Amazon Prime.

The same night I got the Go! cutter, I hit up the Target in Renton and got some more fabric bins and reorganized my stash cabinet. I now have bins for larger yardage and collections, and I broke up all my 1/2 - 2 yard pieces by color family, and split the fat quarter and smaller size pieces into lights/darks. I'm quite pleased with the results!

And just because, here's a picture of an unhappy Ezri getting a bath. It's hard to be a border collie some days!