Adoption!

cartoon by Carla Barrett

cartoon by Carla Barrett

This week, America celebrates National Adoption Day to focus attention on children who need a forever family. These children are often born into situations not of their own making. They are the innocent participants of choices their biological parents make- or don’t make.

Grandparents of a child born into difficult circumstances have a decision to make. They can choose to ignore the child and situation completely, pretending the birth never happened. Or, they may proactively intervene to protect an innocent child from harm.

My husband, Joe, and I chose to intervene and do whatever it took to protect our darling grandson, Ethan, now age 3 1/2. We have cared for Ethan from birth, and then took steps to become his legal guardians. Once you have been the legal guardian for 2 years in our particular state (California), you may then petition for adoption, if you so choose.  We hired an adoption specialist attorney and filed last July.

On November 17, 2014, the Court finalized our adoption of Ethan, and I am so happy to announce this event publicly. He is such a wonderful blessing to Joe and I, and we love him so much! Below are some favorite photos of Ethan taken this year:

EthanspagettiEthanfirefighter

bviEthan2a

Joe and I look forward to raising Ethan and providing for him a safe, stable, loving home environment in the years to come.    I hope you have enjoyed our adoption announcement and meeting Ethan.    Hugs, Carla

BVI and Back Home

Virgin Gorda Sound sunsetBack home from our wonderful vacation in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

We decided to introduce our grandson, Ethan, to the joys of bareboat chartering, which is when you charter a sailboat and crew it yourselves.

We had a wonderful time!  After two days of travel, we arrived at the catamaran we had chartered, a new Lagoon 40 named Tequila.  If you read my last post here, then you remember we were expecting a 38 Lagoon, but due to unforeseen circumstances, namely that the owner of the 38 foot boat ran it on a reef, so the company substituted a larger, newer catamaran.  Nice!

bvitequilaOnce we left the marina, we  headed to Virgin Gorda Sound to spend the first night at Leverick Bay before also visiting Saba Rock, The Bitter End, and Prickly Pear Island.  The photo, above, was taken in Virgin Gorda Sound at sunset.

Next stop, Marina Cay.  By this time, Ethan had discovered that there is a trampoline on the front of the catamaran that is perfect for 3 year old boys to bounce on.  Also, the cabin top is perfect for climbing, as shown in the pictures taken below:

 

bviEthan2abviethan1b

We spent our time sailing, swimming, snorkeling, building sand castles on the beach and hiking.   We also had fun feeding fish off the back of the boat, too.  On one day’s sail, we had gusts over 40 knots, which was skill building.  Ethan’s favorite place on the trip was the hike to the Bubbling/ly Pool on Jost Van Dyke.  Here is a picture from an earlier trip:

bubblingpool Ethan loved to climb on the small rocks on the right, and play in the smaller pools.  This place is amazing, it feels like nature’s jacuzzi!

We met lots of fun, engaging people during our trip.  Some were bareboat chartering like us, some hired their own crew for their vacation, a few also had children, and a couple were staying on different island resorts.  When we returned Tequila back to the charter company, we had the pleasure to meet a lovely Canadian couple who were just getting ready to cruise the BVI and USVI for several months in their Lagoon 40, 40 Below.  A quick shout out to Ron and Barb:  Have a great trip, and thanks again for the ride to the ferry dock!

Colorful signs at Marina Cay, BVI

Colorful signs at Marina Cay, BVI

The trip home took two long days, and at San Francisco airport I lost a small carry on that I am hoping will be found.  In it was my iPhone, prescriptions, two pairs of prescription eyeglasses and my new underwater Canon camera, which also has all my vacation pictures and videos.  Everything can be replaced but the vacation pictures and videos, so keeping my fingers crossed that an honest person found my case and turned it in.  I filed a formal report last night and placed a message on my locked iPhone using a wonderful app called “Find my iPhone.”

Losing a bag, while upsetting, cannot dim the wonderful memories of our trip.  How fortunate we are to be able to travel to exotic, tropical locations.  We are truly blessed!

Hugs from Carla

Tropical Dreams

Picture this….warm turquoise water, white sand beaches, coral and tropical aquarium underwater views through my snorkeling mask.

Or how about this…. the sails filled with wind on a beam reach as the catamaran sailboat glides effortlessly through the water towards the island shore.

