Community Quilt 265

18 04 2016

I haven’t stitched free-motion feathers for ages, but it’s amazing how that muscle memory came back very quickly! I started by stitching in the ditch around all the borders, then stitched freeform feathers in each block. Each feather has between two and five spines, and none are the same.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)




Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Glide ‘Military Gold’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour 27407)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (light tan)


Community Quilt 264

18 04 2016

Such a very simple quilt of 6-inch squares, but with a variety of fabrics that ranged from heavy-weight cottons (similar to gabardines) to very light-weight cottons (similar to lawn) and everything in between. To stabilise it, I stitched in the ditch around each square, then because the puffiness was very uneven owing to the different weights of the fabrics, I decided to do a checkerboard pattern to sew the puffiness into submission!

No rulers were harmed — in fact, none were used. All the ‘straight’ lines were done free motion, so while the stitching lines might look even at a distance, up close many are quite wonky. And I’m OK with that.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)




Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Harmony ‘Spring’ (40 wt, cotton, colour 14062)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (white)


Community Quilt 263

18 04 2016

With such busy patterns in the fabrics, I opted for an all-over motif — a slight variation on the open headband motif (I added a sort of hook to some of the inner points).

(Click on a photo to view it larger)



Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Affintiy ‘Brunette’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour 60291)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (light tan)


Community Quilt 262

18 04 2016

What a bright quilt this is! In keeping with the ‘modern’ lines of it, I just did some simple straight line stitching in the ditch following the verticals.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)




Threads used:

  • Top: Isacord (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour Fb3040)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (white)


Batting sides

16 04 2016

In case you weren’t aware, batting has a back and front (thanks to Pam Holland for teaching this to us at Empty Spools a couple of years ago).

I came up with a way to remember which way it goes: Dimples are on the face, and knobbly bits are on the bottom (interpret that whichever way you want!).

So, the dimple side faces the top and the knobbly side faces the bottom. Easy peasy!

(The reason why you put batting in the ‘right’ way is that it’s designed for the needle to punch down through the dimples, in line with how the needles punched the batting when it was made. If you have the batting in the ‘wrong’ way (knobbly bits facing up), then the needle struggles harder to push through the batting and may bring back up bits of batting with it.)

See also:

Community Quilt 261

13 04 2016

What a colourful quilt this was! I didn’t do any stitching in the ditch; instead, I started in the middle and worked my way out stitching circles inside circles with connecting loops in a bright orange thread.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Glide ‘Neon Orange’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour 90811)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (red)


Community Quilt 260

13 04 2016

My apologies for the washed out photos — this quilt was much brighter than it appears in these photos.

I started by stitching in the ditch around all the blocks, then around the big circles, segueing into petals around each one to create the illusion of a large flower or a sun. I repeated the petal/fire motif in the border, using a charcoal thread.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)




Threads used:

  • Top: Various Fil-TEc, Isacord, Madeira, Mettler, Wonderfil, and Robison-Anton threads
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (black)


Notes from a conference trip

6 04 2016

I returned from a conference in Portland, Oregon, yesterday. I took a few notes on various random things while I was away…

Internet speeds

Internet speeds in hotels are notoriously slow, even those that say they are ‘high-speed’. And often the more you pay for the hotel room, the worse they are — I think they want you to pay the exorbitant ‘per day’ internet rate. Of course, with Australia’s overall general internet slowness, I don’t expect a lot.

The free wifi at the Holiday Inn, Melbourne Airport was the worst. The website where you log in said that the speed was limited to 1 Mbps download (I get 10 to 15 Mbps at home, and that’s not particularly fast). The actual speed (measured on was a miserable 0.49 Mbps. That was glacial, so I decided to log off and use my phone as a Wifi hotspot instead — Telstra gave me a blistering 48 Mbps!!!!! Holy Speed Demon, Batman! Pity I didn’t have any photos to upload!

I stayed at the Hilton Portland Downtown and Executive Tower. There was a bit of an issue getting my luggage through the doors at the hotel, but the guy who checked me in upgraded me to a bigger room AND their so-called hi-speed internet (free) as a result. It wasn’t high speed! On it was consistently about 2 Mbps upload. So I tethered my phone as a portable Wifi hotspot – that still wasn’t super fast, but it was around 10 Mbps. While that was much better, it wasn’t as good as I expected on a 4G phone in the middle of a city. During the conference, the free wifi for conference attendees was very patchy, and very slow at certain times such as the breaks when people were checking their devices for email, Facebook, Twitter updates, and in certain conference sessions when attendees were ‘live Tweeting’ the session highlights.

General etiquette

Public Service Announcement: If you are in a large group of people, or in a confined space, or BOTH (you know, like on an aircraft…), and you have a cold and feel a cough or sneeze coming on, then if you can’t reach a tissue in time, cough/sneeze into your sleeve (‘vampire sneeze’) or the neck of shirt or anywhere other than over your fellow passengers! The rest of the passengers will appreciate it, I promise.

Memo to self for future reference: Do not fly in the US on a Saturday of a holiday weekend unless you can tolerate large numbers of children of all ages from babies and toddlers, to tweens and teens. Just sayin’…

Town car service

For only the second time ever, I ordered a town car to pick me up from the Portland airport (PDX) and drop me back 6 days later. I’d had experience of a town car service last year when I was in Miami and my friend had ordered it for us, and in Pittsburgh where I’d ordered my own. And those experiences were good. I expected the same in Portland, but that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, doesn’t take reviews for such services, so I’ll write my review here. Note: I won’t name the company — if you’re going to Portland and need to know, contact me directly. Interestingly, this company’s Yelp and Google reviews (I don’t review on either) are greater than 4 stars. That’s not what I would have given them, especially for such an expensive service compared to a taxi or airport shuttle. My rating would have been 2 stars at best.

