2012 FMQ Challenge: April

23 04 2012

This month’s free motion quilting (FMQ) challenge was a bit different and not what I’d classify as ‘free’ motion quilting, mostly because we had to mark the design. Marking isn’t ‘free’ in my book. That said, it was a different technique and one that I *might* use again in the future if I really needed to replicate a particular design.

It was presented by Don Linn (‘Mr Quilt’; I have one of his books) and involved quite a lot of work in that we had to photocopy (and blow up) a design, trace the design onto tulle using a Sharpie, then use a washable/chalk marker to trace the design onto the fabric before we could start stitching. And of course, because this was a marked design, stitching required back-tracking as these sorts of designs don’t usually give you a stitching order.

Anyhow, it’s done, and I’ve learned a new technique, which is, after all, what this challenge is all about. Will I use the technique again? Perhaps, but not in the immediate future. I was disappointed that the chalk markings weren’t very clear and when I tried a different marking technique, the tip of the marker kept getting caught in the tulle!

The photos below show the original photocopies of two of Don’s designs from one of his books, the tulle tracing, and the finished pieces.

The orange thread was a fluorescent orange Mettler poly sheen thread (col. 1106; 40 wt?); the fluoro lime/yellow was an Isocord thread (col. A2941 [or Fb. 6010?]; also 40 wt, I think). The blue echo stitching in the orange piece was with a 100 wt silk Wonderful thread (col. 716) I got at the quilting workshop in Texas (one of the Vicki Pignatelli thread ranges). No matter what I did, this silk thread shredded and broke quite a bit, so I’d have to play with the tension for it a lot more (and I did play with it a LOT on my Sweet Sixteen) before I used it again. The variegated blue thread I used for the McTavishing around the lime/yellow sample is a Wonderful Tutti Egyptian cotton (col. TU 24).

Of all those threads, I’m very impressed with the Mettler, Isacord and Wonderful Tutti threads. They play nicely with my Sweet Sixteen! (as does Superior Rainbows and King Tut).

Oh, I also used my ‘Line Tamer’ ruler for the long straight lines in the orange piece (available from http://www.fourpawsquilting.com/pages/template.html; suitable for mid-arm and long-arm quilting machines only, not domestic sewing machines).

Photocopied designs and transfer onto tulle

Design 1 stitched out

Design 2 stitched out with McTavishing as the external filler

Painful skin treatment

11 04 2012

Before I went to the US in March, I had my first appointment with a dermatologist. I’ve had small skin tags and one large one in various parts of my body for years that needed checking, plus some flat things on my forehead and cleavage — and the biggie… a cyst I’ve had for 20+ years in my neck, which has got bigger in the past few months.

I thought he’d take a look, deal with the minor stuff (or tell me to ignore it), and then get me back for another appointment for the cyst and the largish skin tag. But no. He’s one of those ‘see it, get rid of it before you have time to think’ types of specialists (which in hindsight I was grateful for). He incised the cyst there and then (local anaesthetic), and surgically removed the skin tag (again with a local). Then he dealt with all the other littler things with liquid nitrogen (dry ice in a pressurised fire extinguisher looking thing). That was a really PAINFUL experience, especially as nearly all the offending bits were in very delicate areas of my body, like the underarm area!

Liquid nitrogen hurts like buggery. Don’t let anyone fool you! And then the pain continues for some time (at least 30+ minutes) afterwards. I was shaking a bit when we got back to the car — I think my body was in shock.

The next morning — and for a week or two later — all the places where he zapped looked like little red spots with a blistery sort of centre. Not pretty… my husband has his little skin cancers done each year by this guy and I’ve never appreciated how much it hurt when he’d come out and say he was ‘a bit sore’. A bit sore???? Jeez Louise! My husband says the red spots/blistering will disappear in a few days (thank goodness!… but it was actually more like a week or two for the blistering to go and a couple of months for the bits to drop off) and while those areas were a little tender to touch the next morning, they weren’t screaming in pain like they were on the day I had the treatment.

I’m such a wuss. It was only liquid nitrogen…