380That will be our reality shortly when we bareboat charter a catamaran in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) again.  Joe, Ethan and I will be flying to St. Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands, then boarding a ferry to the island of Tortola in the BVI.  A cab ride from the ferry dock to the east side of Tortola, and we will board the Lagoon 380 catamaran, which is a double-hulled sailboat (see picture, above).  Here is the layout of the boat, shown right:

Lagoon380saloonAs sailboats go, it is quite spacious, especially when compared to a monohull sailboat.  You have a main salon, consisting of a kitchen, dining table, and navigation station.

lagoon380_2You also have several staterooms, here is a typical view of one, shown below.

I have lost count of how many bareboat charters we have done.  A charter is considered a “bareboat” when you act in the capacity as captain and crew.  In this case, that would be Joe and I.  Ethan will be wearing a special offshore Personal Floatation  Device (PFD) and tether for safety while underway.  You would be surprised how often we get asked about how we keep 3 year old Ethan safe while sailing, especially when we are both busy at the helm and raising sails, anchoring or picking up a mooring ball.

bvibeachThis trip will be our way of introducing Ethan to a more extended sailing.  Previously, he has only experienced day sails on our current sailboat, SV Sea Glass, an O’Day 23.  We will soon be selling our O’Day 23 and  purchasing a much larger sailboat in early 2015, a bluewater cruiser sailboat about 42-49 feet in size.

BVI_Map

marinacay

Marina Cay, BVI

Chartering in the BVI is fun, relaxing, and there is lots to do and see.  You wake up in the morning and decide where you want to sail and do that day. Above is a map of the island group that makes up the BVI.  I plan to do a lot of snorkeling, sailing, beachcombing, and swimming during our trip.   Watch for my trip report when I get back!   Fair Winds, Carla

Around the World Blog Hop- My Turn!

I was invited to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop by two amazing fiber, art quilt and digital artists, The Pixeladies, also known individually as Deb Cashatt and Kris Sazaki.   Years ago, I was asked to do the quilting on one of their art quilt projects, and through this collaboration, we became friends.  Recently, I visited their studio and got to see all their stunning works in progress.  If you are unfamiliar with their incredible work, and art quilts created with fabric text, click now to visit their gallery page.

The format for the Around the World Blog Hop is a series of questions that I answer, so here we go:

What are you working on right now?  I tend to work on multiple projects at the same time.  On any given day, you will find me machine quilting in my studio, then working on my Tablet PC laptop drawing and designing, and finally, working on a freeform beading or crochet project.  So, in that spirit, here is what I am working on currently:

Quilting by Carla Barrett

Quilting by Carla Barrett

Machine Quilting- I recently borrowed back the above quilt (previously quilted a few months ago, titled Bold Beauty),  to share with students in Australia. The picture above shows you the back of the quilt. This quilt has won many awards in Montana for the owner, Teddie Egeline, including Best of Show and Judges Choice at the Montana State Fair.  Anyway, while in AU, I noticed a couple of places that need fixing, specifically, color repair of some white marking pen oops previously discussed in a post here.

whitemarkI realized that to be more archival, I should have heat set the repair.  So now I will go back over the lines with several shades of Inktense pigment pencils and once dry, heat set them.  After this repair, I plan to work on 2 quilts- one by applique artist Jill Rixman, and also one by my friend, Doug Hodder.

 

freeforminprogFreeform Beading and Freeform Crochet- Currently, I have two different projects in progress, though both are freeform.

The first one is a freeform beaded purse, so I am working on the freeform peyote embellishment.  I have just started to bead a 18mm Swarovski crystal, which will be a focal point element of this project.  My color palette is magenta, purple and blue.

My current freeform crochet project is a bit different from my usual freeform crochet work.  I like the combination of my random freeform combined with some more traditional freeform scrumbles, so I decided to take a Craftsy Freeform Crochet class with the talented Myra Wood to learn her process.  Below is a picture of my class homework so far.  These are “scrumbles” in progress as I learn her technique.

Scrumbles in Progress

Scrumbles in Progress

How does your work differ from others of its genre?  With regards to my machine quilting work, I plan out my quilting lines using a Tablet PC laptop in Photoshop Elements.  This allows me ease of editing and planning, communicating effectively with collaborators, as well as provide me with a road map to follow during the quilting process.  I also will design a special motif, border or fill to use on each quilt using a digitizing software called Art & Stitch.  I also will use my tablet to draw a quilting cartoon from time to time, too.  See more what you can do with a Tablet in this post here.