Here’s what happened for the pick up:

  • When I made the original booking, the website said the cost of PDX to downtown was ‘from $55 each way’; I was charged $132 (i.e. $66 each way) for the booking. There was no information about whether the difference was because of tax, or some other reason (e.g. pick up on a Saturday, and drop off on a Sunday, though it was during the day both times). There was no discount for a return journey.
  • I sent a text message to the cell number (NOT the office number) on their website when I got my US SIM and US phone number on arrival in Los Angeles that morning, as I had said I would in my communications with them. I didn’t get a reply, which I thought was a bit odd. It seems I should have sent the text message to the office number, which I assumed was a landline not a cell. There was no information on their website two weeks prior to the trip about sending to that number; however, in the interim they had revamped their website and the new website only has the office number (which is a cell phone) as their contact number. They had all my details (including email address) for this booking, so they could have let all their current reservations know of the website and phone number change.
  • In their confirmation email they said the car would be at Island 3 (and explained where that was) and would have my name in the window. My name was not in any window of any of the cars at Island 3.
  • Based on their website photos, I expected a black car – it was champagne colour with nothing on the side identifying it, so I didn’t recognise it as from the company and I was a little skeptical if it was the right company, until the driver said my name.
  • We took quite a while to find each other. The driver was waiting in his car at the designated spot (there were several cars waiting), but as he didn’t tell the person who was directing people to taxis etc. that he was there, and as he didn’t have my name in the window as promised, we didn’t meet up for about 15 mins. The only reason we found each other was that the taxi herder guy took pity on me and contacted his despatch and asked them to call the company and see where he was. The taxi herder guy wasn’t busy — there were plenty of taxis and very few people (maybe two parties he dealt while I was waiting on the cold metal bench at Island 3), so the driver should have got out of the car and talked to the taxi herder guy at any time. I was sitting on a bench directly in front of his car and in his full view! There were only about 5 cars at Island 3 at the time.
  • Once we found each other the driver didn’t introduce himself at any stage. That was odd too. And he didn’t wear a name badge.
  • The driver said that when he couldn’t find me (like he looked! I was sitting right in front of him!) he called my cell number in Australia but got no answer — he should have got my voicemail telling him I was out of the country, so I doubt he called. On my return I checked my voicemail for messages — there was nothing. He also told me he emailed me (when he was waiting for me to come out of the airport, yet I was sitting in front of him!), but I rarely check emails on my phone, and couldn’t while I was flying from Los Angeles. Besides, his email went into my Junk folder and so I wouldn’t have seen it on my phone had I checked my emails while waiting for him at PDX — I found it the next day!
  • What’s with drivers texting and looking at their phone while driving??? I’ve seen this elsewhere in the US too (Miami and Pittsburgh, most recently) and it’s scary! There’s plenty of evidence that the inattention that arises from texting or looking at a screen on your phone can cause serious accidents. I’d rather not be in a car with a driver who is that irresponsible for himself and his passengers.
  • There was no bottle of water for the passenger — I’ve come to expect this in other town cars I’ve used in other cities.

And here’s what happened for the return journey:

  • Same driver, and he was early to the hotel (about 15 minutes before the pick up time). I was early too, so that worked out well for us both.
  • This time I was in a brand new (black) car.
  • However, the car had obviously had passengers partying in the back seat the night before because bits of costume and food (green cotton candy!) were on the back seat, with a globule of green cotton candy in the seam of the seat where I was to sit in my white pants! I had to point out to him that this stuff was there and he apologised and shifted it all to the front seat, where there was a cowboy hat! How could he not check the cleanliness of the car before picking up the next passenger????
  • The driver’s black trousers had some light-coloured marks on the lower leg (dirt? stain? dust?) — not a very professional look. They just looked grubby.
  • No bottle of water this trip either.

After this experience, I’d be hesitant to pay the extra for another town car service — ever!

Trusting my gut

6 04 2016

Copy of one of my Facebook posts from Portland, when I was there for a conference in March/April 2016:

So, I walk back into the hotel after the conference sessions and stand by the elevators. One elevator is closing, but there’s a guy standing waiting for the next elevator — he was there before me so he could have taken the other elevator, assuming it wasn’t full. I think that’s a bit odd. He gets into the same elevator as me, but I don’t see him press a button for a floor. He may have done, but I didn’t see him do it. Two other people get in the elevator and press buttons for their floors.

At my floor, I get out, as does this guy (who only has a backpack and no conference badge around his neck). I don’t see his room key card. He doesn’t know to step forward a few more feet before turning into the corridor, as would anyone who had got off on this floor before, so he hesitates a bit. I start walking in my direction and he starts walking a tad behind me in the same direction. I remember that there’s an ice machine alcove between me and my door, so I slip in there ostensibly to get ice (yeah, no bucket!) and hope this guy keeps walking. He does. I wait a few seconds then come out into the corridor and keep walking to my door. He’s about 2 doors in front of me. I get into my room, shut the door quickly, and put the extra security locks on. Had there been a knock on the door I would have called hotel security.

I felt threatened — but not in any obvious or overt way. Just a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. Nothing more happened. I hope that was all it was — just a gut feeling. But it emphasises the fact that EVERY woman has to be alert and vigilant EVERY damned moment, no matter what their age. I doubt that many men ever have to think like this – every moment of every day they are in public.