10waystabletHow does your creative process work?    As mentioned earlier, I use my Tablet PC to sketch out machine quilting designs (like the example above).  I also use my Tablet PC to create custom quilting designs that I can then stitch out on a quilt.  My process is as follows:

Copyright 2014 Carla Barrett

Copyright 2014 Carla Barrett

First, I draw with my stylist on my Tablet PC monitor in Photoshop Elements.  Once I like the design, I will import my design into Adobe Illustrator and  Art&Stitch digitizing software, converting the artwork from a raster drawing to vector artwork.

On the left is a custom design drawn for Teddie Egeline’s quilt, Bold Beauty.  This is a screenshot taken of the finished vector art.

In Art&Stitch, I finish editing the art, adding stitches and saving it in a computerized quilting format that my system can read- which for my Intelliquilter is “.iqp.”   The design is next imported to my machine and then I further manipulate the design to fit my border.  Here is a screenshot from my Intelliquilter tablet showing you how I used this design to create an interesting custom border:

iqpdesign

I love to leave spaces for freemotion quilting because I love the look of freehand work.  The curlycues in the image above will be filled with my freehand feathers.  Once quilted out and the freehand work added, the finished design and border looks like this:

carladesignboldbeauty

I also used my Scroll-Heart Design in other areas on the quilt, too:

scrollhearttri

If you have any questions about my process, I would be happy to answer them.  Just leave your question in a comment, below.  If you would like to know more about buying a Tablet, I do have a 4 part series on purchasing a Tablet for artwork here.  If you would like to know more about working and creating with Art & Stitch software, please see this post.

Before I close, I would like to nominate a very talented machine quilting artist for this Around the World Blog Hop:

Judi Madsen, quilting artist, author, teacher and designer.  During my teaching trip to AU earlier this month, I met Judi a couple of times as my class was ending and hers was due to begin.  Her freehand machine quilting work is young, vibrant, and has a modern vibe.  Be sure to visit  Green Fairy Quilts blog to see Judi’s stunning work.

Take care, Carla

Back From AU!

I had a blast teaching in Adelaide, AU at their Australian Machine Quilting Festival.  I met so many wonderful quilters and artists while I was there!   Here is where Adelaide is, located in South Australia:

adelaide1 I had several nice flights from my home in Northern CA to Adelaide.  Admittedly, it took me well over a day of travel to get there, but arrived safe and sound to my hotel, which was close to the show venue at the Adelaide Convention Center.

What impressed me the most was how incredibly friendly all the students and people I met were.  Judging by my class feedback, they liked me, too!  :-)  It was fun to meet students I had previously “met” online through social media in person.  I loved teaching at this show, and show owners Tracey Browning and Sharon Parkinson were so welcoming, and frankly amazing women for all their hard work on this show.

It was also a blast seeing friends I hadn’t seen in a few years.  This includes Jamie Wallen, Tracey Browning, and her talented sister, Helen Stubbings.   I also met some other teachers for the first time: Cathy Wiggins, Cristyn Merry, Michelle Pearson, Helen Godden, Vicki Jenkins, and Judi Madsen.

More to follow, including photos of quilts I saw.  There was a special exhibit featuring the amazing work of Pam Holland.  I was blown away by her thread play and creativity, plus her lecture at the Charity Gala was quite inspiring!  Stay Tuned!  Hugs, Carla

 

Fabric Crochet Purse

fabric crochet purse / bag by Carla Barrett

fabric crochet purse / bag by Carla Barrett

I created this fabric crochet purse the other day, it was so easy to make.

Obviously, I still need to add a strap, but I like this purse and the fabric strip fringe detail.

My quilting readers will recognize the batik fabric used for this project.

IMG_9985Here is another view of my purse, minus the purse straps.  I created this bag as a class sample for my Fabric Crochet Class I am teaching in a few weeks at the AU Machine Quilting Festival.  You, too, can learn this fun project if you are planning to be at this show.   :-)

I am now making a larger bag, perhaps a backpack crochet bag.  This time, I am using citrus colors of yellow, orange, dark orange and shade of lime green.  Think lemons, oranges, and limes.  Anyway, I love fabric crochet and can’t wait to teach it.

fabricstrip2

What are YOU creating?   Take care, Carla

Loading Quilts with a Longarm System

With stand up machine quilting system, we quilt using a frame and table system like shown below:

Carla Barrett's Longarm Quilting Machine

Carla Barrett’s Longarm Quilting Machine

The quilt backing is attached to the canvas leaders on the top roller and the very bottom roller on longarm systems.  The batting is laid down on top of the backing and then for the quilt top, you have several options for how you load the top.  Most machine quilters will either partially float the quilt top or fully float them.  There is a 3rd method, the no-float technique, but I do not recommend this method for a wide variety of technical reasons. In machine quilting, just as in life, there are often many ways to get to the same end point.  I always advise new quilters to try it every way, then chose the method they prefer best.  So, let’s go over the various techniques and start with my favorite way, the Partial Float Method:

loading a quilt info by Carla Barrett

loading a quilt info by Carla Barrett

As you can see in my illustration, the backing is attached to both the top and bottom leaders, while the quilt top is only attached on the bottom leader and rolled up.  The batting is laid in between. I prefer to partial float for several reasons.  I feel this method gives me the most control of my sandwich during the quilting process, especially for larger quilts.  When I load the quilt top and roll it up, this will give me an idea for how much excess fullness the top will have, so I can plan my quilting design accordingly.

Quilt top is partially floated, edges are basted to maintain a straight edge.

Quilt top is partially floated, edges are basted to maintain a straight edge.

When you quilt, the fabric draws in towards the stitching, and so I control the top edge of the quilt and the sides by careful basting.  You can put on your machine channel locks, or use a laser level to provide a straight line for your basting.  This way, you start out with a very straight quilt sandwich. As I advance, I use a T-square to keep the side edges basted straight.  I prefer basting to pinning the edges.  Why?  You would have to use lots of pins to give you the control you need compared to basting, and then the chances increase for running over a pin accidentally.  For non-quilters, if you run over a pin and hit it just right, you could break a needle, which could then damage the quilt if you don’t stop in time.  Also, you could throw off your machine head timing, too. Back to partial floating- during the quilting process the quilt will want to draw upwards as you quilt.  This tendency will be limited because the top is attached at the bottom and rolled up.  The roller has locks so I can control the vertical height of the quilt during the quilting, too. Let’s talk about the next quilt loading strategy- the Full Float Method, which looks like this:

Full Float method of loading a quilt for stand up quilting

Full Float method of loading a quilt for stand up quilting

As you can see, the backing is attached both top and bottom.  Then both the batting and quilt top are carefully laid on top and basted straight for control.  The edges are draped over the bottom roller and hangs down during the quilting process. I often fully float smaller quilts and quilts with a 3D element to them.  If the 3D quilt is large, sometimes I will add a horizontal line of basting near the bottom roller to control the vertical stretch as I quilt.  Obviously, this is optional.  Some quilters like to use a weighted magnetic bar (used for organizing tools) from Harbor Freight to assist with top control while fully floating, while others do not.   Obviously, you need to have metal roller for this to work.  Caution, too, that the magnetic tool bar is clean when you use it to weight your sandwich.

King Plus batik quilt I quilted for Barb Kiehn.  This quilt hangs straight.

King Plus batik quilt I quilted for Barb Kiehn. This quilt hangs straight.

No matter if you full float or partial float, you want to end up with a quilt that hangs straight.   Of course, this assumes that the quilt top and backing were straight to begin with.

TIP: The biggest tip I give new machine quilters is to not distort the quilt sandwich tension by over tightening the side clamps or having your roller tension too tight.

There are many variables involved  in machine quilting (including your sandwich tension, side clamps, stretchy leaders, bias quilt, design consistency, etc etc.), any one which may contribute to ending up with a quilt that waves when it hangs. Note to quilt top piecers- what machine quilters see frequently are backings and quilt tops which come to them not straight or square.  Depending on the variance of the horizontal and vertical measurements, and if there are lots of bias sections on the top, this will also affect your quilt and how it hangs in the end. The 3rd way to load a quilt is pretty rare, called the No-Float Method or sometimes called the Full Attachment Method.   Please note that I do not recommend this method for a variety of reasons I will explain in a minute.  Here is what this technique looks like:

No float/full attachment method of loading a quilt

No float/full attachment method of loading a quilt

The illustration above shows you how the quilt top and backing are both attached at the top leader/roller, with the backing and top attached on the bottom leaders/rollers.  Why do I not recommend it?  For a couple of reasons, including that you cannot quilt off the top edge of the quilt, something many freehand and pantograph quilters do often.  There will also be a section at the edge where it is not quilted or has batting, the part you pin, zip, velcro or otherwise attach to the leader.  This could cause issues with the preferred binding technique. I only knew one machine quilter who attached her quilts this way.  If this is how you like to do it, and don’t mind the negatives, then certainly do it the way you like it.   I think I will stick with partial float, and in some cases fully floating. I hope this post has help you to visually understand the differences in the various ways to attach a quilt with a stand up quilting system.  Would love to hear from you if you have an opinion, no matter which way you load your quilts.  Happy Quilting, Carla